1674 Tasting Notes
A sample from KittyLovesTea. First flush darjeeling is one of my favourite things in the world, so I’m always pleased when the opportunity arises to try a new one! The leaf here looks fairly typical – small in size, variagated from dark to light green, with some downy silver buds. There are some tiny leaf fragments. I gave 1 tsp of leaf 1.5 minutes in boiling water, as this is the method I’ve found best suits my tastes. The resulting liquor is light golden brown, maybe a touch yellowish. The scent is fruity and a little woody.
There’s huge fruitiness in the initial sip – I’m thinking stonefruit particularly; apricot and peach. A wonderful muscatel grape note emerges in the mid-sip, and adds a richness and depth to the overall flavour. There’s a slight woodiness right at the end of the sip. While this isn’t an astringent tea, I’d say it’s definitely brisk, leaving a slight dryness in my mouth. The tea itself is smooth and almost honeyed in texture, so it’s a slightly odd contrast, but not unpleasant.
I like this one a lot, which makes me feel a little sad. I wish I’d had the opportunity to explore Tea Horse’s offerings a little more before they closed, but such is life. An excellent, intensely flavourful first flush darjeeling.
A sample from KittyLovesTea. There are few teas as beautiful as this one. The small packet belies the contents, because as soon as it’s opened out tumble whole dried chrysanthemum flowers. There are so many, and they’re so large and springy, it’s hard to imagine how they all fitted in the little sample pouch! There are some loose petals, but in the main these are whole flower heads; creamy yellow in colour, and beautifully preserved.
For my first cup, I gave 2tsp of flowers (about half the sachet) 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees. The resulting liquor is a pale yellow-green, and smells very lightly herbal. To taste, it’s a subtle flavour. It’s hard to pin down exactly, but it mostly reminds me of chamomile, with the tiniest touch of mint. I was expecting something much more heavily floral, but it’s not like that at all. It makes me think of daisies.
It’s a very light, refreshing cup. I reckon it would be particularly perfect in spring/summer, or as a relaxing pre-bedtime cup. Definitely one I’d consider purchasing with a future Teavivre order.
I think I’ve finally worked this one out, because today’s cup is absolutely delicious! I can really taste plum, along with a creamy, sweet, slightly spicy/orangey undertone that really does suggest pudding (and Christmas!) I found my first cup a little too subtle, but now I’m wondering why I thought that. Today, it’s perfection!
A sample from KittyLovesTea. Pu-erh still scares me, but I’m determined to keep trying until I understand it. I think I’m making progress with that, slowly but surely! I used 1 tuocha, and gave it 1 minute in boiling water. The liquor is surprisingly light in colour – a golden orange. Many of the pu-erh touchas I’ve tried thus far have verged on dark brown/black even when brewed for a very short time. This makes an encouraging change.
The scent is probably, for me, the worst thing about pu-erh. This one is no exception. The whiff of farmyard at 11 o’clock in the morning is never going to be particularly welcome. Still, I can get past that.
For good reason, it turns out. This is a pu-erh I could actually say that I…like. It tastes fairly mild, but has a warm, earthy, slightly dank flavour, a little like compost mixed with wet mud. I’m not screwing my face up, and I can actually sip this one happily and think about the flavour without wishing I really wasn’t. I guess this is called progress?
A sample from KittyLovesTea. I’ve tried Teavivre’s unflavoured Jin Xuan before, and I enjoyed it a lot. It had a natural butteriness that was very pleasant, very smooth, and very easy to drink! I suspect my heart really belongs to flavoured milk oolongs, though, so I was very interested in trying Teavivre’s flavoured version. At last, the time has come!
I used 1 tsp of leaf, and have it 2.5 minutes in boiling water. I felt bad about the water, but that’s what the sachet recommends, so that’s what I did. The resulting liquor is pale yellow gold, and smells of butter and green veg. It’s a scent I’d expect more from a green tea, but there you go.
The first sip reveals a lovely milkiness that almost borders on caramel, which fades into a butteriness by the mid-sip. The vegetal, green-tasting oolong emerges right at the end of the sip, and lingers in the aftertaste. It’s a fresh, almost mineral counterpoint to the sweet, creamy opening flavour.
I like that the flavouring doesn’t drown the oolong completely, and that it complements the oolong’s natural flavour, rather than just covering it up. I’m not sure I would have liked it had it been the first flavoured milk oolong I’d tried, but now I have a little more experience with oolong (milk or otherwise) I can appreciate it for what it is.
This is a tea I wouldn’t mind keeping around. It’ll definitely make it into a future Teavivre order!
A sample from KittyLovesTea I was intrigued by the description of this one – baked apples and brown sugar sounds divine. I’m not sure that it’s a flavoured black, though. Something makes me think that might be a natural element of the tea itself. In any case, I’m rather enjoying myself! I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk.
