Nothing But Tea
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Recent Tasting Notes
Since I’m going on holiday tomorrow I still need to do a multitude of checks and make sure my house is spotless for my kitties to play nicely in. I will only be gone three nights and my Aunty Ann is coming in to make sure the cats have food and water etc but leaving them always makes me panic. I know they will be fine and I also know I’m going to miss them so much.
When I return on Monday 29th April I will be doing a tea swap with Sil and this sample is one she wanted to try. So if I have one cup to quickly review I can then put it aside for her. :)
In raw form this tea is a lovely mixture of brown colours with quite large caramel pieces, it does look chocolatey. It also smells like chocolate mixed with butterscotch and caramel. Very sweet and very delicious, one of the best smelling dessert teas I have encountered.
It’s a long 10 minute steep but I have a feeling it’s going to be worth the wait. Once it is steeped this tea is brown in colour with a sweet and delicious chocolate treacle aroma.
This tea is sweet, dark, chocolatey, treacle like and full on flavour but the body is light (meaning it won’t make me feel heavy or bloated). You can taste the honeybush but more of it’s sweetness above anything else and I think the balance of flavours is perfect.
It tastes like a hot chocolate drink rather than a tea based drink. :) Also reminds a little of Oh Canada – Davids Tea due to it’s dark syrup like flavour.
Sil you are in for a treat :)
My last pot of tea before bed time. I’m going through a phase of waking up multiple times a night at the slightest sound and finding it hard to get back sleep. I bought this tea to help, usually anything lavender like knocks me out.
In raw form this blend is quite finely chopped and has a minty lavender scent. Mint and lavender is a little bit of an odd combination in my opinion but at the same time it seems to work.
Once steeped this tea is dark red in colour (reminds me of a dark rose wine) and has a minty somewhat herby aroma.
Mint with a lavender chaser and echoes of lemongrass with a herbal finish. No Rooibos flavour is present but it does carry a slight sweetness that you would associate with it. The strength is at the right level and all in all it’s quite mellow considering the amount of ingredients. It’s also clean and refreshing with no ickyness to speak of. My husband said it tastes like cough medicine and would be best suited as a winter night time drink.
Half way down my cup and it still tastes unusual and different but more and more in a positive way. Whether it’s psychological or not I have yawned whilst sipping this and I thought I was not that tired pre cup but know I should have been.
Overall it’s growing on me and is a sample I am happy to have bought when I really shouldn’t have. I would consider stocking this again but perhaps my husband is right…it seems like more of a winter/cold night tea.
Finally got around to a new review today. My husband just got home and needs warming up and I have been waiting to try this for a while so it was a good excuse to pull it out the cupboard. :)
In appearance I can see a good amount of both rose petals and almond slices amongst the black leaves. It really does have a very real marzipan scent, it’s amazing! Sweet, nutty, floral and a little fruity. I say fruity as it reminds both me and my husband of cherries (which is a little odd but nice).
Once steeped the tea soup is brown in colour with a sweet rose aroma with an undertone of rich earth.
The first few sips reveal a fresh and sweet rose flavour that is also a little creamy and nutty. There is also a strong earthy malt black tea taste that adds a little sourness when mixed with the sweet floral tones. Reminds me of Keemun (not sure if it is) mixed with rose petals that always has a sweet and sour affair very similar to this blend but this one is sweeter.
It does have a marzipan taste but in a thick way…sort of like more towards marzipan and thick rich fruit cake which tones it down. It’s nice and very similar to quite a few Keemun and rose blends I have had before but I think the sweetness in this is delicious and it really stands out. It still has a cherry thing about it too.
I have been finishing a few NBT samples today but have not logged anything due to a very bad hangover. I had too many glasses of wine last night during my Sons of Anarchy marathon. My bad…
I don’t think there is anything better for a hangover cure than tea. Back to wire wrapping some gemstone specimens :) Will blog a few new teas later when I feel up to it.
(Check my previous entry for my review).
My first pot of the day :) I feel a little better this morning, a tad groggy but the headache has subsided somewhat.
In raw form this tea has a sweet tangerine smell that reminds me of hard boiled sweets. In appearance you can see the Mao Feng and pieces of tangerine rind with large sunflower petals.
Once steeped this tea is orange in colour and bears a cinnamon and orange scent. The first few sips reveal a thick tangerine taste with floral highlights and spicy cinnamon undertones. It’s not as sweet as it’s raw scent but there is still a touch of it there, some may have to add extra sweetener. The tangerine tastes natural and there are no harsh flavours, everything flows rather well together. There is something creamy about it…vanilla but not noticeable in flavour just an aura of smooth creaminess.
