1893 Tasting Notes
This was an unusual tea party day in a way. Today we didn’t do a set of three different teas. Instead we had two of the same type of tea but from different companies to compare them. We also had a flavored version of a tea my guest normally does not like. For our snacks, we compared two of the same cheddars but different ages from the same company.
The results were mixed. Both Keemuns were excellent and both went well with food, and we drank them quite easily without milk and sugar, something I couldn’t handle with Keemuns a year or two ago. The other tea being tried alongside this was Teavivre’s Organic Superfine Keemun Fragrant.
This Keemun tasted the most like what I consider to be a classic Keemun. It had rich, cocoa-y flavor and I found that it really stood up well to the salty aged cheeses we were tasting. It had the power to wash down those strong flavors without wilting.
The Teavivre Keemun was less of a “classic” Keemun flavor to me, but it was nevertheless an amazing tea. I don’t think you can go wrong buying either of these if you know the differences between the two and know what you want from your Keemun. Teavivre’s was smoother, less cocoa-y, more baked sweet potato with a hint of molasses.
Seriously, these were both so good you don’t want to miss either tea.
Once upon a time this was one of the very few teas my hubby would drink. He drinks lots of others now so this one has been neglected. I decided we had better get nostalgic and revisit it before it goes stale!
This is not only a nice, lemony Ceylon, it has a lovely floral note as well. I now take it sans milk and sugar, though in the early loose leaf tea days I took it with both, like hubby. This was a very nice accompaniment to our lunch today – bold enough to pair with food, not astringent, a little malty.
Bonnie sent this tea to me a while back, but I absolutely refused to make it until I could make an event of it. Tonight I asked hubby if he would join me for tea. That always means the two of us, at the tea table, and no laptops, no electronics, just us and tea. He said yes, so here we go!
I made a plate of some new cheese I bought to try – Drunken Goat, a 6 year aged cheddar, and an 8 year aged cheddar. These were served with Club crackers, the whole grain version.
I unwrapped the lovely wrapped pillow. I love the texture and weight of the paper so I saved for an “as yet unknown” project! The pillow of tea held together but was loosely packed, which was a surprise. I have only seen the tightly compressed puerhs so that is what I expected, but this pillow was so large it would never do to put that much tightly compressed leaf in a small pot. I love how unique this is!
We steeped five times, beginning with 90 seconds and increasing to 3 minutes by the last. Each steep was flavorful. My husband is not the biggest fan of green and oolong teas but he has a few he really likes. He enjoyed this one!
The liquor is somewhat pale, and I would call this a medium bodied tea. This is very smooth and has no drying effect at all. The flavor is vegetal with a floral note overlaying it.
So I got my wish! I got to try this tea, and it really was an event – a nice, mid-week date for hubby and me! Thank you, Bonnie!
You won’t believe how I made this. I made it like matcha! LOL! I think I have almost exclusively made lattes, but this time I did a little of both! I was really worried that I had made a mistake ordering this and French Vanilla because I thought they would be almost identical. Instead, they are barely similar! What I bought: Size – small, base – classic, flavor level – robust. Buy it here:
First surprise – out of the bag this smells very lemon-y! When I whisked a small amount in hot water it also tasted lemony. If someone had told me I was drinking “such and such a company’s lemon green tea”, I would have believed them. It was very nice that way but we all know why I bought this, right?
Usual prep – eight ounces hot milk, one teaspoon sugar, 1/4 tsp. matcha powder, plus immersion blender.
Oy vey! Ay caramba! Second surprise: I now have a European pastry with soft creamy filling. It is still a bit lemony, but the vanilla aspect comes out a bit more and the taste and texture are very creamy! This tastes like a fresh Bavarian cream, not like the preservative laden grocery store mess that they pass off as Bavarian cream. I only know this because many years ago a German family opened a bakery in our town. When I went in for the first time I purchased a pastry to share with a friend, and the friend did the choosing. She picked a pastry filled with Bavarian cream, to which I thought, “Yuck.” Then I tasted it and it was so good!
I told the owner how different it was from any I had tried before, and he said that it was because his son comes in at four a.m. every day and makes it fresh. It is kept chilled. When they sell out of what was made that morning, it is gone until the next day. And sell out they do, every day even now.
This is that good.
At last! I have reached the point where I am buying matcha flavors especially for ME! So far I have chosen flavors based on the preferences of family members, and in a way this one is influenced by that – I want to add this to hubby’s Carnation Instant Breakfast in the mornings so he will get his protein and vitamins along with the caffeine boost and antioxidants in the matcha.
When I opened the package, the aroma was wonderful…but not exactly what I expected! I thought it was going to smell sickeningly sweet, like a whole bakery full of cupcakes covered in fatty, sugary frosting, although I believed it would taste great. Instead, I am picking up an aroma that I normally find in a super fresh, newly unsealed pouch of tie guan yin. I don’t know if I am smelling the matcha base this time, or if oolongs have reminded me of vanilla all along and I just didn’t put a finger on the smell accurately. Any way you call it, this smells GOOD. There is nothing sickening or cloying about this, even in this Robust flavor level, at least not for me.
