1378 Tasting Notes
Now here’s a darjeeling which I would easily identify as a darjeeling in a blind line-up! This second flush tea from Okayti (by way of Golden Tips) looks, smells, and brews up just like the darjeelings familiar to me. The leaves are of variegated shapes and colors, but on the whole they are veering dark matte chocolate brown and look like a lighter black tea.
The liquor is amber, pure and simple. A perfect example of the color of amber. Not red, not orange, not green, but amber. The taste is slightly astringent and grassy but with real depth and complexity as well.
I drank the first half of this batch while eating fresh raspberries sprinkled with sugar then frozen before drizzling half & half on top. This skewed my tasting a bit, since the berries were very tart and my tongue had to readjust to process the flavor of the tea.
By the second glass (when the raspberries were all gone), I recognized the smooth yumminess of this darjeeling. It may be that, at heart, I’m a second-flush kind of gal. Only time will tell, but by the end of this year I should know for sure!
Before I review this tea, permit me a caveat to everybody on the Golden Tips subscription plan (which I love, so that’s not the warning!): Golden Tips has something like five different company profiles at Steepster. I was unable to locate this tea until I did a Google search, which brought up this page. I was doing a Google search because I was unable to locate the page using the search function at Steepster (and I tried several different terms…), so I was preparing to download a photo and tea info, etc. This must be how so many duplicate pages for teas came to be at Steepster.
Now for my first Golden Tips tea experience: Darjeeling Okayti Splendour First Flush, this one picked on March 28, 2014, and identified as Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe 1 Splendour. But is it a black tea? That is the question before us.
To be honest, this has got to be the greenest darjeeling I’ve ever seen. Granted, most of the darjeeling which I’ve imbibed has been from blends, so not first flush, and not single estate. The dried tea in this first flush, single estate darjeeling from Okayti contains mainly green leaves. I am not imagining this: most of the leaves are various shades of green. There are also some silver tips and a few black leaves scattered about, but judging from appearance alone, I would call this a green, not a black tea—and that’s coming from someone who has consumed large volumes of both.
The liquor brews up greenish gold and becomes more gold and less green after a couple of minutes, but the flavor is very light and—here’s another surprise—it reminds me somewhat of green oolong!
I’m not really sure what to make of all this. The cup was quite tasty, but barely intersected with my concept of darjeeling—almost like a second cousin! Now I am all the more excited to sip my way through my first subscription plan box, hopefully before the next one arrives—which is right around the corner, since this one shipped on July 4th, and today is already the 22nd!
Since my generous sample packet still contains another 7 grams, I’ll withhold attaching a number to this tea until I’ve tried a few more of these darjeelings to give me some perspective on this unique experience.
Another satisfying tetsubin of haute sencha, this one the Superior Uji brought to my doorstep by Zen Tea.
This tea was the perfect accompaniment to today’s first meal of the day (3 pm—I got up at noon…): roasted escarole and endive with scallions frittatta made with provolone cheese, fresh organic half & half, and eggs produced by nonoppressed chickens.
I wonder whether eggs are good or evil at this point in time? The received medical wisdom appears to oscillate back and forth. Not that it matters: I’ll eat them no matter what anybody says!
Let there be eggs. And sencha, of course.
I was very tired after a journey out to the farmer’s market where I bought several pounds of veggies which I then had to haul home. It was already 5:30 pm, but I threw caution to the wind and brewed up my batch of Ethical Agriculture’s Wild Grown Pu-erh from Tea Setter. I almost followed the instructions today, using the entire 4 gram sample rather than dividing it in two, even though that meant that I might have difficulty sleeping tonight. Wait a minute! Who am I kidding? I went to bed at 3:30am and woke up after noon.
I did a quick rinse, but must confess that I’m not sure about rinse efficacy in the case of big chunks. I mean, all of the stuff on the inside of the chunks is not being rinsed, right? On the other hand, I did not want to toss all of the caffeine and flavor away, so I just did a quick rinse rather than waiting for the chunks to disintegrate before commencing the first infusion.
The taste is very good. I’m not sure how to describe it. It tasted (past tense, because I gulped down the batch in no time!) rather like food. Maybe some kind of dark bread? The liquor is a dark apricot color, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that there is no mushroom or soil-like flavor to this pu-ehr whatsoever. It also does not taste at all like Lapsang Souchong, as I have found in a couple of pu-ehr cases so far.
