861 Tasting Notes
Sipdown no. 112 of the year 2014. A sample.
A colorful, geometric (because of the lemongrass), attractive mix. The dry leaf smells very minty, with a little citrus.
The liquor is tawny, like a dark lion color. The aroma is herbal—mostly minty.
Mine is a little on the thin side, and as I’ve used my entire sample I can’t go back and adjust leaf/water/time and temp to test whether this was just a one-off result or a general characteristic of this tea. I mostly taste the mint and a little lemon. I don’t taste much black tea, but I do get an undercurrent.
I can see this being a really nice iced tea, and I think I’d quite enjoy it hot as well if I could get it a bit stronger. There’s nothing at all offensive about it—on the contrary, it has a really nice mint flavor that’s mellowed slightly by the lemon and vice versa.
I can’t rate it extremely high based on this one experience, but I like it well enough to put it on the wish list if I ever get out of lockdown and order from Teas Etc. again.
Second tea of the morning after the LeafSpa Earl Grey, which is now positioned for sipdown tomorrow. It was a big tin, so that’s a rather major one coming up.
Truly, Red Hot Cinnamon is much better hot, as I’m having it today. I’m enjoying the little pops of sweet cinnamon flavor where the red hot concentration must have been higher in the mix.
I am sure this must have come from the Teavana tea of the month club. Sadly, it isn’t at all to my liking, which is ironic because it’s one of the few blends I got as a result of that club that Teavana still makes.
In the packet it smells decent—peppery, cinnamon-y, some weird fruity smell of unclear origin—and it is pretty and colorful like many Teavana blends.
But after steeping there’s something in the aroma that is unpleasantly lotiony smelling. Like cinnamon hand lotion, if there is such a thing.
And even more unfortunately, that lotiony-ness manifests in the flavor, too. Which is too bad, because the spice combination is rather tasty. There’s a very peppery, cinnamon-ginger flavor that every now and then rises briefly above the lotion. And it’s this that I’m still tasting in the aftertaste.
But something else in here is giving me that weird lotion flavor. Is it the tulsi? The rooibos? The coconut? I really don’t know, but there it is.
This is going quickly into the must sip down soon category. Ugh.
In revisiting this, I must first point out that I misread the package, which clearly states that you should use one TABLESPOON of tea to 8 oz of water. I used a teaspoon, but one of those ones from David’s that is really bigger than a regular teaspoon but still not as big as a tablespoon.
So I’m starting from the right amount of tea, or perhaps a bit more, this time.
Second, I’m steeping hotter. I bumped the temp to the recommended 180, only a 5 degree difference, but Rishi’s instructions are very adamant that while one is free to vary the time, one should never vary the temperature. Apparently I was a bad girl on two counts the first time.
Third, I’m steeping a minute longer. Four minutes didn’t turn the tea into a wretched mess of bitterness, and so I’m going to be brave and try the minimum recommended steeping time, 5 minutes.
I spend so much of my time telling my kids to follow directions, you’d think I would have it down myself by now.
Directions are meant to be followed in this case. I get what the other notes mean when they say corn. There’s a hint of corn in the aroma and in the flavor. I get a lot less sweet and a lot less butter steeped at this temperature and time but it’s not bitter. I get the pine nut flavor, too.
It’s still a fairly light, subtle flavor even when steeped according to directions, but it’s got much more character this way.
It’s definitely different among green teas, many of which have lately been very tasty but very much the same to me—either cooked buttery vegetable or cut hay-grass variations.
This one isn’t either of those. It’s in a category by itself, which makes it somewhat hard to rate. I think I still need to do some work to get the best flavor out of it, but I could definitely see drinking this regularly. I give it a solid excellent mark in its own little category. It’s not to the crack level for me, but it has attributes that I admire in teas and particularly green teas, namely that I don’t think it’s something I would get sick of easily.
Sipdown no. 111 of the year 2014. A big one. I started out with a lot of this.
Of my original teabag purchases when I first started exploring tea, I only have left some of each of the following: Tazo Honeybush, Numi Red Rooibos, Tazo Lotus, Tazo Refresh, Bigelow Constant Comment and four different Numi Pu-erhs.
