2183 Tasting Notes
A while ago I would read tasting notes for unflavored black teas with descriptions of notes of chocolate and such, and I would wonder what on earth these people were tasting because I never tasted that when I tried black teas. I’m pretty sure I tried this tea at the Harney Soho store ages ago after reading notes on here about it, and I didn’t really get it. Now I’ve gotten into Tan Yangs and other Fujian blacks, and lately I’ve come across a lot of tasting notes about Tan Yangs talking about how a particular tea is like a Keemun minus the smoke. Thanks to SimplyJenW, I get to try this Keemun again now and make the comparisons!
Honestly, the descriptions of smoky notes in Keemuns have me figuring I won’t like them as much because I’m not a big fan of smoke in my teas. And the steeped tea certainly smells smoky! It reminds me a tad of the wood-fired tieguanyin I had once in levels of smokiness… not like a campfire, but something roasted on one, perhaps. I do also smell more Tan Yang-like chocolate and molasses notes underneath it. The flavor delivers on the scent, and I can definitely see the resemblance to a Tan Yang. I first taste very delicious chocolatey and molasses-y notes, and then the light smokiness grows in the latter part of the sip. Definite sweetness present here.
This is partly rated on the fact that I can objectively tell that this is a very good tea and I can appreciate it as such. But it also falls into the range of teas that I wouldn’t seek out again… I’m just not a fan of smoky notes in my teas. But I’m really thankful to get to try this tea to further my tea education and also narrow my black tea searching!
Aww, I jinxed it. Steepster’s back to running slower than ever for me. :P
This is yet another sample from SimplyJenW. I am so grateful for this package because now I can try a lot of these Chinese blacks I am interested in without falling down the rabbit hole of tea orders. I’m glad this one was in the package because I’d like to try a basic Panyang Congou that isn’t supposed to be special grade or select and see how it goes.
The dry leaf on this one also reminds me of my past life as a horsewoman, but it reminds me of the scent of rich alfalfa hay instead of molasses grain (like the Tan Yang Te Ji from Teaspring did). When steeped, however, the scent has more notes of cocoa popping out, with a bit of that dark molasses in the background. It smells really tasty! I like the notes of molasses, malt, grains and unsweetened cocoa that I am getting from this cup, but it also has a bit of harshness, almost bitterness to it as well. I am very sensative to these things, after all. I’m wondering if a slightly cooler steep time would take it away, or whether it’s just a kind of boldness that is inherant to the tea (very possible). It’s probably just my expensive tastes telling me that I want to be drinking a high-grade version… :P
I brewed up a cup of this for lunch today after not having had it for quite a while. When I first tried this tea I was very excited about it but then ultimately underwhelmed. I don’t know if it was just my tastes at the time (which are definitely shifting) or my expectations shifting or what, but I enjoyed this one considerably more this time around. Nice, natural raspberry with a tasty oolong base. I feel like I should brew another cup of this sometime when I’m not eating while drinking it and do another review.
I don’t want to jinx it, but Steepster is finally loading a bit faster for me today after two days of painful slowness. Crossing my fingers it keeps it up.
Yet another sample from the lovely SimplyJenW! I am excited to try this because two of my favorite flavors are bergamot and rose, and I love Teas Etc.‘s Rosy Earl Grey sooo much. I am currently out of that one, so I hope this one helps fill that gap (since I know it takes me forever to get through samples). In the bag I didn’t get a much rose aroma from the dry leaf and it smelled like a fairly standard Earl. Steeped, there’s definitely something going on here in the aroma but I can’t tell what. I don’t get a distinct rose smell, but maybe it’s hiding behind the bergamot? There is an almost floral note, I just don’t really identify it as rose.
At first while still hot this tea didn’t seem to offer a lot to me. The flavors were surprisingly weak, and mostly an decent but not great bergamot. As it cools, definitely more is coming out. I do get a burst of rose right at the beginning of the sip, which is joined and replaced by a bright, bright, fairly citrusy bergamot, though it lacks those sweetish lower notes you can get sometimes. The Keemun base is in there rounding things out and it tastes pretty good, but I don’t think it’s quite as nice as the Keemun base on the Lupicia Earl.
Overall I get kind of a general decent-but-not-great vibe from thsi tea. I didn’t actually get much rose flavor in my cup despite other tasting notes saying they did get a lot of rose, so I don’t know what’s going on there. It’s tasty enough but I vastly prefer Teas Etc.’s Rosy Earl Grey, which actually also includes jasmine as well. Glad I got to try this one though.
Normally I don’t have an Earl Grey in the afternoon just because I like to have something lighter then, and use the time to have an oolong or some such. But I wanted to have this one in relatively short order after the Lupicia Earl Grey so I could compare them back-to-back.
I’m actually not entirely sure what the base of this one is because Todd & Holland doesn’t say anywhere on their site. I see now it says “a special blend” so who knows. Before I said it tasted like Ceylon, and that probably is one of the components. I’ve talked a bit about the flavors in this one before, but suffice to say that the bergamot is a little more floral than the Lupicia Earl Grey, but still never perfumy, astringent or bitter. I still really love this one, but I think I like the Lupicia one better! I am surprised because I didn’t think that’s how it would turn out. I think there’s something about the Keemun base on the Lupicia one that really rounds it out. Also that slight citrusy sweetness at the end of the Lupicia puts it over the edge. This one is a little brighter, a little rougher, which I guess is to be expected with as much bergamot is there is in it. If I am ever near their brick-and-mortar store I might pick up some more of this but as pricey as it is I don’t think I will order it online when I run out now.
