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78 Tasting Notes
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I brewed with a well-heaped teaspoon steeped for two and a half minutes, boiling water.
It made a clear, medium intensity (I could see to the bottom of the mug), slightly orange, brown infusion with a hint of yellow-green round the surface circumference.
It doesn’t have much aroma. It’s slightly doughy. It also smells ‘wet’. I’m really struggling to explain that: I don’t know if I’m thinking of washing clothes, or of a bath or shower running – it’s making me think of something hot and wet that I just can’t pin down.
In the mouth there’s a satisfying richness – lots of old-fashioned, basic tea flavour. Actually, the basic tea may be just edging towards being a little harsh – as if it’s been steeped too long and got a little stale. I’m really not getting any other flavour notes – even tiny hints.
I made a second infusion, same way.
Strangely, the colour seemed just a little stronger (though I did go a little over the two and a half minutes – say two and three-quarters – another blasted cold-caller – may their socks rot!)
The aroma is just the same as from the first infusion.
In the mouth it no longer has that hint of harshness. This basic tea flavour is a little less and there’s a touch of rather metallic grassiness. There is also a tiny hint reminiscent of the smell of a live fish. I don’t mean the smell you get at the fishmonger or from a piece of fish in your kitchen – not really a ‘fishy’ smell – I mean something quite different. Anyone who’s ever handled a live koi or similar will know what I mean. I suppose I mean the smell of their slime but that’s really not as horrid as it sounds. Having said that, it’s not in any way an enhancement when you find it in the flavour of a tea.
And having said all that, this is really not a dislikable tea. On the other hand, I don’t particularly like it, either – just a so-so cup of tea with nothing standout about it either way.
I’ve made a brew with a well-heaped teaspoon steeped for two and a half minutes in water that had been left to cool for three minutes after the boil.
The colour and clarity is pretty much the same as with yesterday’s brew.
There is still not much of an aroma. This time, though, I’m getting hints of biscuit and vanilla – it reminds me a little of those ‘custard cream’ biscuits.
There’s not a lot of flavour. There is a hint of rather metallic grassiness and not a lot of basic tea; but what basic tea it has is just a little harsh, as if it’s been steeped too long and gone a little stale (as with yesterday’s first infusion). I’m not detecting any other flavour notes.
I made a second infusion, water three minutes off the boil; but I missed the steep time and it was steeped for three and a quarter minutes.
I didn’t look any weaker; but there was definitely less flavour and aroma than with the first infusion. It was rather bland, really.
I’m not sure what to think of all this. The website writes of it so glowingly that I’m wondering if I’m getting the brewing wrong. I only had a small sample, though, so I’m not in a position to experiment.
I’ve been enjoying this very much with two-minute infusions (I did buy a proper quantity, as I threatened in the earlier note). It’s a really excellent oolong: but I decided, just for curiosity, to try a brew with three-minute infusions.
First, an attempt I made yesterday, with a well-heaped teaspoon and water several minutes off the boil.
In the nose I’m not getting a lot. There’s a hint of that smell of ironing shirts and, perhaps, a faint hint of aromatic herbs which I can’t narrow down any further – just generally in the rosemary-thyme-sage area. This latter note is stronger as the tea is cooling and the level falling. Also, as it cools, I’m starting to get that tiniest hint of chocolate.
In the mouth there’s a slight earthiness to it. There is a hint of high cocoa mass chocolate. There’s a slight bite to it, something like aromatic herbs but not quite – this gets just a fraction bitter in the lingering aftertaste – something like when you find yourself chewing on a well-cooked piece of rosemary needle in your food. Actually, this bitterness has disappeared – whether as the tea is cooling or as my taste-buds are getting used to it I don’t know. As I’m getting to the bottom of the cup and the tea is much cooler, the chocolate is a lot more noticeable – a proper note in the flavour, now – and there may be, just on the very edge of my tasting, the faintest hint of liquorice.
Overall, this seems somewhat blander than in my regular brews – which seems a bit odd as it’s been infused a minute longer. I really can’t understand that. Perhaps I let the water get too cool?
I forgot what I was doing and poured boiling water on the second infusion – so that’s buggered this tasting.
Now for today’s note:
Okay, I’m having another go – three minutes with water several minutes off the boil, again.
It’s a clear, medium-intensity (I can see the bottom of the mug), reddish brown brew – nearer the brown, really. There was a lot of tea still floating when I took out the infuser.
In the nose I get a slightly musty earthiness with hints of green vegetation and dark chocolate.
Sipping it, I’m not getting a lot of flavour. It’s a mild balance of chocolate and good garden soil, often in the aftertaste more than in the immediate sip. I’m not getting the aromatic herbs. The flavour doesn’t seem to live up to the promise of the nose. The basic tea flavour doesn’t seem very noticeable, either.
It seems rather odd that a three-minute steep should strike me as blander than a two-minute one – don’t know what to think of that.
