1119 Tasting Notes
Sipdown no. 23 for the year 2014.
In this steeping I’m getting a lot more cocoa than my original note indicated. I prepared the tea the same way, so I’m not sure why.
I still get a little bit of throat bite with this one, but it’s not as pronounced as I remember it. There’s a freshness to the mouth feel after drinking that’s quite pleasant. Like a wake up call to my mouth.
I wonder if some of the difference can be attributed to the age of the sample. It was in a ziplock, and it still has a lot of aroma in the packet, but perhaps there’s some mellowing that has occurred.
I can’t buy every black tea, can I? So I think I have to make a tough call on this one. I’d happily drink it if offered again but I am going to make myself live without it on the shopping list, just because there are so many other wonderful Harney & Sons black blends that I love more.
ETA: I thought I’d prepared this the same as the original, but I may have increased the water to leaf ratio some. This could account for the lower “bite” factor. The aftertaste to this one is so pleasant it’s making me want to rethink my decision about the shopping list. But I think I have to stick with the hard choice, at least for now.
Yesterday morning I had the Earl Grey Shanghai from ATR, so today I thought I’d try this.
In the sample packet there’s the same rich bergamot scent as in the Shanghai, but without the sugary aroma of the Shanghai’s Yunnan base. The leaves are very pretty, that sort of spidery ceylon look, but instead of petals strewn among the leaves, this one has shiny silver needles. Lovely.
The liquor is a light reddish brown, not quite as deep red in color as I’ve come to think of the “ceylon” color. There’s a mild aroma that is slightly spicy, slightly citrus-y, and though I smell the bergamot it’s not overpowering.
The main difference between this and the Earl Grey Shanghai is, to my tastebuds, the tea base. The Yunnan base gives the Shanghai a very substantial body, with a sweet, rich sugar/molasses/cocoa thing going on. The blend of this base, which starts with ceylon, gives the tea a more medium to light body that is still very flavorful, but tastes more like “tea.” It’s hard to think of an analogy that isn’t too hyperbolic. I was thinking the difference between a vanilla shake and cream soda, but that’s too drastic of a contrast. It reminds me of the Lady Grey in body and somewhat in taste, but without the creme.
As with the other ATR Greys, this one doesn’t overwhelm with bergamot. The balance works nicely for me.
I’m a little torn on this one. It’s a fine tea, but I prefer the nommy Yunnan base of the Shanghai. I think if I ordered the Shanghai, the Lavender and the Lady Grey, I would cover the Earl Grey bases with ATR well enough without adding this to the order. However, as always, your mileage may vary—particularly if the Yunnan-based Earl Grey isn’t your thing.
Tried this on the kids. No. 1 says he likes it but didn’t really want to drink it, and no. 2 says he loves it. But then he admitted that after sleeping on it, he doesn’t really love the Strawberry Kiwi from last night as much as he thought he did.
So who knows. My witnesses are proving unreliable. ;-)
I have to say I liked this fine tonight for a non-tea, though if I compare the day’s ending to the day’s beginning (the American Tea Room peach flavored black) I far and away prefer the black tea based peach.
Next in the line of experiments to see what the kids might like. I was rather surprised that neither of them had any love for this, as it is a very smooth, vanilla-y lemon. However, I wasn’t really feeling the love much myself this evening so I suppose I’m not one to talk.
It may be that this hasn’t aged particularly well, so I hesitate to mark down its rating, but I think I’m putting it first in line for sipdown status among the various herbal blends we’re revisiting now.
This is surprisingly good. I am baffled by it, though.
Ordinarily I would make chai on the stovetop with milk and sweetener. Somehow that seemed wrong for green chai though I’m honestly not sure why that should be. I mean, it’s not like I haven’t had creamed spinach. So I steeped this as a normal green.
It’s a tasty, spiced green tea-though without the chewiness that milk adds to chai. The tea is mild and the spices are as well, but with a peppery kick.
In the tin, I mostly smell clove. A little ginger and cinnamon, too. I see what look like pieces of cinnamon among the leaves. Steeped as I did, the tea has a light yellow liquor and smells a little like gingerbread.
I think steeping as a regular green is the way to go. This is a delicate approach to chai and I think milk would drown it.
