2074 Tasting Notes
This is the last tea from my oolong sample pack from Verdant that I haven’t tried… I know, what’s taken me so long? I have been discovering recently that I don’t care for dark oolongs as much, so while I was curious about this one, I also am going in thinking that I won’t love it.
The dry tea has some vegetal and slightly floral notes, but also some darker note. If it hadn’t been autumn, I might not have identified the overall aroma as that of fallen leaves, but that’s what it’s reminding me of right now. Steeped, I get strong campfire scents, especially early in a campfire when you are still burning tinder and leaves to get it going, and including that almost sweet aroma that some wood fires have. The flavor has those woody, smokey notes but also a surprising (based on the aroma… I suppose its not surprising given the tea origin) floral note that really grows in the sip. Intriguing. This is a very interesting tea, and clearly a very fine one. It is not typically they kind of tea I would drink, but it is impressive nonetheless.
The first time I had this tea, I wasn’t that impressed. The second time (in the side-by-side tasting), I was. Shall we go for 2 out of 3? Stash busting again, I finished off my sample of this tea with this cup.
I’m going to go with a middle of the road on this cup? Somewhere between the last two, which isn’t helpful in the final judgement, I know. The aroma and flavor of this one is actually not too unlike the Joy’s Teaspoon with that warm, rich note that reminds me of a creamless Earl Grey creme (I actually called it that in my first tasting note on this tea four months ago, and unwittingly used the same description today on the Joy’s Teaspoon note). It is tasty and pleasant, but still not blowing me away. I have a feeling my cup of this isn’t as fresh as it could be, and that could be cutting down on my enjoyment. If they sold tins of this tea individually I might buy one, but I don’t think I like it enough to purchase a series where I know I won’t drink one of the teas.
Turns out this is a decently tasty cold steep. I threw the rest of my sample into a cup last night (whoo stash busting), and for lunch I was rewarded with a pretty tasty almondy and slightly formosa-oolongy iced tea. It wasn’t super almondy, but the flavor was there, along with a general nuttiness. I’ve struck out a couple of times recently with cold brews not turning out quite right, but this one was definitely drinkable.
I didn’t plan on doing cups this back-to-back with the Earl Greys, but now that I started I want to try them like that! I really wanted to try this one again since it was one of my very favorites from the tasting. Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of leaf left, so let’s hope this one goes well. I tried to guestimate the right amount of water based on the odd amount of leaf I had (very slightly less than a perfect teaspoon [i.e., 1.5 regular teaspoons]).
It’s amazing how different even just the aroma is on this one from the last one. Where teapod’s Earl Grey was bright, this one is warm, which I feel like is unusual for bergamot. The black tea base seems richer, adding some kind of note to the scent that reminds me of creme Earl Greys, somehow, but definitely not a cream note. That same smoothness richness is still present in the taste, and it makes for a really delicious Earl. Definitely one to reorder.
I think I’ll work through some of the top Earl Greys from my sampling a couple of weeks ago and try them again, this time as a full cup. This is a tea that when I first had it in a tea shop in London I loved (which is why I bought a pouch), but when I came home didn’t live up to my memory at the brewing parameters I used. I did enjoy it in the side-by-side tasting, so let’s hope the steeping parameters are good this time.
Hmm, still not quite right. I still get a hint of bitterness in the cup that I never did in London! I also didn’t get it in the tasting where I used these same parameters. Weird. Maybe I need to go a shorter steep time as well for a full cup. I can taste the Ceylon base and a slightly floral bergamot, but then there’s a pithy bitterness that comes up and really puts a damper on my enjoyment. If nothing else this makes a really nice cold brewed Earl Grey, so I can use up my pouch of it that way.
And here’s my second-ever milk oolong. DaisyChubb was kind enough to send me a sample of this in a swap, and I’m excited to try another one! The dry leaf on this smells more sugary-creamy and less buttery than the ATR, though there’s definitely some butter-cream note in there. I can also catch whiffs of a vegetal note at times.
I steeped this tea basically according to the directions on the DavidsTea site, but I will say I looked through the tasting notes first and wow do people steep this one with wildly varying parameters! Their directions are perhaps a little longer (4-7 min) than I would steep a green oolong normally, and it is both longer and hotter than I steeped the ATR (following their directions). I had a little more leaf than I would normally use, so I decided to drop the steep time so that I didn’t overwhelm the cup. After steeping the tea smells very floral, almost like some orchid oolongs I’ve had, creamy and buttery with a fruity undertone.
This is a pretty tasty tea, floral and vegetal and a touch fruity. I just reread the product description where they describe a “subtle hint of orchid”… I definitely agree on the orchid, but I don’t think it’s very subtle! That’s fine with me, but it means I identify it more with orchid oolongs than the milk oolong I’ve had. There is a smoothness and butteriness, but the creamy milk flavor is fairly light. It does grow a bit as the tea cools, as does the sweetness, which gives it a slight condensed-milk flavor in the aftertaste. If I had never had ATR’s Milk Oolong I might have rated this into the 90s, honestly. I still find it delicious and absolutely would very happily drink it any time.
