1810 Tasting Notes
Yesterday morning I stopped at a coffee shop to possibly get some tea, and I noticed that said coffee shop was serving teapigs tea, which definitely surprised me as I am in Warsaw now. I’ve never had teapigs but I’ve heard it is good, so it was a pleasant surprise.
Side note: I love how Earl Grey is universal, at least in Europe. Whether you’re ordering a tea, or a thé, or a tee, or herbata (in Polish), it’s always “Earl Grey”, no one translates it. :)
Anyway, I saw that they were doing the Darjeeling Earl Grey, and though I don’t think I’m the biggest fan of Darjeelings at this point, I ordered it anyway. My steeping environment was less than ideal; I was running around a huge underground circle trying to find the right staircase up to get the tram I wanted. I thought about stopping the tea at 3 minutes, but tried a taste and decided it could go longer, thinking just another minute or two, but by the time I found another trash can for the sachet it had steeped for 6 minutes.
Still, no bitterness! And the tea surprised me further that I definitely enjoyed it. I seem to like Earl Greys best with a Ceylon base, but this Darjeeling was pretty good! The bergamot was definitely present in the flavor but not very strong (I’d maybe have it a little stronger, as long as it didn’t venture into the bitter-bergamot territory). The Darjeeling base was light, bright, almost grassy, and I’m pretty sure it was the Darjeeling (possibly interacting with the bergamot) that gave it a light note on the end of the sip that I eventually identified as distinctly lemony.
Overall a solid EG that I would drink again (and probably will while I’m in Warsaw), but I don’t think I’ll be switching to Darjeeling EGs all the same.
I have a long layover in Köln (Cologne) before I get on my night train to Warsaw, and this afternoon I hit a wall and just had to get a pick me up [edited; initially my iPhone autocorrected this to “pickle up”]. This is the first cafe I found with free wifi, and I was pleasantly surprised to see the “tee” in pyramid sachets. I have no clue what company supplies their tea, and if website seems to imply it’s their in-house label. It does say that the base tea is from India; I’m not sure if that world view includes Sri Lanka, but it tastes like a Ceylon base to me. Which is great for me, and I’m enjoying the cup quite a bit. A nice recharge this afternoon for the rest of the trip!
I’ve had a couple of cups of this in the mornings while here in London because it’s pretty much what every cafe sells. And I find it interesting how far I’ve come! I feel like when I first started drinking tea I would have (and I believe I did) like this one a lot. It doesn’t get bitter very easily, has a nice strong bergamot flavor that’s not to astringent and that says “Earl Grey” pretty plainly, but there’s just not much else going on. It seems… flat. I think it has to be the black tea base. It just lacks a depth of flavor I’ve come to expect from my favorite teas. It’s perfectly serviceable, but when compared to the EG I had at teapod the other day for instance, they’re in completely different categories.
Incidentally, I’ve discovered that I’ve completely lost my taste for plain black generic tea bags (be they Twinnings or whatever)… I used to drink them on occasion when traveling, for instance, and now I can’t even finish a cup.
Backlogging… I had a pot of this yesterday at the teapod shop in Covent Garden. After a full day of running around to tea and record shops, it was just what I needed. I let it brew for 3 minutes but I think it was probably going for at least 30 seconds before she brought it out to the table.
The brewed tea had a light aroma that smelled primarily like black tea with a hint of citrusy overtones. The taste, however, was full and rounded. Lovely rich bergamot taste that was very floral, with a light lemony overtone that was no doubt coming from the lemon peels in the mix. The tea wasn’t bitter at all, and was pretty light tasting for a black; overall I enjoyed it a lot, and ended up a buying a pouch to take back with me!
I’m at JFK airport on my way to London, Paris, and Warsaw for work, so my tasting notes won’t be very frequent over the next two weeks. I hope to pop in and make notes of teas on the road though, and I’m planning on picking up tons of teas while abroad. Anyway, I grabbed a cup of tea from a cafe in the airport and though I was given only the descriptor of “chamomile”, I saw that the tea was this one (and that it was loose leaf and the cafe put it in a tea sac for steeping!)