This is yet another of my long-wanted Earls that I now get to try thanks to SimplyJenW. Any time anyone says a particular Earl is their favorite, I have to try it of course, and this one has gotten quite a few lauds. Yet another kind of Earl base, this one is a Keemun. I didn’t actually mean to steep this at a slightly lower temp to start, but I didn’t realize the kettle was set on that temp and I poured it before I realized. It wasn’t too low, at least.
Steeped the brewed tea smells pleasantly of quite citrusy bergamot. It’s not suuuper bright, either, more sweetish smelling. Wow, this is a really good Earl! The bergamot is very nice… I was worried it wouldn’t be strong enough for me, but it is. It’s very citrusy, I like the way it blends with the base, and it almost tastes sweet in the aftertaste. There’s also a hint of that floral quality that bergamot sometimes has. Yes, this a great example of a very well done bergamot. As I’ve tried a lot of Earl Greys I’ve noticed that a lot of them really depend on the quality of the bergamot, and that bergamot flavoring/oil can vary wildly. With the wrong bergamot it doesn’t matter how strong or weak it is, it just isn’t very pleasant. With the right bergamot, it can be super strong and it never gets bitter, pity, or astringent. This is definitely the right kind of bergamot. Color me impressed. Gotta try this back to back with my beloved Todd & Holland Earl Grey Double Bergamot to decided which one is my favorite Earl because this one is a front-runner.
Gong fu oolong of the afternoon. I used about a tablespoon and a half of leaf for my 6oz pot, which 150% of what I had been using for oolongs previously (with not great results).
This TGY is fairly different from the other ones I had been having before I went to Canada. I do remember this from my first session (western brewing) with this: it’s really green and floral, but not really creamy or buttery. First steep of this (20 seconds) pretty much plays out like that. It’s very green, a bit of cooked vegetables, with strongish orchid/gardenia florals laid over the top. Very fresh, very green, very springy without any darker, richer, buttery notes. Also coming with that is a fair amount of mouth-drying astringency. Second steep (20 seconds) pretty much lacks the florals and is all strong, astringent, almost bitter vegetables. It’s kind of not tasty at all, actually, and I don’t really want to resteep it any more. If I were to rate this on the quality of it’s first steep it still wouldn’t be super high based on the fact that it’s missing those creamy, buttery notes I love in a TGY. I liked it a bit more western-style, but not drastically.
With my recent taking to Fujian black teas, I couldn’t wait to try this tea, and thankfully SimplyJenW fulfilled that desire by immediately sending me a sample of it! I’m brewing it western style because that’s how I’ve done my other gong fu blacks so far, with parameters that approximate the parameters I’ve used previously, except this one I brewed a little hotter because that’s more like what TeaSpring calls for.
From the dry leaf I’m definitely getting molasses and grainy notes, that is, it smells pleasantly like horse grain. I’ve smelled that before from the base of the Tea Spot’s Organic Chocolate “O”, and though I know it doesn’t sound like a compliment, it totally is because I love that smell. I always wanted to eat the horse grain as a kid because it smelled tasty, but of course uncooked grains are not that palatable even when covered in molasses. Anyway, back to the tea. Steeped, I’m smelling more of those cocoa, malty, grainy notes in the cup.
Nice grainy, malty, slightly molasses-y, slightly cocoa-y notes in the flavor of this one. It’s also a little less sweet-seeming and a little bolder and a little less smooth than the other gong fu blacks I’ve tried. I’m glad Jen also sent a sample of Keemun Mao Feng, since a few people have mentioned that this tea reminds me of a Keemun without smokiness. I’ve never tried an unflavored Keemun so that will be good to compare. I think Jen nailed it when she said this one was less honeyed and caramelly than the Tan Yang I brought back from China (and I also think Teavivre’s Bailin Gong Fu), but those are some of my favorite parts of the cup. I do have plenty of leaf for this one to try many times and compare side-by-side to some of my other faves, not to mention the others that Jen put in my box (thank you!).
I am definitely enjoying this one very much, but it isn’t an easily-acquired replacement for my Tan Yang I brought back from China (of course I knew that going in from Jen’s reviews). I will have to try the higher-grade Tan Yang Jing Zhi from TeaSpring as well at some point.
I was so excited to come home to a box of tea samples from SimplyJenW full of a lot of teas I’ve been wanting to try. Making a decision was so difficult this morning! First I narrowed it down to some sort of Earl Grey, my usual choice for a bleary Monday morning, but that didn’t actually narrow it all that much. I ended up going with this one, which has been on my shopping list almost since I’ve been on here and was looking up well-liked Earls to try.
The only thing that I’m not sure about with this one is the part-Assam base since I’m not the biggest fan of Assams. We shall see! The steeped tea smells pretty nice, with a healthy dose of bright bergamot. Overall the taste is pretty good but a little weak. I always steep an unknown black tea at 3 minutes because I am sensative to bitterness, but it seems like most people steep this one for at least 4 minutes so I will have to try that next time, especially since there isn’t any bitterness in this cup. I do like the base on this one, actually, and the bergamot is of a middling strongness… not super powerful, but not too weak, either. Well, not too week beyond the overall weakness of the cup. I will hold off rating this one until I get another shot at it. Right now it is a pretty tasty Earl but it doesn’t really stand out to me.
Well I’m back in NY for the moment. Ran some errands today and ended up at the grocery store that carries this line of teas, and this time I chose the honeydew instead of the honeysuckle. I wasn’t expecting it to be sweetened because the honeysuckle one wasn’t, so at first I was caught off guard and I didn’t think it tasted very good. Then after I adjusted form my expectations, I enjoyed it a lot more. It’s not super sweet, and it really does taste like a ripe honeydew melon. There is a little bit of tea taste in the background there, but not a lot. I think I would like it better if it were unsweetened because I have a feeling that the honeydew extract would lend itself to slight sweetness anyway, and it would be more refreshing.