898 Tasting Notes
I’ve been neglecting my beloved sencha of late, being focused more on China greens. Today’s first meal of the day, however—eggs over easy on toasted English muffins, all topped with sautéed arugula and served with fresh sliced tomatoes from the vine with a light sprinkling of sea salt and fresh-ground pepper over the whole production—cried out naturally for sencha, the perfect savory lunchtime accompaniment.
Thé Santé’s Sencha Nagashima is simply delightful. I brewed today at a very low temperature—sub-70C—because I was letting the water cool and over shot a bit while cooking in the kitchen, but the result was the same scrumptious viridescence.
This is an excellent sencha the likes of which helps to explain the perhaps otherwise puzzling phenonenon of why the Japanese are so focused on a single tea. Good is good, and when it’s good and dependable, why branch out? I also feel that habit plays a role, just as when people (self included) cannot really conceive of a certain time of day without a certain beverage in hand. Coffee is the natural choice in the morning for countless Americans, including myself, but more and more that has become my last cup of java for the day, now that I have been exploring the vast universe of tea.
Roses and jasmine are often combined in perfume, so I figured that I should have some jasmine as a part of my Rose festival. Yeah, I know. I’m moving to Rationalization City!
In truth, I just felt like brewing some of these yummy jasmine pearls—so I did! The first and second infusion were very good: smooth and very fragrant but also with a fine green tea base. The third infusion began to wane a bit, so I threw it in the refrigerator to try iced tomorrow.
Next up in the Rose Parade is Numi White Rose, the loose leaf verison. Truly this tea is a wonder to behold, with by far the highest percentage of rose in any rose tea I have ever seen. In lots of blends, a few rose petals are thrown in for show, primarily to add some color, much the way cornflower petals are added to many blends though, to my knowledge, they do not alter the taste.
In this case, however, the rose petals are the primary matter being infused! Needless to say, anyone who does not positively adore roses, to the point of being prepared to eat them, probably will not like this tea. For rose amateurs such as myself, on the other hand, this blend will satisfy any desire which might ever arise to “drink a rose”.
The liquor begins greenish—similar to lavender-chamomile infusions—but then turns gold. My guess is that the rose is implicated somehow in the green opening, since I have not seen white teas infuse in quite the same way.
I do not think that this is the best white tea around—it’s that sort of motley-looking variety which someone around here described as “having a bad hair day”. So apt. It’s just something of a mess. Fortunately, with the preponderance of roses, the basket-case white tea is easy to forgive—and forget.
I am glad that the company clarified the meaning of the expression ¨summer fruits¨, which is the translation given on the Thé des Sables tea bag ticket for ¨fruits jaunes¨: mango, yellow peach, and citrus fruits.
This blend is also said to include rose, but once again I don’t really detect it. Instead, this is a fruity mélange of je ne sais quoi. I brewed this tea under the identical conditions used for Thé des Vahinés, and somehow this one tastes a bit bitter, while the other was satiny smooth. I don’t really like fruit-flavored green teas that much to begin with, but I don’t know why this tea should seem bitter, given my mild brewing stats: 3 minutes at 73C. The taste is not like citrus but oversteeped green tea.
Oh well, you win some, you lose some!
I love roses, and picked up some beautifully scented rose-scented soap at Whole Foods today, so I decided to turn tonight into a veritable rose festival. It turns out that a few of the Palais des Thés flavored green teas in my sampler box contain rose. First up: Thé des Vahinés.
The liquor brewed up fairly yellow and clear, and the scent is more vanilla than rose, as is the taste. I must say that this is a masterful blend. Very smooth and drinkable. I would not recommend this as a rose tea, per se, but as a vanilla-scented green.
Another filter bag pu-erh blend from Numi, this Cardamom Pu-erh packs a punch of both! In some ways, cardamom may be the perfect adulterant for pu-erh, given its strength.
Today’s brew is darker red rather than gold, so I may have used less water or steeped it longer than last time. The flavor is earthy and tastes more like pu-erh than like cardamom, so probably not the best choice for gringos. I ended up adulterating yesterday’s glass of Emperor’s Pu-erh with cream, and I am tempted in this case as well.
I used to think that Assam was the best segue from coffee to tea, but now it seems that pu-erh is even better. It has a very strong, coffee-grind like density to it. No, it does not taste like coffee, but it has the same “timbre”, so to speak…
Examining the envelope of my Tazo Long Jing, I discovered that this tea was produced way back in December 2012 and is set to expire in December 2014. This suggests that different standards for what constitutes “old” are used by specialty tea emporia than by mass-market brands.
The good news is that this tastes good. Perhaps the true aging process does not begin until a hermetically sealed package has been opened and exposed to air? Of course the cheap brands at the supermarket are not hermetically sealed, but these “Tazo Collection” whole leaf teas are. Or were, I should say, since Starbucks appears to have abolished the line.
Once again I noticed that the second glass was smooth and more tasty than the first. There must be some physiological explanation for this phenomenon. It’s the same tea! The only difference is that the second serving has been sitting (not steeping) in a tetsubin—not a yixing, so no extra flavor is being added!
This glass of Numi Emperor’s Puerh, prepared from a filter bag, has many of the stereotypical features of puerh familiar to me. It actually smells a bit mushroomy, and is definitely earthier than either of the loose-leaf pu-erhs I’ve tried recently. Last time I tried this tea, i added cream, but I decided to drink it au naturel this evening. To be honest, it’s a bit much for me. The flavor seems rather rough hewn. The liquor is very dark reddish amber. I am seriously debating adulteration at this point, about a third of the way through the glass…
Perhaps the inability to rinse is a factor here? Does anyone out there ever attempt to rinse the contents of a filter bag?
Flavors: Earth, Mushrooms