1017 Tasting Notes
I picked up a couple of jars of Paromi tea at Whole Foods. The matte-surfaced steel-gray-colored jars sure are sleek, but is that the explanation for the elevated price of these teas? I don’t usually complain about price, but $10 for 15 sachets seems a bit steep to me—especially if what I’m really paying for is the shipping cost of a heavy glass jar.
Fortunately, Coconut Almond also tastes very good. Of course, I love both coconut and almond, so I was off to a good start already, but the dark amber liquor (Assam is apparently the base tea) tastes better than just the usual hum-drum mediocre black dressed up in fancy flavors. This is a high-quality flavored tea featuring both natural essences and a worthy black tea base. Unfortunately, it does not seem possible to buy envelopes to refill this attractive jar….
Note to Paromi people: how about letting us but large envelopes so that we can refill these jars? That would definitely increase the probably of my purchasing this tea again.
I brewed up a big tetsubin of Shan Valley First Flush Green today, and once again I am pleased with the quality. The liquor is light gold veering peach, and there is no denying the dark vegetal flavor. In fact, this tea bears some similarities to Tealux Cloud’s Green, which I drank only yesterday. One of these days I’ll have to draw up a flavor map of green teas—there are so many different varieties with so many entirely distinct personalities!
I would have to say that this is a more serious green tea. Not for those who prefer adulterants along with their greens. This is a tea for green tea drinkers, definitely not for the Teavana crowd. For purists only.
Tomorrow I’m going to have to try some more of the offerings from Shan Valley. I meant to do that the last time I brewed this tea, but I got distracted and then pretty much lost track of where everything was. I now know where my big Shan Valley envelope is, happily…
One final point on the appearance of this unique tea: the leaves are a dark bluish-green. It’s midway between teal and the blue analogue to teal (not sure what that name is). Very attractive. I’m looking forward to the second infusion, as this tea does not fully unfurl in the first infusion. A lot more flavor lies ahead!
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No 72 White Petal is my very first tea from Steven Smith Teamaker. I picked up a box at Whole Foods this afternoon out of curiosity. The liquor is light gold and the flavor only barely floral. A very subtle blend. I’ve been noticing of late that white teas sometimes remind me of the second infusions of green teas…
I do not really taste either the osmanthus or chamomile as distinct. Instead, there is a more general and very light floral facet to this tea.
I brewed up a large tetsubin of Cloud’s Green today, using a liberal amount of dried leaves, as a result of which I now have a much clearer concept of this tea than I had the last time I tried. It’s really very good, with a completely distinct personality from other greens, whether Chinese or otherwise. I find the strong vegetable quality very appealing, and I can certainly see reaching for this particular tea to imbibe alongside savory lunch fare. The flavor is not at all like roasted spinach or green beans. This seems more like artichokes to me. Yum!
Somewhat confusingly, Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Sunset appears to be the same tea as Hot Cinnamon Spice. Since my tin reads “Sunset”, I’ll place my tasting note here.
To my palate and nose, this vibrant black-tea blend is basically indistinguishable from the original Good Earth. I was unable to confirm my impression this afternoon, as my bags of Good Earth are no longer any good—must be the cinnamon oil which turned rancid. What I can say is that Hot Cinnamon Sunset evokes all sorts of memories from my afternoons drinking many glasses of this tea at the Good Earth restaurant in Boulder, Colorado. That was a long time ago, and since then the restaurant has changed names a few times and may no longer even exist for all I know.
The key word here is cinnamon, and the key ingredient can only be cinnamon oil. That’s what you get when you squeeze cinnamon until it cannot be squeezed anymore, and it is by far the strongest source of pure cinnamon flavor. The blend also contains orange rind and cloves, but cinnamon definitely dominates, making this tea a cinnamon-lovers dream come true!
One reason why I always liked the original Good Earth was because it is naturally sweet. It is really very sweet, and I cannot imagine adding any sugar to it. Along with Constant Comment (and, now, Harney & Sons Holiday Blend), this is one of the few dark black teas which I prefer to imbibe au naturel. I always drink darjeelings that way, but with very strong Chinese blacks and Assam-style teas, I usually take cream, which compromises the caffeine benefit a bit because milk seems to have a soporific effect upon me. I am not lactose-intolerant (at least I don’t think that I am), but milk products aside from butter and cheese make me sleepy.
Though the steep-off was aborted, Hot Cinnamon Sunset was a good choice for this afternoon as there is no cream around and it was too cold to go out, plus I was too tired anyway. Now I’m feeling the zing of both the caffeine and the cinnamon.
Not a subtle tea, but an effective one!
I consumed many gallons of the original Good Earth tea back in Boulder, Colorado, where I went to college. Way back then, there was even a restaurant by the same name which served this tea and offered free refills. Naturally, I took advantage of the policy…
I found an old box of Good Earth filterbags in my cupboard while moving and was looking forward to a steep-off with Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice, because it smells EXACTLY like my memory of Good Earth. Alas, the steep-off will have to wait, as my bags have turned stale and I had to toss the brew…
I obviously made this pot of Thé Santé Bancha Shizuoka on the strong side, as the liquor is more golden than pale yellow, though the steep was short—less than two minutes, I believe. It tastes really wonderful, so I seem to be coming over to the “more tea, shorter steep” school of proper tea preparation. Every pot I’ve made this way this week has been excellent.
I have not even been measuring the tea, just throwing a fair amount of the dried leaves in the bottom of the huge basket and then watching with amazement how the volume grows through the infusion process. I had no idea how much bancha expands! The dried leaves look so thin and frail, yet they end up as nice-sized leaves. They are chopped a bit, but still rather large—though nothing like oolong, of course…
It’s been a while now since I’ve had any Long Jing, and today’s big tetsubin of Tealux’s top grade is tasting mighty fine. I did not measure the temperature (still have not figured out where my tea paraphernalia is after the move—no doubt in the bottom of a box in the back corner of a storage space), but using the largest tetsubin automatically diminished the heat apparently the appropriate amount, because this tastes very good. Now I’m wondering: perhaps I should dispense with the thermometer and brew loose green tea only in this large tetsubin?
I feel compelled after today’s positive experience to increase my rating of this tea.
In an attempt to warm up my heat-less house yesterday, I whipped up a big batch of pumpkin-rice-coconut milk pudding, which requires baking for an hour or so. It also tastes delicious. I add a liberal amount of pumpkin pie spice and extra ground ginger, in addition to brown sugar. This time I used palm sugar from Thailand because I could not find my molasses brown sugar.
The perfect tea accompaniment to my pumpkin comfort food is … drum roll … Harney & Sons Green Tea with Thai Flavors. Who am I kidding? This tea is the perfect accompaniment to nearly anything, provided only that one enjoys the rich flavor of coconut, which I obviously do! Coconut ranks way up there with salmon, eggs, and bananas, among the rare foods which ALWAYS elevate my mood. I wonder what the explanation of that is?