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Recent Tasting Notes
Got a jump start on this week’s cuppings for class; something cool about this week was that one of the sets of cuppings was a ‘blind tasting’ where we steeped a bagged and a loose leaf version of the same (or at least very similar) English breakfast for a person of our choosing and had them both review the tea, but also determine without knowing which is which what the ‘better’ was.
Because he’s really the only person I have easy access to, I used my roomie Tre as my guinea pig for this tasting. Just some background information for anyone who doesn’t know: Tre is not a tea drinker, and when he does drink tea it’s what I’ve picked out specifically for him and generally with a lot of added sugar. For the purposes of this tasting, he didn’t get any sugar or milk with the teas. Also, he’s a chef which you would think means he has a more refined palate but in all honestly I’ve never met someone with a weirder one. Anytime I have him blind taste/smell something he’s either simply off base or just not even in the right field to begin with.
So here are the highlights from this tasting:
When it came to the loose leaf version, he said that the colour of the ‘tea water’ (liquor) was obviously a lot lighter, which I somewhat agree with. While I don’t think the difference was drastic, it was noticeable. As far as the aroma he claimed he couldn’t smell anything but hot water. Which… I don’t even know how, but I digress.
When it came to describing the taste, he very accurately described the feeling of astringency without knowing the name for it – which I told him. He said this sensation was “mild” and when I further probed whether or not he liked the feeling he said he did. That it “felt like what tea should feel like”. But I could not for the life of me coax out any other flavour descriptors other than the astringency and the super not helpful “it tastes like tea”. No Tre! Break it down! However, saying that would’ve been like shouting at a wall so we moved on.
When it came to the bagged version there was the obvious flip regarding the liquor; “It’s darker than the other one. Almost black”. Well no, not black – just a nice rich red/copper kind of colour. As far as the aroma goes he claimed it ‘reminded him of Earl Grey’. I’m not entirely convinced he wasn’t just throwing out what tea terminology he does know. Seriously; what knowledge he retains about my blathering on about tea astounds me. The other day he correctly used the term ‘chawan’ while I was making matcha, but he thinks he tastes/smells bergamot with an English Breakfast? He has one weird palate.
But going further into what he tasted with this blend, he said the astringency (at this point he had been taught the right term) was “more powerful and long lasting” and he called the tea “slightly sweeter” but again I couldn’t coax any more out of him other than “it just reminds me of Earl Grey”. Doh!
I then had him guess which cup was which and he correctly did so, and finally I asked him which he preferred, to which he replied… The bagged tea.
What a tea pleb. But seriously; his logic behind the bagged tea was that it was better because it tasted stronger, and more like ‘what tea should taste like’. I guess taste is a subjective thing and I’ve got to understand that, but the way he processed each cup just seems so… Weird. I wish I could experience each of them the way he does. It would surely be an enlightening experience.
Since he didn’t feel like drinking both full cups I ended up taking a sip of each after he’d left. Now, to be fair I knew which was which but I thought the loose was definitely better. The astringency was pleasant, there wasn’t any bitterness and I could taste the nuances, like the malt and bread notes, better. The bagged, on the other hand, was really harsh and brassy and the amount of astringency kind of made me gag. How anyone could interpret that cup as tasting “sweet” has me seriously perplexed.
Also, again, Earl Grey!?
I have an unknown Amaretto tea also. My guess would be that it’s from Metropolitan tea company but I’m not sure exactly. I added some milk and sugar ‘cause on its own it wasn’t quite as nice as I thought it should be. Then it turned into a nice sweet treat. I know this would hold up well as a latte. I might try this one that way soon.
I’m attempting to drink all my teas once through. I have teas that I got and have yet to try. How sad eh? Well that’s about to change. Lots of new tea tastes coming my way!
I went to a bridal shower two weeks ago and a small jar of this tea, loose, was one of the prizes. The lid is painted with slate so that you can write with chalk on it. They scrawled “mint green tea”. No indication of the company. I adore the periwinkle edging. I have mixed feelings about keeping tea in glass, but since my cupboard does have doors on it, should be ok right?
So the tea… Based on the rolled/semi balled leaves and metallic smell, and taste, I’d say the base is Gunpowder. Not my fave, but traditional for Moroccan Mint tea.
Today, I made a big mug iced with half a tsp of honey to cover up the metal note.
I quite like it this way. Not love but definite like. In fact, I may try and turn it into a mojito type beverage. Agave may work better. Need to pick some of that up as well. Throw in some soda water, vodka, mint leaves? Hmmm.
This will definitely hold me over til I find a mint green that tickles my fancy for summer :D. Thanks L for the tea!!!
I’ve fallen into a routine with my tea drinking. Every morning, while I’m blearily puttering around the kitchen, I fill up a 12 oz timolino with a cream earl grey and a 16 oz carry mug with genmaicha, and stash them both in my purse. I have no idea what company the genmaicha is from—I got a ridiculous amount from a Japanese restaurant eons ago and the packaging is long gone—but it’s exactly to my tastes, ie. dominant toasty popcorn/rice notes and no grassiness to speak of. I find it soothing in the afternoons, especially when I hit my 2:30 slump.
I’m almost positive this tea is from Handmade Teas but I can’t seem to find which one it might be. I put it in an airtight tin and never labeled it.. oops… anyways… It’s gone! I used up my two teaspoons and made a pot. It’s delicious. It has a rich malty-ness with dark chocolate undertones and a touch of sweet potato. There is a hint of caramel and a light fruitiness to it.
Well, someone added this into the system, so I’m going to use it.
It’s a mystery oolong, and it’s great. I’m super sick right now so I’m barely drinking any tea at all, but for some reason the idea of this seemed really soothing. It’s a nice green oolong, with just a little bit of roastiness. I can barely swallow it down because I’m so pathetic, but it’s lasted me 2 hours and it’s still great cold.
