239 Tasting Notes
The last time I drank this (http://steepster.com/clareborn/posts/184829) I got ridiculously sleepy, so I obviously need to see if it was just the horrors of moving house, or if the tea actually has some slumber-inducing effect.
This time around I got some more mint in the cup (and a whole raspberry) and I find myself liking it maybe a little bit more. Not just in terms of this specific tea, but the mint itself – I generally avoid mint teas because of past trauma, but I could imagine enjoying a solid choco-mint, or something similar.
But ugh. This is still so tart as it cools.
(If I doze off in a corner somewhere, I will edit that in tomorrow.)
I am completely conflicted when it comes to this tea. Like snood4m4 said in their review, this is not the plum that might first come to the Euro-/NA-centric mind, but the ume – the green, tart, Japanese plum.
The umeboshi referred to in that review (bear in mind I’m by no means an authority) are the dried fruit, that I personally find sweeter and rounder flavour-wise. The ume itself has a perfectly crisp and clear tartness that is reflected very well in this tea. Steeped, however, it is paired with a strongly present note of bitter almond, which makes me realize, for the first time, the extent to which these two flavours actually intermingle.
It’s really quite something, and it reminds me so much of picking plums in the fall, digging the pits out – and then cracking the pits open to reveal the small, soft plum almond that carries this gorgeous note of bitter marzipan.
The reason I’m conflicted is because I can’t decide whether or not Lupicia absolutely nailed it, or if it’s just a happy coincidence… or, honestly, if this is all happening in my head.
Either way, this is a very tricky tea – strange, demanding and complex, and I really, absolutely adore it.
[Purchased at Lupicia in Kyoto, July 2013.]
I already wrote a tasting note for the green Marco Polo, which can be found here: http://steepster.com/clareborn/posts/189598.
Just like I emphasized there, I tend to pick out teas going on scent alone. That, in its turn, means I rarely, if ever, read others’ reviews or tasting notes before logging my own impressions. This is yet another exception to that rule, which creates some confusion, simply because… I really expected over-the-top, ripe, strawberry. And for me, there is absolutely not a single hint of strawberry to be found here.
The black tea has some of the same booziness as the green, but it lacks the autumnal ripeness that is so present in that one; it’s less tipsy and more elegant, and with a far stronger note of smooth vanilla in the aftertaste.
I enjoy it, but Pleine Lune and Wedding Impérial still rule my cupboard in terms of Mariage Frères blacks. I’m going to go with Sil’s suggestion and try this as a cold brew next time.
[Surreptitiously acquired from Mariage Frères in London, August 2013.]
So I’m slowly experimenting my way through the teas I have yet to try cold-steeped. (Seriously – the things I do to avoid rating those really confusing ones still labeled undrunk in my cupboard.) This one wasn’t a given at all, seeing how subtle the fruity notes are, and how it’s not particularly sweet. Sometimes, though, those teas seem to just come alive iced.
In this case, not so much. The elusive fruit is all in the nose, while the tea itself is very much tea. It’s really frustrating, as it’s one of those cases where just a little more of most anything would make a world or difference… but I don’t want to take potential additives into account in my tasting notes.
(It should be added that the recent cold-steeped success of A.C. Perch’s White Temple might eclipse any other tea trying to be a contender. I don’t find this unfair, because when you find the Tea, there’s just no forgetting it.)
Either way, this particular quince tea is best enjoyed warm.
So I now have my new variable temperature kettle from Bosch to play with. (I finally found the one I wanted through an Italian vendor, so I didn’t have to produce any sort of documents at all to resolve the hostage situation that generally ensues when I receive a suspicious package from a foreign country.)
The Palais des Thés teas are among the greens I’ve been particularly curious about reevaluating. I’m very much against oversteeping greens, so I generally go for 1.5 minutes and boiling, or near-boiling water, as per the usual Lupicia instructions; I’ve found it works well for most flavoured greens, but some of the more delicate ones do deserve a somewhat lighter touch.
This is not one that really benefits from a longer steep at a lower temperature, however; the base still comes off fairly average, the vanilla still doesn’t pop. And still the utter weirdness of a melty caramel nose that’s entirely elusive in the cup.
Maybe if I very surreptitiously drop some kind of toffee bon-bon in and let it dissolve? Or is that cheating?
Oh! Oh! Oh! So I cold-steeped the last of this. Unholy artificial citrus horror would sum it up quite well.
I’m dropping this from an indifferent 55 to a near-objectionable 30 for the sheer offensiveness that is Rooibos Tropica iced. Why not lower? Because paired with these citrusy, almondy cantucci I’m having, it’s beautiful. My palate is very confused at the moment.
Now the only things in my tea cupboard bearing Teavana’s logo are my cherished travel thermoses and tins – just as it should be.
[Purchased at Teavana in Honolulu, January 2013.]
[Polished off in Rome, September 2013.]
So yesterday, when I said I was going to make another pitcher, I did make another pitcher.
And now I find myself having to make yet another pitcher, because this is so very good it seems to just evaporate all on its own.
Sorry about the utter lack of variety in tasting notes at the moment, but the few teas I have yet to review are all problematic in their own way, so I’m procrastinating.
(Also this is just so very good.)
This time around, I cold-steeped this, as opposed to cooling a hot-steeped tea. There’s definitely a difference, and for the better – it tastes clearer and lighter, and even the most delicate flavours seem crisper, more well-defined.
Now this might be typical for cold-steeping versus cooling a hot-brewed tea of this kind, but I haven’t experimented with that much at all before, so I’m excited about these highly scientific findings.
Really, really good. I’m making another pitcher.