Canton Tea CoEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
Well, here’s another to add to the “hairy chest” list. Canton Tea Co makes a lovely alternative Breakfast tea (Canton Breakfast Tea) that I’ve reviewed on several occasions and so I included this “traditional blend” in my most recent order to the company….curious. When I opened the packet I was surprised to see a CTC blend…not all CTC mind you, but definitely CTC and broken leaves. Ok, then….we’ll do a short steep. Canton recommended 2-4 minutes, so I went with 2 and I’m glad I did.
Holy Macanoley is this tea strong! Robust is the PERFECT word to describe this tea. It is straight up English Breakfast. There is a ton of malt, biscuit and a touch of citrus. It is bold, kick your butt and if steeped for 4 minutes would probably stain your teeth in a week! The Yunnan is completely lost to me in this blend. It is the kenya, assam and rwanda that fill my mouth with all the flavors you expect from a traditional english breakfast tea. There is astringency here, but not puckerville…just enough for your mouth to want the next sip, which it’s easy to do.
This is a tea that english breakfast blend lovers should not miss. Bold, robust and strong, it is Builders in a business suit. It will stand up to breakfast, lunch or dinner with loads of flavor to spare. This won’t be my only cup of this today. Guaranteed.
Flavors: Astringent, Baked Bread, Citrus, Malt
This was the 2013 crop (not 2011 as stated elsewhere). It was sealed in a small package and has retained good quality. Fresh floral notes, bright clear pale amber soup, no objectionable bitterness or astringency. In short, very enjoyable. Even got a 2nd steep from the lovely leaves. Mmmmm …
Flavors: Caramel, Floral, Grapes, Mineral
I’m on a quest for beautifully flavored chocolate and vanilla teas. During the winter when my allergies are unkind to me via the desert winds of Southern California, my palate plays tricks on me, and I’ve found having a leading familiar note helps me find the flavors of my cup in the morning. I am thankful.
Canton Tea Company is turning out to be one of my preferred sources for tea – and even I’m surprised by that statement! Their blends are thoughtful and different from the ones normally found at a mid-sized purveyor of tea, and their Vanilla Black is a wonderful example of this.
This tea is named simply, so it’s a good thing I looked at the description of the tea prior to closing out my last order with them. This flavored blend is led by the organic vanilla bean. Rich and sweet vanilla….really, is there a better flavor on the planet? Vanilla’s ability to comfort is well known, as perfumers have been using it to women’s advantage for decades….it is men’s favorite fragrance. As it is mine. NOM. The base of this tea is a heady blend of Chinese black teas. The Chinese black tea brings a soft plum-like cocoa flavor to this blend, with a sweet maltiness that harbors no astringency whatsoever. It has a lovely round mouthfeel and the balance with the vanilla note is glorious. For aesthetic value, Canton Tea Co uses cornflowers for a touch of color….not necessary but a nice touch.
This blend is an example of the magic that can be created by a master blender. The one that works at Canton Tea Company has continuously provides satisfying blends of wonderful teas. Vanilla Black is another example. Well done, Canton Tea Co. I’ll be cursing your shipping fees on a regular basis!
Flavors: Caramel, Plums, Vanilla
This Puerh warranted some research as I was not sure exactly what it was. It was a Canton Tea Club arrival from a while ago and I’ve finally got the curiosity to try it. The research shows that this Puerh is from Nan Nuo mountain in Yunnan, China and is traced back to three 600 year old trees that especially produce this tea. The idea of something being so remote sounds very special. I also found out that Maocha is Puerh that has not yet been turned into cakes, it’s known as ‘rough Puerh’. A lot of Puerh farmers drink it ‘unrefined’ such as this sample. Very interesting! Nice little story to go with whatever I’m about to experience.
Lets start with the raw leaves. They are long and whole (width folded in half) with some stem still attached. Also they are a blend of brown, dark brown, green and silver colours which have a lot of hairs and a super high gloss shine. They smell sweet and wooden with some smoke and must present.
Yixing teapot – 200ml
Leaf – 5g
Temp – 90C
First Steep – 15 seconds
Colour is light yellow and bares a light smoke and earth.
Flavour is light, sweet yet smoky and somewhat musty. Though mellow it does have a subtle refreshing after taste that reminds me of licorice.
Second Steep – 25 seconds
Liquor scent is stronger and the smoke seems thick and smog like.
Flavour is more pronounced though still rather soft. Damp wood, earth,licorice and finishing with a sweet and smoky smog.
