514 Tasting Notes
Slightly more than 100 pages into War and Peace and I can’t believe I didn’t have the guts to pick up this book before. It’s bulk scared me. But man, is it a fast read. I needn’t have been scared, it’s such fun I feel like I want to lock myself in a room with it and only come out to make tea. But alas, that’s unlikely. I have to go to that wretched weight work out soon and then we might go see Toy Story 3 or at least I’d like to if we can pull it off.
In any case, I decided drinking something with the word Russian in its name would at least keep me feeling like I’m locked in the room even if I’m not. In the sample packet this one smells nice and smoky, as I’d anticipated, very much like the H&S straight lapsang with the volume turned down by a half to two thirds.
After steeping its aroma is a bit milder. I wonder if Keemun is one of the four teas in here? Maybe Ceylon as well? The underlying tea has a sort of sweet, woody smell to it with a bit of smoke.
There’s a mild smokiness in the flavor, which is actually quite nice, and there is also some gentle woody flavor. I could see this one being a nice morning tea. Although I haven’t tasted it in a while, this one is making me think of Upton’s Baker Street Blend but without the perkiness. If there is darjeeling in this, I can’t tell. This one has a mildly smoky flavor that would make a nice segue into smoky teas for someone interested in giving them a try but not yet up for the very tarry, piney strength of the more intense lapsangs.
This is going to make it into my Russian run off, for sure.
I felt like I needed the Earl this morning, so I gave this a try. It’s good, but I need a sterner Earl for the morning, I think.
In the sample packet there’s a very obvious bergamot smell that leans toward perfumy, with a little sharpness from the darjeeling underneath.
The tea’s aroma isn’t perfumy at all, much fruitier than perfumy. It’s sort of orangy/grapey in a wine-like sense.
The tea is light bodied and mildly flavored. It does taste like Earl Grey, but like a baby blue version of what is ordinarily a navy blue flavor.
Not a breakfast tea, at least for me, but I could see it being, as others have said, a nice choice for afternoon if for some reason the Earl is calling at tea time.
I loved the description of this so I decided to order some with my initial H&S sample order.
It’s got whole flower heads in it, which I thought at first might be chrysanthemums. Thankfully they are chamomile flowers as I don’t get along well with mums. The leaves are a green/grey, and look like white peony. The smell is, oddly, chocolate/vanilla mint/creme. Like Andes mints with vanilla ice cream. No idea where this comes from given the almonds and chamomile, but I’ll go with it as I like Andes mints just fine. ;-)
It still has that Andes note in the aroma after steeping and there’s some almond here as well. The liquor is sort of a light amber. A bronzed yellow. Clear.
The taste is pretty interesting as it’s very similar to the aroma but not at all something you’d expect from the ingredients list. For one thing, it’s like the cardamom is chocolate instead of itself. I wonder whether that’s why some chais that aren’t chocolate chais still have a sort of chocolate note to them. I don’t taste anything that tastes like what I’d expect cardamom on its own to taste like. This isn’t a spicy tea. It may be spiced, but it isn’t spicy. The almond is sort of hiding as well. The vanilla is there, but paying homage to the chocolate/vanilla continuum in that it’s kind of hard to tell where one flavor stops and the other starts. Though let me reemphasize that as far as I’m told through the ingredients, there IS NO CHOCOLATE in this tea. Tell that to my taste buds.
I maybe get a little of the underlying white tea, but it seems mostly a base here for the flavors to do their frolic and detour on. Flavored white teas, it seems to me, are tricky. Not as tricky and more forgiving than flavored greens, but tricky nonetheless. The flavor of white tea can’t really stand up to anything intense. It does best with subtle fruit or floral flavors superimposed on it, nothing heavy which obliterates the tea.
This isn’t an unpleasant drink at all, it just doesn’t seem very self aware. I would think it could call itself White Chocolate and get away with it, but the Christmas name suggests something heavily spiced or appley, maybe. This isn’t that. Probably a good thing as I’d think that would make for an even worse white tea.
I don’t feel compelled to reorder this but I would drink it again if it were offered to me. And I wish there was some way to reconcile the actual ingredients with the flavor that didn’t leave me feeling entirely disassociated.
Wow! Hot cinnamon, no kidding! The sample packet gives off a strong Red Hots smell.
It’s only slightly more mellow after steeping. Same general cinnamonny hot smell with a smidgen of black tea trying to smooth it out underneath. There are some funky fuzz balls that must be from the cinnamon that have settled to the bottom of the cup.
The flavor is pretty amazingly cinnamon with nothing to mitigate or obstruct it. It’s surprisingly sweet as well as spicy, sort of candy like in its flavor. I like it much better than just about any other cinnamon flavored tea I’ve had, and it definitely seems like a go-to cinnamon. Not much argument there.
The smell out of the sample packet is rich and delicious. It made me go “wow.” Chocolate! Coffee! Sugar! A tiny bit of smoke, and some planty earth.
Deep dark reddish liquor. The many fragrances of the dry leaves smooth out into a malty, Yunnany aroma. There’s a little bit of smoke but it’s not super smoky.
