2098 Tasting Notes
This tea comes to me from my swap with Rachel Sincere. Thanks!
I love tamarind, in pretty much any form. Sweet, sour, earthy… it’s one of my favorite flavors. I always wanted to try this tea when it became available because of that fact, so I jumped on the chance to get some in a swap. I’ve read through the tasting notes and see that most people recommend it with a little sugar, but I don’t have any so I won’t be using it. I’ve never had Guranse black tea before, so I am interested to try it as well.
From the dry leaf I get an aroma that reminds me of the spicy tamarind candies you can find in foreign grocers sometimes. Basically thick tamarind paste, covered in coarse sugar, often mixed with a bit of cayenne for spice. Those also tend to have an earthy smell to them, which I pick up here a lot. I get the sour fruitiness, and what reminds me of a little spice.
Steeped, the tea smells black and fruity in a tart way. I am really enjoying this tea. It is blended in such a way that it really accentuates the black tea, which happens to work very well with the sweet-sour tamarind flavor. There isn’t a true sourness here, but perhaps the idea of it? Whatever it is, it works. I definitely pick up the smoky tabacco notes in the base tea, and again they somehow really fit with the tamarind. Normally I wouldn’t be really into a tea with smoky notes, but this one is working for me. It’s definitely subtle flavoring, and I’m sure it is brought out by sugar, but I’m not sure that it needs it. I like it that way.
This just reminds me that I really need to put in an order to Butiki one of these days.
This tea came up in the comments on another tea by The Tea Spot, which of course made me crave it this morning. I was glancing through the tasting notes on this tea and someone mentioned a chocolate rose tea, and suddenly I wanted my fabulous chocolatey tea to be rosey as well. I had already portioned out my leaf but hadn’t poured my water, so I was considering just removing a small amount of the leaf and replacing it with a little rose black tea from my rapidly dwindling stash of that sort of tea, but I didn’t want to taint the high quality base on this with a lesser black tea. Then I remembered my rose buds from China… a package of potent, magenta buds I picked up at a tea shop in Beijing, and used to add rose flavor to oolongs and such while I was there. I dropped in a generous helping of buds and steeped as usual.
The steeped tea smells deliciously chocolatey as usual, with a hint of rose. That’s how the flavor plays out as well; I could have used some more rose, but I think the buds were a little overwhelmed by a black tea. What’s there is lovely, though… it is rose in an earthy, rough, whole-plant way, not a frilly perfumy way, and it works really well with the chocolate.
Last night I was in Trader Joe’s surveying their newest pumpkin paraphenelia when I noticed a cannister of this on their “New Products” endcap. Even a few months ago I wouldn’t have given this a second glance, but my love of all things pumpkin, a recent unexplained craving for spiced teas, and my recent appreciation for other forms of powdered tea made me pick it up and put it in my basket.
The first two things on the ingredients list are sugar and non-fat milk, so that should give you a sense of what we’re dealing with. Tea ingredients are listed as Black tea and Darjeeling tea. It also includes powdered pumpkin. The powder smells intensely pumpkin-spicey, like raw pumpkin pie mix. I prepared it as instructed and it yielded a intense brown color that seems dark for a latte mix. The flavor is very sweet, and quite tasty. It got a little two sweet for me at one point, but the addition of a little more water evened things out, and I will probably make my next cup with 8oz instead of 6oz of water. It’s not super tea-ish, but honestly when I drink chai I’m not super concerned about that. It is quite like drinking liquid pumpkin pie, and a good easy mix when I don’t have the energy to deal with other chais or matcha.
Once upon a time Verdant sold this tea, and I bought a oolong sampler than included it. That was ages ago! I found the remainder of this sample kicking around the back of my tea drawer and decided to use it up. I decided to give this one the gongfu treatment and put what was left in my little ru kiln teapot. The dry leaf still smells green and floral and lovely.
I used the general oolong gongfu instructions that Verdant provides: quick rinse, ~5 second first steep. The wet leaf smells remarkably charred and roasty, which was totally unexpected. Guess I forgot this was a half-oxidized oolong base. The tea, however, smells floral in a thick, rich, dark way, and tastes ridiculously sweet. Seriously, did someone put sugar in my pot when I wasn’t looking? On this first steep I can’t quite get beyond that candy-ish, slightly floral flavor, like pure sugar. At times there are notes in the background of green-ness and a very slight hint of toastiness, but mostly an overwhelmingly sweet aftertaste that lingers in your mouth and the back of your throat, reactivating every time you breathe in. It’s quite extraordinary.
Unfortunately my subsequent steeps weren’t so awe-inspiring… the sweet aftertaste remained, though growing fainter, but the main part of the sip is just kind of vegetal and a little roasty and bit boring to be honest. But I have kind of consistantly been unable to make multiple tasty steeps when I do gongfu, no matter what I seem to do, so it’s probably more me than anything else.
Mm, black dragon pearls, you are so delicious. The thing that amazes me about this tea is how naturally sweet it is. It is astounding! Chocolatey and caramelly, yum.
It’s hard to believe that at one point I would be uninterested in, or even not like this tea, but maybe a year ago that would have been the case. If you had asked me a year ago if I thought I would get into unflavored black teas, I would have said absolutely not, that is one I will never get into. My how our tastes change! Now this is one of my favorite teas. I do have to mostly attribute that shift to Teavivre’s tasting packages, which let me know how good black tea could be.
I haven’t had this tea in a long time, which is a shame because it is so delicious. It’s rare that you get a flavored green tea with this much character. A little spiced, a little cookie-ish, a little buttery, and those flavors pair so well with the bright, citrusy bergamot. I was having a hard time trying to decide on a tea to drink this morning (nothing too fruity, nothing too floral, nothing too nutty… I really wanted a spiced tea, but I don’t really keep those around!), but this totally hits the spot.
This morning I decided to take a stab at matcha blending. I wanted to combine two matchas from Red Leaf Tea: Black Currant (flavor level: robust) and Almond (flavor level: “There’s matcha in there?!”), but they are both extremely powerful in the flavoring department and I feared it would be too much to drink them just like that. Fortunately I still have some plain matcha left over from the Red Leaf taste test, so I did 1:1:1 of each of those three matchas, and turned it into a latte. It turned out great! The combination of fruit and almond is French to me for some reason, and I felt like I was drinking a matcha version of a Dammann Fréres tea. The extra plain matcha slightly toned down the strong flavors but everything was still very curranty and almondy. I’ll definitely be making this combo again.
This was a nice oolong to have with lunch today, and I can see how traditional, lightly roasted tie guan yins like this one are great everyday teas. This is quite tasty, just roasted enough to give it a light touch, and “ground” it more than an unroasted, green, floral oolong. Quite a good example of these types of teas.
Made a latte with this one this morning with almond milk (natch). This is so delicious, but also super strong in flavoring; I definitely thing the almond flavoring is strong enough that I will be dropping down from the “There’s matcha in there?!” flavoring level when I have to reorder this one. Because this one is definitely a reorder!