The initial taste is rather strong, slightly astringent black tea. It lingers a little, but then develops into a wonderfully thick-tasting, rich baked apple flavour. There’s a sweetness right at the end of the sip that’s perfectly reminiscent of brown sugar. I noticed the flavour progression mostly in the early sips, but towards the end of my cup I think I must have developed palate fatigue. Either that, or the flavour diminishes as this one starts to cool. The last few dregs are just strong black tea. I’m not complaining, though. Hot and fresh, this one makes for a tasty treat. Even as a plain black, it would be strong enough to wake me up on a morning!
I’m glad to have had the opportunity to try this one. I probably wouldn’t seek it out, because there are plenty of strong black/flavoured black teas that I like just as much, but it’s definitely worth a try for the apple/sugar aspect alone.
A sample from KittyLovesTea. Like many others on here, I’m not quite sure what to make of this one. I read through a couple of notes after drinking my first cup, because I was certain there must have been some mistake. Either that, or my sample must be ages old/contaminated, which I don’t expect is the case. I say all this because this one smells of paint thinner. Brewing it was actually rather off putting, and I did wonder whether it was something I should be taking a sip of. I did anyway, and it actually doesn’t taste too bad. It’s a little chemically and oddly dank tasting, but there’s a tiny hint of something vaguely resembling carrot cake in there. I think it might be the spicing that’s giving me the right sort of impression, but there’s no cake or frosting to be found. I got about half way through my cup before I dumped it. I’m not sure what’s wrong with this one, but it’s not very pleasant to drink. Life’s too short for bad tea.
A sample from Kitty Loves Tea. I’ve been curious about this one for a while. How can toast and jam be replicated in tea form? Answer: like this. As per the recommended parameters, I used 1 tsp of leaf and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees.
Hojicha isn’t always my favourite green tea, but I will admit that it works here. It provides the perfect toasted flavour; not overdone or burnt in any way, just perfectly golden toasted. The initial flavour is all sweet strawberry jam, though, and it’s utterly delicious. The hibiscus and strawberry pieces capture the tart/sugary/fruity balance perfectly, and then the hojicha base ushers in the crisp toast underneath.
I’m actually quite amazed that a tea can capture a food taste so well. It’s a pretty rare thing in flavoured tea, I think, unless I’ve just been unlucky with the ones I’ve tried. From what I’ve experienced so far, it seems that Tea Horse produced some unique and imaginative blends that were well executed to boot. It saddens me that they disappeared from the tea world after such a short time. Worth a try, if you can get your paws on some.
From the EU TTB – Round 3
I’ve never tried white tea dragon balls before, so this was a must-experience! The compressed leaves are mostly dark brown/black, although there are a couple of silver buds evident on the surface. There are also some leaves, so I’m guessing this is a pai mu tan style white. The scent is sweet and a little malty, with a light mushroom note that reminds me of Teavivre’s Xi Gui Ancient Tree Raw Pu-erh. I’m brewing western style at work, so I used 1 ball (they are seriously large!), and gave it 3 minutes in water cooled to around 170 degrees. The ball is still tightly rolled, and nowhere close to unravelling.
To taste, it’s pleasantly sweet with a touch of hay and a light floral note. Pretty standard white tea, in other words. I think more steeps are required!
Second steep, and the ball is just starting to unravel a little. It’s still fairly tightly rolled, however. The liquor this time is a little darker, with an almost greenish tinge. It smells more strongly floral (peony), but tastes very similar to the first steep. Sweet, with notes of hay and a light floral.
Third steep, and it’s unravelled a little further. It’s still a ball, though, except now bits are sticking out! The liquor has retained its greenish cast, and is otherwise unchanged in flavour, although it has taken on a slight creaminess.
I’m sure this one would be good for many, many more steeps, but I’m running out of time at work. I guess I’ll have to call it a day here for now, but this is definitely one I’d be happy to try again in the future, should the opportunity arise.
From the EU TTB – Round 3
Final cup of the evening yesterday. This is an interesting blend; a sort of tropical chai. I rather like chai, so I decided it couldn’t hurt to give it a go. Warming is good on a cold night, and the tropical element might remind me of summer even though that is now a distant memory. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 4.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a pale-ish yellow, and smells deliciously of cardamom and lemon.
To taste, the main flavour is decidedly lemongrass. That surprised me a little, as I thought the selection of (rather strong) spices might have overpowered grassy, hay-like lemongrass completely. Not so. The flavour is actually quite gentle, and the sweet, lightly citrus flavour of the lemongrass is a significant player here. After the initial herbal of the lemongrass comes caradmon, a tiny bit of clove, and a warming hit of pepper. Finally, in the aftertaste, this one takes on a creaminess that I can only assume is the coconut, although I can’t really taste coconut as such. Neither can I taste pineapple, which makes me a little sad.
Drinking this one is putting me in mind of Thai food, which is pretty much always a good thing in my book. I wish I could taste more fruit, but the lemongrass/chai/cream combination is a pleasant one. It’s an interesting herbal, but I have to admit to feeling a touch underwhelmed. I’d built myself up for tropical amazingness, and it didn’t really quite deliver. It’s not a bad tea, though, and I’ve rated it accordingly.