Overall it’s very nice and a little different, a tangerine tea that is creamy, spicy and has depth despite it’s white tea base. A nice morning drink that would make a delicious iced tea. I would buy this again. :)
Since I awoke this morning I have had a thumping headache and a gurgley stomach and they have not stopped all day. I’m not one to take pills but it was so bad at work that I took a paracetamol with the hope of clearing my mind and to stop the throbbing thump thump thump.
Well it’s still bad but I think it’s manageable enough at this moment in time to write a quick review. Also I have some good news, some of you may remember me mentioning that my best friend had a brain scan and was told there was a tumour. Well it’s took a couple of months but her results came back today and the tumour is benign and for the time being there is no need to operate. It is however pressings down on a particular point and is causing her to have epileptic fits so she now has a bracelet being made. As far as good news goes that was one of the best scenario’s possible so I want to thank everyone for their well wishes and support. :)
In raw form this tea is very pretty and has a lot of colour and life amongst the leaves. I see more green tea than black but the instructions state to brew it at boiling so I will try that for my first cup. It bears a very strong bergamot and lemon (must be the cardamom) aroma. Very zingy and energizing.
The steeping times state 6 minutes but that seems a little excessive so I will try 5 minutes and see how strong that is first.
Once steeped the tea is Baltic Amber in colour with a fairy strong bergamot and spicy citrus aroma. The caramom and ginger are more noticeable now.
I can taste the: cardamom, ginger and bergamot in the first few sips. The citrus is the most noticeable flavour but it turns spicy quickly whilst remaining at a balance. In other words it’s not too citrusy or too spicy and both are roughly the same strength but the citrus only just beats it.. a sort of 60% citrus and 40% spicy mix.
As far as an Earl Grey goes I’m finding it hard to compare this to any other blend that I have tried. A spicy Earl Grey alone is something I am having a hard time to place. Plus the cardamom is very strong so it’s a bit like a cardamom Ear Grey which again is something I don’t recall trying before.
The more I drink the warmer I become and the spicier this blend becomes too. Overall it’s a nice twist on the lemon and ginger herbal classic. I can’t differentiate between the black or the green teas knowing they are blended together but if I tasted this blindly I would have said green purely because of it’s strong herbal qualities and orange colour.
I would happily try this again but it wouldn’t be something I would regularly buy.
My first try of this Thailand Oolong and lots more where it came from as I bought 100g bag of it. I’ve been drinking blends all day and I’m a little flavoured out and in need of something natural but warm. It’s freezing outside, more snow is due over this weekend. :( Coldest weather for March in over 50 years in the UK. It’s almost April and we have still not seen any sun.
The Oolong balls are large and a mixture if light and dark greens. Rather nice quality thankfully. :) Plus they have an earthen floral dark scent.
Steeping times are as instructed for my first steep
The tea forms a yellow colour with strong vegetal broccoli tones. Also a hint of flowers.
The first sips reveal a delicate, sweet, floral, broccoli tasting Oolong. Fresh and rich with just the right amount of buttery vegetable essence to make this delicious. There’s not an awful lot of dryness either which I’m really digging.
There is also a slight perfumey taste that has some sweetness with it but also a very green taste, more than broccoli… cabbage? peas? broad beans?
Overall it’s a very nice Oolong, quality and taste are good and it reminds me of something that I tried from Tea from Taiwan before. I got 100g but now I know I will have no problem in finishing this off in due time.
“If somebody made me a cup of tea, I might feel better…!”
Husband obliged. I think his reasons might have been threefold.
1. He would get a cup of tea out of it.
2. He wanted me to feel better.
3. Best to nip whining in the bud whenever possible.
“If a cat would come and sit on me, I might feel better…!”
Unfortunately Luna and Charm are less susceptible to this sort of thing.
Luckily we had had this tea in the morning so a resteep of the same leaves was a pretty simple thing to do. It’s a favourite of mine, and Husband has fallen for it as well. When I bought the current lot, he told me to make sure I ordered plenty of it.
And do you know what? It does actually appear to have calmed my unhappy tummy a bit. It’s not perfect, but it does feel a bit less meh.
Sipdown, 195. Cold brewed this one for approximately 8 hours.
