1118 Tasting Notes
The last of the The O Dor samples accompanying my order. Apparently they have at December 25th in almost every color. There’s a black, a green, and a red in addition to the white. Reminds me of my mom, who would buy a pair of shoes in several different colors. I don’t do that. OK, maybe once or twice, but that’s ALL.
They gave me the white one — I guess because I ordered a lot of black tea, so my samples were green, rooibos, this one, and mysteriously, Earl Grey. The dry leaves look like white peony (not that I’m an expert) with orange peel and other stuff in them. They smell like a fruitcake, or perhaps the more sophisticated sounding and generally better English version, a Christmas pudding.
There’s a dense, alcoholic (guessing rum) laced with fruit aroma coming from the steeped tea. The liquor is a burnished gold color with sencha-reminiscent particles suspended in it.
The taste is mildly fruit cake spicy, with an undercurrent of alcohol and a mellowness that borders on sweet that I am guessing is the contribution of the white tea. I feel like adding apple into it and calling it wassail.
It’s tasty and something that I might enjoy revisiting in winter. A bit too much for the coming summer heat, even with the white tea base.
Golden Moon sample No. 31 of 31. I just looked back at the note for sample No. 1 and I started this journey 28 days ago. So almost a month here, too, Ewa. This seems like a really nice tea to end on, as it has a lot of love here on Steepster. It’s one of the ones I’ve been most looking forward to trying.
It’s probably not the best idea for me to be drinking this at 9:30 p.m., but at least it should keep me awake to finish my workout, which was interrupted earlier today at about the 1/3 mark.
I love the look of Ceylon leaves, that twiggy, delicate, dark brown bird nesty thing they have going on. The only other pure Ceylon I’ve had is the Samovar, and like that one, the dry leaves of this one smell a little tobaccoey and a little fruity. But I’m getting an interesting mocha-java note too.
Wow, what a beautiful color! It’s not that different from a black “tea colored” liquor really, but it has a rosey hue to it, like someone dropped a few drops of cranberry juice into it. I want a sweater this color!
The aroma is totally nommy. I get the molasses in a big way, but underneath the sugary sweetness is something else. Something that smells like that red color in the liquor, but that I can’t give a name. I think it is what the company describes as berry. The more I inhale it, the more I realize: it’s raspberry, and I don’t have to throw my mind out of focus to find it as I did with the Samovar.
Taste: I like. Lots. This seems to be among the fuller bodied Golden Moon black teas, the opposite of my experience with the Samovar Ceylon, which I found to be less deep and rich than the other Samovar black teas I’d tried. It’s smooth, and it has a character that reminds me of a lighter red wine. I get the toastiness, and some sweetness, but not too, too much. Despite its depth, it still manages to have a freshness to it without being astringent.
It was indeed a special way to conclude my voyage under the Golden Moon. Now, I must go place my order, the one I grandfathered into my lockdown by virtue of starting this trip almost a month ago.
It’s not goodbye, Golden Moon. It’s hello, again.
Another detour along the path of Project Finish Golden Moon samples. This was another sample The O Dor threw in with my order from them.
It’s unclear to me exactly what is in this. It came in a white envelope with a handwitten label on it with just the name of the tea. The web site isn’t much help either. The dry mixture looks like sencha with red and pink flower petals in it, but it’s also got a couple of little twigs, which seems odd. It smells spectacularly like cherry. To the point where I can’t smell the tea at all. I’m guessing there was some flavoring added as I can’t believe a few dried flower petals could generate the sort of cherry fragrance I’m smelling (even if cherry blossoms smell like cherry, which they may, but I wouldn’t know).
The liquor has that characteristic, hazy sencha look, with little particles suspended in the water. It’s yellower than it is green, and on the lighter side but not pale. The cherry fragrance is present after steeping, but it isn’t as strong and is balanced with another, somewhat savory, buttery scent.
After all this build up, disappointingly, it doesn’ t have a lot of flavor. There is a subtle cherry note at the finish, but what comes before isn’t distinctive. I’m hard pressed to identify it as tea. It’s more like a broth without a lot of flavor. I imagine this is what sodium free “lite” chicken bouillon might taste like — mild to the point of almost tastelessness.
Sad. There’s nothing at all offensive about it, and the cherry is done well. In fact, the cherry being done well is the only reason I’m giving this a rating higher than the Golden Moon sencha, since I’ve experienced a lot of poorly flavored green teas. But I’d hoped for a flavored green breakthrough, figuring if anyone could do it, the French could. It’s a curse, I tell you.
