The Tea House - Covent Garden

Recent Tasting Notes

84

Queued post, written April 29th 2014

I got this one out of one of the EU TTBs, although I must admit I cannot remember which round it was. It was with equal parts trepidition and curiosity that I took some of it.

Once upon a time I had an orange blossom oolong which was utterly delightful. I can’t remember which company it was from, but I believe it may have been Shang Tea. Last year I thought I wanted one again and while I was shopping with Jenier I noticed they had one, so in the basket it went. Unfortunately that was an all round disappointing experience as it turned out to have a lot of jasmine in it and next to no actual orange blossoms of any sort. I can’t abide jasmine. It’s like drinking perfume. I’m sure I must have looked this one up before taking some of it, so I feel confident that it doesn’t say anything about jasmine.

Still, though. It might be stealth jasmine.

Steepsterites, I am traumatised by previous experiences with stealth jasmine! It’s not as bad as stealth hibiscus, but it’s up there!

It smells floral and vaguely citrus-y. Good! Nothing here that makes me think of jasmine. I can also pick up some of the base which seems to have a cocoa-y note to it. I think that suits the orange blossoms quite well.

Hooray! No stealth jasmine! No obvious jasmine either! Instead, something floral and citrus-y on a clear dark oolong base. This is not a tea which has been doused in perfume and flowers. It’s scented, not flavoured, it feels like, and I feel like I’m first and foremost drinking a dark, relatively strong and quite cocoa-y oolong. A Wuyi one, perhaps? It doesn’t say, so I can’t know for certain, but it strikes me as one (in my quite limited oolong experience).

I find with a tea like this it’s important to be aware of what you’re drinking. If you expect something orange-flavoured, you’re going to be disappointed. Because it isn’t. It’s not orange. It never has been orange, it never will be orange. It’s orange blossom and that’s not at all the same thing. Scented, not flavoured, and first and foremost it’s the oolong rather than the flowers. It’s a common mistake to make, which is why I’m pointing it out. I’ve done it before myself. It’s probably wrong of me to refer to the oolong as the ‘base’ at all, really.

This is not on par with the memory I have of that by now nearly legendary orange blossom oolong of yore which may of may not have been a Shang, but to be honest, it’s possible that I’ve built that one up in my mind to such a degree at this point that even if I had the very same one tomorrow, it would not be as good as I remembered. On its own terms however, this is a very pleasant tea indeed.

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85

A colleague asked me to brew this, when we were mussing over which tea would do best for our mid morning brew. He has a penchant for strong teas, particularly Assams, and so the choice was not surprising. A strong, heady tea, with a great bass of a maltiness, this tea promises and delivers a is a heady kick of caffeine to the hiney :)

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85

A big bold assam blend that was dirt cheap, and yet is pretty good. Drank it plain, and made four cups easily out of one tsp. Malty, slightly spicy, well in the strong range of teas.

Flavors: Malt

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 200 ML

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76

I took this tea with me while I ran errands this evening. I over steeped it, so I didn’t enjoy it as much as last time, but it was still a drinkable cup. Most of the apple flavor was lost, but what was there was tasty.

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76

from HHTTB2

I like this one. It’s nice and sweet with a good apple flavor. The base tea is unremarkable, but that’s ok. The nice apple taste makes this one worth sipping.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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85

A good, solid Assam, at a very good price. This isn’t a “knock your socks off” Assam, but it’s a good tea nonetheless. Had it plain, and it stood to the test.

TheTeaFairy

Yes, Assam is such a reliable dude!!

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5

A number of years ago, me and some friends climbed the foothills of Mount Juktas, all the way up to Anemospilia. Ancient Minoan temple, human sacrifice, high priestesses – you know the drill. The weather was insane – Crete in January is rarely delightful weather wise, but this was a year of unprecedented winter storms. We were soaked just stepping out of the car and the hill was a muddy mess, but we got to the top eventually. It was maddeningly beautiful, of course. Sacred sites are best experienced like that; rain pouring, wind howling.