When it’s cooled down there is just the smallest hint of aromatic spices in the flavour, but nothing I can pin down more precisely.
I made a second infusion, same way.
This was less intense in colour and weaker in smell and flavour. There was a little more flavour as it got cooler; but it was really rather watery.
This quite bemuses me. I know it to be an excellent tea with two-minute steeps; so, I’m quite at a loss as to how it should be so disappointing with three-minute steeps. Three minutes is not an experiment I’m going to try again.
These notes are from five or six weeks ago and I forgot to post them.
My previous tasting notes were for a sample; these are for a new 100gm. Interestingly, when I opened the packet for the first time, I got a distinct whiff of oranges and leaf tobacco. I made this brew with a heaped teaspoon steeped for two and a half minutes with boiling water.
It made a medium-intensity, clear, orange-brown brew.
In the nose there is straw and a herby note that I think comes nearest dried thyme – it’s in the general thyme-rosemary-sage area – and a touch of pizza base. The aroma is comparatively strong with this one, so that you can’t drink the tea without being conscious of it.
In the mouth it’s quite complex. Sipping it, I get butter and – quite strongly – the thyme note, plus digestive biscuits and good basic tea. Taking a good mouthful, I can also detect the straw note, the thyme is reined back a bit and there’s just the tiniest hint of orange juice in there. I can’t make up my mind whether there’s also a hint of orange peel in there or whether that’s just the interface of the thyme and orange juice notes.
This is very enjoyable. With most things, it’s ‘damning with faint praise’ to call something ‘interesting’; but, in the case of tea, I think it can be regarded as a high compliment and this one is definitely interesting. It has big, ‘here I am’, flavour and aroma notes that really grab you and make you give it your full attention. It’s a pleasure to just sit and savour it.
I made a second infusion, two and a half minutes, again.
I don’t think it looked any weaker.
In the nose I got cut grass and pizza base and a definite note of digestive biscuits, but no straw that I could detect.
Sipping it, I get cut grass, digestive biscuits, butter or toffee, perhaps the tiniest hint of orange juice. It could do with a little more of the basic tea note – that’s quite subdued – it’s still a good tea, though. Surprisingly enough, taking a good mouthful gives me much less flavour – it’s quite bland, but with a rather firm and metallic note. It’s much nicer sipped.
A third infusion was showing signs of being weaker, but still quite drinkable.
I had another free sample of this (NBT were very generous last year – many thanks to them), so I thought I’d do another note and try to properly get to grips with it. As with the last one, I made this brew with a heaped teaspoon, boiling water and three minutes’ steeping. Didn’t work though – it’s just as elusive and challenging as last time.
In the nose I – at different sniffs – got all the same stuff as last time – good basic tea, grass, pizza dough, butter, boiled cabbage. I even, at least once, got a definite hint of Christmas pudding! But they’re always the olfactory equivalent of fleeting glimpses – at one point I was leaning over the cup and got a strong whiff of good, old-fashioned basic tea; picked up the cup and held it to my nose and got something quite different. It’s a very, very elusive aroma to try to describe.
The flavour is the same. On the first couple of sips I had a touch of buttery, sweet biscuits and that seems to be the one constant note; but, other than that, again there are the fleeting little hints coming and going – just the tiniest hints, but – dried fruit, green vegetation or grass, a spicy hint, even a touch reminscent of the smell of hand-rolling tobacco.
I made a second infusion the same way and, just like the last tasting note, I couldn’t detect any difference to the first one.
On the one hand, as someone wanting to write a tasting note, it’s rather frustrating not being able to pin down a handful of definite and constant flavour-notes. On the other hand, turning my brain off, as it were, and just sitting back and drinking it, it’s a rather enjoyable tea.
No notes yet.
As I brewed this as a black last time, I’m making another tasting note brewing it as an oolong; so I’m making a brew with water several minutes off the boil, steeping for two minutes.
The aroma is still quite strong. It’s hot green vegetables, mixed with the smell I get when I’m ironing shirts and trousers.
In the mouth I get green vegetation, freshly-turned soil and chcolate. It’s not quite the same as when I was brewing it as a black tea, though. The notes are a little less intense and a little less sharply defined – more blended together. The soil and chocolate become dominant over the greenery in the lingering aftertaste.
It’s still a pretty good cup of tea, though; but a little more subtle and rather less ‘in-your-face’ than the black-tea-stroke-boiling-water version.
I made a second infusion same way.
The aroma is noticeably different. It’s somewhere between green vegetation and liquorice – not two notes, but a strange hybrid between.
In the mouth, it’s a bit of a disappointment. There’s a rather firm – though not bitter – note reminiscent of boiled cabbage but leaning slightly towards liquorice. Again, it’s one note not two. I’m not getting anything else.
I made a third infusion, same way.
