1635 Tasting Notes
Lunchtime cold brew of the day. This tea is extremely vanilla-y when cold brewed. It’s kind of mind blowing! The other flavors are much more muted; there’s a general hint of floral flavor, and a slight bitterness from the bergamot, which is contributing to a slight Earl Grey creaminess of the cup. I think I enjoyed this one better as a hot brew, but I certainly wouldn’t turn away a cold brew. I think many of these French teas lose some of their complexity when cold brewed; it really takes the heat to bring out all the intricate flavors.
Mango is one of my favorite flavors, and I’ve casually been on the lookout for the perfect mango black tea. Ok, so I haven’t tried that many yet, but I decided to order a sample of this tea with my last order. The black tea has a ton of little calendula petals, but no hunks of dried mango like Upton’s Mango Indica, for example. The dry tea certainly smells very mango-y, but a bit more like mango candy or even sweetened dried mango than a juicy fresh mango.
This tea brewed super dark. It’s a deep dark brown like the finish of walnut furniture. The primary aroma is really the black tea: strong, a bit malty. A juicy, somewhat concentrated mango smell is present, sometimes in the background and sometimes melding more with the black tea aroma.
To be honest, whenever I get a black tea aroma that strong it worries me because sometimes it means a tea that contains whatever black tea variety of blend that I really dislike. However! Totally not the case with this tea. For one thing, the black tea carries with it not a smidge of bitterness (confirming my other experiences with Tea District blacks), and though it’s fairly bold, it’s also very smooth. The initial part of the sip is a slightly tart mango flavor, which quickly is joined by the malty, rich black tea, which reminds me of a Keemun. The mango flavor is present throughout the sip, but it doesn’t ever completely overtake the black tea. I was hoping the calendula flowers might give it a floral note, but they didn’t seem to add much (except making the tea look very pretty). Overall a nice blend, though I might wish for a bit more fresh mango flavor. Otherwise it’s another tasty tea and I continue to be impressed by my selections from Tea District.
My newfound love of oolongs led me to order two samples from Tea District with my recent order. This one is actually new to Tea District’s catalog as of July 2011… I knew there was a reason I put off ordering so long! I love floral teas, but I’m not familiar with magnolia (as a flavor… I’m definitely familiar with the tree) or magnolia oolongs.
Tea District describes it as similar to jasmine, and I can definitely smell the resemblance in the dried leaf. It almost smells like a jasmine green (or oolong, I suppose)! Once again, I have to wonder what TD is smoking saying 1 tbsp of leaves per 8oz, especially this time since I’m pretty sure the leaves would expand to fill the entire space of an 8 oz cup. 2 tsp was almost too much for my Kati cup because the leaves expanded rapidly and greatly. They’re nice big, whole leaves and they look high quality.
Steeped, tea is a nice dark yellow and it has a wonderful aroma. This is one of those teas that you smell immediately upon pouring on hot water, and the aroma kept wafting around during the entire steep time. The jasmine-like aroma takes on a darker character (because it’s not jasmine, it’s magnolia) and the floral aroma is very fresh, like you’re smelling a full-bloom magnolia. The somewhat vegetal aroma of the oolong is hanging out in the background, grounding a very floral cup.
The taste is very floral, and very delicious. It really does remind me of jasmine pearls, but it’s darker, richer, fuller. This is a lightly oxidized oolong, so the flavor is fresh and light. When still pretty hot the oolong doesn’t compete much with the magnolia, but it makes itself known more as the tea cools, providing vegetal teaishness that makes itself known between the magnolia in the initial wave and the aftertaste. There’s a light sweetness, mostly in the aftertaste. The second steep is equally delicious, and actually a bit sweeter! Overall I’m very pleased with this tea, and I can definitely see myself ordering more after my sample runs out!
My other tea from California Tea House. This tea smelled so incredibly lemony in the pouch. Lemony in a lemon drop candy way, not in a fresh lemon or a furniture polish way. Usually I wouldn’t do a cold steep for my first tasting of a tea, but I thought it might be nice for lunch today, so I threw it in the fridge and let it go overnight.