But hey, even the most intrepid explorers need lunch, so after carefully considering the layout of the bones and artifacts and contesting most of the conclusions drawn by former archaeologists (that’s how you’re supposed to do it) we left and eventually ended up at this tiny restaurant in an equally tiny village. We were very wet and very hungry. There was no menu, but we asked for whatever they had, which turned out to be bread, and olives, and this cheese I’ll never forget, and some other things that are even more beside the point, and then these little deep-fried fish.

Being Scandinavian, I’ve eaten various fish in the most horrifying preparations you could possibly dream up, but it just never occurred to me that you’d actually eat the whole thing. I always left the little tail end and the head. It just seemed more polite to the fish, you know? But then my friend turned to me, and said, ‘But the head is the best part!’ And she was right. And since that day, I always eat the whole thing of whatever is served, unless I’m expressly told otherwise.

This is just a very roundabout way of saying that I’m not very squeamish… and that this tea tastes exactly like small, deep-fried fish. And their heads. It smells like it too. I quite enjoy both the scent and the flavour, but it’s very confusing to experience it in liquid form, and not accompanied by the crunchiness I’m used to.

To me, there is nothing even remotely resembling orange in this cup; it’s a sipful of charcoaly, deep-fried sea creature. Even if it’s not for me, I have to say how I love the surprises some of these swap teas have given me – it’s been an unexpected treat not having the smallest clue what to expect from the brew.

Thanks to whoever shared this!

[Sample from the EU Travelling Box, autumn 2013.]

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec
TheKesser

Love this review! Sounds like a really great experience! And even though I’m not a fish fan, I do like the comparison. I can’t image drinking a tea with that flavour, but it’s funny how teas can remind us of the oddest things.

keychange

hahaha the flavor of this tea sounds revolting! I’m glad you enjoyed it, though, and that it brought back such wonderful memories.

Anna

Well, keychange, you brought ‘curdled vomit’ to my dash, so I think you’re worse off – I don’t think I’d even dare try that tea.

K S

Safety tip: Never let Anna pick the diner. Eeeww. lol

Anna

Come on, K S, live a little! You gotta try the local specialties! May I interest you in some pickled herring?

cteresa

K S, depends! Anna sounds like an awesome company to pick dinner – deep fried whole little fish might be like an awesome idea. Might be bad, might be great, no way to tell. I have just been converted to how awesome jellyfish is. As food I mean.

JustJames

i like pickled herring…as long as there’s yoghurt. sorry… focused on the food ignored the tea, lol. i really should eat!

K S

I would sip puerh with you all. I might even snack on some fried insects but sorry I draw the line way this side of fish heads. Ah, but sadly I now have the fish head song stuck in my brain.

keychange

Omg! curdled vomit indeed! though I do promise that not all sips conjure up that…particular association.

TeaExplorer

The tea sounds unappetizing, but now I have a craving for pickled herring and some gjetost on limpa.

Anna

I’m down with the herring and the limpa (although never herring with anything other than white bread, that’s simply barbaric) but I will gladly let you have all the weird Norwegian cheese.

TeaExplorer

Nobody in our family would touch it except for my Mom and myself. Her influence is one of the reasons I go out of my way to try new things. And, yeah, I’d also eat the fish head if someone told me it was the best part.

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81

Yellow teas are a rarity in my cupboard, and in the shops that I normally buy tea in, so when I saw this in The Tea House, Covent Garden, London on my latest visit there, of course I had to snag a 50g packet. The leaves are whole, and huge, and need weighing, to know just how much to use. I brewed it at 70C, as I would a white tea, and the black, light green, yellow, brown leaves opened with a flourish. This tea tastes like a sweet, slightly smokey sheng, with fruit tinges (apricot, a little grape) that round off each sip. The yellow liquid of the tea matches the tea’s name, and makes for a nice evening cup. An interesting experience, which I will likely repeat.