This turned out pretty well; intensely floral, and sometimes maybe too much floral, but overall tasty. No astringency in the cold steep, as expected, although I would perhaps steep this one for less time on another cold brew so that it was a little less overpowering.
I am pretty sure I have tried Vietnamese tea before as I have vague memories of staying up late last year to watch Full Metal Jacket and drinking a pot of it. I searched my tasting notes but I have over 470 and I can’t find it amongst them or even remember where it would be from. I suppose that is something most people don’t know about me, I am very interested in the Vietnam war. I’m not saying that I agree with war at all but I am just drawn in to it like a moth to light.
My point from the above text is that even though I have tried Vietnamese tea I have no vivid recollection of flavours or smells so I will be going into this tasting session blind. I enjoy doing blind sessions sometimes because it’s the now knowing that makes it interesting.
In raw form this tea has a very earthy, musky, leather like aroma. Very potent and thick. The leaves are black/brown in appearance and have been chopped into small pieces with a few small stalk pieces amongst them. There are also dots of green and yellow leaves amongst the dark contrast. Everything I would expect so far from an Orange Pekoe (OP).
Once steeped this tea is burnt orange in colour with a malted, earthy, wooden and subtly sweet.
The tea tastes sweet, slightly citrus, earthy, woodsy and rich. The fist few sips start with a sweet velvety slight smokiness which progresses into a light wood that gets deeper and darker until you are left with a rich earthy after taste. It’s not particularly strong but it offers enough flavour to be pleasing.
It reminds me of a Keemun but with earthier tones or perhaps even a mil Yunnan. I don’t think it will be a regular purchase but I can certainly enjoy it whilst it’s on my shelf.
Back on track. Nearly. I’m actually writing this based on notes I made yesterday. Writing backlogs like this usually ends up in a big past tense/present tense messy muddle, but I’ll try and control myself. Pick a tense already and stick to it! Bear with me if I can’t.
This one was initially quite confusing to me. Usually the word ‘silver’ gets attached to white teas, so I had to check several times before my brain would accept that it really was a black one we had here. No clue where they get the silver from. It didn’t even taste silver. If anything it tasted more yellow. Bright sun-yellow.
But synesthesia aside, this tea took us into the mid-elevation part of the scale, grown at 600-1200 meters above the surface of the sea. It’s also the one grown furthest to the North of all my Ceylons so far. I wonder if that makes a difference?
The dry leaves didn’t have much in the way of aroma on their own. I had to try and breathe on them a bit before anything would come out, and then it was a sweet note of honey and a little bit floral as well. Nectar is really the first word that pops into my head with that combination.
After steeping there was much more aroma and the honey note was very strong, but I didn’t get so much of that floralness that I caught on the dry. Instead I got the impression that there might be a note of grain hiding under all this bee stuff.
At this point I can’t say I was particularly surprised to find a load of honey in the flavour. Actually, if I hadn’t known better I would have thought that this had actually been flavoured with honey. That’s how strong it was and how close to actual real honey I thought it was.
Here, we also got the floral notes and the grainy notes back again. At first I thought that it might have been two sides of the same coin, but I definitely thought I noticed both in the flavour, so I decided it was more likely that they were both there independently. Which sounds ridiculous, I know. Like the flavour is made up of random coincidences and various flavour molecules meeting up randomly. Anyway, there was definitely a bit of something floral under the honey and a smidge of grain under that as well.
Primarily, though, it was just very strongly honey. I had an Assam once which would do this when brewed Just So. It was highly enjoyable, but totally unreliable. It seemed like a complete stroke of luck when it went honey-y and I never could figure out what it was that made the difference, because I thought I made it in the exact same way every time. This Ceylon came out even more strongly honey than I remember that Assam doing and two steeps of it, both heavily honeyed, implies that it does so with much more consistency.
I found this one greatly enjoyable, although at this point in Project Ceylon I will have to say that Ceylon blacks generally don’t really seem to resteep well. That’s a shame, I think, now that Husband and I, in the Age of Frugality, have become so good at always steeping a tea twice before tossing the leaves. There is a great deal of guilt involved when not doing it with these… (I’ve been spoiled by Chinese blacks, haven’t I?)
I’ve never had this one before either, so I can’t tell if I agree with myself or not.
Reference map: http://goo.gl/maps/76sz4
Yet another from my swap with KittyLovesTea. Thanks!
