908 Tasting Notes
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….)
Tea of the late afternoon…..
First of all, “Happy Friday”! I am so thankful the weekend is here. Secondly, thank you to Teavivre for sending this sample along with my first order. (I will just let you know, that I am becoming a huge fan of this company!)
The tea: I have had white teas in the past, but they have mostly been flavored versions. And I probably sweetened them, too. This is a good one because it is good all on its own, no added flavors, no need to add sweetness. It is light and has notes that are both floral and slightly vegetal. It is lighter than my favorite green tea (Premium Dragon Well), and really reminds me of Spring. A very good offering, and since I need some white tea in my life, I will order this at some point. Definitely my favorite white to date. (I have had at least 2 unflavored whites, but they did not impress me much.)
Right about now, I should be asking what Teavivre puts in their tea to make it so good! I think it is excellent, fresh tea, and excellent service.
About 3 tsp tea (it is fluffy!) in a 15 oz mug, about 180 water for 2 minutes. No additions. (I love teas that are great plain!)
I will admit to pulling the trigger just a little too early on this one. Darn it, Teavana. The allure of the free spoon and sample, plus the super low price on the tea itself sucked me in even with the flat rate shipping tagged on. Luckily, I did not have issues with my shipment like some have recently.
I was hoping it was Mercuryhime’s beloved Spicy Chocolate from Specialteas, but I have since learned it is not. Since I ordered 8 oz of it, I have been trying to decide what to do with it. Once I took a whiff, I had my answer. Chai spice mix. I have some tea that my friends brought back from India that is pretty finely ground. The tea really reminded me of the texture of the Tipu’s Chai I had in my cupboard at one time. So, here is where my 3 Roses tea from India and Zocolatte Spice meet…..to make the perfect chocolatey and somewhat mocha-ish (from the chicory, probably) chai.
For two cups of chai, I used almost a perfect teaspoon of Brooke Bond 3 Roses Tea and 2 perfect teaspoons of Zocolatte Spice. Simmered for 3 minutes in 1 1/2 cups filtered water, added just over a half cup of skim milk and simmered for another minute and a half. Strained and then sweetened. Very tasty….and I am going to try a caffeine free version using Herbal Hot Cinnamon from Harney in place of the 3 Roses.
As a chai spice blend, I rate this as at least an 85…..
Tea of the afternoon…..
This is my favorite green tea. I must have some for my cupboard. It is so smooth, the taste reminds me of very fresh roasted asparagus in a high quality olive oil. Not a hint of bitterness or astringency, just smoooooth, lightly buttery goodness. Thank you so much to Teavivre for the sample. I am hooked!
(And thank you to ashmanra for the recent review that suggested I should be drinking this one right now!)
Mug method with about 180 water. 2minutes first steep, three minutes for the second.
Second tea of the morning……
And this is the end of my sample! I do think this is the first sample sent from Teavivre that I have finished if that is any indication how good it is for a drinker of black teas. (My samples of the Balin Gongfu and the Yunnan Dian Hong Golden Tip are close behind, though…) While I am sad to see this go, I know their Keemun Grade 1 and Keemun Grade 2 teas are also very good. I do think I might spring for this one once I get through my sample of the Grade 1 and purchase of the Grade 2. It really is just a little extra special when compared to the other two.
Usual teapot method, light on the leaf and 3 minute steep.