902 Tasting Notes
Tea of the late afternoon…….
I completely forgot I had this. I got it as a free sample back in the Fall when I was going through all the issues that the first release of Adagio’s VarieTEA electric kettle. (If it is any indicator how that went, I have a UtiliTEA instead!) I did not realize that this sample costs $6. And 3oz of it is currently $19. Wow. Since I just had some of my favorite Premium Dragon Well earlier this afternoon (and it is about $13 for a similar amount!) and I had the Lung Ching from my local Asian Market yesterday, I thought I would be in a good place to compare the three.
Color on the leaves is kind of a dull yellow-green. Definitely yellower than the leaves from the Asian Market tea, but not nearly as bright green as the leaves of the Premium Dragon Well from Teavivre. It smells very similar to the market tea. It steeps up with a similar color to the market tea. The Premium Dragon Well steeps up a little brighter yellow, and this is more a golden yellow. The taste is somewhere between the market tea and the Premium. The market tea had a hint of smoke, and this might have a remnant of a similar flavor. I likened the flavor of the Premium to very fresh asparagus that is roasted, where this is more like spinach…roasted spinach. Not that great. I pretty much prefer the market tea to this as the slight smokiness makes it interesting. So glad I have tried these two other dragonwells, though. It makes no sense for me to try to find a better one than what I can get from Teavivre!
Tea of the afternoon…..at least this is what I think I have……
I went on a little adventure to my local Asian Market to see if there was any interesting teaware. I have to be quite honest in that I bought all of my current teaware sight unseen online. I have ordered a gaiwan that will be shipping soonish, but since it is coming from China, it will be a bit. I was really hoping that my market would have a gaiwan, but no luck. It seems they mostly have a porcelain mug with a porcelain infuser there. I almost bought a small Japanese teapot with two cups, but I held off and went to look at the tea.
(I know what you are thinking…..I am supposed to be on a tea ban, a no-buy, a camellia sinensis procurement moratorium. But I have recently rewritten it to be only a ban on new black tea…….hopefully, until April.)
With my newly discovered names for the teas I like, I perused the wares. I bought this, or at least what I think is this…a Lung Ching from a tea import company of the same name. It also says “Shifeng Brand” and G352 on the lid. It came in the cutest green tin with gold decorations and two goldfish on it. Really, it was the tin that did me in…it is really nice with an inner seal. It contains 125 grams of what is probably average Lung Ching, but it has to be good luck to buy dragonwell in the year of the dragon, right? I spent $7. And I almost would have spent that just on the tin….
The tea itself is very drinkable. Even though there are things about it that are similar to the Premuim Dragon Well from Teavivre that I love, this is very different. It is a dull green, it does not look or smell nearly as fresh, it brews up to have a slight hint of smoke, and it lacks the bright butteryness of my favorite. However, I still kind of like it. If I could read any of the information on the tin, I might have a clue when it expires. Oh, well. I am just pleased that I am liking green tea!
Tea of the afternoon……
Something about a good Earl Grey is just so relaxing. I actually have been working on a big project…. I am trying to learn to play the cello in my 40s. Turns out, I need to relax a little to improve my playing, so this is what I need right now (since a glass of wine is not really going to help with my accuracy!). I love the bright bergamot notes in this tea. It just makes me happy.
Usual teapot method.
Tea of the afternoon……
I decided it was time to go forth with another new oolong. I have had this from the second Steepster Box?, but am just getting to it now.
It is similar in mothfeel to other oolongs; It tastes thick. It really kind of reminds me of Genmaicha as there is a little bit of a toasted rice taste. But it has a sweeter finish than Genmaicha. Good, but I tend to prefer a more floral type oolong. We shall see what subsequent steepings bring to the table.
Steeped according to the label (even though I see better suggestions on the main page for this tea…will try that next time)…. 2 tsp tea in about 12 oz. filtered boiled water for 3 minutes. No additions.
Tea of the afternoon…..
I had a little English Breakfast from Harney left over (a good non-smokey, budget version of Keemun). Since I really wanted a Keemun somewhere between it and Teavivre’s Keemun Grade 2, I made a 1:1 ratio of the two of them. That was my tea of the morning. It was very good, but I decided to take it one step further. I added another equal part to the new whole of Upton’s Panyang Congou TP60. Now, I have smoothed it out just a little more and amped up the cocoa note just a little. What I have now is a smokier cocoa-noted tea. Yum! I really like this. If I had some inexpensive Yunnan on hand, I would have added some of that, too, to make a tea blend along the lines of Queen Catherine. I only have about 2 total ounces, but I will gladly drink them!
