1153 Tasting Notes
Golden Moon sample No. 24 of 31.
I need caffeine. I went out last night and am going out again tonight. I haven’t done that in… I can’t remember how long. Anyway, fortunately since I pre-drew my last few samples I know that I have a bunch of black teas coming up in the sampler. So I don’t have to expend any energy figuring out what to drink. I can save the energy for tonight.
This one has very attractive leaves. I love the variegated colors of tippy teas. This one has a lot of pretty white tips in it, among leaves that range from dark brown to greenish. The packet indicates that this contains FTGFOP-18 darjeeling. (What’s the 18 mean? I can find info on the number 1 after a designation but not a number other than 1. From what I read, 1 is supposed to me that it is among the finest of its type, so does 18 mean it’s far down the ranks?)
The dry leaves don’t have a strong smell. They’re a little dusky smelling. As is the aroma of the steeped tea. I’m looking for the characteristic “muscatel” fragrance, but honestly I don’t know what muscatel smells like. It does smell a lot like the other darjeelings I’ve had, so I’m guessing what I think of as “darjeeling” smell is actually muscatel. It’s a sharp, dry smell at the top and a dusky, fruity smell at the bottom. The color is a medium brown orange “tea” color.
This is a medium to light bodied, refreshing drink. It’s flavorful without being weighty, and it has a bright texture with being too drying in the finish. I’m a darjeeling n00b, so though I know I like them and I like this one, I don’t yet have enough of a repertoire to compare this meaningfully to others. I gave the only other straight darjeeling I’ve rated, the Tazo bag, a 74. This is better than that, but I wouldn’t put it out of the 70s, so instead of rating it overly high I’m going to bump the Tazo down some.
I wasn’t intending to write about this one yet since I tried it for the first time this morning during a rush to get the kids ready for swimming lessons, but I had to change my mind because of the comments coming from the breakfast table after I poured the water over the mixture.
Picture the mixture (there’s a photo at the top of the page of the black tea leaves, white coconut strips, chocolate chips). In the packet it has a v. strong scent of “lime,” a really acrid smell that borders on chlorine, with some not sweet chocolate underneath and some sweetness that may be the coconut in the corner. It’s on the kitchen counter having just had water poured over it.
Now picture the scene. Two boys, ages 4 and almost 6, eating microwave French toast from Trader Joe’s and drinking orange juice, and the boyfriend about to sit down with them while I am puttering making my own breakfast.
Boyfriend: “What’s that smell?”
Boyfriend walks over to cup and sniffs. “Caramel?”
Me: “No. Lime, chocolate and coconut.”
Boyfriend: “Ahhhh. It’s the coconut.” He starts to sing: “Put the lime in the coconut and drink it all up, put the lime in the coconut and call me in the morning. Wasn’t that Harry Nilsson, the same guy who did The Point?” He sits down.
Boyfriend: “God, that smells awful.”
6 Year old: “I can smell it from here. I don’t like it.”
Me: “Really? I don’t think it’s so bad.”
4 Year old (Mama’s boy, bless him): “I don’t think it’s so bad either.”
Boyfriend: “Who thinks it smells bad, raise your hand.” Raises hand. 6 year old raises hand.
I take a sip. It’s identifiably lime, coconut, and chocolate, but mostly the acrid lime that tastes a lot like it smells and is throwing the mixture off kilter. I put some milk in it and try again. Slightly better, still way too heavy on the lime. I look at the packet. Chocolate Coconut Lime. I am wondering why it isn’t called Lime Chocolate Coconut?
Me: “It doesn’t taste that good.”
4 year old: “Can I taste it?”
4 year old: “Is it tea?”
Me: Pause. Is it tea? Answer. “Yes.”
Golden Moon sample No. 23 of 31. Since I’m getting toward the end, and had an insatiable wave of curiosity come over me, I randomly drew the order of all of my last samples. This is the first. Here’s the order of the rest: Darjeeling, Tippy Earl Grey, Honey Pear, Rose, Kashmiri Chai (yay!), Imperial Formosa Oolong, Sencha and (drum roll please) Sinharaja.
The little gunpowder nodules look a lot like they did in the Moroccan Mint. I’m guessing they are the base for that tea. When I sniffed them without the influence of mint, I got a really interesting smell. At first, like Rabs I thought it was some form of rodent chow, or maybe lagomorph chow. That sort of grassy smell of those big blocks of compressed organic mystery material that pet rats chew on, or of the smaller pellets for rabbits. Second time, coming at it from having cleared my smeller by not being near anything with a strong smell for a few minutes I realized what it truly is. Millet seed. It’s the smell of the seeds I used to give to my pet finches. Or maybe it was the canary or parakeet. Can’t be sure now as that was a long time ago, but I definitely recognize the smell.
