1911 Tasting Notes
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.
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!