1631 Tasting Notes
Back to the daily grind! I have fully recovered from my illness that took me out all last week. That, combined with my extended trip, makes getting back into the old routines kind of weird feeling. But my morning tea at work is one of those routines, so I’m easing back in with something familiar and yet new… this Earl Grey from Verdant Tea’s new Alchemy Blended line. I finally got around to ordering from Verdant Tea, which I had been meaning to do for a while, and I was excited to see their new line of flavored teas, which David kindly gave me a free sample of two of them (and I ordered an ounce of another!). Looks like I’ll be the first to rate any of them on Steepster.
The dry leaf on this is composed of very high quality looking Yunnan Golden Buds along with a smattering of orange rind and a few shards of lemongrass, but the black tea is by far the main component here. It smells very citrusy-bergamotty in an utterly delicious way. I steeped it for 3 minutes this time since I do that with all blacks the first time around, and the liquor is a dark reddish-amber. The golden buds have definitely come out in the aroma now… the tea has a rich, honeyed aroma, slighly caramely, like some of the other “golden” teas I’ve tried, with a bright slightly citrusy earl grey note that is really secondary to the tea, but still present.
In the taste, first I get a bright bergamot note that opens up into a honey-caramel golden bud tea taste, and it all finishes with an aftertaste that combines the two nicely. The bergamot is bright and bordering on astringency, not very tempered by the orange and lemongrass, though I think they do make it a decidedly citrusy bergamot as opposed to a floral one. It’s bold without being strong, if that makes any sense, because it doesn’t overwhelm the golden buds, but it also is no shrinking violet in the flavor. I’m really digging this Earl Grey blend, which is pretty different from other Earl’s I’ve tried before, mostly because I don’t think I’ve seen an EG made exclusively from golden buds! Definitely a winner, and one I think I will likely have to keep around!
I had a groupon for this tea company that was expiring in about a month, so I went ahead and bought the tea while I was already buying tea from other places. So expect a lot of new teas here for a while, because I have a ton of stuff to try!
Before my travels, I was really getting into oolongs, so a lot of my new teas are oolongs. I’ve always wanted to try the Raspberry Oolong from AC Perch’s, which is supposed to be awesome. Funny, that there aren’t very many raspberry oolongs out there from any tea company, but this one happened to have one, so I had to get some. The dry leaf pretty much hits you over the head with berry aroma. Sure, raspberry, but also just tons of all kinds of sweet-tart berries. There doesn’t seem to be any berry pieces in the dry leaf, but there is some kind of pinky-red petal in there… possibly hibiscus or rosehips, which is a bit surprising. Nibbling on a dry petal makes me think hibiscus. There aren’t very many of them in there, so we’ll see how they affect the steeped tea.
The tea brewed up really light yellow (no pinkness), and it smells tart-fruity and a bit floral. There’s also a bit of that green oolongy aroma in there. Despite the light color, the taste is pretty full. I’m enjoying it, but I do think it’s a tea that might not be for everyone. The raspberry flavoring is quite strong, especially as it cools, and it kind of drowns out the oolong itself, though I feel that it’s definitely lending a floral character to the fruit. And I can’t decide whether the flavoring might taste a bit artificial. I don’t get any hibiscus or that it’s too tart from this. Actually the aftertaste is rather sweet. Nevertheless, I am enjoying the pot and I will have no problem drinking up my ounces of this.
I’ve decided that my guts have recuperated enough that I should be able to handle a cup of black tea. I’m putting off trying some of the new samples I have, particularly a bunch of puerhs, until I seem to be at 100%, but I should be able to handle other teas now.
An inti zen mix box of tea bags was one of the packages of tea I picked up in Buenos Aires before I came back. I tried their Earl Grey early on in the trip, and when I saw the mix box I really wanted to try this tea when I saw the list of ingredients, with honey, vanilla and cacao. The tea bag has an intense scent of beeswax-y honey, with a slightly odd herby note. Brewed, the aroma is kind of odd and complex. That beeswaxy honey aroma is still there, but it’s joined by what I guess is a combo vanilla/chocolate note, but it’s hard to separate them.
It tastes ok, but yeah, that honey flavor tastes more like eating a honey beeswax lip balm than actual honey. The tea itself has a bit of a bite (apparently it’s an assam), and it almost seems like there is more spices hidden in the tea; it reminds me of a light chai or something. I don’t get distinct vanilla notes, and the chocolate seems to meld in with the black tea. There’s a slightly musty, hay-like note in the aftertaste. I’m also reminded that I don’t much care for assams. And tea bags make me much more sad then they ever used to… I don’t mind sachets, but tea bags are just always so disappointing. Well I’ll be back to my collection of loose leaf at work next week.
I am feeling a bit better today… the past days I’ve been too sick to even want tea! I’m already tired of my doctor-ordered chicken-noodle-soup and crackers diet, but though I’m feeling a little better I’m definitely not well yet. Sigh.
