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Recent Tasting Notes
Hurrah! My second Tea Palace order arrived today, containing four new black teas none of which are already in the database. Typical. I’ll add them… later. Also, Steam now have a family sharing feature which gives me access to all the games that Husband has bought and vice versa, meaning that I have today discovered Terraria. Four hours have gone into that particular time-sink already… So let us celebrate with another post from the queue, and what better way to celebrate the arrival of a TP order than by posting about the last tea from the first TP order?
My last tea from the TP order.
This one is… It smells strongly of peppermint. What was I thinking??? Is it possible that I was simply seduced by all the pretty blue flowers? Yes, yes it is. It has Yunnan tea, peppermint and these blue flowers and that’s it. So what in the world possessed me to put the sample tin in my basket? Granted I’ve been more inclined to think favourably of a peppermint tea lately than I was just a year ago, but even so. It’s hardly a must-have sort of thing for me.
Oh well, perhaps I’ll be wiser once I’ve tasted it. As mentioned the aroma is very sweet and minty and the blend has pretty blue flowers. I’m not picking any note up from the base of it, though.
The taste comes across as an anonymous black tea with a lot of peppermint at first. It’s really very sweet with the mint here, and I’m only vaguely getting Yunnan-y hints from the base. The sense of the smell of hay and earth and ‘thickness’. But not the actual smell or taste of it.
Call me strange, but this is actually a sizable plus in my book.
I still can’t imagine why I bought this in the first place, but obviously I should trust my instincts in these matters.
(I checked the order confirmation and I did order it. It’s not another mistaken inclusion like the hong mao feng/mao feng confusion)
Oooh I did an Ang™ on this one. Veeeeeery full cup. Yay surface tension. My small china pot fits these mugs exactly and knowing this, sometimes I become rather more focused on emptying the pot than the fullness of the mug. Resulting in… well, you can guess.
Anyway, here’s another one from my recent Tea Palace order, and it’s one that I’ve been looking forward to trying. The name of it rather appeals to me for some reason that I can’t really explain. Also the description says it has notes of caramel, and we all know what the c-word does to me.
It doesn’t say anything about where in China this was grown, but it smells like it may have been Yunnan. Which means that the both of the unflavoured black teas I bought from TP come from my least favourite tea-producing part of China. I wonder if I should be concerned about this? It does smell Yunnan-y, though with the strong aroma and the prominent hay-like notes. It smells very malty as well, which isn’t something that I can remember if it’s a characteristic of Yunnan as well, but my subconscious says ‘yes, that’s Yunnan.’
I may actually have to write to Tea Palace and have this cleared up…
Ooh this is quite full flavoured, but not the mouthful of hay that I was beginning to expect. It is indeed quite sweet, and I can see where they get there caramel notes from. Personally I think they’re more malty than caramel, but it’s still that same sort of ‘family’.
It’s the sort of dark, full flavour where I would expect to find a lot of grain-y notes, but there aren’t really too many of those. It’s just all… smooth and slippery. Rather earthy, actually. As it cools it starts to remind me very much of a quite mild pu-erh, reinforcing my Yunnan theory further. I am 99% certain it’s a Yunnan tea, this.
It’s quite nice, but rather more of a mouthful than I had anticipated. I think the sample tin is enough for me, as I suspect this is going to be a special occasions sort of tea for when serious flavour and pick me up is needed.
This one was sent my way from Angrboda.
The steeped tea smells strongly of berries. The taste is more subtle, with the berries clearly there, but not overwhelming the tea base. The tea base also complements well. I’m not generally a fan of berry amalgamations, though I love berries individually, but this tea is quite delightful.
In other news, the flights to home/Jamaica are officially booked! I couldn’t rearrange my psych presentation, but that only means I’m back one day early. YAY. But I’m finding it difficult to be excited because the amount of work I need to get done in the next three weeks is seriously overwhelming. I should probably just install an intravenous caffeine drip.
