2182 Tasting Notes
So a little while ago I was going through old discussion threads about milk oolongs and I saw the Tea from Taiwan Jin Xuan (milk oolong) sample pack discussed. As I have found out most milk oolongs are “flavored” by subjecting the growing plants to various things, but because this is done on the growing end of things almost all places that sell milk oolongs don’t mention it, if they know. Personally I don’t really think of that as “flavoring” in a normal sense since it’s all done while the plant is growing, nor do I have a problem with flavoring tea anyway. I was curious about the difference, though, and this pack has samples that you can actually compare. It has three milk oolongs: two that are all-natural, no flavoring added at any point, and one that is flavored. This is the flavored one.
The dry leaf does smell nicely creamy, slightly fruity, with a hint of greenish florals… in short, not unexpected. The steeped tea builds on those, with more florals and a definite buttery note. If I breathe in really deep I get a distinct vegetal note. At no point does this tea smell like acutal milk or sweetened condensed milk, which some people say is a tip-off that it’s been flavored. This is clearly a very lightly flavored one, so I’m interested to see how the unflavored ones compare. I can tell it’s a milk oolong from the aroma, but you could have fooled me by the taste. I probably steamrolled over the nuances in flavor by brewing it western style, but that’s how I brew all my oolongs. It’s fresh, green, vegetal and a bit buttery. I don’t really get a creaminess from this… actually almost the opposite as it’s a hint astringent. There is certainly none of the light sweetness you find in some oolongs (whether they’re natural or not!). I was honestly expecting a bit more from this one, and certainly expecting something a bit different. Oh well, it’s still pretty tasty.
I thought I was doing bad as far as getting around to trying my samples from Teavivre, but it turns out there are only two I hadn’t tried, and this is one of them. This was yet another green tea that I requested for furthering my tea education since I know next to nothing about different types of green teas.
The dry leaf is full of fluffy, squiggly leaves. The aroma of it is a little offputting, at least for what I look for in a tea, because it’s very savory and brothy. It really reminds me of miso broth you might get at a sushi restaurant. Steeped, it’s still a bit brothy but more vegetal, and some distinct nutty tones have come out as well. It smells a little less like a bowl of soup, which is good (in my mind at least!). The flavor is definitely light, and I feel like I’m “tasting” the aroma more than the tea itself. It’s got that grainy/miso-y flavor to it, followed by a vegetal note that ends up being a touch sharp toward the end. A very interesting tea, but not one of my favorite greens from the box. Thank you again to Angel Chen and Teavivre for giving me the chance to sample it!
I have so many samples from thepuriTea that I haven’t tried yet! This is one of them, my first jasmine black. I’ve always been intrigued by jasmine blacks, and I do tend to love yunnan golden buds, so I was glad when this one came back into stock right around the same time as the milk oolong, just in time for black friday.
The dry leaf on this one smells pretty much just jasminey; I can’t really detect the golden buds underneath. The directions called for a longer steep time than I usually use with black teas, but I bumped my usual 3 minutes up a bit just to see how it goes. The tea steeped up pretty dark and has a lovely jasmine aroma underlain by a slightly chocolatey, slightly toasty black tea scent. It’s a very nice tea, though not anything that blows me away. The jasmine is nice and fresh and not perfumy, but I’m wishing for a more robust golden yunnan flavor. I’ve recently had a few flavored golden yunnans, and I want more of the chocolatey, caramelly flavor in this one. I think I’ll also drop back to my usual 3 minutes, because while it’s not bitter or anything, it is a bit astringent (which they claim is the jasmine in the description, but I’ve never found jasmine astringent) and I think I’ll like it a little better steeped shorter.
Before I made this order from Ovation I tried a sample of their blueberry Earl Grey, and I enjoyed it even though I’m not a big fan of blueberry flavored things. But I was pleased with the Earl Grey part of it (and that the blueberry tasted pretty authentic), so I decided to go ahead and order this one. The dry leaf is chock full of dried raspberries, orange peel, and a scattering of flower petals, and it smells awesome. A nice blend of bright, citrusy bergamot and juicy raspberry.
