705 Tasting Notes
Could have sworn I did a tasting note for this one when the 12Tas of Christmas came out, but maybe I just tried it. This is yet another sample from the 12Teas that I am trying to finally finish up. I recall the aroma not being very recognizable at the time, but it is much more powerful now, with chocolate and caramel dominating. For me, that’s good news. I am always on the lookout for a good caramel tea, though most let me down.
Steeped this for 2 to 3 minutes in a T-Sac to avoid the harsh taste of the bitter black base that Frank used to use and this yields an aromatic and orangey-brown brew. I find that using a T-Sac can help cut the bitterness as there is less room for particles to escape so I expect this will be a bit smoother than if I brewed it in a strainer.
Finishing up my chocolate chip granola bar (a moment of temptation – usually I go for the fruit and nut ones, but everyone needs a little chocolate, right?) this tea does smell delicious. Hopefully it will compare to the “real” chocolate I just had. OH man, it does. Wow. Typically I don’t like Frank’s blends, but this one is really hitting the spot. The chocolate is building on the aftertaste from my bar and I get the sense of caramel behind all that. It is, in fact, shockingly like a caramel turtle. Two thumbs up on this blend – I’m glad I have enough left for a small cup to enjoy another time. As the cup cools the bitter black tea is creeping up on me, but that’s to be expected. I’ll just have to slurp it quickly! : )
Dry aroma puts me in mind of an Iron Goddess, it smells very much like a green oolong. There is a bold aroma, distinct sweetness with some hay and grass underneath it. I’m not much for greener oolongs typically, but this smells pretty nice.
Steeped at 90 degrees for about 2 minutes, the beau thinks we under-steeped it a bit and I tend to agree. There is a very slight oolong aroma and taste, more sweet than vegetal but it was barely there.
The second steep (of 5ish minutes) shows more strength of flavour, with a fairly strong floral aroma and taste. Still fairly unassuming, but nice. Green oolongs aren’t really my forte and this doesn’t really change that but it was a perfectly palatable cup of tea.
I think this is one of those times where I should have followed the instructions and used boiling water, but boiling water doesn’t work with oolongs for me very frequently. I still have three more little pouches, will try again at some point. Thanks Teavivre for this sample! (From ages ago, whoops!)
Trying these bad boys tonight. I bought a sample of them in October when I learned that the DT closest to me actually got a stock of them. I had resisted before based on not knowing how I feel about jasmine, but the smell is just hypnotic. I have had jasmine in other teas but always have this fear in the back of my mind that it will be too strong and perfumey – despite that never having happened!
The dry smell of these pearls (really, like the Teavivre pearls, they are about the size of marbles. SO beautiful!) is sweet jasmine with a hint of bitter black tea underneath. I’m thinking the sweetness of the jasmine is so striking that it makes the black tea seem bitter in contrast, hopefully I don’t get any of that once steeped.
The beau and I did 4 pearls to our medium pot, steeped at 95 degrees for about three minutes. The first cup was basic black tea, a bit mild with a hint of sweet. Thre was a hint of jasmine at the back of the sip, but it was so unassuming that I almost thought it was just part of the tea itself. The second cup has quite a bit of astringency, but no bitterness. I’m thinking some crumbs may have been in the pot and continued steeping. The jasmine is stronger here too, it rounds out the tea quite nicely, but the tea itself is a bit too one-dimensional. I would like to get some malt or chocolate here, something with a bit of depth to balance the jasmine.
All that said, this is a nice tea. This is a special tea. I get that. This is NOT an amazing tea. For the price ($14 for 50 grams) I was pretty disappointed. I would much rather have Teavivre’s black pearls or Davids Yunnan Black. While I will definitely re-steep this and enjoy the remains of my 20 gram sample (about 20 pearls) I won’t be buying more. Hopefully I remember to try to steep it a little differently next time and see if I can improve it. If it cost less, it would get higher rating but at that price point I expect my tea to be more interesting. I think a better base tea could have made a big difference here.
