514 Tasting Notes
I read Lauren’s note after I’d already made this and discovered that I, too, made it too hot. Makes me want to go back to all the Kusmis I didn’t find very successful and try them at lower temps to see what happens.
In the tin, there’s a fairly mild scent of vanilla over earthy black tea. The vanilla is not strong in the aroma. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it isn’t present though because I’m under the weather, and my smeller and taster could be somewhat off today.
The vanilla in the flavor is kind of sneaky. I don’t taste it much until the after-sip, when it kicks in, sort of like the tail on the Caramel. Just sort of pops up and sweeps over the tongue, like a wave of flavor. And, like real ocean waves, some are bigger sweeps than others.
I do want to give it a shot at a lower water temp and see what difference that may make. It’s not as disappointing as the chocolates were to me, but except for those sweeps when the flavor really pops out, it’s not a stand out vanilla. I’m still liking Black Orchid and Vanilla Dian Hong for stand out vanillas.
I’m not sure what sort of tea is in here, but unlike the English Breakfast version, this one appears to have Orthodox leaves. They’re mostly dark brown, with some silvery tips. There’s a rather amazing cocoa smell coming from inside the tin, which I’m hoping will show up in the flavor.
The steeped tea smells malty-sweet, with a dark cocoa note. The liquor is dark amber, sort of a light brandy color.
This is more like it. There’s a richness and a smoothness to the tea that was nowhere to be found in the English Breakfast. There’s also flavor. Quite a bit of it. It’s full bodied without being thick or particularly heavy. It definitely has some cocoa in the flavor. Not the candified chocolate of flavored teas, but a beany, planty cocoa note that arises organically out of the tea.
Pretty much everything that rubbed me the wrong way in the English Breakfast has been rectified here. This is a delicious tea. It might be even better steeped a little longer, but I think steeping at slightly under boiling was the right choice.
It does make me wonder whether there was a bit of national chauvinism here since the English Breakfast is basically a barbarian of a tea compared to this one. But far be it from me to incite an international incident. ;-)
Decupboarded this morning. I’d been on something of a campaign to drink this up given my reaction to it, so I have been using it as extra black tea in chai as well as having it in the morning for the last couple of weeks.
Yesterday I opened up a tin of the Mariage Freres French Breakfast, and it looked and smelled utterly divine. Which makes me wonder whether there is a bit of international rivalry going on, with extra effort going into the French offering. Haven’t tasted it yet, but I’m looking forward to it, and I’m glad I’m waving goodbye to this one. Not to be repeated.
Decupboarding this morning, along with the Mariage Freres English Breakfast, which I used as the extra black tea with this. It remains a tasty, but very mild chai. A little too mild for me, but if you don’t like a peppery kick you might want to give this a try.
Another pleasant surprise from the Adagio Black Savant sampler. I really liked the Golden Spring, and Yunnan Gold is really nice as well. It has big, bold, golden leaves that smell slightly chocolatey in the sample tin. It’s a deep, rich, slightly sweet smell. Different from other Yunnans in that I’m not getting a strong malty note, but smells extremely inviting even so.
The aroma does have a tad of maltiness to it, but it’s a very dark, ale-like malt rather than a sweet, chocolate ball malt. Though there is some chocolateness even in the aroma of the steeped tea. It lends an expectation of chewiness to the tea.
The flavor is very much like the smell. Not sweet, really, but smooth and rich. And I get the pepper reference. It’s that pepper flavor without the spicy kick thing that I have tasted in other teas.
Between this and the Golden Spring, I may have to place an Adagio order when all is said and done. I guess I’d throw the Apricot, Blueberry and maybe the Passion Fruit in to this fictitious order, too, if/when I get out of lock down.
The last of the Flavored sampler. And not a good one in my book.
Somehow, there’s a sort of bamboo/rattan smell to it that is rather strong. It’s a smell I associate with going into Pier 1 imports or maybe the current day equivalent, Cost Plus World Market, that is full of bamboo and rattan goods. Only it’s as though they were damp and a little musty.
The more I dwell on the damp and musty bamboo/rattan, the more I start to get musty wet sawdust which translates into rodent cage.
It’s not that there isn’t a hint of tangerine. It’s in there somewhere. But these other more negative aromas and tastes are too distracting to enable me to focus on the part that’s decent.
Ugh. I’ll continue to experiment, but so far, not a success.
Finished up the sample of this. Verdict is the same, possibly slightly improved though still within the range of the original rating.
It’s good. I am noticing a little sharp high note, and much more sweetness and butter than I did before, possibly because I’m having it following an English Breakfast. It’s the sort of thing I wouldn’t mind drinking at all, but probably wouldn’t buy again as I’ve had other greens I thought were tastier.
Finished up my sample of this last night. If I ever need a plain peppermint, this will be my choice (so far)!
Another from the Flavors sampler. Strong smell of cinnamon and some earthiness in the sample tin, and I can see little pieces of what look like cinnamon stick among the tea leaves.
The cinnamon is pronounced in the tea’s aroma as well, though not as strong as in the dry leaves. It smells delicious.
I don’t have the same reaction to the taste, but I think it’s because I had the Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice relatively recently which had a much richer, sweeter, cinnamon taste. This one isn’t particularly sweet. It’s more herbal in its cinnamon-ness, which is somewhat appealing in its own right. But as it’s a flavor I’m likely to reach for only once in a while, I’d likely pick only one for the tea library and would go with the H&S.
Chocolate is another story.
Another from the Flavors sampler. It has 5 teas in it instead of the usual 4. I’ve been pondering that, for no particular (or good) reason.
I’ve had blueberry flavored white tea that I liked quite a bit, but this is my first blueberry black tea. I’m a big eater of the blueberry, I have them on cereal at least a few times a week. So I’m excited to try this tea.
In the sample tin, the smell isn’t identifiably blueberry. It’s sweet and fruity, but it isn’t giving me berries. I’m also not seeing any of those big honking whole blueberries in the picture on this page in my sample, though admittedly I didn’t dig through to the bottom to look for one.
Interestingly, I’m getting a lot more blueberriness in the steeped tea’s aroma. It’s a kind of a high note that hovers over the tea right at the edges of the heat that it gives off in the cup. I wouldn’t say it’s strong, but it’s definitely blueberry. The liquor is a particularly lovely shade of that red infused orange/brown Ceylons often seem to have.
The flavor has blueberries! Pretty amazing, considering it can be something of a subtle flavor even in the fruit, that it can stand up to a black tea base. But there it is. A sweet and very definite blueberry flavor interwoven among the tea base.
It’s not as hard hitting as the apricot was, but I like it for what it is at least as much as I liked the apricot. It’s really hitting the spot today, as I’m under the weather with some nasty summer thing. Fever for the last few days, a cough, aches, weird electrical pains a day or so ago, and fatigue. The 6 year old had something similar about a week and a half ago, except he had a sore throat too, which fortunately I don’t have. The BF is coming down with it apparently. He was describing the electrical shooting pains this morning, so I know I’m not crazy…