The tea was definitely very lemony, and the lemongrass especially comes to the forefront. Lemony and grassy, and all around refreshing. It’s a tiny bit bitter in a citrus-peel kind of way. This would probably taste a bit like lemonade if sweetened!
Happy A Dance With Dragons Day! The latest book in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is released today, and it’s been a long time coming. I am very excited for it!
Yesterday I got another package of tea, this time from Tea District. Yet another groupon purchase! Last time I ordered from Tea District I got my small 16oz tea pot and a sample of their Lavender Earl Grey, which I adore. This time I finally ordered a full size of that tea and a bunch of other samples, this being one of them.
The tea is mostly rooibos with a few black tea leaves mixed in. There are also some chocolate and apple pieces, and a fair amount of shredded coconut. It definitely smells chocolatey and occasionally I get whiffs of coconut and apple. I went ahead and brewed it for a full 5 minutes since it was mostly rooibos, and I wasn’t that concerned about the black tea getting bitter anyway since it showed no inclination to do so on the Lavender Earl Grey. Tea District recommends a tablespoon per 8oz for their black teas (and this one), which seems a bit excessive to me, so I just use my normal amount (approximately 2 tsp per 12oz).
The tea brewed up a really dark reddish brown, and it smells like roasty toasty chocolate. The taste is quite chocolatey, with hints of coconut and a woody, nutty rooibos undertone. There’s also a very light sweetness from the apple pieces, but it doesn’t taste appley. I’m not sure what the black tea is contributing here, and this could very easily be just a rooibos. That’s fine (though usually I like a black tea in the morning, which is why I chose it), it’s very tasty as it is. I’m guessing there’s little enough black tea that it’s not giving it much caffiene, and this would be fine to drink in the evening.
I bought a groupon for this company ages ago and the expiration date is finally coming closer, so I went ahead and got the tea. I don’t know why I hold on to groupons and the like for so long… I’ve essentially already paid for the tea, and often, like this one, I only spent an extra dollar after the groupon was applied. I really prefer ordering sample sizes of teas I haven’t tried yet (and I know I’m not alone), but unfortunately CTH only offered 4oz packages on the teas I was interested in, so I narrowed it down to two (which basically equalled the amount of the groupon). I often forget how much tea 4oz is, but it’s quite a lot of tea! Especially of light-in-weight greens, which both of the teas I ordered seem to be.
This is one I knew I was going to order when I first bought the groupon. I haven’t seen this flavor around, but it sounded amazing. Nut gelatos are my favorite kind. The dry leaf does smell a bit like a creamy pistachio gelato, but also like a lot of other things: this tea has a lot going on in it, between the nuts (trois noix, actually, with pistachios, almonds and macadamia nuts), chocolate pieces, chamomile blossoms, and “cracknel bits”, which the internet tells me are some kind of biscuit.
I steeped it according to the instructions provided by CTH, and it brewed up a dark, cloudy yellow. I’m left wondering… where’s the aroma? It really doesn’t smell very strongly, which is surprising; I have to stick my nose right up next to it to get anything. The aroma I do get is actually very much like pistachio gelato; somehow, all those myriad of flavors come together. There’s a scent that I’m pretty sure is the chocolate, but it’s somehow fooling my brain into thinking I’m smelling a sweet pistachio nuttiness instead.
The taste is pretty good, but I’m left wanting much more. The flavor is so light! Not just the “flavorings” but the tea overall. From what I can tell…the green tea is present at the beginning of the sip, but it’s light astringency is smoothed over (though it retains a bit of a drying texture) by a creamy, nutty flavor, and the aftertaste makes me feel like I was just eating a cone of pistachio gelato. The flavor is growing a bit as it’s cooling, or maybe with successive sips it’s building in my mouth. I suppose it is chocolatey, but again the combination of all of those flavors tricks my brain into thinking pistachio gelato. I must try this with a longer steep time to see if I can boost the flavor, because what’s there is awesome! I keep on bumping the rating as I’m writing this… it started out as somewhat disappointing, but the flavor that’s there is so delicious, that I like it more and more. Well, I have a lot of it to figure out the perfect steeping parameters.
