2007 Tasting Notes
Sample stashbusting! The first time I had this tea I was not really impressed with it, which was disappointing because a lot of people really like it. I thought it was decently tasty but not enough of an Earl Grey to me… i.e., not enough bergamot. What is also interesting though is that this tea has a Fujianese base, and I tried it a while ago before I discovered that I really like plain Fujianese blacks. So I am wondering why I didn’t care for this one as much? Well luckily I get to try this one again.
I am also hoping this wakes me up a bit because I got up way too early this morning and I am already exhausted. I just read my past tasting note and apparently I wanted to steep it longer this time… oops. Hmm, the steeped tea doesn’t smell the best to me. I’m wondering if there is something about the combination of the base and bergamot that doesn’t work with my palate. I think I can smell a bit of the base that I recognize now, but they just don’t seem to work well here. Also the bergamot smells kind of like cleaning solution, which is not something I ever experience with bergamot. It’s got a weird high note that gives it a chemical aroma.
Surprisingly, it tastes better than it smells at this point. The flavor seems to be primarily the weakish base, which I do get some nice malty, grainy, honey notes from, though it pales in comparison to some of the other fujian blacks I’ve tried recently. Then this sharp, almost metallic bright note comes winging in from nowhere. It is definitely from the bergamot, but I don’t get a very much of the citrusy, slightly floral flavors I love about bergamot. Yeah, this definitely isn’t the Earl for me, and I think it has everything to do with the bergamot they use… for whatever reason, it just doesn’t taste right to me. Not to mention there’s not enough of it! And now I am reminded of that joke from Annie Hall… “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” “Yeah, I know. And such small portions!”
But seriously, I can see how this might really appeal to some, but it’s just not to my tastes. I actually don’t think it’s a base-bergamot thing that I dislike, but maybe it is. I won’t know unless I find another fujian-base Earl, and they’re not super common.
Happy Derby Day! Yes, it is the first Saturday in May, which means that it’s time for the Kentucky Derby! We’re having a small Derby party, so I’ve been running around prepping everything.
I noticed this tea at the grocery store today so I decided to pick up a bottle. Honeysuckle of course intrigued me because I love honeysuckle, and I often find honeysuckle notes in jasmines. This is a white tea with honeysuckle “extract” added, whatever that is. It’s unsweetened but seems slightly sweet from the honeysuckle anyway. The white tea is pretty mild, with some slightly floral honeysuckle, and a slight tartness (and maybe almost a citrusy flavor?) from the added citric acid. It’s a pleasant drink and a nice option when out and about, but it’s not something I will seek out specifically.
This is the tieguanyin that I brought back from Beijing. Again, I had a tasting of this one, and this is actually the middle-grade TGY that I tasted. I actually liked it better than the top grade! This is also the inaugural tea for my new Ru kiln tea set. No tea tray yet, so I’m not doing the whole ceremony of washing everything, etc, but I will get to chinatown to pick one up eventually. The woman at the shop packaged this tea into little “normal” sized gaiwan gong fu packets for me, so I wanted to brew this one gong fu style.
The leaves on this tea are tight little bright green balls, and even the quick rinse I did immediately released some amazing aromas, very floral and buttery. After a 10 second first steep a peak inside my tiny pot shows me that the leaves are already very well expanded. This is such a floral TGY, like fresh lilacs or maybe gardenias. It’s got a lovely, rich, thick buttery/creaminess to it, and oh my god so sweet! It is amazing.
Second steep, about 20 seconds, is a little more vegetal but also a little more buttery, I think. Still sweet and delicious. I’m not going to write about all the steeps because they are pretty consistant, it seems, and it’s mainly just growing in vegetal flavors. It’s a really, really nice oolong and I am so pleased with it. I bought more of this than I did the Tan Yang (it packs better!), so I am not quite so angry with the fact that I like it as much as I do.
This is one of the teas I brought back from China. I had a tasting of this tea in the shop in the Jingmin Tea City, and as I understood it, this is the highest of the three grades of Tan Yang Gongfu (Panyang Congou) black tea in the shop. We tried all three and this one was, not shockingly, my favorite. The leaf is long and squiggly, with tons of golden leaves in the mix, which is why I ended up calling it “Golden Tips” here.
I tried this one gong fu style in the shop, but I’m brewing it western style here just to see how it works this way. I used the steeping parameters from Teavivre’s Bailin Gongfu black tea, since that is the most similar tea I have to this one. It steeped to a dark amber color, and it has a great aroma of chocolate, honey, caramel and malty black tea. I remember this tea as smooth and sweet and lovely, and that’s what I’m getting here as well. I’m getting better than I remember, actually. At the shop it was hard to truly appreciate it because by the time I had this one my taste buds were getting a bit overwhelmed by Tan Yangs, but this is really a delicious tea. So so sweet! It’s amazing. With all those lovely chocolatey, malty, caramel, honey, raisin, wheaty notes. Of course I wish I had bought more, and I curse the luggage restrictions that made me buy what will not last very long for me. Shoulda coulda woulda, but I should have tried it while I was still in China (I didn’t want to break the airtight seal until I got home) because I might have realized that I needed way more of this. Sigh.
