911 Tasting Notes
The Final Sipdown: Day 22
Decupboarding Total: 43
So I’m having some issues with The Final Sipdown. It feels like I have nothing left to finish off with just one more cup. I’ve been trying to do some pre-gaming, but to pre-game and decupboard two a day is getting difficult. Because of this, today I decided to heck with it, I’m going to take a short break and just have a good tea. So out came Royal Garland.
And one big cup later, yep, decupboarded. Oops.
Oddly enough, this has the Darjeeling notes I’ve been complaining about in a couple of other teas lately, but I like it in this. Perhaps because the Darjeeling taste is more on the front end here – a bit fibery, nicely bright but not astringent or tart – and then is followed by a buttered roll type taste. The kind of buttered roll where there is more butter than roll and the roll is warm so the butter is all melty and oozy.
Then the tea starts cooling a bit and that Darjeeling taste turns more tropical fruits but the warm buttered roll taste is still there, making me think of toasted buttery fruits. Grilled papaya or guava, perhaps. Then there is a lovely littler floral nectar poof at the end. Ah, that’s so nice. And the whole flavor and sweetness coats my mouth and clings a bit after each sip, making me feel like I just swallowed a bit of honey.
So yeah, kind of has the same Darjeeling note that I seem to keep picking out (and picking on) in teas lately. But yet, so totally not the same at all.
Surprisingly, this is not vile. I know, I know. I’ve turned out to be so anti-Upton. I don’t mean to be. I’m just constantly disappointed by them. For the most part I’ve either not liked their teas or liked them enough that I would pick them up at a grocery store but not go out of my way to order them online. (There are a couple of exceptions that I would possibly order online but there are better versions at other vendors so I’d ultimately go to the other vendors.) Anyway, enough Upton-bashing (I seriously don’t mean to, it just happens.) On to the tea.
Without additives, I was kind of prepared to have to add sugar and milk to it to make it drinkable but nope, drank the whole cup straight. It’s surprisingly smooth with zero bitterness and a decently full flavor. The only problem I really have with it is the main flavor was kind of… fresh, young tree limb. I think it was the Darjeeling in there but it made me think of a Nilgiri (though a bit smoother) and that’s just not a flavor profile I’m in love with. It makes me think I’m munching on plant-life.
It’s definitely a mellow tea and that’s kind of nice but it makes me wonder how well it would truly hold up with milk and sugar. Though I gave some to the husband steeped for 4 minutes with milk and sugar and it was good enough that he was surprised when I told him it came from Upton. So apparently it can hold up to sugar and milk. Though I’m the type that likes to pee on the electric fence myself so I’ll try it later just to be sure. Until then, this rates as a decent tea that I would have no trouble drinking but would only buy if 1) I could find it at the grocery store and 2) There were no other better options there.
The Final Sipdown: Day 21
Decupboarding Total: 42
I’ve been so busy today I haven’t had much time to do much of anything. Yet I hit a lull about 6:30pm and was able to squeeze in a last cup of this tea. I love coconut and I love pouchong so these two together are made of win. It’s so creamy and comforting. A perfect tea for the crazy day. Kind of sad that it is gone. I’m sure I’ll eventually pick up more.
The Final Sipdown: Day 21
Decupboarding Total: 41
The leaves post-steeping look like my irises did after grasshoppers had their way with them. Other than grasshopper memories, this tea can be explained in 4 words: unimpressive Darjeeling with bergamot.
The Final Sipdown: Day 20
Decupboarding Total: 40
Apparently it is decupboaring white tea day for me today. Sad to see this one go. I think it was the first white tea that I really liked. And I still like it. But it is gone. And I am sad. But I still have CTG’s Silver Needle so I’m not without a yummy white tea and that makes me happy.
The Final Sipdown: Day 20
Decupboarding Total: 39
Missed my second decupboarding yesterday. Honestly, it’s to the point that it’s kind of hard to kill stuff off with one cup. But I’m making headway on some slowly! This one I had actually intended to be a headway-making cup but, god bless the glory of fluffy white teas, it ended up being a decupboard. Yay!
