1974 Tasting Notes
Another tea from the first round of my Earl Grey taste test. I’m doing 5 at a time, each tea brewed under the same parameters: in a tea filter bag, for 3 minutes with 205°F water. I dunked the tea filters around to make sure they were getting enough water flow since I don’t usually use them.
This is probably my favorite from this round. The bergamot flavor was strong but not astringent, and citrusy without tasting like other fruits. It has a warm, rich flavor that integrates nicely with it’s base tea, which is smooth and tasty. I don’t have much of this left, so my next cup will not be a full cup unfortunately, but hopefully it’s enough to get a good sense of in in comparison to my other favorites from the test.
It’s the great Earl Grey tasting! I’ve been hanging on to small samples of various Earl Greys for a while now, intending to do a side-by-side tasting of them in the attempt to determine my favorite traditional Earl Grey that I have to keep around. On this rainy day it seemed like the perfect opportunity sit down and taste 10 different Earls. I’m doing 5 at a time, each tea brewed under the same parameters: in a tea filter bag, for 3 minutes with 205°F water. I dunked the tea filters around to make sure they were getting enough water flow since I don’t usually use them. All things considered tasting conditions weren’t optimal since I wanted only small amounts of each tea so I didn’t have too much, and as such they cooled really quickly. I think I’d like to take the top teas from this tasting and have full cups of tea under my normal conditions relatively back-to-back to really see how they play out.
Of the teas in this round, this one had the brightest bergamot flavor. It was crisp and clean and light, and the Ceylon base complements the bergamot well. It’s interesting that the Ceylon doesn’t give this one as much warmth and richness that I feel like it often brings. This and the Earl Grey from Joy’s Teaspoon had the truest, most unadultered bergamot flavor. I think this one is still near the top of the list when compared directly to others.
At home after being out in the cold rain, looking at possibly a couple of inches of snow tonight, still recovering from a cold, I wanted a pot of comforting tea this morning. This really is a nice vanilla tea. I like the rich, almost caramel notes complementing the vanilla, though for some reason (I use slightly too much water? it’s in a sachet?) it seems a little bit weak. Still an enjoyable pot of tea this morning.
Today has seen two new teas tried and one sample finished so far, so I decided that finishing another sample would be a good idea. I think my next course will be going through the remaining cups on each of my Golden Moon packs to figure out which teas from this company I will want to keep in my standards.
I am definitely still enjoying the dark, floral honey notes in this one along with the bright pear. I am definitely a fan of this tea, but how much do I love it? Golden Moon only sells it in a 4oz tin or a 1/2lb or more. I’m really not sure if I love this tea 4oz worth; that’s a lot of tea for me because it takes me a long time to drink through even teas I truly adore. If I could buy 2oz of this tea, I would probably pick some up.
I’m slowly but surely trying to work through trying all the new teas I have as well as stash busting some old samples that have been languishing in my tea drawer. I cold steeped the rest of my sample of this one. It was pretty tasty, but I think it would benefit from a steeping time of less than 24 hours; the green tea was actually a little bitter, though the rest of the flavors were definitely tasty.
I was emboldened by my earlier success to go ahead and try the other teas from this company. This one I chose because the description noted almond in the addition to the fruits. A quick search yields that it is being sold under the name Pearl of Fruits by a couple of other retailers.
The dry leaf smells pretty much like generic tart fruit candy. I can also get a fairly distinct orange note from it, but not much else. Steeped, it has definitely mellowed, and now I do get a light nutty aroma joining the fruit (which is not so much orange now, more berry-ish). The flavor is pretty pleasant. Is it an almond/fruit blend that can stand up to Dammann Freres or even Harney’s Boston? No. But it’s drinkable, which is good. I’m not sure which “exotic” fruits are supposed to be in this—the description just mentions berries and orange—but they are melding together in a way that is difficult to tear them apart. I was hoping for maybe a bit of florals but I am starting to think I should know better with this type of tea; the fruit flavoring completely obliterates any florals that might have been. There is definitely a nutty, marginally marzipanny almond to this, but it doesn’t seem to work perfectly with the fruit flavoring, and kind of sticks out a bit. I can’t really taste much of the tea base, for better or worse. Overall, not a complete failure (like the unfortunate “Jasmine Lemon”/Macabeo), but not one I’d reorder.
This was a mistaken tea. I actually ordered the Caramel Roasted Almond black tea, but they sent this instead, and I never heard back from them when I emailed about the mix up. So I’ll shrug it off and drink this one; at least it’s still almond.
