1165 Tasting Notes
Sipdown no. 221. A sample.
I am down to my last few Samovar samples. After this there’s another oolong and then a few whites. I should have sipped these down long ago but I was hoarding them.
In any case, this is an interesting oolong. It has finer leaves than I’ve seen in the dry leaf of pretty much any other oolong I’ve had. They didn’t have a lot of fragrance dry (it’s an old sample, so that may be why) but the first steep resulted in a dark, toasty aroma with floral edges.
I steeped hot for the first steep, but in reading others’ notes, it appears that cooler is the way to go so I’m reducing the temp for the rest.
After the first infusion, the leaves have done something I’ve never seen in an oolong. They’ve become a glob of mush? They aren’t quite oatmeal, but close. And they’re sticking to the inside of the gaiwan lid.
Second infusion at 195F gives a fruity aroma, but the tea itself is still quite roasty, with a bitter end note. I get the darjeeling/muscatel comparison. I find that a lot in darker oolongs, and I’m finding it here.
Third infusion at 175 (since others have gone this low and I’m still trying to find the sweet spot that will make me rave like other Steepsterites). It is more floral at a lower temp, but I still haven’t hit the right combination. It remains bitter to my taste, and I’m now wondering whether I should have steeped it in accordance with the package directions instead of attempting to drink it gong fu style. I may be drinking a mixture that is too concentrated. In reading some others’ notes it appears some have had similar experiences where too much leaf for the right water volume results in bitterness and none of the pleasing notes others have found.
Sadly, this is no longer available from Samovar so I’ll never know what a different steeping method would have yielded.
Fourth infusion, I’m increasing the water volume to a full cup per the instructions on the sample packet and increasing the steep time to what is suggested. This takes care of the bitterness. It’s well and truly gone. I’m getting the beer note mentioned in the description, and much more floral than before. Not getting the cream/buttery notes but I do get gardenia in the aftertaste.
I put it through one more infusion using the directions on the packet. I wish I could go back and start over, and just use those directions as I think it would have made a difference. As, most likely, would have drinking this when it was much fresher.
As it is, I’m a bit disappointed but because I can’t tell whether it’s the tea’s fault or my fault, I’m not going to rate it.
Yesterday wasn’t as mega-productive as earlier in the week, though I did get a few things done (dental appointment, paid some bills, took care of some other personal business). Today started with working out (yay me), followed by some clean up work in my home office that I’ve been meaning to get to forever. I’m in the midst of it now, punctuating it with things like figuring out where I can take my car to get some paint buffed out of it after a close encounter I had with a pole at a gas station (I am not proud of this, but in my defense, I was terribly stressed, and the station was more crowded than I’d ever seen it requiring me to try to squeeze by a pole to get to the pump and I didn’t quite make it), and submitting claims for medical bills I forgot to submit and hope they will get paid.
This is a nice companion to such work. Its a solid, full bodied blend that is almost, but not quite chewy. Yet it’s fairly smooth and not very astringent. No assam throat grab, and a sweet aftertaste. A nice yunnan-y brown sugar and malty aroma that also shows up in the flavor. Dark red-brown, clear liquor. Earthy smelling dry leaf.
It’s one of those breakfast blends that I enjoy drinking but don’t find overly distinctive. There’s nothing that stands out about it. On the other hand, I’m not sure every tea has to stand out. Sometimes you don’t want to think about what you’re drinking, you just want to taste it.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Malt
Sipdown no. 220. The second in the Pure Tea Sampler. I hope this one turns out better. I almost steeped it at boiling but at the last minute decided to go with 205. So we’ll see.
It has the black, spidery leaves I associate with Ceylons and an earthy smell to the dry leaf.
The steeped tea is reddish brown and has a light, bready aroma. I didn’t find it moderately strong, as the description says. In fact, I found it rather on the light side, but pleasant in a definition of tea-ness sort of way. It’s got that leafy sweetness to it in the aftertaste that makes me think of how Nestea smells. I can see that this would be good iced. It would taste exactly like what my tastebuds would expect of an iced restaurant tea brewed on site.
Jasmine pearls. One of my absolute favorites.
I thought I’d written a note about this before, but I see I didn’t. I’ve obviously tried it before because the sample was opened. Regardless, the amazing scent of jasmine that comes out of the packet is still quite powerful.
It makes a very pale yellow tea, almost an off-white or cream colored clear liquor. The aroma is one hundred percent floral.
The flavor is lovely. I’m a sucker for jasmine greens in general and pearls in particular, and in going through my stash I’ve found a number of them. And quite a few other jasmines as well, oolongs and whites. This one has a subtle flavor that isn’t as overwhelmingly floral as its fragrance, with a green underlying flavor that leans toward grass rather than vegetables.
I’ll enjoy sipping this one down. It isn’t multi-layered and amazing like the Samovar version, but it’s very yum nevertheless.
