333 Tasting Notes
Well this was an unexpected dud, but one which made me realize something about the peculiarities of my personal likes and dislikes.
I love rooibos, but I am very picky about rooibos – the base has to have certain characteristics. Some rooibos bases I dislike, seem musty or woody or even silty to me. But when rooibos is good, I do love it and it´s an extremely comforting evening drink. It´s far more difficult to me to find good rooibos than good tea, I got 3 (plus one south african supermarket brand which is an occasional random find) brands whose rooibos blends seem great to me – apart from those ocasional finds which seem good, but many others I do not even come close to finishing.
Mariage Fréres is one of my reliable rooibos brands, and wanting to try something new, the saleslady recommend this as her personal favorite. It smelled different, so minty, I decided to give it a (small) try. It´s rooibos with a lot of dried mint and rose petals, not sure if it has extra flavourings.
And the problem is with the flavouring – this made me realize I dislike dried mint leaves steeped in boiling water. I love fresh mint, I like mint in green teas (which do not steep in water so hot), but plain mint tisanes, noooo. Mint and boiling water, it is like the mint leaves this oily hint of bitterness which I dislike. And that was the problem here – I used boiling water and the mint had that oily boiled-mint thing and that was indeed a problem for me. Now I do not know what to do with is, I like rooibos very hot and very long, but if I do that the mint is going to annoy me. Will try again with water a bit colder, to see if there is rescue to this.
TLDR: Mint and boiling water: no-no. Mint only for lower temperature teas.
PS – also not a good rooibos for my late at night rooibos since I leave the spent leaves on the gravity infuser overnight. I never had a problem with smells (apart from the time I tried something with another variety of mint), but there is a definite minty overtone in the strainer now. This really is not a rooibos for me.
If only all green teas were like this …
A sample so kindly sent by Hallie (and yes I am breaking my two caffeine teas a day rule. Temptation is too hard to resist…), I was glad of a chance to compare with the dragon wells I could find locally and there is not much of a competition – this is really much better. At all levels. Weird taste note – there was a nutty taste which is lovely and which I can not quite describe. The seller mentions chestnuts, not to me – for me it was something more like pumpkin seeds or something even greener… Lovely just the same, even if impossible to describe.
PS – downrating this a little bit. Tried to resteep and it does not work! Second steep was extremely weak, even using my tricks of much less water and hotter, and third steep was plain hot water. My generic worse-quality dragonwells are more generous. I think it is usually unfair to expect a tea to be re-steepable, it does not work with ALL teas nor should it have to – but this is a dragon well and can not help comparing it to other dragon wells!
I had been intrigued by the idea of Nepalese tea, and was so glad when Angrboda sent me some in a swap (I have an embarassment of riches of swaps to try. It´s a lovely feeling, except am trying to be good about too much caffeine.. the pains of too many new so-delicious seeming teas to pick. Thank you Angrboda! Nothing is forgotten and unappreciated even if I take my time to pick it).
This is very interesting – it´s like an Assam on a few things (malty! astringency), but a bit “rounder”. It is a little bit “hay”-like Darjeeling style, but not quite. I don´t get any honey notes, but I get a raisin sort of quality which seems Muscat. It is sort of sweet. The dry leaf had aniseed like notes, but nobody seems to have spotted anything like that, so it is possible I am imagining it – I don´t get it on the liquour anyway. So at the same malty and muscaty, which is interesting and good.
I brew it wrong, I think I used too much leaf or water too hot, it turned out a little bit too astringent for me – but still drinkable which would not have happened with an Assam.
I definitely want to explore more Nepal teas even if this particular one might not be the “one” for me.
PS – it is better with some milk and sugar. I am not usually a milk and sugar person but this is a milk and sugar tea.
This is the famous tomato tea, which I have been intrigued by for ages and never been able to find on stock even in places which usually have it on stock – who knew that tomato tea sold out? Ysaurella came to the rescue and sent me this sample and I could (finally!) try it. Thank you, Ysaurella!
This is a very unexpected tea : flavoured darjeeling, with tomato and lemon. Recently I was talking of vegetables which fruits (tomato, pumpkins, peppers, avocados, etc) and vegetables which are fruits (rhubarb). Tomato is indeed a fruit, in my country a popular jam is made with tomatoes and I know someone who snacks on tomatoes as if they were apples (or carrots, now I think of it). So of course, tomato should have a chance to be something more. And it is very typical of Thé-o-dor teas that they experiment with it (and also typical that they could make it work).
I am not usually a fan of darjeeling and apart from Arya Rose d´Himalaya I do not recall ever having a flavoured darjeeling. I was very very careful brewing this, water was perhaps a smidgeon too cold, and used a timer for 2 and a half minutes. It was still a bit astringent, though IMO a desirable level of astringent for the flavours – but this is going to be indeed a tricky tricky tea.
The dry leaf is beautiful, and smells of hay-ish tea, lemon and tomato with the lemon being more noticeable than the tomato. While brewing the scent changes, the ripe tomato becomes the predominant flavour and I worried I was going to like this after all. The liquour thankfully has a more subdued, less liquid somehow (oh the irony), tomato note, lemon becames again noticeable. The non-verbal parts of my brain like it and do not care what it is. The verbal ones are still trying to figure out how came this works, but works indeed.