In the nose this is difficult. One sniff I get boiled cabbage, another I’m doing my ironing, another I get a hint of nettles.
In the mouth I’m not getting anything much immediately, but then I get a rather firm note, not bitter but edging towards it, that I can only describe as similar to spearmint but without any sweetness. There’s almost a tingle to it. Also, beneath that, I’m getting a touch of that thyme or rosemary, herb thing I mentioned in my previous tasting note.
It seems to be trying to make up its mind to go somewhere, so I’m trying a fourth infusion, same way.
The aroma is starting to get a bit weaker, now. It seems changeable like the last infusion, though. One sniff it’s ironing and one cabbage and one the herbs and one the not-sweet spearmint. I’m not sure if I don’t detect the faintest hint of warm butter.
Now, this is a bit of a surprise, again. There’s chocolate and warm butter, with that tingle I mentioned for the last infusion underpinning it. The herbs are definitely there, too. I think there’s just a hint of liquorice.
This is as enjoyable as the first infusion, I think.
I’ve actually been throwing this stuff away after I’ve had a good taste, to make way for the next infusion (got to get one of those gaiwans); but I’m very loath to part with this one – it’s intriguing. But I’m equally curious to see what happens next, so, infusion number five, made the same way:
Oops! I’m really not getting anything in the nose with this one. Unless it’s the faintest hint of a heavy-duty shirt being ironed. This may be an infusion too far. Actually, aftre taking a few sips I’m getting the herbs in the nose, too – perhaps because it’s cooled a bit.
And the flavour surprises me again. In the mouth I’m getting vanilla and aromatic herbs. I’d don’t know if anyone’s ever tried to make thyme and rosemary flavour ice cream, but this is what it would taste like. The green vegetation is there as well, but subdued and in the background. There is almost a pepperiness to it – very faint.
Obviously, I’ve got to try a sixth infusion.
I don’t know what I’m smelling now. I thought for a moment I was picking up the smell of something else and not the cup in my hand. What surprised me were fleeting little hints of a floral perfume. But now it seems to have disappeared. There’s a hint of chocolate, too,
I think I’ve broken the back of it now. Surpisingly, I’m not getting anything floral or chocolate in the mouth. I’m not getting the herbs or the vanilla, either. There’s a faintly buttery, biscuity note, and possibly the tiniest hint of that unsweet spearmint bite; but, though it’s pleasant enough, it’s rather bland and uninteresting and doesn’t stand comparision with the last two infusions.
I can’t help wondering if more surpises would turn up with further infusions, but I really can’t face any more tea, despite the stuff I’ve thrown away, so I’ll call a halt. I have to say this has been quite an eye-opener to me. This is an excellent and really remarkable tea.
My sample of this was mislabelled as Golden Spiral and I first put the following note under that tea, so I’m transferring it here. Note that, as this is an oolong, in this note I’ve brewed at the wrong temperature:
This is from a small, free sample.
First of all, I have to say that this doesn’t look much like its picture. The strands are rather straighter and uniformly dark in colour – they’re quite big, coarse strands.
The instructions say two to four minutes so I brewed a cup for three minutes, boiling water, with a heaped teaspoon.
It made a clear, light to medium intensity, orange-brown brew, looking yellow-brown round the miniscus.
There was a quite strong aroma. It reminded me of green vegetation on a warm, damp day with a touch of freshly-turned soil, or, perhaps, the racks of vegetables in the supermarket – cabbages and various greens mingled with the smell of soil from the potatoes and so forth. It’s one of the strongest-smelling brews I’ve had for quite a while.
In the mouth it was a little bit of a surprise. The notes of the aroma are there, but mixed with a definite note of chocolate or cocoa. So it’s a combination of basic tea, earthiness, green vegetation and cocoa. It’s actually quite complex as I’m detecting elusive little hints, underneath. There’s a very, very faint bite, possibly that ‘smell of nettles’ note, or, perhaps, some herb, like thyme or rosemary. Again, I’m not sure if there was the tiniest hint of orange – vanishingly small, if it’s there.
This is an excellent mug of tea.
I tried a second infusion, though the website doesn’t mention multiple infusions – boiling water and three minutes again.
This was noticeably less intense in colour – a clear yellow-orange.
In the nose the green vegetation was less noticeable – the aroma was still unusually strong, but more earthy.
The flavour was much the same overall, though slightly ‘thinner’; but I couldn’t detect those tiny hints of orange and herbs.
This was quite a good cup of tea, but not as good as the first.
On the whole, I think I’d call this an excellent tea and I’m going to seriously consider buying some next time I put in an order to them.
There was no brewing info on the website; but their code for this is ‘BS07’ and on their instruction sheet they give two to three minutes and boiling water for ‘BS0x’, which I assume is a ‘cover all’ for Ceylon teas, so I steeped it for two and a half minutes. I used a moderately-heaped teaspoon.