The flavor is strong, bordering on intense. I wonder how it would be steeping only 3 minutes. Will try that next time. It’s definitely an eye opener at 4. The flavor has the intensity of coffee. Wonder what milk would do?
It isn’t quite as smooth and mellow tasting as it smells; it has some… not really bitterness, more a lack of sweetness that is surprising given the aroma. There’s smoke in the taste, but it’s not strong. The consistency isn’t chewy but the impression is stout, like a dark ale. There’s a kind of cocoa note in the aftertaste.
This one is going to be worth spending an extended visit with to see what variations might be possible. It will be interesting to go into a second tasting at another time now that I know what to expect.
Rating this because it has a lot of interesting things going on with it. Not sure how I feel about the intensity yet.
I’m astonished to realize that after all this time I still haven’t written notes on all the fab and gear Dammann Freres teas from the virtual shopping spree Doulton organized weeks… no wait, it must be months ago now. I am going to remedy that post haste! And yes, I did do the weight work out. [self-congratulatory one handed applause] Now I’m just “resting” before the aerobic part. I wonder if it’s possible to read War and Peace while on a stationary bike?
Golly, I love how their teas smell. I really do think the French teas, for the most part, win the best fragrance award all around. This one has a fruity scent that is sweet and fresh smelling, and so well blended that I fully understand why they named it as they did. Once you read the ingredients, you can pretty much isolate all the individual scents. The orange and the cherry stood out most to me, though I could get the sweetness of strawberry underneath. What I understand to be peach actually smells somewhat fig-like to me, rather like the figgy aromas of some of the other Dammann Freres teas that actually do have fig as an ingredient. The leaves are pretty, too, with the purple mallow and yellow sunflower petals. I have been all along, but I’m now starting to appreciate more fully exactly what I sucker I am for flower petals in tea.
Now for something really mysterious. The aroma has shifted with steeping so that I’m now getting a much more obvious peach fragrance, followed by cherry, with just a tad of orange. Tres interessant.
In the flavor, yet another shift. The orange is back to the front, then there’s a mellow, water-color like flow from one flavor into the next, rather like riding a very gentle wave. Orange to peach (figgy still) to cherry, with a cherry/strawberry tail.
This is a happy way to end my caffeine for the day. Dammann fine tea! (Apologies, A&D!)
After my last cup of tea I ate dinner, and I still haven’t done the weight workout. It’s because I need a caffeine boost first. Otherwise how can I possibly be expected to “just do it”! Yeah, that’s the ticket. So I’m going to have another cup of tea.
I wanted a Kusmi for some reason, and I couldn’t decide which one so I did a little bit of a GM sampler redux here and just stuck my hand in among the black teas until I got a Kusmi. This was the one that came up.
I’ve decided I really need to read War and Peace so I’m in a sort of a Russified mood, and so it was somewhat fitting that this Russian sampler one came up. The Kusmi samplers are in itty bitty tins that look like baby versions of the bigger ones. Is it just me, or does anyone else get a Fancy Feast vibe from these itty bitty cans?
In the itty bitty can, Anastasia smells flowery and citrusy in that French perfume sort of way that many of the French teas seem to have. I definitely smell lemon, and the bergamot is there but seems like it’s sitting in the back seat. I am coming to believe that when one puts lemon with bergamot, the lemon will always come to the fore. This is, in any case, my working hypothesis.
Deep mahogany liquor. A very ceylon aroma, sweet molasses smell. There’s a fruity smell but it’s not wholly citrus. It’s more of a sort of dark berry smell I’ve smelled in Ceylons before with citrus around the edges. It’s like someone rolled a berry in a primarily lemon coating that had some orange sprinkled in.
I was expecting a strong fruit flavor but I’m really not getting that at all. It does have a sort of Earl Grey feel, but only in a tangential way. The main citrus flavor is lemon, and it adds a bright little sparkle, but it isn’t overly strong. I like the lemon in this. It’s not too tart or soapy.
But there’s more to the fruit than the citrus. I get a sort of a berry flavor to the tea as well. The tea is generally smooth with a little bit of bite right at the end every few sips. It’s not really full bodied, but it gives the impression of being that way.
It’s a really interesting tea, somewhat surprising. I wasn’t really expecting to like it, but I do. I will have to taste it against the TeaFrog Earl Grey Special just for laughs when my TeaFrog order arrives.
One day a while back when I was whining about how every time I was moved to order a first flush darjeeling I’d been met with “OUT OF STOCK” (which really is almost as disheartening sometimes as “GAME OVER”), Rabs very kindly offered me a taste of this, the full name of which, according to her darling Old Typewriter fonted label is “Namring Upper Estate 1st Fl Darjeeling FTGFOP1 (TD88).” I’ve been waiting for the right time to give it a taste, and, unfortunately, I’ve discovered that as with having children, there is no right time. I must just come to grips with the fact that there’s never going to be a quiet day when I’m rested yet perky with a relaxing expanse of time in which to savor this.
