1180 Tasting Notes
Sipdown no. 192. A sample.
I think this is the last Samovar green tea sample I have, and one I have certainly kept too long. Be that as it may, this is yum.
Ordinarily I wouldn’t drink even this much caffeine this late in the day but I just got back from no. 1’s school holiday band concert and we still have homework to check…
The leaves don’t look or smell all that different to me from many Chinese green teas I’ve had. The tea looks no different than others I’ve had, with a pale yellow liquor with a bit of particulate in it but otherwise clear. It smells sweetly vegetal.
And that’s how it tastes, too. It’s just a very nice cup of green tea without any bitterness, with a tiny bit of butteryness. Perhaps a little more grassy than some Chinese greens, but not as much as Japanese greens. I’m trying to place the vegetal flavor. It’s not sweet enough to be peas, and too sweet to be green beans. I’m thinking maybe snow peas is a good approximation.
In any case, very enjoyable all around, and unfortunately not available on the Samovar web site. Sigh.
Flavors: Grass, Vegetal
Sipdown no. 191. A sample, and the last Life in Teacup oolong sample. (Sniff.)
At least they went out with a bang. The leaves smelled grassy green in the packet but did some amazing things after steeping. I steeped this in the gaiwan starting with 15 seconds and increasing in 5 second increments.
1. Pale yellow tea with a milky, floral scent. Flavor is light, more floral/grassy than vegetal, something that initially presents with a slightly bitter edge but quickly smooths into a sort of green nutty flavor like chestnuts.
The cup smells very fragrant, a distinctive floral smell. I’m guessing this is why it is called osmanthus.
2. Same color, similar aroma but deeper. Flavor is fascinating. Starts as green floral and ends as green nuts. Along the way it morphs into various things too fleeting to pin down and describe. Really wonderful and, dare I say, fun.
By the end of the second steep, the leaves have almost tripled in volume.
3. Greener color. Nectar in the aroma! Nuttiness is forefront in the flavor now with floral afterwards, but the nuttiness returns in the aftertaste, light and raw and reminds me of Brazil nuts.
4. Greener again, nectar has become milder. Flavor similar to 3.
5. Similar to 4 but the nuttiness is now milder and the floral aroma/flavor is much more noticeable.
Aftertaste is sweet and fresh for a while after drinking.
Flavors: Chestnut, Floral, Green, Milk, Nectar, Nutty, Osmanthus
Trying this in the gaiwan today. Have just enough left to do something else with it. Not sure what. Maybe try it in the yixing again.
I am somewhat intimidated by pu-erh, though I like what I’ve had of it generally speaking. I’m just never sure I’m “doing it right” and since pu-erh can be pricey I’ve been reluctant to start with some of the things I know to be good in my stash.
Let me say that another way. It’s more accurate to say I believe them to be good based upon the word of the companies I’ve patronized because, as recent threads here have indicated, there’s a lot of room for everything from misunderstandings to getting ripped off particularly with regards to pu-erh. Which is one of the reasons it intimidates me.
In any case, most of my experience so far has been sort of the toe in the pool method rather than diving in head first. Because intimidated.
So here’s another toe in the water effort. I went for very short steeps after rinsing. Starting in the immediate range (1-3 seconds) and increasing by five seconds each time.
1. Very dark and opaque, like black coffee. Smells like a saddle. Tastes a bit salty and a little like potting soil. I think this is what tasters mean when they say mushroom, as raw white mushroom doesn’t taste like much to me except a little like dirt, and that’s what I’m getting here.
2. Same look to the tea, if anything a bit darker and a bit more opaque. Rather like flat cola. Still some leather in the aroma. But smoother and something else, too. Tobacco, maybe. The flavor is less salty, and actually quite smooth. It just doesn’t taste like an awful lot to me.
3. Color is the same. Less leather and more earth in the aroma. Gosh, this steep still doesn’t taste like much but it’s weird. It’s like the tea is trying to taste like something but can’t quite pull it off. A little like meat, maybe, but not in a lapsang sort of way. More like a shroomy meatiness.
4. No change on the color. No change on the aroma. Flavor is still trying to be something more than it is. There’s a tad of sweetness this time around.
5. Still dark brown but no longer opaque. There is something that makes me think of gravy in the aroma, though I’m not sure why as the salt and leather is pretty much gone. Perhaps its flour? The flavor is sweetening up some, and becoming leafy. There’s no leaf flavor listed among the options except autumn leaf pile, so that’s what I’ve picked.
6. Color similar to 5. I no longer think of gravy when I smell the tea. The flavor is brighter, and I can taste the water through the tea, which I think is a signal to me to stop here. I suppose I could push it further and see if anything miraculous happens in later steeps but I’m not excited enough by this to do that.
I have to rate this less as compared to other teas since I haven’t had many pu-erhs (certainly not many recently) and more on an absolute scale.