So I bought this one (and my tea pet and a few others) a year ago. Because my stash is so ridiculous and I tend to keep my favourites eternally, I still have almost all of it left. I booked today off to indulge myself in bad wedding movies, tea and bread-making, so I enjoyed a few gong-fu infusions of this while watching Made of Honour. I’ve gotta say, I don’t know how I am going to make it 6 more months waiting for my wedding. I already live with my fiancee and we’ve been together for going on nine years but I am just so excited to have a big party with everyone we love to celebrate us. Plus, I adore my dress and just want to wear it all the time! : )
Anyway. This tea. So yummy. Despite the aging, it is lovely and rich, there is smoothness and some definite malt, but no bitterness to be found. There is a lot of cocoa and earthy tea flavour, but as I say it is just all so smooth! I’ve done three infusions so far in my gaiwan and this afternoon I will do a few more, I think. This is a sensational tea, and I have even more respect for it now than I did a year ago. Now I just need to enjoy it all before it gets too old!
Here’s another improperly stored sample from last year’s 12 Teas of Christmas that I didn’t quite get to. I should never have opened the parcels unless I intended to make a cup that day, since the little envelopes weren’t resealable. Oh well, too late for “should have done”s!
The aroma is interesting, though it doesn’t put me in mind of cookies. I actually get a bit of spicy chocolatey something. I’m having trouble pinning it down. Keeping in mind that the old 52Teas black tea base gets way bitter, I steeped it just about 3 minutes. Steeped aroma is very accurate to the dry leaf – something spicy (nutmeg?) and a strange cocoa. Not necessarily appealing cocoa, but it’s there. I’m more of a milk chocolate girl, sadly. Also, I HATE milk, so I’m hoping the milk part of milk and cookies doesn’t really happen. I almost never add anything to me tea as I feel that a good tea (flavoured or otherwise) shouldn’t require any help, so it’ll be interesting to see how this fares on it’s own two feet.
The initial flavour is mostly black tea, something sweet in the background (identified as brown sugar after reading the description!) and something off to the side that isn’t quite materializing. I just had pineapple for a snack so that may be amplifying the sweetness, but the brown sugar seems SO distinct to me now. I think that is probably the aroma I am mixing up with the cocoa too. The black tea is a bit too present for my liking, I wish the rest of the cookie would materialize.
I’m loving the brown sugar, though. Not getting anything in terms of cocoa, and nothing that makes me think of cookies or milk, but as a brown sugar flavoured black tea, this is solidly okay. As I sip, I am getting more hints of that black base bitterness. Perhaps a bit less leaf might have been in order. I am pretty certain this is the “old” black tea base that I wasn’t fond of, I don’t think I’m had any encounters with the new one, though I hear it’s a lot smoother.
This is one of those teas that works better hot for me, so rather than continue to type I think I shall enjoy the remainder of this as quickly as I can. This is a decent offering, though not true to it’s title. Of course, as always, this sample has been kicking around for a year so degradation of quality could always be a factor.
EDIT to add: It gets much more bitter the further I get in the cup. I gave in and added a few granules of raw sugar to make it palatable to the bottom. I wish the base weren’t overtaking everything with it’s bitterness. I had a hard enough time finding the flavours without that horning in! : )
Seeing all the hubbub about the 12 Teas of Christmas has reminded me that I never finished mine from last year – in fact, I don’t think I even tried half of them! I found Christmas far too busy with family and food to have time to deal with the 12teas, and then they were forgotten at the back of the tea shelf until now. Luckily, only one last year contained an ingredient I loathe (coconut) so there were still 11 others to try. I am excited that Frank is doing bigger sample sizes this year as I thought it was a bit of a ripoff last year (2 cups per sample, so $30 for 24 cups), but I will not be partaking this time. Unfortunately, 52Teas don’t tend to be to my liking, with a few notable exceptions.
