63 Tasting Notes
Day two of Spring-Is-Here-So-It’s-Smoothie-Season Season, even though it’s raining outside and dark enough that I’ve head to turn on the lights this afternoon. But yesterday’s caramel matcha banana smoothie was such a hit, I had to follow it up with today’s boysenberry matcha banana smoothie. Made just like yesterday’s but with a good scoop of yogurt to give it an extra “twang.” Good stuff!
I felt like having a black tea this morning, but thought I should stick with the Chinese teas since I’ve been focusing on those samples recently. This one is the last of my Chinese black tea samples, the rest coming from Teavivre.
I like Teavivre’s way of recommending not just the steeping temperature, but also amount of tea (particularly in grams) and the length of time for each steep. It just gives me a little more confidence that I’m treating each tea right. And at least with this Fujian Baroque, I think I’m justified in thinking so.
Adagio recommends one heaped teaspoon in boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Okay, this may sound a strange question, but how much water? Teavivre will prescribe for both a 3oz gaiwan and an 8oz teapot. A “cup” of water in the tea world seems to be anything up to 250ml. There’s no mention from Adagio about how many steeps this will handle. So I did my usual 200ml, using my tea scoop that is 1.5tsp, and it weighed out at 2.6g. I did two steeps, 3 and 5 minutes respectively, both ends of Adagio’s listed times.
1st steep: The dry leaf looked nice with long twists of charcoal brown and some golden buds. There were gentle scents of cocoa, a little malt and freshly baked bread. The wet leaf smelled of that same bread and the Southern-style cooked-to-an-inch-of-its-life green beans that I’ve noticed before in a couple teas of this type. Not a bad thing, seems similar to those, though a good bit weaker. In the cup it was a dark mahogany color with a smooth but thin texture. It had both a bitterness and a slight semi-sweet taste. I could notice the freshly baked bread flavor, but I had to search really hard to find anything else. As the cup cooled (significantly) I could taste some cocoa and maybe some dark fruitiness like plums and berries. Overall, the feel and flavor was very thin, and not terribly interesting, certainly not compared to Teavivre’s Bailin Gongfu or Keemun Hao Ya.
2nd steep: Uh oh. This steeped for 2 minutes longer than the first cup but it’s lighter this time. The first cup felt weak; what of this one? It’s now a medium mahogany color. I take a sip while it’s still much too hot, and it feels just as thin as the first cup, but at least there are some notes of cocoa and spice. As the cup cools to drinking temperature, the fresh bread flavor returns to join the cocoa and spice, but really it doesn’t leave much of an impression.
I need some help here. I’ll ask a question in the forums, but you can answer me here, too. Did I not treat this tea right, as I was wondering earlier in this review? I’ll compare this to Bailin Gongfu. Teavivre recommends 7g for 250ml, and steeps of 1, 2 and 3 minutes. That one was wonderful. I didn’t use half that amount of tea for this one but steeped for 3 and 5 minutes. So was this “my” fault, even though I used Adagio’s (sparse) recommendations? Or have I simply spoiled myself by having Teavivre’s offerings first? The evidence here on Steepster is that Teavivre would have higher quality tea than Adagio in most cases. Please, correct me if I am wrong. I am happy to accept the student position for a good TEAcher. (Sorry, once that came to me, I couldn’t think of another way to write that.)
Note: Despite how it reads, I was in a good mood prior to tasting (I’m not in a bad mood now, either), ready and eager to be pleased. I just feel let down by this particular tea session.
Yep, Spring’s here, so I’m having a smoothie! How best to start the Smoothie Season? With my first ever matcha smoothie! Thank you, Sil, for your caramel peach matcha smoothie that got me thinking caramel banana matcha smoothie! About a cup of milk, one frozen banana, 2 scoops caramel matcha (and a little Splenda—sue me, it’s my afternoon treat!), and BAM! I’m an instant genius. Ok, I know there’s nothing earth shattering here, but just let me have my moment. I’ve only recently discovered the wonders of Red Leaf Tea’s flavored matcha, and now I can pair it with one of my favourite warm weather things, the frozen banana smoothie. Not to mention the fact it’s matcha: I’m buzzed and in a good mood!
I think I’m discovering that my tastes lean towards the darker teas (though I’m yet to order any samples of puerh—I’m afraid of it!). But that’s not to say that I haven’t enjoyed all of the greens and whites I’ve had. I haven’t had that many oolongs yet; this may be my third or fourth one. Descriptions I’ve read of Dong Ding in general and of this one by Teavivre sound delicious.
