1165 Tasting Notes
Today is turning out to be a day for experimentation.
Yesterday I mentioned that I’d like to try adding some of this http://steepster.com/teas/upton-tea-imports/6598-turkish-apple and steeping per Adagio’s instructions to see whether that brought out the apple more, but didn’t think I had enough of the Spiced Apple Chai left to try both that and a stovetop session.
Oh joy, I was wrong — after doing some preemptive measuring, I discovered I have enough to try both!
I did a 1:1 ratio of chai to apple, and there is definitely more apple flavor. I think I could have gone even farther and done 2:1. Adding milk and sweetener brings the apple flavor out even more.
I’m not changing the rating because I had to do things to this to get it to where I thought it was really good — but I’m pleased with how this turned out.
Later this afternoon or tomorrow, I’ll try the last bit of the sample on the stovetop and see how that goes. I think I’ll give it an extra tbsp of the apple when I try that.
Today I tried a suggestion from Evol Ving Ness to put maple syrup in this. I put about a teaspoon of syrup in the cup after steeping at boiling five minutes.
Between the experimentation with steeping parameters and the syrup, I have to say there was some improvement! The syrup seemed to tame the smoke somewhat and gave its own separate flavor which made the taste marginally better. The BF didn’t notice a difference, but I did. Then again, he didn’t find this almost intolerable from the beginning whereas I did, so it’s evening out some.
It’s still a pretty bad match for me, though. I’ll be plugging away toward sipdown with all due haste.
Sipdown no. 173. A sample. I didn’t plan to drink this this late a night, but fortunately this sort of tea is supposed to be very low in caffeine. I’d put it in the basket of the Breville then had to leave the house and just got back.
This is really old and had been partially used, so it was open for a while. I remember well my first experience of it and it is truly a shadow of its former self. This is probably the first time I’ve experienced a significant degradation in flavor due to age.
There’s still a sort of green flavor, but much more rice flavor than when the tea was fresh. But in general, it’s just rather pale.
Note to self: Houjicha doesn’t keep. Drink soon after opening.
Flavors: Celery, Nutty, Rice
Sipdown no. 172. A sample.
Wow, what a pleasant little tea. I didn’t really know what to expect from it, and it was a nice surprise.
The leaves are rolled and green, and they smell fresh and a little grassy in the packet. I steeped them in short infusions in the gaiwan at 195F, starting with 15 seconds after rinsing first.
1. Pale yellow liquor. Vegetal fragrance, a little like spinach or maybe bok choy. Pleasant vegetal flavor, a bit like a Chinese green tea.
2. A bit darker yellow this time. Fragrance is similar to no. 1 with something floral around the edges. Deeper flavor, somewhere between spinach and freshly mown grass. Very smooth and fresh tasting.
3. Liquor color is hanging tough at the same pale yellow. More pronounced floral note this time. I’m still getting a green tea flavor, a bright flavor rather than a buttery one. But I’m wondering if this is trying to morph into something like a tieguanyin in later steeps.
4. A little paler yellow with a greenish tinge. Aroma is less bright, more mellow, heading toward something reminiscent of diary. Flavor still bright and fresh. I don’t think this is going to head any more toward a tieguanyin than it already has, which isn’t much. Leaves have pretty much completely unfurled at this stage and they’re a sort of olive color.
5. Looks yellower this time. The flavor is starting to fade a bit, a bit less bright, a bit more mellow without reaching buttery.
Very enjoyable. I could definitely drink this again.
Flavors: Bok Choy, Floral, Grass, Green, Spinach
Today is overcast and wintery looking. If I lived somewhere it snowed, it would look like it was about to snow. It’s not really that cold out, but a bit chilly. If it was just a little colder it would be pretty much all the winter we get here.
With that sort of weather, at this time of year, this blend seemed appealing because it smells to me like what people in Texas used to call wassail when I was growing up. I don’t think it’s really wassail because I’m pretty sure real wassail has alcohol of some kind in it. The kind we used to have at friends’ houses was pretty much heated up apple juice with spices in it.
In the sample tin, that’s what this smells like. Mostly cinnamon and some apple. I thought about preparing this on the stovetop, but I was too lazy today to try that. I have enough of the sample to give it a go a bit later. So today I just steeped according to Adagio’s directions. The steeped tea smells like a heated version of the dry tea.
