701 Tasting Notes
Tonight’s wind-down cup is Parker’s Evening blend, a pretty simple blend of chamomile, peppermint, butterfly pea flower, lemongrass and honey granules. CuppaGeek uses whole chamomile flowers in her blends and the difference in quality between this and most chamomile teabags is obvious! The chamomile is sweet, fresh and very appley. The peppermint I can’t taste but I do notice a slight opening of my chest and sinuses. This was my first blend with butterfly pea flowers and they really do turn the tea a brilliant purplish blue. I think they contribute just a hint of musty flavor. Light lemongrass taste. Not sure if it’s the chamomile and/or honey granules (which I can’t see in the dry mix) contributing to the honeyed body and flavor, but the sweetness is mild and pleasant. I do notice a lingering sweetness in my throat. The addition of butterfly pea flowers makes this a caffeine-free blend that I think would attract young sippers… so I ordered a pouch of this for my niece. Overall — smooth, sweet and simple.
Flavors: Apple, Flowers, Honey, Lemongrass, Mint, Musty, Sweet
The aroma tickled my housemate as I poured her a cup from the pot. She’s definitely into it. The lemongrass reigns in this caffeine-free blend. I often find lemongrass sharp on my palate. Here it’s well tempered by jammy-sweet blueberry. I lean toward tart blueberry flavor versus jammy but I found this to be a totally pleasant profile.
Flavors: Blueberry, Citrusy, Green, Honey, Jam, Lemongrass, Sweet
It’s been interesting tracking the progression of this loose leaf sheng. I’ve had it only 3 or 4 times over the past two years. Despite not being in cake form, it is still taking the path of transformation.
The dry and warmed leaf aromas are now strongly brown sugar, ripe papaya and plums, floral, kind of citric. Rinsed leaf is pungent, wet leafy and floral.
The liquor color has moved from lemon yellow to gold to the current pinkish-yellow-brown. The taste is of caramel sweetness, moderate drying woody bitterness, slight acidity, minerals, flowers and camphor. The aftertaste rises from the throat with caramel, flowers and a hint of smoked meat. The brew quickly becomes thinner in body and taste. An underlying vegetal character presents as the caramel become ever lighter. The bitterness is persistent throughout all infusions. Very relaxing energy.
Flavors: Bitter, Brown Sugar, Camphor, Caramel, Drying, Floral, Flowers, Meat, Mineral, Plums, Smoke, Sweet, Tart, Tropical, Vegetal, Wood
I wish I had more of this tea, like all the previous Old Tree Black offerings from Old Ways Tea. I had one bag, which I drank during the Steepster Freeze. Old notes, fairly illegible.
Like the other 3 years I’ve had (2016, 2017, 2018), this one had a great, complex strength in aroma and taste. It reminded me most of the 2018 harvest, and I think that’s because there was an umami quality present in this one that wasn’t there in the 2016 and 2017 harvests.
Main taste profile included pumpkin candy, wet rocks, sunflower seeds, rose-orchid-sunflower florals, almond, blackberry, antique wood, malt, bright leather and a tangy apricot-orange tone. Creamy finish with lychee, morphing into apple and peaches and cream. Long lasting floral aftertaste developed vapors of nutmeg that grew stronger. Ginger heat, camphor cool.
I can’t recommended the Old Tree Black teas enough if you’re willing to pay for a treat! These teas deserve attention and would be a fun learning experience for anybody wanting to develop their palate and understand complexity.
Flavors: Almond, Apple, Apricot, Blackberry, Brown Sugar, Camphor, Candy, Cream, Creamy, Floral, Flowers, Fruity, Ginger, Leather, Lychee, Meat, Nutmeg, Nutty, Oak wood, Orange, Orchid, Peach, Pumpkin, Roasted nuts, Rose, Spicy, Tangy, Umami, Wet Rocks
I remember this Wuyi black tea having the basic, fruity profile of the region. The osmanthus flowers are the orange ones, not the yellow ones stored in gallon jars in Chinatown shops. The osmanthus was very strong in the first steep prepared western style. Its fruity, savory character blended very well with the black tea. I do remember the mouthfeel being rather thin but cleansing. It would make a great teapot tea to accompany lunch.
Thank you for the freebie, Old Ways Tea.