It made a medium-intensity, clear, slightly brownish, red brew.
I couldn’t get much in the way of nose from it.
In the mouth it was a pretty straightforward sort of tea. There was plenty of good basic tea and there was a touch of richness there which I struggled to describe, but which I eventually decided was nearest to a tiny hint of rum.
That was about it, really – it struck me as a good, basic cuppa, suitable for everyday drinking with meals.
I made a second infusion, brewed the same way.
This wasn’t any weaker in colour, and I did get an aroma this time. I can best describe it as a rusty sort of smell.
In the mouth, it seemed a little lighter but I don’t think it was a noticeably weaker tea. In fact, it struck me as more complex. I thought the basic tea and rum were a little less in evidence, but that may have been because there now seemed to be the tiniest hints of orange peel and chocolate.
I think this was a little superior to the first infusion. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it excellent, but it was good stuff.
I don’t really want another mug, but I’m curious to see what a third infusion will be like, so I’m going to make one – I’ll brew the same way.
Well, the colour’s barely weaker. I’m not so sure about the aroma, though; I can barely detect it.
In the mouth, there’s basic tea and the hint of rum – but the latter is barely there, now – and a touch of digestive biscuit, perhaps; but it’s definitely a a bit on the bland side – it’s a bit watery – and I don’t think it was really worth bothering.
So, to sum up, I think this is a really good ‘everyday cuppa’ – the sort to have with the toast and boiled egg at breakfast or similar.
ETA something I’d completely forgotten. When I was taking the infuser out of the third infusion, the brew was quite pale but I could see the rich colour draining out of the infuser – it was very noticeable – so I dipped it in and out a couple of times. So it’s just occurred to me that the third infusion might have been better if I’d steeped it for a while longer. I’ll experiment with that next time.
I’ve removed this note. This tea didn’t look that much like its picture on the Nothing But Tea website; so I enquired with them and it turned out that what I actually had was a mislabelled sample of Wuyi Yuan Cha oolong. So I’ve transferred this note to that tea.
This is the combination of my tasting notes for three
There was no info on the website so I brewed with a moderately-heaped teaspoon steeped for two minutes, boiling water.
It made a medium intensity, clear, orange brew looking greenish-yellow round the miniscus.
I got very little in the nose but there might have been the very faintest hints of chocolate and digestive biscuit.
The flavour-notes were very weak. There was a slightly metallic touch, but not unpleasantly so – it’s too weak for that. There might have been the slightest hints of basic tea, chocolate and a sweatiness (I imagine some gnarled old tea-master rolling the leaves between sweaty palms); but they were so faint I wasn’t sure I wasn’t imagining them – really, I was struggling for flavour-notes to write up. Actually, with the basic tea, I should probably say that I wasn’t really getting it but that it was not noticeable by its absence – so there must have been some there.
It was quite a bland tea, really.
I made a second infusion, the same way, but it wasn’t really any different.
I tried another brew with a moderately-heaped teaspoon again, steeped for three minutes, this time.
It was a slightly more intense colour, but I didn’t get any more in the nose than with the previous brew.
In the mouth my immediate impression was of digestive biscuit – or some similar biscuit – it was still very faint, though, but a fraction less so than the previous time. The chocolate wasn’t any stronger – it was still just the faintest hint – hardly there. The same went for the metallic hint. I didn’t really pick up on that sweaty thing.
I used all that was left of the sample today – at least a well-heaped teaspoon. This time I steeped for three and a half minutes.
This time there is more of an aroma. It’s difficult to pin down. It’s not exactly the smell of nettles, possibly the smell of nettles blended with either a hint of dark chocolate or a hint of something roast-meaty. There’s the faintest hint of that sweatiness, again.
In the mouth I’m getting that digestive biscuit, again, and there’s a hint of warm butter. There’s some good basic tea and the tiniest hint, right on the edge of taste, of that sweatiness again. Then there’s that ‘metallic’ note. This is a really difficult note to characterise. It’s somewhere between metallic, spearmint and smell of nettles. There’s the very faintest bite to it and it’s not metallic enough to be unpleasant; it’s firm rather than sweet, but that’s balanced by the digestive biscuit, so it’s not a problem.
I made a second infusion but this was rather bland, rather like the first brew I made.
This strikes me as a rather unusual Darjeeling. I’m not sure that it’s really to my taste; but I’m not sure that I can really fault it and I’m not sure that I really got to grips with brewing it properly – it doesn’t interest me enough for me to get any more to experiment with, though. To sum up, this is a pretty good tea, but nothing special.
The instructions were for two to four minutes so I steeped this for three, boiling water, of course. I used a heaped teaspoonful. In the mug it made a clear, medium intense orange-brown, with a hint of yellow-green round the miniscus.