Third Steep – 35 seconds
No longer light in strength, this steep has some astringency as well as an increase in licorice tones. Not much wood remains though there is still some dampness in taste, along with a new dryness towards the after taste. Almost nutty like pistachio.
Fourth Steep – 40 seconds
Lighter than the previous steep. Remaining sweet and smoky with high licorice freshness and a lingering after taste.
Overall: I really enjoyed this Puerh, I found it similar to the Sheng I had earlier so there are similarities though I found this to be more interesting. It did not have as much flavour as I expected considering steep 4 was weakened somewhat, but that being said I will continue steeping it anyway and see how far I can take the leaves.I took a before and after picture to show you.
It’s something I would consider buying in the future for when I don’t have time to fully commit to a nice piece of Puerh, seeing as I love to steep it for hours.
Flavors: Earth, Licorice, Nuts, Smoke, Sweat, Wet Wood
I’ve been working my way through my little cake of this, too, recently and it’s another tea that I’m just really enjoying. It’s sweet, slightly creamy and very moreish. I broke off some little pieces to use in my Gaiwan this morning, with a lovely fresh hot-cross bun, for breakfast! They made for a pretty good combination too, actually.
(I enjoyed all of this whilst watching Fortitude, too – any of you guys been watching?? What a bizarre program :O It’s darn compelling though, that’s for sure!)
As I’ve not really ever owned or broken up many sheng puerh cakes before, I don’t know how this compares, but it’s definitely a little more loosely packed than the other two that I’ve opened. As such, when I went at it with my pick, I was basically removing little fragments of two or three leaves at a time. It wasn’t really an issue, as they remained pretty intact so the brewing didn’t get bitter, but it is a very different experiences, say, to the stone-pressed 2004 or the big-leaf 2006 shengs I have from Verdant.
This was the third, and final, tea I ordered when buying a puerh bag and a puerh pick from CTC. The review on here made it sound great and, at £10 for 100 g, it sounded like a bargain.
This morning, I set down to breaking a bit of my cake off (just shy of 5g, I think) and prepared this in my Verdant Gaiwan. Having never broken up a puerh cake before, I’m not sure if this was typical, but it was more difficult than I expected! Videos on Youtube always make it look so easy hahaha. The leaves were nice, though – brown-and-dark-green, with some stem (but not much!). They were nice and intact, and they were consistent throughout the cake – what was on the outside was also on the inside, which I took to be a good sign.
After drinking WP’s Arbor Mist sheng puerh, I had a decent idea of what to expect, but I actually think I preferred (on the first attempts, anyway) this sheng – the infusions it produced were really lovely! Flavourful and tasty, but it was also quite fruity. Alongside this fruitiness, there was a lovely smooth mouthfeel and a surprising, almost cream-like note. It was also lovely and sweet.
The initial infusion was a pale yellow and subsequent infusions became a darker, gold/golden-orange colour. The earlier steeps were more vegetal and a little pungent, with that hint of bitterness and astringency, but later infusions had such amazing fruit and cream notes! The tea left me feeling alert and happy, so that’s a plus too. The final infusions (#9-11) were milder, but still really delicious – I got stonefruit notes, along with that lingering creamy flavour. It did also give me that tingly mouthfeel, that I’ve often seen described, so it’s nice to fully understand that concept now :D
I still haven’t tried enough sheng, I don’t think, to award a particularly meaningful score to this tea. But I’d strongly recommend it – it was really lovely! I’ll certainly be turning to this tea plenty in the future – brewing it like this (which, tbh, I think I will) will mean I’ll get another 19 sessions. Delightful! :D
Flavors: Creamy, Stonefruits, Sweet
Along with the couple of sample bags of Arya Emerald Darjeeling that I got from CTC, I also treated myself to two little bags of this. Given my absolute love affair with TGYs, so far, I failed to see why I wouldn’t really like this.
According to CTC’s website, the samples I ordered featured the Spring 2013 harvest – I dunno if this is true, or not, but (if it is) it will give me perspective on how well this tea ages (promising, given the quantity of it that I currently have stored at home :P). The bag containing a little too much for me to use up in one go, so I held back 1 tsp and used the rest in my Gaiwan.
After a brief rinse (it is over a year old after all!), I managed to get through around 4 infusions after dinner today – probably something like 10", 15", 30", 1’.
This tea was, much to my delight, delicious. But, I have to say, it was quite different to the Autumn ‘14 Tieguanyin of Verdant, that I’m so enamoured with. Without directly comparing them both (so going off my memory of the Verdant one), this TGY had a gentler, smoother flavour and was certainly more buttery.
