335 Tasting Notes
Been awhile since I’ve talked about a tea on here…and it had to be one I didn’t like very much. Oh well. This one meant well.
This is the first blend that I’ve delved into since…uh…yesterday. (That English Breakfast teabag shouldn’t count!) First impressions: It was a blend. A green tea blend. Specifically, Chinese sencha as the base with orange and red bits strewn about. On smell, it was…well…fruit sugar. Not sure if they were aiming for apples with the aroma, but I got the impression caramel dipped apples. And we’re almost two weeks out from Halloween.
I obeyed the brewing instructions to the letter(ish) – 1 tsp. of blend in a 6oz. steeper cup, infused for three minutes. The water used was “about” 170F degrees. Couldn’t say for certain.
The liquor brewed a pale, somewhat foggy green with a leafy (but sweet) aroma invoking a sense of honey-dipped peanut butter. When I sipped it, I must say I recoiled a little. There was an unwelcomed syrupy texture on the forefront. It settled down, allowing the rest of the tea aspects to shine through, but it was definitely jarring. Like, “flavored tea” jarring. The middle was sweet and lightly floral. Some of the natural grapy lean of the Chinese sencha even poked out like a prairie dog. But…the finish.
No polite way to put it. The epilogue and aftertaste were…soapy. Astringent, still sweet-ish, kinda lavender-y…and just unpleasant. If only everything from the middle and top note had remained. I think that the blended elements themselves could’ve held this infusion up better without the flavoring agents. ]
A second infusion was a drastic improvement, keeping hold of the fruitier aspects, while ditching the soapy palate texture.
I’m almost completely certain Oriental Beauty is my favorite type of oolong. I’ve enjoyed every variant I’ve tried of it, thus far. And this is, by no small margin, my favorite. No, not just because it had the words “wild” and “arbor” in the title. (Although, that certainly helps.)
The taste is all tart, sweet, fruity, and some form of magic not known to us humans. I would say more…but that might be windbagging it a bit.
Like I did here: http://steepstories.com/2013/09/19/wild-arbor/
There are certain words that will instantly trigger my interest. Five of them are “whiskey”, “barrel-aged”, and “Lapsang Souchong”. When combined…my head explodes. No, not literally, that’d be messy.
I had mused on what a whiskey’d Lapsang would taste like. There was no doubt that I’d enjoy it…but I didn’t know how much. It seemed perfect. Well, the first time I tried it, it almost was. Almost. Something was missing. Then I decided to steep the heck out of it for five minutes. Holy wow…flavor country dialed up to eleven.
Oddly enough, in and around the time I tried it the perfect way, I was gearing up to see The Great Gatsby. Naturally, I had to draw parallels between that flavorful experience and the movie I just watched because…well…science.
You can read that tangent here: http://steepstories.com/2013/05/16/carried-away-by-whiskey-tea/
Finally! Finally, finally, FINALLY!
I got to try this. And it was perfect. I have a fetish for Yunnan golds in general….but now I have one for this tea in specific. After nearly two years of people extolling its virtues, it finally made it into my cup. It was honey-ish, malty, floral, and teagasmic in all the right ways. Definitely worth the hype.
Even better was the conversation it invoked. You can find that here: http://steepstories.com/2013/05/09/golden-fleece-feast-fest-a-taste-of-eugene-and-tea-from-neighbors/
As if I hadn’t had enough caffeine today, I decided to rip into a bag I received from Rare Tea Cellar – an oak-aged Keemun. I’m a sucker for anything that says “cask-conditioned” or “oak-aged” in the title. Although, that usually applies to beer, not tea.
This is very much a Keemun through-and-though, only a lot bolder. Like Assam bold, only with a bit more seniority. It’s hard to pick up on what the oak barrel contributes, but it is easy to see that this has all the trappings of a semi-aged hong cha. The flavor has a sense of “experienced” to it. Funny thing, too, the wood-sweet aspects of the Keemun are there, but there’s a wildernessy presence as well – usually a trait found in Yunnan blacks.