This is the strangest tea I ever tried, and amazingly it is good. It tastes not like an experiment or something meant to just shock, but well, it tastes perfectly finished, an interesting very eccentric tea which is so smart.
Oh, this is a classy classy rose congou. I was comparing it with my random generic rose tea from this old tea (coffee actually) shop and this is so different.
Not that the generic tea is bad, it´s actually pretty good (and the 100 grams I bought before this one was good, though this latest batch is not the same. They deny being a different tea, maybe it was due to freshness or being crushed or just differences with the blender. The problem with “generic” teas), and large enough leaf. But this is quite different – less roses, and a different rose smell. The generic tea is more full of rose petals (pretty filler but adding very little to flavour) and is richer in aromatic oils (oil can became bitter and just cloying). The generic tea is more one-note rosy. This tea has a different, more complex, more realistic but just as intense rose smell. Its leaves are also a smidgeon bigger and plumper. It brews much more subtle and much smoother. A very classy tea, if that description makes sense to anybody but me.
Notes – it is of course a rose tea. I usually find rose teas sort of fruity , in this case it reminds me a tiny bit of grapes.
I just got a very nice surprise with this tea – expectations are funny things! Ysaurella had kindly sent me a sample, and just last night she had reviewed it, and led me to expect more lavender. She in fact compares it to another lavender tea I also had, Gryphon´s Earl Grey Lavender (a very kind sample as well, this time from LaFleurBleue). And for once Ysaurella and I have diverging opinions – I prefer Mademoiselle and find it less lavender-ish.
I confess I might have mistreated this when brewing, and did not pay too much attention to how long it steeped. I think it might have steeped too long or too hot, it has a small hint of astringency but one which seems to bring out the bergamot. I get the lavender only as a background soothing things. The bergamot is a great bergamot and the base tea just right. Love it, it might be the one lavender earl grey for me.
PS – maybe it is water alchemy? I notice bergamot teas seem to react so differently to different tap waters! Though with my tap water usually it´s violent rebellion not improving alchemy.
Look at what I found in the back of the cupboard – I still got some of it. Sadly aged a bit, I love Yumchaa but I really wish they had more air-tight packaging – tins ideally, or foil packets (which are indeed great and pratical).
While this is a bit less scented than it originally was it is still very smooth and a very lovely combination of flavours (not as weak as you might think. Yumchaa is really good at intense natural flavours). I love papaya, but not sure I get its flavour here, for me this is green tea with pineapple and strawberries and it is a lovely summer drink indeed.
Adding another note, because I can not believe I missed the nutmeg| Duh, it´s so definitely there as well, adds a background, some solidity to the peach and pepper.
I am liking this a little bit less this second time, but I think I brewed it too hot and well Assam is a tricky thing for me.
I made this a little bit too hot and I think a little bit too long – should have been 5 degrees (real degrees that is ;) Kelvin or celsius) and one minute less. It is, like a lot of Théodor teas, a forgiving tea. Though I think due to it being brewed hotter than my first attempts, I am finally getting a hint of the apple mentioned on tea description.
This is a masterfully well blended flavour tea – a great smooth green tea base and then a blended mix just in proportion of evocative flavours. No flavour is really dominant, this is not a one note or predominant note tea, but different flavours seem to work at different levels. The mint is the first thing, then the rose and apple and the date last. I do not detect the almond, but sweet almonds are not very strongly flavoured anyway.
A truly well done tea blend – and a very elegant one as well somehow.
PS – to add, it resteeps very well! Slightly different notes on resteep, a little bit more rose and more date and maybe the elusive almond, maybe not. I expected a lot more mint because the spent leaves smell so minty, but not so much on the taste. But a definite two steeps blend.
This is a tea which has been having rotten luck at my house. Whenever I make it I get distracted while doing it, and do not give it much enough attention. Ysaurella, to whom I had sent some in a swap did a tasting note before I ever got to it. Poor neglected tea!
Even today, I used water which was too cold – should have been a bit hotter. But even so, since the result was so nice, here goes. This is a tropical fruits oolong. Site says “pineapple, red passion fruits, mango and bergamot” and it is a nice touch to distinguish between the passion fruit type – I suppose their red is what we call purple passion fruit and which is indeed the better and pricier kind of passion fruit (green passion fruit grows better in our climate, it´s the only one which will grown on the mainland and produces tons more but is just not nearly as nice).
The oolong is not too dark, not too green, not too large, not too small – and not too noticeable underneath the fruit. There are some filler petals – rose and something else. There is bergamot in this tea but it might possibly be the most subtle use of bergamot I ever noticed (of course, uses of bergamot I never noticed would be more subtle even ;). For me the main note is passion fruit, with a touch of bergamot second and only then mango and then I take on faith there is pineapple. It´s fruity, smooth, and I think it would be delightful cold. I love passion fruit with its inherent tartness and funny how the bergamot seems to amplify it.