1915 Tasting Notes
This was one of the tea bags that came in our goodie bags from the NYC Coffee & Tea festival. I’m a bit meh when it comes to most pu-erhs… I don’t hate them, but I also don’t tend to enjoy them a ton either. I’m really not sure what made me decided to brew this one up this afternoon, and I almost regretted it for a bit when I was thinking if I wouldn’t be better off with a tea I loved after this morning’s disappointment, but in the end I’m happy enough with it.
The tea bag smelled straight up like hay and wood shavings. I’m sure the paper bag isn’t helping. Steeped, it has those same woody notes but overlain with a sweet magnolia aroma. It’s definitely a woody, oaky kind of puerh, reminding me more of the base notes to ATR’s Toasted Fig than some of the other puerhs I’ve tried. The magnolia lends a sweet, lightly floral note to the mix that’s rather pleasant but not perfumy or anything. Definitely better than I was expecting, but I can’t say I’ll be using the coupon on the back of the card.
This ended up being the only tea I purchased at the NYC Coffee and Tea Festival. Not much really grabbed me this time, and the one other company I might have bought tea from (and an adorable little gaiwan-teapot-thing) was chinese, so I held off because of my impending travels. When I tried a sample of this tea, though, I was pretty impressed. So creamy and vanilla-y! Even though I already have a bunch of a cream Earl Grey winging it’s way to me from the Tea Spot, I bought a tin of this and justified it because it is in sachets… traveling EGC!
Now to taste it under my steeping conditions (which for this first cup were boiling water for 3 minutes). The tea in the sachets smells very vanilla and cream, at a level where there is just about a caramel note to them. And of course the bright bergamot. The aroma of the steeped tea has calmed down a bit, but retains about the same balance of notes.
The flavor is a little odd. I mean, it’s not bad; there’s no bitterness or astringency to the blend, but the main part of the sip is just… flat. Like there’s very little there. There is a lovely vanilla-creamy aftertaste, but not much going on in the main part of the sip. Maybe I need to steep longer, or maybe one sachet was not enough for my 12oz mug (but that does seem to line up with their steeping recommendations on the website). Actually I apparently brewed it hotter than they recommend, so maybe that’s having an effect.
… Take two, this time brewed at 195°F for 4 minutes. I just couldn’t let my experience be dictated by that cup when I remembered it differently. This one actually wasn’t as good because the bergamot is more astringent and the lovely vanilla creaminess seems to have fled! I guess more leaf at my previous parameters is next. Ugh, I hate it when I can’t replicate a tasting experience that was so much better, even when following the steeping instructions a company gives.
… Take three, this time original steeping parameters in an 8oz mug instead of a 12oz. I checked, the sachet is 2tsp of tea, which should be for 12oz according to their instructions. Closer but not quite it! There is more flavor overall, including the bergamot and the vanilla. So close, but yet so far away! I’m going to have to stop these permutations now because my taste buds are getting overwhelmed by built-up astringency, but hopefully I can try it again later.
We went to a new Korean BBQ place for dinner tonight, which was extremely delicious, and I had a nice green tea there but of course I have no idea what kind or brand of tea it was. It was kind of a plain, grassy green, but I found it really tasty which surprised me a little because I feel like I’m not usually very into grassy greens. It paired nicely with our BBQ, and it kind of made me appreciate a plain, simple tea with a meal.
Anyway, we stopped by a bakery afterward and I decided to get a small cup of tea because I was feeling really wiped out and we were going to see a movie (which didn’t end up happening, because I totally didn’t expect it to be sold out, guess that shows me). Anyway, they had a small selection of Celestial Seasonings teabags and I chose this one. I was honestly expecting very, very little from it, but I was pleasantly surprised. They don’t say anything about other flavorings added besides bergamot, but I got strong lemony notes from this one along with the bergamot. I am shocked to find out that the tea base is partly Assam (and apparently also Kenyan black), because I liked it fine and I tend to not like Assams. Of course, these teas are probably blended to be as inoffensive as possible to your casual tea drinker, so I’m sure the base is toned down from other Assams I’ve tried. It wasn’t bitter or astringent or harsh in any way, and I didn’t feel like I wanted to add milk and/or sugar to tone it down a bit. Anyway, it was perfectly drinkable, and I would pick it again if I was in need of tea.