Anyway, I’m definitely up for another infusion, so I’ll report back. It could be a few more, in fact, given what looks to be the intensity of these chunks.
second infusion (also short—for me): very good!
third infusion (also short): equally good!
How long can this go on??????????
fourth infusion: still going strong, but I need to switch gears.
Now I see why pu-erh is renowned as a diet aid. It tastes like food and can be consumed all day long as a meal replacement beverage!
Flavors: Baked Bread
Another lunch of eggs over easy atop English muffins with sautéed arugula and sliced vine-ripened tomatoes simply cried out for sencha. Today’s choice: Fukujyu from Thé Santé.
Initially, I found the taste of the greenish yellow liquor a bit grassy and more astringent than yesterday’s Nagashima. However, by the second glass, I was a believer once again! i wish that I could figure out why the second glass is nearly always so much better than the first. This happens quite often to me and makes me think that ratings on the basis of a single glass may be generally less favorable…
So how does Harney & Sons Florence compare with Adagio—let’s see which one was it? Aquarius, I believe. Funny that i have no difficulty remembering that Florence = hazelnut + chocolate, but that same connection doesn’t work with a name as truly and utterly arbitrary as Aquarius. I realize that one might consider Florence to be arbitrary as well—though I have been there and find it closer to the warm and cuddly choco-hazelnut veering Nutella feeling than, say Rome—but Aquarius contains the root AQUA, that is: water. What could water have to do with such a tea to begin with that it does not have to do with every other tea as well?
Enough about names. I find that Florence is sweeter than Aquarius. It’s more of a milk chocolate than a cocoa nib taste to me—and that’s not only because I added cream. I added cream to Aquarius as well! I give extra points for the visuals of Aquarius, which includes beautiful cornflower petals (is the blue color supposed to be the water reference, perhaps?). But they add nothing to the taste, as far as I can tell, so on the flavor front, Florence wins this semi-steep-off chez sherapop.
It’s not a full-fledged, bona fide steep-off because I did not prepare the teas at the same moment and drink them side-by-side. I did, however, use similar steeping parameters. If anything, Florence should suffer, having come later in the day than Aquarius. I could by now be tea-sated, after all. (Did I just hear you snicker?) On the other hand, perhaps my evaluation has been be elevated by my BCC (blood caffeine content)? It’s possible, but I gave this tea a higher rating before as well, and I feel that it was fair.
Flavors: Chocolate, Hazelnut
I had yet to try—or acquire—Harney & Sons Florence before penning my previous two tasting notes for Adagio Aquarius. The similarities are worth mentioning: hazelnut and cocoa nibs. I would say that this blend by Adagio is less strictly Nutella-esque. The flavoring seems to be lighter.
Another obvious difference is that this blend contains oolong, while the H&S is straight black base. However, upon examining the contents of my tin, I discovered that the oolong pieces, while undeniably present, are in very low proportion relative to the black tea. Well, that is, until infusion!
The spent oolong leaves expand to take over, making this tea seem much more oolongy than the dried blend would suggest. I love that about oolong—how it expands like some sort of creature from science fiction (a benevolent one!)—especially now that I have discovered that I do not have an oolong issue.
The oolong in this blend appears to be TQY (or TGY), although this is not specified. The dark green gnarled nuggets look fairly familiar to me, and I’m pretty sure that this is the only nugget-shaped oolong used regularly in blends.
Anyway, the presence of oolong notwithstanding, I went ahead and added cream because the hazelnut and cocoa nibs demanded it! Maybe I should go brew up some Florence right now to make a closer comparison of these two teas…
Well, okay, if you insist!
Flavors: Cocoa, Hazelnut
It’s quite cool outside today—relative to the recent weather—so I decided to live it up and make some adulteratable blends since I happen to have some fresh organic half & half in the fridge. First up: Adagio Sagittarius.
It has been a while since I last brewed this tea, so I felt as though I were coming to something new. I observed the raspberry and vanilla before all of the other flavors, including bergamot and safflower. Upon adulteration, I naturally noticed the creaminess!
This blend is quite a bit less fruity than Harney & Sons Paris, but it seems to be made in the same general spirit: a fruity, less citric variant on Earl Grey. In this case, the bergamot is so light that I’d describe Sagittarius as more of a fruity-vanilla blend. It’s pretty good, but after tasting the dark amber liquor au naturel, I went ahead and doused. I don’t really like the China black used as the base in this Zodiac series, but it’s perfectly fine with cream.
Flavors: Fruity, Vanilla