This is also from my recent Tea Palace order. I have to admit that while I am very attracted to berry flavoured things, I may or may not have purchased this one primarily for the tin. Look at the picture! Isn’t that just lovely? The other tins from Tea Palace or purple. Attractive as well, but this one is just lovely. (I think Husband finds it (the tin) fairly awful, but then again, he’s not a girl so what does he know?)
The tea itself, I’m pleased to report is also rather lovely. It smells strongly of berries, strawberries especially, both in the leaf and after steeping. It has that juicy note that reminds me of warm strawberry jam.
The flavour is the same as well. Strongly berry-ed and juicy, but not only strawberry here. I can pick up a hint of raspberry as well, but not really any black currant. Still it’s primarily a strawberry tea, which one might have guessed from the tin.
I find it aptly named. I can’t help feeling slightly posh when I drink it. Very lovely, this.
Another from my recent TP order.
I expect if I told you that I had made an order and NOT bought any of this, half of you would probably have been ready to call an ambulance for me or something.
And I must say, it smells heavenly! All sweet and vanilla-y and awesome. It doesn’t have the punch and strong caramel-y notes that my favourite from Fru P does, but it’s still pretty good. Mind you, I think the Fru P blend is a wee bit on the pungent side aroma-wise, so if I end up having a cup that tastes like Fru P’s and smells like this one does, then there it is. The Perfect Vanilla Black.
Hm. It’s quite a harsh flavour just at first. I’m not certain exactly how vanilla can be harsh at all, but that was my immediate thought when I tried to think of a word to describe it. Then after that very initial harshness it blooms into full on vanilla. Again it’s not as strongly flavoured as Fru P, though, so I’m afraid it’s not really coming up to Perfect standard.
Still quite good though, and it gets more vanilla-y when slurped and when it cools a bit. It has quite a caramel-y aftertaste to it as well.
It’s lovely, this, absolutely lovely, but I still prefer Fru P, which is probably best as I can get that in town.
Here’s another one from my recent Tea Palace order. My first order from them, but certainly not my last!
However… Hong Mao Feng?
As we know it’s so called because they use the buds and they curl up in the same way that mao feng green tea does, but hong mao feng is a black tea.
So when I get a tin of large curly leaves, many of which are sort of silvery and/or dark green and which smells distinctly floral, I get a little bit concerned. Especially when I know that the shop actually also carries mao feng green.
I decided to put my trust in TP, however, and brew it like I would any other black tea. This gave me a light yellow cup with almost no aroma at all. What is there is sort of peach-y. A very delicate mineral flavour with touches of grass and a warning hint of bitterness when swallowed.
A far cry from the description of a smooth yet robust flavour and typical Keemun full-bodied taste.
I think, by accident, they’ve sent me a tin of mao feng green, mislabeled as hong mao feng. I shouldn’t have sprung for the large tin what with it being a limited edition product and all then.
It seems drinkable enough, though, so I can’t be bothered to start making too much of a fuss about something that was probably an honest mistake. I can easily see how it could have happened with the similarity of the names. I’ve emailed the company and asked if I should return it. They didn’t want it back, so I’ll just drink it, but they are going to send me a replacement. I had an email reply only a couple of hours after I sent mine in.
(On the bright side, if I’m correct that it’s mao feng green, I’ve actually received a much more expensive product than I’ve paid for. Shame I’m not more into green tea then!)
It is now a few days later, and Tea Palace have sent me a replacement and a profuse apology. They didn’t want the mistake tea back, so I’ve got a big tin of that as well. From my corrospondence with them I sort of got the impression that I’m correct in having received the mao feng green the first time, so that’s what I’ve decided that is.
Now this is more like it. I could tell as soon as I saw the leaves, and it also brews up nice and dark. No nasty surprises here. It does indeed smell grainy and keemun-y too. Imagine that. Keemun that isn’t keemun!
It’s a good strong tea, this. It has a strong cocoa-y note at first and then all the grain-y notes underneath. There’s malty sweet notes in here as well, which in combination with the cocoa notes make it a rather sweet cup.