As usual, I’m following Teavivre’s recommendation of steeps of 1, 2, and 3 minutes with boiling water. I’m using the whole 7g sample package for 200-250ml.
1st steep: Opening the package I found lovely scents of gardenia that remind me of my mom, sweet grass and a buttery note. The wet leaf is amazing: I found it hard to keep my thoughts together as the scents raced around, full of cooked greens, heavy white florals, a light vanilla (but only just), and then butter, butter, butter! I could not believe that a tea could have this much butteriness just in the wet leaf, let alone the liquid! In the cup it was a pretty pale yellow, very smooth feeling and maybe a little oily. There was a very slight bitterness, but that seems really fitting with the flavor full of buttery greens and white florals that are lighter than in the wet leaf.
2nd steep: It’s hard to pour the right amount of water in the pot this time because the leaves take up so much more space in the infuser, so there’s probably closer to 250ml or maybe even more. Despite extra water, the tea is darker now as a nice light sunshine yellow. The flavors are also more equal now between the buttery greens and the white florals, but the florals really linger in my nose. Lil’ Miss is watching her shows now, but even with Postman Pat and Peppa Pig on, I manage to feel a little refined while drinking this on the couch.
And once again, the day took over and I never got to a third steep.
I’ve been holding off trying this sample because I’ve just been a bit afraid of it. I don’t know why; maybe it’s the legend this tea has created for itself, high expectations that my yet-learning mouth doesn’t want to dash in its immature tasting abilities. Maybe the Southern Girl predeliction for sweet teas in which I am trying to re-educate myself.
I used half of the sample pack, and that worked out to be about 2tsp for 200ml. I followed Teavivre’s recommendation of 1, 2, and 3 minute steeps.
1st steep: The wet leaf smells of cooked and subtly sweet vegetables, kind of like zucchini, with some toasted notes. I like toasted notes. With this shortest steep, it’s the palest of mint greens in the cup, and it has a thick, broth-like feel in my mouth. One of the kids did something, or made some sort of noise that made me look quickly in that direction while I was lifting the cup to my mouth, and I ended up missing. As it rolled down it honestly felt like a milkshake, albeit a warm one, on my chin. Now that sounds like I’m a dribbler. I do not currently need someone on hand to mop me up. But my imagination tells me that’s what it feels like to dribble a warm milkshake. You can stop shaking your heads. It’s the truth. The taste is very much like the wet leaf scent. I’m liking this!
2nd steep: A little darker color in the cup, more a pale yellow-green. And the same flavors only stronger this time, but a light orchid flavor comes out as the cup cools. This is really very nice!
Unfortunately I didn’t get to the third steep. Evening came up with everything it brings for me to do. Next time I’ll make sure to get all the way through! Looking forward to it!
I’m going to have another week or more of alternating between this boysenberry and the caramel matcha because I’ve promised myself to not order any more until I get towards the end of these. The restraint is the hardest part! But I also know I’ll be a bit sad when I get to the end of the boysenberry because it is just so good!
I have some cleaning to do today around the house. And I’m trying to reach for a cup of tea rather than snacks in the afternoon. I don’t want to do a long, drawn-out tasting session; I just want to feel like I have had a little something nice during a full and busy day.
This was a free sample I got with my first Adagio order. I didn’t smell tea when I opened the package, but I did get sweet potato, and also something a little acidic. What that last part comes from, I have no idea. In the cup, with milk and sugar, it’s a simple dessert tea. Sweet potato, cinnamon and nutmeg, and a scent of crust that honestly fills the room on its own. Going from room to room while cleaning, every time I came back to where my cup was I could smell baked pie crust on entering the room.
This is not a tea to take seriously. It’s not meant to inspire or fortify you for pondering the meaning of life. It’s just ready to help you feel a little pleased while you get on with your day.
Made a latte with this matcha this morning. About 60ml (2oz) water to whisk, then about 175ml (6oz) milk frothed and warmed, sweetened with a little Splenda. It was actually less Splenda than I used yesterday when I made this with just water. So the flavor was more gentle and still fantastic! Hubby said he could smell something different and sweet before he came downstairs just like I could yesterday. I very kindly gave him a sip and he gave it the thumbs up too!