Golden Moon sample No. 30 of 31.
I’m not a sencha expert. I can count on my digits the number of times I’ve knowingly had sencha, and I probably don’t even have to use the toes.
So I cheated a little to get myself started. While I didn’t go so far as to pour the leaves out to compare how they looked, I compared the smell of the sample packet leaves to that of the Den’s Organic Sencha. And guess what? The Den’s is orders of magnitude more fragrant, more juicy and sweet and vegetal-smelling. The dry leaves looked pretty normal to me, but they weren’t as shiny and deep green as I remembered the Den’s being.
Looking back at my notes from the Den’s, I think the liquor color may be different as well. This steeps chartreuse too, but more toward the yellow side. The aroma is nice. It’s got some butter going on, and a definite vegetal scent. It tastes good, but a little on the thin side. I remember the Den’s being much juicier.
I think I’ve convinced myself (and it wasn’t at all hard to do) that I’d buy Den’s over this sencha. Though if someone offered me a cup of this, I would be happy to enjoy it with that kind offeror.
Tried this today the Samovar way, with a tablespoon of chai and a tablespoon of black tea (Teavana Assam Gold Rain). Otherwise the same: 1 tbsp sweetener, 1 cup water till it boils mostly away, 1 cup milk, steep ten minutes in the milk after bringing to a boil.
This seems to be one way to make chai more chewy. I am going to be using this method from now on. Not sure this black tea was the best choice — I haven’t tried it outside of the chai experiment. But it tames the pepper just the right amount to keep it spicy while also giving it more substance and texture.
A slightly oolongated (sorry!) detour from the Golden Moon project while the water was at the oolong temp setting.
This tea is crowded. There are a lot of little oval cream colored flower buds in the sample, perhaps even more flowers than tea leaves. There’s a grainy looking greenish powder which I’m guessing is the lemon myrtle, but it looks as though it has been put through a pepper mill. The packet has a strong tart orange peel scent. I’m speculating that The Necessiteas ended up with a lot more orange ingredients than anticipated as their offerings are seeming heavy on the orange flavor lately.
The oolong must be pretty green as it delivers a fresh butter colored liquor that has a buttery aroma. There is also a suggestion of flowers, and a citrus note that seems out of place here. The citrus note worries me.
But I shouldn’t have worried, at least not too much. It is present in the taste of the tea, and it isn’t destructive or distracting as I had feared. Mostly, it’s effect is to steer the flavor of the tea away from the dominant buttery floral I would have expected from a green oolong and inject a more piquant flavor. Surprisingly, it’s pretty good.
I’m not sure what the lemon myrtle contributes, exactly. Maybe it’s what keeps the orange flavor under control. The jasmine flowers don’t seem to be contributing much either. There’s no identifiable jasmine note among the generic floral.
Second steep: 3 mins. More orange in the aroma and a powdery, perfumy quality as well that is vaguely lemony. Must be the myrtle. These two qualities dominate the flavor as well along with the generic floral and a sweetness on the back end with just a tiny bit of butter.
Third steep: 4 mins. Not terribly different from the last, except that the mouthfeel is less soft and feels more like water.
I’m actually quite surprised that this tastes as good as it does. If I wanted to have a green oolong, though, I’d be more likely to go for one that didn’t work so hard at muting the qualities in green oolongs that I really like (butteriness, creaminess, flowers) in favor of some other flavor(s). Still, if you’re not an oolong purist and/or are addicted to variety, this comes in a sample size so you can give it a try without a huge investment.
Golden Moon sample No. 29 of 31. The end is so near, and I’m making a push to finish my samples in a fit of completion compulsion.
I’ve been looking forward to this. I haven’t had a non-green, non-flavored oolong in a while. I’m excited to revisit one.
The dry leaves are multicolored: dark brown, lighter brown, some green and some silver. They have a rich, dark, roasty nose that reminds me of the Formosa oolongs from the Upton sampler. Very nice. Toasty/nutty. Steeps to a deep, golden yellow.
The aroma is as I expected from my earlier experiences with different Formosa oolongs. Fruity. Nutty.
