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Recent Tasting Notes
Queued post, written April 6th 2014
This came from my recent Jenier order. I’m not sure why I bought it because Yunnan is a little unpredictable to me. Sometimes they’re good, other times they’re a mouthful of hay. Sometimes the same tea can swing between these two in the space of a few days. So I never quite know what I’m getting. I have learned though that Dian Hong and pearls are usually safe choices. So why this one? I suspect merely because I couldn’t remember seeing this particular name before and I was in a situation where I was looking for just one more sample. When shopping I like to set myself a maximum amount if it’s a place with a lot of things to choose from. Either a maximum amount of money or a maximum of kinds of tea. This varies. So it’s very likely I was merely looking to see if I couldn’t find just the one more thing I was allowed to have.
Anyway, it has always bothered me a little that I can’t seem to enjoy Yunnan blacks as much as other people do. I’ve tried some samples of teas that other people were positively swooning over, that Golden Fleece one from Verdant for example, and when I finally had the chance to see what the fuss was about I was left with an impression of, “well, this is nice, but… meh.” I feel like I’m missing out in a big way with this. The odd thing is, it never bothers me this way that I don’t drink Darjeeling if I can avoid it. Perhaps it something to do with the difference between ranging from ‘meh’ to ‘okay’ and ranging from ‘ugh’ to ‘meh’…
This one smells a little chocolate-y and a little caramel-y and a lot bread-y. Freshly baked, still a bit warm. We’re off to a good start here. The aroma isn’t really very strong, but it’s possible that the cup, cooling to a drinkable temperature as it is, has cooled past the point where you get a lot of aroma. I also think my cup isn’t the best at containing the aroma so that it doesn’t just fly away, largely because I have a tendency to fill them so close to the rim.
There is a certain amount of hay in this. I need to get that out there right away. There is also a good deal of caramel-y sweetness, though. I wonder if that hay-y note is simply a matter of acquired taste? I really wouldn’t mind drinking this caramel-y tea more regularly without stopping to think ‘hay loft’ all the time.
Swallowing I get a smoky aftertaste. Some people find this note more like pepper, I’ve noticed, but for me Yunnans are usually largely smoky teas. This is no exception. It’s not there until I swallow, but then it does come in vast amounts. Lots of smoke. I quite like this balance.
I think we’re closer to ‘okay’ than ‘meh’ with this one.
From the queue, written March 30th 2014
I think this is the last of my current stock of African teas that have yet to be tried. I’ve never had a tea from Malawi before but as Malawi is sort of wedged in between Tanzania and Mozambique, both places I’ve had tea from, I’m not actually expecting anything totally new and unseen. It’s geographically much closer to the Mozambique than to the Tanzania, just further west. It was also one that it was possible to get on the map with a good degree of accuracy. All I know about the estate is that they’re Fair Trade and that they work to put quality over quantity.
The dry leaf certainly doesn’t make me think any differently. They’re CTC, but you really have to expect this when dealing with African teas. Orthodox leaf teas do exist, but CTC is by far more common. They have a lovely aroma, though. A little fruity and quite fudge-y with a little cocoa and a bit of caramel. I do sincerely hope that it can live up to this aroma!
After steeping, though, it’s not the same at all. This is strong, black as coffee (nearly) and it smells largely of leather. The fruity note is gone and the fudge-y note has turned into malt. The trees do not grow into Heaven, as we say, meaning there are limits and you can’t have everything.
As always with CTC I’m a little concerned that I’ve made it too strong, but it seems to have turned out all right. It has some astringency but not hugely and it’s not bitter. It’s actually quite sweet, but not only in a malty way. I feel like a little of that fudge has come back out to play here. Not very much of it, but a hint. As I sip, the astringent feeling sort of builds up a little and I also notice a few grassy hints to it, which I have to admit that I could live without.
If one was a milk-in-tea-er, this would carry milk wonderfully. I wouldn’t have any qualms at all serving this to Husband’s parents for breakfast when they’re here. In England (or at least in the part of it that I am related to) milk is the default way to have tea. If you do not specify that you normally take it without, you will get milk in it, so that is why I think they could happily drink this. They’re coming over for a few days before Easter, so I think I’ll reserve this pouch for that purpose.
