1120 Tasting Notes
Sipdown no. 12 for the year 2014, and my 550th tasting note. :-)
This is a fitting blend for it, as it was really the first “tea” that I felt I’d been successful in steeping (i.e., it had flavor!) and was what led me to try everything else. At the time I had no idea that rooibos was so forgiving-so it was a huge (though misplaced) confidence boost.
I owe it much, so parting is bittersweet.
Accidental sipdown! (Sipdown no. 11 of the year 2014.)
When I last drank this, I had decided to make it in a pot the next time so I could get a full cup out of it. As I was pouring the leaves into my little pot (to fill it up to about a third, as I’ve read is what oolongs like), I suddenly ran out of pour. I.e., I had to pour all that was left of the sample into the pot to fill it to about a third, resulting in an accidental sipdown! I think I may have used a bit too much leaf, but it’s too late to change it now. ;-)
This time I also steeped significantly longer for the first steep, 2 minutes, because it’s more par for the course when going western style. Not an improvement, though. With shorter steeps, this had a really lovely roasty-buttery flavor. With the longer one it seems a little overcooked, lacking flavor in the middle of the sip with a bitter edge in the aftertaste.
I went much shorter for the second steep, about 45 seconds. Much better. The floral notes came out on this steep, particularly in the aroma. The bitterness I got on the first steep all but disappeared, and the aftertaste was pleasantly sweet. But somehow it still wasn’t as lovely as I recall it being the first time I sampled this. It could be that I’ve tea’d myself out for the day. I don’t blame the tea as I recall my first experience with it fondly.
Third steep, somewhere between 30 and 45 seconds. Much milder, and closer to my original memory of it and enough to give me my oolong fix. It could possibly go for additional steeps, but I’m good with three.
Hoookay. This is the 400th tea I’ve written a note about!
Four years ago I wouldn’t have thought there were that many tea options in the world. Now I know I’ve merely scratched the surface. It’s a humbling experience.
This is another in the Adagio white sampler. Pretty sure I tasted the Silver Needle a while ago and thought I’d drunk it all because I misplaced the tin (I’ve now found it). And there was a jasmine silver needle as well-but I now can’t locate that one, which is a shame because it seems to be the one everyone on Steepster likes most of this group. I hope it will turn up. The perils of having too much tea.
I am starting with the Adagio preferred speed and feed… I mean time and temp. But because I skimmed through a few of the other notes before trying this, I’m going heavy on the leaf, as that seems to be the consensus for max flavor.
Pretty, silvery green leaves. A lighter aroma in the sample tin than the White Symphony, but with some of the same characteristics. A sweet, not quite green, not quite oolongy fragrance but with a slight sharpness that does remind me of oolong.
I got a very very light green tint to the water after steeping. The aroma is very subtle, almost like the aroma of a very very light black tea. A sort of blunted sharp edge to it.
The flavor isn’t coming through very noticeably for me. It’s far lighter than the other Adagio whites. It’s almost like a very, very dilute sweet melon flavor over the surface. Though if I try really hard, I think I can make out the woody note others have described. It is very very mild, though, just a suggestion under the surface flavor.
I’m rating it the same as the White Symphony, which had a louder, more accessible flavor, but which lacks the subtlety of this one. This is a bit like eating a very clean snowball; it would be the kind of thing I’d enjoy drinking after a massage.
Now that I’ve given all the flavored whites in the Adagio white sampler an initial taste I thought I’d move on to the non-flavored ones.
I’m using the time and temp on the Adagio label for the first try. White tea steeping times and temperatures still seem a bit of a mystery to me as the recommendations vary widely. I’ve read lower temperatures and longer steeps, lower temperatures and shorter steeps, higher temperatures and shorter steeps. It seems to be highly subjective. Next time I might try the Breville’s white tea settings and see what happens.
The dry leaves look and smell like the leaves used as the base for the Adagio flavored whites, so I’m expecting a similar flavor, minus the added fruit flavors.
The aroma after steeping is sugary, with a hint of plantiness and the color is almost the same as water, a very faint green-yellow.
And yes, the flavor is what I tasted under the very faint pear and very faint tangerine, and I like it much better on its own, mostly because I can just sit back and enjoy it without playing find the flavor. On the other hand, it isn’t knocking my socks off. Part of this may be that I’m still working my way up the white tea learning curve, but I know I’ve had whites that had more to them in subtlety and substance than this.
Now for something completely different. I noticed that I have now rated 399 teas. Woo hoo-the odometer is about to turn over! What to pick for no. 400. Hmmm…
Almost in sipdown territory with this one, but not quite. I’m trying to drink through my open greens (well, all of my open teas, but greens first).
I see that I steeped this differently than I did in my original note. I went by the directions on the sample tin and steeped at 170 degrees for a minute and a half rather than the lower and shorter time I used originally. I think this really does need the shorter steep, at least for my taste, as there’s a bitter tinge around the edge that I didn’t record in my (um…er… wow, that was long, though to be nice to myself I’ll refer to it as exhaustive) note. It’s still quite nice but I think I’ll steep the last of it (maybe tomorrow?) shorter and see what happens.