It’s very tasty, though I’m not sure I’m getting everything described, at least not in the first steep. I’m not getting chestnuts so much as something that is almost like a Brazil nut; I’m not getting dates so much as something that is almost like apricot. Floral? Some, but I can’t be sure it’s orange blossom. I am not sure I could identify the scent of an orange blossom. If it is citrusy, I’m not getting citrus. Cedar? Well, the roastiness does have something in common with wood, but… hmm.
Second steep: 3 mins. Deeper gold liquor, closer to amber. A very obvious floral note to the aroma, which must be the orange blossom. It’s even slightly orangy smelling, but only very slightly. Flavor is deeper and more complex. I taste citrus! And a nutty/fruity/woody flavor, like you get from sucking on a peach pit, but without bitterness.
Third steep: 4 mins. Still an amber liquor, but in other respects, starting to fade. The citrus/floral note to the aroma is more obvious this time around but against a background that seems a little flat. There is more wood in the flavor this time, and less suggestion of fruit and nut.
I feel like I should try a fourth steep, but I’m afraid to. This seems already to be on the descrescendo.
I like it. I’m not sure I like it more than the Formosa Oolongs I have from Upton though admittedly I haven’t tasted those in a while. I’m going to get another sample instead of a full tin at this point and taste some other oxidized oolongs in the meantime to see how this one rates against them before I commit to a full tin.
Golden Moon sample No. 28 of 31. The Kashmiri Chai at last! Made on the stovetop, sample packet = one cup of chai.
This is the fourth chai blend I’ve tried on the stovetop, and it’s so interesting to think about the differences between the various blends. The Rishi is quite peppery. This one doesn’t have pepper. I generally like pepper in chai, and have found some blends lacking for the lack of pepper. For whatever reason, I don’t find this one lacking. In fact, I think I may prefer it ever so slightly to the Rishi (not enough to rate it differently), or at least like it around the same, even though the Rishi is much spicier. Ok, but wait. I liked the Samovar chai best of all, and it has pepper.
I am concluding that comparisons don’t really work here. This is a nice chai. It’s smooth and tasty when made on the stovetop. True, its spices are somewhat subdued compared to others I’ve had, but it isn’t as though they’re overpowered by milk, which is my prime measure. Its body is a little lighter so it’s not as chewy as others I’ve enjoyed, but it’s still nice.
This is, as I think about it, pretty much the GM Pu-erh Chai, without the pu-erh earthiness. Not that that is, or should be, surprising. It’s still doesn’t beat the Samovar in my view or even come close, but I’d happily drink it for a change of pace when I feel like having chai but want something a little lighter weight.
Golden Moon sample No. 27 of 31. Only five teas left to sample. It will be bittersweet to reach the end, but it’s not like I don’t have a ridiculous number of other samples to try, both singles and sets. And next in this group is finally the Kashmiri Chai, which I definitely have to try today. I’ve been waiting for it for a while, and seeing it sitting there next in the stack is just too much for me.
But this isn’t about chai, this is about Rose Tea. I’ve had rose petals in a lot of teas, but their function seems mostly to be decorative. The only other tea I’ve had that really bills itself as a rose tea is the Numi Velvet Garden White Rose. I haven’t had it in a while, but I recall liking it. It doesn’t really seem a proper comparative vehicle here, though, as the GM Rose is a black tea, not a white.
Rose Tea smells utterly divine. I adore rose fragrance, the fresher the better. This smells very fresh. Like burying your nose in a bouquet of long-stemmed roses. The petals are a lovely purplish-reddish-pink and give the illusion of fresh softness. (If you actually pick one up in your fingers, you’ll find it to be dry and crisp.) The black tea adds a slight muskiness to the scent, but for the most part it is rose, rose and more rose.
The smell of the tea base is more prevalent in the aroma of the steeped tea. It has a sweet smell, suggesting sugar or honey, similar to the aromas in others of the GM black teas. The flavor is lovely. The rose predominates, but it is much gentler in the flavor here than it is in the Numi white. I’m not sure if that’s because the black base has more innate strong flavor than the white or for some other reason.
I don’t get any bath products in the flavor; nothing soapy or lotiony, or even perfumy. There’s a quaint nutty aftertaste that is unexpected and helps to banish all resemblance to bath products.
I like this a lot. It’s not something I could see drinking every day, but it’s something I would keep in my cupboard for when it’s the right taste for the right time.
With this in my cupboard, I could let the Numi go as a representative rose flavor without regret.