911 Tasting Notes
Angrboda’s enjoyment of this tea made me go for a re-try. For some reason, I remember this tea as more chai-spicy than the simple warm/tingly-spicy it actually is. It’s citrus-y and creamy and light but warm and cuddly at the same time. It’s a good tea but it’s still not quite something I could see myself reaching for regularly. Though I might think differently in the winter due to the spice-cuddles this tea is giving me.
The leaves are ugly and broken with rather long stems poking out. Each time I brew this, I just don’t expect much. But the taste does certainly deliver. Sweet with a faint nectar/floral honey top note and an almost nutty bottom note. Why can’t I remember the tastiness of this tea when I’m not actually sipping it?
I’ve had to drop the rating a little bit on this one, mostly because I followed it up with a fairly mediocre Bao Zhong from Tea from Taiwain and this cup pales in comparison to that one. I still think this is a pretty good tea, but there is a taste which I can’t quite peg – my mind wants to say metallic but it totally isn’t – that just doesn’t hit the right notes with me, even though I enjoy the sweetness of this. Ultimately though, I seem to lean more towards floral sweet over fruit sweet in greener oolongs.
(Looking at the description of this tea, I’m guessing the not-metallic taste is the pineapple note I’m picking up because it has that same teeth-tingling tartness.)
I had this with additives since I wasn’t willing to risk bitter ickiness on my drive to work. It stood up surprisingly well to the half & half and sugar, which I wasn’t anticipating. It was much sturdier and richer than the few Ceylons I’ve had previously. I wasn’t anticipating liking this – Ceylons tend to me a little thin and light-tasting for me – but now I want to give this a try straight because it could end up being really good.
Used a little extra leaf to finish off the sample and that definitely helped this strike a more Keemun note compared to the first time I tried this when it hit quite a few Yunnan notes. There is a tiny hint of sharpness at the end of the sip but I’ve had some Keemuns that were pretty rough so I’m okay with that little bit. Has a nice, earthy, sweet, slightly smoky flavor – not campfire smoky like a lapsang but more someone-in-the-neighborhood-has-a-fire-going smoky. Relatively mild and smooth. Minor bump to the rating.
Wow. Yeah, mate and I? Not gonna mesh. This is kind of like drinking a mint-flavored reed mat. This shows though how sweet Samovar’s Sweet Yerba Mate is. Because this? Not sweet. The tasting notes say bittersweet and I’ll agree. It’s not bitter like an oversteeped tea but there is a certain something to it that made me think of bitterness, maybe in a herbal/nature-y way. Nothing bad, just really unexpected.
I admit it, I made a face when I took the first sip (unexpected, you know). But each sip after that got easier and by the end of my cup, I was okay with this tea. Well, okay-ish. It still tastes like a mint-flavored reed mat but I will say that the mint is quite nice in this – and I’m saying that as a not so big fan of mint. So for those that mesh well with mate, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say this is a pretty tasty one, at least with how the mint blends with it. There’s no raw or rough herbal edge to it. So it’s a very smooth reed mat. I just notice it has eucalyptus in it so that might be contributing to the smooth blend. (And maybe it’ll help me with my stuffy sinuses.)
Anyway, certainly different but likable for a mate. Overall I prefer it more than the Sweet Yerba Mate because this doesn’t make me think of a commune with goats.
I think I put too much sugar but I was a bit groggy when I made this so I consider it a win that nothing else was screwed up with this one. There’s a little nutty bitterness at the end of each sip that leaves a tacky feeling in my mouth, but otherwise this isn’t bad, especially for a tea I got at the grocery store. It’s very nutty and has a pretty decent body to it. Ultimately, though, for grocery store teas I prefer ToH’s Assam more than this blend.
I picked this as a free sample from Chicago Tea Garden, mostly because it just seemed too different not to try. I mean, come on – sticky rice flavored tea! How can I not try it?
This is actually my very first pressed pu-erh. And my first green pu-erh, too. So a whole bunch of first all rolled into one insane smelling tea! And I do mean insane smelling. As soon as I opened the envelope, I instantly smelled freshly-made sticky rice. It’s so weird but kinda awesome.
Anyway, I did a quick rinse and then (since I’m sharing with the husband) poured steeps one and two (both at 30 seconds) into a fair cup, then into glasses. So I don’t know if there is a big difference between the first and second steeps, but it totally smells like a bowl of rice. Which is still kinda awesome.
The taste isn’t as sticky-rice as the smell (though the smell is pretty intense). I get a quick, almost mint or ginseng whooshy tingle at the very front, then a mild almost reed flavor flash, then a sticky or sweet rice fresh taste. The aftertaste is light and very rice-y. Even with the hints of the other flavors, the main taste is very much rice. But rice in a mild, gentle tea way.
I think I could really get behind green pu-erh. It doesn’t have that barnyard, sweet hay, fishy, sweet thickness that is just too much for me that I get from black pu-erh and that makes it much easier for me to drink. This tea is really quite gentle, mild, sweet and rice-y, all attributes and flavors I enjoy. I didn’t know what to think of it at first, but by the end of my cup, I determined that really like this and I would very much enjoy having it in my pantry. I don’t have to go out and get some right now but I’ll be perusing Chicago Tea Garden’s website to see what other goodies I might need to buy when I decide to pick this up.
ETA: Steeps three and four (at CTG’s suggested 45s and 1min) resulted in some light bitterness that really battled with the rice taste, almost covering it (though the bitterness was not overwhelming). It was very disappointing and made me question how much I actually wanted to buy this tea. But I tried again, backing off the steep time (or at least not increasing it like I normally would). Steeps five and six (at 45s and 1min) were much better, back to the original steeps’ sticky-rice-ness. Shorter steep times are this tea’s friend. And I’m back to planning a CTG order.
I’ve been using such short steep times for Japanese greens lately that Rishi’s recommended three to four minutes steep time seems absurdly long. But for my first try of this one, I’ll go by their rules… And based on how this turned out, I’ll only be going by their rules this once. Next time I’ll shorten the steep time because this is bordering on bitter for me.
The flavors – vegetal, thick, pungent with hints of freshness – have a lot of promise, reminding me a lot of O-cha’s Yutaka Midori shincha. Now, I know that YM and kukicha are two different types of tea, but the flavor profiles are very similar. This one, though, doesn’t have the same… well, perfection is the only word I can think of. The flavors are a little muddy and don’t really stand out. Yutaka Midori is crisp and citrusy. This has a fresh hint of citrus but it’s only a hint and a lot of that freshness is covered by too much tartness.
Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’ve been spoiled by Yutaka Midori. But it’s good to be reminded how truly awesome that tea is and why I love it so. On the other hand, this tea will probably taste pretty darn good mid-winter when I have no more green tea and am trying to hold out until shincha comes around again.
I just don’t get what makes this breakfast blend bold. It’s smooth and a bit cocoa-y but there’s not real impact to it. And it tastes a bit like cocoa nib flavored cardboard when additives are included. A breakfast blend that can’t handle a little sugar and milk? Doesn’t qualify as a breakfast blend to me. Anyway, dropping the rating just a hair because I have found that I consistently ignore and avoid this tea when deciding what tea to have each morning. It’s just kind of dull.