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 30 sec
JustJames

i love yellow teas =0)

NofarS

They are still a novelty for me, since they are so hard to come by. Have you tried Norbu’s Darjeeling Yellow tea?

TheTeaFairy

Hmmmm, I’ve only tried one yellow tea (from Tealux), and it’s now a staple in my cupboard…it is soooo sweet and full of different nuances.
I like your description of this one.

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87

This is not as good as Gillard’s Kenya, but it will most definitely do.

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51

Tea #35 from HHTTB2

Even though this is labelled Sweet Apple it still ended up being sweeter than I was expecting. The first sip made me grimace a bit (more of surprise than distaste), as the sip started as a pretty typical flavored black tea with light apple flavor then I suddenly wind end up with apple juice sweetness in the back of my throat.

Other then the initial surprise sweetness, this is an okay apple tea. The black base is unobtrusive, but unremarkable in flavor. It holds the cup together well. And the apples remind me of mushy baked apples, which, while not my thing, might be awesome for someone else. I need some clove and cinnamon when apples are played like this.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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93

This is becoming an office favourite (in place of my F&M Keemun, that has run out and I haven’t had time to replace), with a fruity sparkly presence that reminds me of a bubbly, bouncy young woman. This tea can actually stand milk, but it really mutes it down, and that’s a shame. Not a tea for relaxing, but a tea for getting up and hugging people and doing great good things in the world.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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92

Got the guys in the office to try white tea for the first time. Win! This is a rather strong flavoured Bai Mu Dan, with a pronounced cucumber taste that is very refreshing and makes me want to cold brew it. It brews a light golden green, and is a great introduction to white teas. Naturally sweet and requires no sweetener (and milk will absolutely kill it). Yum

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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74

Sipdown! I’ve been drinking this most of the morning and it’s pretty tasty and convenient! Smoky, earthy and strong with some sweet notes – over all a good cup to start the morning…that was sooo long ago!

Terri HarpLady

I was actually thinking I’d like some Shu, but since I’m going for a massage at 1:00, I probably better not drink anymore tea until afterwords. Nothing more irritating during a massage than having to pee :\

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73

sipdown! this is a pretty tasty yellow tea. It’s not overly strong. I wish there was a bit more sweetness to it, but it’s not too bad. There’s a bit of fruitiness to this that is nice, though as the sup cools, that blends into the background of things.

YAY! 200! now to get a few more in to account for the verdant blends i’ll be getting in a couple weeks.

Cavocorax

200! :O Now… to keep it there? For the next month?

Sil

i’m under 200 as of yesterday so today i’m probably going to drink some of my older teas or teas that i have lots of…and maybe a couple puerhs

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sipdown! though apparently i forgot to add this one to my cupboard. This is a pretty decent black tea that i’m happy to try. It sounds like i really need to visit london…SOON!

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75

sipdown! (207) not too shabby an assam from terri/nofars. It’s not my favourite but i like seeing the differences in various assams. This one is less bold, has a bit of astringency and isn’t very malty but it’s got a strength to it that i like. and the flavour is pretty decent! thanks guys!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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78

sipdown! woot woot! This has a bit of a fruity taste to it. It’s not a dark bold brew but it is pretty decent. it’s a nice one to be drinking with my apple cinnamon bread thingy lol

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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78

Sipdown! While this tea is rather bland in it’s flavour profile as terri mentioned, I actually am really enjoying it’s refreshing taste. It’s similar to when you have a cold glass of fresh spring water. I’ve never had a silver tip oolong (is that really a thing?) but this was an interesting one to try. Oh how i wish i could spend a weekend or more just running around the uk and france buying tea sigh

Terri HarpLady

That would be awesome!

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85

oh! this is a delight! Terri either didn’t review this one or the other part of the sample is sitting at her place somewhere. But this is delightful! My thanks should also go out to nofars for sending this terri’s way in their swap. This is a tea i can get behind. This is a malty tea, but not overly so…there’s also a sweetness with a hint of spiciness? in the background. It’s juicy and yet leaves my mouth a little dry feeling. I love the taste that linger in my mouth after sipping on this. yep. I’m a fan.

