30 Tasting Notes
Still on a mission to find good jasmine tea, and as the sense of adventure obliges, yours truly found herself drooling over shelves after shelves of tea in the local Asian food market. Being heavily tea deprived for that day wasn’t really helping the matter either…and then a glint of golden yellow piqued the interest. Hence the reason I’m currently having a staring and brewing contest going on with an innocent tin and its content.
Most of my experiences with this tea come both from restaurants and cafés, and yet I can’t wrap my head around the odd phenomenon how many places can basically ruin just about any green tea here in the land of constant rain and darkness. Maybe light and green just doesn’t sit in our melancholic blues. Anyhow. This tea type isn’t, sadly, any exception in the unfortunate bunch, as in most places the outcome is something one really tries their hardest to swallow without grimacing. The tangy, offensive liquid claiming to be jasmine is an excellent way to test one’s adrenaline levels, but not as the first cup for the day (or better yet after having a very hard day). Thus, needless to say, the frustration has been quite tangible in the passing summer months, since I have been treated to very tasty jasmine that had been brewed well, so the question of it existing on this tiny planet had already been answered. I just have to find it, which brings us back to the current morning.
Disregarding the default steeping instructions that came along with the tin (since, honestly, boiling water and green tea is an equation I have already solved way too many times, ending with a sound and round NO), the morning starts with an entertaining performance presented by ‘Trial and Error’. I have been working on balancing the water temperature without a thermometer for the past years, and can proudly say that nowadays there’s much more success than fail in that sector. Not much to brag, but hey, small joys are sometimes the best ones.
The tin does have an impressive seal inside to keep (or at least offer an idea on somewhat of a guarantee) the tin airtight. Making it feel special already. The scent of the dry leaves is both sweet and fragrant, as well very heavy with the jasmine that curls around the nose and gives a gentle, teasing pinch. Getting a similar feeling as when sitting next to someone wearing a tad too much perfume/cologne, but not as suffocating, though. Nevertheless, at least it gave the needed confirmation that this tea indeed is what it claims to be.
The temperature of the water seemed to suit this shy specimen, as the tea doesn’t at first give any alarming taste or scent for the water having been too hot, which leaves me with quite nice mouthfeel. Subtle, a bit sweet, floral taste which does stay a bit thin also. May have had a bit too hot water still, as the aftertaste reveals now the sliver of bitterness which reminds me of the messed-up cups I’ve had before. Ah well. New try, new cup.
Not as tasty as I recall having drank somewhere sometime with someone, but it does make the early winter sun shine brighter.
Got this tiny specimen from a friend who once gave me the Sabah Tea from her trip in Malaysia, the same place where this mentioned case was brought as well. The first thing she described it was like drinking liquid helium balloons, which frankly tilted my scale completely towards trying it. Would be interesting to mull a piece of foil tasting like helium on one’s tongue, and partially she had it right; it really did carry a remarkably similar taste to it on the first try. Or I just fell a victim to the evil power of self-suggestion and her divine carrot cake. Anyhow.
Now that she was kind enough to shove some of it to me for further examining and devouring, I have found myself mulling over the palate and scent over and over on each sip.
The nagging feel of it possibly being oolong (or at least close to it) grows by every sip. The color of the tea is very pale mixture of green and yellow, and after a couple of minutes it’s definitely yellow without any bitter tones in it, so I could assume it to be either very pure green or oolong. Also the way the leaves were presented reminded me of the earlier tried Tit Kon Yum with rough way of shaping the leaves. The somehow roasted sweetness of it tilts the idea further towards the mighty O instead of G. Very light, maybe even refreshing, and the balloon that was wrapped around my tongue the first time drinking this takes off in the air, giving just a vague sense of..something..lingering on the tongue. A pinch of helium tickling the tonsils, nothing more. The missing floral notes are actually a delightful surprise, as the palate goes down more into ripe fruit, regrettably with a vanishing aftertaste.
The wet leaves give a much stronger sensory stimulus in the nose when compared to the dry leaves and the actual tea and, surprisingly, there is where I instantly find the missing balloons. Up and away, then.
Despite the nagging suspicion concerning the specimens that come from the vicinity of India/Ceylon/Nepal areas, as they always go a bit too tangy and unpleasant for me, this little sipdown from Ceylon has proven me wrong on the matter.
