867 Tasting Notes
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.
Looking back on what I wrote about this tea, I’m constrained to dock it some points. I’d originally given it a 63. Lately I’ve been drinking it a lot more, as I’m now down to just a few of my original “starter tea” tea bag boxes.
One of the problems I’m having is that I really did not like Om, which was another Tazo mixed tea blend with cucumber flavor. I drank a lot of Om trying to get through my stash at both work and home, and it never got any better tasting, in fact it got worse and worse.
Om may have ruined cucumber flavor in tea for me, or perhaps just cucumber flavor in Tazo tea. Though this one doesn’t have the same ingredients as Om, its cucumber flavor is close enough to the same that my sense memory is superimposing a spiciness on the cucumber that gives me that same pickle feel as I had with Om. Pickles being, well, pickled, that flavor undercuts the feeling of freshness I had the first few times I had this. In a big way.
Also, I had forgotten that Cucumber White, as this is actually named, also has black darjeeling in it, which makes it one of those “what temp do I use, and for how long” conundrums that I’d rather skip and just get to the drinking.
As I’m sitting with these white Tazos for longer, the Vanilla Apricot is emerging as a frontrunner, and the Berryblossom is growing on me. The cucumber, sadly, has fallen from favor.
Since becoming a chai fan I’ve been adding samples of anything that looks remotely like chai into my orders, which has been fun. But I think I’m starting to get tired of dating chais and ready to settle down. Not with one, of course. With a small harem’s worth.
I bought this sample with my last H&S order. In the sample packet, it has rather mild spicy scent. I can detect something that seems slightly like anise under the cardamom. Unlike many chai blends, I can smell a strong tea fragrance here. The Assam has an earthy scent, like soil, with an interesting chocolate note to it.
I prepared this on the stovetop, using TeaFrog Assam as extra black tea.
It makes a creamy, chewy, tasty, and very mildly spiced chai. Very, very mildly spiced. It’s on a par on the mildness scale with the most mild I’ve tasted so far, the TeaFrog.
What makes it somewhat different is that it seems to have a stronger tea flavor than a good many other chai blends I’ve tasted. Particularly in the aftertaste. This might be because of the CTC leaves. Since I haven’t tried this without milk and sweetener, it could be that the tea itself is much stronger with long brewing because of how it was prepared, and that this, accordingly, comes out as tea flavor under the milk and sweetener. Whatever the reason, it’s a nice change.
Still, I like even my mild chais a bit more strongly spiced than this. While I liked it, I don’t think it’s going to be selected for the harem in the long term.
I received this as a sample with the “Blue Knight Special.” It’s my first green Earl Grey.
In the sample packet, there’s a definite bergamot smell, and some lavender, and something that seems almost like vanilla. The tea may be there, but I can’t smell it for the other fragrances.
It brews to a clear light yellow. The aroma of the tea is mainly a green, vegetal sencha. Not particularly on the buttery side, with a sharp note that reminds me of bok choy. There’s the tiniest bit of lavender detectable, but I can’t smell bergamot?
Taste. Hmm. This isn’t what I’d call a flavorful tea. There is some slight vegetal flavor, a cool character that seems attributable to the lavender, and a very hard to find citrus note. It isn’t bitter, but it’s the first green tea that has given me a grab at the back of the throat. Which makes me wonder how green the Assam component really is.
I have some of the sample left, so I can play with it some and see if I can improve it, but after this first tasting it’s not selling me.
I have been looking forward to trying this sample given the love that this tea has on Steepster, and what with a good decaf being hard to find and all. I had had such a bad experience with the only other decaf vanilla black tea I’ve had, the Numi, that I was a little afraid despite my eagerness.
The leaves in the sample packet are lighter colored than I would have expected, and initially they give off a very very intense, creamy, vanilla smell. Once you get under the cream, though, the vanilla is pretty rich, with a hint of beany-ness. The 6 year old was persuaded to give them a sniff and went “MMMMM-MM!”
The tea doesn’t have a very strong aroma. I don’t get a lot of vanilla after steeping. Perhaps this is because I didn’t hear the Breville beep, so the tea had started to cool a bit by the time I got to it. There is a sort of disappointing wet blotter paper, or maybe cardboard, smell to the tea, which is generally what I smell and taste in most decafs.