It does indeed strike me as quite similar to the Mozambique. Nothing really new here.
Reference map: https://www.google.com/maps/ms?msid=211803378882467968316.0004dd9c2591ff5d7d6bf&msa=0&ll=-17.098792,36.89209&spn=19.072988,24.060059 (I don’t know why the ‘short URL’ ticky box won’t work! I also don’t know why I bother to keep trying to make it.)
Queued post, written March 26th 2014
Once upon a time someone shared a large pouch of a Harney & Sons Kenya with me. I can’t remember which estate that was, but I believe it could very well have been Milima. It was proper leaf, not CTC, like this one is and it was right nommy. The name Milima rings a bell.
Finding it on the map was devilishly difficult. It’s one of the cluster of tea estates in the Kericho district, and if you look on google maps and soom in on that area, there is a very large bright green area with a label on it that simply says ‘tea farms’, and then only one or two of the estates are labeled. I’ve put a marker on one that I haven’t even had any tea from, just in case I get some later. It’ll be easier to find then. According to some sources on Google, the Milima estate was originally name Marinyn. In other places, however, it sounds like they are two separate estates. Some webshops even talk of a blend of Milima and Marinyn, so my thought is that perhaps Milima bought out Marinyn and brought it all under one name? It’s possible. I saw one place however that mentioned that it was manufactured at the Saosa factory, and that I could find on the map, so that’s where I put the marker.
I saw many references to ‘clonal bushes’ and one that stated it was Assam, so I’m thinking we’re probably dealing with an Assam variety here. This also explains how it can be high-grown without getting that particularly high-grown quality that I dislike in Darjeelings, Nepal and high-grown Ceylon and the like.
This one seems quite well balanced between a touch of tannin and a soft, warm but also quite strong flavour. It’s somehow tannin-y and smooth at the same time. I tend to think of the African teas as leaning more towards an Indian ideal, but this one strikes me as Chinese-esque, Assam variety aside. I believe it’s likely to do with that very same smoothness, and also the fact that it’s got a fairly good note of grain and even a certain floral aspect. I think it’s related to the way that a Keemun can have a floral flavour. In some Keemuns that note comes off to me as floral and in others as smoky. I’ve long suspected that it might have something to do with the quality of the leaf, and I’ve noticed in myself to prefer the slightly lower quality Keemun. More oomph, more smoke, less dainty.
This Kenya, albeit with a floral note, is definitely in the oomph category. It’s quite good to start the morning with.
Reference map: https://www.google.com/maps/ms?msid=211803378882467968316.0004dd9c2591ff5d7d6bf&msa=0&ll=-0.60973,35.675354&spn=2.504542,3.007507 (I apologise for the unwieldy link. Google wouldn’t give me a shorter one)
From the queue, written March 23rd 2014
I bought this from Jenier with my recent order. There isn’t really very much to say about it. It’s an LS. It’s smoky. It’s got that fruity sweetness as well. The balance between smoke and sweet is leaning somewhat towards the smoke on this one, but without becoming too tarry.
It’s lovely (by definition), but not my favourite. A little off-balance for me.
I’ve reached the point with LS where I know them like the back of my hand, and have found myself running out of new and interesting things to say about it.
From the queue. Our guests have gone home so it’s back on track with the queue control! It was a lovely visit, and it was SO NICE in this house to be able to actually give them a room to sleep in. As opposed to before where we had to move the dining table into the lounge and put them up in the dining room, which we then had to walk through in order to get to and from our bedroom. They seemed a lot more relaxed while they were here as well, and I strongly suspect that this small detail of having an actual room with a closeable door in it and not feeling so much in everybody’s way had a great deal to do with it. Never underestimate the power of a proper guest bedroom!
I bought this one with my recent Jenier order. They have LOADS of different unflavoured black teas, and one of these days I shall have to order a boat-load of their minipacks and really get Project Africa on the road. Anyway, a minipack are fairly large and their supposedly 50g pouches has proven to weigh somewhere in the vicinity of 100g so although I definitely wanted a breakfast blend, there’s plenty to be going on with in a sample.
