2185 Tasting Notes
This tea was a gamble for me. I am not really a fan of Mi Lan Dancong oolongs so much, but I figured, what the heck I’m getting more and more into Chinese black teas, so I might as well give this one a go. I included a sample size of it in my most recent order.
When I first smelled the leaves I got just an aroma of slight chocolate and toasted grains, kind of like dark oolong. Then I exhaled into my teapot and inhaled immediately afterward and I got the most amazing apricot/plum/stone fruit aroma coming back at me. It was quite surprising!
I looked at the steeping instructions on Verdant’s website, and even the western instructions were not that western. I decided to go with the gong-fu instructions and bust out my tiny teapot/gaiwan hybrid for the first time since I returned from Madagascar. My pot is 6oz, so I used the entire 7g sample in it, which filled it about halfway as recommended on Verdant’s site. Two rinses, as instructed, and then the first steep, just a couple of seconds. The wet leaf smells crazy minerally with hints of cooked spinach, and the tea itself smells completely unexpectedly like the woods, like trees, like cinnamon. Actually I’m impressed that I detected that cinnamon note without reading about it first in the description, because I often don’t really find things like that until I go looking for them specifically. The tea is creamy and honeyed, though I don’t find it to be fruity. Never mind, my last, lukewarm sip of the first steep was a tiny stone-fruity. Overall a pretty oolongy steep.
After the second quick steep, the inside of the lid of my teapot and the wet leaf both yield a surprisingly strong floral note, but I would call it gardenia instead of jasmine. The liquor smells sweeter, more cinnamony and less earthy-vegetal, though the florals err on the vegetal side of things. The flavor is again honeyed and more floral this time, in an oolongy way, not a particularly flowery way. I get an aftertaste of asparagus, and as the second steep builds in my mouth the mineral flavor returns.
Overall I would echo others who say this tea seems very oolongy. I guess it’s hard to put a line down on oolong versus black tea sometimes, and this tea definitely straddles that line. Am I glad I tasted it? Absolutely. It was a fun experiment. But I doubt I’ll be picking more up since I’ve never really gotten into those dancong oolongs in the first place. Someone who was would no doubt find this tea very intriguing.
This is flavor I could not wait to try. I am in love with all things pumpkin, so this one got purchased even before it went on sale last weekend (with a different coupon, though). I went ahead and ordered this with the basic matcha base and the “There’s matcha in there?!” flavoring level because I wanted a lot of pumpkin. Get it here: http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/pumpkin-pie-matcha.html
When I opened the pouch and sniffed I was very pleased because it smelled spicy, but also richly creamy-pumpkin. But you often can’t tell what something is going to taste like from its dry smell, and that seems to be the case here. For this first tasting I prepared the matcha with just hot water (then added a little sugar later). I got almost no froth when whisking this one, which has to be an effect of the flavoring somehow. It smelled very clovey when prepared, that really is the dominant aroma.
As for the initial taste, well, that was surprising. It honestly didn’t taste like much… some faint spicey and an earthy, minerally matcha base. I’m really not sure how that’s possible with the “There’s matcha in there?!” flavoring level, but it’s true. Then I added some sugar, which balanced the flavor a lot. It still didn’t taste as pumpkiny as the dry powder smelled, but it was certainly a more rounded spice flavor with a nice pumpkin undertone. Honestly I can’t wait to try this one as a latte, because I think it will really shine in that form.
This tea sample comes courtesy of Sare during our recent swap. Thanks!
I asked for a sample of these pearls out of curiosity. I don’t know if I’ve ever had an Adagio tea, actually, but I do love the black dragon pearls I got from Teavivre so I wanted to compare those with another company’s (not that I’m looking for a replacement!)
The dry pearls smell really quite chocolatey, with maybe a touch of cinnamon, actually. Intriging! Sare sent me 4 pearls so I decided to use them all up in my 12oz mug, and hope that it will be strong enough. Steeped, it smells roasty and grain-y, not much if any chocolate. The flavor could be stronger, but that is likely an effect of using what is probably too few pearls (I think I would normally go with 5). Otherwise it is pleasantly sweetish and honeyed, with a somewhat molasses-y grain-y flavor. Quite a tasty tea, though not going to replace Teavivre’s version any time soon. It was good to get to try these from another vendor!
I am actually not a big eater of plain pistachios, but I love their nut-paste based desserts, like gelato or various truffles. Yum. So I really wanted to try this matcha, especially after trying the almond matcha in all its nutty glory. I ordered this one in the robust flavoring level, with the basic grade matcha, from here: http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/pistachio-matcha.html
As I opened the pouch, the matcha definitely smelled like pistachio essence, by which I don’t mean it smelled like a bag of pistachios, but more like pistachio gelato or pistachio marizpan (marzipan made with pistachios instead of almonds!). I prepared this matcha as usual, with 1/2tsp of matcha for 8oz of water, and a little sugar added part way through the bowl.