After steeping, I had an aromatic surprise. Up until now I haven’t been able to detect any smokiness at all in gunpowder. Mostly what I get instead is a sort of “dusky” or heavy green smell. With this, I did get a smoky aroma. Not smoky in the Russian or Lapsang sense, where you can really smell charred evergreen trees. More of a light whiff with a seed essence, as though you’d walked into a room where a sesame seed bagel had toasted too long after enough time had elapsed that the smell had almost fully dissippated. Along with that, there is the dusky green I remembered, which has a sweet aspect to it. The color is a deep, clear yellow.
The flavor isn’t as sweet and vegetal as other greens. It, too, has a dusky character with a sort of a nutty (or rather seedy) taste to it. I can find a tad of bitterness, but not enough to make it unpalatable.
I have very limited experience with gunpowder and may have to downgrade this eventually, but my experience hasn’t been nearly as unpleasant as reflected in the notes of a lot of other tasters. Or perhaps I’m just in a charitable mood. Really, though I didn’t dislike this at all, in fact, I liked it — my only hesitations are that I think it’s not something I’d choose to drink a lot, and that I don’t have a frame of reference to know how this compares to others of the same type of tea. So I’m giving it a default very good rating until I have grounds for comparison.
Golden Moon sample No. 22 of 31. Fate determined Friday would be pu-erh day!
The package says it contains aged Chinese tea from the last century. Which sounds really special and exotic until you consider the last century only ended about 10 years ago. ;-P Still, 10 years is probably older than most tea I’ve tried except for the Celestial Seasonings mystery tea bags I found in the back of the pantry from years and years ago. So this should be interesting.
This is my first non-Samovar loose pu-erh, and I now know that all pu-erh leaves are not tiny and cute. These are fairly big, and chunky. They look like fragments of brown tree bark. They have a mellow, chocolate earth smell.
The tea’s aroma is really yummy, though it doesn’t have the smell I associated with pu- erhs. There’s not even a small amount of leather in this one. It smells sweet and (to me anyway) chocolatey. Like the middle-to-high chocolate notes in fresh baked brownies (just not the dark fudgy ones). The color is medium to dark brown, not as dark as the Palace Pu-erh, not as light as most black teas.
Wow, very tasty. Interestingly, it’s not like the other pu-erhs I’ve had. I really don’t get a lot of earthiness. It’s more like a very dense and flavorful black tea, smooth, sweet, some malt, and a character that verges on chewy and biscuity. Its not so much a taste as it is a connection, but I feel a strong cocoa association, maybe a little of the mocha-java as well.
I’m liking this one quite a bit. Some day when my experience has increased sufficiently I’ll have to get more scientific about my pu erh ratings. For now, I’m giving this a mark commensurate with my enjoyment from this tasting.
I haven’t had this in quite a while and thought it was time to see whether it still had the love, particularly in light of my new ambivalence toward rooibos.
I tasted it tonight specifically looking for the impact of the rooibos on the overall flavor. I would say it does have an impact, but a marginal one. There were a few times when I got an appley flavor that came to the fore that I knew to be rooibos, but mostly, this tastes like vanilla cream, with a soft lemon note.
Now, does it still deserve its co-leading ranking with Rooibos Tropica from Teavana? That’s a little more difficult. I didn’t taste them side by side, but I think I do prefer the Tropica. But not necessarily because it’s superior to this as a rooibos blend; rather because its fruity flavor profile feels less filling than this does which makes it preferable to me for a late night caffeine free option. That said, this is still a nice dessert option. It’s a toss up really, so I’m keeping the rating the same for now.
It turns out, I thought I’d finished my stash of this but I totally forgot I had a couple of bags still at work. So this time I REALLY DID drink the last of this. Exciting, because it makes way for more Earl experiments to come. I have a whole Upton sampler to start on in the coming days, not to mention assorted other samples!
Golden Moon sample No. 21 of 31, chosen at random.
I had a hard day. I just sold my childhood home, which I’d been holding on to since my mom died in the mid-90s, mostly for sentimental reasons. I thought I was ready for this step. Sure beats being a landlord from multiple states away (so my thinking went). Or having it sit empty and having to deal with upkeep from multiple states away (so my thinking went). And it’s in an area that, very fortunately, held its value during the recession and even appreciated some, so no downside there. And the transaction was relatively painless because the lady who was renting it bought it, and so I didn’t have to put it on the market.
But when I had to sit down with the notary and sign the deed, I started to feel really sad. So many memories tied up in that house. We moved into it when I was 5. I’m trying to make myself look at the bright side. At least the buyer wants to live in it and update it, not tear it down and build a McMansion on the little lot. So if I ever find myself in the neighborhood with my kids, I’ll still be able to show them the house mommy grew up in.
But. Stress. And work stress this week too, no time to work out for 2 days. I’m hoping to take a few days off as soon as I get a project done, maybe get a massage. Yeah, that’s what I’ll look forward to, she said.
Anyway, I thought I had a conference call at 7 p.m. tonight but it got postponed, so I actually have a shot of doing a workout. But I really don’t feel like it, so I am hoping a gentle caffeine lift may help motivate me.
