911 Tasting Notes
A sample from the lovely Angrboda! I’ve been bad about logging my tea lately. Mostly because I ran into a bit of time that everything tasted flat and I couldn’t pick up anything other than “tastes like tea”. But that’s all fixed now so hopefully I can dig into the remaining samples and new-to-me teas that I have.
This one… Wow. First off, I wasn’t really expecting anything super awesome because the smell of this one initially struck me as twiggy. I’m not a huge wood-in-my-tea fan. But there was also some raw cacao to the smell so I was hopeful.
Upon sipping, though, I was kind of knocked back. The smell is mild and pretty but the taste? It’s bold and kind of smacks you in the face. The tartness was what I first noticed. It’s that semi-sour note that I’ve found in a number of Keemuns – kind of a mix of an underripe black plum (or maybe lemon juice without the citrus aspect) and a tiny hint of tar. Not lapsang-levels of tar, mind you. Perhaps it is a raw cacao taste, but this seems too silky and heavy on my tongue for me to think of raw cacao (but it’s too dark to be even an 80% dark chocolate). That thickness & richness makes me think more tar-like thoughts, even if there’s no real smoke or char note in this.
There’s a lot of bittersweet going on in this, too. The sweetness in this is somewhere between blackstrap molasses and burnt caramel and there is a delightful grain note that seems very much liked the caramelized barley the husband uses in beer making. All dark, rich, heavy notes that hint at sweetness but never really get there.
Even the feel of this tea is dark and heavy – like rolling around in a chocolate bar commercial. You know the ones where they use satin sheets rippling and flowing to show you the silky sexiness of the caramel in the candy bar? It’s like that. Heavy, rich, decadent, sophisticated and quite sexy.
This is one sexy cup of tea. It’s so dark and rich with the not-quite-sweet-but-not-quite-bittersweet-either that it’s pretty close to overwhelming. It’s a tea that is worth a post-cup nap. Or a cigarette.
Another SST share from Terri Harplady! Yay!
I forgot to smell the dry leaf. It is early. I wasn’t thinking. But the smell as I poured it out of the pot was amazing. Like, wake me up amazing. Rich and sweet like a thin, fragrant syrup with just a tickle of black pepper. That’s a lovely morning greeting.
The taste is really flavorful and pretty. Earthy – a hint of leather, a bit musty; floral – in a way that reminds me of a much milder version of germanium oil (in a way that doesn’t make me gag); spicy – just a lovely tickle of black pepper during the sip, a bit of mentholated tang (camphor maybe?) in the very late aftertaste; sweet – with malt and a faint note of something between caramel sauce and one of those cheap butterscotch hard candy.
So yeah, lots of stuff going on in this tea but it’s allover so soft and pretty that it doesn’t feel overwhelming. It’s really kind of wonderful. I think I definitely need to get more of this. This is seriously one of the best Yunnans I’ve had in a while.
A lovely share from Terri HarpLady! Thank you so much for letting me try more Steven Smith Teamaker teas!
The smell of the tea is sweet – light and a bit honeyed. The taste is soft and honeyed with a bit of light cardboard… more cereal box cardboard than shipping box cardboard. (I’m guessing that’s a light malt note?) There is a slight woodsy note that is not twiggy, but still there, like it has been stored in a wooden cask so it has a bit of the flavor of wood but doesn’t actually contain wood. That’s the level of woodsy this has. (And now I have the mental picture of large oak casks storing cereal boxes. Remove the cereal box, drizzle lightly with honey and bam, this tea.)
It’s not an overwhelmingly distinct cup – it’s a little bit this, a little bit that – but it’s not as bad as cereal-boxes-stored-in-casks-and-drizzled-with-honey may sound. It’s actually nice. It has a bit of a dry/astringent prickle on the end of each sip that I could do without, but that is mellowing and rounding out as it cools (though as I get to the bottom of the cup, that note is taking a tarter turn). All in all, a nice (but not spectacular) way to start the day!
This was purchased to be a morning tea for the husband, but I thought I’d give it a try since it says it is 100% Ceylon. Ceylon is one tea that I’m still rather unclear on so further exposure is a good thing.