It doesn’t have keemun’s natural almost-smoky flavour, though, but I’m fine with that. It’s a very good cup of tea, this, and I’m glad I a) sprang for the 100g tin and b) decided to make a fuss about the green tea mistake after all.
From the queue. To my vast surprise it has transpired that Dinosara actually shared some of this with me two years ago, thereby being my actual real introduction to Tea Palace. It was Scheherazade, however, who sent me something that actually made me look the shop up, so I’ll continue to consider her my gateway to TP. I’m going to post my queue post anyway, even though I’ve had this before, because I went at it like it was completely new to me and… well, I’ve already written it. It’d be silly to waste all those key strokes, wouldn’t it? Seems I largely agree with myself, but I’ve nudged the rating upwards a bit. It was at 83 points before.
Another one from my TP order. I can’t just now remember what is in this blend, but I’m willing to wager that it’s something with vanilla or caramel or both. In fact I’m willing to wager rather a lot. Any takers?
It definitely smells vanilla-y. That’s all I can pick up, really. You could have told me that this was plain vanilla flavoured and from the aroma, I would have believed you.
The flavour is quite lovely. The base tastes a lot like the base for the vanilla toffee treat, with some generic Chinese and some high-grownish tasting Ceylon. And then there’s vanilla again. Unfortunately it has the same sort of slightly disjointed feel to it that the vanilla toffee treat had, where I can pick up both, but they don’t really mesh properly. It doesn’t taste balanced.
As it cools, however, it becomes a lot better. It’s quite vanilla-y now, but I can’t for the life of me work out what else must be in it. There must be something in it that distinguishes it from the plain vanilla flavoured black that they sell, and I can’t really imagine that the only difference is the presence of yellow flowers in this one. Particularly when one knows that these flowers tend to impart little to no flavour at all. From what I understand they are more of a texture thing.
So what’s in here that makes this blend different from just a vanilla flavoured tea? Can it be the base? I’m getting a slightly smoky, grainy note from it now and it’s reminding me strongly of keemun. Could the Chinese part of the base be a keemun? That sounds likely.
I think there’s something else in here as well. Caramel? Could it have both vanilla and caramel? In that case, then what sets it about from the vanilla toffee treat? There’s definitely a caramel-y note here, but that could also just as easily have come from the vanilla. Perhaps the difference really lies in the type of vanilla used? The other vanilla flavoured black that Tea Palace carries is a Madagascan bourbon vanilla. Perhaps this is a different type of vanille?
Or am I just descending into pure guesswork? I think it’s time to look the blend up now.
Okay, so it’s definitely vanilla! I win! What have I won, what did you all wager?
The bit about different types of vanilla was not hte difference, though. My previous guess that it had something to do with the base was correct, though. The description says a blend of the finest single estate teas, but not which ones or the country of origin. I expect many of the high quality Chinese teas that we get are probably single estate as well, or close to it, but there doesn’t seem to be as much emphasis on this when it comes to Chinese teas as there is with Indian and Ceylon teas. Therefore whenever I see ‘single estate’, I think India or Ceylon, not China. Perhaps the keemun-y notes were actually something low-grown. I’ve had a low-grown Ceylon (Galle, I believe) which had a flavour similiar to a standard keemun.
It’s a lovely blend this one. I’m glad I got some of it.
Drank a cup black this afternoon. The caramel and sweet apple flavours seem to come out better black than they do with milk, and the base seems less prominent. I might try adding a small piece of crystal sugar next time, but I think I’ve discovered a new favourite way to drink this. A tasty treat, as ever.
Oooooh am I ever a sucker for things with words like toffee in them! And when it also has vanilla in it, I’m just about ready to swoon before I’ve even got the leaf in hand.