So instead, I’m going to have it now, after a day that included a flat tire coming back from a work related event and an afternoon (when I should have been doing more work) at the doctor’s office trying to get number 1 son in to be checked for strep throat (again) before the weekend, along with an unhealthy degree of anxiety over the fact that I haven’t done my weight workout yet today which makes a full week of no weights. I hate doing the weights, so I feel particularly guilty about it, as though any discipline I once may have had has flown the coop.
However, I have been granted a furlough of a few hours by the BF who has said he’ll amuse the kids (which I think means sleeping while they play with the Wii) so I can work out. And yet, as you can see, I’m not yet working out. I’m gonna have some tea, dammit.
How green this looks! I’ve read that darjeelings aren’t fully oxidized, but seriously, this looks very very green. Like a green tea. Or maybe white? It’s green in color but it has that silver/grey tip thing that white teas sometimes have. In any case the color is not at all what I’ve seen in other darjeelings. The leaves are for the most part fairly large and curly. They have that sharp smell I associate with darjeelings and that I’m guessing is “muscatel” since I don’t know what muscatel smells like. One day I’ll have to find out.
The tea’s liquor is a deep yellow, sort of the color of liquified butter. Its aroma isn’t strong, but I pick up a nut current as well as a very dilute essence of the sharper smell of the dry leaves.
The mouth feel is pretty amazing on this. It’s soft. Really soft. It reminds me of how I used to feel after visiting some place with hard water and then returning to New York, and washing my hair. And feeling like I couldn’t get the conditioner out no matter how long I was under the shower. Then realizing that it was out, it was just the softness of the water that made it feel like it was still full of conditioner. Brooklyn water was even more that way than Manhattan water. This tea feels like Brooklyn water.
To me the flavor isn’t really rich. It’s delicate. Mild and smooth; no sharp edges to this one. It’s the second darjeeling I’ve had recently that seemed closely related to an oolong, in that it seems toasty and buttery like an oolong. I do get the muscatel notes, or at least what I think they are from the fact that they taste like the smell (see above). And I am getting a really nice finish with a sweet aftertaste. It’s kind of like a darker version of one of the better green oolongs, if that makes sense.
Anyway, I’m quite enjoying it. Thanks much, again, Rabs!
To be honest I have no idea as to temperature (it was v. hot) or steeping time because I got this at the local frozen yogurt joint after going out to dinner with the fam and another fam tonight. The really really really young guy at the counter insisted I should steep this for “another 3-5 minutes” after he handed it to me. Bah, say I. I pretty much yanked the bag out right then and there. I hadn’t seen a Mightly Leaf bag before and it was one of those pretty gauzy stitched up things like the Kusmi ones but since I only saw this one wet, it might not have been as elegant. Chances are it wasn’t, Kusmi being French and all.
Anyway, really not used to drinking green tea in water so hot it sears the epidermal layer right off my tongue, but that’s what I found myself with. I took the top off the cup to let the steam escape all the faster, but I was still nursing the thing when it was time to leave. It was preternaturally hot water, and it took a helluva long time to cool to drinkable temperature by which time everyone was done with their yogurt and ready to leave.
I will say, for a drink in too hot water in a paper cup, it did have quite a bit of flavor. A strong but somehow also gentle jasmine, less in your face than the Numi bagged jasmine, but very flavorful. The tea was fresh tasting and mild.
For rating, I’m going with slightly better than the Numi, but not quite as good as the Golden Moon.
This is a June tea of the month on the classic plan. I’ve now had several green rooibos blends from Teavana, all of which were successful in not tasting of rooibos. This one should be interesting. I noticed when I first opened it up that it appears to be a hybrid of a rooibos and a fruit blend. It has the ginormous chunky fruit pieces I’ve seen in Teavana fruit blends before (but not in rooibos) mixed in with the green, needly rooibos.
Smells fairly one-notedly of strong lime prior to steeping. Afterwards, there’s a mellower lime fragrance and a faint apple note. It’s a very pale, clear yellow.
The flavor is, expectedly, limey. I get what Soccer Mom was saying about the apple, but in my first tasting it isn’t strong at all. I may have lucked out and spooned in mixture that wasn’t heavy on the apple chunks for my first brew. Mostly, I get a fairly mellow lime that isn’t tart, and isn’t really sweet either (though I think that’s the apple’s role, to make the lime not tart). It’s nowhere near as strong as the Numi Desert Lime, which is, frankly, a good thing.
I wouldn’t have picked this to try absent my tea ‘o the month membership, and it’s not the sort of thing I’ll seek out even after tasting it, but I’m glad I got a chance to try it and I’ll be happy enough drinking it on hot summer evenings when it’s too late for caffeine until my spoon goes clink at the bottom of the tin. It’s not at all rooibossy, which is, after all, the main criterion of a decent rooibos if you’re me.
BTW, tough day today. Learned of two deaths within 30 minutes this morning before work, one of someone only 5 years older than I am who was a sort of mentor to me. So I’m in a funk at the moment.