Assuming I’m doing it anywhere close to “right,” even if this tea was still available I can’t imagine buying it again. It’s not offensive, it’s just not really there. (The Numi bagged pu-erhs have more flavor than this does.) It makes a better cold brew than hot, and it’s hard to imagine that is how a pu-erh should be.
I’m rather gratified that other reviews didn’t find much flavor in this either, so I can’t conclude it’s just me. I want to develop a taste for puerh and I’d be horrified if I was missing the necessary taste buds to do so.
On the upside, it does seem to have made my digestive tract quite happy.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Dirt, Leather, Mushrooms, Salt, Tobacco
I have not had an Assam in what seems like forever. I have a sort of weird relationship with Assam. Just when I become convinced it is my least favorite black tea, I’ll have one that changes my mind. I keep finding these unopened green Premium Steap packets full of interesting things among the tins in one of my tea drawers. This is one of them, so I thought I’d give it a try.
The Sessa is not currently listed as available on the Premium Steap site, though google shows that tea from the Sessa estate is available at other companies currently.
After having been on a Yunnan kick, it’s interesting to me that the dry leaves of this one look a bit similar except in color. They’re a bit darker, an olive green heading toward chocolate, but are similarly shaped and also have gold tippy leaves among the darker ones. They smell like a combination of baked goods and root vegetables.
I steeped for only 3:30 min because I worried this would be too strong for me otherwise. The steeped tea smells like sweet potatoes and is a rich dark cherry wood color.
I’m glad I steeped relatively light because even so, this came out quite strong. It has a lot of heft, and I think if I’d steeped longer it could have been too bitter for me. As it is, the tea has a slightly bitter edge, but one that smooths out into something that, while not overly sweet, is quite flavorful: sweet potato and some earth, with a cocoa note and some wine in the aftertaste.
It does have the Assam throat grab, but it’s not too bad. As Assams go, I like this one because it’s got a fair amount of complexity, but I would definitely need to be in the mood for something hearty to appreciate fully what this one has to offer.
Flavors: Cocoa, Earth, Red Wine, Sweet Potatoes
Sipdown no. 190. since I’ve started counting sipdowns. A sample.
Ten more sipdowns to 200. Sadly, I will not have even made a noticeable dent in my tea stash after hitting 200. I’m wondering at what point I’ll actually see it start to look smaller? Just for fun, I think I’ll try to make a prediction when I actually do hit 200.
Though I haven’t made much of an overall dent, I am getting to the end of the Life In Teacup samples. I have one more oolong sample from them (I think) after this and a few pu erh samples. I have mixed feelings, of course. These oolong samples have been lovely, and part of me is sorry to see them go. On the other hand, I got to enjoy them, finally. And it’s not like it’s the end, either. I did buy some oolong from Life In Teacup and have most of that left in my stash as well.
But anyway, this tea. I looked up what the competition grading meant and found this:
Apparently, this won fourth place in an oolong competition.
I’m also slightly confused because I’ve had a Dong Ding from Life In Teacup which I thought was terrific and a Cui Yu, which I also liked. Not sure what makes this both?
I put this through my usual five steeps starting at 15 seconds and adding five seconds per steep. The tea comes in tightly rolled dark green balls that smelled foresty to me. It steeps to a clear pale yellow-light green.
I’m not usually at a loss for descriptive terms, but I’m having something of a tough time describing the aroma and taste of this one. It’s certainly not a dark roasty toasty oolong though it has a hint of roastiness. Nor does it seem to be a purely green oolong. I mostly get a sort of raw nuttiness in the aroma and flavor with some floral notes around the edges and a hint of milkiness. It’s extremely mild and smooth.
Very enjoyable, albeit somewhat hard to define. I wonder whether if I’d used hotter water I would have got more of the amazingness out of it that I got out of the Dong Ding of a couple of days ago?
Flavors: Floral, Milk, Nutty, Roasted
Tried this today western style in the Breville.
Kind of odd-tasting. Sort of like green tea, but not completely. Not really like a green oolong, or a roasty oolong. A bit roasty around the edges, perhaps. There’s a sort of weird floral flavor to it, like a jasmine note. Not sure where that is coming from as this isn’t flavored. I like jasmine, but I guess I prefer it when I’m expecting it to having it show up as a surprise.
Will try it hot again in the gaiwan. But I suspect I’ll be drinking most of this cold, as it’s quite nice that way.
Sipdown no. 189. The rest of the sample.
Made a big honking pot of this on the stove top using Premium Steap’s Organic Black with Coconut as extra black tea. Yes, my stove won’t click problem of yesterday has been solved. As has my outlet problem. The gremlins were messing with me but fled when the BF turned things on. Go figure. Internet is still flaky, though.
Definitely improved when made this way, so I’m upping the rating. However, still my least favorite of the Adagio chai samples. The additional coconut benefited this in my view as I can now taste the sweetness of the coconut where as before it got tangled up with the lemongrass and they sort of cancelled each other out. On the other hand, the reason I drink chai is for the chai spices, especially cardamom. The chai spices are very background here and not very strong.