1851 Tasting Notes
I like going back to teas from the beginning of my tea journey and tasting them now. This tea is really so uncomplex, and so good because of it. The dry leaf just smells like bergamot, that’s it! And brewed it’s just a nice, well-blended mix of the bright, citrusy bergamot and the smooth ceylon. Is it my favorite tea? Well I’m really getting into the more complex blends, so no. But whenever I want to go back to a nice, classic EG, it’s nice to have this one in my cupboard to turn to.
This is the other oolong from my Tea District order. I think I chose it before I realized how much stuff it really has in it; it’s not just plum and oolong, but all kinds of other things including some crazy berries I’ve never heard of, hibiscus, rosehips, black tea(!) and osthmanthus flowers. It’s a dark oolong, and the leaves are long-ish and twisted, but not super long. I can see the smaller pieces of black tea fairly easily in the steeped leaves. The dry tea smells fruity and berry-ish, but with some other hard-to-place aroma; it’s almost medicinal, like berry tums? Which doesn’t sound very pleasant, I admit.
When steeped, the color of the liquor is a medium reddish-amber, and it smells a bit like pot smoke. Seriously. I wasn’t really expecting to feel like I’m at a rock concert in the city when smelling this tea. I’m not a fan of the aroma of weed, so it really doesn’t make me want to try it. I doesn’t taste like it smells, which is probably one of my first experiences with that; often people talk about pu-erhs smelling awful and tasting fine, and I wondered how it could be, but here’s an example (though not a pu-erh). I wouldn’t say this tastes quite “fine” though; the pot aroma does leak into the taste, which otherwise is very, very tart (hibiscus-y) and somewhat plummy, with a bit of a smoky aftertaste. I even like hibiscus but I don’t see why its necessary in this tea. Maybe if you didn’t mind the smell this tea could be enjoyable. Overall, I feel like why would you take an osthmanthus oolong (ostenstibly), then throw all this stuff on top of it? A couple of plums, maybe, would be fun, but it all seems extraneous.
A tl;dr side note: Tea District says this is their own blend (which is what they say with all of their teas), and they really go out of their way to mention it in the description of this tea. They make it seem like the blend was completely designed in house by their tea blender. However, this tea minus the black tea is identical to teas of the same name from Rishi and Arbor Teas, and similar to others with less complete descriptions. I mean, how many people could really think, “I know, this plum tea needs schizandra berries!”?? I could believe they sell the blend wholesale to other companies (though it’s not exactly their blend that appears elsewhere) but not to a huge company like Rishi. And I really doubt the small amount of black tea does much for this blend.
I understand that every tea company has to make teas seem like their own if they want people to order from them and not just some other company that offers the same tea, but I don’t like it, I feel like I’m being deceived. If you didn’t blend that tea, tell me who did. It’s up to you to distinguish yourself by your customer service, your packaging, other offerings, whatever. I’ll still order from Tea District because their Lavender Earl Grey does seem to be unique and I love it, and I’ve had good experiences with their teas and the company otherwise, plus they constantly offer groupons. Maybe I’m being unreasonable, but I like to know where my tea actually came from!
Cold brew of the day, and delicious. I previously speculated that this would be good iced, and it definitely is. I think the hunks of dried apple in the tea totally make it. Incredibly appley in a fresh way, and with just a hint of natural sweetness. I had a bottled apple black tea a while ago that was way oversweetened, and this tea is what I wished that tea had been. I will definitely be cold brewing this one again!
I usually don’t go for an oolong in the morning, but I wanted one anyway. This is another one of my samples from QuiltGuppy, thanks! The dry leaf smells a little bit vegetal, and a little bit floral. Unlike the other oolongs I’ve had recently this is a dark oolong and the leaves are long, spindly and twisted. This made it difficult to portion out into my cup, so I don’t know if I quite got the right amount of leaf; I think perhaps I should have added more. I brewed it “traditional” style using the instructions they gave on their website for that method, as opposed to gong-fu style.
Brewed, the liquor is a medium dark yellow and it smells quite floral with a hint of fruit. There’s also that deeper “oolongy” aroma there too, but I can’t quite pick out some of the darker more complex notes they mention. Despite the fact I think I didn’t add enough leaf, I am very much enjoying this cup. It’s sweet and floral and all around delicious. I’m glad I have enough leaf to brew some more cups and do a better tasting note. Thanks again QuiltGuppy for another fantastic tea!
I was going to dive into a multi-steeping oolong tea this afternoon, but then I had to walk across campus and decided to stop at the shop that carries the Teas’ Tea teas (heh). Of the ones they carry, this is the last of the bottled teas that I was really interested in trying, so I went ahead and picked it up.