The smell is kind of cardboard nutty with a hint of tartness. Further sniffing makes me think of almonds, or maybe marzipan since there is some sweetness. The sticky tart note seems to fade in the smell as the tea cools.
The taste is faintly marzipan so I’m gonna call this almond and honey tasting. It’s surprisingly smooth with just a little tackiness at the end of the sip. The flavor isn’t strong by any means (“delicate” was what the husband called it) and with just the light almond and faint honey notes, there’s not exactly got a lot going on here but it’s nicer than I expected.
Okay, okay. I wasn’t expecting much from this so surpassing my expectations isn’t that great. But really, this is actually quite pleasant. I mean, not knock-it-out-of-the-ballpark, but quite unhorrible. I may have to try some of the other Adam brand teas I’ve picked up for the husband.
My other liquor store tea purchase! I had this bagged (from a very old box) ages ago and thought it was pretty good. I had always wanted to try the loose leaf version, but not enough to actually order it.
It’s surprising to me to see all the little cornflowers and citrus peels in the dry leaf. I’m pretty sure that’s not in the bagged version so it’s nice to see that loose is a bit of a step up, you know?
The smell is exactly as I remember, but stronger. Lemon loveliness. The taste, though, is a little more oomphier than I remember. Not a surprise, really, given how old the bags were when I had them. This is a bit more even on the bergamot and lemon (instead of more lemon-focused), but it still manages to be light and pretty like the super-old bagged version of years ago. Just light and pretty with a bit more tingle on the tip of my tongue. It does have a nice lemon aftertaste. I enjoy that.
It’s not really a OMG, must start my day with this tea, but it’s definitely a step up from yesterday’s Prince of Wales in that I don’t think food is required for this to be a happy cup.
Perhaps I was flying a bit high from my antique store discovery of Queen Catherine, but when I saw this at the liquor store, I picked it up. That’s right, I got this (the loose leaf version even!) at the liquor store. I also got a tin of Lady Grey (loose), some hard-to-find pasta sauce (which my speciality grocery store stopped carrying) and some sparkling water. The husband got beer.
Unsurprisingly, this pales in comparison to the loveliness that is Queen Catherine. There is one noticeable similarity, though: Keemun. I don’t know how much of this tea is Keemun, but it’s there. Not the best Keemun in the world, but I don’t know if I’ve really met a bad Keemun. It adds some kind of flat but still present earthy notes. Nothing as rich as leather, though. This also has some Yunnan-ish straw notes, but nothing all that inspiring. The Yunnan seems to be a lower grade, just like the Keemun. The normal sweet hay taste is turned into dry straw leaving the tea without much sweetness but also no astringency.
So yeah, this one really isn’t a “sip an contemplate the wonders of life” tea, but it’s great to pair with food because I don’t have to worry about drowning out any nuances. I won’t reach for this when I want a to relax with a tasty cup of tea, but I will say it was a perfect match for my jam and toast this morning so I imagine I’d be drawn to it when I wanted a more high tea experience.
This weekend (week… month…) has been insanity. Our old house is finally on the market and now the husband and I are on the hunt for a few pieces of furniture that we need for the new house. Today, that meant we hit about five different antique stores (added to the one yesterday and other ones last week.) It was decently successful – we managed to find one of the two of pieces we were looking for. And I found this tea! Not quite your normal antique store fare, but I’m pretty happy with it.
The smell of the dry leaf is lightly smoky. Not lapsang smoky, but Keemun-like smoky, which typically strikes me as more toasted than smoky. But no, here, I get smoky. Honestly, the smell pretty much guaranteed that I had to buy this.
The taste is quite lovely. This week has been a Keemun week for me (I’ve needed the comfort of my favorite tea with our current level of insanity) so the Keemun is super obvious to me. There’s also a bit of sweetness that reminds me of the sweetness in A&D’s Assam. But that sweetness is not something I normally pick out in Assams and, since H&S’s description says it is a blend of three Chinese teas, I’m going to say the sweetness is from the Panyang. It’s been sadly a long time since I’ve had a Panyang. Num. I don’t pick out too much Yunnan really, though I’m thinking that contributes to the thicker, cuddlier feel I get from this.
