911 Tasting Notes
It’s shincha, baby! Woo! Guh. The smell kills me. So awesome. Faintly buttery, green, thick. It makes my mouth water. I’m seriously not one for much prep work with tea making because I’m lazy. But I will preheat a pot for sencha. Because sencha in a preheated pot? Smells deliciously awesome.
Last year this tea was a kind of sensitive to temp so I’m using the thermometer, not just the Zojirushi display. I really need a yuzamashi but lacking one, I’m using my tea cup. Water temp at 172° and into my pot it goes. Started the pour at about 35 seconds because this pot has a 10 second-ish pour. The aroma mirrors that of the leaves in the pot but milder. Not a super strong smell, but very nice.
Oh, the taste makes my tongue dance! It has a very fresh and clean taste for a deep steamed sencha. Almost citrusy. Grassy. Faintly buttery feeling, a faint hint of nutty (I read someone that mentioned sunflower seeds and can totally see that, which surprised me.) Just a faint hint of dryness left on my tongue after each swallow but that astringency just makes it seem fresher, no hint of bitterness. This strikes me as a very ‘typical’ sencha as far as taste profile goes but it’s not ordinary. It’s more regular sencha, amped up into, dare I say it? Perfection.
Ah, there is sencha in my pantry once again and I’m so pleased. Especially since this is such a tasty one!
Second Steep: 175°, instant pour. Much cloudier brew this time. Delightful fresh and citrusy, gently sweet. It’s a little bit more astringent than the first brew but I’m pretty sensitive to astringency and am still finding at a very pleasant level. So tasty.
Yesterday, I came to the realization that pu-erh and I will never be more than passing acquaintances. There is just something about the strong earthy, hay-like sweetness that comes across as cloying to me. But the citrus in this along with the gingery tingle (one that reminds me of my super-yummy Midel Ginger Snap cookies) gives fantastic balance to that super-sweet pu-erh-ness. The sweetness is there but it is lurking in the smell and under the ginger citrus. In fact, that now-subdued sweetness reinforces the ginger snap feeling. The aftertaste – sweet with a strong ginger tingle and a certain freshness – is the same aftertaste I get from my gingersnaps.
So yeah, this might smell a bit like citrus-scented dirt when brewing (though it smells like delicious citrus-peel citrus when dry) and that just isn’t the most appetizing thing, but this is gingersnap cookie tea for me. So I like it.
PS – I used my entire sample (which was around 5g) in my 10oz cup, so I did go a little heavy on the leaf. Dunno what exact difference that might make but I’d be all for repeating the heavy leafness in the future to make sure I get ginger snap tea.
ETA: The second steep is mostly ginger and pu-erh which is a little disappointing. I miss my clean, fresh ginger snaps.
It smells like caramelized vanilla and something heavy and almost coffee-like. The taste is unexpected – not sweet and soft like a typical vanilla but more… masculine, for want of a better word. Earthy? I can totally see Cocoa Puffs flavor they mention in the tasting notes, particularly in the aftertaste. I don’t get graham crackers so much as that undernote of whatever cracker-like thing Cocoa Puffs are made of. It has a hint of pu-erh sweetness to it but the vanilla tempers it, keeps it from being too strong. It is much heavier and bolder than I originally expected and I like it though the thickness of the flavor makes one cup plenty.
I think this is a good tea – smooth, sweet, mellow – but I just can’t get behind it. That pu-erh sweetness just doesn’t sit well with me. I’ve tried to develop a taste for it, but it’s just not working. So yeah, I’ve dropped the score a lot but I’m judging on how repeatable I find it and I just don’t think any pu-erh will rank highly when I judge them that way.
This is a fairly mild Keemun. It struck me as having a lot of Yunnan characteristics – very earthy with an almost figgy sweetness. The Keemun aspect came in towards the end of the sip when there was a touch of smoke-ish acridity followed by a smooth smoky/roasty note. Certainly not a bad tea but a little mild for me. Perhaps this one would be a good introduction to someone unfamiliar with Keemuns and just wants to test the waters.
I did a shorter brew time on my last bit of this tea to see how it goes. I think I prefer it this way – the flavors are the same but the overall taste and feel is much smoother. Tastes very cocoa-y but with almost a faint hint of smoke. S’nice.
This smells kind of like coffee at a hotel that’s been sitting on the burner at the breakfast buffet since 6am… and it’s almost noon. So yeah, a strong coffee smell. But there’s also a wee bit of chocolate and a fair amount of woody rooibos that is balancing on that icky sour edge.
The flavor is very similar to tiramisu without the creamy and cake taste – so basically it is very coffee-like. It’s strong and bold and surprising but kinda nifty. The one concern is the post-swallow aftertaste that seems very woody (though thankfully not sour), but that decreases as continuous sipping causes the coffee and cocoa tastes to build. So good.
It’s not the best rooibos I’ve ever had but it’s pretty good. The flavoring covers up the rooibos well (versus working with it) so I find it very drinkable. Not sure if I’ll crave it but this one can go into the lineup when I need something decaf.
My little sample of this tea is gone and I’m sad. But at least I’ve ordered more! The flavor is so surprising coming from a black tea. Okay, coming from any tea because the only other tea I’ve tasted that is similar is Samovar’s Royal Garland. This is caramelized fruits and dark flowers. I gave the husband a few sips and he mentioned wanting a full cup so he could really figure out the flavors. Too bad – there is no more! A few minutes later he came in and asked if I had sweetened the tea because the aftertaste in his mouth tasted like raw sugar. Nope, that’d be the tea. So yummy.
I’m bumping the rating of this one up a bit because apparently I find this decently tasty when made in a big ole cup. Very pear-ish in a canned-but-not-as-sweet way. I only get hints of caramel but it adds a different sweetness to it that is nice. I get a bit of the sweetness from the rooibos but none of the wood. It doesn’t hold a candle to last night’s Coconut Custard from Teas Etc but, in the big cup, I’m finding it very drinkable.
It’s a smoky tea – yay! I’ve become so addicted to smoky teas so of course I wanted to try the “original Lapsong tea.” The smell is a little sweeter than my normal lapsang but it’s still pretty smoky. The taste is milder though. It reminds me of Andrews & Dunham’s Caravan – smooth and silky and rich and heavy and smoky (but not too smoky). There’s a dark, rich, almost cocoa-like feeling to it that makes it feel decadent. Not quite a taste, but a feel. (Can a smoky tea be a dessert tea? Probably not but this one give it a good try with the richness.) It is decently mellow as far as smokiness – the smoke is there but it blends so well that it’s not like inhaling a campfire with each sip of tea. It’s heavy and rich (and silky – did I say that already?) without being overpowering or tarry. There’s a very sweet little upswing at the end – maybe sugar or honey or something floral or fruity. I don’t know and honestly, I’m not trying too hard to figure it out because I’m just so busy enjoying it. This is seriously tasty stuff and I think it needs to have a home in my pantry.