2101 Tasting Notes
When given the chance to sample a company’s Earl, I’ll always take it, so I grabbed a sample pouch of this tea as well when I was at the store. This one tends to have low ratings on Steepster because it is supposed to be super bergamotty… well we’ll see about that! I like a bergamotty tea as long as it’s deployed well. Sometimes excessive bergamot can mean astringent, bitter, pithy taste, but sometimes it’s just tasty.
I would say this one falls on the pretty tasty side of things. The bergamot is pretty strong, but it’s only a hint bitter (which comes out more as it cools) and it seems to play well with the base. As the cup is cooling down it’s really obvious that the bitter hint really is that bitterness that bergamot can impart sometimes because really, bergamot is a bitter citrus. Other than that, though, I think it’s a nice Earl for those who aren’t afraid of bergamot. I still think that Todd & Holland’s Double Bergamot is my favorite mega-bergamotty Earl, but I would drink this one again.
After the NYC Coffee and Tea Festival this weekend, the boyfriend and I went down to the Bleecker Street area to go to some record stores. And since we were so nearby… heh. My poor, long-suffering, non-tea-drinking boyfriend got dragged into the shop with me. My first time in the new NYC DavidsTeas! The sales people were almost absurdly chipper and friendly, greeting us the moment we walked in the door with samples. I looked around some but I’m still really on a tea-buying moratorium. Since I didn’t buy many teas at the festival I allowed myself to buy some of the prepackaged sample pouches since they were 3 for $5. This is one I picked up.
Upon opening the pouch there’s no doubt that this is mango tea, though the aroma is decidedly mango candy rather than fresh mango. I was surprised to see the steeping directions of 200°F for 5-7min because of the white tea base. I rarely steep any tea for 5 minutes unless it’s an herbal or I’m adding milk and sugar, but I took a deep breath and set the timer for 5 minutes. Steeped, it smells mango-y but also pretty orange-y, as well as some other nondescript fruits in there.
This is a super fruity tea. I wouldn’t say straight up mango as much as a tropical fruit salad. It’s sweet, it’s tart, it’s hard to tell there’s tea in it. It’s just getting tarter and tarter as it cools, and it’s a little tart for me for a non-sweetened, non-iced tea. It’s not bad really, it’s just not something I’m enjoying drinking much. Oh well, at least it was a small sample!
I added a sample of this tea with my last order from the Tea Spot, because why not? I’m always interested in various tieguanyins; you never know when a good one is going to unexpectly pop up somewhere.
The leaves of this one are somewhat loosely rolled and they don’t smell super inspiring, just green, genericly tea-ish, and a bit floral. Steeped up the leaves really wake up and become interesting. There are a lot more magnolia-ish floral notes here, as well as some buttery undertones. The flavor is pretty vegetal with a nice floral overtone to it. A pleasant tea to drink, but it pales in comparsion to some of the TGY’s I’ve had the fortune to try.
This brothy, savory green might not be something I crave as a stand-alone cup, but it turns out it’s a great meal accompaniment. I got the idea after I enjoyed a green tea I might otherwise not have liked so much when I had it with dinner one night. The savory notes in this were great with my lunch (just a turkey sandwich). Usually I drink cold-steeped tea with lunch, and it’s often a very fruity one, so this was a nice change of pace.
I know, more Earl Grey Cream, right? I got my package from the Tea Spot in the mail last night, and I had to try this one this morning to test out my taste buds, which seemed off yesterday. Creamy-flavored teas were just bland! Well it seems like my creamy taste for tea is pretty much back. This tea is super citrusy, and sweet and creamy. It seems more sweet than normal today; perhaps it’s because this is a nice fresh batch. Definitely one of my new favorites, and I’m glad I bough a big pouch of it. And I’m glad it seems like I can try new teas today and not miss out on their flavors because of weird taste buds.
I wanted something creamy this afternoon, and this one fit the bill.
Drinking this now, I’m wondering if my taste buds aren’t a little messed up, at least for creamy flavors today. I’m not getting much out of this one, and that has never happened to me with this tea before! Maybe I shouldn’t have judged the Cream Earl Grey so harshly this morning. Man, this is weird. I haven’t noticed anything else lacking, just cream/vanilla. Lame.
This was one of the tea bags that came in our goodie bags from the NYC Coffee & Tea festival. I’m a bit meh when it comes to most pu-erhs… I don’t hate them, but I also don’t tend to enjoy them a ton either. I’m really not sure what made me decided to brew this one up this afternoon, and I almost regretted it for a bit when I was thinking if I wouldn’t be better off with a tea I loved after this morning’s disappointment, but in the end I’m happy enough with it.
