848 Tasting Notes
It was either this or break open another green and I decided to hold off on breaking open more tea while I have so much taking the air now, so to speak. I’m gonna work this one toward a sipdown because it’s just not doing the same magic on me it has done on some other folks.
This time I tried it at 175 for 1 minute.
It’s still not magical for me, but it keeps getting better as I play with the times and temps. It could also have something to do with the mixture and what big hunks o’ fruit made it into this steep. It seems slightly less sweet but with the same amount of floral notes, and I’m finding I like that better than the fruitier notes.
Alas, I think I graded this one a little too high to start, so I’m bumping it down a little.
I can’t call this a sipdown yet because although I drank the last of my work stash, it seems I still have about 7 bags at home.
I oversteeped because someone stopped me on my way back to my cube, but even with a longer than optimal steep time this wasn’t bitter or otherwise horrible. Like the Three Kingdoms Mao Feng I think it deserves a slightly better rating. Still not as good as some of the other jasmines I’ve had lately—the underlying tea is neither really taste-able nor does it add much to the flavor. The overall impression is heavier than the Kusmi and the jasmine isn’t as wonderful. But not a bad work tea.
Backlogging from this morning. This was my commuting tea today and it was very pleasant—light, tasty, and easy on the stomach. In fact, I think I have been too critical about this tea and I’m going to bump its rating. It’s been a while since I had another non-jasmine green from China, so I don’t have a lot to compare it to in recent memory but it’s certainly more pleasurable than some other teas I’ve had recently.
One year I spent a lot of money at Samovar and they added me to their Christmas list. A package appeared at my door that contained three tins of different types of yerba mate (including this one) and the Four Hour Workweek book. I never got around to trying the yerba mate until now.
I was avoiding it, to tell the truth. I had had some in blends and didn’t really love it, plus some of the things I read about carcinogenic effects bugged me.
But here it is in my work drawer, so I thought I’d give it a try.
It isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I doubt I’ll ever become a yerba mate fan, but it’s tolerable to drink from time to time. (And because you use a lot of leaf to the cup it should go reasonably fast.)
It smells and tastes a little like dirty grass, but believe it or not, that’s not as bad as it sounds. It’s also a little like eating a mixture of raw potato and raw yellow squash.
I doubt it will grow on me, but we’ll see. Not sure how to rate this because I can’t say how good a yerba mate it is. I’ll have to rate it non-comparatively and base the rating on taste, I guess.
Flavors: Earth, Grass, Loam, Potato
Another Earl from the stash, and another company that is no more.
I have a mostly full container of this. I really couldn’t remember how it tasted before I tried it again. I expected, somehow, stronger bergamot even though I see my original note didn’t find it too strong.
It’s interesting, I think I prefer the Simpson & Vail’s tea base, but this is a better Earl Grey because the flavor profile is more typical. (Sometimes it feels like judging a dog show doesn’t it? The dog is adorable and has a great personality but doesn’t fit a basic criterion of the breed. Not that I’ve ever judged a dog show but I like watching the one that comes on after the Macy’s parade on Thanksgiving.) I see I rated this one the same as the S&V but perhaps that’s okay because they’re good at different things.
I almost didn’t go for Earl Grey at all this morning. Lately I’ve been waking up on Mondays with a feeling of dread in my tummy that makes everything seem unappetizing, but this was nice and mild and isn’t making it worse.
Giving this another try using QuiltGuppy’s temp and time (93 rating, worth a try, right)? As an aside, I’m reading a collection of Alice Munro short stories which were assigned reading for my writing class. She’s a wonderful writer but I really want to strangle some of these characters.
In any case, I find this tea something I’d also like to strangle because I wasn’t able to get it to work for me the first time, though reading the descriptions from the people who really like it, I think I should like it.
It is much more to my taste using the lower temperature and steeping time. I get a sort of melony, dewy flavor along with the floral that takes it even farther away from the Adagio White Tropics similarities.
I still don’t like it as much as I think I should, though. And not enough to bump the rating….
Sipdown no. 78 of the year 2014. I could have let this go for one more round, but I felt the itch to get another sipdown in. I have discovered that there are approximately 5 tablespoons of chai in the Adagio sample tin. I used two last time, today I tripled the recipe instead of doubling it so I wouldn’t have to have one serving sitting around by itself.
I also used a different black tea this time. Last time I used a Teafrog Assam. This time I used a Leafspa Yunnan.
It does make a difference. I think the Assam in general works better. It adds more flavor to the chai.
This time the flavor in general is milder, closer to Doulton’s experience of it than my original one. But I’m keeping the rating as is because I know it can do better with the right backup band.