Either way, I’m glad I bought two bags of this. At some point, this week, I’m gonna do a semi-blind taste test between the two and see what a direct comparison leads me to think of them both.
This TGY was a touch more expensive, I think, than the Verdant one, but will cost me a bunch less on shipping. I’m not sure if it will knock my current favourite from its very high perch, but it’s certainly nice to know that I have options :-)
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Orchid
Backstory (again – sorry!!):
I recently gained some tea cash from Verdant, which was due to expire at the end of January. I then received an email from Verdant saying they had some Puerh cakes that were reduced because the wrappers were damaged. It was a sheng puerh that I’ve had on my wishlist for a while, so I thought I’d take advantage of this double-discount situation and order myself one!
Fearful that I wouldn’t really be able to keep it clean with the wrapper all torn/ripped, I popped along to Canton’s website, recalling that they had some lovely cotton bags in which to keep puerh cakes. Given it was only a couple of pounds, and I had a free-shipping code, I thought I’d buy it, along with a lovely little puerh pick. Whilst ordering, I got a small sheng puerh (which I plan to break into tomorrow or Monday) and a number of little samples, including two (at only £1 each!) of the Summer 2014 harvest of this Darjeeling.
Well, I confess – I’m a little disappointed by this tea. Opening the bag, the leaves didn’t smell like much. And, when brewed in my little glass teapot (my usual preference for brewing greens, and it certainly worked like a charm for Canton’s Gua Pian and for Verdant’s Dragonwell), it produced a pretty lacklustre infusion :\ I tried increasing the steeping time, for the second infusion, and the temperature for the third, but it didn’t do much to it.
I’m gonna give it the benefit of the doubt and try the second little sample I have. I think, though, that I’ll try it in my Gaiwan next time. Withholding my judgement for now :P
I’ve been craving hot chocolate recently, but remembered I had this in my cabinet and steeped up a good tablespoon in 12 oz of water. The base for Canton’s Chocolate tea is Feng Qing and Assam blended with Peruvian cocoa nibs and organic Madagascar vanilla. They call for a 2 minute steep, which gave a medium brown liquor and an understated cocoa flavor. This is a good tea, but I wanted it to be better than it is. The cocoa is certainly unsweetened, and even after I added a touch of honey, it stayed “unsweetened” tasting in the mug. The tea itself was identifiable as Feng Qing and Assam and gave a bit of astringency to the mouthfeel. Hmmmmm…..I was expecting something more rich and vibrant, but the flavor profile kind of just sat in the middle of the mug, like a little goldfish deciding if it was going to live or give up the ghost…..
I love Canton Breakfast Tea. I think it’s one of the best breakfast blends out there, but I doubt I will reorder this one.I am now officially taking suggestions for chocolate teas (with no fruit) with black tea base.
Flavors: Cocoa, Malt, Vanilla
I’ve tried this tea using the recommended 1-2 pearls, but haven’t been impressed.. so I’ve made this morning’s cup with around 5-7. We’ll see if it makes a difference.
Right away, I can tell that the scent is much stronger and very sweet. Sipping… yep, definitely better with more pearls! This is smooth, sweet – hints of caramel, hay and wood. It’s actually a little chalky which I found to be the case with fewer pearls. I love how this has much more body and it’s so smooth! Yum.. would definitely buy these again, but not sure if the value is there since I have to add so many pearls to get the delicious cup I want.
Thanks to KittyLovesTea for a sample of this far too long ago!
Although the leaves look dark, this oolong brews up lighter than expected, and it appears that the leaves are actually kind of a dark green. I think it may have been a poor choice to sip this after Verdant’s Mi Lan Dancong Black, because this tea is lighter and greener, and I’m having difficulty tasting the nuances. There’s definitely a green-oolong-esque aftertaste, and lots of mineral notes to start off… but things get a bit murky in between. I didn’t look, but I assume ‘almond’ refers to notes in the tea as opposed to flavouring; I’m not picking it up, but again, palate contamination. I’ll leave it for a bit and try again.
Well then. Now that I finally have a cupboard that is utterly full, and after having tried a far larger number of teas than before, I wanted to revisit this one. I’ve been enjoying green teas and greener oolongs so much recently that my perspective on these teas has changed a great deal.
Plus, I’ve begun to appreciate vegetal flavours/notes in green tea much more than I used to. It still isn’t my favourite – for example, I’d always rather have that lovely orchid flavour of TGY and similar green oolongs – but it doesn’t put me off like it used to.
And after a great experience with Verdant’s Dragonwell and a couple of Butiki’s greens/greener oolongs, I think I ‘get’ Chinese greens much more.