This is one of those odd teas where I seem to get a different aroma each time I take a sniff at it. First sniff, I got good, basic tea – a proper, old-fashioned cuppa. The second time I thought I got a hint of boiled cabbage. So I’ve been sitting here sniffing at it and, at various times, I’m sure I’ve had basic tea, boiled cabbage, digestive biscuits, pizza dough, warm butter … baffling!
Now to actually drink the stuff …
Tasting it is as much of a struggle – it’s shifting and elusive. There’s definitely enough good, basic tea in there – it’s a quite ‘satisfying’ brew. I get a hint of the digestive biscuits, too. There’s something firmer in the background: it’s something like cut-grass but not quite. Actually, I probably haven’t chewed on a blade of grass since my childhood, but I think that’s what I’m getting; it’s the actual taste of grass rather than an equivalent to the smell of new-mown lawns – but very faint. There’s a buttery smoothness to it. There’s something else faint in the background; not a bite, exactly, but some sort of richness that I just can’t pin down. It’s not dried fruit; it’s more savoury than that – perhaps like cakes or biscuits with ginger and cinnamon in the mix, or some sort of spicy pudding (dessert, not the meaty kind).
I made a second infusion, though the website doesn’t mention multiple infusions, and I really couldn’t detect any difference – it was pretty much the same cup of tea as the first one.
I wouldn’t class this as an outstanding tea, in the sense of standing out from lots of others; but it’s a perfectly good, enjoyable cup of tea.
In spite of the fears of bankruptcy I expressed in the last tasting note, I bought a 100g of this. So this is a tasting note for the new lot.
I made a brew with a well-heaped teaspoon brewed for four mintues, boiling water.
It made an intensely-coloured to the point of being opaque, slightly-yellowish, brown infusion.
The nose this time seems to be somewhere between digestive biscuits and pizza base. There’s just a hint of something else in there, somewhere between straw and good, sweet hay.
Sipping the tea, I get digestive biscuits and toffee, good basic tea, and a firm note rather like liquorice if you could imagine liquorice without any sweetness. This note is oddly contrasting because the immediate impression of the tea is the digestive biscuit and toffee sweetness; so it’s a sweet-flavoured tea with an unsweet note to it.
Taking a good mouthful of it, I get a touch of bitterness in the back of the throat, vaguely similar to stale tea. I’m a bit surprised by that – don’t like it.
I made a second infusion, four minutes and boiling water, again.
It’s still intensely-coloured but I can just see to the bottom of the cup.
I can smell faint touches of pizza base and butter.
Sipping it, the first thing I notice is orange, perhaps with the tiniest edge of orange-peel to it. There’s something like toffee or warm butter. Taking a bit more of a mouthful, there’s a very slight bite; it’s like cut grass with a barely noticeable pepperiness or gingeriness – difficult to pin down precisely – to it. There’s enough basic tea there not to be noticeable by its absence.
Taking more of a mouthful brings out the digestive biscuit stroke toffee thing – or perhaps it’s because it’s cooler. There’s definitely not bitterness or staleness there.
I’m finding this a rather more enjoyable cup than the first infusion – it’s excellent.
I made a third infusion for completion’s sake – same way.
It’s still quite an intense colour – I’d describe it as medium-intensity.
I’m not getting a lot in the nose – perhaps a hint of pizza base or raw dough. Then, after a sip or two, I started to get a hint of cut grass in the nose.
First little sip: that digestive biscuit note is really intense, really rich and sweet. That peppery or gingery grass thing is there with a little more of the bite, but not at all unpleasantly so – the bite is still not strong enough to identify more exactly. There’s butter and basic tea in there. Again, there’s absolutely no sign of the bitterness of the first infusion. As I get to the bottom of the cup and it’s quite cool, I’m getting just a hint of the orange again.
This is a lighter cup than the first two infusions, but it’s still an excellent cup of tea. It’s a bit like a delicate but very good Darjeeling.
I’m almost tempted to try a fourth infusion, just for curiosity; but I didn’t really want this one so I’ll stop there.
Well, I had reservations about the first infusion, but, going on the second and third infusions, I have to say this is a really excellent tea and I’m going to keep my rating the same.
This note is liable to turn into something of a saga.
My previous notes were made on a sample of this I had and I found the brewing of it quite problematic. I got really excellent cups of tea by using less tea and bland ones by using more – which didn’t make any kind of sense to me. However, when I got it right it was one of the finest teas I’ve tasted – really special.
So, a month ago, I decided to treat myself to 100g of it. It was the most expensive tea I’ve so far bought in other the sample quantity. I felt it deserved a little better than my mugs, so I bought an ornate infuser cup with a lid, from the same site. Determined to sort out the problem of exactly how much to use, I also bought a cheap, 100g x 0.01g scales. Trying to accurately weigh just one or two grammes on my regular kitchen scales was clearly wildly optimistic.
Not to put too fine a point on it, it was all a waste of money.
