33 Tasting Notes
Still doing my self-inflicted research in the world of assams and such, hence having a silent moment with this specimen in the early noon at the moment. Let’s see how accurate the description is with that recommendation.
In any case, this type is indeed strong and rich, especially after the demanded four minutes of steeping, and the bite hits the tongue quite sharply. Nothing a sliver of milk couldn’t remedy…
After adding milk, it gets very different, and gains a more mellow character to it. Pleasant company, I could say. Nothing fancy.
Adding a tiny bit of chai to it and – oh. Oh my. That takes it to a very charming level indeed.
Interesting little case.
Not so sure about the tea’s actual name, since the frantic studies on the subject gave me a suspicion that it should be called Mao Jian instead of just Mao, especially if the Hunan in the name refers to the region. Putting that tiny mishap of Finnish naming logic aside, this specimen is quickly pushing its way for permanent residence in my cupboard.
Finding the correct temperature and steeping time for this one was entertaining and also very rewarding. The very first steep with it was a bit too long and gave it a rather yellow color as well quite a bitter bite to it, since I had absolutely no clue how this type behaves in the pot, but after a couple of more tests with very short brewing times the result has become a very light green liquid with a sliver of golden yellow in it, and it’s actually a rather pale color combination as well.
As for the taste, the initial sip (after getting past the bitter phase) is very pleasant and subtle with its sweetness. A bit thin, perhaps, but that’s why it demands to be made in a pot, not just in one cup. Springy, I could almost say, very light. Won’t hazard a guess on what kind of fruit comes to my mind with the sweetness, or if its actually a bit more of a floral kind, but I do have a nagging feeling that somewhere in the past I have encountered something very similar. It actually reminds me of Sencha Kura, of all things. Not as uptight as its Japanese cousin, but demands attention in the same way. Will not steep this while working on my things, which, on the other hand, means that I’m forced to have short breaks between…and that’s something I can’t complain about.
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.