I don’t know why I’ve been in a plain oolong/green tea mood lately, but that’s apparently what I’m in. This is actually a white tea, but it fits the pattern. It’s kind of a novelty, tied into little bow-shaped “butterflies”. They call for 10 butterflies per mug (whatever size a “mug” is) in the directions, but I ended up with close to 20 in my 12oz cup, which seemed about right. They definitely did not unfurl all the way in this first steep.
The steeped tea smells softly floral and a bit vegetal. Wow, the flavor is so light and sweet! I am really digging this tea. It has a chestnut note, yum, a soft floral note, which I love, and a light natural sweetness to round it out. I am usually kind of bored with white teas, but this one is lovely. It gets sweeter and nuttier as it cools. The second steep (upon which all the bows untied themselves) is I think slightly more floral, less sweet and less nutty, but still delicious with a great aftertaste as well. I was prepared to be unimpressed by this tea but it was just the opposite! Really quite delightful.
This sample comes to me from KittyLovesTea, thanks! This isn’t a tea I am familiar with and I had forgotten what it was, so I was surprised to see little flower buds and petals in with the dry leaf. Also, I’m happy to see it is a pouchong, which makes me more excited than if it was a green base.
I looked at KittyLovesTea’s note in the nick of time; she says she would brew it for two minutes instead of three, and I set up my timer for three but was able to pull it after only a bit more than two. It smells green and vegetal and a bit floral, but osmanthus has a certain kind of floral aroma that doesn’t really seem floral to me. I know that doesn’t make any sense, but it always seems more like something in the tea than an actual flower.
This tea is a conundrum. When you first take a sip its all sweet and floral and lovely, and then slowly, lurkingly, a light bitterness grows on your tongue, wiping out all the good flavors that were there to begin with, even with a 2 minute steep. It’s built in a way that seems to be a feature of the tea, not a flaw, so I am guessing there is someone out there that likes this combo. I may try cold-brewing the rest of my sample to see what the result is then.
Another which is technically mid-elevation, but just touching on the edge of high-grown. If high-grown is anything above 1200 meters, then we’ve got this one hovering in a grey area at 1000-1300 meters.
I had a very difficult time placing this one on the map, but with the help from Google I have become reasonably convinced that I’ve managed to find the correct area. According to the information I was able to find, Blackwood is actually the name of a section of Idulgashinna tea gardens, so I actually had to look for a completely different name. The difference here is in… umm… the name. I couldn’t find anything about whether we were talking about a large estate dedicating different sections to specific goals, or if it was something along the lines of several smaller gardens joining forces or what.
The dry leaf smells wood-y and a bit spicy, but otherwise it doesn’t really seem to have anything that stands out about it. There is a bit of sweetness in it, but not so much as to really warrant a comment.
This is interesting because after steeping it’s quite berry-y and sweet, but with a strong body of leather-y almost-smoke. This is very unexpected! I’m beginning to think I generally just have a somewhat skewed impression of the high-grown teas, because so far I’ve only had one that really came across that way. I thought I’d get something more floral and light, and certainly not something that tries to have me believe that it’s smoky. It definitely feels more mid-elevation than high.
There is quite a lot of berry in the flavour as well. So much that I could have been persuaded that I was actually dealing with a flavoured tea. It’s sort of a mixture between blackberries and raspberries with maybe a bit of blackcurrants as well. A great big fruity note which pulls out into a creamy feeling tail. How lovely!
Underneath that, and towards the end of the sip I get the leather-y base with a slight astringency to it, but not very much. There isn’t any of that smoke that the aroma almost promised me, unfortunately, because I should have liked to have seen how that would play with the berries. Ever since Auggy shared a citrus-flavoured lapsang souchong blend with me, I’ve been wishing for a red berry-flavoured lapsang souchong blend. Or just generally more flavoured LS blends, but especially the red berries. I should get me some good Four Red Fruits and try it myself. Anyway, I would have liked to have seen how these berries and the smoky note had played together but if I’m to be completely honest, I think I like this particular tea better for it not being there. I feel like I’ve missed an opportunity, but at the same time I’m not sure this would have been the proper place for it.
I haven’t had this one before, so I couldn’t tell you whether I agree with myself or not. I do, however, find this one greatly enjoyable.
This one is a high grown tea, from about 1500-1800 meters in elevation. It’s not quite as high as the Nuwara Eliya, though, so I’m expecting there to be some difference.