This tea may be called Boston, but I swear it just walked out of a plane from Paris. That flavor profile is just so similar to Coquelicot Gourmand from Dammann Freres, except this one has cranberries and lacks florals. The cranberries are sweet and tart, and they make a perfect pairing with that almond. And that almond! That, of course, is what makes the tea seem french, because it’s that almond-biscuit-macaron flavor, which is so totally different than “almond cookie” teas in the states. I am a big, big fan of this tea.
Another tea that obviously fits my recent chocolatey/nutty/rich tea kick. I also could use a fair amount of perking up this morning, so a nice full-bodied black tea was definitely in the cards. This tea is just so delicious! Glad I have a full tin of it that will last me for a while.
I’ve been in the mood for more “substantial” teas… things like black teas, and teas that aren’t really fruity but rather have “richer” flavors. It’s a hard feeling to describe, but it’s typified by teas like the Bailin Gong Fu black from Teavivre and Organic Chococolate “O” from the tea spot, or perhaps nutty teas and such. I don’t want jasmine greens, I don’t want white teas, I don’t want high-altitude green oolongs, etc.
So what am I doing drinking a tieguanyin with jasmine blossoms? There’s just something about this tea that edges toward that “richer” flavor. It’s floral, yes, but also buttery and with almost caramely notes to it. Those notes are one of the reasons I love it so much since they bring more to the party than just a floral, sweet oolong. And it’s delivering on my cravings today perfectly.
This is another tea that I just can’t seem to get enough of these days. The balance between the awesome tea base and deft flavoring is just delicious.
In trying to look up some information about this tea base (Hong Maojian), I discovered that Mao Jian tea is usually produced as a green tea, and there aren’t many places that sell Hong Mao Jian, that is to say black Mao Jian. Tea Palace, in the UK, is the only source for an unflavored one that I’ve found online. In any case, I’m really glad I just put in an order for 3 ounces of this tea because I have a feeling I’ll be craving it more and my sample is just about out.
This is another sample from my recent batch, so thanks again to Angel Chen and Teavivre for the samples, which I have been enjoying very much. I love jasmine teas and I very much liked their dragon pearls, so I was excited to try this one as well. The dry leaf smells very pungently of jasmine, but it’s not quite as sweet or purely floral as pearls, as if it’s a little rough around the edges. The green tea comes through in the aroma and grounds the jasmine a bit.
The aroma of the steeped tea is jasminey but also intriguingly buttery at first, though the jasmine seems to overwhelm it a bit as the tea gets cooler. It’s very heavily floral jasmine, moreso than the pearls; this one isn’t holding back. I like this tea and I’m enjoying my cup, but I wonder if a steep at 1 minute wouldn’t result in a more balanced cup between the jasmine and the green tea. I guess that’s something to try out next time!
Dudes, this is totally unprecidented. I tried this tea for the first time just a couple of days ago, but I’m already going back for another cup. This afternoon I was trying to decide on a tea and my mind just kept coming back to this one. I mean, me craving the same tea within a couple days of having it is not common anyway, but with an unflavored black? Never! Until today, apparently. Since this tea comes in little individual sample pouches I had used some from a pouch already and there was a little less leaf left in the pouch than I normally use. I didn’t want to open another pouch just for that, though, so I’m brewing it for 3 minutes instead of 2 (still within the recommended range) to see how it goes.
Annnd then I got caught talking to someone and it cooled off a lot (it’s still warm, but just), but you know what? It’s still delicious. I really wouldn’t have guessed that I would find an unflavored black tea that I like so much, but here it is. I have to say thanks again to Teavivre for sending me this sample, which I did not expect to like, and exposing me to these kinds of teas!
I was interested to compare this one to the “new version” Amandine Rose, which isn’t really a new version of this tea but rather a pretty different tea altogether. I brewed this one a little cooler than I did last time because I had success with that temperature for the Amandine Rose, and last time there was a hint of bitterness to this.
The steeped tea smells really cinnamon-cookie-ish this time, kind of almost like a snickerdoodle, though there are some almond notes that are wafting around my office this morning as well. Surprisingly, I feel like this tea is more bitter than when I had it the first time. I mean, it’s not very bad, but it’s still there. The flavors aren’t as nice overall either; it’s less almondy, and what I’m getting is mainly the taste of bitter snickerdoodles. Whatever they did to the tea base for Amandine Rose, it works, because this one just isn’t as good. Perhaps it’s the addition of candied violets to the new blend, which does sweeten the tea a touch and perhaps covers up some light bitterness. Either way, I’m not sad that this one was replaced with Amandine Rose.