This one is rooibos with cinnamon and “crunchy” lemon, and I chose it because I thought the lemon would be nice right now. It smells very cinnamony through the bag and very cinnamony when steeped. There’s a faint brightness to the aroma that is likely the lemon, and that slightly nutty note that I get from rooibos. I wish there was a little bit more to the flavor… it’s a little weak, though I suppose I could steep it for longer without any ill effects. Also definitely cinnamon in the taste. I don’t get a lot of lemon, but I guess there’s a brightness. Basically it’s mostly a light cinnamon rooibos tea. I think I’ll brew it longer next time to see how it changes the taste.
Hey looky here, I actually did bring back tea from Argentina! This is a tea that I normally wouldn’t have given a second thought. The combination of flavors—spearmint, verbena, eucalyptus and melon—doesn’t really sound that appealing to me. But I had a bag of it at a friend’s house in Argentina at the end of an evening of a bit too much wine hoping it would help settle my stomach. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it! So I bought a sample box from this tea company that included some other herbals that sounded tasty as well. It is a tea bag, which I normally avoid, but you take what you can get.
Since I’ve been feeling pretty awful lately, and that includes some GI troubles, I thought maybe this infusion would be the tea for me. Mmm, and it’s definitely very nice. A bit herby, melony and sweet, it tastes like delicious fresh sweet canteloupe. The other herbs add some depth and other flavors to the tea, but they don’t overwhelm. I’m often afraid of mint in a tea, especially with fruit, because I often don’t like that combination, but it works. And I think it’s already soothing me a bit. Now I wish I had bought a box of only this tea to have it around!
Well, I have returned from Argentina, and brought with me some kind of cold/flu bug. Bleh. I don’t have a huge selection of teas at home, but I chose this one because it includes ginger, which would be good right now I think. I got this one a while ago as a free sample from Utopia, but I kind of put off trying it becasue I’m not the biggest fan of strawberry flavoring, and I didn’t much like peppercorn in another tea that I had, so we’ll see. I’m glad I came here before I steeped it; I’m not sure what kind of tea I thought it was, but it definitely wasn’t a Green/White blend. Fortunately I was able to wait for my water to cool a bit and not oversteep.
Steeped, the liquor is a kind of odd tan color, and it has the light aroma of strawberries with a hint of pepperiness. The flavor is slightly weird to me, and a bit difficult to suss out all the parts. There’s definitely some strawberry, which thankfully doesn’t taste like artificial strawberry flavoring. That seems to come out primarily at the tail of the sip, bright and sweet and fruity after a warm ginger/pepper note. It’s not distinctly gingery, per se, more just that pepperiness that ginger has, no doubt brought out by the peppercorns. I’m also thankfull though that it’s not super peppercorn-y; they don’t overwhelm the flavor like they did in the other tea I had that had peppercorns. There’s just a warmth to it. Overally I was pleasantly surprised by this tea; I didn’t expect to like it all that much, but I am enjoying it. Thanks again to Utopia for the sample!
Usually I don’t try to steep a sachet of this in a single cup of hot water, but I had had it with crappy tea lately so I did it anyway. That combined with a 5 minute steep was too much for this tea, and it got bitter. The second steep was better. I think I’ll have to do a few short steeps in the small (6oz?) cup to use the sachet, but I really need my tea. Only about a week until I’m back to the states and my cupboard full of goodies!
Wow, way backlog on this one. I just kept forgetting to log it. Mainly I wanted to say that this tea made me believe that the other Wally’s Tea that I had (the chocolate mint) was in part just really stale. This one had a fresh and juicy orange flavor, but sadly I didn’t find any notes of dulce de leche. Not one that I would go back for, but much nicer to drink than the last one.
At some point on this trip, I regained my taste for plain black tea. What I mean is, when traveling, whether on an airplane, bus, or train, or at the included breakfast at a hotel/hostel, one is often given the choice for coffee or tea, and the tea that comes is a plain black tea bag. This was one that I had at my hotel in San Juan, Argentina today. Earlier this year, I pretty much couldn’t drink this tea. I had been able to before, but at some point I couldn’t stand the taste of it. Even slightly higher quality English Breakfast teas were completely unpalatable to me. This trip, I started out declining such tea when offered… but then one morning I decided I needed a caffeine boost (and I absolutely don’t do coffee), so I got the tea bag and dumped tons of sugar into it and drank it. Now I add less sugar, but sometimes I feel like I need sugar to make it taste like anything. As it is usually I find them way too weak and steep them for a long time. Sometimes when I order tea I use my own tea sachet that I have brought with me this trip, but only when I get a small pot of hot water; a teacup of hot water would be way too little for a whole sachet.
Anyway, I’m glad I can drink them again, because even crappy tea is better than no tea at all, for me. Now so far it’s only been tea produced in Argentina, and maybe they don’t use some variety of black tea that others do that I dislike. But maybe the world of unflavored blacks is opening up to me once more!
Edit: I also wanted to add that Argentines apparently do not like Earl Grey. I have seen one Earl Grey offered anywhere since I’ve been here! Glad I brought my own…
Another early early morning in the bus station, another cup of Tower of London. I think I’m down to three sachets for the rest of the trip!