I haven’t had jasmine pearls before though I’ve seen pictures of them. The pictures don’t really do them justice. They’re quite charming looking in real life. They look like tiny, variegated aquarium snails. Or miniscule turbans. Or rolled up bits of rattan. They have a strong, sweet, jasmine smell.
The liquor is pale yellow with a hint of green and has a rich jasmine smell. It’s got a lot to it without being artificial or overwhelming. I’d happily wear it as perfume; it smells lovely and fresh. It would make a nice spring/summer eau de toilette.
The taste is very, very sweet and slightly vegetal, with the predominant note, not surprisingly, that of jasmine. The tea has a light body, but I’m not sure I could rightly expect jasmine to be chewy.
By the end of my first steep, the pearls had only partially uncurled. Some of them were starting to look a bit ringletty. The flavor on the second steep, while still light bodied, had more depth. It felt a bit silkier, like it was leaning toward green oolong land. The pearls were pretty much uncurled at this point, except for a few that had a tightly wound bit still at the end of the leaf and looked a little like… sperm! I gave them another run through, believing that there might be more flavor hiding in the curls. There was, though the second steep was tastier. The third was heading toward washed out.
I can’t remember the non-pearl GM jasmine well enough to compare these two. Perhaps it’s my mood and my great need for comfort today, but I have a more positive visceral response to this one than to the other.
Can someone who is more experienced with green teas in general and jasmine green tea in particular educate me on why one would have both jasmine pearls and regular leaf jasmine in one’s cupboard other than for variety in how they look and whatever difference there may be in how any given one tastes vs. another? Is there something else I should be considering? If I had to choose between the two at the moment I’d pick this, but perhaps there’s more to it I should be thinking about?
I’ve been looking forward to trying this sample ever since Ricky said he thought I’d like it since I’d liked Maiden’s Ecstasy.
The little pu erh leaves are so small and cute, like they are with the other Samovar loose pu erhs, and perhaps loose pu erhs in general (my experience isn’t yet broad enough to comment). They’re not a uniform color, they’re gradations of brown from a medium, milk chocolate to a dark, bittersweet chocolate color. They have the deep, dark, leathery smell I have come to associate with pu erh. And something mocha-like, too.
What a gorgeous, dark color this brews to! It’s a deep dark brown, with some red in it. Depending on how the light hits it, it is either very nearly opaque, or darkly translucent. The aroma is gorgeous too. It’s only a little leathery, and not barnyardy, or fishy that I could detect. It reminds me of a savory mushroom soup. Not cream of mushroom. The other kind; the brothy, gravy-esque kind.
The taste is amazing. Again the words deep and dark come to mind. Again, there’s nothing barnyardy or fishy about how this tastes to me. There is some leather, but there is a lot more, too. Earth, moss, coffee, and an interesting mix of other suggestions. On the one hand, gravy. On the other, tree resin. On the other… ok, I realize I don’t have three hands, but if I did, the third would be almost a very dusky, deep, dry cabernet, the kind I don’t generally find palatable. In this tea, though, I like that suggestion. What I don’t like about those kinds of cabs is the abundance of tannin. This, however, is exceptionally smooth.
I think what I must be trying to describe is what ancient trees taste like. Which is awesome to think about.
This is quite lovely. Unlike the other Samovar pu erhs, this is so rich it’s not something I could drink every day. Fortunately, since pu erhs improve with age, I don’t have to worry about it going bad in my cupboard if I limit my indulgence to a sometime thing.
I was scared to try this tea. It’s such a big favorite here on Steepster, I felt awed and intimidated by its very existence. It’s like being in the presence of a celebrity.
On the one hand, I’m glad I looked at the notes for it before I tried my sample. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have known to give it a try at 175. On the other hand, wow. Such (almost universally) high numbers! Am I worthy?
Pretty leaves with those golden tips punctuating the darkness of the leaves. My smeller is off today, so I don’t get much from smelling the dry leaves. But the aroma of the steeped tea is incredibly complex. Sugary, fruity, buttery and smooth.
The sugar flavor is a very distinctive type of sugar. I know from whence the reference to yams comes. Last Thanksgiving, when the rest of the family was having some sort of goopy yam concoction with marshmallows and pineapple, I, on a restrictive diet, stuck a half yam, sliced longitudinally, in the oven to bake and eat plain. When I checked on it, the sugar in the potato had bubbled up from the orange meat, fallen to the bottom of the oven and carmelized there giving the most amazingly delicious smell. That’s the sugar I taste here.
It marks a return to the preternatural smoothness of Samovar blacks following a slight detour with the Ceylon Super Single.
I understand the high ratings on this. It has depth, body, character, all the things I look for in a tea.
I need to sit with this one for a while, taste it multiple times. On this first tasting when I’m tired and stressed, I fear I’m not in the frame of mind to give it its true due. But oh, how I am looking forward to getting to know this tea.