Both times I’ve ordered the 50g Golden Monkey pouch from them, I’ve received twice the amount of tea that I feel I’ve paid for. I’m certainly not complaining, but one of these days I’m going to have to write them and ask if they’re doing it on purpose, because I feel a bit like they’re cheating themselves.
Anyway, I knew I wanted a breakfast blend, but I thought I’d try one I hadn’t tried before, which ruled out Irish and English. Which is actually rubbish, because I’ve never tried either of those from Jenier before either, so since every company seems to blend them according to their own recipe, those are every bit as new to me as this one. I put a lot of weight in a name, apparently. On the other hand, from a Scottish company it seems an appropriate place to start.
I’m not sure what’s in this blend, exactly. They’re being quite specific both in the description and the ingredients list, but unfortunately these two just don’t entirely add up. Either way, it contains Chinese, Indian and Kenyan, and beyond that, the actual areas are more irrelevant. I love it when I’m told and I like playing Guess The Tea when I’m not, but it doesn’t hold that much relevance really.
This is a pretty awesome blend. It somehow manages to be both strong and mild at the same time. LOADS of flavour, but it sort of comes in a gentle way. It’s the difference between being cooed quietly awake or having a cup of cold water thrown into the bed with you. This blend is definitely the former.
It’s smooth, but with an underlying edge that should support milk well if one is a milker. I’m not one. Other than that, there isn’t really much to say about it. It’s not really a blend that is made so that you can sit back and analyse and meditate and what-not. It’s just the sort of thing that can give a good start to the day.
I could easily see myself upgrading to a larger pouch of this, but for the sake of fairness, I’ll probably give their English and Irish breakfasts a whirl first as well.
I suspect it’s going to be a fairly large order I make from Jenier next time I’m ordering. I’d better make sure to do it while Scotland is still in the EU! :p
Thanks to Angrboda for this sample!
Up until now, the Golden Monkey tea’s that I’ve tried have been disappointing. Somewhat average tea’s that are malty but lacking the cocoa taste that I can easily get with other Fujian Black tea’s.
Although Angrboda commented that the aroma wasn’t very fragrant, my less than petite nose perked up right away. I noticed more than cocoa coming from the dry leaves. There was a sweet brown sugar candy scent that smelled delightful (like walking into an old fashioned candy store).
Prior tastings of ‘other’ Golden Monkey tea’s left me with the rather odd aftertaste of super dark baking molasses.
This Jenier Fujian tea was mild light brown sugar, cocoa and caramel. Smooth, gentle and with enough body for adding milk.
I can see why this tea is a favorite of Angrboda on a cold day in Denmark!
A sample from the lovely Angrboda! I’ve been bad about logging my tea lately. Mostly because I ran into a bit of time that everything tasted flat and I couldn’t pick up anything other than “tastes like tea”. But that’s all fixed now so hopefully I can dig into the remaining samples and new-to-me teas that I have.
This one… Wow. First off, I wasn’t really expecting anything super awesome because the smell of this one initially struck me as twiggy. I’m not a huge wood-in-my-tea fan. But there was also some raw cacao to the smell so I was hopeful.
Upon sipping, though, I was kind of knocked back. The smell is mild and pretty but the taste? It’s bold and kind of smacks you in the face. The tartness was what I first noticed. It’s that semi-sour note that I’ve found in a number of Keemuns – kind of a mix of an underripe black plum (or maybe lemon juice without the citrus aspect) and a tiny hint of tar. Not lapsang-levels of tar, mind you. Perhaps it is a raw cacao taste, but this seems too silky and heavy on my tongue for me to think of raw cacao (but it’s too dark to be even an 80% dark chocolate). That thickness & richness makes me think more tar-like thoughts, even if there’s no real smoke or char note in this.
There’s a lot of bittersweet going on in this, too. The sweetness in this is somewhere between blackstrap molasses and burnt caramel and there is a delightful grain note that seems very much liked the caramelized barley the husband uses in beer making. All dark, rich, heavy notes that hint at sweetness but never really get there.
Even the feel of this tea is dark and heavy – like rolling around in a chocolate bar commercial. You know the ones where they use satin sheets rippling and flowing to show you the silky sexiness of the caramel in the candy bar? It’s like that. Heavy, rich, decadent, sophisticated and quite sexy.