As the description for it goes, this cunning treat was, against all odds, a delightful companion for the mornings, especially in the current weather front that assaults Helsinki. Although, I have to admit, it did need some milk to take away the edge from the taste that threatened (or at least teased a wee bit) to turn bitter on my tongue, but as I dared to take a sip before milk I could still say that it was..pleasant. Not ecstatic, but pleasant and more than welcome to stay around a bit longer, even though it did make my tongue curl in itself as the more bitter tones washed over it in the aftertaste. The palate for the non-milk trial is always somewhat a challenge with these teas.
With the added milk, though, the taste took a turn into more sweet, nutty and somehow..ripe direction. Couldn’t detect distinctive fruit flavours, but then again, those notes are always somewhat dodgy with my cups, for reasons yet unknown.
Refreshing, that I can agree without a blink. Really. Made once a mistake to brew this in the evening, being a bit too tired to register the remnants of the first steep that were left in my pot and drank it absentmindedly while writing and reading before realizing the mishap way too late. Anyhow.
As a random sidenote, had a cup of Nepalese tea while having a family dinner in a Nepalese restaurant, and man that was a good cup. It was very spicy and very rich with the black base, which made me wonder if they had added some pepper and whatnot on their own in the cup. Nevertheless, it was an excellent way to finish an orgasmic good dinner.
So I’ve actually been proved wrong two times already with this odd-ball category of black teas. Maybe I’ll learn to manoeuvre my steeps and taste to the ideal level of approach with these specimens eventually. Learning is always fun.
Very deep, all in the scent, the flavour and the color.
Also, compared to the King of Pu’erh it does have a lot more earthy tones within both the scent and the flavour instead of the dominative scent reminding of the products of a healthy cow’s metabolism. Putting that minor note aside, this tea seems to be designed as an ideal companion for the early days of very wet and dark winter.
The flavour is very smooth and rich, and rolls nicely on the tongue, just like the name of the tea type itself, moreover the very, very dark and intense red brown liquid could even border the idea of coffee, even without steeping it too long. Except that this is just way better than the mentioned other warm drink.
Feel like purring over Pu’Erh.
Another worker’s tea to be rated, then.
The Earl Grey base is distinguishable, the black tea with bergamot somehow dominates the delicate floral notes (or I’m just missing half of my taste buds). Then again, it was the tea bag version instead of loose leaf, so there might be a slight difference between them.
Good both as a short steep and a very, very long one (forgot the tea bag in the cup a couple of times).
Good basic black tea for the rainy mornings. The company recommends two minute steeps, but it does also taste good even after forgetting the bag in the cup for five minutes. With the accidental long steeps the added flavours give more space for the black tea base which pushes through, although with a sliver of astrigency that could also be due to the added quince. Rich and smooth on tongue.
Lovely specimen, which works in both bag and loose form. A delightfully compatible rival for the Lady Grey as an everyday work tea.
Vividly green, sunny and lovely summer to you all over there!
To celebrate the fact that the peak of the finnish summer has been reached with the festivities of the Midsummer and now all that’s left is to prepare for the winter, yours truly will dedicate this post to a tea which has become more than just a good comrade during the hectic springtime.
Thus, I’ll hype about matcha a bit.
It’s illegally cute when given the first look.
Honestly. Green powder. Endless possibilities for how to use it in art. It’s the same as drinking pure pigment. Only healthier. To some extent. A friend did use it in his prints of his etchings, which were very, very impressive examples on how sophisticated the otherwise almost eerily intense green could modify itself into when given the right push.
It’s always intriguing to make, and one does respect the years of doing physical work after whisking the specimen into shape for the first time (With a fork. Yes. A fork. I don’t have the faintest idea why. We weren’t thinking that day). Not using a bamboo whisk for it, though. Learned to improvise with a regular whisk and a mean wrist move. I have my biceps for a reason.
This little pleasure powder is delightful to drink. I love the grassy, somehow summery and full (maybe even buttery?) scent, I love the faint, subtle sweetness that’s just about to say something but is actually just content to smile coyly. I love how it just is. Pliant and full on the tongue.
When chilled, it makes my days.
Keeps from keeling over occasionally. Sometimes gravity just has its way.
Matcha latte, you have my respects. Astoundingly good despite the suspicions I first had.
Matcha cheesecake. Divine.
Steamed matcha muffins. I’ll leave the most suitable definition for your imaginations to create. Otherwise I might get sued.
It’s sinfully delicious when mixed with vanilla ice cream, since it takes away the sweetness of the treat but turns the whole palate into something that just feels bad to swallow, really, since one wants it to stay and build a cozy nest on the tongue and invite some friends over a cup of tea. Staring at the empty bowl is downright depressing.
Staring at the empty cup is even more so.