I wanted strong vanilla flavor, so I chose French Vanilla over Madagascar Vanilla and I ordered Robust flavor level. I knew I would love it so I ordered the large size, of course!
Here is where to get it:
Oh my goodness! I am so glad I got the large! For this first tasting I just added 1/4 tsp. of matcha powder and one teaspoon sugar to eight ounces cold milk. I used an immersion blender to mix it up and get some froth.
This is really good. When I was a kid I had milk with Nestlé Quik almost every day, but on special days my mom would let me make vanilla milk. Back then, that meant a few drops of vanilla extract and lots of sugar stirred into a glass of milk. I would put so much sugar that my vanilla milk would crunch – it was actually gritty, though I loved it.
This is taking me back to that drink, but with far less sugar, lots of antioxidants, and a bit of caffeine to kick me into gear. I can’t wait to experiment with it. This is going to make a marvelous hot vanilla drink, too.
Oh la la! It is still chilly (okay, it is about 52F outside but compared to the eighty degree temps we were having, that is chilly!) and it is completely overcast and drizzly. We have lots of geometry to do and it is puppy sitting day and I had Mountain Dew at supper last night (stupid, stupid, stupid) and hardly slept a wink last night. Time for fortification!
Most of the time when I set out to make tea, I know exactly what sort of thing I want. Today it took a few minutes to figure it out, but I sure picked a winner. I had five pearls remaining from my free sample and that is what I am finishing here, though I did get my own order of it last week, thus I get to click “Add to Cupboard.” :D
These five pearls have given me four eight ounce pots of tea. It is cocoa-y, smooth, and…manly. I don’t know how else to put it. It isn’t strong as in astringent, biting, or drying, yet it has a lot of presence. I am taking it plain, but I think it would hold up well to milk and sugar if such was your wont. It is very good with sweets.
I was pretty surprised today when I made a pot of this tea, gave it a sniff, and realized that I was in the same boat as GMathis. If you put this in front of me without telling which of my teas I had, I would be hard pressed to tell if it was Marco Polo, Tower of London, or Anna’s Blend.
The big difference comes in the sip – this base is more like what I think of as a French base, though not all French teas have it. It reminds me of the base for Rose Congou from Upton. I am finding that since I no longer take milk and sugar, I prefer the Harney teas like ToL and Paris, or Anna’s Tea from Tin Roof Teas, to this one. I am going to make an effort to finish this tin soon as it is getting on up there in age.
It is a very good and I may come back to it, but for now I am preferring Anna’s or ToL.
Everyone is going to be so jelly! My kids and my husband all went off, it is the first chilly day we have had, and I have the house to myself for at least an hour with TEA! And not just any tea, but very exclusive boooo-long tea!
This tea was a surprise gift from GMathis, and it came in the CUTEST CARD YOU HAVE EVER SEEN!!!
The dangly spider even MOVES! I squee’ed when I got it! :)
And on top of that, I get a yummy oolong tea. (It was labeled boooo-long. Now how cute is that?)
This is a dark roasted oolong, not a green, and has that baked flavor and heft with a mineral quality that I enjoy, the very thing that makes me crave dark oolongs.
Thank you, GMathis! It is a perfect cup for this rainy, chilly day!
The Da Hong Pao I had Friday and Saturday had me hankering for more! I remembered that I had a bit of the H&S version left, so hubby and I shared a pot after exercising together this morning. (Before you get the idea that we are svelte triathletes, let me say we were mostly doing stretches from physical therapy and there was a bit of groaning and grumbling.)
This is a dark roasted oolong, but it is not heavy at all. It is so smooth that it really goes down fast concept it is cool enough to drink. I am realizing that this is yet another tea that I want to have on my shelf at all times. It is great with food and great by itself, a nice contemplative cup if you wish, or great to share with a friend.
Update on Doctor Who scarves – you saw the one for youngest, now behold Samwise! He is really rockin’ the scarf! We ordered jelly babies for my daughter to carry so I guess we will have a little bag of milk bone minis for him to pass around!
This is the last of my sample from Teavivre, and once again a sample has caught me in its nefarious snare. I will probably be buying this one on my next order.
I got three steeps from this today and possibly could have made more, but I was cooking lunch and needed to get moving. This is so smooth. The leaves are very dark presteep. This is a dark oolong, not a green oolong, but it doesn’t have the mineral punch of a monkey picked (which I love big time, just saying it for comparison) but there is a lot of nutty smooth flavor.
As requested, I am posting a link to the pictures of the newly completed Tom Baker Fourth Doctor season 16-17 scarf, the largest and longest of the entire series. A scarf for Sam the puppy is now underway.