This is one sexy cup of tea. It’s so dark and rich with the not-quite-sweet-but-not-quite-bittersweet-either that it’s pretty close to overwhelming. It’s a tea that is worth a post-cup nap. Or a cigarette.
This is the last one from my Jenier order that I haven’t tried before. I’m not sure why I couldn’t seem to get around to it. I tend to be quite attracted to something which has the word ‘dream’ in it for some reason, and I can’t actually put a finger on why. I suppose it just speaks to my imagination somehow. This one was further attractive by having mallow flowers in it and ‘a strong hint of blackberry’ as the site description says.
Mallow flowers plus berry flavouring tends to go down well with me. Booberry from 52teas was a shiny example of this being a good combination. The bad thing about it, though, is that it rather tends to make the leaves smell strongly of cheap synthetic bubblegum. Oh well, I can deal with that. Especially since this is not the prevalent aroma after brewing. It’s much more fruity here and blackberry-ish but not so mallow-y. I can smell the black teas as well. A blend of Assam and Ceylon, and the Assam stands out the most, probably adding the high notes while leaving the Ceylon to supply some body, I think. There’s also some kind of Chinese green in here, but that doesn’t seem to want to come out to play.
Because of the inclusion of green tea, I decided to brew at 70°C, even though Jenier categorises it as a black tea blend. I don’t know how much green is in here. It might be just a smidge, in which case the cautious temperature might not have been necessary, because I can’t really spot any obviously green leaves in the blend either. I’ll have to try it again later at 90°C and see what sort of difference that makes. Remind me to actually do this.
The flavour is very nice. The black tea is coming out surprisingly strongly in spite of the low temperature. I was not expecting that at all, so I had a bit of a “hey, what’s going on here?!!” moment at the first sip.
The blackberry is indeed a strong hint. It’s not as all-out fruity as something that would have been straight on blackberry flavoured, but there’s definitely berry flavouring in here. It’s obvious but a bit more subtle, if you understand the distinction I’m trying to make here. This is also the case with the mallow flowers. These two flavours work in perfect unison for a sweet fruity tea, but with a LOT of black tea body. I suspect this is where the green tea comes in. I wonder if it’s the green tea that, while undetectable itself, really carries the flavours here.
I expect this is a tea that is going to go quickly. It’s very enjoyable indeed! Definitely my favourite of all the flavoured ones I got from Jenier. I might get this again.
Only one other person on Steepster has posted about this tea and our experiences couldn’t be more different. Isn’t it funny how these things can go?
Another Jenier that’s kind of weird. I’m not having the best of luck with these. This is a black/green blend, flavoured with…what? It contains cornflowers and mallow flowers, but they’re not contributing much in the way of taste. The black and green teas are mostly what I’m getting, and the effect isn’t 100% pleasant. I gave up and read the description – the black teas are assam and Ceylon, the variety of green tea isn’t specified, and the flavour is supposed to be blackberry. Well, well. I’m not sure I’d have guessed.
The black teas are quite strong and astringent, and the green tea tastes pretty murky. The recommendation was to brew this in boiling water, which is what I did, but I think next time I’ll try letting it cool for a bit. That might help the green a little – I imagine it certainly can’t do any harm. There is a hint of fruitiness now that’s what I’m focusing on, but I wouldn’t say it’s specifically blackberry. What this is, mostly, is bitter.
That’s perhaps apt given my mood at the moment, but it’s not the tea for me right now. Back to the drawing board with this one, I think.
Sipdown! Not a favourite in the end. The strawberry is lovely and strong, although not very natural tasting, but the green base was just too bitter for me to really enjoy.
More importantly, I was just chosen to set the fire alarm off at work. Oh, the excitement!
The dry leaf here smells wonderfully of fresh strawberry. It’s just so strong and clear, it’s made me really interested in trying the brewed tea AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. I was patient, though, and waited for the water to cool :)
Brewed, this is the kind of murky yellow-green that makes my heart sink. I was expecting it to be bitter, but it was actually okay. The strawberry is reasonably clear, and the sencha base is smooth and slightly vegetal in taste. I didn’t expect the strawberry to taste as strongly as it smelt, but it almost does. It’s sweet and slightly candy like, but definitely strawberry. Apparently there’s papaya in here too, but I can’t taste that.