When I first smelled the prepared bowl of matcha, I was surprised and confused that it smelled kind of spicy, like nutmeg and cloves. Wha? It wasn’t unpleasant, just totally unexpected. The smell carries over to just the beginning part of the taste, where it initially seems a bit spicy but then morphs into a nutty, rich pistachio flavor. The matcha underneath definitely takes on an earthy flavor, and I can’t help but wonder if the spiciness isn’t at least in part from the matcha that the pistachio flavoring is just bringing to the foreground.
This is a really tasty matcha, though not precisely what I was looking for with the pistachio flavoring. The pistachio is definitely there and delicious, but the spiciness is kind of throwing me off a bit. My score may change as I try it more times and attempt to figure out all of its flavors.
When I went to Dammann Fréres in Paris, I bought one of the two ‘macaron’ teas they had, the Macaron Mangue Jasmin. I came back and I loved it so much, I wished I had bought the other, this one! Well fortunately for me QueenOfTarts wanted to swap me for some, so here it is, in my possession! Thanks QueenOfTarts!
The dry leaf smells lovely, like delicious, fresh, real black currants (cassis). I don’t detect a distinct violet note, but it does have perhaps a hint of a floral quality to it. The almondy macaron is also fairly subtle but lurking about in the corners. Steeped, the tea definitely smells like more of a mix of currants and violet; it’s more floral, and there is also more of the macaron aroma at the base of it.
I had high expectations for this tea, and I was not disappointed. It’s Dammann Fréres, how could I be? I have never been disappointed by a tea of theirs. This tea is fruity, floral and almondy (in a light, macaron-y way) all at the same time, and blended in perfect proportions. The black currant is lovely and berryful and sweet, the violet is light and floral, the macaron is slightly bakey-cookish in an ethereal way, just like a real macaron. Yum.
Aaand, now I want macarons.
I haven’t ordered from 52teas in a while, but when Red Leaf Tea offered a coupon for people who ordered from 52teas, I decided to take a perusal of their stocks to see if anything interested me. I do actually remember this one being released but I didn’t look closely and I assumed it was an Earl Grey black tea. I haven’t had the best successes with 52teas black teas in the past, so I didn’t give it a second glance until the other day when I noticed it was actually a black currant-bergamot white tea. Well then! I love bergamot, I love black currant, and a white tea seemed a decent base. I was excited.
The dry tea, however, smells disconcertingly like grape medicine. Hmm. The tea didn’t come with steeping parameters, and I don’t have a “default” for white teas because I don’t make them all that often, so I guesstimated some parameters after looking around a bit. The steeped tea also, unfortunately, smells like grape medicine. The taste is… weird. I have to say I don’t get bergamot or black currant out of this. It is oddly sweet (like really sweet!). Ok maybe some black currant candy flavors, but they are more grapey than curranty to me (and I don’t like grape flavoring). Meh. I can’t get the grape medicine out of my nose. And that sweetness, like there’s some kind of sweet additive, is not helping. It’s not undrinkable, but I am not likely to want another cup.
Oh well, onto the swap list it goes.
I bet a lot of you are looking at the title of this and saying “what on earth is a sea buckthorn?” I didn’t know either until I went to Mongolia and saw bottles of orangey-yellow sea buckthorn juice in the grocery store with depictions of a cluster of berries of the same color on the label. I have sort of a penchant for foreign fruits, so I bought a bottle out of curiosity and totally loved it. I also looked for a sea buckthorn tea in the somewhat vast selection of teas in the Mongolian grocer’s, but it was a no go. So when I saw that, out of all of the weird flavors they have, Red Leaf offers a sea buckthorn matcha, well I knew I had to try that one. I ordered the basic matcha with a robust flavoring level, from here: http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/sea-buckthorn-matcha.html
This is one of my favorite matchas that I’ve tried, which is totally a surprise. And it’s one of my favorites because Sea Buckthorn is a flavor that seems like an extension of the natural matcha flavor, not an addition. When I opened up the pouch and smelled it, it really just smelled like straight up matcha, and I was kind of skeptical. However, as soon as the water hit the matcha I could smell the tart, acidic aroma coming out of the bowl. I always find it hard to describe a flavor in terms of other flavors; sea buckthorn is tart, almost apple-pear-ish, in a berry way, if that makes any sense at all. There’s no mistaking, though, that this matcha is sea buckthorn, and very well done. I don’t even know what artificial sea buckthorn would taste like (I suppose it would at least be a big chemical), but this one tastes all natural to me, like the sea buckthorn juice I gulped in Ulaanbaatar. It doesn’t need sugar, for sure, but it is more matcha-y without it. The sugar doesn’t make it sweet, but somewhat ironically brings out the tart, delicious sea buckthorn a bit more.