Terri HarpLady

I didn’t write a review of that one? Hmmmm, I wonder if I posted it in the wrong place or did a random steepings sort of thing with it. I know I drank it, & yeah, not only does it have an awesome name, it was also a tasty cup! :)

Sil

haha

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Here’s another sipdown from NofarS.
I haven’t drank very many yellow teas. The dry leaves are a mix of gray, beige, & brown, with an aroma that reminds me a bit of Sheng, only milder. I steeped about 3G in my glass test tube steeper @ 175F, & the leaves opened up beautifully, taking on colors of green, apricot, yellow & beige. The color of the brewed tea starts off yellow, but then warms to an apricot color. Maybe I’m imagining this, but the early steepings even had an apricot essence to it, along with a mild sheng-like taste. I’m getting several steeps out of these leaves, & it’s a pleasant brew. A little bitter on the tip of the tongue on steep 3 & 4, perhaps, but the later steepings have a shiny tongue tingling sensation & it has good energy to it, if you know what I mean. With that, I’m headed out to water the garden & pick some produce! Hopefully I won’t get lost out there ;)

TeaKlutz

Yellow tea?

Terri HarpLady

I think this is the 2nd yellow tea I’ve tried.
The first one tasted a lot like a white tea to me, only maybe a little sweeter.

Sil

I have one ill send you Terri. I love yellow teas, well at least the couple I’ve tried

Terri HarpLady

You’ll be getting the rest of this sample, BTW

Sil

I just spent the evening getting my tea into a spreadsheet so that i know what i have. Thinking about adding a column that says “sent to terri – yes/no” since i can’t track it all!

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Sipdown!
I’m still working on the last of the teas I have from my awesome swap with NofarS awhile back. Only 7 teas to go after this one!
This tea is ok, but really rather bland. Not roasty, not sweet, not even floral. Maybe a little bit of a bready sour dough taste, but nothing really stands out about this one in any direction.
Next!

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I’m claiming a triple sipdown on this entry.
First off, I finally made tea eggs, using the last of the Happy Lucky’s Lapsang, plus the last of the Lapsang from the London Tea Room. Drew & I split one, & he thought it just tasted like a boiled to him. Of course, there is much more to the flavor than that, but I’m not quite sure how I feel about them, to be honest. They look cool though!

The third sipdown is for this Nilgiri, thanks to NofarS.
I’m enjoying it as an after lunch tea. It’s a little on the bright & edgy side for me today, but not a bad cup, & will be followed by a shower, as I have a new student coming in about an hour. I don’t want them to realize what a slob I am until they’ve had a chance to get to know & love me first! :)

Bonnie

I don’t like them plain either, but with other things like fish, not bad. (Smoked eggs) At least you tried. I think the Chinese way is to soak them way longer!!!

Terri HarpLady

I ate 2 for brunch, along with a few olives, some of my fermented dilly green beans, & tea. I sprinkled the eggs with sichuan pepper & a little salt. Not bad. Probably not something I’ll make again as deviled eggs are way better! But it was worth a try, right? I might turn the rest of them into some kind of egg salad & try to pawn it off on the boys, LOL. I combined a couple of recipes I found online that required an initial boiling of the eggs, then cracking the shells, then a 2 hour simmer in a mix of the tea, orange peel, cinnamon stick, star anise, sichuan & black peppercorns, & tamari. I think that’s everything. They might be good topped with a little homemade mayo spiked with sriracha… hmmm….

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Another Sipdown from NofarS box of goodies!
A decent little shu, leaning more to the dark & earthy side, but no off flavors. I enjoyed this earlier today. :)

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It’s day 3 of Little Terri’s Sipdown Extravaganza!

First sipdown of the day is a sample sent to me from NofarS, and it’s tasty one. Very bright, a little tart, especially around the outside edges of my tongue. Not particularly bold, but mouth-filling none the less. Thanks NofarS!

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