2135 Tasting Notes
I feel like I made out like a bandit in my most recent swap with Alphakitty because I got sooo many samples of teas I wanted to try! I’m drowing in tea samples, and I’m very excited to try all of them.
I plucked this one out of the pile first because bergamot + rose = love, for me, and this blend also has cardamom and borage, which I didn’t know what it was at first but is apparently a mediterranean herb. I realized that I think I have seen this tea company at the NY Coffee and Tea Festival before, but I’ve never noticed this tea there I guess.
Steeped, it smells like a delightfully rosy Earl Grey. Unfortunately the taste is a little lackluster. As in, it doesn’t taste like much! The flavor isn’t very strong, and overall the tea really dries out your mouth and doesn’t really have even much of an aftertaste. I also get the impression that steeping it longer would just end in bitterness.
Oh well, thanks for the sample, Alphakitty! It’s good to know ahead of time since this company doesn’t sell small amounts of their teas. I will go back to savoring my Bergamot Rose Laoshan Black. :)
So I realized a little too late in the game that I was out of the raspberry tea from Monterey Bay Spice Company, which included raspberry leaf in the blend. I would drink it about once a month for some woman-specific symptoms, if you get my drift, and I needed some right away and couldn’t wait on an order. I thought about checking out Whole Foods, but then I was at a Home Goods store (sort of a reseller of all kinds of homewares, including some foods like jams, cookies, and teas) and happened across a box of this tea. Score!
This actually isn’t pure raspberry leaf, it also apparently includes raspberry fruit as well, though I’m not sure in what form. They are tea bags, but that is fine for an herbal tea. An extended steep yielded a yellowy, herby-smelling tea, and I rather pleasant flavor. It’s quite sweet, a bit fruity, and a bit herby. I wouldn’t say “yes, very raspberry!” to the flavor, but it’s certainly tasty enough. Very pleased with my find.
I don’t often return to a tea this quickly, but I was just really curious about this one. The black tea base on this seemed so nonexistant that I wondered what would happen if I just added another teaspoon of black tea to the mix. I’m logging this under this tea instead of Chance Combinations because it’s really all about this tea. At first I was considering adding sometime like a Panyang Congou sample I have around, or perhaps some Laoshan Black, but then I decided, you know what? I really want some chocolate in there. So I used the Tea Spot’s Organic Chocolate “O”, which, for those of you who don’t know, is a single-estate, high quality flavored tea. I actually did 1:1 mix here, and just added more black tea to almost the normal amount of this tea that I would put in my cup, so we’ll see if it doesn’t turn out too strong.
Not too strong, but I might dial it back a bit next time because it is edging on too strong. However, it does have a nice blend of pumpkiny flavors and the rich chocolate underlying it. It’s definitely a more enjoyable cup with a base that actually is interesting, so I’ll definitely be putting some various different interesting black teas in whenever I steep this one. It will be interesting to see what might be the best one!
Earlier today I tried this one gongfu style in my ru kiln pot. I followed the instructions on Teavivre’s site exactly, and this time I had a scale, too, so I have the amounts right.
I did a quick rinse, after which the pearls barely looked like they changed at all. After a 40 second steep the liquor was light colored and light in flavor, though distinctly jaminey. It was also not super exciting as a jasmine tea. Teavivre next called for a 1min10sec steep, and after that the liquor was dark and overly strong, edging on bitter. So for the third steep, I went for 1 minute even instead of 1min30sec. Still, it was unpleasantly strong and bitter. Then I left it for a while, and thought maybe I was done with it, but then I decided to give it another shot. This time I went only 15 seconds, and it was very nice. Jasminey, fresh. I did another 20 second steep after that, and that too was nice. Ah, yes, with 8oz in a 6oz pot, this definitely needs short short steeps.
Thanks to Faith for including this one in a recent swap. I don’t drink a ton of DavidsTeas, but occasionally there is a flavor I get curious about. I love salted caramels, so this was definitely one of them, though I don’t know what coconut is doing in there. Salted Coconut Caramel?
I smell the coconut in the steeped tea, and it smells a bit like some of the chocolate-coconut blends I’ve had, though only with a faint chocolate and with more of a caramelly background, which makes sense.
Well this is pretty tasty overall. Caramelly, coconutty, with a hint of savory to it, which must be due to the salt. Ooh I just got a sip with a lot of burnt-sugar caramel to it, which was delightful. I have also come to realize that although I love coconut in general, I often am not the biggest fan of it in black tea blends (though I often love it in whites or greens). Dunno why. This does have a bit more coconut in it than I would prefer. Why is coconut necessary in a caramel tea? It’s just weird to me. Still, this is pretty tasty despite it, and I am glad I got a chance to try it.
I ordered this ages ago, tasted it, and decided I wanted to let it “meld” for a while since Ovation blends their teas to order. Then I promptly forgot about it, until I decided to make a cup today to try it out before I sent most of it out in a swap. I have cold-steeped this once in the interim as well, and it turned out nicely.
Last time I found myself not fond of the bite of the assam base, and without clear flavor profiles. This time I will say that the flavors have mellowed more and I get pretty decent raspberry and citrus notes. It’s not super bergamotty, but it is enough so to definitely be an Earl. The black tea still has a kick to it, but not overly so. Tasty enough, but not one of my faves.
I really haven’t been drinking a lot of flavored teas lately, besides flavored matcha. Weird. Well I finally went to the post office during their opening hours this morning so that I could get the packages that were too big to fit in my (actually very large) PO box (although seriously, there is no reason that two ounces of tea, or a small tin of matcha, need huge cardboard boxes to ship in), and so I finally got to pick up my order from Della Terra. I’ve been curious about Della Terra teas since everyone has been talking about them on here, but never that driven to order from them. But then they had a 50% off halloween teas and I ordered two off that list since the price was right.