All said, I’m sold on the oak-aging thing.
This little treasure was a surprise. Well, I knew I was going to like it since it had the word “Gold” in the title, and the fact that it had a lot of tippy leaves in the mix. Okay, sure, I’ve heard that such a presence doesn’t affect the taste any…but I like shiny things. So, shush.
This tasted like a cross between a tippy Dian Hong and a 2nd flush Darjeeling – Arya Ruby or Giddapahar clonal, to be precise. There were shades of malt, honey, cedar, peppers and grapes – all juggling at once. I’ve had a few Nepalese blacks in my time, but not one that actually tasted like something from China. I just dug the fact that it was so smooth and – for all intents and purposes – on the far side of unique.
(In case you haven’t guessed by now, “unique” is my thing.)
Wow, been awhile since I’ve been here. And – lo! – the site is working! Double-celebration!
This tea had three things going for it: One, it was from Nepal. Two, it was an oolong from Nepal. Three, it had the word yeti in it. The fact that it was going to taste good seemed to already be a given.
This is the first Himalayan oolong I’ve tried that actually mimicked the taste of an oolong for Taiwan or China. I like the muscatel kick of the region, but this offered something more traditional.
And, of course, in “traditional” fashion, I had to write more about it…and mythical creatures: http://steepstories.com/2013/04/16/wrestling-a-wild-yeti/
‘Bout damn time I got to this sample. It was my second day off, didn’t roust ’til the most excellent hour of NOON!
I thought to myself, Damn, I haven’t had an oolong in, like…forever.
So, I decided to rectify that with this. I didn’t have too high o’ hopes for it. The last Nilgiri oolong I tried…didn’t taste like an oolong. Like, at all.
Tasted IDENTICAL to a Dan Cong – right down to the tart-sweet delivery. I was in flavor-FULL heaven. And if I displayed any more ALL CAPS-ness, I might come across as an eighth grader. Point being, holy balls this was good.
Okay, ’guess I am an eighth grader.
These days I’ve been in an “In Teamorium” phase. As in, finishing off the last of teas that have been on the shelf. Today, I finished the last of my Dan-Cha from Phoenix Teahouse. It was extra special because it was the first cup of tea I’d had in 26 hours.
I got two burly pots out of this sucker. I probably wasn’t as delicate with it as I should’ve been, but I thought I’d take it to its limit. It held up to the punishment I dished out with “x-treme” gusto. Even took on shades of malt as an act of sincerity.
Good show, Danny-boy. Er, girl. Whatever.
Prologue: It took me for bloody ever to update Steepster with his tea. Ten minutes! That’s ten minutes that could’ve been spent sipping tea. Grrrr….
I originally was saving this for a special occasion, or for when I accomplished something magnificent – like curing cancer of the butt or something. I figured, however, that surviving the work week was just like surviving butt cancer, so, I whipped it out on my day off.
I’ve only heard of (and had) two other teas that were cask-aged. Those were from Smith Tea. I was glad to see that others were taking up this trend. This autumn flush Nepalese was cask-aged in Cab-Franc and Merlo barrels for…I-dunno-how-long.
The result was a tea that smelled vaguely of wine, but mostly of Himalayan black, which was fine. On the taste, it was really hard to tell the difference between the natural muscatel notes of the leaves and the wine-scenting from the barrels. If I were a betting man, I would say they showed up in the aftertaste the most. More Cab-Franc than Merlot (thankfully).
If I were to impart a suggestion on further experiments, I would say to use a wetter barrel when beginning the casking process. Otherwise, this was awesomeness in my mornin’ cup.
Edit: Would you believe this tea was somewhat instrumental in saving my trip to World Tea Expo? Well, it was. http://steepstories.com/2013/02/11/high-fives-to-o5-and-a-world-tea-expo-update/