The aroma of the leaves (have you noticed how good I’ve been at remembering this?) is mostly fruit-y and raisin-y but with a great deal of wood-y, slightly spicy notes in as well. Once brewed, the tea retains this fruity note, although it is now the least prominent one. The wood-y, spicy aspects have taken over here, along with a note that very nearly, but not quite come across as caramel. It’s the shadow of caramel, but not the real deal by any definition of the word.
At first when I sip, I get the sensation of hot water. It has a bit of a fruity tinge to it, akin to the apple and pear mixture from before, but it’s faint. Then, after a short moment, a somewhat astringent but rather grain-y and wood-y note shows up underneath, followed immediately by something that strikes me most of all as floral. This is peculiar because floral notes are almost always top notes for me, so it’s funny to find one that somehow manages to sit near the bottom.
As the tea cools and develops a bit, the whole thing gains some maltyness which sort of covers every layer and becomes the primary note. I believe that this would be the grain-y note from before taking over.
There is still a moderate astringency here, though, a little bit too much for me to find it totally enjoyable. I should have liked it better had it been a bit smoother.
This strikes me as rather different from the other high-grown tea I’ve tried so far. The Nuwara Eliya seemed much more fresh and spring-y and somehow green-ish, where this one leans more towards the mid-elevation tea I’ve had, which was the Ratnapura grown at 900-1200 meters. Flavourwise the Dimbula seems to fall right in the middle between the two, but bizarrely I find I enjoy it less than either of those. I believe it’s the far more pronounced astringency at play here, which is really detracting for me.
I had this one three years ago as well, but I wasn’t apparently in much of a frame of mind to really try to analyse it at the time. I agree with myself about a fruity aspect, although Then-Me thought it was more berry-ish. I wasn’t super impressed with it at the time, though, and thought it best for those times when tea is needed but exquisite flavour and complexity is not necessary. I gave it 73 points then, and have decided to take that down a few notches.
(Or ‘erotic cider’ as Husband was sure I said earlier this morning. O.o)
Now here we have a low-grown. I’ve been quite looking forward to this one, based almost entirely on the name. It’s a good name! It’s fun to say. :D
The leaves smell quite sweet and fruity, reminding me of raisins along with some slight notes of wood and leather. The aroma after brewing is surprisingly sweet and reminds me of honey with a little malty notes underneath. There is a touch of leather-y undertones to it, but not much. It really smells very thich and smooth this.
At first there is a flavour of honey and especially caramel, then a bit of grain and a smooth and slightly creamy finish. Unlike the other two Ceylons, this one doesn’t seem to have any astringency at all. Not even a little bit. I would have liked for the grain element to have been a little larger, to give it a little more volume because as it is, it’s coming over as quite delicate.
After it has cooled and developed a bit the aftertaste turns rather grassy, which feels a bit like the tea gets a second wind. It wasn’t there in the beginning. There was only the impression of the ‘something smooth and slightly creamy’, but now I’m getting a distinctly grassy note.
The leather-y, wood-y flavours that the two previous Ceylons exhibited seem to be completely missing in this one. There is a little bit of it in the aroma, but nothing in the flavour that I can find. This makes it feel almost like it’s from a completely different region. It’s very different from the two others.
I’m having a tough time rating this one because I’m primarily comparing it mentally with the Kenilworth which I gave 80 points. I like Ratnapura better because of the sweet, caramelly qualities, but I like Kenilworth better because it’s a fuller, more voluminous flavour all over.
According to my hypothesis, I would prefer Ratnapura over Kenilworth because Ratnapura is a low grown tea where Kenilworth is mid-elevation. This is the dangers of having a hypothesis in the first place. It’s trying very hard to influence my here, so in order to be as honest as possible about my rating, I’m forced to think very hard about it, and I believe I’ve arrived at the right choice. Even if it does go ever so slightly against my hypothesis. (On the other hand, my statistical base is very very small here. Way too small to say anything final.)
Now, this is one that I had before three years ago, and back then I seem to have made an extraordinarily strong cup. Must have overdone it rather on the leaf, I think. I am, however, very pleased with how much I’m agreeing with myself. Right down to the EXACT number of points I had decided on! That’s just… uncanny! (Note, I don’t look at previous posts or ratings of these before after having written about the current cup. I don’t write the post directly in Steepster for these, so I don’t even look the tea up until I’m ready to write this paragraph. Doing so would be cheating.)
Next up, again chosen according to product number. I suspect this is really the easiest way to do it. No dithering about what to do next. Anyway, this one is high grown, and from more or less right in the middle of the highlands.
