1994 Tasting Notes
As I have no doubt mentioned before, I’m not much of a drinker of unflavored blacks. There are a couple that I have to admit are pretty tasty (Harney’s Golden Monkey, Teavivre’s own Yun Nan Golden Tips), but I still don’t seek out unflavored blacks often. But of course I accepted a sample of this one in my latest round from Teavivre… how could I not, with these reviews? I admit I was still skeptical that I would like it. The leaf is nice looking twisted strands with a scattering of golden tips, and it smells malty and dark and teaish.
This is another one that surprised me with the brewing parameters. 185°F for a black tea? If you say so. The tea came out a lovely dark amber color and again has that malty, sweet aroma. I have to say, alright Teavivre, you got me, this tea is delicious. It is smooth and tasty, with notes of cocoa, raisins, a tiny bit of caramel, a hint of honey, bready, malty… it isn’t actually sweet on the tongue, but it seems sweet, if that makes any sense. Also, this is very similar to the base of The Tea Spot’s Organic Chocolate “O” tea, even though they aren’t the same variety. A big thanks again to Teavivre for this sample; these opportunities really help me step outside my usual teas and experience things I wouldn’t have bought on my own.
Last night when I got home from work I was very pleased to see a big box of tea waiting for me from Teavivre! My next round of samples arrived, yippee! (Also pleased to see: a packaged with new boots in it!)
This one was high on my list of teas I wanted to try from Teavivre because I love oolongs, and I especially love milk oolong, and I was disappointed that it appeared on the site after my first sample batch came. But lucky for me Angel Chen and Teavivre are exceedingly generous and they sent me another box of samples, this time including this tea. Thanks so much!
The steep parameters were pretty different than any other oolong I’ve come across, mainly steeping in boiling water. But I used those parameters anyway, because that’s what was called for. One of the other grad students came into my office right after I steeped it and remarked that this tea smelled good, and I would agree. It smells floral and creamy and buttery and vegetal.
This jin xuan definitely has great flavor. It’s buttery, it’s creamy, it’s floral, and it’s slightly sweet at the end. Really delicious. I will say that I think my concept of a milk oolong was a little warped by having ATR’s first… that is a fantastic tea, and indeed very milky, but it is a tieguanyin varietal not a jin xuan, which gives it a pretty distinct taste that’s different than other jin xuan oolongs I tried. For a while I would try milk oolongs and nothing could quite live up to ATR’s, but that’s because they weren’t playing with the same rules. When I adjust my expectations to what jin xuan milk oolongs usually taste like, which this seems to be a great of, I think I’ll be a lot more pleased with the other ones I’ve tried.
I haven’t had this one in a really long time, and this time I decided to brew it with the parameters that Teavivre gave for their white tea that I had tried, which are pretty different than the parameters I used last time (175°F, 3min).
The brewed tea smells hay-ish like I’ve come to associate with white tea, with a light rosey aroma. The flavor is pretty nice; it’s got that hayish note, and the rose flavor is light and not perfumy at all, and the whole thing rounds out to be a bit sweet. I actually associate that kind of sweetness with hay; sweet alfalfa is actually sweet if you chew on it (no wonder the horses love it), and this has the same type of sweetness. About midway through I started eating a slice of dark chocolate birthday cake (for one of the faculty in our department), and wow that’s an awesome pairing. I’m not sure whether my fondness for this tea has increased because my palate has changed a bit since I last had it, or if the brewing parameters made a difference, but I’m definitely digging it more this time. Especially with cake. Mmm, cake.
So I am almost, almost done with my rosey teas, or at least the ones that acutally are rosey. I mean, I still have a few that sprinkle a few rose petals into the mix, but nary a rose flavor is to be found. Those don’t count.
Guys, I am almost out of this tea. Like, I think I have less than a cup of leaf left, which probably means it’s getting blended with other things in a cold steep. Sad! I have quite a list of “standard panel” teas that are no longer in my possession, and it will be a while before I can restock; this one will soon be joining their ranks. I love the flavor blend in this, and that it always seems to wake me up even though it’s a black/green blend.
This tea is just one of those teas that makes me smile as soon as the hot water hits the leaf and a wave of wonderful aroma comes out of the cup. It’s just so good! It’s also one of those blends where I don’t even know what all the different flavors are, but I like them. Yes, I get the florals, including the rose, but there’s also a fruitiness that I’m not quite able to identify. Sometimes I wish I knew, and other times I don’t really care because whatever it is, it tastes good.
What? Valentines day is over, you say? Oh, but the parade of rose teas continues. By tasting through all of them I’m getting a sense of how the “rosey” part of my cupboard should be stocked, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.
When I think about it, this tea isn’t too far off from the Shalimar Oolong I have. It’s rose and passion, except it’s on black tea instead of oolong and the Shalimar also has mango in the mix. I’m happy to report that the weird metallic taste I was getting last time is gone, thank goodness. Just tasty juicy passion fruit with a nice rose, all on a tasty black base. I think this one is a little tarter than the Shalimar Oolong, and I’m honestly not sure which I prefer. The Shalimar is certainly more easily accessible, this one being brought back from London. All the same I would probably pick up another tin of this the next time I’m in London.
I wanted a rose tea that wasn’t fruity, so this called to me. I do really like this blend, all rosey and almondy. It could only be more perfect if it was more almondy, but I’m a bit of an almond fiend so nothing is ever too almondy for me. Still, it’s a blend I would venture into a Teavana store to buy, which is definitely saying something.
Yesterday I was thinking that I would just have enough rose teas to make it through today. Then I realized… that’s silly! I have way more rose teas than that, but it can be hard to remember all of them in my stash. This was one I had forgotten about, but sure enough here it is, all rosey and lemony and a bit herby. I kind of let it over cool before I got to it, so I’m not sure if the slight bitterness is coming from that or just that I should drop the steep time. I am getting a hint of smoke from the gunpowder green thsi time as well. Still a pretty decent tea. It reminds me a bit of the rose oolong from Tea Licious that I finished up the other day, but I prefer that one (no surprise, it’s an oolong).
1.5 tsp Raspberry Black by Monterey Bay Spice Company + 0.5 tsp China Rose from ESP Emporium
Originally I was going to have a cup of just China Rose this morning because I haven’t had a straight up rose black in a long time. But then I kinda needed to try some of this raspberry tea, so I decided to make a Raspberry Rose instead.
It’s a good blend! Rose blacks are often so strong that only a bit is needed to get a rosey flavor, and that’s true here. The tea smells and tastes of roses and sweet, juicy raspberries. This is really a great blend of flavors! Honestly I think rose goes well with lots of different fruits. Adding a bit of this rose congou, which has a nice, tasty base, to the MBSC fruit black gave it a little something more interesting (I have, in the past, found MBSC fruit blacks to be a bit underwhelming in the flavor of the base… not bad, but not interesting). Anyway, it’s a good combo that I might have to keep around.
There was no question that I’d be having a cup of this today. Probably my most floral tea, and rosey to boot. When still very hot this cup seemed almost too floral for me, which is again something I am not used to, but as it cools the florals seem to mellow a bit and the oolong comes out. All the same, I’m just not feeling this one as much as I thought I would. Maybe it’s a particular floral in there (the calendula?) that I’m not as much of a fan of. Even my second steep, which is far less floral, still just doesn’t make me as excited as I would expect to be, being a lover of most things floral and green oolong. Ah well, I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t order a whole tin of this back when I put this order in!