This is one of those teas that’s so tasty that I want to drink it all the time, but so expensive (and of which I have only a sample) that I put off drinking it because I don’t want to use it up too fast. I only actually every tried it once before, and it was one of the teas that sparked my new interest in oolongs. I haven’t tried another milk oolong yet, but now that I have another sample to try from another company, I wanted to revisit this one and see if it still makes me swoon.
I opened the pouch and was greeted by such a buttery, creamy scent. In the steeped tea it’s still the main aroma, but it’s joined by a floral greenness. First sip, and yup, still amazing. It’s amazing how fruity and floral and creamy and buttery and bready this tea is. Oh so smooth and creamy mouthfeel, a slightly sweet aftertaste that grows as it cools. How do teas like this even exist??
I got a small pouch of this tea free with my order from ZenTea (i.e., eZenTea.com). However, it doesn’t appear on their website! There is a listing for it (and a tasting note) here on Steepster, but no product description. How am I supposed to know what to think about this tea?? Heh. It is rare that I drink a tea (especially a tea with such a non-descriptive name) without knowing beforehand what it’s flavored like. The dry tea on this one smells sweet and desserty, perhaps mostly like caramel. I do get some chocolate as well.
Steeped, it smells nutty, chocolatey and a bit toasted, a little bit like how chocolate chips smell when burnt. In the flavor, I find that caramel again, along with the burnt chocolate note. There is a very slight bitterness to the cup. As it cools a definite nuttiness (perhaps hazelnut) comes out that makes me forget about the bitterness a bit. I feel like this tea would be super delicious with milk and sugar, but I usually only take my teas plain, so that’s not happening. Perhaps I will take the rest of this sample (about another cup) home and try it some weekend with all the fixins’.
I really love the idea of lavender Earl Grey because, well, I like bergamot and I like lavender, so why not? But I have found that lavender is a tricky beast in teas, even for someone who loves florals, so finding the right blend is difficult. Here’s another lavender Earl Grey for me to try, this one from a swap with aisling of tea. Thanks!
The dry leaf on this one smells pretty nice, but I find that’s usually the case with these teas. Steeped, I get strong black tea aroma with some lavender and a hint of bright bergamot. The scent of this tea reminded me of something from my childhood, and I finally placed it: the smell of the soap while I was washing my horse. I know, not the best olfactory association for tea. :P So I didn’t expect to like this tea, but I was surprised. The taste actually isn’t soapy, as long as I can get past the aroma. The black tea base is really smooth, and the lavender is herby and fairly strong. The sips I take vary from slightly bitter to rather pleasant, which is a bit weird to me. I wonder if I need to steep it a slightly shorter time to bring the lavender down just a notch. As far as the Earl Grey portion of this goes, I don’t get a lot that says “hey I’m an Earl Grey”, but you know there’s something there that keeps it from being just a lavender black. I don’t think this one is completely successful as a lavender Earl Grey to me, but it’s also not a bad tea all around.
I was reading the water sourcing thread in the discussions, and it made me start to question the water I use for making my tea. See, I have a sink in my office that bascially was never used before I moved in, but the water that comes out of the regular tap is disgusting, often slightly brown or yellow. Also it is clearly extremely hard because a slow drip has left the inside of the black sink covered in a whitish scale that doesn’t respond to any kind of acid. I wouldn’t even want to drink it after running it through a Brita filter. My whole time here I have always drank the deionized water that comes out of the other tap; it’s clear and tastes fine. It’s also what I use to make all of my teas. But deionized and/or distilled water is supposed to be really bad for making tea because it’s very “flat”, lacking dissolved ions from minerals and such. I find it hard to believe that the water I am using is very deoxygenated because it comes out of the faucet with such pressure that it must immediately reoxygenate itself, and I don’t know for a fact that the water is truly deionized; someone in my department tested it from a different faucet and found that the pH was off from neutral. Anyway, I started thinking about how it would affect my tea, so I wanted to try a back to back with it and some bottled water I had left over at home from the “hurricane” a few months ago. I wanted to try a somewhat delicate tea I thought might show off the differences, so not a heavy black or something, but also a tea that was inexpensive enough and that I had in a large enough quantity. This fit the bill, so it will be my guinea pig tea.
All of these cups are brewed identically except for the water source (new leaves each time of course), so I’m putting them all in this note. First, the “deionized” water from the tap. This is my baseline, so right now it just tastes like it always does. Floral, a bit vegetal. When I had this tea a while ago it was still early in my oolong journey, and coming back to it now is interesting; the buttery sweetish flavor that I really love finding is only very faintly present. I do still really enjoy how floral this is and the magnolia, which is such a lush, rich floral.
Next, bottled water (Dasani, “purified and enhanced with minerals”). Can I tell a difference? Yes. Is it super dramatic? I am relieved to say no, not to me. The flavor is a bit brighter, somehow, like this water brought out the “greenish” notes more. I can’t even say that I prefer this water; I like the bolder florals I got with the first cup. Also I can kind of tell that this bottled water is harder than my DI tap water, but the extra minerals weren’t necessarily an improvement to my tastes. Like I said, I don’t know that the water is actually deionized that’s coming out of my tap, so it may not be as “flat” as it normally would be, but I don’t think it’s seriously affecting the taste of my teas, and that’s really what I wanted assurance of.