2007 Tasting Notes
Uggghhh… will to stay awake flagging… Although it’s totally that situation where I am exhausted and totally wiped because my body thinks it’s 2:30am, but I did sleep a lot last night and yesterday so I don’t know if I could even really fall asleep. And my contacts are doing that “it’s late and you should go to sleep so we’re going to dry out an make it impossible for you to see” thing that they like to do. Oh, 12hr jetlag is the worst.
I decided to delve into my Le Palais des Thes gift set, which arrived while I was away in China. I’ve wanted to try Le Palais des Thes for a while now because I love Dammann Freres and a lot of French blends, which tend to be relatively complex with lots of flavors going on. I’ve also enjoyed the Kusmi teas I’ve tried, though I’m not a big fan of Mariage Freres because I don’t like the black base blend they use, so where does this company fall? We shall see! I wanted a black tea, which narrows it down because there seem to be not as many blacks as greens in there, but most of the others didn’t really speak to me today. I decided to try this “powerful yet refined Earl Grey” as they put it on the insert. The dry leaf certainly smells bergamotty, so hopefully it will be powerful enough to keep me awake.
I steeped this at 205°F since that’s what they recommend, and if a company recommends a slightly lower temp for their blacks I know I should follow it since blacks can go too strong and bitter for me easily. The black tea base comes out to play a bit more in the aroma. It’s nice, though I can’t quite place it. Familiar but not familiar enough for me to be able to identify it. Definitely Chinese and not a Ceylon or Assam, though. The bergamot is there but it’s playing back up, bright and citrusy. The flavors are good, a nice balance of the base and the bergamot. This is pretty high on the bergameter, but the base doesn’t get lost in the process. First notes are definitely bright bergamot, and then the warm, slightly bready, slightly malty black tea base comes out. The bergamot in this one is a bit on the harsher side, almost getting that pithy bitterness as it cools, so if you’re not a bergamot fan I could see how this could come off poorly. A strong bergamot is very difficult to pull off perfectly, and this tea does a pretty good job of it, but it’s not going to replace my Todd & Holland any time soon. The really promising part of this tea is that the base is very well done, so I’m looking forward to trying their other blends.
Oh dear, my mind is already flagging. I just got up not that long ago and I already want to go back to sleep. It’s rare that I have a two-tea morning, but there it is. I chose this one because it’s been sooo long since I’ve had it (even before I went to Asia).
You know, after so much time and changing tastes, I still like this one a lot but I don’t know that I loooove it like I used to. Partly it’s the chocolate. My absolute favorite chocolate tea (The Tea Spot’s Organic Chocolate “O”) has totally spoiled me, and now no other chocolate tea seems as good. This tea is pretty chocolatey, but I feel like I want MOAR chocolate. And I just feel like the base tea, while tasty, is not so super amazing, it doesn’t contribute a ton to the experience. Don’t get me wrong, I still love this tea, but I honestly don’t know that it’s a cupboard staple anymore. Gosh, I am getting so picky! :P
I have returned to the US, to home, and to my tea stash. Yay! So what is the first tea I go for upon my arrival? Maybe the Goût Russe put the Dammann bug in my mind, but this one was the unrivaled winner in that contest. This is one of my absolute favorite teas, all floral and almondy and cookie-ish and delicious.
I feel like now is the time that I want to rediscover my stash and go through all my favorites… being away for a month has that effect, I guess. I am definitely still dealing with the fact that my body is 12hrs off schedule (yeah, it’s 11PM, not AM, to my body right now, even if I did sleep pretty much all night last night), so I have a distinct feeling that this afternoon I will need something to really give me a wake up. For the first time in a while, though, I am swimming in choices. It feels so nice!
Man, this tea is tasty. I’m realizing that I should have just bought this box initially when I bought tea… not that the Impra Tea was bad, but it wasn’t great either. I didn’t have room in my luggage for the leftover sachets so I donated them to my hostel. I did, of course, have room in my luggage for this!
Unfortunately I kind of have to rush this cup because my taxi for the airport is coming! Yes I am departing Ulaanbaatar this morning. I have an afternoon/evening layover in Beijing, and then it’s home! I’m very excited!
Oh, look at what just fell into my shopping basket while I was at the grocery. I know, I’m bad, but I couldn’t resist. I justified it by saying that I needed some more sachets for traveling, which I will be doing a lot of in the coming months (as if I haven’t been doing enough already). And these are individually wrapped, which is so convienent for travel. And the slight premium of buying the box here in Mongolia is still much less than shipping from France, no? I have a lot of rationalizations for this purchase, lol.
This is supposed to be a special blend of citrus (they don’t say which ones), and the sachet certainly smells citrusy. I can definitely pick out bergamot, and maybe lemon or grapefruit, perhaps a bit of orange but not very much. The steeped tea smells much more like the black tea base, but in a good way (a lot of times, if a flavored black suddenly smells only like the black tea base with a hint of flavoring it’s not a good sign for me. Not so with this one, I like the smell of this base, which is often not the case).
