1692 Tasting Notes
A good friend of mine has a really sweet daughter-in-law who lives near this shop, and sent her this because she knows how we love tea!
My friend was surprised that the color in the cup was so light and wondered if she should steep it longer. I opened the tin, and nary a tea leaf did I see. I looked at the label, as I hadn’t seen the name of it yet. Ah. No need to steep it longer, this is the right color. There is no tea in this!
She was surprised and I had to explain what it means when the tin says tisane, and how it must have camellia sinensis of some sort in there to be called “tea.” This is why it was classified as a tisane on the tin.
This had a very true, rich, chocolate aroma, as it consists of nothing but cacao shells. It is fairly light and we drank it without additions. We paired it fruit – blueberries and melon cubes.
I think real chocoholics would love this. This is not a rich, creamy, hot chocolate-y type of tisane so don’t think of things like Florence from Harney and Chocolate Cream by Tea Frog. This has lots of dry unsweetened cocoa flavor and a slight edge of bitterness that coffee lovers would enjoy. It was good, but I do prefer TEA!
Once again this spring, Teavivre sent a box of amazing samples to try! Thank you, Teavivre!
I have held off on a detailed review of this tea because Huang Shan Mao Feng is one of my favorites, and here is one that purports to be “nonpareil”. I wanted to try it while I could focus on the tea alone, with no food distracting from the flavor.
With food is actually how we usually serve Huang San Mao Feng. The first time I ever tried it, I sipped it by itself and thought it was very mild and was not going to be a good choice with our meal, but I served it anyway and was surprised to discover that it went beautifully with the meal. The tea seemed to change to suit the situation.
With this batch, I put the leaves in my hand as the water heated and I breathed on the leaves again and again, checking them for the light, wafting aroma. At first there was very little, but gradually I began to smell fresh spring plants, and then….smoke. Not like Lapsang smoke, but more like a beloved grandpa was smoking some fine, cherry pipe tobacco and left the room ten minutes ago. So I guess a sweet tobacco aroma is what I was getting.
The liquor is pale. The aroma is soft, but it is mostly the ghost of the scent of buttered steamed veggies and a hint of nuttiness. I did not pick up on any astringency, and though briskness was mentioned I didn’t get that either. There was a mineral flavor that is crisp and clean to me, and I believe that is what makes this tea pair well with food.
When the tea is alone, the mineral flavor serves as the front of the sip and gives way to the mild, fresh vegetable taste and nuttiness. When paired with food, the mineral flavor sweeps away the taste of the food, cleansing your palate and allowing you to taste the gentle freshness of this tea even with the richly seasoned food that is sold here as “Asian food” at the buffets. So while I agree that this one is palate cleansing, to me it seems to accomplish that task through the mineral freshness rather than what I think of as astringency.
The leaves are so pretty after steeping that I had to eat one before drinking the second steep! They look Ike tiny string beans in the basket. There is a bite to the leaf even after two sweepings, and a briskness is definitely present in the leaf itself.
I am most of the way through steep number two. This still has nice flavor. The memory of the leaf I ate is still with me, adding a little kick to this as I sip. This is a mild tea, like my other well loved Huang Shan Mao Fengs, but they present mild versions of delightful flavors that are some of the most desirable flavors of green tea.
Mild, buttered steamed veggies, nutty, soft, the barest hint of astringency if you look for it, and delicious.
Thank you, Teavivre!
Good heavens, it looks like I haven’t logged this in almost a year! Well, the flavor of the tea has not suffered one bit! Also, it looks like I only logged it once, and I know I have had it more than that!
On one occasion, this got a little astringent on me, so today we steeped at 203F for 3 1/2 minutes. This was the second tea served at tea party, and since all three tied for how good they were, this one wins “most interesting” for today.
I made a couple of cheesecakes and some home made Magic Shell chocolate topping, and put strawberries on the cheesecake, then drizzled everything with the chocolate. That was served with Zhen Qu Super China Black from A Southern Season. This came next!
The reason this gets called most interesting today is because it managed to cut through all of that flavor, all that sweet richness, and assert its own flavors without being harsh. I tasted the strawberry, of course, but somehow the white wine flavor really shone through and took the stage. This was a great tea to finish the dessert plates and start the cookie plates!
Sad sipdown. I made the very last of my Moroccan Mint today, and this is just the season when I NEED it! I tried a lot of Moroccan Mint teas last year and did side by side comparisons, and I came to the conclusion that I love spearmint much more than peppermint. I will definitely be buying more of this. It is great hot and iced, sweetened or unsweetened. The mint is so cooling, and where I live it is consistently in the 90 to 100F range and sticky icky humid. I do have some plain gunpowder green, and I just started growing mint last year. Until I can get an order placed for more of this, I shall have to make my own, even though I don’t have a whole lot of mint yet.