Handful of Steepster Freeze fuzzy recollections incoming.
The shou — somewhat oily body, the taste full petrichor and reminiscent of black oak and dark, dry loam. The bamboo imparted a cool and airy, green ‘essence of bamboo’ feeling that accomodated very well the dark, mineral nature of the shou. The aroma of gentle sage steam crossed my mind. Medicinal in that nature. The two main flavors played off each other well, melding into a cohesive flavor profile. The energy for me was cooling, focusing and somewhat overwhelming. Overall, a good, clean damp-free shou. Something I’d recommend as a contrast to warming, chocolatey, coffee, red fruit leaning shou. Thank you, Togo!
Flavors: Bamboo, Dark Bittersweet, Earth, Green, Medicinal, Mineral, Oak wood, petrichor, Sage, Tannin
Cocoa aroma. Toasty cocoa taste and honeysuckle-sweet with notes of steamed milk, earth and grass. It was thick and flavorful though bizarrely unbalanced for the first few steeps. It promptly waltzed right off the cliff with the third infusion. What a tragedy. Don’t be tempted to look.
Flavors: Cocoa, Earth, Grass, Honeysuckle, Milk, Toasted
I’m not well versed on the tea grading system for teas produced outside eastern Asia so I headed over to Wikipedia to figure out what FBOPF-SP signifies. The FBOPF either refers to Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe Fannings or Finest Broken Orange Pekoe Flowery. Given the leaf quality, I think FBOPF in this case refers to the latter. The SP I’m unsure about; I’m guessing Special.
Anyway, thanks to WE ARE CLOSED (née White Antlers) for sending this 2018 harvest my way. It’s a zippy black tea, with a tangy fruit punch-cherry-blood orange tone atop a mild to moderate maltiness. Best as an afternoon tea and most definitely not had on an empty stomach. More versatile than when it’s best had is its preparation. I’ve been pleased with using less leaf to create a lighter brew and more to create a robust, zesty cup. Along with leaf amount, steeping times and water temperature can be altered to achieve your desired taste without adding any substantial bitterness or astringency. It’s generally smooth but with a good bite that turns into a brown sugar returning sweetness in the throat.
This tea was a good accompaniment to a very late breakfast. Buckwheat waffles made with Strauss Greek yogurt, shredded carrot and warming spices, topped with pecan butter and dark maple syrup. I’ve cooked twice in one week after not having much appetite since all this Covid mess began. The other meal was sloppy joes and tater tots lol. My wonderful housemate has been doing all the feeding of this derk.
Flavors: Biting, Blood orange, Brown Sugar, Cherry, Fruit Punch, Malt, Smooth, Tangy, Wood
This is a fairly mellow, low-toned Yiwu sheng. Woody, forest floor dark feel mixed with plummy caramel sweetness. Body warmth and menthol cooling arrive quickly with the second steep. Later steeps become woody-bitter, lightly acidic-metallic and mouth-watering. The aftertaste is certainly the strength of this tea. It mostly a dry powdery, bittersweet violet with very long-lasting retronasal action. At times the aftertaste also presented with Juicy Fruit gum, honeydew-cucumber and blueberry skin florality — delightful. I’m not too drawn to this tea currently, but I could see it aging into a reliable daily drinker.
Flavors: Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Cherry, Cucumber, Dark Bittersweet, Dry Grass, Drying, Forest Floor, Herbs, Honey, Honeydew, Menthol, Metallic, Mineral, Plums, Violet, Wood
Quite the list of ingredients, all harvested from Québec. A little thin but sweet, fruity and woody with a strong note of fir that evokes a feeling of near-winter, inhaling frigid, moist air through my nostrils and catching the clean, cool scents of a northern Canadian landscape. Or for those unacquainted, I’d say it’s like a Christmas tree in a cup. A hint of wild blueberry and a tangy-sweet quality. Brewed for the recommended 7 minutes, there is a drying catch on the swallow but it tastes so cool and comforting I don’t care. A long-lingering resinous sweetness follows.
Directions call for 2tsp/250mL; I opted for something like 5 teaspoons for half my glass teapot, so 500ish mL. The mélange of ingredients with differing shapes and sizes doesn’t make it easy to get a varied distribution, so I did do some hand-picking of the larger ingredients instead of incorporating them into my teaspoon measurements.