I typed in “matcha unknown” into the search box to see if it would get any hits—and what do you know, this is already there!
So anyway, I was walking by Minamoto Kitchoan (a Japanese confectionary shop) and saw that they were offering samples and matcha green tea. The tea was being prepared with a whisk in-store, and I think this is really the first time I’ve tried matcha with the traditional preparation. And it’s really good. It was served in a small cup, very dark green and frothy, and was deliciously creamy and smooth. Umami and sweet, rich…and somehow very different from the flavor of other teas or foods that have had matcha added to them. This was a whole other level, and I would love to get all the utensils and learn to prepare matcha at home now. But maybe that’s a project for another time :)
No idea what this is, as it’s all in Chinese characters except “Yunnan Tuocha Thé”. I’d expected a bunch of mini tuocha’s (which is what I’ve only come across so far) but instead it’s one mondo tuocha, and hard as a rock. Fellow lovely Steepsterites suggested cutting off a chunk with a dull knife, so this is what I did. Well, more like sawed it off, as it was ridiculously dry and hard.
I knew just before I took the first sip that I should have rinsed it first, because it was FISHY. Oh my goodness, like drinking straight fish sauce fishy. FISHY. I can still smell it hours later. Once it mellowed a bit though and cooled down, this was a really elegant, full-bodied, rich puer that I savoured. Nothing WOW about it, but really nice way to spend my afternoon, nursing this one and re-steeping it.
Someone had this tea on Steepster so might as well use it.
My mom bought me some cheap Jasmine tea from the Asian market so I figured I’d use this tea for all my cold brews :) Good tea, but it does get bitter quickly from when I had it a couple weeks back hot.
But now it has been deemed my cold brew tea!
Got this tea as part of a teapot + 4 tea collection that I received for Christmas. The teapot is nice – a cast iron look-alike pot, though I don’t think I’ll use it overly often (I just don’t drink that much of one tea at a time. Ever.) Anyhow, brewed this tea up in a travel mug for today. Nice raspberry flavour, and when it cooled, the coconut was a bit more apparent, translating both as a creaminess and a coconutty flavour. Similar to DavidsTea’s Fantasy Island, but better because it was fruitier and less drying. Overall not too shabby. I am definitely curious as to the blender of these teas though.
So, I got some loose leaf tea as a Christmas present from a student before Christmas. I reviewed it the first time I drank it, but since they are from China and bought it when they were there, I could not read the label.
So, I put a pic up on the Facebooks and got a few answers. It’s a Tie Guan Yin, but the brand is unknown.
But, it’s damn good. Like, one of the better I have had. It came in a small wooden box, with several wrpped, vacuum sealed bags inside.
Brewing two bags, (about 3 tablespoons total) in 32 ounces of water at 200 degrees in my Bodum Assam teapot, I get a nice dark golden, almost wet straw colored brew.
The smell is amazing. Rich, robust, with hints of roasted nuts, wet straw, and toffee.
The taste is equally impressive. Full of flavor, but still so well balanced and smooth.
It’s rare you can find a tea so full of flavor, so big and in your face, so bold and beautiful, but still so well balanced and drinkable. No bitter tea face here!
Flavors: Roasted nuts, Straw, Sweet, Toffee, Wet Earth
Boyfriend has several coworkers and managers from the UK at his job, and one of them gave him these Earl Grey teabags from England. I wish I knew the brand—- they’re square and unmarked white filterbags, like the Celestial Seasonings teabags.
Holy God, is it amazing tea though. The base is nice and robust, with hints of cocoa and Assam-like astringency. The bergamot tastes both citrusy and spicy.
Oh yeah, this is the genuine article. He’s had the loose version of it, too, and says that it’s even better.
Long story short:
I play and teach music for a living, and often my students give me gifts around the holidays. I have one student in particular who is from China, and his family knows I love tea. Last year they gave me a great green tea.
This year they gave me a black tea. I didn’t ask them about it, and the label and container has only Chinese Characters on it. They did tell me it was a black tea, so I know that much for certain. I’ll find out more about it later, but I wanted to get some words down first.
This tea came in small freeze dried bags, each one containing just under 2 tablespoons of loose leaves. I used two of these bags, so probably 3-4 tablespoons in total, in my 32 ounce Bodum Assam teapot.
I followed the loose brewing guidelines for black tea, rinsing the leaves before adding water that had just reached nearly a full boil and letting the steep for 2:30.
The result was a liqueur with a dark golden, see through color More of an Oolong than a black. It smells and tastes like a Tung Ting, with my limited knowledge of tea.
The aroma is what gave it away. It has that bite, that sweetness that is familiar in teas harvested from higher elevations. I’ve had a couple of Tung Tings from Red Blossom Tea Company, and this was very similar. Sweet, full bodied, hints of sugar and caramel.
I hope to find out more about this tea, I really like it!
I’m making Kombucha for the first time!
My jug isn’t nearly as big as it should be so we’ll see how things work out. I cut the recipe by two thirds so I’m a little worried that the the ratio may be off in some way. (do you need a minimum amount of anything to get the party started? I don’t know…)
Bah. I guess I have to wait and see. This is the not so fun part. I’ll have to rely on other teas to keep me entertained!
This morning’s pick is a golden monkey tea from the local tea store in our mall. I might have to ask next time I go in there which company’s tea this is, so I can better log it. I get a bit of a caramel note that fades into just a nicely balanced, smooth tea. It’s a really nice way to start the day.
My friend (who obviously has exquisite taste and is generous at gifting quality stuff) picked this tea out for me when she found the new store in the first place, and when I first went back, I immediately bought more.