1178 Tasting Notes
Sipdown no. 44 for the year 2014. This concludes all the Adagio white tea samplers, unless I find the Jasmine Silver Needle that has either (1) mysteriously disappeared or, (2) been sipped down over the last couple of years without me remembering.
I made sure to measure by weight this time. I also went for a shorter steep time, but not as short as the Breville thinks white teas should have (2:30) because I’m not convinced from what I’ve read that’s the ideal time. I went for 4:30 because the highest rating this tea got on Steepster indicated a 5 minute steep time.
This turned out to work pretty well. The grapefruit tastes much better to me than the other flavored whites. Part of this is the way the flavoring works together with the tea base instead of seemingly at odds with it as some of the other flavored whites seemed to do. Something about the grapefruit flavoring cuts through the plantiness and reduces it to just a hint so the impression is a sweeter tea over all. The grapefruit is definitely apparent, unlike the tangerine in the white tangerine or the pear in the white pear, but it isn’t overwhelming and cloying like the coconut in the White Tropics.
This is definitely my favorite of all the Adagio white flavored teas I tried, and I actually prefer it to the plain whites, too.
Bumping the rating. It earns a place on the shopping list.
Sipdown no. 43 for the year 2014.
This is embarrassing.
I’ve concluded that my recent Adagio white tea sampler tastings may have all been fundamentally flawed by significant underleafing. I should know better. But somehow I let the convenience of the Breville take over when my brain should have been making the decisions.
I was reading the thread about volume vs. weight and what Dinosaura said about weight in relation to white tea made me go “oh crap.”
So for this one, I got out the scale. Turns out if I’d used a spoon instead I’d still be one pot away from a sipdown. I had just under two cups worth of tea by weight so I steeped this in 500ml of water.
The good news, such that it is, is that the underleafing in this case may not have made a lot of difference. The flavor of this one is so light that using a lot more tea doesn’t seem to have much impact. (It may still have affected some of the others though. Bah!)
Sipdown no. 42 for the year 2014. But it’s not forever as this is definitely on my shopping list!
keychange’s note about this earlier today put me in the mood for this. I’m working from home today and the BF wanted some as well, so I think that, in an effort to stretch this to include a cup for him I underleafed a bit.
It was definitely Red Hots I smelled in the packet, even given the age of the sample. Very cinnamony but in a sweet-hot, candy way, not the woody, herby way that cinnamon can sometimes smell.
And that’s what I taste as well. Sweet-hot cinnamon. All the other ingredients—orange, cloves, even the tea—may be there in the flavor somewhere and doing something to make the flavor what it is, but I’m not able to isolate them.
And in this case, that’s a very good thing. Because for me they aren’t the reason to drink this. The reason to drink this is for the warming, sweet-hot cinnamon flavor.
After trying the triple bergamot version two mornings ago and the double bergamot version yesterday, I decided to try the plain old single version today.
But first, I lined up the sample packets and sniffed the dry mix from triple to single. They weren’t kidding. The triple is extremely strong smelling on the citrus/perfume, the single is very gently scented and the double is in between, just as it should be.
In fact, after steeping, the aroma of the bergamot is quite gentle. The tea base comes through more than in the other two versions, and it is sweet and malty. I wonder whether the base is different for this one or it is just the interaction of the stronger bergamot with the same base, but this one tastes much more like it has some Yunnan in the base. The liquor color is beautiful—a sort of a reddish brandy.
The gentler bergamot and sweeter base combine to make this, not surprisingly, my favorite of the three. The metallic note I detected in the others is only barely present here, and the bite is almost nonexistent making this a smoother flavor to my tastebuds.
It’s a very nice tea, and it’s certainly something I would drink again, but I have to make some hard choices about pantry space and there are others that hit my sweet spot better.
Sipdown no. 40 for the year 2014. A sample teabag from the work stash. Again guessing at temperature. Split the baby on time between the suggested 30 seconds to 1 minute and steeped for 45 seconds.
I don’t think I’ve ever had houji-cha before (and now because of the thing… you know, the phobia…) it might be a long time before I have it again unless I have some other samples tucked away somewhere.
