19 Tasting Notes
This morning, I rolled out of bed knowing I had to get things done. My list of things to study and upcoming exams are piling up enough to smother me.
As always, step one: drink tea. Not yet feeling up to tackling the day, I resteep some 2002 shu I had in my cup to relax after work last night. I wasn’t into it for one reason or another, and could hardly down the cup. Nothing in my tea shrine seemed appealing, so I decided the conditions were right to hit the samples I had stocked up. Stormy Night stuck out to me, and reading the ingredients, thought it would be perfect to enjoy with some morning granola.
The smell of the dry tea practically filled up the room instantly, and I was excited. It smelled like a spicy, earthy autumn night spent at a family gathering at candlelight – or maybe, more simply, potpurri. When I poured the near-boiling water in the pot, it smelled closer to heaven, and the aromas really came alive, mainly the cinnamon.
As soon as I finished pouring out the last dribble five minutes later, the cup hit my lips. And…disappointment. I’m not as let down by this tea as some other reviewers, because it’s certainly drinkable and quite enjoyable, but very lacking as well. It tastes like sipping on cinnamon water, and I can’t even detect any black tea flavor, or coconut for that matter (and the bits of it are very obvious in the mix). It kind of reminds me of every Republic of Tea sachet that I’ve ever steeped, that smells intoxicating but ends up tasting much like dirty water no matter how it’s steeped.
I can think of a ton of ways to draw out the last of my sample and improve upon it, though. Ideas are spinning through my head: cut it with some good black tea and a drop of vanilla, a bit of dark chocolate, and some chai spices…make a 50/50 blend with masala chai…make it a latte and add more spices…etc. I think this blend has HUGE potential, as the flavor combinations are just perfect for a, well, stormy night. Chocolate, chile, chai spices, coconut, and vanilla are about as comforting and warming as it gets, and I can’t wait to play around with this (though I’d rather I didn’t have to).
I have been excited about this tea for a very, very long time. I’ve been gearing up for my first “real” Verdant order that wasn’t comprised of entirely samples, having a small list of teas I deemed worthy of spending so much of my sparse college student budget on. While teas like Laoshan Green were tried and true, I knew without even trying this Genmaicha that I wanted an ounce. I’m addicted to Laoshan Black, chocolate, and Genmaicha…how could I go wrong?
The day this order arrived in my mailbox was the most exciting I’d had in a while. Is that sad for a college student? Maybe. After making and reveling in a cup of Laoshan Green (Summer Harvest, which I blindly bought after addiction to the Spring Harvest…and it’s even better!), I couldn’t help myself. The dry leaves of this Genmaicha smelled so earthly, deep, and chocolatey, with the toasted rice hardly detectable.
Each and every time I steep this, the first inhalation of the tea scent gives me the shivers. It’s that good. Admittedly, I had hyped myself up so ridiculously for this tea, that the first cup was a disappointment…but to be fair, I had unrealistic expectations for it. The second cup was a bit better as I started exploring the many layers of taste contained in this brew. After the third, I was as hooked as I’ve been on Laoshan Green and Black alike.
The Laoshan Black is very evident in this blend, as expected…but I feel as though the Shui Jin Wuyi Oolong detracts from the tea. I don’t think it tastes out of place, because it would be nearly impossible to detect if one wasn’t familiar with both oolongs or the flavor of Laoshan Black. I just feel as though it tones down the famously malty taste of the Black, and makes the tea more likely to turn out bitter…and I’ve found it to be pretty finicky. In the end, I keep the water temperatures fairly low and simply put the tea in the bottom of my cup and fill it, straining with my lips as I drink. This way, it can sit around for 20 minutes or more without becoming bitter (and is still good for a second steep).
Anyway, back to the many dimensions of taste in this tea! The toasted rice seems to blend seamlessly with the maltiness of the Black, so that they seem to almost be one unique flavor aspect.
As for as the chocolate goes, I think others’ slight disappointment stems from expecting a sweet milk chocolate that they are accustomed to. The actual ‘chocolate’ ingredient in this blend is carob nibs, which give it more of a baker’s chocolate undertone – and it’s just that. An undertone. The Laoshan Black is the dominating force here. That’s not really a complaint, because I’ve been on withdrawal from that tea, but I think the overall balance could be better between the Black and the rice. I may just toast my own rice and add some next time I make some of this as a study incentive!
Overall…one of the most impressive teas I’ve had, although it took a while to grow on me (or, perhaps, the other way around).
This tea is just okay to me. The dry leaf smell reminds me of too many Kahlua binges, and makes my stomach a bit queasy. The taste isn’t that great, either…a weak black tea with undertones that I wouldn’t recognize as caramel if I didn’t know what I was brewing. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but this definitely isn’t a repeat buy for me. Maybe some agave and milk mixed in will make my tastebuds happier?
Any time I pop by Wegman’s, even for “just a few snacks”, I can’t help but drop through the loose leaf tea aisle…especially when visiting with my parents! The Wegman’s nearest to their house is stocked with 3-4 times the tea of mine (my guess is due to the large Asian population there?).
Anyway, on my most recent trip, I stocked up on some delicious Blueberry Green, added a little Earl Grey to my collection (as I pretty often crave it in the mornings and evenings now)…and of course, couldn’t resist the new seasonal teas they had out. I thought it was kind of odd that they’d just now offer a tropical flavor when summer is at its tail end, but had no complaints and decided to give Tropical Black a try! A little over 50 cents got me enough tea for 2-3 small steepings in my yixing, and I left pleased.
The dry leaves smell tantalizing; not so much ‘tropical’, but very fruity with a soft citrus scent, underlined with the earthy smell of the black tea. 3 minutes at just-below-boiling water seemed to make the perfect brew, and whereas the fruit was the dominating scent of the dry and wet leaves, the taste took a backseat once brewed. The black tea is slightly acidic (but not unpleasantly), and the fruit is the second flavor detected that leaves behind a trace of tanginess. This would probably be a great tea to serve iced in the summer, or made as sun tea! It’s one of those that I don’t mind taking forever to drink, as its profile seems to change throughout the cooling process.
Overall, I’d consider this as a repeat buy, but probably not in large quantities unless I was making iced tea. It’s a nice, light-hearted treat when taking a break from the (sometimes) seriousness of high quality tea.
I was quite surprised by this tea! I wasn’t expecting much for a Wegman’s brand loose leaf that involved matcha, but this is one I always keep stocked on my shelf along with some more top shelf teas.
Any time I remove the lid, I HAVE to take a big whiff. The smell is quite deep and creamy, and not at all ‘dry’, with lots of vegetal fragrance to go along. While it’s not a ‘true’ match experience, I absolutely love having the powder mixed in. The result is a wonderful ‘any time of day’ tea that has the lovely grassy taste that just barely comes in second to the creamy, substantial matcha.
I had some genmaimatcha from Wegman’s also laying around, and tried experimenting with blending the two – with fantastic results! So, admittedly, my jar of Sencha/Matcha has been combined with its rice-inclusive sibling. Overall, just great for the price!