The excellent results I previously had were all with small quantities steeped for two minutes, boiling water. So I made brews the same way with 0.5g, 1g, 1.5g, 1.75g, 2g, 2.5g and 3.5g, though not in that order. In each case I got disappointed. At the best, I got a little basic tea with touches of chocolate and grass and not much else – a reasonable cup of tea but really nothing at all special. I’d pretty much written it off by this time but, just for experiment, I tried steeping for three minutes with 2g, and then 3g. The only difference was a possible tiny-tiniest hint of white pepper.
This is clearly not the same tea as the sample I had. Whether it’s because they come from different seasons – I bought them five months apart – I don’t know. But it’s been a real disappointment and I’m going to drop my rating drastically.
I made a brew today with a little more tea than yesterday – say a ‘very well-heaped’ teaspoon as opposed to merely a heaped one – three minutes, boiling water.
As with yesterday’s brew, this made a brown infusion, perhaps just a hint reddish, and showing greenish-yellow round the surface circumference, and clear but so intensely-coloured as to be opaque.
In the nose, I’m getting good basic tea, dark chocolate and hints of rotten wood and beef gravy or Oxo or some such.
In the mouth I’m getting good basic tea. There are touches of dried-fruitiness, similar to raisins or sultanas, and of chocolate and toffee. There is a tiny hint of a peppery, firm grassiness – or, perhaps, tiny hints of grass and pepper – it’s white pepper rather than black and just the tiny-tiniest hint – nothing at all unpleasant. It has what I always think of as a satisfying thickness – I suppose this simply means that it’s not thin and watery, but I notice the ‘thickness’ more in evidence in some good teas than in other, equally good teas.
Well, it might not look much better on paper, but this really is a much better cup of tea than yesterday’s – stronger notes and more complex. The little extra dry tea has made a big difference.
I made a second infsuion with the same tea – boiling water and three minutes, again.
It’s a slightly less intense colour than the first.
The aroma has the rotten wood element more to the fore, touches of fruitiness and basic tea. I’m not sure that I’m getting the chocolate any more – it may be there mingled-in with the wood note.
The very first thing I get in the mouth is that the grass and pepper thing is much more evident – it’s newly-mown lawn with a hint of pepper to it. There is good basic tea there, too, but a little firm – not like stale tea, exactly, but hinting a little in that direction – not really enough to be unpleasant, though. There are the tiniest hints of dark chocolate and butter well in the background. It still has that satisfying ‘thickness’.
I added an extra sweetener to counteract the firmness of the basic tea note – which wasn’t really a problem in the first place, but it tasted as if I’d come a bit short on the sweeteners, somehow. This quite got rid of that staleness thing and emphasised the buttery smoothness – but now it’s a little too sweet (this reminds me that it’s time I cut down from three to two sweeteners – see my side panel). It’s a really good cup of tea, though.
So, to sum up, these two infusions were a noticeable improvement on yesterday’s – I must remember to really heap the spoon in future – and I’m going to up the rating a bit. This is not one of those delicate, refined teas to savour by itself with your full concentration, though (unless the fancy takes you that way, of course) – I’d describe it as a good, robust tea for everyday drinking with meals.
I really have too many sweeteners in this – bleurgh!!!
I always keep a stock here and it’s one of my regulars to drink with meals, so I’m a little surprised that I haven’t made any tasting notes. So I’m making a special couple of infusions to do so.
The dry tea is made in the conventional wiry twists, but very, very finely so, so that it’s very easy to spoon out, and with a sprinkling of the little golden tips mentioned in the dealer-info; though they’re not heavily in evidence. Surprisingly, I really don’t get any aroma off it, even when rolling and crushing a little in my palm.
I made a brew with a heaped teaspoon steeped for three minutes, boiling water.
This made a brown infusion, perhaps just a hint reddish, and showing greenish-yellow round the surface circumference, and clear but so intensely-coloured as to be opaque until the level in the mug is quite low.
In the nose, I get good basic tea and a ‘fruitiness’ that I really can’t define more closely. There’s a tiny hint of chocolate.
In the mouth I get good basic tea and a toffee or butter note. It has that ‘satisfying’ feel to it and a sort of smooth ‘thickness’.
I made a second infusion with the same tea, three minutes again.
It’s an intense but transparent orange-brown, showing a greeny-yellow round the surface circumference.
I’m not getting a very strong aroma: there’s some basic tea and a slightly metallic hint; there’s possibly a touch of pizza base.
In the mouth I get basic tea and a touch of dark chocolate and a touch of butteriness. There’s possibly a hint of an ‘unsweet’ cut grass element, but it’s elusive and I’m really not sure of that.
Overall, I’d describe these two infusions as satisfying and quite enjoyable, but not particularly complex or interesting. I normally use this as an accompaniment to breakfast or lunch, rather than concentrating on and properly tasting it, and, concentrating on it, as I have with this brew, I’m rather surprised not to find it better than I do. It’s probably time I rethought my choice of ‘everyday’ blacks (that’s code for ‘a good excuse to get a pile of samples next time I put in an order’). It may turn out better with a different brew on a different day, of course – I obviously at some time was tasting it as something special.