The tea bag smelled straight up like hay and wood shavings. I’m sure the paper bag isn’t helping. Steeped, it has those same woody notes but overlain with a sweet magnolia aroma. It’s definitely a woody, oaky kind of puerh, reminding me more of the base notes to ATR’s Toasted Fig than some of the other puerhs I’ve tried. The magnolia lends a sweet, lightly floral note to the mix that’s rather pleasant but not perfumy or anything. Definitely better than I was expecting, but I can’t say I’ll be using the coupon on the back of the card.
This ended up being the only tea I purchased at the NYC Coffee and Tea Festival. Not much really grabbed me this time, and the one other company I might have bought tea from (and an adorable little gaiwan-teapot-thing) was chinese, so I held off because of my impending travels. When I tried a sample of this tea, though, I was pretty impressed. So creamy and vanilla-y! Even though I already have a bunch of a cream Earl Grey winging it’s way to me from the Tea Spot, I bought a tin of this and justified it because it is in sachets… traveling EGC!
Now to taste it under my steeping conditions (which for this first cup were boiling water for 3 minutes). The tea in the sachets smells very vanilla and cream, at a level where there is just about a caramel note to them. And of course the bright bergamot. The aroma of the steeped tea has calmed down a bit, but retains about the same balance of notes.
The flavor is a little odd. I mean, it’s not bad; there’s no bitterness or astringency to the blend, but the main part of the sip is just… flat. Like there’s very little there. There is a lovely vanilla-creamy aftertaste, but not much going on in the main part of the sip. Maybe I need to steep longer, or maybe one sachet was not enough for my 12oz mug (but that does seem to line up with their steeping recommendations on the website). Actually I apparently brewed it hotter than they recommend, so maybe that’s having an effect.
… Take two, this time brewed at 195°F for 4 minutes. I just couldn’t let my experience be dictated by that cup when I remembered it differently. This one actually wasn’t as good because the bergamot is more astringent and the lovely vanilla creaminess seems to have fled! I guess more leaf at my previous parameters is next. Ugh, I hate it when I can’t replicate a tasting experience that was so much better, even when following the steeping instructions a company gives.
… Take three, this time original steeping parameters in an 8oz mug instead of a 12oz. I checked, the sachet is 2tsp of tea, which should be for 12oz according to their instructions. Closer but not quite it! There is more flavor overall, including the bergamot and the vanilla. So close, but yet so far away! I’m going to have to stop these permutations now because my taste buds are getting overwhelmed by built-up astringency, but hopefully I can try it again later.
We went to a new Korean BBQ place for dinner tonight, which was extremely delicious, and I had a nice green tea there but of course I have no idea what kind or brand of tea it was. It was kind of a plain, grassy green, but I found it really tasty which surprised me a little because I feel like I’m not usually very into grassy greens. It paired nicely with our BBQ, and it kind of made me appreciate a plain, simple tea with a meal.
Anyway, we stopped by a bakery afterward and I decided to get a small cup of tea because I was feeling really wiped out and we were going to see a movie (which didn’t end up happening, because I totally didn’t expect it to be sold out, guess that shows me). Anyway, they had a small selection of Celestial Seasonings teabags and I chose this one. I was honestly expecting very, very little from it, but I was pleasantly surprised. They don’t say anything about other flavorings added besides bergamot, but I got strong lemony notes from this one along with the bergamot. I am shocked to find out that the tea base is partly Assam (and apparently also Kenyan black), because I liked it fine and I tend to not like Assams. Of course, these teas are probably blended to be as inoffensive as possible to your casual tea drinker, so I’m sure the base is toned down from other Assams I’ve tried. It wasn’t bitter or astringent or harsh in any way, and I didn’t feel like I wanted to add milk and/or sugar to tone it down a bit. Anyway, it was perfectly drinkable, and I would pick it again if I was in need of tea.
This tea may be called Boston, but I swear it just walked out of a plane from Paris. That flavor profile is just so similar to Coquelicot Gourmand from Dammann Freres, except this one has cranberries and lacks florals. The cranberries are sweet and tart, and they make a perfect pairing with that almond. And that almond! That, of course, is what makes the tea seem french, because it’s that almond-biscuit-macaron flavor, which is so totally different than “almond cookie” teas in the states. I am a big, big fan of this tea.