877 Tasting Notes
I enjoyed a lovely cup of Valentine’s Blend this afternoon. I have come to the conclusion that the Harney & Sons sachets of the flavored teas are the perfect dose for my 11 ounce double-walled Bodum glasses. I added a splash of light cream and the result was chocolate wonderfulness in a soothing brew.
The first time I prepared a pot of Tazo Pogo, I found the brew less than appealing and ended up using it as the liquid for a chocolate rice pudding, which ended up being delicious.
Today I opted for a single cup not a pot, and I was somewhat more prepared than last time. Pu-erh and chicory impart a dark, almost subterranean quality to this brew. The scent of the dried blend is highly redolent of chicory, for better or for worse, depending upon one’s estimation of chicory. I suppose that mine is pretty low. Chicory is used to cut coffee—most famously in the French Quarter in New Orleans, but it’s definitely an acquired taste and works best served with powdered-sugar-dusted beignets.
In Pogo, the brewed tea does not really taste like chicory so much—at least not after it’s been doused with light cream, which for me is a necessity to the appreciation of this dark brown liquor. There is a real richness to it, an almost chocolate texture, though the flavor is far more complex and not at all sweet. Basically I find it indescribable, but I did enjoy this cup.
This blend seems intended for pu-erh gringos like me!
I have been looking forward to trying this tea, as it is produced in Kyushu, where I spent some time during my trip to Japan.
Another promising gyokuro from Tealux, Ureshinochea or “tea of joy” is more broken up than some varieties, so I reached for my smallest gauge sieve when it came time to strain. Unfortunately, I oversteeped. Yesterday’s pots were short one or two minutes steeps. Today I set the timer for two minutes but then ran downstairs. The first cup from the pot probably steeped for three minutes, but the second was difficult to strain, so it may have steeped up to four minutes. The result was a bit bitter.
1. make gyokuro only one cup at a time
2. steep for only one minute
3. use the metal coffee cone sieve, which captures more of the smaller particles.
There was quite a bit of dark powder in the bottom of the second cup, which probably also contributed to the bitterness. The dried leaves smell more like cut grass than spinach, so I’m looking forward to trying this tea again. No rating yet. Certainly these cups were potable, but I made too many mistakes to be able to make a fair judgment based on this brew.
The scent of this dried blend from Davids Tea, Coco-Lemon Thai, reminded me immediately of Harney & Sons Green Tea with Thai Flavors aka Bangkok Blend. Both of these teas are strongly redolent of coconut and lemongrass. However, upon brewing, significant differences emerge, above all that Coco-Lemon Thai packs a mighty punch of ginger!
I wonder whether the white tea base is more neutral than the green tea base of the H&S Thai blend? I ask because Bangkok Blend, too, boasts ginger as a major component. Upon examining the ingredients list, it becomes clear that even more important than the tea base is the proportion of ginger, which is listed as the second ingredient in Coco-Lemon Thai, making it the number one flavor!
This is a tasty blend. My only regret is the inclusion of artificial ingredients, which are not among the Bangkok line-up, nor that of any of my favorite ginger brews. Still I’ll certainly imbibe the remaining supply of this sprightly Thai blend.
second infusion: with ginger doing the heavy lifting in this blend, I was not surprised to find that round two was just as good as round one!
The key to this tea, Libra from the Adagio Zodiac series, is to brew it double strength! I used 2 tsp in 10 ounces, and it tastes much richer and fuller than last time. I love the fruity-chocolate flavor, which melds perfectly with the black tea base when doused with light cream. A solid flavored-black wintertime comfort tea.
It’s probably time for me to accept the fact that I like all of my flavored black teas brewed double strength!
Flavors: Berries, Chocolate
In today’s steep-off chez sherapop, Thé Santé Gyokuro Shade is going sip to sip, sniff to sniff against Teavana Gyokuro Imperial. To my surprise, Teavana won the competition!
Gyokuro Shade is good, no doubt, but it brewed up slightly less green and was a bit less flavorful than the Teavana. I used exactly the same brewing parameters for the two teas. Now I must either lower the rating of this tea or raise the rating of the Teavana.
I’ve decided to do a complete green tea steep-off, by the way. You know how they do big tennis tournaments? I’m doing the same thing, in order to determine which is my ichiban green tea. I am starting by comparing the same type of tea with the same type of tea side-by-side—so sencha vs. sencha, gyokuro vs. gyokuro, Long Jing vs. Long Jing, Mao Feng vs. Mao Feng. Then once I’ve found the winner in each category I’ll do steep-offs between my favorite in each category against other favorites in other categories.
Eventually, I’ll learn the truth: which is my favorite green tea of them all?
second infusion: held up pretty well
This stuff is wonderful—and that means a lot coming from someone who has a pretty deep-seated prejudice against Teavana.
Gyokuro Imperial brews up slightly iridescent pale green and tastes just luscious!
second infusion: still wonderful. Who says that gyokuro costs too much? Why it’s a two-fer—at minimum!
I downed two cups of this tea last night before retiring. Obviously it worked, since I could not even muster up the energy to write a tasting note!
The flavor is really not bad at all for a functional tea, and I like the idea that I am consuming catnip—in honor of HRH Emperor Oliver, may he rest in peace.
I read at the Harney & Sons website that Fruits d’Alsace is “Paris on steroids.” Well, it isn’t for me, because there is no vanilla, as far as I can taste. I also found the brew to be quite a bit weaker than Paris. I first infused a heaping teaspoon, and then was unhappy with the light color of the liquor, so I added another teaspoon and reinfused the tea. The end result still did not have the density of Paris. The fruit flavor is nice, but from the scent of the dried tea, I was expecting raspberries in the line-up.
I prefer Boston and Paris to Fruits d’Alsace, at least based on today’s pot, but I’ll certainly be experimenting with amounts and brewing methods, as I have a 4 ounce tin!