Obviously I don’t know about the smell of the dried leaves, but I did see that I got quite a few whole chamomile blossoms in my steeping bag. Steepster on iPhone won’t let me rate it or put in steeping parameters, so I’ll edit the post later, but it steeped for a long time at boiling, and even though I’m not much of a chamomile person (options were severly limited), it’s a very nice, relaxing tea, that’s pretty sweet and has lots of the hay-like, alfalfa notes I often find in chamomiles. A nice way to relax before a flight
This time I upped the steeping time on this one just to see what would happen, since I didn’t get any hints of bitterness at 3 minutes on my last cup. This cup certainly looks strong, and there’s a ton of dusty-stuff floating around in it; pieces of coconut and chocolate I think. The aroma of is so coconutty, apparently way more coconutty than last time, when I didn’t get much coconut scent in the brewed tea. Still no hint of bitterness, which is awesome. The taste is definitely coconut, and a blast of sweetness hits me on the back of the sip that I don’t remember from before; I think 4 minutes allows the chocolate chips to dissolve completely and really steeps the big coconut chunks. As the tea cools the sweetness resolves into a chocolatey goodness that compliments the coconut perfectly. I’m really digging this one with a full steep!
Going back through my half-empty sample pouches, this one actually had more than one cup of tea in it. I’m saving the rest for an EG side-by-side taste test. This cup is fairly strong, and the tea base is malty and a little spicy, almost. I get the lemony/bergamot overlying note, but it doesn’t seem like the main event; it’s almost like I had a cup of plain black tea and squeezed lemon into it. As it cools a little more of the complexity comes out, as well as tiny hints of jasmine, but overall its still more black tea than anything else.
Now here’s an odd brewing for this tea… I got it in my mind to clean out sample packets today, I guess, and I had probably enough Winter White Earl Grey for a cup, but a measely half-teaspoon of Chinese Flower (also by Harney). Since Chinese Flower is a lemony/citrusy green, and Earl Greys are citrusy, I put the Chinese Flower in with the rest of this tea. These being the bottom of the sample pouches the leaves are broken into tiny little pieces (I actually shook out the tea ‘dust’ through my strainer before brewing to prevent it from getting too strong), so the tea brewed up strong pretty quickly. It tastes mostly like the WWEG, but the tea base is bolder from the green in the Chinese Flower, and the bergamot is extra citrusy and lemony. Not a bad cup from a mix of the dregs two teas, and I got to kill two sample pouches in the process.
(Now I need to order some more of each from Harney!)
I found the reminants of a sample packet of this in my tea drawer, so I mixed what was left with enough from my big pouch for a cup and managed to finally clean a sample out of my tea cupboard. I’m really bad about not finishing the last little bits of a sample, especially when there’s not really enough for a whole 12 oz cup. It’s amazing how much more aromatic my large pouch is (acquired very recently from the Soho store) compared to what was left in the sample, which I have had for a while now. The mixed leaves still make a very tasty cup of tea; it’s very chocolatey today, with those lovely nutty undertones. Love it!
Another one of the Revolution tea sachets I picked up last weekend. It’s so weird to me that they sell white tea at a truck stop, because you know the hot water that comes out of the coffee machine is probably too hot for it.
Anyway, I love pomegranates but haven’t tried too many pomegranate teas (yet). This one smells kind of general sweet-fruity dry, and it’s hard for me to put my finger on one particular fruit flavor. Brewed the aroma develops more and I get distinct notes; pomegranate, yes, but also perhaps black currant or other berries. It smells pretty nice, and the initial sip has a pleasant taste, but there’s some bizarre aftertaste on the back of the sip that tastes artificial. It’s a distinct taste that I recognize, but I can’t put my finger on it right now… lipstick? Weird flavored lip balm? It’s something like that (I’m not wearing either). Definitely weird and off-putting. On some sips I don’t really get it at all, but on some it’s really strong. Maybe it’s just my sachet, and without the aftertaste this would be a nice, light, fruity tea.