This is probably my second favourite of the Jenier Teas I’ve tried so far. I haven’t been all that impressed on the whole, but I’ve found a couple of teas to like from the selection I chose. This is one of them.
Sipdown! There were three whole blackberries in this cup, and you can taste the difference. They overpower the hibiscus completely, making this a lot more pleasant than it was last week. It actually tastes fruity now! It’s still a little tart and sour, but it’s also much improved. There’s a definite berry flavour, and it’s juicy and more refreshing. As a bonus, it’s not drying my mouth out anymore.
The flavours aren’t very well balanced. Last time, all I got was hibiscus and rosehip, with a hint of strawberry and raspberry. Today, all I’m getting is blackberry. Where the pineapple and papaya are in all this, I have no idea. It’d be better if the flavours were more even – if I could have a cup that tasted of strawberry, blackberry and raspberry I’d be happier – but I don’t think that’s going to happen. In any case, I enjoyed this tea today so I’ve increased its rating a little. I probably won’t be repurchasing, though. It’s too hit and miss for that.
Backlog from Monday.
Second of the fruit teas I got with my order of samples from Jenier. I have no idea why this is aimed at children specifically, or called Fairy Princess. It’s supposed to be a strawberry, papaya, pineapple, blackberry and raspberry fruit blend, as far as I can discern. With generous amounts of apple, hibiscus and rosehip thrown in for good measure.
It smells nice – you can tell it’s a berry tea, and the strawberry is detectable. To taste, though, it’s SO TART. It’s actually making me scrunch my face up, which doesn’t happen to often. I can taste strawberry initially, and a sharpness that’s almost raspberry in the aftertaste. Everything in between is screamingly tart, mouth-drying hibiscus, unfortunately, and I can’t taste pineapple, blackberry or papaya at all. It could be nice, but it isn’t really. There’s too much sourness for that. The search continues.
This is an interesting one – coffee flavoured tea! The dry leaf smells primarily of coffee, although the earthy rooibos scent is also pretty strong. It’s that nice, slightly spiky looking rooibos that I’ve come to know I’ll quite like, though, so I’m not too apprehensive. I gave this 3.5 minutes in boiling water, and was rewarded with the usual red-brown liquid. Brewed, the scent is mostly woody rooibos, with just a hint of sweet almond – almost like frangipani, or a freshly opened packet of amaretti biscuits.
To taste, this isn’t actually as thin and watery as I was expecting. The coffee flavour isn’t overpowering, but it’s definitely there. It’s obviously not like drinking a cup of coffee, but it’s not fake or weak either. I’m pretty hungry at the moment, so that’s perhaps influencing my comparison here, but it’s actually making me think of a coffee flavoured bakewell tart. Not that such a thing exists in reality, but if it did. Frangipani and pastry, with coffee flavoured glace icing. Oh yeah!
Sipdown! Finished this one off at work today. I’ve tried different steep times and temparatures, and varying the amount of leaf. I still don’t really like it, though…it’s just a bit chemically and over sweet for my tastes. I’m glad to have tried it, but there are definitely other grenadine flavoured teas I prefer.
I’m not sure about this one. Something I drank this morning made me feel a bit pukey, and this is, unfortunately, one of the suspects. The first thing that struck me is how much I dislike the smell of the dry leaf. It’s kind of chemically, very sweet, but with an edge of bitterness. The smell reminds me of some of the adagio flavoured blacks, not all of which I can stand.
Anyway, I’ve had two cups today, the first with milk and the second without. It smells much better brewed, but the base tea is pretty bitter even after only three minutes. Out of the two cups, I think I prefer the one with milk, as it seems to tone down the bitterness a touch. On the other hand, I could definitely taste the strawberry-syrup-like grenadine and the creamy, sweet vanilla a lot more clearly without.
I’ve only got a sample packet, but there are at least a couple of cups worth left. I think I’m going to have to experiment a bit before I finally get this right. The base tea is strong enough to take milk, but it does mute the flavour, so a little bit of fiddling around with the amount of leaf and the brew time might help to clarify things for me. At the moment, I can’t say I really like this, so my rating reflects that. A shame.
