1850 Tasting Notes
I bought a groupon for this company ages ago and the expiration date is finally coming closer, so I went ahead and got the tea. I don’t know why I hold on to groupons and the like for so long… I’ve essentially already paid for the tea, and often, like this one, I only spent an extra dollar after the groupon was applied. I really prefer ordering sample sizes of teas I haven’t tried yet (and I know I’m not alone), but unfortunately CTH only offered 4oz packages on the teas I was interested in, so I narrowed it down to two (which basically equalled the amount of the groupon). I often forget how much tea 4oz is, but it’s quite a lot of tea! Especially of light-in-weight greens, which both of the teas I ordered seem to be.
This is one I knew I was going to order when I first bought the groupon. I haven’t seen this flavor around, but it sounded amazing. Nut gelatos are my favorite kind. The dry leaf does smell a bit like a creamy pistachio gelato, but also like a lot of other things: this tea has a lot going on in it, between the nuts (trois noix, actually, with pistachios, almonds and macadamia nuts), chocolate pieces, chamomile blossoms, and “cracknel bits”, which the internet tells me are some kind of biscuit.
I steeped it according to the instructions provided by CTH, and it brewed up a dark, cloudy yellow. I’m left wondering… where’s the aroma? It really doesn’t smell very strongly, which is surprising; I have to stick my nose right up next to it to get anything. The aroma I do get is actually very much like pistachio gelato; somehow, all those myriad of flavors come together. There’s a scent that I’m pretty sure is the chocolate, but it’s somehow fooling my brain into thinking I’m smelling a sweet pistachio nuttiness instead.
The taste is pretty good, but I’m left wanting much more. The flavor is so light! Not just the “flavorings” but the tea overall. From what I can tell…the green tea is present at the beginning of the sip, but it’s light astringency is smoothed over (though it retains a bit of a drying texture) by a creamy, nutty flavor, and the aftertaste makes me feel like I was just eating a cone of pistachio gelato. The flavor is growing a bit as it’s cooling, or maybe with successive sips it’s building in my mouth. I suppose it is chocolatey, but again the combination of all of those flavors tricks my brain into thinking pistachio gelato. I must try this with a longer steep time to see if I can boost the flavor, because what’s there is awesome! I keep on bumping the rating as I’m writing this… it started out as somewhat disappointing, but the flavor that’s there is so delicious, that I like it more and more. Well, I have a lot of it to figure out the perfect steeping parameters.
I did it again—I put this tea in to cold steep “overnight” last Friday, and then didn’t return to work until Monday to drink it. Last time it was already many-times steeped leaves, so I wasn’t too concerned, but this was full strength. Well, I needn’t have worried… cold steeping really does seem to be fool-proof.
The cold brewed tea turned out a lovely amber color, with an orangey aroma. I like the hot steep better on it, because it brings out so much more of the jasmine than the cold steep. It’s still present, but the tea lacks some of the overall floral “blossom” quality I noted before. Still, it made a nice cold brew tea.
Fair warning, this turned out to be less of a tasting note, and more of a rambling. Ah well. It’s been quite a while since I’ve had this tea. It’s funny when I don’t drink a tea I love for a while, especially after drinking a bunch of new teas I love in the intervening time, I start wondering… has my palate changed any? Am I going to come back to this favorite tea and not enjoy it as much anymore? Will tons of Parisian teas spoil me on a tea called Paris?
The answers to those questions are yes, no, and no. My palate as definitely changed; drinking a bunch of French teas and especially the high quality oolongs I’ve been drinking lately has changed the way I appreciate teas. I drink them in a different way than before, more thoroughly exploring the flavors and how they combine. But as it turns out, Paris is just that good. I forgot to start my timer when I poured the water for this tea, so the steep time is just a guestimate, but this tea is fairly forgiving. I still adore the flavors of this tea, and it definitely remains in my upper eschelon. I suppose it reminds me a bit of some of the Parisian teas, but really this is a tea that really reminds me of Harney & Sons tasty blends.
I have three untried oolongs from QuiltGuppy left, so I set about to sniffing each one and chose based on the aroma of the dried leaves. This one won because along with the vegetal and slight floral aromas there was a darker milky or almost caramel aroma. I didn’t realize that this tea was actually from New Zealand until I went to CTG’s website to look up some more information on it. I watched the video on their site for “proper preparation of a zealong tea” (traditional tea ceremony much like the one I experienced years ago in China), and though I in no way have a set up for that, I did give the leaves a brief wash as directed. One thing the video did not give was a time for steeping, so that was taking from all the tasting notes here.
The leaves mostly unfurled, but some are still not open all the way. The liquor is a very pale yellow, but aromatic. It smells vegetal, but almost cooked with a slight roastiness. There’s a light, milky sweetness in the aroma as well.
Mm, quite lovely! There’s a definite natural sweetness to this one, and the taste is light and floral with deeper, darker notes as well. It almost reminds me of a dark, floral honey flavor. I’m really enjoying this one. As it cools a bit the green vegetal flavor creeps back in, pleasantly grounding the sweet notes. The second steep becomes much more vegetal and brighter, almost lemony, with less sweetness and a lack of creamy milkiness that I didn’t even realize was there in the first steep until I tried the second and noticed it was gone. It just kind of blended into everything and smoothed everything out.
Thanks so much, QuiltGuppy, for introducing me to all these oolongs!
Cold steep tea of the day: this Earl Grey! I hadn’t had an Earl Grey iced before, but I have enough kinds that I wanted to try it out. When I first had this tea in Covent Garden, I detected a floral note to it, so I figured it might be a good candidate for cold steeping to try to bring those floral notes out.