Waiting to get a reaction from the peanut gallery. I described it to them as “grown up hot chocolate.” We’ll see whether that is an enticement…
I haven’t had any pu-erh since my return to regular tea drinking (at least for the nonce) and my pu-erh samples are starting to following me around—they worm their way to the top of every drawer, bin, pile, etc.—so I am taking this as a sign I should get on it.
I hesitate to call how I use a gaiwan “gong fu” because I am anything but skilled. I think of it as more like “bad gaiwan using.” But I try. I have only ever used mine for oolongs so I’m going to give this a try using very short steeps after a rinse (starting with 20 seconds) and see how things go.
First steep. An amazing, dark color. It smells like a wallet. Or maybe a pair of shoes that has only been worn a couple of times. There’s a fascinating sweet note under the leather and earth that sort of pops out at me almost as though there are bubbles of sugar in this (but of course there aren’t). There’s a thickness to the body. I’m getting an almost tobacco-y note. These teas make me think of old time mens’ clubs, with dark red walls, heavy wood furniture, cigars and brandy snifters. The wet leaves smell like soil.
Second steep. I had a mishap and spilled some of this on my counter. Make that “bumbling gaiwan using.” Burned my finger, too. Color is generally the same, maybe even darker. Looks like weak coffee. Flavor seems deeper, like there’s more earth to it and less leather.
Third steep. Some of the darkening undoubtedly comes from the escape of a few leaves from the gaiwan during the bumbling gaiwan use, but the color is the same, dark color. The flavor still has a lot of earth and some leather, with that sweet note to it as well that tastes and feels syrupy in the mouth, moreso than I recall during the last steep.
Fourth steep. The color is showing no signs of lightening any time soon. The flavor may be reaching a turning point at the 20 second mark and I think I may go for 30 next time. It’s like a mouth full of dark, malty beer, but without the head or the alcohol sugar; and that’s pretty much its single note during this steep. The wet leaves smell have a light, loamy scent like eau de river.
Fifth steep, 30 seconds. Just when I thought the liquor would never lighten, it did, just a bit. The syrupy sweet note is present, like a swirl through the more watery feel and taste of the rest of the tea. I’m noticing a little smokiness, too. There’s still a leatheriness to the flavor but it’s more faded now. The overall body is lightening up in feel.
Sixth steep. Very similar to the fifth steep. It is starting to taste more like tea. It’s like this: if a black tea is a merlot, this pu-erh is a port—denser, heavier, fuller, more concentrated. The wet leaves have a slight scent of loam but otherwise just smell hot and wet to my nose.
Seventh steep. Just for fun, I’m doing this one at 45 seconds. (This could go on for while, it seems.) It’s tasting even more like tea now.
I think this could go on for at least a couple more steeps before starting to lose all intensity. An enjoyable revisiting of pu erh on a rainy day.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Earth, Leather, Loam, Peat Moss
Sipdown no. 77 of the year 2014. I’m sorry to see this sample go. This tea is going on the wishlist for whenever I am able to place a Harney & Sons order.
Ah, Brigitte. It has been so long since we met, and yet, like the best of friends we are able to pick up right where we left off, without missing a beat.
I am upping your rating slightly because you manage to pull off an incredibly full bodied flavor without bitterness or bite. You’re smooth, malty, cocoa-y, just sweet enough and all the things I said about you before are as true today as when we first met.
You are delicious.
Flavors: Berries, Cocoa, Earth, Malt
I’m laughing to myself because I said yesterday I had a feeling of deja vu and here it comes again.
Let’s compare ingredients:
Teavana Almond Biscotti—Black tea, almond pieces, cinnamon pieces, and safflower blossoms
SpecialTeas Almond Cookie (and yes, I read the thread about SpecialTeas being a provider to Teavana and that maybe being part of why they aren’t around anymore)—tea, almonds, cinnamon, flavouring, safflower blossoms
American Tea Room Brioche—well-oxidized ebony leaves are contrasted with pale, sliced almonds, bits of cinnamon and vermillion-colored safflower blossoms
It’s possible I have even more of these. Good thing I like them.
I’m fairly sure that the Teavana and the SpecialTeas are the same tea. If not, they’re too close to call in terms of differences. In the bag, they smell identical. In the steeped aroma, they smell very close. To the extent there’s a difference in liquor and taste, I attribute that at first glance to the difference in steeping length. The liquor in this one is a bit less cloudy and the overall taste is slightly less sweet and “less” generally.
I suspect, though, that if I steep this one at 4 minutes I’ll get exactly the same amount of “more.”
Rating it the same as Almond Cookie until proven otherwise. I’ve now read that this was renamed and reblended by Teavana as Amandine Rose and then discontinued under that name too, so it isn’t available either. I’m still liking the Brioche better. Not sure why. Maybe it’s psychological because I know I can get the Brioche, but I also still think it evokes pastry more successfully than the other two.
Flavors: Butter, Nuts