Progress. I enjoyed this one for what it is, and I’ve spoken about what I like about it and how I judged it against its chai peers at length in other notes so I won’t repeat myself.
It’s not something I will buy again, at least not any time soon. I have a ton of loose chai, including some decaf, and I prefer the stovetop version. Having the teabag version isn’t all the convenient where I’d drink it most, i.e., places where I don’t have the loose chai ingredients and a stove top, i.e., at work—because I have to get a hold of milk and sweetener. So that sort of defeats the purpose for me. It was a good introduction, though.
Second time having this, and it remains an improvement, at least in the view of my palate, over the plain yerba mate.
It also remains not enough to push me into mate fandom.
But it’s a nice greenish tea flavor for the after lunch caffeine boost (though matcha or a black tea would probably do a better job).
This tea made its debut as a commuting companion today. It did well.
You know how when you eat or drink certain things outside, they taste differently than they do when you eat or drink them inside? That’s certainly true of this tea. Being in the car isn’t really the same as being outside, I guess, but this tea tasted fresher and lighter in the car than it did when I drank it at home. The coconut was also sweeter and nuttier, but in a fresh-tasting way rather than a cloying way.
Second tea after the morning Earl Grey. I got held up on a call and it got rather cool before I finally tasted any. This is one that I find much better on the warmer side than the cooler. It is much more aromatic when hot, though cool it still has a red hot candy flavor that may be even more candy-like because of the coolness. Note to self: drink while hot.
Trying this one in the gaiwan, and the first few steeps seemed pretty light. I wonder whether it’s a property of Indian oolongs that they need longer steeps than Chinese ones?
The flavor started to get stronger at around the third steep, which was a minute. Longer steeps are better with this one. I got a nice stone fruit-grapey flavor without any sharp edges. It was as though the sharp Darjeeling-y smell of the aroma had had its edges filed off in the flavor. The leaves on this one looked a uniform milk-chocolaty brown after steeping, with some nicely formed whole leaves and a lot of broken ones. For some reason they made me think of autumn.
Everyone at my house is in the other room watching the Oscars. I have, as per the usual schedule, a writing assignment due (and as per usual these days, I haven’t done it yet). I am having such a love/hate relationship with writing these days. Sigh.
Sipdown no. 110 of the year 2014. My inaugural use of the Yixing pot!
It may not have been the best choice because I had very little left, not really enough to fill the 140 ml pot to one third or so. But I chose it because I had tasted it fairly recently and remembered what it tasted like well enough to compare the taste from the porcelain gaiwan to the clay pot.
This is a fascinating experiment in so many ways. First, there’s a definite effect on the taste of the tea. Though the tea is underleafed and a little watery tasting, it is also somewhat rounder than I recall it tasting before. So the clay is doing something. I just can’t tell how much of the taste difference is because of the underleafing or whether some of it is the pot drawing flavor into the clay. The little pot pours fast and very evenly! I expected to taste some clay, but I don’t really.
I got a little worried when I did the “clink” test on the pot because it doesn’t ring like a bell. It has a high pitched metallic clink, but not the ringing sound I heard on this Youtube video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_OoIxP5zYE
I was impressed, though, by how quickly the water I poured on the outside of the pot was absorbed into the clay rather than rolling down the sides. Really fast. And I sniffed the pot (okay it had tea in it but still) after pouring hot water over it and it really does smell like a hot rock rather than something muddy or earthy. I take all of this as signs it’s a good little pot for the price.
While I was enjoying this experience, I might have accidentally ordered another pot or two from Yunnan Sourcing.
If you don’t see me online for a while it’s because the BF has tied my hands together to keep me from ordering more teaware. He very rightly made the comment that the whole point of us drinking tea was to clear space in the house, which I’ve been filling with teaware purchases, and which can’t be sipped down. I can safely say, though, that the ratio of space taken by tea to teaware at this point is probably about ten to one at least, so I can stop now (or soon) and still come out ahead. ;-)