The Saturday sipdown idea sounds really fun. If I’d had the presence of mind to realize people were doing that I’d have tried to get a few containers and samples in a position to be sipped down so I could join in the fun. As it is, I have one known sipdown coming later today but nothing else on the horizon unless I use some of my single serving samples, which I might just decide to do.
I’m not yet in sipdown position with this, though I feel the need to get myself there soon as this sample is now quite old for a green. Nevertheless, and somewhat surprisingly, it’s pretty much living up to the original note I wrote when it was quite fresh. I have to believe it’s a bit faded from when it was young, but honestly it’s all there-the sweet/bitter, the milky mouth feel, the green, chlorophyll-fresh flavor. A really nice early afternoon tea experience.
Every time I have greens of any sort, I tend to like them better than I like the idea of them. If I had a deep pocket and wasn’t a radioactivity-phobe, I could really become a gyokuro junky, I think.
I know I’ve had other apricot flavored blacks-Adagio comes to mind-but it has been a while and now I’m really wondering why.
The aroma of the dry leaf is SO amazing (if you like apricot, which I do). Seriously, it’s downright juicy. It’s sort of between a fresh apricot smell and a dried apricot smell, but not the very dry dried apricots, the plump juicy ones. The dry leaf is also attractive. I am such a sucker for petals in tea. I don’t know what kind these are or whether they are here just for decoration, but either way I love how they look. I also just love the idea of putting petals in tea solely for decoration. If I made teas, I’d do that. ;-)
I have to brush up on my black leaf identification skills to be able to tell what’s in the base. The liquor is a sort of reddish amber, which is what I associate with Ceylons, but I am too rusty to attempt a definitive I.D. here. The aroma of the steeped tea carries over the apricot notes from the dry leaf very nicely. There’s still a juicy apricot quality, which is pretty wonderful, but the tea is present in the aroma as well.
After all of this ramp up, I was a little concerned I might find the taste a let down, but I didn’t have to worry. I taste the apricot front and center. It retains that wonderful juicy component without being overpowering, and that flavor persists into the finish. There’s nothing fake about the apricot flavor, nothing jammy or cloying. The tea flavor takes something of a back seat, but that’s okay with me because the flavor is so well done. There’s some astringency in the aftermath, and that may help to keep the apricot in the aftertaste fresh and sweet.
Had this again this morning using the package directions for steeping. It did make some difference, or perhaps I’ve just become accustomed to the flavor of this tea.
I think perhaps I expected a deeper flavor from this because the aroma of the dry leaf is so rich, but looking now at Dinosaura’s note, I’m seeing that I’m not alone in finding the tea base “thin,” or in my case, lighter than I’d expected. Which I suppose ought not to be a surprise given that this is described by ATR as a “lighter, creamier version” of Earl Grey. On the light front, that’s definitely accurate, and once I get past my aroma-driven prejudice I can appreciate this for a lighter version of an Earl Grey crème. Because strong bergamot isn’t to my liking in a Grey and the combination of strong bergamot and strong tea does a number on my stomach, this is friendly tea for me. The hint of crème keeps the bergamot in check, and I quite like the balance in this blend.
I’m going to put it on the shopping list mostly because there are mornings when Earl Grey sounds nice but I know I won’t be able to tolerate a full bodied one.
I dug through my cabinets and I found a lot of this. I am not sure whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
Sometimes I think this is really vile, other times it’s rather nice. The fact that I have such wild changes of heart about it probably means, on balance, that having a lot of it is a bad thing.
I have discovered that I do not at all like this once it cools. It becomes almost sickly sweet, like drinking the syrup they make root beer out of. On the other hand, if I drink it at a temperature that is as hot as I can reasonably stand, the sweetness isn’t nearly as overpowering and the other flavors come through.
No. 2 is a big root beer fan and because this is slightly reminiscent of root beer to me, I think there’s a shot he might like it. It’s cooling in his mug at the moment, so stay tuned.
ETA: The peanut gallery roundly dislikes this one. I’m lowering the rating a bit.
I just did a “sort by company” of my notes and was really surprised to see that I’ve only logged two American Tea Room teas. I really liked both of those, so I should probably apply myself to the task of tasting more of their wares! (And btw, the ATR people are psychic, apparently. As I typed that, an email with a 20% off coupon arrived in my mailbox.)
This is a very pretty tea. The violet and mallow petals make the dry leaf lovely to look at. The aroma from the sample packet is so wonderfully inviting. A very mellow blend of bergamot and vanilla, which reminds me of lemon cake icing.
After steeping, the sweetness of the aroma flattens out some. The liquor is a peachy amber.
I’m not getting as much flavor from this as I’d expected. It could have something to do with how I steeped. I used the same settings as I did for St. Petersburg (200 degrees for 4 minutes) but I noticed that the sample packet suggests 195 degrees for 5 minutes. I will try that next time. It could also have something to do with the age of the sample, though it was in a sealed packet that had never been opened and judging by the aroma in the packet it seemed to have retained its freshness and strength.
I’m not convinced I did this one justice, so I’m going to reserve my rating until I’ve had a chance to try steeping it differently. It seems too promising from the aroma for what I got out of it.