So yeah! I pulled out my little glass teapot and used a good quantity of these intensely green leaves – it’s such an amazing, deep green! I didn’t measure, but if I had to estimate I’d say I used around 5g. Using cooler water (it was just before the point when bubbles start to form on the bottom of the pot), I began my session!
Overall, I did five infusions: 10", 30", 60", ~2’ (too weak), 10’ (ideal)
The first two infusions were kinda how I remembered this tea before – it is really vegetal. Asparagus is definitely the flavour that hit me most. BUT I did get the sweetness that’s described on Canton’s packaging now – there was an almost floral, fragrant sweetness, particularly in the after taste. The leaves looked lovely whilst infusing, too – they cast a delightful green light through the pot. It was a little bitter, though they may have been a consequence of the quantity of leaf that I used. It definitely wasn’t so bitter that it was unpleasant – I genuinely enjoyed it.
The third infusion was excellent – a far more balanced infusion, with a mouthwatering combination of sweet and savoury. The fourth I underbrewed – I was a little wary of drastically increasing the steep times in case the bitterness ramped up.
The fifth infusion, though not the strongest, was amongst my favourites – it was really delicious! I got some lovely fruity notes, that gental floral fragrance and a gentler, but still present, vegetal flavour.
I still don’t think this is my favourite green tea. But following a very savoury lunch, it went down a treat and I enjoyed it much more than last time. I won’t be reluctant to finish this tin off, now, anyway :-)
Flavors: Asparagus, Floral
This was another of the teas that came in my first Canton delivery. I was super excited about it but, unfortunately, it’s not a tea for me.
It’s just so vegetal. Amazingly so. All I got, after 4 or 5 Gong Fu steeps in my Gaiwan, was asparagus and broccoli. It was almost unbelievable. There was quite a refreshing, and quite cooling, after-taste of cucumber, but it did little to bring me around.
I then tried it Western style, to see if I’d like it more this way, but I encountered much the same – it’s just so exceptionally savoury :O I’ve really never drank a tea that was this savoury.
I think I could probably get used to a tea like this. And, with certain meals (or just after them) I imagine it would be great.
On the bright side, the quality of the tea was readily apparent – the leaves were lovely and full and became a wonderfully deep, bright-green colour after the first steep (and the colour lasted through many more). The flavour, too, barely changed in its intensity through multiple steepings – this is a tea that just lasts and lasts and lasts.
Flavors: Asparagus, Broccoli
Treated myself to another Gong Fu session with this tea the other day – it really is just so good. I can imagine this is a tea that I’ll order again, before their stocks run out. It’s delicious, treacle-toffee sweetness, coupled with its creaminess and smoothness on the palette, just make this tea a real treat.
After an hour’s work, or so, this morning, I was beginning to flag… And my gaiwan, still holding the leaves from yesterday’s infusion, was just sitting so close to me… It seemed like fate :P
Either way (and pithy back-story aside), I quite fancied trying these leaves again. I was particularly curious to see if a 24 hour gap would leave them affected in any way.
I did four steeps in total (25", 45", 60" and 90") in my Gaiwan (which, I measured, does only hold 100ml liquid, if filled to around where the lid sits in the rim).
Pleasingly, all four steeps were delicious – no issues at at all! The tea still retained a lovely golden-brown-cum-mahogany colour and its delicious treacle fragrance (and, I realised on this second session, a lovely, mild leather-smell). On the palette it was still very sweet and smooth, with figgy/vanilla notes. It also left a clean, refreshing after-taste.
I also gave them another quick rinse before the steeps – I dunno if that’s a regular thing, but I worried that after 24 hours just sat out, damp, they may accumulate a few nasties/stale flavours. It didn’t seem to do any harm, anyway!
So, after 7 infusions, these lovely leaves were still going strong. Not wanting to waste them, but certainly having drunk enough for one session, I thought I may as well try a cold-brew – I’ve left it in the fridge, under ~500 ml water, and will check on it after ~4 hours. Maybe I’ll have a delicious afternoon drink from it. Or maybe I’ll chuck it because my first cold-brew was a disaster. Who knows :P
Well, my first Pu-Erh… To say I was on the apprehensive side would be a bit of an understatement! These teas attract so much attention (and money) that I was vary wary of jumping in head first, particularly given all of the emphasis on smoky, earthy flavours, which aren’t my usual cup…
But people strongly recommended this as a ‘new-to-Pu-Erh’ Pu-Erh, and the review on Canton’s site seemed encouraging. So, out of curiosity more than anything else, I ordered myself a 50 g pouch.