The second steep (3:00) is more Yunnan-ish. There’s a bit of stray/sweet hay note going on. But the Panyang is also more obvious (probably the most obvious) with the smooth, almost silky, sweetness. The Keemun is not near as obvious this steep as the first. I think it just gives a bit of richness and some earthier back notes.
Long story short: delicious. I’m happy with both of my antique store purchases today!
This managed to get lost in my little tea sample bowl. Oops. But I’m trying to get things organized and so when I rediscovered it, I thought I’d give it a go.
First off, the smell after a quick rinse smells just like my grandma’s barn. Dirt, hay and a tiny bit of livestock. After steeping an unknown (but less than 2 minutes) amount of time (I kind of walked away and forgot I hadn’t set a timer), the smell is really sweet. Still a bit of hay and dirt but mostly sweet. Dirt syrup. I kind of can’t help wincing a bit. Apparently I’m not in a pu-erh mood.
The taste isn’t a sweet, thick or syrupy as the smell would indicate. It’s more… wood? Green wood, I think, on the front end. And some earthiness that is not quite dirt but in the same family on the back. Dirty leather, maybe? Though sometimes the green wood and dirty leather combine in the sip to hit at the same time and I get a bit of an oily (but not overly smelly) fish. Yuck.
The mouthfeel is surprisingly thin. I don’t think I’ve hit upon such a thin and non-silky pu-erh before. Weird. It does make it a big easier to drink, though. Usually I find the rich smell and silky taste of pu-erh to be too cloying. This isn’t, though.
That’s not to say this is good, though. Cause yeah, I don’t really think it is. I mean, it’s not bad, but yeah, not good. It’s sort of… passable? Like one of those inoffensive Keemuns I stock my pantry with so that if I want a good tea but feel like hoarding my good stuff, I can still get a passable cup of Keemun in. Except it’s pu-erh. And I don’t hoard pu-erh, inoffensive or spectacular. But you know, if someone did hoard pu-erhs, this one would be a great, inoffensive pantry filler.
Except for the when it tastes like fish. Then it’s offensive. Thankfully that happens less as it cools, but still. No fish tea, thanks. I’m rating it without taking the rare fish sips (three in the whole cup) into account. Because fish tea gets a red icky face. Non-fish tea gets a very light green meh face.
Just a (hopefully) quick note: you know how some teas taste differently when you make a big cup vs a small cup? Same g/oz, water temp, time, etc but the amount of water just seems to change how the tea tastes? This is one of them!
Previously I had made 8oz but this morning I did 12oz. Much oomphier – darkly fruity (like a black plum), a tad woody (but not a dry twig way, more of a delicately edging towards malt way), spicy (white pepper and cinnamon, perhaps?), very minty/mentholated end note and some light honey mixed in.
Really rich, really good. I liked it in a smaller cup before, but I kind of love it in a big one.
My husband’s favorite tea ever is CTG’s Sticky Rice pu-erh. We stocked up when CTG closed but that supply is finite, so I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for something to replace it. Yesterday, I was meandering through the grocery store and saw they had added new teas to the bulk section; this was one of them. Naturally, I had to buy some. I haven’t been overwhelmed by Lahaha, but some of the their nicer teas are quite decent so here’s hoping this is one of them.
The smell of the tuocha is very similar to CTG’s version, but a little sweeter and earthier. Well, that makes sense as this is done with a black tea, not a green. The liquor is not overwhelmingly sticky rice, but it’s definitely there. Along with a fair bit of dirt syrup I find typical to pu-erhs. Not as overwhelming as it could be though and it seems nicely balanced out by the rice notes.
Okay, I will confess: I wasn’t anticipating being able to really enjoy this tea. I don’t typically get into the dirt syrup that pu-erh is to me. But this is nice! I don’t know if the rice flavor balances the overly thick sweetness of the pu-erh or if this is just a milder pu-erh. Honestly, I am thinking option one as I’ve never found a pu-erh mild enough to not be too syrupy for me (though I do keep looking). There’s a nice depth of flavor here; it is thick (but not overwhelmingly), silky, a tad bit toasty tasting, sweet (but not overly).
It’s probably not the most sophisticated pu-erh but I really like this. I could see it being super comforting after a rough day or on a chilly fall night. It’s definitely different from the CTG version but I think I might like this a bit more because of the smoothness. Two thumbs up!