It’s definitely seriously rosey. Even though it’s unsweetened, it almost seems a bit sweet from the florals. The green is a light base, which isn’t really the best green; it’s a little bitter at times, and at others it’s just plain. Still, it’s pretty tasty and I like that it’s unsweetened as a bottled tea. I think I prefer rose blacks because the black tea tends to keep the rose from getting out of control, and I’d like to try some of my rose blacks iced I think!
Lunchtime cold brew of the day. This tea is extremely vanilla-y when cold brewed. It’s kind of mind blowing! The other flavors are much more muted; there’s a general hint of floral flavor, and a slight bitterness from the bergamot, which is contributing to a slight Earl Grey creaminess of the cup. I think I enjoyed this one better as a hot brew, but I certainly wouldn’t turn away a cold brew. I think many of these French teas lose some of their complexity when cold brewed; it really takes the heat to bring out all the intricate flavors.
Mango is one of my favorite flavors, and I’ve casually been on the lookout for the perfect mango black tea. Ok, so I haven’t tried that many yet, but I decided to order a sample of this tea with my last order. The black tea has a ton of little calendula petals, but no hunks of dried mango like Upton’s Mango Indica, for example. The dry tea certainly smells very mango-y, but a bit more like mango candy or even sweetened dried mango than a juicy fresh mango.
This tea brewed super dark. It’s a deep dark brown like the finish of walnut furniture. The primary aroma is really the black tea: strong, a bit malty. A juicy, somewhat concentrated mango smell is present, sometimes in the background and sometimes melding more with the black tea aroma.
To be honest, whenever I get a black tea aroma that strong it worries me because sometimes it means a tea that contains whatever black tea variety of blend that I really dislike. However! Totally not the case with this tea. For one thing, the black tea carries with it not a smidge of bitterness (confirming my other experiences with Tea District blacks), and though it’s fairly bold, it’s also very smooth. The initial part of the sip is a slightly tart mango flavor, which quickly is joined by the malty, rich black tea, which reminds me of a Keemun. The mango flavor is present throughout the sip, but it doesn’t ever completely overtake the black tea. I was hoping the calendula flowers might give it a floral note, but they didn’t seem to add much (except making the tea look very pretty). Overall a nice blend, though I might wish for a bit more fresh mango flavor. Otherwise it’s another tasty tea and I continue to be impressed by my selections from Tea District.
My newfound love of oolongs led me to order two samples from Tea District with my recent order. This one is actually new to Tea District’s catalog as of July 2011… I knew there was a reason I put off ordering so long! I love floral teas, but I’m not familiar with magnolia (as a flavor… I’m definitely familiar with the tree) or magnolia oolongs.
Tea District describes it as similar to jasmine, and I can definitely smell the resemblance in the dried leaf. It almost smells like a jasmine green (or oolong, I suppose)! Once again, I have to wonder what TD is smoking saying 1 tbsp of leaves per 8oz, especially this time since I’m pretty sure the leaves would expand to fill the entire space of an 8 oz cup. 2 tsp was almost too much for my Kati cup because the leaves expanded rapidly and greatly. They’re nice big, whole leaves and they look high quality.
Steeped, tea is a nice dark yellow and it has a wonderful aroma. This is one of those teas that you smell immediately upon pouring on hot water, and the aroma kept wafting around during the entire steep time. The jasmine-like aroma takes on a darker character (because it’s not jasmine, it’s magnolia) and the floral aroma is very fresh, like you’re smelling a full-bloom magnolia. The somewhat vegetal aroma of the oolong is hanging out in the background, grounding a very floral cup.
The taste is very floral, and very delicious. It really does remind me of jasmine pearls, but it’s darker, richer, fuller. This is a lightly oxidized oolong, so the flavor is fresh and light. When still pretty hot the oolong doesn’t compete much with the magnolia, but it makes itself known more as the tea cools, providing vegetal teaishness that makes itself known between the magnolia in the initial wave and the aftertaste. There’s a light sweetness, mostly in the aftertaste. The second steep is equally delicious, and actually a bit sweeter! Overall I’m very pleased with this tea, and I can definitely see myself ordering more after my sample runs out!
My other tea from California Tea House. This tea smelled so incredibly lemony in the pouch. Lemony in a lemon drop candy way, not in a fresh lemon or a furniture polish way. Usually I wouldn’t do a cold steep for my first tasting of a tea, but I thought it might be nice for lunch today, so I threw it in the fridge and let it go overnight.
The tea was definitely very lemony, and the lemongrass especially comes to the forefront. Lemony and grassy, and all around refreshing. It’s a tiny bit bitter in a citrus-peel kind of way. This would probably taste a bit like lemonade if sweetened!