This was my first order from Tea Palace and it came about via a swap with Scheherazade who introduced me to the company and made me aware that it was well within my reach. I’m so glad that happened because they have a large selection and I spent a lot of money. Everything I bought, I received in tins. Six samples (of 40g each!) in their own little tins with Tea Palace logo on the tin and the lid and a removable sticker with the name of the tea. And when I say removable I mean removable. Not those irritating paper stickers that come off in bits and leave a lot of glue behind (although I have recently been told of a tip to remove those effectively by warming them up with a hair dryer to soften the glue. Haven’t tested it yet). Also three other things that I got in 100g tins. You could get either a tin with a bag in it or just the refill bag, but the option with the tin was only a couple of pounds more, so I opted for the tin. I’m glad I did! I really like these tins, they’re very attractive. And the Queen of Berries blend is in a specially designed tin with green leaves and red berries on it. On the whole I’m getting a rather luxurious vibe from this which I find entirely in line with the name of the company.
I’m very impressed and I haven’t even tasted any of them yet (except the one that Scheherazade shared with me previously). Seriously, it’s been a long time since I’ve received a parcel and immediately gone WOW! at the presentation of the product. It made my day! I’m really looking forward to trying some of these on my own and with Husband.
So, first up is vanilla toffee treat. Basically I just got some of just about every vanilla-y black tea that I came across on the site, really. The only reason I didn’t do the same with every caramel one I could find was that the smooth caramel was sold out. That is to say, I think it was at the time when I ordered it because otherwise I can’t think what held me back. So either it was sold out or I wasn’t looking properly. Whichever one you think is more likely.
This particular one is a tea that I’m hoping will give me the same sort of experience that I got with the toffee flavoured black from Les Palais des Thes, which was something along the line of drinking liquid fudge. It was so awesome. Aroma-wise this one definitely delivers on that front again. It smells like a sweetie shop of caramel and vanilla and sugar. The smell alone is worth at least 95 points here!
To my delight I can actually find the base blend here. There’s Ceylon in it which I think is why I can find it. I’ve had a fair bit of high-grown Ceylon lately. There are some grassy hints here so a fairly high-grown one too, I think. The rest of the base is an unspecified Chinese black, and I’ve found that whenever a flavoured tea uses a Chinese base, then I can never really work out what I think it is. I would dearly love to one day be allowed to taste such a base blend on its own as a sort of control. (Or is that a work-related wish, when we have positive controls along side a large amount of patient specimins to ensure a correct procedure?)
The flavouring strikes me as rather subtle. It’s not a mouthful of toffee and vanilla which judging by the aroma I must admit I had rather been hoping. It is there, though, especially as it cools, but it sort of hovers above the flavour of the base and it feels like it never really unfolds properly.
If you are a person who likes sweetener in your tea then it’s possible that you can coerce it a bit, but I’m a person who strongly dislikes sweetener (apart, obviously, from the flavouring) so I’m not going to attempt any such thing. I don’t like the way the sweetener interacts with the tea. For me it only enhances astringency.
As it cools a little more it develops a rather nutty sort of flavour which I’m also quite enjoying, but it loses more and more of the caramel-y and vanilla-y notes, so that’s a bit of a shame.
All in all, though, I’m quite pleased with this and will greatly enjoy emptying the tin, even though the flavour couldn’t quite live up to the aroma.
One cup of this today. I forgot about it while I answered the phone, so it was relatively bitter by the time I fished the leaves out. Not terribly so, but…you know. I promptly returned to Mariage Freres Earl Grey French Blue. It’s more forgiving of my sluggish back-to-work brain. Maybe next week I can go back to green teas.
This is one I absolutely would have bought for myself based on scent alone – it has a caramel-sweet (without being cloying) apple compotey (without being artificial) roundness to it, which is very comforting all on its own. The dry tea itself is quite nice, too, full of large pieces of dried apple.
Steeped, the scent morphs into a brown sugar/calvados cake I sometimes make with my own apples in autumn. The caramel element really kicks in here, and it smells like sweet, gorgeous, baking pie crust. It would have been absolutely lethal if the slight booziness and the pastry scents carried through into the flavour, but they remain elusive throughout the sip.
