331 Tasting Notes
I do love chinese black teas, like no other tea can provide that chocolate-yness quality while being oh so smooth. And this sample which Hallieod so generously surprised me with is a very very good chinese tea indeed. Though, for no fault of its own, comparisons are odious, it is suffering from comparison with yesterday´s sample, another chinese black tea (and yes, this is a total embarassment of riches of teas to try), the Laoshan Black I fell totally in love with.
Oh, this is going to be a case of “it´s not you, it´s me”. This tea smells fantastic when dry, citrus with some spices underneath, a very balanced, complex blend of scents.
But these is something here which does not work for me – the wet leaves had a strong sense of something herbal (the little green leaves) which was not working for me, checking the other taste notes, I suspect it is the aniseed. It seems to bring a herby sweetness to the tea, provide some background, which would be more than fine to almost everybody but does not quite work for me. The tea itself has a decently strong base, not rough and not absent, an absolutely lovely blended tea. Thank you very much Ysaurella, for sharing this. I can appreciate how masterfully blended this is, just the aniseed is not a rational thing for me!
Experimenting with this – I have figured out boiling water and mint is an absolute no for me, no matter what it tastes bitter in an oily way. And this has a lot of mint. Experimenting with this, I just tried 80 degrees water and a long long steep – it is indeed better, but the end result a bit colder than I like my rooibos. And still too minty (though not boiled-mint bitter) for my own taste.
I will give it another try, just to make sure, but I think this will be up for swap – preferrably for another rooibos. I will have 35-40 grams of it left I think.
This was a sample, kindly sent by infussion, and I admit that while it was my pick, it took me a while to get the courage to try it.
I was unsure of dosage – I used maybe 20 berries for 3 dl of boiling water, and let it steep some 6 minutes maybe. It´s a very pale infusion, but I think it is just strong enough for me. Any stronger would be way too much.
This is supposedly 5 flavour berry. Magical seeing the dark berries. Omija cha. I wanted to try this, thank you infussion!
And it is a very very strange thing to drink. So far, am unsure what I think though I can already say on its favour – it´s better than hibiscus!
I can not say I detect all 5 flavours – no salt IMO, but there is a pungency which reminds me of pepper. There is a woody quality as well, a bit like juniper or cedar. And a lot of tartness, sourness – but I don´t find it unpleasant at all, I do mean it I find it much more palatable than hibiscus.
This could be a lot of fun in blends, particularly fruit blends.
I tried eating the berries, and it is uh, interesting, but no way could I eat more than a couple. It sort of reminds me of sour plums, both the tea and steeped berries – which luckily I like.
This is an amazing tea – the hype had mostly passed me by, I confess I tend to ignore a lot of reviews of teas which would be difficult for me to find. Ordering tea from outside the EU is risky, anything past 100 grams is subject to tax (and delay and flat fees on tax) and less than 100 grams the shippping so expensive for the quantity. I just might have to risk it because of this.
Angrboda very kindly and generously picked this for me in my last swap. After checking steepster the expectations were raised, and somehow how this lives up to it.
I can´t really add anything new to the great, complex tasting notes already done so not even going to try. This was somehow lighter than I expected (not a problem), and it is indeed magical at evoking scents of other things, while being tea, just tea. Chocolate, malty, vanilla-y and at second steep almost peppery – reminds me of another tea I loved, Theodor´s Milky Oolong which is also magical. Really fabulous tea.
Oh my, this is like drinking marzipan – but in a good way!
Another sample very kindly sent by Ysaurella ( we have both been placing Theodor orders, and comparing them. It will not be my last order though!), and this is, as expected, great. I have no associations of galette des rois or almonds with Epiphany (almonds for us are a Easter thing instead and never bitter almond), so I can not compare it. But the taste of this tea is indeed almond almond with a bit of bitter almond to give it some punch. As usual, a very smooth base underneath.
I was chancing to drink this while nibbling on a bit of chocolate covered lemon peel, and that is a highly recommended combination!
PS – actually, because mostly I have been drinking rooibos lately, bitter almond would be a perfect flavour for rooibos (with vanilla!). Does anybody do it? My beloved Carpe Diem blend is sweet almond with raspberry and strawberry, but a bitter almond could be very interesting indeed with rooibos. Maybe caramel, vanilla and bitter almond?
This is a beautiful blend. Just beautiful, to look at and its perfume. And one of the most feminine tea blends I have ever tasted. Not girly, girly is a different thing, this is more grown up, much smarter and a bit mysterious. But and there is a but, it is not a tea for me.
It´s a floral, in a mix of black and green teas. Osmanthus, lotus and jasmine and they say some pepper. I think lotus is a note I dislike in general, I even bought some cheap vietnam lotus tea to check it (and ok, because of the tin, which was ohhh so pretty, so not a total waste of tea) and lotus definitely is a floral too floral for me. Here it is sort of balanced. But no matter how beautifully scented and intriguing it is, I keep finding this way too sultry somehow for my taste.
I sweetened this without thinking, it was a stupid idea and a mistake indeed.
Even if not a tea for me, it is so beautiful that I will try the rest of the sample Ysaurella (merci!) sent me with pleasure. Not at all bad, sublime at being that sort of thing, it is just not my cup of tea.
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!