911 Tasting Notes
The last of the Zealong oolongs for me to try, this one just might be my favorite. It’s got the toasty, honey-sweet notes of the Dark but also the lighter, lemon-tinged notes of the Pure. There’s a moment of thick creamy but it flashes by and the majority of the taste is light, refreshing (though without astringency) sweetness. There’s a lot of fruitiness (apples perhaps but without the tartness?) and a hint of refreshing lemon fruit-ness. As it cools, a slightly darker flavor comes back out – the toastiness from the Dark, but not as heavy. Perhaps somewhat floral? Like grilled flowers sprinkled with sugar and nuts or something.
Honestly, I thought Pure was good. (Okay, it is. Really good. As is Dark.) But Pure has some lighter flavors that I have to pay a bit more attention to. This one? Light enough that it’s not roasted tasting but with just enough roasting to make the flavors truly pop. I’m kind of in love and want to buy a massive tin of this.
ETA: Second steep (1:00) makes me think of a mildly flavored lemon pie.
The dry leaves smell fairly uninspiring. A little floral and perhaps a bit of salty plastic (the type of plastic that they make Cabbage Patch Kids faces out of). Post brewing, though, is a much different story. Sweet, floral, creamy.
The taste isn’t as thick as some pouchongs I’ve had but it is very tasty. Creamy, green, it is simultaneously a warm cuddle and a happy puppy. The front end is somewhat heavy, thick and creamy with floral and some sweet milk-oolong-like notes. Then the second half of the taste brightens up, tasting less cuddly/cloudy and more clear/springy as it brings up hints of white grape and gardenia and a faint astringency after the sip.
I tend to like my pouchongs on the richer side of the spectrum and the end note here makes this one seem brighter, but I really like it. I’d like to see what it would do at a lower temp – if I could get a little more cream, a little less grape – but I’m pretty sure that no matter what, I’m going to enjoy working my way through the sample.
Second Steep (1min) It tastes wilted and boiled. Not even worth drinking the cup. Boo.
This will be a drive-by logging of this month’s freebie teabag.
Smell: Dry Leaf – Alternately like sparking white grape juice and muscat. Occasionally with strawberries or something pink.
Liquid Tea – Mellow muscat gummy.
Taste: The front is floral. The name says ‘Rose’ but nothing in the description that indicates that there is rose in this… Is there rose in this?
Next is slightly tart berries. (Yay for a Lupicia Strawberry tea that is not strawberry Quik flavored.) There is some light astringency that plays into the whole fresh berry feel. Not too dissimilar from this morning’s Marco Polo but a tad thinner.
Last up is an endnote that is a cross between white grape juice and muscat. (The tastes are similar but white grape juice tends to be sweeter and muscat more wild/pungent… at least to me.)
Verdict: Pretty darn good. If it didn’t have the astringency, I could see this vying for Marco Polo’s place in my pantry. But it is a little drying, which does fit with the whole champagne and strawberries thing but don’t always appreciate astringency, particularly in black teas. Otherwise, great flavor and the first strawberry tea from Lupicia that doesn’t make me think of that cartoon rabbit. If they stopped making Marco Polo, I’d probably replace it with this and only be a little sulky.
Looks like Gunpowder. Smells like mint. (Of course, that could be the mint from the sampler tube, not this particular tea.) Tastes… like green tea (tastes like the same one from their Almond Green) with an astringent chaser of… something, then followed by a grassy/hay-like aftertaste.
I can’t figure out what that astringency is but it’s pretty surprising. Almost like I overbrewed the tea but I used the same parameters that worked well with their Almond Green. So I’m guessing that buffalo grass is somewhat bitter/astringent?
I’m desperately trying to figure out what that bitterness is from. Fortunately, it seems to be fading as the tea cools. The cooler it gets, the more I can pick out. At first, slurping brings out some smoke? Have you ever driven through the smoke from a massive grass fire (like the controlled burns they do near highways that you drive on for miles and miles without seeing another car)? Yeah, slurping makes it taste that that.
More cooling and then there is a flash of flowers. Not so much garden flowers (highly fragrant sweet roses and the like) but more subtle, smaller flowers that you’d almost ignore the scent of as you walked by, but if you noticed you’d smell them everywhere.
More cooling and now I can pick out a savory herb taste. I actually went to sniff around in my spice cabinet to see if I could figure out what herb. Oregano. (Thyme was the second runner up but it was too sweet.)