I used a heaped half-teaspoon (the instructions are for a level teaspoon – same difference) and steeped for three minutes, boiling water.
In the mug it’s clear but quite intensely-coloured, a red-brown showing yellow round the circumference.
There is a faint aroma of green vegetation.
In the mouth I’m getting good basic tea up front, with a slightly unsweet – but not unpleasantly so – note of green vegetation and a definite butteriness.
I made a second infusion, though Nothing But Tea doesn’t give a recommendation for one. It was surprisingly intensely coloured, though less so than the first infusion, but definitely a much weaker version of the first. It’s not really suitable for a second infusion – at best a borderline case, perhaps.
Just for curiosity, I made a brew with a heaped teaspoon, as opposed to a heaped half-teaspoon – boiling water and three minutes.
This was a mistake and it’s better to stick to instructions – it doesn’t look noticeably stronger than the half-teaspoon brew, though there seems to be a good basic tea aroma, but it’s definitely over-strong and I’m getting an unpleasant harshness in the flavour. There’s possibly the addition of a touch of chocolate, though, but that does nothing to compensate for the harshness.
To sum up, this is not very complex and really nothing that special, but it has good strong flavour notes and is a pleasant and satisfying brew – that’s when I stick to the instructions, of course.
I used a heaped teaspoon and brewed this for three minutes – boiling water.
This is a very fine, granular tea, like an Assam or similar. I – sort of – agree whith Angrboda’s mention of a smell of pear to the dry tea. I get a quite faint hint of the smell of a pear that’s been bruised or damaged, so that the flesh has turned brown and soft.
I have to say that I found the brew rather one-dimensional. I got a good basic tea note in the nose and the mouth – and that was about it. I thought this note just a little on the harsh side – perhaps it would do better with milk or cream, neither of which I use. There might have been the tiniest hint of dark chocolate or coffee, but right on the outside edge of my sense of taste, I’m really not sure about it. I didn’t get any pear in mouth or nose.
This actually takes me back a bit. It reminded me strongly of the loose tea my family bought when I was a youngster, probably before tea-bags were widespread. What it was I no longer remember, but it would certainly have been just ‘tea’ and bought by brand name – PG Tips or Typhoo or some such – a blend, obviously.
Nostalgia aside, this was an ‘okay’ tea but nothing at all special. Something to go with the bacon and eggs at breakfast.
Edited to add – It was actually a bit more chocolatey when I was down to the last inch or so in the mug and it had gone cold; however, the harshness of the basic tea note was more noticeable, as well, cutting through the chocolate.
I brewed this with a well-heaped teaspoon, steeped for five minutes, boiling water.
The brew is an intense-to-opacity black-brown.
I’m getting a vaguely fruity, vaguely earthy, vaguely meaty aroma. As this suggests, it’s difficult to pin down.
In the mouth, it’s difficult to pin down, too. I think it’s a fraction watery and that I could have used more tea. I get a smooth, very mild milk-chocolate, with, underneath, the slightest suggestion of roast-meatiness.
The overall impression I’m getting is of a fairly robust tea that’s been brewed too weak.
So, I’ve made a second brew, this time with a well-heaped teaspoon plus a well-heaped half-teaspoon, again brewed for five minutes.
In the nose I’m getting that same, vaguely fruity, vaguely earthy, vaguely meaty aroma, but, this time, it is underlying a definite, though not very strong, note of cut grass.
That note is there in the mouth, too, but there it’s not quite cut grass but is leaning slightly to something like ginger – I mean that there’s a very faint bite to it. This is added to the elements I noted for the first brew.
Having said that, I’m still getting the impression of a fairly robust tea that’s been brewed too weak. I suppose I could double the amount (actually, I only had a small sample to start with and I haven’t got enough left for that), but I’m inclined to think that the perceived weakness is just the nature of the tea. What’s there is pleasant enough but it hints at something it doesn’t actually deliver and is really, for me, nothing special and not one that I’m going to buy again.
ETA – I’ve just realised, as I’m drinking more of it, that I failed to notice what’s not there. For me, the flavour is lacking a good basic tea note – which is a little odd as I now think I can detect it in the aroma – and this absence is largely responsible for the impression of the tea as weak.
There was a mix-up at Nothing But Tea’s suppliers and this note was on a brew made from this tea mislabelled as Vietnamese Imperial Oolong, so I’ve cut and pasted the note to where it belongs – with a little editing.
I made a brew with all that was left – emptied the caddy into the filter. It might have been a well heaped teaspoon but certainly not more. I steeped for three minutes with water several minutes off the boil.
In the mug it’s a medium-intensity, clear yellow-brown.