The flavoring on this one is subdued and melds well with the base. It is brightly citrusy, but no one citrus fruit sticks out. It is truly a blend of the flavoring and the base, and both are stars in this show, not just one or the other. It’s also oh-so-smooth. I only went with a 3 minute steep despite the recommendation on the box of 4-5 minutes because that’s what I start all my blacks at, but I feel like this could go 4-5 no problem without developing any bitterness or astringency. The base is a very lovely Chinese black tea blend. I don’t know what the blend is, and apparently it’s very proprietary so I doubt I ever will, but to me it seems like there might be some Fujian blacks in there, or maybe some Dian Hong (or both!), and no doubt some Keemun (or Qimen, as I learned is the proper pinyin way of writing it!). Kind of chocolatey, kind of nutty, kind of caramelly. Definitely delicious. This tea also reminds me of how much my black tea tastes have progressed, because I never would have found all those notes before. A few special Chinese blacks have opened the world of black teas to me.
I feel like perhaps at one time I wouldn’t have been as impressed by this tea because the flavoring is so subtle. But now I really appreciate that Chinese black tea blend base, and I am totally in love with this tea. I’ll have no problem getting through this box, and I’m happy to say that I am very pleased with my purchase. But I do have to say, damn you, Dammann Freres for making such delicious teas… this is just making me want to try more of them! And there are so many!
Brrr it is so cold and snowy. I’m pretty sure it’s been snowing all day… at least, it’s always snowing when I go outside. This is possibly the most winter I’ve had all year!
A nice cup of tea is definitely what I need to warm up. Thankfully my hostel is also warm and cozy. At this steep time the pomegranate gets almost grenadine-like (real grenadine, not fake food-color grenadine), which is to say kind of sweet and syrupy without of course actually being sweet. I am still left wonder what happened to the rose here. Did they just show the tea to a rose and then package it up? Yup, a tasty pomegranate tea but not a rosey one!
It snoooowed last night! Just barely, but it did. Oh it’s going to be cold outside, which it hasn’t been for the last couple of days. Guess I better bundle up today.
I now steep this tea at 5 minutes, which is something I never, ever do for black teas. Crazy! What did they do to this tea to inhibit oversteeping like this? It is truly mind blowing.
Tonight I headed to a German cafe that is near my hostel in UB to get some work done and have a light dinner. I decided to have a pot of tea in the late afternoon before dinner, and I chose this one out of the tea box based on the recommendation of my waitress. I knew it was a fruit tea and I decided if I was going to have a tea bag I would at least have something that wouldn’t matter so much if it was fine pieces.
It certainly smells like sweet raspberry and bright lemon, and it brewed up a bright, ruby red. I suppose I should have known there was hibiscus in it, but I didn’t think about it. According to the google-translated ingredients, it has both hibiscus and rosehips, so a double dose of tart. As such I dumped the little tube of sugar provided right into the pot. I happen to love hibiscus, as long as it’s sweetened. I could maybe go for a little more sugar for the whole pot, but on the whole it is nice. Tart, slightly sweet, with a nice raspberry flavor. I feel like the tartness of the hibiscus kind of melds with the tartness of the lemon, so I can’t quite pick that one out. Teas like this are definitely something I enjoy as long as they’re sweet enough!
I am the only person staying in this part of the hostel right now (there is another separate apartment on a different floor, and another separate building), which happens to also include the main office. I guess partly because of this, no one is staffing the hostel between 9pm and 9am. At night no one comes around so it’s not a big deal, but this morning I was woken up several times by endlessly ringing phones (seriously who lets the phone ring for 5 minutes straight??). Finally I got up after some vigorous door pounding (I’m in a room at the back of the hostel, too, so that I almost didn’t hear), but by the time I got out there the person was gone. So I got up earlier than I wanted and now I’m hoping my tea will help me out. I only used one sachet for my cup this time but I steeped for 5 minutes. It is much the same as it has been! I have to say, this is perfectly drinkable but one of the first things I want when I get back is a big cup of Double Bergamot. MMmm.
Again with the lost tasting notes! Ugh, second time today.
1 sachet of Earl Grey Mallows, 1 sachet of Pomegranate Rose, both Impra Tea
I had a quite a greasy dinner tonight, plus a big beer, so now I’m feeling a bit bleh. Not good since I wanted to get some work done tonight. I thought some tea would help (though I don’t honestly think I’ll be getting anything done! :P)
Because these teas don’t seem eager to oversteep I thought I would try them both at the same time in the same amount of water. I like berry-bergamot blends and rose-bergamot blends, so I definitely like the idea of a berry(ish fruit)-rose-bergamot blend. It turned out pretty well… the bright bergamot cuts through some of the sweetness of the pomegranate. I wish there was more rose, of course. With double the leaf this tea is finally showing signs of being too strong for my tastes as the cup cools, but it’s not too bad.