So, in my gaiwan (the box and site say 200 ml, but I’m not convinced it’s volume is that high…), I brewed up 4g (to be on the safe side). The leaves had a very heavy, dark smell that I, admittedly, wasn’t all too impressed by. The rinse, too, made me worry slightly – it came of a fairly non-interesting brown, with a deep, dark aroma. Still, I didn’t want to give up yet!
My first steep was for 10" only and I poured it into a small, porcelain jug. The colour was much more impressive – a beautiful, deep mahogany colour. The aroma of the tea wasn’t overly strong – a nice, “earthy” (!!), surprisingly sweet smell. The aroma of the leaves, however, was truly special – a strong, beautiful treacle-like (molasses, for the Americans) smell! It was incredible – the change from the rinse was huge! Encouraged, I poured out a little cup of the tea and gave it a smell (still nothing much, but still very pleasant). Then the taste…
… well, what a marvellous surprise! A really well-rounded, sweet, vanilla-and-cream like tea! It had a charmingly light body and was very easy on the palette. And it was delicious! I demolished my first cup and topped up my gaiwan for steep 2.
For the second steep, I did another 10" (the first steep was still rather strong, so I didn’t want to push it) and finished off the first steep in the mean time (still delicious)! This second steep was somewhat darker, but still a deep mahogany colour. The leaves still had their warming, sweet treacle aroma and the liquor had its light, delicious smoky-treacle-toffee smell. The tea was even sweeter, but still so tasty and pleasing on the palette.
I prepared one more steep from the same leaves (~12") (still much the same as the second steep, pleasingly) before getting too “full” (I had just finished my lunch, after all), with a view to maybe try these leaves for a steep or two more in a couple of hours.
All in all, consider me well impressed! All of my reservations proved (thankfully) unfounded and this really did produce a delicious cup of tea! I’d strongly recommend it to any fans of sweet, dark, strong black teas. As this was my first Pu-Erh, I have nothing to compare it against (hence no score – YET), but I can’t imagine anyone could be disappointed in this tea. It was really delicious.
Flavors: Cream, Molasses, Smoke, Toffee, Vanilla
This tea was the accompaniment for a really great day at the Hospice – we had a lovely group of singers in, for Christmas songs/carols, and had a really nice buffet lunch, followed by a marvellous (but very rich!) chocolate gateaux. I had one cup in the morning and two in the afternoon, from the same leaves.
Ah, I forgot how delicious this tea was! I brewed it up quite strongly today (~2 tsp in a fairly typical British tea cup) and it was just perfect – delicious, gentle malt and chocolate notes, maybe even a reminder of freshly baked bread. Perfect! :D
Flavors: Baked Bread
Treated myself to another round of this tea today. Just what I needed this morning – I missed breakfast and then had to wait 40 minutes for the bus (which should be every 10 minutes…), meaning I was late to my volunteering shift :(
Thankfully, a few cups of this and a couple of rounds of buttered toast later, all was well. This tea was a really perfect accompaniment for the toast, actually.
I’m also about half-way through my bag of the stuff… It’s still on sale, so maybe I’ll get some more before it goes/gets dear again…!
Marvellous black tea – I brewed myself a nice cup-full (~250 ml) around lunchtime (3’ steep), using 2 generous teaspoons of tea, and prepared two subsequent steeps later in the day (6’ and ~15’).
The first steep was fairly strong, giving a golden-brown liquor reminiscent of caramelising sugar, but totally without any bitterness. It really was a delightfully smooth cup of very warming, sweet black tea – I got a lovely malt flavour along with a caramel or honey-like after-taste. It had very mild astringency, but far from that I’m used to for a black tea that had been brewed for so long.
As the tea cooled, there was a mild chocolate and a mild vanilla note that came through – the cooler tea definitely came across as sweeter than the hotter stuff!
The two later steeps were milder in their malty flavour, but were (as promised) sweeter, with the caramel-honey notes really shining through. I also got a very pleasant fig/date after-taste. The tea was still wonderfully smooth.
I would add one thing: this tea definitely did not, at least under these conditions, brew very strongly. For people who love particularly powerful or dark black tea, I’d either recommend using another tsp or so, or leaving the first steep for another couple of minutes. It is a really delicious tea that I can’t imagine would ever become particularly bitter or overly astringent.
Still, I really enjoyed this tea and will be brewing it up for many days to come! Maybe I’ll try it in a Gaiwan at some point…
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Caramel, Chocolate, Dates, Fig, Honey, Malt