In the nose there are touches of chocolate, freshly-turned soil and gravy. There’s also a tiny hint of the smell you get in chicken sheds, or walking in woodland or thickets where thousands of birds roost at night.
In the mouth I’m getting notes of chocolate, freshly-turned soil and gravy. There are a firm cut grass and a sweet fruitiness contrasting each other. There’s just an underlying hint of a butter or toffee smoothness – difficult to say which. There’s the tiniest hint of that bird thing. It’s actually so complex that it’s difficult to get a grip on it all, but it’s quite distinctive – and excellent!
I made a second infusion, same way.
The colour is much the same.
I get a fraction more of the chicken or bird thing in the nose. I’m also now getting hints of the grass and fruit.
In the mouth it is very similar to the previous infusion. Again, I think the bird element is a fraction more noticeable, also the fruitiness and grass. The overall feel is just a tad thinner. It’s still excellent, though.
I’ll post a note on the new stuff in a day or two.
ETA – I’ve just noticed that I didn’t mention a ‘basic tea’ note. I really don’t remember noticing one; but, the brew had plenty of that ‘satisfying’ quality, so it must have been hidden in there, somewhere.
There was a mix-up at Nothing But Tea’s suppliers and this note was on a brew made from tea mislabelled as Vietnamese Imperial Oolong, so I’ve cut and pasted the note to where it belongs.
This is only my second-ever oolong, as far as I remember, and the first was the same dealers’ Black Dragon which was no different to a lot of other teas I’ve drunk, so this rather blind-sided me. I don’t know what I was expecting, but whatever it might have been this was different. I’ve never tasted anything like it and, I’m sorry, but it’s going to take rather a long-winded tasting note.
I made a mug of this with a well-heaped teaspoon brewed for three minutes. I let the water go off the boil for several minutes before brewing (they recommend 80°C). The aroma was quite strong and strangely familiar – though it took well into my second mug to place it. It’s quite difficult to describe and the best I could come up with was somewhere between good garden compost and fried bacon (but with no smokiness). That was the main element in the mouth, as well – and I mean one element – not compost and bacon but something in the middle. There were the basic tea flavour and butter, plus just a hint of cut grass.
I made a second mug, the same way and re-using the same tea. If anything, the flavour was a little stronger and now I was detecting a tiny ‘fruity’ hint.
Okay, I said the aroma was ‘strangely familiar’ – it was round about when I noticed the fruity hint that I placed it. There was a wildlife park near where I grew up and they had a tropical bird house which I absolutely loved. You could go in and walk around with the birds flying free around you. The place was planted up with all sorts of exotic bushes and was always kept hot and damp. The system they had for feeding the insectivorous birds was to have some fruit rotting in the bottom of a mesh-covered dustbin: the insects breeding on the fruit flew out through the mesh for the birds to hunt. So, imagine the aroma in there: a combination of warm green vegetation, warm moist soil, warm rotting fruit and, no doubt, a hint of warm bird-droppings. I thought it was gorgeous. And that’s the aroma of
Vietnamese Imperial Oolong China Oolong (o) (OC04)(and, of course, that main element of the flavour).
I don’t think I had ‘first thoughts’ on this – I was too gobsmacked. Then I thought, “This is seriously weird stuff – don’t know what to think of it.” Then I thought, “Well …” Then, somewhere towards the end of the second mug, I thought, “I’m in love!”
There was a mix-up at Nothing But Tea’s suppliers and this note was on a brew made from tea mislabelled as China Oolong (o) (OC04), so I’ve cut and pasted the note to where it belongs.
I used a moderately-heaped teaspoon and allowed the water several minutes to go off the boil and steeped for two minutes. It was a quite pale, clear yellow-brown in the mug, with a slightly rusty aroma – possibly a little musty, too, like a second-hand book shop, plus the tiniest hints of chocolate or coffee and of the smell of beef roasting.
The flavour had reasonable basic tea taste and elements of chocolate and of the black, crusty bits on the surface of a good roast joint of beef.
I made a second infusion, the same way, with the same tea. I couldn’t detect any diminution in flavour and, if anything, it was more complex as now I detected a tiny hint in the flavour reminiscent of the smell of grass on a warm, humid day and this gave a tiny ‘edge’ to it. I’d actually class it as a slightly better brew than the first one.
I couldn’t resist a third infusion just for curiosity. This time the basic flavour elements are a little weaker (strangely enough, the tea doesn’t seem to smell any weaker) while that ‘smell of grass’ hint has strengthened towards a root-ginger ‘bite’. It’s now a somewhat different cup of tea and, to my taste, not quite so pleasant.
Quite a difficult tea, this one – I rather enjoyed it, yet I wouldn’t categorise it as anything special – quite robust elements to the flavour but no real complexity. I know this is not very meaningful, but I’d describe it as a ‘satisfying’ or, even, ‘comforting’ sort of brew.