I can tell a huge difference already in the dry leaf when compared to the mid-elevation Kenilworth from yesterday. This one is sharper and brighter, quite grassy but also with a brief smidge of something leather-y and wood-y underneath. This is well hidden, though. It smells like a summer-y tea.
I’m not actually getting much aroma from the brewed cup, though, but what I am getting is giving me an impression of a smoothed out version of the dry leaf aroma.
That sharpish grassy note rather concerned me, because it’s the very thing that makes me not very fond of Darjeeling, but luckily, the tea doesn’t actually turn out to be all that Darjeeling-y. There is a Darj-esque grassy note, yes, but it doesn’t have the same sort of sour quality that I seem to find in Darjeelings. It’s more tolerable here, because it doesn’t give me that long, sour aftertaste. It has quite a floral top note as well, but not overwhelmingly so.
Underneath all that, we’re back with the wood-y, leather-y sorts of flavours. They’re light and sort of spring-y (boing!) feeling compared to the heavy darkness of yesterday’s Kenilworth. This feels more like a ladies’ tea. If we recycle the business man’s study from yesterday, this would be the sort of tea the wives would be drinking while thinking up ways to back-stab each other so as to further their own social standing.
I haven’t had this one before, it seems, so I can’t tell you whether I agree with myself on it. I find it pleasant, but if given the choice I would prefer the mid-elevation Kenilworth.
Fair warning. This post is going to have a really long intro, so I’ll sum it up quickly for those who can’t be bothered to read all that and want to skip straight to the actual tea: I aten’t ded! Husband once again employed. Been stocking up on a favourite. Project Ceylon and the thought behind it. Was that short enough?
Steepsterites, I have neglected you. It’s been more than twenty days since last I posted anything, so here I am. I aten’t ded.
What I AM is extraordinarily pleased with Husband who has achieved gainful employment, starting in a couple of weeks, and has thereby put an end to the Age of Frugality. This, ladies and gentlemen, is now NOT the Age of Frivolity, but rather the Age of Controlled Frivolity because… Yeah, we’ve been trying to minimise all non-essential spending for nearly half a year now, and it would be far too easy to go overboard. (The Age of Frugality will probably resume in a year or so, though, although for rather different reasons. Next item on the agenda, saving up!)
Suddenly free to once again stock up on old and missed favourites, I have acquired a 250g bag of the orange flavoured pu erh from Nothing But Tea. We luuuuurve that one. That was the only item on the shopping list from that company so I allowed myself some samples, and these are what I’m going to tell you about. I got a sample of every one of their Ceylon blacks, except Uva Highlands because I’ve already got some of that.
Steepsterites, I present to you Project Ceylon!
My thought process went as follows.
1. I have never truly explored this region. I’ve had plenty of different Ceylon teas, but I’ve never really bothered to learn the region.
2. Ceylon tea in general is something that frequently seems to be Just Tea for me. Default tea flavour. I suspect I lot of sub-standard teabags and flavoured teas are to blame for this sort of thinking, and I refuse to believe that there isn’t more to it than meets the eye. Or tongue. I suppose.
3. Having two vastly different Ceylon teas in my possession at the moment, one which is GREAT and the other which is meh, confirms this.
4. Ceylon teas are often named only for the estate, making it a rather more difficult to know which end of the spectrum I’ve got without a bit of investigation. And even those that are named for the district aren’t much better due to my complete lack of a grasp on Sri Lankan geography.
5. Also, Sri Lanka produces tea in just about all varieties of altitude, which therefore means that when learning the region, one must pay close attention to whether something is high-grown, low-grown or mid-elevation.
6. Behold! The Map! https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=211803378882467968316.0004d6ff92c6d663176b9 All markers are placed at what I think is sort of the general area. I can’t sit here and chase down the precise addresses for every single estate. They are also not fully annotated yet, but it’s a work in progress, really.
My hypothesis is this. Angrboda enjoys low grown Ceylon teas more than high grown ditto.
Having made all the preparations that I can think of here, I think there’s only left for me to actually drink some tea. I have had most of these before a few years ago, so it will be interesting to see if my opinion (and rating) has changed in the meantime.
THIS IS WHERE I ACTUALLY MADE THE TEA!
I started with Kenilworth for no other reason than it had the lowest product number. I figure one place is as good a place to begin as another, yes? It’s one of the most famous Sri Lankan estates and located at mid-elevation, about 900-1200 m.