As for Egyptian mint, I don’t know what that is. Off to google!
I have been drinking a lot of this tea, cold steeped and sweetened with homemade simple syrup. I am logging it today because I tried something a little different. Instead of plain simple syrup, I made a lavender infused syrup to sweeten this. (Lavender is also really good in Tulsi.)
The syrup tastes a lot like Chowan’s Lavender candies or Parma Violets. Added to the strawberry and lemon flavors of Lady Londonderry, it made a really foofy, girly glass of iced tea to go with lunch. I have been craving sodas because it is so hot outside, so I am using cold steeped tea to beat those cravings.
If you don’t like lavender, you wouldn’t like this syrup at all. But if you can handle the floral taste, it is nice switch up for summer tea. I am really enjoying this one cold steeped. I wonder how a vanilla syrup would taste in it? Next experiment!
Other food experimenting is taking place today. I made home made ketchup, and for the first batch I decided to experiment and use malt vinegar in place of white vinegar, and added Penzey’s chili powder and made a few other little changes. It was really good with hamburger meat – more or less it was a sloppy joe. Next up will be actual plain ketchup.
It is taking me a while to get everything logged this week, but this was the first tea served at tea party on Wednesday. It was the Queen of the tea party, too. This is delicious stuff.
We made it western style. I think we used about fourteen pearls in a 22 ounce pot. I served it first because I felt that its rich, cocoa notes would cut the sweetness of the baked peaches and ice cream. This is not astringent nor is it in any way sour, but I have trouble describing the rough, tongue scraping quality of unsweetened cocoa that I get from this. It is a highly desirable trait to me in this tea, and I find it in some Keemuns as well. This type of tea has the body and taste to stand next to pretty much any food, and is especially good with sweet things to me. Some green teas cleanse the palate with an astringency that turns to sweetness after the sip, but this clears the palate without astringency. It is so…..present! I don’t think I could absentmindedly drink this tea. It became a cupboard staple from the first taste of the sample Teavivre sent.
My guest and I agreed that this was the best tea of the day.
This was one of the Wednesday tea party offerings that we served with our baked peaches and ice cream.
The liquor is pure gold in the cup, the gold of relics from a pharoah’s tomb. The tea has nice body and the aroma is sweet and almost heavy with the natural floral notes combined with the light osmanthus notes. (The only other osmanthus tea I have tried was an osmanthus puerh from purepuer.com. It was very good.)
It really seems to me as if this was a very floral oolong before it was scented. The scenting is light, and I think if it were served to me without me knowing what it was, I would’ve guessed that all of the floral aroma and taste here was natural to the oolong. So if you dislike floral scented teas like jasmines or rose teas, don’t be afraid of this one. It really is golden treasure.
I keep trying this tea, but I have come to the conclusion that it will never be a favorite even though it is very high quality. Chocolate tea used to be anathema to me, but I have found a few that are tasty.
I think it is likely that even the dessert for which this tea is named would not be a favorite for me. I read that the dessert has coffee in it, and I really don’t care for coffee.
Made by the usual parameters for black tea, this is too rough edged for me. There is a strong Keemun smoke, which I often like, paired with the rough scrape of unsweetened cocoa, another note I have sometimes enjoyed, particularly with sweets, but somehow it isn’t working for me in this tea. Cutting the steep time and slightly lowering the temperature, I get a cup of tea that I can drink and whose quality I can recognize, but it just isn’t something I really love. I plan to use the rest of this to make generous pots of tea my coffee loving friends, who I think will love it, and I will have my daughter’s fiancé try it as he loves chocolate teas and coffee, so the edginess may be right up his alley.
This was served at Wednesday’s tea party with oven-baked brown sugar and cinnamon peaches with homemade ice cream, and my guest liked it quite a bit, so I know that it is just me!
I under leafed this Hugo Tea offering a bit at lunch today but it was still really good with my Asian buffet leftovers. There is a noticeable freshness to the two greens I have by them, and they both pair very well with food. I find Steamed Cloud to be a bit milder than Pan Fired Pagoda.
The teas from Hugo Tea have been consistently good, and I like that they are organic. They are redesigning their packaging and it looks pretty sharp! I don’t work for them, and I have no agenda other than believing that this is young company shows a lot of promise and I hope they succeed!
Like Grace Rare Teas, they carry only a few teas but concentrate on quality. I wish them well.
I didn’t feel like eating tonight due to some imprudent snacking this afternoon, so while I made supper for hubby I made a matcha latte for myself. I mixed one tablespoon of raw sugar, one sifted teaspoon of matcha, and about 18 ounces of skim milk. It was decent and kept me from getting hungry, but it didn’t taste like cheesecake to me. The taste was somewhat generic with a slight perfume/chemical taste this time, so I may need to rethink my mix on this one. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t quite what I expected it to be. I need to figure out the perfect mix for this one because I have a TON of it!