And now that it is almost room temperature, I taste green tea and oregano. Oh, it’s not exactly like oregano. It doesn’t have quite the same high note. Perhaps like old oregano? But yeah. Oregano tea.
Not sure how I feel about that.
I had a Tea-Off today between this (previously untried) tea and Chicago Tea Garden’s Golden Bi Luo. If you want to see the tea off (and pictures), you can hit here http://pinkness.danzimmermann.com/2010/12/tea-off.html. But for those just interested in how this tea shakes down for me, here you go:
This is a really good tea. It’s sweet so somewhat dessert-y but the flavor kept developing (and surprising – bake-y! cinnamon! tobacco! honey! brown sugar!) through multiple steeps (and all signs point to it being able to go for more). Later steeps (I have currently stopped at 3 but might go for another one or two as I make dinner) had a heavier flavor so would be morning appropriate but it is smooth enough for any time of day. (If you are a first-steep only type person this is probably more of an afternoon tea since the first steep is the smoothest/lightest bodied steep.) I really enjoyed this one and it’s definitely something I would buy again.
I’ve had all new teas today so I thought I’d continue the trend with this one, my only untried herbal. The first sniff of the dry not-leaf was full on caramel. The second was rum. The third I got almost totally rooibos. The forth things started to meld a little and it smells like rum cake. Toasted.
Brewed, the rooibos is kind of there but it seems to meld with the rum. Again, the rum gives me rum cake thoughts, not a shot of rum. I’m thinking that is because of the sweetness added by the caramel.
The taste is… unexpected. Clean and sweet on the front – caramel glaze more than a caramel chew – and rooibos woody on the end. The aftertaste is a mix of caramel glaze with an alcoholic note. I love love love the flavor on the front. It’s so tasty and sweet and yum. But the transition into rooibos is a little confusing for me because I don’t really like rooibos and the rooibos taste comes right after such a delightful taste that has no hint of rooibos. See, it’s confusing.
The rooibos taste isn’t sour or rotting wood sweet or anything so that’s good. It’s obviously there but it’s just wood. Plain, dry, unrotted wood. I’m still not jumping up and down for the rooibos but the more I sip, the more I don’t care that the rooibos is there.
It’s not the best rooibos ever simply because it’s rooibos. But for those that can deal well with rooibos when it doesn’t taste like rotting wood, this one is pretty freakin’ good.
So this is pretty cool. The leaves smell strongly of marzipan (and a little mint but I think that’s because it was in the sampler tube with the spearmint green sampler) but post-brewing, that smell disappointingly goes away. Fortunately, the marzipan shows up at the front of the sip (particularly when the tea is hot), then transitions to a more straight almond flavor which melds smoothly into the nuttiness of the Chinese green.
The Chinese green base in this doesn’t seem overly fancy or spectacular, but it works so great with the flavoring. As the tea cools, the marzipan sweetness fades and it becomes more raw almond and green tea, but again, the flavors meld delightfully.
Once again Kusmi surprises me and makes me like a flavored green.
Second Steep (3:00) – The flavor is softer now, predominately green tea but there is still a noticeable flavor of almond underneath it, mostly straight almond but with occasional sweet little marzipan spikes. Toward the end of the cup there was a little not-quite-bitterness, not-quite-astringency but almost thick, dark nuttiness. If it were stronger it could edge into unpleasant but as it is, it just makes it move fully away from the desserty marzipan almond and into a more natural/straight almond flavor. Honestly, it’s really tasty.
I needed a little oomp to get through my afternoon slump so I yanked this one out of the cupboard to give it a go. I had every intention of spiking it with a little milk but I didn’t have room in my cup so I drank it straight.
The dry leaf smells more Assam but the taste is pretty evenly Assam and Keemun. When it is hot, the Assam comes through more and it reminds me a bit of Thomas Sampson. When it cools, the Keemun comes to the fore more. It’s a fairly average Keemun so I’d have to say I prefer it hot but unfortunately I got distracted with cooking and the cup cooled down a bit before I finished it.
I’m not entirely sure if it’s given me the oomph I was looking for – it was milder and smoother than I was anticipating based on the smell – but it was a good late afternoon break!
