1073 Tasting Notes
The spices in Zhena’s Gypsy Tea Coconut Chai taste pretty good, but the underlying black tea base is weak, to put it mildly. The base is indicated by the company text (in this tea’s Steepster profile) as “ceylon”, though on the can it is identified as “Indian black tea”. Hmmm… isn’t Ceylon tea from Sri Lanka (formerly known, in the colonial days, as “Ceylon”)? Did India acquire Sri Lanka while I was busy moving?
The liquor is a light peachy gold—looking more like a brewed Chun Mee than a black tea—and the flavor is, stated simply, tea deficient. Of course, I prefer my spicy chais to be prepared with a robust black base, so Zhena’s Gypsy Tea chai and I were never meant to be. In loose leaf chais which are too weak on the tea front, I sometimes throw in a dose of CTC Assam for good measure.
Zhena’s Gypsy Tea Coconut Chai comes in a filter bag, so I’ll probably use the remaining three servings in my sampler tin to infuse directly into almond coconut milk and see how that tastes. Perhaps it will at least draw out the coconut more forcefully. Here it is masked by the traditional chai spices.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Cloves
I picked up a can of Chai Diaries Wisdom Pu-erh Chai out of curiosity—though I confess that the brand sounded a bit gimmicky to me—and brewed up my first sachet of this blend today. The liquor is dark red, and I was seriously considering the possibility of adding almond-coconut milk but decided instead to adulterate using the usual suspect (light cream) so that I would not be distracted by that change in evaluating the quality of the tea.
It’s good. A pleasant pu-erh blend (as in: not fishy at all, and more about the flavorings than the earthy base tea). Again, I am finding that complex pu-erh blends overlap with Assam blends to some extent. Certainly the tea itself is strong, which is to my liking, but it is less malty than Assam. I like this blend, finding that it compares favorably with the Numi Pu-erh blends. The flavorings are not of the standard “chai”—there is no cardamom or clove or cinnamon or black pepper. Instead, we have almonds, star anise, licorice, ginger root, and then some fruit flavors (mango and berry)—all seamlessly blended. The text on the cylinder explains that “chai” just means “tea”, but no insight is offered into what these specific flavors might have to do with wisdom…
The company boasts the use of only natural flavorings, which is always a good thing. My cylinder contains twenty (now nineteen) pyramid sachets containing a nice looking larger leaf blend. I’d like to try their chocolate chai, given this positive experience, and also their loose leaf version of one or more of their teas. And perhaps I shall!
While preparing today’s first POD (pot of the day), Teavivre Bi Luo Chun, I noticed that the coiled leaves are quite multifarious in color and parts of them shimmer, as though they were woven of silk.
I brewed a large pot today, using a full sample portion (not sure how many grams…). The resultant liquor was pale yellow, as before, but the flavor seemed richer and sweeter than I recalled this tea having been. I imbibed today’s three glasses right after my first MOD (meal of the day): toasted raisin bread with butter. A good combination!
This is a subtle tea, that’s right, full of subtlety! ;-) I am becoming accustomed to and even growing fond of this very gentile green tea, which until recently I had never even heard of. If green teas were people, then Bi Luo Chun would have to be the one who graduated from white gloves and party manners. Bi Luo Chun knows how to set a proper table, with the forks and knives and spoons all in the right place. Bi Luo Chun never fails to write polite thank you notes.
Or perhaps we could compare teas to genres of music. Bu Luo Chun is strictly classical—no heavy metal or rap or rock ballades here…
I enjoyed an excellent serving of iced Tazo Passion courtesy of Starbucks. Unfortunately, I had first to wrangle with the minion (a barista) of a mastermind (Howard Schultz). Unbelievably enough, I was denied yet again my free refill (on a Frappuccino) by an employee ignorant of her very own company’s policy. She was very insistent that ONLY if I started with an iced coffee could I have a refill, and then it would have to be coffee, not tea. Since I am the refill maven (as documented here at Steepster), who has consumed dozens of free cups over the course of the past year, I asked her whether the policy had changed. She said “no,” it had always been the same policy since she started working there and that she had worked there longer than any of her colleagues. Her smug certainty prompted me upon my departure to call Sbucks customer service to find out what was going on. In fact, I was right and the barista was wrong, so I turned around and went back into the store and handed my cellphone to her so that she could be disabused of her false beliefs about the refill program. It’s really too bad that such a generous refill policy is severely marred by the poor training of baristas. This must be the tenth time that I have had to argue about the company’s very own policy (explicitly detailed on their website)! It really compromises the overall experience to be treated as a lowlife criminal shoplifter by poorly trained/ignorant baristas.
End of rant.
The Passion was quite tasty—not sure, though, whether it was really worth that ordeal! I did enjoy the tangy red infusion while walking a couple of miles to run some errands in the very nice walking weather we had today—in the 60s (not 40s, thank goodness!).
Today’s post-lunch POD (pot of the day) was Nourishtea’s Mao Jian (The Emerald Path). I’m happy with this China green. The liquor is pale greenish yellow and the flavor slightly vegetal—but closer to Mao Feng than sencha. Definitely a good mealtime tea!
I noticed today that my large tetsubin cools the water by almost 10 degrees C! Good to know…
second infusion: once again I found that the leaves nearly double in volume upon reinfusion. The flavor is still good, and the color more gold now than green.
I tried the decaffeinated Earl Grey from Numi and was pleasantly surprised, so I decided to brew up a cup of the caffeinated version today, also included in the sampler box.
It’s good! A nice rounded Assam base, and I do smell and taste the tea more than the bergamot. This is more my preferred style of Earl Grey: a harmonious balance between the bergamot and the base tea, rather than a massive cover-up of the tea.
The liquor is darker orange amber (not quite red), so I may have used too much water for this Assam blend. I may try their loose leaf version, which I’d be able easily to brew to my desired strength for Earl Grey—to be served with light cream.
I have put off testing Tealux Vintage Earl Grey, despite my great love of flowers—lavender and rose are featured here—because the dried tea is strongly redolent of … drum roll ..
That would be the lavender combined with the bergamot and, above all, the rosemary in this highly aromatic blend. There is tons of both lavender and rosemary here, as can be readily seen by the proportion of seeds and needles to tea. The liquor is orange-amber and the flavor is strongly herbal. I was not at all sure whether I should adulterate this variation of The Earl with cream—as I nearly always do—because I wasn’t sure whether cream and rosemary and lavender would work. But then I remembered the quiche I’ve seasoned with Herbes de Provence, and I realized that this should work, too.
It turned out that I needed to add cream because the unadulterated tea was simply too close to a men’s cologne for comfort. This may be a case where I need to throw in some good old CTC Assam to amp up the tea facet of the blend… I like the idea of this blend, but I find the rosemary and lavender a bit heavy handed.
For the record, the flavors I detect most here are not chicken soup or any of the other available bizarre choices, but lavender and rosemary!!!!!
As I was eating toasted raisin bread with butter for my first meal today, I decided to brew up a medium-sized tetsubin of the Tealux Dong Ting Bi Luo Chin. I was looking for something less savory and vegetal, and this was an excellent choice.
The flavor is quite subtle, so I would not pair this tea with very forceful foods, but it works well for this kind of light, slightly sweet meal.
I’m still not at all sure how much dried tea should be used as it weighs nearly nothing! I tried three heaping teaspoons today, but I may have to break down I get me a tea scale—yet more confirmation that I am officially OCD (I already have a thermometer, lol)!