The dry leaf smells mostly of leather and wood. Very male. There is a bit of spice as well, but mostly the two others. It reminds me rather of some sort of old fashioned posh male study, with dark wood furniture and library shelves and what have you. A box of cigars in the desk drawer and a crystal decanter of whisky on a side table. Where rich businessmen go to talk shop and their wives occasionally join them for cocktails and a smidge of intrigue.
After steeping, the aroma is more or less unchanged, although it is now considerably richer and smells smoother. There is a dark sort of creamy and slightly caramel-y note to it.
This tea reminds me a great deal of Keemun. It has notes of wood, grain (although not thick-feeling like Keemun) and malt. I’m reminded that we’re not actually having a Chinese black here by a slightly astringent, although with a surprising amount of something that I can only describe as pseudo-smoky. That takes my brain straight back to the Keemun comparison.
At first there is a big hole in the flavour though. I think it’s that grain that is merely hinted at, as well as the malt element which could have been stronger. While there is plenty of flavour in this, I still feel it could have been fuller. I’ve got the lower notes (wood and leather) and the higher notes (pseudo-smoke), but there isn’t really enough of the middle notes (grain and malt) to fill the gap between them. Oh it tries! It does. But it’s just not quite there.
As it cools a bit, the flavour develops further, and now we’re talking! The lower notes become far more subtle and the grainy, malty middle notes really unfold. As if they somehow exhaled and relaxed and freely flowed into all those thin-tasting gaps from before. This keeps the low and high notes from being quite so prominent and that really suits the cup.
Cooling a little further, it develops a grassy sort of note that reminds me of Darjeeling and the impression I have so far gained of the high-grown Ceylons. It is on the higher end of the mid-elevation, so that fits with my impression so far. Seems like a useful characteristic to have noticed.
Having written all this, I went and looked at what I wrote about it three years ago. I gave it 80 points then, and I have decided to let this rating stand. Analysis-wide, I don’t really agree with myself, but I don’t actually disagree with myself either. Mostly, I think I can just say that I’ve learned a lot in the last three years.
I brewed with a well-heaped teaspoon steeped for two and a half minutes, boiling water.
It made a clear, medium intensity (I could see to the bottom of the mug), slightly orange, brown infusion with a hint of yellow-green round the surface circumference.
It doesn’t have much aroma. It’s slightly doughy. It also smells ‘wet’. I’m really struggling to explain that: I don’t know if I’m thinking of washing clothes, or of a bath or shower running – it’s making me think of something hot and wet that I just can’t pin down.
In the mouth there’s a satisfying richness – lots of old-fashioned, basic tea flavour. Actually, the basic tea may be just edging towards being a little harsh – as if it’s been steeped too long and got a little stale. I’m really not getting any other flavour notes – even tiny hints.
I made a second infusion, same way.
Strangely, the colour seemed just a little stronger (though I did go a little over the two and a half minutes – say two and three-quarters – another blasted cold-caller – may their socks rot!)
The aroma is just the same as from the first infusion.
In the mouth it no longer has that hint of harshness. This basic tea flavour is a little less and there’s a touch of rather metallic grassiness. There is also a tiny hint reminiscent of the smell of a live fish. I don’t mean the smell you get at the fishmonger or from a piece of fish in your kitchen – not really a ‘fishy’ smell – I mean something quite different. Anyone who’s ever handled a live koi or similar will know what I mean. I suppose I mean the smell of their slime but that’s really not as horrid as it sounds. Having said that, it’s not in any way an enhancement when you find it in the flavour of a tea.
And having said all that, this is really not a dislikable tea. On the other hand, I don’t particularly like it, either – just a so-so cup of tea with nothing standout about it either way.
I’ve made a brew with a well-heaped teaspoon steeped for two and a half minutes in water that had been left to cool for three minutes after the boil.
The colour and clarity is pretty much the same as with yesterday’s brew.
There is still not much of an aroma. This time, though, I’m getting hints of biscuit and vanilla – it reminds me a little of those ‘custard cream’ biscuits.
There’s not a lot of flavour. There is a hint of rather metallic grassiness and not a lot of basic tea; but what basic tea it has is just a little harsh, as if it’s been steeped too long and gone a little stale (as with yesterday’s first infusion). I’m not detecting any other flavour notes.
I made a second infusion, water three minutes off the boil; but I missed the steep time and it was steeped for three and a quarter minutes.