But fortunately I’m not getting much of that in the taste at all. This is a smooth, mild vanilla tea, with no false steps. The vanilla is integrated nicely into the tea, and provides a sweet, creamy, flavor.
I can’t say that this would be a stand out for me compared to some of the really wonderful non-decaf vanilla black teas I have had. There’s still less to it, like it has been de-somethinged, but by comparison to other decafs it is so much more somethinged.
I’m rating this compared to other decafs, not to other teas generally. On a decaf scale, it’s definitely up there with the Harney Midsummer Peach. I’m going to say it’s slightly better just because it is such a success as a decaf black vanilla compared to the Numi.
After going on at some length about how I wouldn’t have picked a grapefruit tea when I wrote my note about the Teas Etc. sample, I now find that I was moved to buy an entire can of this by the 50% off sale and had forgotten I’d been so adventurous. What a drag it is getting old. Seriously, if I didn’t know better, I’d think I was coming down with pre-senile dementia. As it is, I think I’m just fast forwarding to senile dementia.
There’s a confetti-like look to this tea, with the long, pretty, paper like calendula petals mixing in with the long black leaves. It doesn’t smell that much like grapefruit, though there is a fruity smell to the dry leaves, and a mild, flowery, almost vanilla smell from the petals.
The tea’s aroma does speak grapefruit, in a gentle way. There’s a sweet, somewhat malty smell to the tea that isn’t Darjeelingy at all. It’s a rounder smell, not the sharp smell I associate with Darjeeling. The tea does taste like Darjeeling, though. It has a bright, sparkly flavor with a slight essence of grapefruit to it. It has a soft feel to it, which seems a little unusual.
I’m thinking this one might do a little better steeped a little longer. It’s a nice tea, but if I were going to do a repeat on a grapefruit, I would lean toward the Teas Etc. If I decide to buy a grapefruit tea, I’m going to want to taste the grapefruit more than I do in the LeafSpa.
Must experiment some to see if I can get the flavor to come out more.
BTW, belated happy father’s day to all the dads out there. Our fathers day brunch took about 2 and a half hours, longer than we’d planned, and I was pretty wiped out yesterday. Too tired even to drink much tea, hence no tasting notes yesterday.
Finishing up the last of this and decupboarding. My initial assessment still holds. Enjoyable, if you’re in the market for an orange fruit blend, which I’m really not. At least not at the moment.
The boyfriend, who is big on fruit tisanes liked it quite a bit, though he remarked that he’d like it better if it was peach rather than orange. I feel sort of the same way, only my flavor request would be lemon.
Yeah, I know I just wrote about something called “Green White.” It’s purely coincidence. I’m really not going for a color duo theme here.
It is as pretty as it’s picture, but of course, it has cornflowers. Big fan of cornflowers here. It smells mostly of chamomile in the sample packet, with a lavender background. The chamomile has a sweetness to its fragrance. I don’t always find that sweetness in chamomile, but I’m always glad when I do. It usually signals that the chamomile will have a fresher taste, rather than tending toward a bitter or pungent, or that sort of stale, dried paper/hay-flavored-with-chamomile thing.
It makes a light yellow, clear liquor. I was wondering whether the lavender would affect the color. Apparently chamomile trumps lavender. There’s no purple water here, or even grey water. Or what you might think would be the obvious result of a purple/yellow combo, something tending toward greenish. The aroma is a really nice mix, about 50-50 chamomile/lavender.
That pretty much describes the taste as well, and the effect is really interesting. At first I get primarily chamomile. Then that tapers off and I get lavender at the finish. The lavender’s volatile oils seem to contribute a freshness that keeps the chamomile from tasting weedy. Now, the note from H&S says that cornflowers are sweet and spicy. I have never noticed a flavor from them, I have mostly figured they are there to look pretty in the teas and tisanes I’ve tasted. And I’m not sure I can identify a flavor contributed by them now. Pretty much what I taste is chamomile and lavender, with the chamomile toning the lavender down and making it something more appealing than I experienced with the French Super-Blue, and the lavender, as mentioned, freshening and boosting the flavor of the chamomile out of tasting, as it sometimes can, like what I’d imagine a mouthful of decorative dried flowers to taste like.
If I buy a chamomile herbal, this would be a strong contender. I like chamomile, but it’s a very sometime thing with me. I really have to be in the mood for it, and that mood strikes only infrequently. I don’t expect to rush this into my next order, but it’s worth a bookmark should I have a chamomile urge.