I have not spent a lot of time looking for a perfect pumpkin tea, but am pretty certain that it is a flavor I will be fairly picky about because I love pumpkin everything. I go pumpkin crazy this time of year. The dry leaf on this one is powerfully pumpkin pie. Spiced, but not spicy in a chai way, and definitely pumpkiny. Steeped, I smell more fall-themed spices, particularly some woody cinnamon, a bit of pie crust, and what may be some pumpkin hanging out in the background.
The flavor is pretty nice, with some good levels of spices and a decent creamy pumpkin-ness. It’s just, the black tea is so weak. It’s like it has hardly any flavor at all. At one point this would never have bothered me, but now it does. I can just imagine how much more delicious this would be with a lovely, rich, black base underneath. I could try to steep it for longer, but I fear that would just bring out undesirable black tea qualities. I may actually try to add some richer black tea to this the next time I have it and see what the result is. Even so this is pretty tasty with nicely balanced pumpkin flavoring.
I recently received this tea as a free sample from Tea from Taiwan. So thanks for the opportunity to try it!
I realized I forgot to do my exhale-inhale scenting of the leaves! I think I was so wrapped up in figuring out how to brew it. Tea from Taiwain doesn’t give very exact instructions, so I googled for others and found a thread on TeaChat where people were posting how they brewed Taiwanese high mountain oolongs. I read a number of posts and was intrigued by a method in which they had no rinse, a long first steep (90 seconds), then dropped back to 30 seconds and built from there. I sometimes feel like I am washing away some of the delicious stuff with the rinse, plus I often like the first steep best, so I decided to try this method on this sample. I used all 7g in my 6oz teapot, and approximately 200°F water, which people also suggested.
Underneath the lid, smells floral and buttery, and that is present in spades in the scent of the liquor, which is just barely colored enough to look different than the light green of my ru kiln pot. It smells amazing, incredibly buttery and even a bit cookie-ish. The flavor is interesting, more like asparagus or snap peas than I expected, with a buttery undertone. Definitely like crisp, blanched veggies.
I can’t say that I believed a 30 second steep after a 90 second steep would be very strong, but even just looking at the liquor, it is a much brighter green. The flavor is pretty similar, though with ever so slight floral notes this time. And a subsequent steep at 1 minute was basically the same, but also getting more green and less buttery. Then I stopped steeping it because I kind of lost interest.
This tea was pretty good but not really my style, as I am realizing that many Taiwanese high mountain oolongs are not quite my style. Very light and fresh, and it smelled amazing, but too much vegetable in the flavor and not quite enough butter or florals. Still I appreciate the chance to taste this tea!
In my recent gongfu sessions, I have discovered a new favorite step in my preparations. After I portion out some tea into the pot, I take a sniff in the pot. Then I exhale into the pot, and smell the amazing scents that come back out. It is a revelation. The teas smell amazingly different warmed and humidified by my breath, and notes come out that more closely match the flavors.
This one smelled amazing this morning, the perfect embodiment of autumn. New fallen leaves, sweet potatoes, spices. I have never brewed this tea gongfu before, so I am excited to try it. Once again, leaf amount is a guestimate… I really should bring my scale in since I rarely use it at home these days, at least until I get a feeling of what a certain weight looks like.
This time I didn’t even try to make the first steep a rinse, knowing I wouldn’t have the heart to throw it out. A few seconds, and the tea is just waking up but still has lovely flavors of sweet potato chips, a kind of sweet and savory together.
I do think I might not used quite the right amount of leaf, though I’m not sure right now if it should have been more or less. Regardless, the steeps I had (many) were tasty, though not quite as delicious as just steeping it western. But I will definitely have to properly measure my leaf and try it again.
I have so been on a gongfu kick lately. It’s like, I kinda figured it out eventually and now I want to use my little ru kiln set all the time. I usually drink black teas first thing at work, so I figured, let’s do this one gongfu.
I tried to guestimate the amount of tea for my 6oz pot, since again I don’t have a scale handy, so I ended up eyeballing the tea and about 4.5tsp looked right again. Black teas seem to steep so fast that I can’t really rinse them without resulting in a dark, aromatic brew, so I end up drinking the rinses because who can waste that? This time the rinse smelled chocolatey and sweet potato-y. Like my western steeps of this tea, it tastes a bit chocolatey, but in this steep even more of the woody, minerally, smoky, peppery notes come out.
The first real steep (still only like 2-3 seconds) is dark, whoa, and the liquor has a piney smell to it. It smells kind of like the pine barrens (a type of forest we have here on Long Island, basically pine trees and little else). The flavor is bold and strong and I feel like I could have probably gone easier on the leaf in the pot, heh. The “roughness” that I perceived when brewing this western style really have come out, even in this super short infusion. I treated the subsequent steeps to extremely short pour-in-pour-out steep times. I did quite a few where more of the sweet potato came back, but the flavors were still a bit harsh for me.
At least in this sitting, I preferred this one western to gongfu style, but I think that has a lot to do with the amount of leaf I used. In another gongfu session I would definitely use less. But I also think gongfu has a tendancy to bring all the flavors to the foreground in various steeps, so they can’t just hide out like they can in a western steep. So the marginal elements that aren’t as appealing when you steep a tea western, aren’t marginal anymore. I enjoy this tea but it’s definitely not quite my style, and that is definitely emphasized in the gongfu session.