Gah I am almost angry about how much I like this tea. The funny thing is, I’m sure that this is not super special Tan Yang, it’s probably just your standard high-level commercial grade tea you can probably pick up in lots of those shops in Maliandao, but it’s still so good!
I paid about the same price for this as Teaspring’s Tan Yang Te Ji sells for. I am interested to see how they compare (and it is all I can do not to immediately order Tan Yangs from Teaspring right now! :P)
Can you believe that the last time I had this tea was over a year ago? I realized that the sample tin of this, buried in the bottom of my tea drawer, was still pretty full of tea. And it’s a green tea, so it’s no doubt aging. Yes, I have a tea sample problem. Nevertheless when I opened the tin the aroma was just as pungent as the day I got it, it seems. It smells like cookies and cinnamon and almonds, but never as much like almonds as I would hope. This is one of those almond teas that reminds me of snickerdoodles, which as it happens are not almond cookies.
I have to say, I am impressed going back to this tea after all this time. It is sweet and cookie-ish, a little bit of cinnamon but not overwhelming at all, with a hint of nutty almond. When I look for almond in the tea I want marzipan-y almond, which is difficult to find, but if I divorce that expectation from this tea, then I enjoy it a lot. It really is a snickerdoodle with green tea, to me. Possibly due to age, the green tea in this is not really as vegetal as it once was, which honestly is kind of a good thing. I would love to see a blend like this using a really nutty green tea base to start with, like the base of Empire Tea Services Earl Green. It was good to revisit this one because I might reach for it more often now!
This counts for my sample reduction because while I didn’t polish it off, now I only have enough of this tea left for one cup. I’m also encountering the tea dust that always seems to occur at the bottom of a tin/pouch, which means this cup is a little stronger than I would normally prefer. Still, I totally love this tea. I can order it online from Tea Palace (located in London), and shipping isn’t too bad, but I have a feeling it is a tea that won’t be in my cupboard until I make another stop in London. Of course its going to be quite a long time before I am ordering any new teas online, so its kind of beside the point! Still, I will miss this one after my next (last) cup.
Well, I spent this morning doing what everyone hopes to do on their birthday, which is waiting at the DMV to get my drivers liscence renewed. Actually it went relatively smoothly for the DMV.
Now I need some tasty birthday tea, plus it needed to be a black tea for the morning, so I reached for this one. Love this tea so much! Like a gongfu black tea with a bit of extra chocolate flavor, which is I think essentially what it is. Very subtle flavoring here.
Inspired by SimplyJenW, I am attempting my own Sample Reduction Plan because I really need to reduce the size of my stash. I have a whole drawer of pretty much nothing but samples, and it’s kind of out of control. So I am happy to be able to throw away the pouch that once contained my sample of this tea. I suppose I should have waited until I got my gongfu setup up and running, since that was my plan with most of the reminiants of the oolong samples in my stash, but I didn’t think of that until just now. Oh well!
Nevertheless, this tea still impresses me. It’s a Jin Xuan, meaning it’s an unflavored “milk” oolong, and you can definitely see the resemblance here. Jin Xuans can be pretty hit-or-miss for me, but this one is a hit since it’s light, floral and almost fruity, and then also has richer, buttery, honey-ish notes to it. Very lovely.
1.5tsp Passion Fruit Black by thepuriTea, 0.5tsp Organic Chocolate “O” by The Tea Spot
A while ago there was a thread in the discussions about interesting flavor combinations we wanted to see in teas, and someone mentioned passion fruit and chocolate. I knew I had to try it! And now I am finally getting around to a first go at it. I use a perfect teaspoon to measure my tea (1.5 actual tsp), but I have a 12oz cup so I usually measure out one perfect teaspoon, then somewhere around a half a perfect teaspoon to approximate 2tsp of actual tea. For blends, then, it’s difficult to do an even fifty-fifty, and so I had to decide whether I wanted more chocolate, or more passion fruit? In the end I went for more passion fruit, like eating a passion fruit tart with a drizzle of chocolate on top. My favorite chocolate tea was a no-brainer for this, as was this passion fruit black from thepuriTea, which is the best passion fruit black I’ve tried.
The tea smells mostly like passion fruit, perhaps with a particularly chocolatey black tea base. That’s really what I get most out of the taste as well… really it tastes like delicious passion fruit tea, and then maybe a hint of chocolate but it’s faint enough that it seems like an aspect of the base instead of an actual flavor. Pretty tasty, but I want more chocolate in this! The flavor combination is nice enough but not necessarily something I will seek out in the future. Maybe if the blend was a little more even, I guess.