Still experimenting with oolongs with a specimen that was found roughly a month ago and which just waited patiently as the other life decided not to give any slack for a decent cup. Not that yours truly needed to ask any permission to take it slow this morning in order to take a sniff or four, type, sip, type, sigh, type, devour the cup, create and artist book while minding the tea cup being safely away from the papers, and type again before eating breakfast and hitting the blizzarding city. Small joys.
The scent is heavy with floral notes, but also lihgtly fruity with a sliver of dried fruits, maybe apricots? The wet leaves give once again a rather pleasant surprise with the fresh floral-ish aroma accompanied by a well-moistened edge of late summer’s morning dew that’s tilted towards mature sweetness which is heavier when compared to, say, sugared fruits, and more enticing than average joe’s dark chocolate. Definitely far away from flavoured dark chocolate as well. It’s basically something one would love to smell on slow mornings after revolutionizing the laws of time and space way too many times in a row.
Scratch tasting, this one’s designed definitely for the sense of smell only.
The scent of the bright yellow liquid leans more to the fruity side with a somewhat intriguing layer of something not quite roasted but darker still than the rest of the tea’s aromas, and, well, one can’t sniff the cup without taking a gulp.
Comparing to the Green Jade this one is slightly heavier on the tongue, it’s wholesome with all its notes and acts as an all-around good guy towards my taste buds. The aftertaste seems to be quite scatterbrained since it occasionally just disappears and then pops up unexpectedly, like it would forget to linger around for a while longer and then suddenly remembering what it was supposed to do just now. Entertaining cup this one.
Still sniffing the wet leaves constantly, though.
Light. Airy. Sweet.
As it seems that I’ve fallen heavily for oolongs after the previous good trials with these specimens, it’s more than required to take a couple more tasting tests to see if this tea type could take a permanent residence in my cupboards.
This little one is giving its best at the moment.
The aroma is very subtle but still filled with different, even complex layers among the actual key scents, which further creates a well-composed body for the specimen. It’s something to just breathe for a while and enjoy the wholesome-ish, lingering grassy sweetness which gives yet again hope for the actual Spring to come in these neighborhoods.
The sip itself presents firstly the shy optimism of an airy character, which evolves into surprisingly thick palate with the more fruity notes of ripe fruit flesh, and offers a very pliant feeling on the tongue. The taste lingers long enough to be fully noted instead of just demanding to fill one’s mouth with another sip, although the aftertaste is a tad bit thin and dodgy. This feels like a tea that would blush all the time as it would stutter and twirl its hair constantly if asked something; both cute and frustrating at the same time.
But the scent that caught my nose the most is actually the aroma of the wet leaves. It’s so heavy with fragrant fresh, fruity and floral notes all at the same time that it makes my head reel a bit. Enticing. Also the beauty of the leaves is just amazing, just to observe the slow process of them unraveling from tightly rolled pearls into big and lush leaves is something that makes my drawing hand itch. Or I really need to use more moisturizer. Either way…
This I could happily have as a fragrance right next to the two made of Japanese blended and Scottish single malt. If I could ever have an impact on perfume industry, that is…
..but the application for the cupboard residency has good credentials so far.
Very greenish-black scent. Somehow it has the same greeness in it as sencha but it’s still definitely black. It might be due the main ingredient, which is a plant called Camellia Sinesis they grow there. The scent is also very fresh, surprisingly so even though this specimen has been opened for a long time ever since I got it from a friend who was traveling in Malaysia for a while ago. She also served yours truly some other tea she bought for herself, and that had a faint flavor reminding us about helium balloons. That was fun.
But back to this. As it steeps, the blackness comes more forward with both the color and the brewing scent. It remains fresh, I give it that, but it has matured quite much also. It could be described with the cautious use of the word ‘strong’. The wet leaves give away a malty aroma, very tangible rough-edged feeling. Since the leaf itself is very, very tiny and delicate that note is amusing in itself. It has very earthy tone in it, though not the way puerh has, but somehow more…moist.
The tea itself smells earthy and the color of the liquid is very rich dark brown. Way darker than the puerh I have, but with a similar red tint.
Very earthy. One could almost taste the mud and tree barks. With a roasted hint. Tasty. Very plain black tea as it’s presented, but with a nice personality. It could use some small boost, perhaps, something that’ll give the palate something more to mull over rather than tasting it as a whole and then just letting it linger with its roasted aftertaste. But then again, those qualities can be reserved for other teas.
This is more than fine for what it’s meant to be.
And that is good tea.