This blend is more herbal than Fairy Princess. The dry mix contains cornflowers, rose petals, blackberry leaves and what looks like lemongrass, as well as apple, hibi, rosehip, and orange. It smells distinctly more herbal, too. I gave it about 3.5 minutes in boiling water, and was rewarded with the normal dark red hibiscus colour.
According to the description, this one should taste very fruity, like a rocket blast, apparently. It doesn’t, really. There’s the normal over-tart, sour hibi-rosehip taste, but very little else reminds me of fruit. I can maybe find orange a tiny bit, if I’m really looking for it, but it’s not obvious. The main flavour, other than hibiscus, is more herbal than fruit. Rose comes through quite strongly, and something vaguely “green”, too. It’s not really a comfortable flavour combination. It’s not bad, though, and it’s certainly a more interesting fruit/herbal blend than some I’ve tried recently. I just wish it was a lot lighter on the hibiscus and rosehip – it would be so much better like that.
I really wanted to like this one, but it’s a bit of a miss for me. Looking at the dry mix, all I can really see are pieces of hibiscus, rosehip and apple. Consequently, all I can really taste are hibiscus and rosehip. Interesting, in a tea called strawberry kiwi. Saying that, I can taste strawberry a little, and the smell is right, so there must be some flavourings added here. Unfortunately, they’re just not powerful enough to stand against my nemesis hibi, and his sidekick rosehip. I’m not getting kiwi at all in the taste, and not really to speak of in the scent. Strawberry, yes, but only just. And that’s really all.
As fruit teas go, it’s no better or worse than the majority I’ve tried. I just wish it wasn’t called strawberry kiwi, because that had me hoping for a minute.
I tend to generally enjoy a flavoured oolong, but I’m not too keen on floral teas. I have, however, succesfully had teas with orange blossoms before and find them to be quite tolerable.
The dry leaves certainly smells like oranges. I suspect it’s not just orange blossoms, I suspect there is also some actual orange flavouring in here. It’s a very pungent smell. Almost perfume-y. And when I say perfume-y, I mean perfume-y as in sitting behind a woman on the bus who used the same perfume every day for so long that she no longer has any idea of how much perfume she’s actually wearing. (There’s a woman like that on the bus I take to work. I try to avoid sitting within two seats of her if I can. On a particularly bad day, it’s like I can almost taste it.)
Then, when I poured the tea, the strongest floral aroma wafted up from the cup. Very floral. Dusty and grey smelling and highly suspicious.
This lead me to study the ingredients list a little closer. True enough, it said ‘natural flavours’ so it’s definitely been just flavoured with orange. It also said ‘jasmine petals’.
I abhor jasmine flavoured teas! Why are there jasmine petals in something that’s supposed to be orange blossom? Why do the words ‘orange blossoms’ not even feature anywhere at all except for the name of the blend? It does not look like the picture and the description on the site even says it’s got orange blossoms in it. Now I’m sitting here with a cup that has managed to sorely disappoint me before I’ve even tasted it.
This is not at all an old tea in my collection, but it’s definitely going on the Consider-This-First shelf regardless, just so I can get rid of it quicker. Unless anybody wants it, in which case I’ve got somewhere between 20 and 25 grams, I think, and I will happily give it away.
Right, I’d better taste it.
It’s not actually as bad as feared right at first. At first I’m getting a strong orange flavour but none of the jasmine. The orange is so heavy that I can’t actually find much in the way of the base tea. I can only tell that it’s something rather more delicate than a black base, but I can’t say anything about the oolong used as such.
Just when I think it’s not actually going to be so abysmal, I swallow. And hello, jasmine! It doesn’t seem like it’s completely overwhelmed with jasmine, but for someone who dislikes the stuff even a little jasmine comes across as lots. Impossible to ignore it.
Yeah, I don’t like this tea at all.
Why is this stuff not sold as ‘Jasmine and orange oolong’? Because that’s what it is.
Seriously, Steepsterites. If anybody wants it, let me know. Husband is currently drinking the rest of my cup. I’m going to make something else.
(edited for grammar error)