If you like tart flavors and are looking for an unusual matcha flavor you should consider checking out this matcha. It’s also a matcha I would consider springing for a higher grade on in the future, not because this one is bad, but because it is so prevalent, even in the robust flavoring level, that you would really notice.
I feel like a total zombie this morning because I was up late last night and early this morning. Ugh. Even my matcha couldn’t keep me going for very long. Enter, double bergamot! Before I had Lupicia’s Earl Grey this one was my favorite, and it’s still very good. Very bergamotty (natch), with a nice, malty-sweet base that is rich and actually stands up to that much bergamot. Don’t know that it’s going to wake me up, but it’s probably my best shot.
I can’t believe I’m the first one to review the almond matcha. Almond seems like a popular flavor, but I guess others have gotten more attention recently and almond has fallen by the wayside. It’s one of my very favorite flavors, though, so I knew I had to order it in my last order.
For this matcha I ordered the Basic grade base, but I went all the way to “There’s Matcha in there?!” as the flavoring level because 1) I can never have enough almond, and 2) often almond teas just aren’t almondy enough for me. Can’t let this happen here! Cutting open the package releases an amazingly powerful almond aroma, like sniffing a bottle of almond extract.
I prepared the matcha using a half teaspoon of matcha for 8oz total of water. I was a little concerned about being overpowered by flavor, so I went small for this one. I sifted my matcha into the bowl, making sure all the “flavor crystals” made their way in, then added a splash of water to loosen up the powder in the bottom of the bowl, then a couple of ounces to whisk with. I didn’t get great foam with this one, but I can’t tell if that’s user error from being extra tired this morning or not. Finally I finished adding the remainder of my 8oz of water.
The prepared matcha is probably one of the best-smelling prepared matchas I’ve come across. The almond-extract aroma is mitigated and it now smells actually nuttier, sweeter, more like marzipan or an almond paste cookie. First sip… wow, yum. This is so almondy and sweet on its own (I haven’t added any sugar), it’s like eating an almond cookie, or a big hunk of marzipan. I know the flavoring level is “There’s matcha in this?!”, but you can still taste the matcha, and it’s a flavor that goes well with the almond. I do think I probably could have gone with robust for this one because the type of almond flavoring they are using seems like the strong time that will come though fairly easy. Ok, I couldn’t resist adding just a touch of sugar (half teaspoon), and holy crap, is this like almondy matcha candy. It makes me think that this would be a good addition to a sugar cookie as opposed to almond extract to make a matcha almond cookie. This has been my favorite matcha so far, and I will definitely be back for more when I run out.
I got in on the 52teas/Red Leaf promo (really, a promo Red Leaf was offering to help out 52teas), and the coupon I got for it was tremendously generous; I ended up getting a lot of matcha. More to review! This one was added the day I was planning to make my order, and it was on sale that day, so it was fortuitous because I love black currant. I ordered this with the Basic matcha base and with robust flavoring, from here: http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/black-currant-matcha.html
Black currant is one of those European things you just don’t find in the states much, but I love it. When I opened the pouch of this matcha it smelled dead on like black currant candies, like the kind that you find in Europe instead of grape. I love how the purple candies in a mix of fruit chewy candies (like starburst) are black currant in Europe! That’s what this matcha smelled like in dry form.
I prepared it how I have been usually, which is to say 1 tsp of matcha sifted into a bowl, making sure to dump out the “flavor crystals” that collect at the bottom of my very fine sieve. I take a little ~180°F water just to loosen up the powder and make sure there are no clumps, then another couple ounces. Whisk very hard (I use a standard metal kitchen whisk) for 30 seconds, then add enough water so that the total amount of water added is 8oz (I measure out 8oz before I start the process and go from there).
I have to say, at first the aroma of the prepared matcha was a little funky to me, but I think I am still getting used to matcha. It did continue to smell like black currant candy, but with greenish matcha-y undertones. I sipped it while still pretty hot and decided to add about a teaspoon of sugar, which I find helps bring out the flavors a bit for me (though not entirely necessary). This is definitely a black currant candy flavor. I occasionally drink black currant juice, and other black currant teas, and the flavor is often darker and richer, in a way that is difficult to explain. This doesn’t taste like other black currant teas, it tastes like black currant candy (with some matcha of course)! Which while a little disappointing is not that disappointing because, as I said, I love black currant candy. If you do too, you’ll love this.