Honestly, not all that fond of jasmine teas in general. This one was the first one I loved and it retained top spot until I met a Samovar one (I think it was?) from takgoti. Anyway, I still really like this one. But being a jasmine tea, it doesn’t get enough love sitting in my pantry. But now it is out of my pantry, so yay! Forward motion is again being made!
Tiny tiny little CTC leaves. Once steeped, they don’t look like fun GrapeNut tea bits. Instead, it just looks mushy. So unfun CTC + Upton? Yeah, I anticipated lots of not greatness. So I used a generous teaspoon of sugar and a good sized dash of half & half in my 12 oz…. and it was good. Like, really good. The tea wasn’t covered up by the milky or the sweet, instead it was a great breakfast tea with just a bit of astringency hanging out at the end of the sip (but not so much as to make it feel bitter – though that could be the glop of half & half I put in).
Now, I can’t say how this is without additives (yet) and honestly, I’m a little nervous for it, but with? This blend makes for a nice stout and uncomplicated breakfast tea.
The Final Sipdown: Day 19
Decupboarding Total: 38
At first, this one didn’t seem as shiny as it did yesterday. But it perked up about half way through my cup. So I’m going to say that this is one that does best closer to luke warm.
Shockingly, my cupboard is nearing the 90 mark. It snuck below 100 without me noticing but seeing it so close to 90 makes me happy. So what am I doing to celebrate? Duh. Ordering more tea.
The Final Sipdown: Day 18
Decupboarding Total: 37
I tend to use cooler water to steep my green oolongs simply because it seems that those not-so-sturdy teas can be cooked with high temperature water. But sometimes, a greener oolong doesn’t really sparkle at that lower temperature and it takes something a bit warmer to really make it tasty. With that in mind, I decided to do my last cup of this at 195° instead of 175°.
So close and yet so far. The taste is clearer and there are some new notes to this that I haven’t tasted previously – almost a lemon spark to it – but the astringency is also heightened, even more than the new notes of flavor. As the tea cools a bit, the lemon sweeten and mellows into something that, when blended with the floral note, tastes almost muscadine-y. Which sounds good, but then the ick happens.
The astringency kicks in hard, making the back of the roof of my mouth feel sandpaper-ish as I begin each swallow. After I finish a swallow, that prickle slowly expands up my tongue, making the back and middle feel bumpy, dry and a little sticky. Then a sour taste shows up on the dry, sticky bits and I am reminded of morning breath. I have to swallow a few times to get enough saliva in my mouth to make the dry feeling go away and to keep the tissues inside my mouth from being glued together. And that’s when I get a faint taste of armpits or maybe raw onion.
So on the plus side: lemon and muscidine.
On the con side: astringency, morning breath, armpit and maybe raw onion.
I’m going to go with higher temperature water is not the way to brew this one.
Upton and I haven’t been getting along much at all so I wasn’t expecting great things from this sample. In fact, I was planning on disliking this tea simply because I’m to the point where I just don’t like Upton. (Yes, I’m sulking about their general meh-ness and disappointing-ness. And I have no current plans to stop.) But, dangit, as much as I want to, I can’t dislike this tea. It’s good. Really good.
The smell is strong but not overly thick – it’s all campfires, bark and crispy fall with no road tar or thick smoke syrup to be found. The taste initially seemed a little watery, which fell into my general “I don’t like Upton” plans. I don’t know if the flavor thickened up a bit as it cooled or if the flavor built upon itself as I continued to sip, but I that watery impression didn’t stay around for long. Instead, the taste is smoky but not overpowering or heavy. There’s a hint of sweet that flashes across my tongue every so often but I wouldn’t go so far to say it is a sweet lapsang. There is a taste at the end of the sip that’s a little warm and almost spicy. It blends with the bark-ish tea taste and brings to mind cinnamon. Not so much that it tastes of cinnamon, but rather gives a feel of cinnamon. It makes me think of unsweetened Snickerdoodles.
I’d say this tea compares pretty closely with Golden Moon’s lapsang, though I haven’t had that one recently enough to do much of a true comparison. I don’t believe this one is as sweet and it registers perhaps a little more on the autumn side of things. Regardless, it’s annoyingly tasty. Which means I can’t just dislike Upton across the board. Apparently, they do some teas right. Darn it.