Unfortunately, though, I wasn’t able to get a whole lot of flavor out of this. Apple isn’t really present for me in the sip, though I do taste it in the aftertaste. Mostly I taste cinnamon. Not much tea flavor either. This saddens me because I enjoyed the other Adagio chai samples quite a bit, and this one sounded so good.
I wondered if it would be better with a drop of milk and some Splenda, but that didn’t change the flavor a whole lot other than muting the cinnamon just a bit.
I’m tempted to put a bit of the Turkish apple fruit tisane I have from Upton in with this and see what that does. Haven’t decided whether to do that instead of trying it using the stovetop method. Or I suppose I could put the Turkish apple into the mixture and prepare it stovetop. I don’t have enough left to try it both ways, so I’ll have to pick one.
Flavors: Apple, Cinnamon
I found an unopened package of this in my drawer, and after the enjoyable Yunnan from The Tea Table two days ago, I thought I’d give this one a try. Premium Steap doesn’t have this on their web site at present — they do have a Yunnan, it just isn’t this one.
The leaves in the bag are generally darker with fewer blonde ones in the mix than yesterday’s. The dry leaf has a piquant scent like darjeelings tend to have and also smells a bit like rye bread.
The liquor is a lovely, clear, cherry wood red. The tea has a sweet, sugary fragrance that also has some whiffs of bread and something dark to it, like maybe molasses.
The flavor is pleasant and very smooth, very “tea” like in the sense of generic black tea flavor, but with a sweetness that lingers on the tongue and a bit of malty breadiness. I might try steeping it a little longer next time and see if that gives it a bit more depth. There’s nothing wrong with it, I just think it might be capable of more than I’m tasting in it now.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Malt, Molasses
More bacony today in both scent and taste, less so in taste than in scent. It’s not a mouth full of ash today as it was yesterday in any case. Perhaps it’s because I used 212F water instead of 205?
Not enough improvement in either the overall experience or the smoky bacon flavor department to merit revisiting the rating, though. This is now in my sip down as fast as possible pile.
Sipdown no. 171. The consumption of samples I like before they turn completely to dust continues.
I think my first note pretty much covered this one. I like it slightly more than the apricot of yesterday, mostly because I haven’t had much other blueberry tea and it’s surprising to me that there even is such a thing given the subtlety of blueberry as a flavor. That a tea can capture the aroma and flavor of blueberries without being solely a fruit mix and can do it in a way that isn’t fakey fakey is a good thing in my book.
I found a full, unopened bag of this at the back of one of my tea storage containers.
I was not happy to see it. I barely got through the maple bacon version, which was the nail in the coffin of my moratorium on teas that are supposed to taste like food (unless the food is pie, cake, cookie or some other pastry). Something about teas that are supposed to taste like food throws my equilibrium off balance and makes my stomach turn.
The kids, on the other hand, were like: BACON TEA! WOW! YAY! WANT! (What is it about bacon? I don’t get it, personally.) They wanted some last night but I said not until this morning because caffeine.
They reminded me this morning, so I made some. But since I have an appointment later today that I’m nervous enough about without a stomach ache, I did not plan to partake.
Kid no. 1 said it smelled like bacon. Smelled good.
Kid no. 2 said it smelled like smoke.
Kid no. 1 said it tasted awful and he couldn’t drink it.
Kid no. 2 said it tasted like smoke. And he couldn’t drink it.
I will say that the smell in the package had a salty meatiness that, when I went ahead and tasted despite my better judgment, was pretty much not present in the taste. This is both good and bad. Good because it doesn’t make me think of bacon, which avoids the food problem. Bad because I don’t think it tastes like bacon, which is what it claims to be. Unless you eat your bacon burnt and charred.
It tastes like a very smoky lapsang. Smoky and ashy. Like ash tray ashy.
I like some lapsangs, but generally the ones I like aren’t heavy on ash. They have some tea flavor, some woodiness at least.
So, on the one hand, I can tolerate it better than the maple bacon, which is good news. It may mean I can actually get through the bag. On the other hand, I judge these types of teas on how true they are to their named flavors, and I have to ding this one hard on that score.
Flavors: Ash, Smoke
Sipdown no. 170!
Tonight the BF, the kids, and I divided the last little bit of this four ways in tiny cups. I’m sorry to see it go, but it was time. I’d been holding on to it out of nostalgia more than anything else and though it still tasted remarkably good it was probably one of the oldest things in my cupboard.
I’ll miss it. Perhaps one day I’ll find something similar from a non-defunct company and give it a try.
Flavors: Cream, Lemon