I did it again—I put this tea in to cold steep “overnight” last Friday, and then didn’t return to work until Monday to drink it. Last time it was already many-times steeped leaves, so I wasn’t too concerned, but this was full strength. Well, I needn’t have worried… cold steeping really does seem to be fool-proof.
The cold brewed tea turned out a lovely amber color, with an orangey aroma. I like the hot steep better on it, because it brings out so much more of the jasmine than the cold steep. It’s still present, but the tea lacks some of the overall floral “blossom” quality I noted before. Still, it made a nice cold brew tea.
Fair warning, this turned out to be less of a tasting note, and more of a rambling. Ah well. It’s been quite a while since I’ve had this tea. It’s funny when I don’t drink a tea I love for a while, especially after drinking a bunch of new teas I love in the intervening time, I start wondering… has my palate changed any? Am I going to come back to this favorite tea and not enjoy it as much anymore? Will tons of Parisian teas spoil me on a tea called Paris?
The answers to those questions are yes, no, and no. My palate as definitely changed; drinking a bunch of French teas and especially the high quality oolongs I’ve been drinking lately has changed the way I appreciate teas. I drink them in a different way than before, more thoroughly exploring the flavors and how they combine. But as it turns out, Paris is just that good. I forgot to start my timer when I poured the water for this tea, so the steep time is just a guestimate, but this tea is fairly forgiving. I still adore the flavors of this tea, and it definitely remains in my upper eschelon. I suppose it reminds me a bit of some of the Parisian teas, but really this is a tea that really reminds me of Harney & Sons tasty blends.
I have three untried oolongs from QuiltGuppy left, so I set about to sniffing each one and chose based on the aroma of the dried leaves. This one won because along with the vegetal and slight floral aromas there was a darker milky or almost caramel aroma. I didn’t realize that this tea was actually from New Zealand until I went to CTG’s website to look up some more information on it. I watched the video on their site for “proper preparation of a zealong tea” (traditional tea ceremony much like the one I experienced years ago in China), and though I in no way have a set up for that, I did give the leaves a brief wash as directed. One thing the video did not give was a time for steeping, so that was taking from all the tasting notes here.
The leaves mostly unfurled, but some are still not open all the way. The liquor is a very pale yellow, but aromatic. It smells vegetal, but almost cooked with a slight roastiness. There’s a light, milky sweetness in the aroma as well.
Mm, quite lovely! There’s a definite natural sweetness to this one, and the taste is light and floral with deeper, darker notes as well. It almost reminds me of a dark, floral honey flavor. I’m really enjoying this one. As it cools a bit the green vegetal flavor creeps back in, pleasantly grounding the sweet notes. The second steep becomes much more vegetal and brighter, almost lemony, with less sweetness and a lack of creamy milkiness that I didn’t even realize was there in the first steep until I tried the second and noticed it was gone. It just kind of blended into everything and smoothed everything out.
Thanks so much, QuiltGuppy, for introducing me to all these oolongs!
Cold steep tea of the day: this Earl Grey! I hadn’t had an Earl Grey iced before, but I have enough kinds that I wanted to try it out. When I first had this tea in Covent Garden, I detected a floral note to it, so I figured it might be a good candidate for cold steeping to try to bring those floral notes out.
The liquor reached a light amber color after about 20 hours. The bergamot really comes on strong when cold brewed; not for the bergamot averse! It was even shockingly strong for me, and I love bergamot (down to buying “bergamottes” hard candies in Paris!). But it’s not astringent or bitter, just powerfully bergamotty. I bet it would taste just like the bergamottes candy with a little sweetener! The floral notes definitely do come out more in the cold brew, but because there are also orange peels in this one, there are distinct citrus notes as well. The best of both worlds! The bergamot is so strong I can hardly taste the tea (not the case when brewed hot), so this one also might be a good candidate for mixing in some plain black when cold steeping. In any case, I’m enjoying it!