I didn’t look any weaker; but there was definitely less flavour and aroma than with the first infusion. It was rather bland, really.
I’m not sure what to think of all this. The website writes of it so glowingly that I’m wondering if I’m getting the brewing wrong. I only had a small sample, though, so I’m not in a position to experiment.
I’ve been enjoying this very much with two-minute infusions (I did buy a proper quantity, as I threatened in the earlier note). It’s a really excellent oolong: but I decided, just for curiosity, to try a brew with three-minute infusions.
First, an attempt I made yesterday, with a well-heaped teaspoon and water several minutes off the boil.
In the nose I’m not getting a lot. There’s a hint of that smell of ironing shirts and, perhaps, a faint hint of aromatic herbs which I can’t narrow down any further – just generally in the rosemary-thyme-sage area. This latter note is stronger as the tea is cooling and the level falling. Also, as it cools, I’m starting to get that tiniest hint of chocolate.
In the mouth there’s a slight earthiness to it. There is a hint of high cocoa mass chocolate. There’s a slight bite to it, something like aromatic herbs but not quite – this gets just a fraction bitter in the lingering aftertaste – something like when you find yourself chewing on a well-cooked piece of rosemary needle in your food. Actually, this bitterness has disappeared – whether as the tea is cooling or as my taste-buds are getting used to it I don’t know. As I’m getting to the bottom of the cup and the tea is much cooler, the chocolate is a lot more noticeable – a proper note in the flavour, now – and there may be, just on the very edge of my tasting, the faintest hint of liquorice.
Overall, this seems somewhat blander than in my regular brews – which seems a bit odd as it’s been infused a minute longer. I really can’t understand that. Perhaps I let the water get too cool?
I forgot what I was doing and poured boiling water on the second infusion – so that’s buggered this tasting.
Now for today’s note:
Okay, I’m having another go – three minutes with water several minutes off the boil, again.
It’s a clear, medium-intensity (I can see the bottom of the mug), reddish brown brew – nearer the brown, really. There was a lot of tea still floating when I took out the infuser.
In the nose I get a slightly musty earthiness with hints of green vegetation and dark chocolate.
Sipping it, I’m not getting a lot of flavour. It’s a mild balance of chocolate and good garden soil, often in the aftertaste more than in the immediate sip. I’m not getting the aromatic herbs. The flavour doesn’t seem to live up to the promise of the nose. The basic tea flavour doesn’t seem very noticeable, either.
It seems rather odd that a three-minute steep should strike me as blander than a two-minute one – don’t know what to think of that.
When it’s cooled down there is just the smallest hint of aromatic spices in the flavour, but nothing I can pin down more precisely.
I made a second infusion, same way.
This was less intense in colour and weaker in smell and flavour. There was a little more flavour as it got cooler; but it was really rather watery.
This quite bemuses me. I know it to be an excellent tea with two-minute steeps; so, I’m quite at a loss as to how it should be so disappointing with three-minute steeps. Three minutes is not an experiment I’m going to try again.
Thanks to a friend I remembered that I had some unusual handmade white teas on my shelf from Nothing But Tea. In their white tea Jade range they have various shapes (ring, lilly, spiral, bamboo) and then they also have butterfly. It’s not your typical butterfly shape (nothing like you would draw if asked) but they are cute to look at.
Pale green and slightly furry to touch with a slight floral scent, these little butterflies are a wonderful little novelty. To think that these have each been hand tied for my enjoyment is rather thrilling.
10 Butterflies are needed per cup with multiple re steeping encouraged. I will be using my small Gongfu for this which equals a nice cups worth of tea. Also just to note the leaflet states this tea is to be steeped at 70°C for 3 minutes.
Once steeped the tea is a very pale yellow colour with a gentle sweet floral scent.
The flavour is also very subtle with the same sweet floralness as the smell. So far it’s reminding me a little of Silver Needle tea. Slightly nutty and dry but the sweet floweriness almost like Peony but not as strong is the strongest feature. It’s very fresh tasting and easy to drink.
Lets try another steep of 7 minutes. The tea has fully expanded now during the steeping process and most have untied themselves from their pretty form to be long and thin.
Very much the same as the first steep put perhaps a little sweeter. The colour is very similar to the first steep but the scent is more floral.
It was a nice novelty of trying this white tea for not only it’s subtle sweet taste but also it’s aesthetics. Being hand tied and created makes it seem even more special which in turn made me special for drinking it. It may be something I try myself in the very near future.