Which is a shame because this is delicious. The aroma after steeping is wonderfully roasty, almost like an oolong but not as strong and with clear whiffs of green tea vegetalness. There’s a sweet toastiness to the flavor, too, but without reminding me of popcorn like genmaicha does. I don’t get any bitterness, just a bit of grass in the finish that lets me know this is a Japanese green tea despite what my senses might be telling me.
This toastiness is more like what you get from roast vegetables. Though I wouldn’t go so far as to call it caramel, I can see where that thought originates. It’s the same sort of roasted sweetness you get from carmelized vegetables, like onions.
Though we’ve managed a sipdown of this at home between me, my BF, and the kids, I still have about 16 bags of this in my work stash.
That’s okay, though, because this has really grown on me.
During my recent tour of Adagio white teas, I kept wondering in the back of my mind why this tasted so different from those. Why it had what seemed like a richer flavor. It wasn’t just the berry aspect, there was something else going on. Then I looked at the ingredients again.
Darjeeling! That explains a lot.
I have a feeling I’ll be nostalgic about this one at sipdown time. It may even be one of the few Tazos I feel the need to keep on hand. At the moment I’m not prepared to say that because the other two, Refresh and Decaf Lotus Blossom Green, are really special in my view. But it’ll be close in any case.
Sipdown no. 39 for the year 2014. Another sachet from the work stash.
Forgot the thermometer again! So I winged it on the water temp—let it cool for a couple of minutes before steeping.
I had a bit of a “doh” moment when I picked this tea today. I thought the word mandarin in the name meant it was flavored with both jasmine and mandarin orange, and I kept saying to myself—but I don’t smell orange? I don’t taste orange? So I did an internet search and all signs I could find pointed to this being a straight up jasmine green and that Mandarin presumably refers to the Chinese origin of the tea base.
Once I had a better understanding of what I was tasting, I could appreciate it for what it is. It seems like a really serviceable jasmine green tea. Having tasted the Kusmi Jasmine Green recently, I think these two teas are quite comparable. Both have a nice jasmine flavor, and with both, I don’t get a lot of green tea taste.
This one has a slight downward note in the finish that leans toward grassy and the jasmine doesn’t strike me as as rich and vibrant. Some of that could be simply because of the mode of preparation. But comparing the two I prefer the Kusmi.
This is a solid jasmine green though, and I wouldn’t turn it down. It’s just that, as with everything tea, I find myself having to make these fine distinctions to avoid having tea take over my house. I am going to bump the Kusmi a couple of points.
Dear Silver Needle:
Thank you for keeping me company on my commute this morning.
I very much appreciated that you were not planty or heavy, like your colleague, White Symphony. Thank you for being light, dewy and nectar-y today.
Now could you please do just a little more of what you’re doing? Just a tad more flavor would be nice. Sometimes I felt as though I was drinking water with a few drops of sugar stirred in.
If I used to know more about white tea, I have forgotten most of what I knew. I don’t believe I’ve really tasted many silver needles, so despite my sincere thanks, I do think I will be playing the field a while longer.
When we next meet, I’ll be sipping you down, so you should prepare yourself.
Sipdown no. 38 of 2014. This may be so long for now, but it isn’t goodbye forever. I like this one too much for that to be true.
I barely had enough leaf left for the lowest Breville setting, which makes me wonder whether the last time I tasted this I overleafed some. I know from looking back at my note that I found the rose very strong, and perhaps that’s why.
Because this time, I didn’t find the rose too strong at all. Now, it is true my sample is old (but ziplocked in the sample packet and not subjected to indignities in storage), and it is also true that because there was so little of this left I may have gone a bit in the other direction and underleafed some. Even so, the aroma is a lovely rose with a mild, sweet black tea base, and the flavor is pretty much the same.
But I think that just means this is a versatile tea that can work both on the somewhat strong and somewhat weak side, and, I have to believe, in the perfect in between.
Bumping the rating some because however you slice it, this is a keeper.