All that aside, I’m brewing up some cinnamon roll honeybush – the cinnamon is certainly there in aroma, though I’m not getting anything pastry or bakey. 5 – 6 minute steep yields cinnamon flavoured water, with a hint of something honeybush at the end. I am not a huge fan of cinnamon and I find it to be very overwhelming in most teas, but when it’s done well it can be really nice. It may just be because of the age of my sample (obviously it’s a year old) but this one isn’t yielding anything beyond the two notes of cinnamon and honeybush. I would like to see something in the middle there filling it out, a bit of sweetness to represent the icing, or something bakey. I love cinnamon rolls, but this is just cinnamon tea, to me. : (
Tried this one with the beau a few days back and forgot to log a note – I remember being pleasantly surprised with the quality initially but finding it become bitter as time went on despite careful steeping. The falvour and aroma were rich and earthy, but the finicky nature of the tea didn’t endear itself to me. Will try again with the rest of our sample later on, at the moment I wouldn’t feel the need to restock it. I could certainly live without it, there was nothing remarkable going on.
Here’s another one I’ve had for quite a well but never tried. Since I first started shopping at Davids Tea, this one has been strongly recommended. I’ve noticed that the newer sales girls tend to reach for the newest teas first, but this one used to be a strong seller for them, and I assume it still is as it’s still on the menu. Of course, for the first year or two of my tea life, I didn’t like oolong OR puerh – now it’s just puerh I can’t handle. I figured that after having a sample of this for probably a year or more we should probably try it out.
We steeped it in 85 degree water for 3 or 4 minutes, I didn’t want to scald the oolong as I didn’t know how well it would stand up to heat. The flavour was at first a bit strong, ginger and orange peel rounding out each sip and keeping the flavours together, but it became very palatable as I got deeper in the cup. I haven’t looked at the leaves, but it must be a roasted oolong rather than a green. I didn’t get any wet dog smell or taste from the puerh, so I was pretty happy with that. Altogether, these flavours work remarkably well. Unexpectedly, the beau LOVED it and wants to take it to work – this is one he would actually like to get a tin of. Will marvels never cease? He used to hate ginger, oolong and puerh. It’s interesting how our tastes have changed.
The second steep we just enjoyed came out a bit thin after five minutes of steeping, but it was also tasty. It was shockingly sweet (I assume from the oolong) and the ginger/orange were there just as a light background note. I would have preferred a bit more strength in the second steep, but the beau may have been light on the leaf so I shan’t blame the tea.
Anyway, this is a very respectable tea. Not sure what it really does for fat absorption, but if it helps at all, I support it! : ) It went quite well as a complement to our takeout pad thai as well. Hey, a girl needs a treat sometimes, right? : )
I like pears. This doesn’t smell like pears…It smells like bubblegum with some sharp fake pear on the end. The “pearness” is reminiscent of a jelly belly rather than a real pear (bosc or otherwise!) The bubblegum smell is starting to really make me mad, I have experienced it in so many of the DT blends from the last year.
Steeped five minutes or so, warm yellow colour, reminiscent of a pale ale. The taste doesn’t match the aroma, but like some of the others, I get more tart apple than sweet pear. If I even got tart pear I’d be okay with it, but I don’t get pear at all. There is a creamy sweetness at the back of the sip that I think is the vanilla – it’s not a bad blend and I’m not getting bubblegum anymore, I just think it’s misleading to call this Perfect Pear.
Actually, as an apple tea it’s quite nice. I almost wish that vanilla weren’t there though. It’s not quite working for me.
Re-visiting this one today as part of the never-ending Herculean effort to diminish my tea stash, or at least the ones I’m not crazy about. I steeped 1.5 teaspoons of this for about five minutes and got an apricotty brew with a hint more cinnamon than I would prefer, but it’s not too bad. I find cinnamon to be a tricky ingredient in tea as it always tries to take over. The blend is still pretty lackluster but decent enough. Maybe this should be a cold brew tea for the beau? Hmm.