Sipdown no. 21 for the year 2014. I see I am averaging about a sipdown a day. I have another scheduled for the afternoon between conference calls so I’ll be at 22 on January 22nd. Heh. This sipdown thing is a little dangerous. I can already hear the little voice in my head saying: “hey, you know when you get to, say, 500 sipdowns for the year, maybe you should reward yourself and BUY TEA from someplace you’ve never tried, and maybe that’s also worth buying out your shopping list at Harney & Sons… no wait, maybe you need to get to 750 for that…” Ugh. I mean it’s not like 500 is on the horizon, so I’m playing a game with myself there, setting the number that high. On the other hand, at this rate I’ll soon be doubling up my average…
In any case, I decided to drink this one because there’s a big jar of honey sitting on the kitchen counter at the moment from the neighbors’ bee hive and it was a free association sort of thing. (There’s a lot of “urban farming” going on on my block, though I suppose it’s really more “suburban farming”-several people raising chickens, bees, etc.)
In looking at the notes on this I am wondering why I didn’t get a sample of Tower of London? It sounds like something I’d do, but I don’t see it among my list of notes or among my stash. I’m putting it on the shopping list.
I feel oddly comforted when my notes from my original tasting capture what I’m thinking on a subsequent tasting much much later. There is enough uncertainty in the world without wondering what’s going on with your senses. Basically, I have the same reaction as before: “gentle, smooth, honeyed. It’s medium to light bodied, and somewhat brisk, a really nice perker upper after a weekend nap. I wish I could unravel the flavors to say what the Kenyan tastes like, but I can’t. The black tea blend is pretty seamless.”
I’d add it to the shopping list but I see it’s already on there.
This is, essentially, the ATR Earl Grey Lavender without the lavender. It’s the same yummy Yunnan base and the same relatively light touch on the bergamot. When I say light touch, understand that I’ve had Earl Greys where I felt afterwards as though bergamot oil was being excreted from my pores. It’s not that the bergamot isn’t present here, it’s that it isn’t taking over the entire experience.
I would never have expected a light touch on the bergamot when I sniffed the sample packet. The scent from the packet is very citrusy and a little floral, though there are no petals to add color to this pretty, dark-leaved tea. Once the tea is steeped, the Yunnan base really comes to the fore of the aroma. I love this smell-brown sugary, leaning almost toward chocolate. It’s the same general idea as the Samovar Earls, which I adore.
The tea color is a gorgeous reddish brown. They call it garnet. It’s not quite that red, but it’s still lovely.
The flavor is what I like most. It’s that brown sugary base that cuts the bergamot and keeps it from veering into perfumed oil territory. It isn’t quite as smooth as I recall the Samovar (with a similar flavor profile) being-it has just a bit of briskness to it. But it’s still right up my personal Earl Grey alley.
My sample doesn’t say it’s organic, but my guess is it’s just a prior version of the current one which can now be certified as organic. It does identify the tea base as a Ceylon. The base looks and tastes like the base to the Apricot and the Passion Fruit, which I had suspected were Ceylons but felt too rusty to make a call on-I’m glad to know I haven’t completely lost all my knowledge of black tea varieties during my hiatus.
The smell of the dry leaf from the packet is wonderful. It’s reminiscent of the juiciness of the apricot, though this time it’s juicy peach. I once had a wonderful peach pie in which the peach flavor of the peaches was incredible-it was like a heightened version of fresh peach. More peach than actual peaches. That’s what this smells like.
The aroma is a gentler peach plus the Ceylon, and the liquor is that gorgeous reddish color I associate with Ceylons.
The peach flavor tastes just like it smells. The BF, being a fruity tea fan and a peach fan in particular (he loves everything from the fruit off the tree to the ice cream and everything in between), said this was “right up at the top” and asked for more before I’d even finished my cup.
I agree. It’s a great black peach.
I’m bumping the ratings of all the ATR fruits because I’m still feeling my way back into my rating system. They’re all really excellent examples of single fruit blacks so I’m rating accordingly.
A hit with both peanuts! No. 2 more than no. 1, but both said they’d drink it again. No. 2 is the strawberry fan in the house, and as the strawberry is very much the main event here, I’m not surprised.
Delighted to see that this is still for sale at The NecessiTeas site in case we find ourselves needing more!