The steeped tea has that black-tea-blend aroma that I can’t quite pick apart but find a lot of places. Assam-y, I think. Not my favorite, but it doesn’t always mean a flavor that isn’t good to me. There’s also the bergamot and a warmer raspberry aroma as well. I’m going to hold of rating this one as well (and tasting the rest of my teas) because I do think that these blends need time to settle and mature since they were fresh-blended to order. I’m not getting a lot of strong flavors out of this cup, and they all seem a bit muddled. There’s some astringency with a citrus note behind it, and maybe some raspberry, but they are kind of lost. I definitely can’t figure out this tea base… I don’t like Assams but I felt ok ordering more black-tea-base teas from them because my sample of Blueberry Earl Grey wasn’t bitter or astringent to me, but brewed in a similar way this tea is both. Maybe it will mellow more, but maybe it won’t and it will mean I might have to write off black teas at Ovation because the base and I don’t get along.
Ah, rose and jasmine. This tea really reminds me of another tea I’ve had before, but I can’t figure out what. I think most of the jasmine and rose teas I’ve had have also had other things in them, and none of them have been green and/or white teas. Oh well, one thing’s for sure… this is really tasty. I’m always a little hesitant about white teas because I haven’t had too much success with them before, plus this tea was made up of long, twisted leaves combined with big rosebuds, which made portioning it out with a teaspoon difficult. The directions called for 2-4 minutes of steep time, so I went in the middle.
Even with all this uncertainty, it turned out awesome. Rose is really the main flavor here, but the jasmine is no slouch. I do think that rose is naturally a bit more forward of a flavor than jasmine, so it seems the strongest. They combine together very well, though, along with a nice fresh, green background. It’s a very floral tea, and it’s a very successful one. I might just have to keep this one around!
I has been sooooo long since I’ve had an oolong. I miss them! I knew I had to dive back into my sample packs from Naivetea when I got back home and finish trying all the high altitude teas. The aroma of the dry leaves on this one convinced me to try it first… leafy and floral and just a hint of that savory buttery note.
The smell of the steeped tea is even better. The buttery note has come forward and mingles with the florals in a lovely way. The taste of my first sip surprised me, acutally! From the aroma I was expecting something creamier, but the vegetal, leafy notes actually took the foreground, followed by some florals (not super flowery, though), with a light sweetness. It’s definitely on the greener, fresher end of the spectrum. Really quite nice.
Man, it seems like forever ago that I ordered these Tea Spot samples. It was in fact not too long before I went out of town and I didn’t get a chance to try all of them before I left. This was one of them that was still sealed; I’m always on the lookout for good mango and/or passion flavored black teas, and this happens to be a mango & passion black.
The dry leaf has that sweet, tart, candy-ish mango and passion fruit aroma that so often accompanies these teas. It really reminds me of a mango hi-chew, if you are familiar with those candies. Steeped, that sweetness in the aroma disappears and it’s all tart, tart, tart. I had high hopes for this one, but I’m afraid it just doesn’t live up in the taste. It lacks the roundness and depth of the acutal fruits, and there’s a weird mustiness in the aftertaste on some sips. The black tea is at least not bitter, but that’s about all I can say about it. I think the fruit flavors come out more as it cools, so I definitely plan on cold steeping the rest of this sample.
Ovation teas really has an insane amount of flavor combinations, and it makes it so hard to choose, especially since you can’t order samples. It’s probably because they apparently blend each tea to order, so they don’t make small amounts, but it would be nice if they had some of their standard teas available for samples. But plenty of other companies don’t offer samples either. I had a groupon-style deal for this company and had an impossible time trying to decide what teas to get from their blends, and whether I should go for the custom blend, but ultimately I decided to try a custom blend another time. Blending to order probably means I should wait for the flavors to meld a bit more before trying them, but it’s been about a week since they’ve been blended so I’m going to give them a first try now.
The smell of the dry leaf on this one is great. I get a lot of chocolate, caramel, and nuttiness. Definite yum. It brewed up fairly light in color, and I’m afraid I might have made it a bit weak… I don’t make tea in my small teapot at home all that frequently, and I think I might have overfilled it. Anyway, the aroma of the steeped tea has much less chocolate but more caramel nuttiness, along with a bit of roastiness that almost reminds me of a dark oolong.
The flavor is a little weak, certainly my fault, but what’s there is nice. It’s nutty, chocolatey, and caramelly, with a pretty pleasant black tea backing it up. The nuts are actually hazelnuts (and there are big halves of them in the blend), so it ends up tasting kind of like a caramelly Florence. A good combo! It does seem like there is a hint of bitterness, which is probably coming from the Assam in the base (I’m pretty sure all their black bases are an Assam/Ceylon blend), which isn’t my favorite, but I have been able to make it work in their teas before. I am interested to try this one in another couple of weeks under more normal circumstances and after the flavors have “matured” some more.