Flavors: Grass, Green, Jasmine
I had an extremely productive day yesterday. I made a ton of phone calls and sent a ton of emails to try to wrap up a lot of the stuff of daily living that I need to get under control before I start my new job. I also worked out and finally got no. 1 his cell phone, which was supposed to be a Chanukkah present but took a while because of some really awful bait and switch stuff that went on with the provider we originally thought would give us talk and text only and parental controls for him for $15 a month based on their web advertising, none of which turned out to be true. So I bit the bullet and got a more expensive plan added onto my existing one. But at least it is done and he is happy. Plus now he has no excuse for not calling if he’s not going to be where he says he is. :-)
But anyway. I may be getting jaded in my old age, but I haven’t been overly impressed by a lot of the tea I’ve been drinking lately.
Take this one, for example. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s a perfectly decent chocolate/coconut tea, on the juicy raw coconut end of the spectrum rather than the toasty toasted coconut end of the spectrum. But I’ve had so many of these over the years, most of which are at least decent, that none of them really stand out anymore.
In the packet it has that cocoa mint smell that coconut teas sometimes give off and I can see the little bits of flavored things in it. White chocolate chips, coconut flakes, cocoa bits and chocolate chips. Small ones. Predictably, given the sugary things in it, it steeps cloudy but otherwise a pretty generic tea color.
Now I want to say something about the aroma of coconut teas in general, not just this one. Do you find they generally don’t smell very good? I mean, I wouldn’t go this far, but the BF thinks coconut teas smell like vomit. I think they smell more like hot plastic, but in general, there’s something about the smell I don’t love.
That said, the aroma of coconut teas doesn’t usually affect the taste for me in a negative way. And it doesn’t here. It’s perfectly decent, and I would drink it if I couldn’t get another perfectly decent one that is perhaps a bit better to my taste, like the Premium Steap.
Flavors: Chocolate, Coconut, Mint
Sipdown no. 218. A sample. The last of the Sanctuary T Sanctuary Sampler.
I have been out and about and haven’t had much tea today, and the tea I did have didn’t provide the best of experiences. Ah well. There are days like this.
This one is pretty funky. The dry mix looks like freeze dried apple to me rather than watermelon, not that I’ve ever seen freeze dried watermelon. It smells like dried fruit mix, with a rather appley note.
The steeped tisane has the most amazing color. It really is the color of a watermelon Jolly Rancher! It has a sweet, fruity aroma, though I’m not sure it’s watermelon I’m smelling.
Amazingly, though, in the flavor, I’m tasting watermelon. It’s more apparent as the brew cools down, mostly, I think, because it’s unusual to taste watermelon hot. And it’s not an in-your-face sort of watermelon or a watermelon candy flavor. It’s a subtle, sneaky flavor that seems like it’s going to be just a generic fruity something or other until the aftertaste kicks in, when that fresh, watery sweetness that’s a bit cooling in the mouth shows up.
I don’t think I’ve had a watermelon blend before and it strikes me as a fairly unusual flavor to attempt. Though I don’t know why I think that, especially since searching for watermelon on Steepster brings up a ton of products. I’ve had some Lupicia teas that do cantaloupe and honey dew pretty well. In any case, I’m pretty impressed that this pulls off the watermelon flavor, especially considering that watermelon is only one of several ingredients.
So I’m rating it pretty high because it lives up to its name.
Flavors: Fruity, Melon, Sweet
Sipdown no. 217. This is from the second of three Sanctuary T samplers, the Pure Tea Sampler.
I was looking forward to this given how much I love Yunnans, but I am afraid I screwed up the steeping quite royally.
I decided to steep at a lower temperature (190) than usual given that lately I’ve been having pretty good luck steeping tippy Yunnans that way, but that did not work at all well for this one. Instead of the usual malty sweet flavor, I got a washed out version without any real sweetness to speak of.
Accordingly, I am not going to rate it.
ETA: No. 2 asked to try it and really loved it. So there is that.
I think this may be the only Teavana tea left that I haven’t written about. I am not sure I tried it before today.
There are no surprises here. It smells like chocolate mint in the dry leaf, and in the steeped tea. In the steeped tea’s aroma, the mint is stronger than the chocolate. This is also true of the flavor. I wonder whether it’s just the luck of the spoon, though. It’s possible a different spoonful would yield more chocolate. I should probably shake up the tin before scooping next time.
It’s ok. There’s nothing objectionable about it. And, as I said, there are no surprises. It’s just not spectacular.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa, Mint
Sipdown no. 216.
I am fairly certain I got this as a tea of the month. I’ve had it before, and I remember when: the BF’s mom was visiting. However, I don’t remember much else about it because any time she visits it’s sort of stressful. They don’t get along very well.
I heaped up the spoons on this because my experience with Teavana fruit blends is that heaping is required.
The blend looks just like the picture, and it smells sweet and fruity, but not like any particular fruit. Which makes sense given the ingredient list. There’s not much they didn’t include.
I know I’m going to like this because it’s been discontinued. LOL.
And I do like it. It has a lot in common with Caribbean Breeze, notably the color, which is a deep, wine red, and the hibiscus which is, with over-leafing (which is really overfruiting here) noticeable but not too tart, bitter, or otherwise offensive. In fact, this blend has a nice sweetness to it. On the other hand, I am not able to distinguish separate fruit flavors. But that’s ok, actually. I get an overall berry flavor, which has a raspberry bent. I think it is the papaya that is sweetening things up.
So yeah, I like this. And it is discontinued. :-)
Flavors: Berry, Hibiscus