The dry leaf smells powerfully almondy like almond extract or very strong marzipan. So far, so good. The sweet almond/marzipan aroma is still present in the steeped tea along with a richer, nuttier aroma which I feel like is the black tea (Ceylon, yay) making itself known. And finally, the marzipan carries over to the taste, which, if you don’t know, is exactly what I look for in an almond tea (but rarely have found). The flavor is very almondy, but the tea base is a little bipolar. Black/Green blends are always tricky, and under the best of circumstances they combine the richness of the black tea with the freshness of the green tea. This one the bases seem a bit muddled, and I kind of wish it was a black only base. Nevertheless, I am shocked by how much I am enjoying this tea. I wasn’t really expecting much based on the other teas I’ve had from this company. Different wholesaler on this one, I guess. As it cools I am getting a tart, fruity, almost apricot flavor at the front of the sip. As far as almond teas go, I still prefer my Marzipan from the Tea House in London, but as I can’t get that one without going to London, this is an impressive second option. I do wish I could try the Caramel Roasted Almond as well now.
And now for something completely different. This tea has been on my list to try for a while, as I love passion fruit, but I hadn’t ever gotten around to it for some reason. Now thanks to SimplyJenW, I have a sample! I really want to try this one cold steeped, but I wanted to try it hot first, so fortunately I’m finally getting around to it.
The dry leaf smells very passion fruity, in a very nice way. Maybe it’s because it’s not a common flavor for candy, but I feel like passion fruit flavor always seems more natural than some fruit flavors out there. Steeped, it retains that very juicy, fruity aroma, but it’s joined by Harney’s fruit-flavored tea base. It’s gotta be the same for all of them, right? It definitely seems like it. Anyway, the combination adds an interesting third dimension to the scent, but I can’t quite figure out what it reminds me of just now.
I’m surprised that I’m not getting a ton of passion fruit flavor out of this one. It’s definitely tart, but I don’t get a lot of that sweeter side of the passion fruit flavor (and here I’m not talking about acutal sweetness from the cup, but the not-actually-sweet flavor of sweet fruit, if that makes any sense). Even the black tea base isn’t what I was expecting; compared to the Lychee from Harney I had the other day, this base doesn’t seem to meld as well with the fruit. The cup as a whole is slightly astringent, oddly. So unexpected! Harney has some of my favorite teas, but then I’ll try one that seems like it should be perfect for me and it falls flat to my tastes (like all their Earl Greys!). C’est la vie. At this point my favorite Passion Fruit Black is thepuritea’s.
This is my other free sample of Verdant Teas’ new Alchemy Label Blended teas. Pu-ers have always kind of intimidated me based on others’ descriptions, but I’ve only had one so far and that was a flavored one that I very much enjoyed. I chose this one as a sample because the floral pu-er sounded interesting. The leaf is dark with lots of whole chrysanthemum buds and pieces of orange and lemon rind. The aroma of the dry leaf kind of surprised me; I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the blend really reminds me of the scent of tea tree oil. Which I like, but was unexpected. I’m not sure I really can think of what a chrysanthemum flower smells like, so perhaps that’s adding to the scent.
I brewed the tea based on the western style brewing instructions for the base pu-er on Verdant Teas’ website, which included two rinses. The resulting cup is very dark, the color of dark chocolate. The aroma of the steeped cup is very different from the dry leaf, which is interesting because during the rinses I was still smelling the tea tree oil aroma from the leaf, but now it seems to have disappeared. But I can still smell it on the wet leaf, which really makes me think its the chrysanthemum flowers that are now sitting, wet, in the steeping basket. Anyway, the aroma of the liquor is woody and earthy and a little piney. It very much reminds me of hiking in the pine barrens (a type of forest environment made up pine trees with little undergrowth) out here on Long Island. When I inhale deeply I am realizing that the tea tree (chrysanthemum?) aroma isn’t gone, it is what’s giving it that piney aroma. It comes out more as the tea cools.
The flavor is light and very reminiscent of the aroma. The first note is really the pine-tree-wood flavor, which mellows into an earthy, slightly minerally flavor in the main body of the sip. Every once in a while I get the faintest hint of sweetness in the aftertaste. It’s a really interesting tea… not one I would drink all the time, but definitely a cup I enjoy. I’m kind of at a loss as to how to rate this one; on one hand, I think it’s probably a very good example of it’s kind and someone really into pu-ers would probably rate it very highly; on the other hand, I think I am not really that kind of person. Then again I haven’t had hardly any pu-ers, so who knows. Anyway, I think I’ll take the average and stick it in the high 80s. I have been very impressed with the new Alchemy line, and will likely try some other blends on my next order!
It’s time for another sample-busting, stash-cleaning cold brewed iced tea. I was looking through samples for one that would be good iced and that was almost empty, and came across the Coconut Vanilla White from TeaFrog, which I did not enjoy hot but found to be delicious iced. There wasn’t quite enough for my usual cold brewed formula, so I threw in a bit of Vanilla Jasmine from Golden Moon. In the end the blend was about 3.5 tsp Coconut Vanilla White and 1.5 tsp Vanilla Jasmine. It turned out pretty tasty, unsurpisingly. I wondered if the black tea-based Vanilla Jasmine would overwhelm the white even in a small quantity, but there’s still plenty of coconutty white in the flavor.