This is all very ambiguous – I either want to like this a little more than I do, because the scent profile is so appealing, or I want to like it a little less than I do, because it’s not readily available to me. But I’m at a loss – I hate when I outfox myself.
What I do know, though, is that I wish this were a green tea. The base tea doesn’t really get to shine in this blend anyway, and the flavour profile as a whole seems so much better adapted to a green tea base.
Thanks for sharing, whoever put this in!
[Sample from the EU Travelling Box, autumn 2013.]
I neglected to pick up any milk on my way into work this morning, so I’ve been drinking green tea for most of the day. It was probably good not to rely on my black tea stash, because it made me dig out some of the neglected teas in my drawer and actually give them fair consideration. I’ve only tried a couple of mao fengs, but I do like this one. The liquor is more green than brown, and it’s sweet, a little grassy/hay-like, and really, genuinely pleasant. A lovely cup for an afternoon!
I’m drinking this right now. A real post about it will follow later.
Just… HELLO, CAN ANYBODY ACTUALLY SEE THIS???
I feel like sometimes my posts aren’t showing up. I’m not used to getting a total of NO LIKES AT ALL on something I post, so it rather makes me suspicious, you know?
IF YOU CAN SEE THIS, CAN YOU LIKE OR COMMENT PLEASE?
Another cup of this old favourite. I still like the toffee apple flavour this one has, although I’m becoming less keen on the base as time goes on. It’s not quite strong enough for me to happily add milk to, and yet it’s too astringent to really drink black. Still, the strawberry tinged toffee apple wonderfulness goes a long way towards making up for that. Still worthy of a place in the cupboard!
Thank you Scheherazade for this sample.
My husband is a fan of apple teas so this one was chosen with him in mind.
This smells super sweet and appley with a hint of spice..cinnamon perhaps but just a pinch. The apple pieces are soft and squidgy.
The black tea is thick and malty but the apple sweetens it up amazingly well without being too much or too little. The apple tastes fresh and juicy, also natural. The black tea actually tones itself down the more I drink.
I may have to add this one to my shopping list and buy some after Christmas. My husband is not such a fan, he says it tastes bland but the after taste is pleasant.
I found a little bit of this tea tucked in the back of my cupboard and it is turning out to be a delightful morning tea. There is a fair amount of malt and heft which I love in a breakfast blend, but there is also a fair amount of astringency – even after adding milk. Hmmm, its good, but I like some of my other breakfast teas better.
This was a present from my daughters who just returned from Europe. I love that I get tea when they travel!
This is a beautiful blend when dry – black tea, broken mint leaves, and tons and tons of blue flowers! This is one that should be displayed in a tea dish before steeping as part of the whole tea experience, and would be wonderful to serve to guests after dinner.
The mint is strong but never overpowering. The tea base is smooth, mild, and sweet, not astringent at all. There is a little something….oolong-y?…about the base, a round sweetness that blossoms shyly and briefly at the end of the sip.
Thank you, Superanna! I won’t root through yours and your sister’s luggage looking for my Christmas present tea TOO much. LOL!
Decided to stick with the Tea Palace greens this morning! These are the only two left in my stash, although there are a couple I’d like to try now for winter. I can feel an order coming on!
I was careful with the time and temparature here, because I’ve had a couple of disasterous experiences with Dragonwell teas. My favourite to date is probably 52 Teas Smaug (also residing in my desk drawer at the moment), but I have to be in the mood for that. Today wasn’t the day, so plain it is.
Clearly I’ve been drinking the wrong Dragonwells in the past, because the liquor here is a very pale yellow-green. It smells very savoury, putting me in mind of green vegetables, or something along those lines. The leaves are lovely — flat and broad, and a fresh-looking medium green. So far, so impressed.
