1957 Tasting Notes
Tea #2 of the Tea from Taiwan Jin Xuan (milk oolong) sampler. This is an all natural, no flavoring whatsoever milk oolong, although based on my experiences with the “flavored” one of this pack I am not really expecting this to remind me of a milk oolong.
This time I threw the entire package in my mug, which is a little more leaf than I would normally use, but I realized I wouldn’t really be able to get another cup out of the sample with the leftovers. To compensate I steeped it for 2 minutes instead of my usual 3, and I don’t think it came out too strong. It does have a slightly milky, slightly buttery aroma to it, but that definitely doesn’t come through in the flavor. The first thing I think of when I take a sip is a big pile of sauted spinach. It’s very vegetal, and some florals come out in the tail end of the sip, but not many. Honestly, this is really not the oolong for me. But they can’t all be the tea for me, otherwise my cupboard would explode!
I just got a new infusing basket in the mail last night, and I couldn’t wait to try it out! I use a Tea Forte Kati Cup for 90% of my tea, but the handle on the infuser basket for it broke off a while ago, so I’ve had to pry the basket out with the tip of a dull knife at the end of each tasting, and sometimes it’s really hot! Finally I broke down and ordered a new ForLife infuser basket (this one: http://preview.tinyurl.com/7we6l5v) that is kind of a tall, narrow, use-it-in-any-mug deal with a nice sturdy handle. I’m also excited that since it’s a ForLife the holes are way smaller than the metal screen of the basket I had before, so that should mean less bits in my tea now.
This is a pretty decent tea to try it out with because the leaf is CTC and very small. And indeed, only the finest of tea dust escaped the basket. This tea is just amazing to me because it totally doesn’t look like much, with it’s tiny little pieces of leaf, but it is so tasty. Last time I brewed it for some unknown time because I forgot to start the timer, but I think I could actually brew it for longer and not get bitterness because this time it seems a tiny bit weak. Still, I love the combination of flavors (bergamot, jasmine and red currant), and when I run out I will probably have to make a blend myself since it is unlikely I will find it again. But for now I have a pretty decent sized tin that will likely last me a while, yay!
Ah, white tea, my old nemesis. Hah, not really, but still, I haven’t had a ton of luck with white teas in the past. Not that I have brewed white teas that I’ve actively disliked or couldn’t finish the cup, but I have always been a bit disappointed. But this is a tea that a lot of people who say they have had problems with white teas have liked, so I am interested to try it.
To me the dry leaf smells a bit like alfalfa hay. The leaves are fluffy and I used about 2.5 perfect teaspoons in my 12oz cup, though of course the fluffy leaves mean probably less leaf ended up in there, but hopefully it was a decent amount. Steeped, the scent of the tea reminds me of fresh-cut grass, and a bit of cooked vegetables. This is definitely a smooth, relaxing, and pleasant tea. The flavors are light but distinct; a little grassy/hay-like, a tiny bit floral, and a very smooth mouthfeel. Am I a white tea convert? Maybe not quite, but at least now I “get” more of what it’s all about. Thanks again to Angel Chen & Teavivre for the sample! (Finally, one of my boxes of samples that I got over the last couple of months is all tasted! I am running far behind on trying my new teas…)
I used the rest of my sample of this for my lunch-time cold brew. It made a really nice cup of iced tea; very jasminey but not overwhelming. As much as I missed the golden buds flavors in the hot tea, I really didn’t get any here… it was hard to tell I was even drinking a jasmine black as opposed to a green, even. Somewhat surprising! Still, it was a tasty cup of tea.
I can honestly say that I haven’t been bowled over by my samples from thepuriTea like I was expecting to be. However, I had yet to try this tea. See, thepuriTea is the source of what is still my very favorite passion fruit black tea; none of the others I’ve tried have really compared. And apparently, there mango black is just as good.
The dry leaf smells like dried mangoes. There aren’t any dried mangoes in the blend or anything, and it’s nice to smell a fruit flavored tea that doesn’t smell like fruit candy, but rather the fruit itself. The addition of hot water has turned the dried fruit to fresh, because the steeped tea smells like a lovely, ripe mango. Not one I would get in the grocery store here in NY, but rather one I would get from a market in Africa. Turns out that I brewed this one a little hotter than I brewed the Passion Fruit Black for some reason, but this tea still turned out super smooth without a hint of bitterness. The mango flavor is juicy and lightly tart without being too tart, and the black tea base adds to the honeyed, lovely taste. Totally awesome. Even if I find no other teas from thepuriTea to buy, these will always have to be in my cupboard.