I am officially withdrawing from The Final Sipdown. I’m pretty much at the point that any teas I have left are gianormous and unless I start bathing in it, I won’t be able to finish off one tea a day, much less two. But I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made with it – 43 teas down. Forty three! And now I have a much more reasonable 94 teas in my cupboard. Yay! I really did enjoy seeing 80-something earlier so I think I will slowly work toward the goal of getting my cupboard back down there, but not as rapidly as The Final Sipdown would require.
Anyway, this means that I can no longer focus on what teas I’m almost out of but can instead take the time to enjoy some newer teas! First up, this lovely smelling one from Angrboda. I admit, I’ve been saving some of Ang’s swap teas for a special occasion. Today I need a pick me up, so I’m dubbing that a special occasion.
The dry leaves smell delightful. Thick and rich with a touch of dark chocolate. It smells like it will be smooth and flavorful – there might even be a hint of something fresh and tingly in there? – so I’m thinking it will have a good depth, too. Per TeaSpring’s orders, I’m using 4g/10oz and steeping it for one minute. And it smells so good. There’s malt, honey (or perhaps a bit of sugar) and some sort of spicy tingle laying on top of it. I’m hoping (based on the vendor description) that it is citrus peel note.
The first sip literally wowed me. It’s not as thick as I was anticipating but it’s such a clear, beautiful flavor. Raw sugar, a hint of creamy chocolate and then that same fresh, spicy note that I’m not sure I would have pegged as orange peel but yeah, that’s what it tastes like. The husband has a family recipe for homemade cranberry sauce and it includes whole oranges (peel and all). I like getting the pieces of orange peel that don’t always get ground into super-tiny pieces because there is this fresh sting that’s not so much bitter as not sweet and has a bit of a spongy texture. It sounds weird, but I really like it. Thinking orange peel then sipping this tea, it taste like I’ve hit upon one of those larger orange peel bits in the cranberry sauce, even down to the texture.
As it cools, the orange peel note becomes a more orange flesh/juice note with under tones of peel. It strengthens as it cools and I’m to the point that this makes me think of one of those super-mild Earl Greys. There’s a delicious honey/sugar aftertaste to it and something almost baked fruit-ish? Baked plums perhaps? There’s also a bit of a starchy texture that pops up as it cools. Not rough, just a bit yam-ish. And about two breaths after a sip (if I don’t sip again) a soft floral taste seems to develop.
Okay, I probably need to wrap up before I start composing sonnets to this tea. It’s really good – not delicate, but not in your face either. Softly flavorful? Flavorfully soft? It’s not a wake-you-up-in-the-morning tea but more of a let’s-take-a-break-from-stress-and-turn-to-goo tea.
The dry leaf smells like the green pack Extra gum. Which is kind of awesome because I love the green pack of Extra gum. The liquid has a few notes of that Extra gum sweetness but there’s a more natural, heavier note in there that kind of settles it down. Surprisingly, I’m looking forward to trying this.
The taste isn’t as sweet as the smell of the dry leaf. The heavier smell in the liquid shows up in the taste more than the sweetness does. The mint is nice – not raw or edgy – and it has a nice sweetness and a good menthol whoosh at the end that balances well with the tea.
Normally, Chinese greens are iffy for me but this one seems to be working well. There is some astringency at the tail end but it isn’t salty/mineral-y and so the astringency is just a stab of fresh-feeling at the end. The green tea’s got a bit of a woodsy flavor that balances the sweet mint nicely. I’m not sure if it’s from the mint or the green tea but there’s also a little spicy flavor to this.
Honestly, not what I was expecting from the Extra gum smell of the dry leaf and that’s a little disappointing. But at the same time, this is a nice, winter-y, cuddly green/mint blend. I was a little concerned about how Kusmi’s green teas would go, especially since a lot of the ones in the sampler are flavored and I have difficulties with flavored greens at times. Not that this is “flavored” (it’s more of a blend, I’d say) but still. This is pretty tasty so I’m a bit less concerned about the other greens I have to sample (well, except the Green Bouquet which I am fearing will be like Bouquet of Flowers No. 108 which was… not good.)
Anyway, I’m not sure if I would make a Kusmi order to get this tea specifically but since I do like having a mint tea around (nice for those allergy-induced stuffy days) I could see selecting this one to be the one I choose if I’m going to be ordering from Kusmi (and face it, with Caramel, St. Petersburg and Troika, I will be ordering from them decently often) and I am out of something minty.