The taste is very subtle and delicate. I actually think I could leave this to brew a little longer, which I’ll try next time. I like to go careful to start with, but the scent suggests these have a lot more flavour to impart than I’m currently experiencing. This is light, delicate and slightly floral. There’s a definite green vegetable taste to the initial sip, which develops into an almost orchid like flavour in the aftertaste. It’s not overpowering, though. If anything, it’s actually one of the more refreshing green teas I’ve come across. I’m in the mood for savoury things today, because yesterday was a bit of a sugar overload for me. Perhaps this just really suits how I’m feeling at the moment, but if green teas can be this good I’d genuinely consider drinking a lot more of them. Maybe my tastes have changed? I don’t know. What I do know for this minute is that this is a really wonderful tea! Yum yum!
I wasn’t all that impressed with the last Mao Feng I tried, which was from Teapigs. A box I’d had previously was seriously nice — pale green liquor, very grassy flavour. The more recent box was yellow-brown and very bitter, without a hint of the tea I remembered so vividly. That’s why I bought this, in an attempt to rediscover a variety of tea I used to love.
First impressions with this one are much better. The dry leaf smells sweet and almost hay-like. Brewed, the liquor is a very pale yellow-green. I waited for the water to cool, and gave it a carefully watched 2 minutes. It was worth the attention, because I feel I’ve been rewarded with a palatable green tea.
The taste here is sweet, wonderfully nutty, with a vegetal note lurking in the background. It’s one of the nicer green teas I’ve tried recently, and there’s not the slightest hint of bitterness or astringency. This surprised me a little, given that the leaves are more grey-black than green, but there you go. The nuttiness becomes more prominent as the tea cools, which is nice. That’s a characteristic of green tea I can really get behind. All told, a really pleasing tea. I only have a sample tin, but that’ll be enough to be getting along with. I only really wanted to reaffirm my feelings about Mao Feng, and I’ve certainly done that!
Today I received an envelope full of yummy things from Scheherazade and I decided to start with this one. It wasn’t one of the ones I asked about but when I’m reading the description I’m rather wondering why I didn’t.
I’m fairly attracted to apple flavoured teas as it is, but this one has apple AND caramel, and I think it’s a well established fact that I’m very attracted to caramel-y teas. I’ve had great results just mixing Kusmi’s apple and caramel flavoured teas for myself before. (That reminds me, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a tin of Kusmi’s lovely caramel.) I really don’t know why this didn’t catch my eye.
The leaves smell lovely. I can definitely smell the caramel and also something which I’d probably say was just generally fruity. Really, it smells rather like a sweetie shop. After steeping the fruity note smells definitely apple-y. It’s all tart and fresh. The caramel seems to be more in the background, all mellowed out and sweet.
I’m really excited about tasting this now!
Whoa! This stuff is fantastic on an epic scale!
First I get some fresh and slightly tart apple that actually tastes like apple. After that the sweetness from the caramel comes in along with what I assume is the strawberry leaf. It’s sort of fruity-sweet and reminds me of summer. Apple tea has always been an autumnal flavour to me so I can only describe this on the whole as a bit of Indian summer in a cup.
It tastes enormously rich and yet at the same time the flavourings aren’t actually that strong. They’re easily discernable but they’re nowhere near the point where your tastebuds are completely drowned in flavour. That’s the balance I like the very best in my flavoured teas.
I’ve never heard about this company before, but I’ll be making a note of it. I had a brief look at their site and spotted at least three things right away that I definitely want to try. Shipping to Denmark seems acceptable as well. What an awesome discovery and what an excellent choice Scheherazade made for me! :D
sipdown! I’m trying to offset all the black and oolongs i’m drinking today with a few other teas (and water!) lol today is a great day for not leaving the house…a)it means i’m close to the bathroom and b) my other half is sick and i am fighting whatever he has. So i’m drinking LOTS of fluid and resting…which means watching bad tv shows and also doing a bit of work.
This is a light tea, slightly floral but not enough to push it over to the category that i don’t like, Thanks for the sample terri!