ChOTE (Chai of the evening……)
I decided to use this as a chai spice mix again, but this time with an unloved rooibos blend in my cupboard. I used 3 actual tsp of Zocolatte Spice and 2 actual tsp of Bourbon Street Vanilla Rooibos from EnglishTeaStore.com. I used my usual chai method, and this is good. It is vanilla, mocha-ey, and cocoa-ey, as well as spicy and a little peppery. Really good….even better than with black tea added as far as I am concerned. This totally works. My current rooibos chai (from Upton) is just a little heavy on the anise for my taste to be drinking on a regular basis.
Rating as a chai spice as used above….at least an 88.
Second tea of the morning……
After my first tea of Queen Catherine from H&S, and before my third tea of Ceylon #1 from thepuriTea. Let’s face it, the kind of no-buy I need to be on relates to black teas. I needed to do one last check on the Malachi Blend to see if it truly had an edge over some of the other teas in my cupboard as a breakfast tea. The conclusion….oh, yes, at some point I need this.
The more and more I drink black tea blends, I appreciate why certain teas are put together. The parts definitely make the whole better. I do love Keemun, but there is something about the addition of the Assam in the Malachi blend that keeps it smooth while adding heartiness and a richness. I would not at all call this a brisk tea. There is no astringency. Since I am not one who likes to add milk to tea all that often, this really works for me. The Queen Catherine is more subtle, somehow, and a bit sweeter. More of an afternoon type tea for me, even though I will gladly drink it in the morning, too. There is more of a cocoa note in the Queen, and much less heartiness. As for the Ceylon #1, this tea has a bready taste. It is not what I would call hearty, either, and it has just a hint of briskness where the Malachi is all smooth. I definitely have my mind made up on the Malachi, but I seriously need to spend some time drinking the black tea I have on hand before adding to the stash. I am thinking Malachi is poundworthy for me.
Usual mug method.
Thank you, ashmanra for the sample. Alas, it is gone, but I will be buying this……
Tea of the evening……
After my trials with the Tower of London this afternoon, I decided it was time to start testing a few of the other teas in my cupboard that have the flavors of things I am sensitive/allergic to…. For some reason this one is all right. Maybe because I do eat canned peaches every now and again? It amazes me how there are times when you think you have things figured out, and then, ‘whammy’, you really don’t.
I do remember in past steepings of this one that it helps to have a shorter and cooler steeping than I usually do with black teas. It works pretty well. I have mostly switched to honeybush or a select few rooibos blends for my evening teas as I can usually taste something off in decaf blacks. This is definitely one of the better versions of decaf black, though. Sweet peach flavor and a decent decaf black base.
Tea of the afternoon…..
For some reason this does not taste as good to me as it has in the past. The thing is, it should be a good one for me. The base is, (I think) Keemun and Yunnan. I am thinking, though, it is the stone fruit flavors. I have a weird sensitivity/allergy to fresh plums, peaches, and apricots….any of your basic stone fruits. I just did not make the connection before. It is not like I am actually reacting (the tea uses essences that have likely been heated. This pretty much denatures the proteins to which I do have an allergy, into something I can consume without issue), but the flavor is leaving me uneasy in my head. It is a feeling like I should be reacting to it, but I am not. I know. Strange. The same thing happened with a black tea with notes of walnuts because I react to raw walnuts is a very similar manner. So sad. I loved this one. I need to rehome it.
Who needs Tower of London, about 4 ounces? (US only, please…the recent international mail rate increase was kind of big…)
Tea of the morning……
And the end of this sample. I think I have kind of figured out where this falls….. I think the Grade 2 is the smokiest of the three, slightly more earthy in taste, and the most astringent at the end. The Premium really has very little in the way of astringency, and is slightly smoother and more complex in that there are a few different flavor notes than Grade 1. Grade 1 and Premium are both very light on the smokiness…there is just enough so that you know you are drinking Keemun. The astringency can mostly be controlled by the amount of leaf, steep time, and steep temperature, but in similar steeping parameters, the astringency is greatest in Grade 2 and gets less as you go up in quality. Obviously, more leaf, longer time, and hotter temperature make the tea stronger, too. When I say smokey, of course the notes are light and nothing near that of a true smokey tea. In summary, the Grade 2 is essentially smokier and the Premium is smoother and more complex when compared to this one. I do think the difference in price on this one is worth it. Once my Grade 2 is gone, I am not sure if I will get this one or the Premium.
Usual teapot method…..a little light on the leaf, but for the full 4 minutes. (And it was still a little less astringent than the Grade 2 at 3 minutes….)