So a little while ago I was going through old discussion threads about milk oolongs and I saw the Tea from Taiwan Jin Xuan (milk oolong) sample pack discussed. As I have found out most milk oolongs are “flavored” by subjecting the growing plants to various things, but because this is done on the growing end of things almost all places that sell milk oolongs don’t mention it, if they know. Personally I don’t really think of that as “flavoring” in a normal sense since it’s all done while the plant is growing, nor do I have a problem with flavoring tea anyway. I was curious about the difference, though, and this pack has samples that you can actually compare. It has three milk oolongs: two that are all-natural, no flavoring added at any point, and one that is flavored. This is the flavored one.
The dry leaf does smell nicely creamy, slightly fruity, with a hint of greenish florals… in short, not unexpected. The steeped tea builds on those, with more florals and a definite buttery note. If I breathe in really deep I get a distinct vegetal note. At no point does this tea smell like acutal milk or sweetened condensed milk, which some people say is a tip-off that it’s been flavored. This is clearly a very lightly flavored one, so I’m interested to see how the unflavored ones compare. I can tell it’s a milk oolong from the aroma, but you could have fooled me by the taste. I probably steamrolled over the nuances in flavor by brewing it western style, but that’s how I brew all my oolongs. It’s fresh, green, vegetal and a bit buttery. I don’t really get a creaminess from this… actually almost the opposite as it’s a hint astringent. There is certainly none of the light sweetness you find in some oolongs (whether they’re natural or not!). I was honestly expecting a bit more from this one, and certainly expecting something a bit different. Oh well, it’s still pretty tasty.
I thought I was doing bad as far as getting around to trying my samples from Teavivre, but it turns out there are only two I hadn’t tried, and this is one of them. This was yet another green tea that I requested for furthering my tea education since I know next to nothing about different types of green teas.
The dry leaf is full of fluffy, squiggly leaves. The aroma of it is a little offputting, at least for what I look for in a tea, because it’s very savory and brothy. It really reminds me of miso broth you might get at a sushi restaurant. Steeped, it’s still a bit brothy but more vegetal, and some distinct nutty tones have come out as well. It smells a little less like a bowl of soup, which is good (in my mind at least!). The flavor is definitely light, and I feel like I’m “tasting” the aroma more than the tea itself. It’s got that grainy/miso-y flavor to it, followed by a vegetal note that ends up being a touch sharp toward the end. A very interesting tea, but not one of my favorite greens from the box. Thank you again to Angel Chen and Teavivre for giving me the chance to sample it!
I have so many samples from thepuriTea that I haven’t tried yet! This is one of them, my first jasmine black. I’ve always been intrigued by jasmine blacks, and I do tend to love yunnan golden buds, so I was glad when this one came back into stock right around the same time as the milk oolong, just in time for black friday.
The dry leaf on this one smells pretty much just jasminey; I can’t really detect the golden buds underneath. The directions called for a longer steep time than I usually use with black teas, but I bumped my usual 3 minutes up a bit just to see how it goes. The tea steeped up pretty dark and has a lovely jasmine aroma underlain by a slightly chocolatey, slightly toasty black tea scent. It’s a very nice tea, though not anything that blows me away. The jasmine is nice and fresh and not perfumy, but I’m wishing for a more robust golden yunnan flavor. I’ve recently had a few flavored golden yunnans, and I want more of the chocolatey, caramelly flavor in this one. I think I’ll also drop back to my usual 3 minutes, because while it’s not bitter or anything, it is a bit astringent (which they claim is the jasmine in the description, but I’ve never found jasmine astringent) and I think I’ll like it a little better steeped shorter.
Before I made this order from Ovation I tried a sample of their blueberry Earl Grey, and I enjoyed it even though I’m not a big fan of blueberry flavored things. But I was pleased with the Earl Grey part of it (and that the blueberry tasted pretty authentic), so I decided to go ahead and order this one. The dry leaf is chock full of dried raspberries, orange peel, and a scattering of flower petals, and it smells awesome. A nice blend of bright, citrusy bergamot and juicy raspberry.
The steeped tea has that black-tea-blend aroma that I can’t quite pick apart but find a lot of places. Assam-y, I think. Not my favorite, but it doesn’t always mean a flavor that isn’t good to me. There’s also the bergamot and a warmer raspberry aroma as well. I’m going to hold of rating this one as well (and tasting the rest of my teas) because I do think that these blends need time to settle and mature since they were fresh-blended to order. I’m not getting a lot of strong flavors out of this cup, and they all seem a bit muddled. There’s some astringency with a citrus note behind it, and maybe some raspberry, but they are kind of lost. I definitely can’t figure out this tea base… I don’t like Assams but I felt ok ordering more black-tea-base teas from them because my sample of Blueberry Earl Grey wasn’t bitter or astringent to me, but brewed in a similar way this tea is both. Maybe it will mellow more, but maybe it won’t and it will mean I might have to write off black teas at Ovation because the base and I don’t get along.