The liquor reached a light amber color after about 20 hours. The bergamot really comes on strong when cold brewed; not for the bergamot averse! It was even shockingly strong for me, and I love bergamot (down to buying “bergamottes” hard candies in Paris!). But it’s not astringent or bitter, just powerfully bergamotty. I bet it would taste just like the bergamottes candy with a little sweetener! The floral notes definitely do come out more in the cold brew, but because there are also orange peels in this one, there are distinct citrus notes as well. The best of both worlds! The bergamot is so strong I can hardly taste the tea (not the case when brewed hot), so this one also might be a good candidate for mixing in some plain black when cold steeping. In any case, I’m enjoying it!
Ooh, another Mariage Freres tea that I didn’t bring back from France! This sample comes thanks to QuiltGuppy. It’s another one that’s been on my “to try” list for a while. The dry leaf smells, to me, just like sweet-tarts candy. Definitely very fruity, but not necessarily a particular fruit flavor I can pick out.
The brewed tea is a golden yellow color, and that fruit aroma remains, but in a more subdued role, joined by the aroma of a buttery, slightly grassy green tea. The taste is pretty spot on to the aroma; it’s light and pleasant, but definitely full of fruit flavor. My cup is actually fairly tart. I don’t get a strong vanilla flavor, but I can detect its presence at the tail end of the sip, giving the overall feel of the tea a creaminess after a sharp tartness.
Quite a tasty tea, really! I thought I might be turned off by the candyish aroma, but the green tea goes a long way to mitigating that. Thanks so much for sending me a sample QuiltGuppy!
I’m bumping the rating up into the 80s on ths one because I’m really enjoying it iced! I cold brewed it last night for about 24 hours. The liquor never got very dark, which was initially disconcerting, but it’s still full flavored. A solid black tea base to hold it up, flavored liberally with vanilla and gently with the sweet-tart fruit flavor of rhubarb. The vanilla really brings out the caramel notes in the Keemum, and the rhubarb kind of sits back behind everything else, adding a fruity and almost floral flavor to the vanilla. This tea now reminds me of some other, higher quality tea, but I can’t place it now. Perhaps even one of my French ones, because it inexplicably made me think of Paris while I was drinking it. In any case, I’ll definitely make this one iced again!
I’ll admit it: I’m afraid of pu-erh tea. Even tasting notes by people who like them don’t sound good to me. Dirt, fish, horse farms? No thanks (and I grew up on a horse farm so that last one sounds really unappetizing). But when QuiltGuppy offered to send me a sample of this one, which she enjoyed and did sound good from her tasting note, I decided to take her up on it and give it a try. Thanks QuiltGuppy, for giving me my first pu-erh!
The aroma of the dry leaf surprised me on this one. I feel like I can sometimes pick out the coconut, and the fig, and the fennel individually, but when I stick my nose in the pouch they combine and I get overwhelmed by one scent: fine bourbon. Perhaps with a hint of bourbon balls (bourbon cream candy with pecans covered in chocolate) but wow if it doesn’t smell like the inside of the Beer, Bourbon and BBQ festival I go to every year (note: I’m a Kentucky girl, and I love bourbon). I could smell the dry leaves all day! Sweet, a bit molasses-y, oak barrel aged, a hint of rye, a bit of fruit, herbs… it’s like describing a bourbon tasting note.
Anyway! Onto the actual brewed stuff. THIS smells like the inside of an oak barrel previously used to age bourbon: much much woodier, a touch resiny, with a tantalyzing hint of the bourbon notes in the dry tea. I feel like this aroma carries over into the dry tea well, with a hint of added smokiness. It’s almost like the (brewed) tea was aged in a bourbon barrel, like some bourbon barrel ales I’ve had. It’s sweeter than I expected, smooth and full-bodied. As it cools it gets a touch less woody (though still present), and there’s a spiciness at the end of the sip. Still very bourbony, but without the alcohol hit. Wow, I really like this one! Thanks so much for sharing it with me, QG, because I probably would have never ventured there on my own. Between this one and the Milk Oolong, I sense an order to ATR in my future when my samples run out!
ETA: Second steep, 5 minutes (the time recommended on ATR’s site). Wow, this tea is really dark. I looks a bit like a black cup of coffee. It’s less sweet this time, but a hint of sweetness is still there. Not as fruity from the fig or creamy from the coconut, but more charred oak barrel (but in a tasty way!).
Fun facts: dandelion root (an ingredient in this tea) is rich in vitamins and minerals, and is apparently a herbal medicine, which has been used to treat just about everything but specifically things to do with the gut, liver, and kidney. It contains inulin, which might be contributing to the sweetness here. It’s sometimes described as being somewhat bitter, which I’m glad doesn’t come through in this tea. It’s also a mild diuretic and digestive aid. (I got my info from the University of Maryland Medical Center website: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/dandelion-000236.htm)
It’s hot and humid today, and for some reason I find myself wilting in it more than normal. Since my morning involved a long walk across campus in the already murderous sun, I didn’t feel like drinking a cup of hot tea before I went. A nice cold tea for when I got back, however… I brewed this one like usual but let it cool and stuck it in the fridge. An hour wasn’t quite enough to make it cold before lunch, but it was cool enough to be refreshing. Cold, this tea is mostly a strong green with a light jasmine flavor. I found myself wishing for more of that jasmine sweetness, and now that I think about it I bet a bit of sugar might have brought it out (even though I normally wouldn’t sweeten this tea hot). All in all it was a nice glass of tea to have. And today I remembered to put a glass of black tea in the fridge to cold steep overnight for tomorrow’s lunch!