1909 Tasting Notes
Another one of my sample teas from Tea Palace. I love passion fruit, and I love rose, so a combo of them both in a tea was something I had to try. The dry smell of this tea is intense! If you unwittingly stick your nose too close, it’ll almost sting your sinuses with the tart-sweet smell of passion fruit. There’s a number of whole rosebuds in my sample, and I put one in my brewing basket today. The brewed tea also smells very much like passion fruit, but definitely more subdued. The rose is something you pick up in the background, as it can hardly compete with the passion fruit.
So it’s really interesting when the taste is very rosey! And passion fruit, but the rose doesn’t get lost in the mix like it seems like it will from the smell. It’s actually a really great blend of the two flavors, both floral and fruity at the same time without being too much of one or the other. The slight sweetness suggested by the passion fruit flavor makes the rose seem like a rose candy flavor, which I’m definitely down with. Also, the last sips got fairly cold in my cup, and I think it would be great iced. I thought I would decently enjoy this tea, but I didn’t expect to love it this much!
Time for a London tea! The Tea Palace shop in Covent Garden offered a bunch of tasting samples, and this was one of them! I thought the sample was absolutely delicious, so I decided to bring some home. This is one of the only tea shops I went to that actually offered sample sizes of their teas; they had cute small tins that held about 30g of tea. They also were having a promotion in honor of their anniversary that if you spent £20, you would get a free sample tin. Which obviously meant that the number of samples I meant to get increased until I hit £20 to get a free one (since I was pretty close already).
The dry leaf on this one is full of yellow marigold petals, and big chunks of whole vanilla beans chopped into the mixture. It smells like vanilla, yes, but there’s also a deeper, caramelly-toffee aroma. Brewed the black tea aroma comes to the forefront, and the vanilla drops to the back a bit.
The taste initially is of a black tea with some vanilla on the side, and I was a bit disappointed thinking I’d need to tweak my steeping parameters because I remembered it being more flavored. But as it cools the vanilla really comes out; this is the tea I remember! It’s very vanilla-y, with a bit of creaminess but not a lot, and that caramelized note is also present in the taste. The vanilla seems thick and rich without being cloying, and the tea has a wonderfully smooth mouthfeel. The black tea is present but playing a supporting role; it has a twinge of bitterness, so I might drop the steeping temp on this one next time. Definitely a fantastic version of a vanilla black tea!
I was going to have another one of my almondy teas, but I decided that I wanted perhaps a floral or fruity tea, and perhaps a simpler one. Enter Oriental, which is a tea I almost didn’t mean buy. I mean, it was on my list of teas that I wanted, but when I went in to Mariage Freres and found out that I could get only do 100g minimum, and I already had so much tea that I had bought in London and at Dammann Freres, I had decided to get Thé au Tibet instead of this one, not both of them. But in the shop there were a lot of people, and a lot of teas, and I was slightly flustered and ended up asking for them both. C’est la vie, but it fortunately turned out to be a happy accident.
I’ve been intrigued by Jasmine black teas, but haven’t gotten around to trying one until now. Even so, this one isn’t really just a Jasmine black, because it’s got the mandarin orange as well. The dried leaf, which has pink flower petals of unknown affinity, smells very very orangey.
The minute the hot water hit the leaves, they released a wonderful jasmine aroma, and sniffing the tea closely yields notes of faint orange and a slightly malty black tea background. The taste is very much a harmony of jasmine and orange, with citrusy orange notes at the front of the sip blending into a floral (but not quite honeysuckle-sweet) jasmine in the body. The black tea seems to provide a solid, but subdued, background. The tea is just described as having “orange” flavor, seeming to mean the fruit itself, but it very much reminds me of an amazing orange-blossom macaron I had in Paris (which I thought almost had jasmine notes itself). This tea definitely errs on the floral side of things, which is all good to me. A happy accident indeed!
Ok, I’m back from Chicago and back to consistant tea drinking! I can’t wait to go through all my new teas from Europe, plus I just got a swap package from Jillian while I was away, so I have even more teas!
I was looking through my collection for a black tea for the morning(ish), and while I couldn’t recall about some of them, I was pretty sure this one was. True! I was of course intrigued by this tea because of the “marzipan” flavor that is part of it. When I was at Dammann Freres they said that it was a 100g minimum on teas, but that they could maybe do 50g on some teas if I was getting a few. It was pretty vague, but I ended up getting two teas in 100g and three in 50g packages (Mariage Freres was 100g no exceptions), and this was one that I went ahead and got 100g of.
The dry leaf on this one has an aroma of floral fruitiness which is surprising, with an underlying sweet almond to it. I got one huge pink peony petal in my brew this time. The aroma of the brewed tea is more almondy and that “biscuit” note is really coming out.
The flavor is… wow, complex. While still very hot, I get a powerful, intense rush of floral at the beginning of the sip, which quickly morphed into a calmer biscuit note, and then the tail of the sip and the aftertaste is decidedly marzipan. Wow. As it cools the floral notes calm down a bit, and stretch themselves out over more of the sip, lingering on the tongue a bit along with the marzipan. Well cooled (but still warm), it’s very almondy-marzipanny, but with an overlying floral taste that compliments it very well. Definitely an A+ tea for me!
Well, I’m back from Europe, though I’m leaving again for Chicago tomorrow for a college reunion. In any case, choosing a tea from the many I brought back was an almost paralyzing decision, and while I initially wanted to start out with one of my fancy French teas, circumstances dictated that I needed something else. I needed a black tea to combat afternoon jetlag, and I needed a tea without too much going on since I’d be doing other things at the same time. This one was a natural choice.
