2007 Tasting Notes
Oh taro milk tea, you really are the best. In all the grocery stores I’ve been to around Beijing, I’ve only ever found it in the one inside Xidan Joy City, a big mall. I go past it on occasion, but not very often. Thus I haven’t had this in a while and I forgot how delicious it is. I wish taro was more common as a flavoring in the states!
Oh, it’s morning again. It always seems to come too early no matter how early I go to bed. :P This morning I used the gaiwan and made like the people in the tea malls for tastings… that is, I did a number of short steeps but dumped all of them into one vessel. The result is definitely very tasty, and fairly similar to basically drinking each successive gaiwan steep. As such, even though I end up with a cup of tea that looks the same as “western” style steeping, the taste is definitely different. An interesting experiment, and one I am excited to try with other teas at home!
Today I am brewing this basically gong-fu style in a gaiwan. I’m not sure if people usually do that with jasmine teas, but that’s what I’m doing. My first use of a gaiwan, and hey I’m actually pretty good at it! I don’t even need an easy gaiwan like I thought I would.
Brewing this gongfu (high leaf:water ratio, short time) is really interesting, and it brings out other flavors that I haven’t tasted before. The jasmine is floral but… different in some ineffable way. I don’t know, but it is tasty. It’s also a little sweeter, a little fresher tasting. The first two steeps seemed pretty similar, but I also concentrating very much on the tasting, I just wanted some tea this afternoon. It is amazing how good this loose tea from the grocery store is… it makes me want to go pick up 50g of their high grade tieguanyin just to try it out!
Ok Steepsterites, I finally made a trip yesterday to the Maliandao tea street! I wrote up a very long report over in my “Beijing Tea Travel” post on the discussion boards.
So why am I not drinking one of my new teas or at least using one of my new teawares? Well, I spent all day outside today and I am sunburned and I wanted a cold tea. So I grabbed this one out of my fridge. I bought this one recently because I do love floral things even though I’ve never really been head over heals for osmanthus. I find it to be a pretty subtle floral. That is the case with this tea, as well, which tastes mostly like the original flavor but then there is a light floral note. It’s rather pleasant, actually, though if I’m not paying attention I could almost miss it. But I often find that that’s osmanthus for you! At least it is for me.
Today I tried to room-temp steep this by throwing some leaves into the bottle of water that I usually take with me to work. Let’s just say, it didn’t turn out well. Who knew a cold steep could be so bitter! I definitely need to go for far less leaves, I guess. I’ll try again next week.
But now I’m having this one hot again with dinner. It really is lovely, and oh so smooth. It’s just such a pleasant tea to drink, though I can’t see myself craving it and I think I would get bored of it, too, if it was the only thing I had. I guess I just crave more variety!
I had a bottle of this once before but didn’t get around to writing a note for it then. This is the “original flavor” milk tea, that is, basically unflavored. I remembered that the last time I was in China on a trip (2004), almost all of our bottled water was from this company, Wahaha, and it said that on the bottle in letters (not just Chinese characters). I will always remember one of our Chinese colleagues one time saying “Wahaha… the sound of children laughing.” Oh, Wahaha, you take me back.
Anyway, I enjoy this milk tea a lot. Not quite as much as the taro but not much beats taro. Actually there is a flavor to this that is similar to the taro (not surprising, since that one should have the same base as this), but I had thought that it was not just black tea, milk and sugar. Either the milk is slightly flavored with something else or the black tea is really tasty. I will never know! Oh well, I can definitely say I will miss this when I leave China. But it’s probably good, because I would probably gain 500lbs drinking this sugary rich drink all the time. :D
Yesterday I finally bought some other tea. I had been resisting until I make it to the tea market, but I don’t know exactly when that will be and I am tired of drinking the same tea day in and day out. So I bought some loose tea at the Carrefour (mega grocery store). I don’t know what brand this is, if it’s even listed, and I don’t have the energy right now to try and figure it out. I am so stressed about things at work back home right now, but being 12 hours off means that right now it is the end of the day there even though it’s the beginning of my day… which means I get to stew about my problems for at least 12 hours before anything happens with them. Guh.
At least the tea is tasty. This is a jasmine tea that translates to something like “Dragon Strip” or something. The leaves are nice and long with a few bits of flowers here and there. I let the just-boiled water cool for 4 minutes in my kettle before I steeped it. The resulting tea is sweet and jasminey, with a kind of robust green tea backdrop. Definitely tasty, and I’m glad I have it around. Now if only it would relax me enough that I will actually be able to get work done today instead of worrying all day… :P
Even though my head cold is next to gone these days, this morning I had some uugghh tummy troubles, no doubt from something I ate last night. I’m actually fine now, but I decided to brew up a cup of this to have with lunch anyway just because it’s soothing and pleasant and tasty. I added honey, which helps mask the flavor of this tieguanyin that I am tired of drinking but have so much of. Seriously, why on earth did I buy 100g of this? Clearly it was some misguided feeling that I had to, or something. I think I could have asked for less, but language barriers. They suck.
With this morning’s cup of this blend, I threw in a scoop of the dried jasmine buds I got at the store. I have to say I’m a little disappointed! This isn’t nearly as jasminey as I had hoped… in fact, the added flavor doesn’t seem like jasmine to me at all, just some kind of odd, earthy floral. Maybe I need to just do jasmine and tieguanyin without the rose and see how it plays out.
I am a sucker for pretty packaging, which is why I picked up this bottled tea in the grocery store the other day. Also the grocery store also labels things in (really small) English, so I knew this was a jasmine tea.
This has an odd taste that I can’t put my finger on. It was in my fridge, and thus pretty cold, but it almost tastes like ice, if that makes sense. Like jasmine ice. As it warms to room temperature, it tastes more like a standard jasmine green, but it’s still oddly “frosty”. I’m not sure where this flavor is coming from, and it’s not bad, but it’s unexpected. All and all a pretty decent bottled jasmine tea, but that weird flavor might keep me from returning to it.