I’ve been casually looking for an almond tea that said almond to me in the way that I love, namely marzipan or almond extract, but I had yet to find one that really was right. When I was in London I stopped at this tea shop, and when I smelled this tea I knew I had to buy it. The dry leaf smells powerfully, amazingly, like the freshest marzipan or perhaps the aroma of a bottle of almond extract. Interestingly this tea company had a different plain almond black tea that smelled much different, but this one was specifically marzipan: what I was looking for.
Brewed, the aroma changed quite a bit and the marzipan aroma wasn’t quite as all-powerful as it was in the dry leaf. The black tea base became a real partner in the aroma, and this was born out in the taste. It’s a nice, strong black tea with a very almondy, marzipanny flavor. There’s also a kind of generally nutty note underlying things as if you were acutally eating a nut, probably from the almond pieces included in the blend. The tea was very slightly bitter, but it wasn’t too much. I don’t usually sweeten my teas, but I have a feeling that a bit of sweetener would probably really turn this into a marzipan bomb.
Overall, I’m very pleased with this tea, and I feel like it’s a nice blend of the marzipan and black tea flavors without being too much of one or the other. A good purchase!
This tea is pretty common at coffee shops here in Warsaw, and I had a pot of it this afternoon. For a bagged tea, it was actually pretty tasty. I know for sure that this is a Ceylon base, since the company makes a big deal about how their tea is 100% single-origin Ceylon. The bergamot was strong enough to be the main event, but not overpowering, and overall the flavor was fairly well-balanced.
A nice basic tea, and a decent option when on the go, but once again I’m finding it lacking a certain depth of flavor, as with the bagged Twinings EG I had earlier, though I do think I prefer this one of the two, probably due to the origin differences of the black tea base.
How funny that I’ve been having so much tea here in Warsaw, when I hardly had any in London and Paris! But I’m here for longer, so I’m doing a bit less running around frantically, and thus have more time to sit down and have a pot of tea. This time it was at Cafe Blikle on ul. Nowy Świat, which is the cafe front of the famous Polish confectioner A. Blikle. Today on ul. Nowy Świat the street was all roped off and Obama drove past no less than three times while I was walking and having my tea!
Anyway, A. Blikle also has their own tea blends, and this one is a pretty classic Russian-style, and it was done well. The aroma of the steeping tea was of bergamot and general citrus, and a smooth creamy-vanilla, like an Earl Grey Cream. The taste was pretty true to the smell; a smooth bergamotty flavor with bright citrus notes on the end of the sip. The creaminess of the aroma isn’t as present in the sip, just providing a smooth, sweetish background for the citrus. As it cools the note at the end of the sip gets slightly more bitter, but not unpleasant, more of just a lemony-sour-bitter.
I let the second cup steep a bit longer (but not too long, yay for tea pots with a steeping basket so I can stop the steeping!), and it was very much the same, though a little stronger and the creamy notes were even further diminished. All in all a very nice cup of tea and a nice execution of this kind of blend!
While I was at this tea house I went on kind of a binge and ordered a second pot of tea! This time I made it green since I wanted less caffeine for the evening. This one had lemongrass, lemon peels and mallow flowers in the mix.
The aroma was very lemony with some distinct green tea notes as well. Once again I had two cups of varying steep times; as an aside, a pet peeve of mine is surely tea houses that serve their tea for one in a pot large enough for two cups that has built in strainer with no way of arresting the steeping time. In this case, by the time I got to drinking the second cup the green tea had started to become bitter with oversteeping. Anyway, the first taste of this was literally lemony and grassy, with flavor from both the lemon and the grassiness of the green tea coming through. As the cup cooled it acquired more of a lemony citrus fruit taste. This was a pretty decent tea, but nothing wowing. Often I’ve experienced that mallow flowers will add a smoothness or creaminess to a tea, but that wasn’t the case here. Just a very strongly lemony brew!
Now here’s a tea company that probably won’t get any other ratings but mine; this is a tea house (or herbaciarni) in the New Town of Warsaw, and I’m pretty sure their tea blends are their own. I’ve been drinking almost nothing but Earl Grey lately, due mostly to lack of selection, but here I had some options! I chose this one based on the fact that it was supposed to be black tea flavored with vanilla, jasmine and lavender, some of my favorites.
I had a pot with about two cups in it and no way to stop the steeping, so I had two differently steeped cups, one at 5 minutes and one much longer. If I looked in the pot I could see jasmine flowers floating at the surface, and the aroma was that of lavender and some other general floral scents. The first cup was decidedly tasty, but hard to pick out the individual flavors; it was like they just completely melded together or something. If I looked I could maybe find hints of lavender and vanilla, but I wasn’t getting jasmine. I’m not sure what the base tea was, but it was imparting a lot of its own flavor, including a distinct spiciness, like cinnamon. The second cup was much stronger, and the spicy black tea base pretty much overwhelmed the other flavors. It was pretty tasty, but not what I was looking for. At this point I had about a half of a cup left and I got distracted eating, so when I came back to it, it was pretty much cold. Now here’s where it blew me away with awesome jasmine in the aroma and the taste. I wanted more! This would probably be great iced. Too bad I’ll never get to really find out! (it didn’t look like they were selling the tea)
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.