2098 Tasting Notes
When Frank announced this tea, I had to buy it, even though I had only tried one other tea of his and didn’t have a great experience with it. But pumpkin! And cheesecake! I love love love anything pumpkin this time of year, so pumpkin tea was a must have. To be perfectly honest, I’m not expecting much from this tea based on some of the reviews and my own experiences with Pancake Breakfast, but I had to try. Inspired by my low-temp steep on the Kusmi Caramel tea the other day, I ratcheted this one down to see if I could keep the black tea from overwhelming the flavors.
The smell of the dried leaf is really pumpkin-pie spicey. I get lots of cinnamon and clove and some ginger and nutmeg. The pumpkin aroma I can pick up at times through the spice. Steeped, the black tea has come forward, as expected, BUT there is still a good helping of spicy pumpkin aroma in the steeped tea. I am hopeful! That clove is certainly killer in the aroma. The good news is that I don’t just get black tea from this one. The bad news is that all I seem to get is intense spiciness. I feel like the spices are a bit overdone in this one… I’m getting the pungent spice plus that dusty flavor that you get if you eat too much dried ground spice. And remarkably I’m still getting a hint of bitterness with the quite low steeping temp, but it almost seems bitter from too many spices. Yeah I’m going to have to cut this one with something for it to be drinkable for me (and I like Harney’s Hot Cinnamon Spice, so I’m not afraid of spicey teas!). I don’t get really any other flavors but the spices here. Oh well.
I feel like I’ve been drinking a lot of flowery and fruity teas lately, and I needed a break or something. Even though this one is still fruity, it’s nutty almondy marzipanny flavor called out to me. There’s also something distinctly autumnal about cranberries that fits today’s mood. Mmm, I really do love the flavors of this tea. So delicious! Now that I feel seemingly overwhelmed by teas, I find myself mentally narrowing down my list of teas I must have around all the time. This one is definitely makes the cut!
This is another tea from my swap with Angrboda. I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve had a plain Earl Grey, which of course isn’t really true since I had little else but plain Earl Grey while I was in Argentina. But that’s already been a couple of weeks, so I suppose that’s long enough for me to start craving it again.
The dry tea smells a nice, robust Earl Grey. The bergamot is strong and sweet. I steeped it my usual “unknown black” parameters, but I just noticed that they suggest steeping at a slightly lower temp, so we’ll see how this goes. The brewed tea smells nice and balanced between bergamot and black tea, which has a smooth, somewhat roasty, almost chocolatey aroma. I pegged it as a Ceylon, and sure enough when I looked at the description that’s what it was. Maybe I’m starting to get better at knowing black teas! In any case, Ceylon is my favorite EG base, so that’s a good sign.
The first thing I get from the taste is that, yes, I should have steeped it at a lower temp. There’s a fairly decent helping of bitterness to the black tea base. If I can taste past the bitterness… I seem to get a warm, bready flavor from the Ceylon base, a bright, citrusy bergamot note, and a bit of smokyness in the tail end of the sip and aftertaste. I won’t rate this one this time since I didn’t follow directions, but I will say I’m surprised to get that much bitterness (note that I am very sensative to bitterness in black tea) from a Ceylon. This tea seems like it has the makings of a tasty tea if I can get the steeping parameters right.
Ah, finally time to try this one! Oh my goodness, the dried leaf smells amazingly sweet and floral; I am very excited. I’ve tried one plain Tieguanyin before (at the Harney Soho shop), and while I enjoyed pretty well I wasn’t blown away or moved to buy it. I have a distinct feeling this one will be different!
Brewed “western” style in my 12 oz Kati cup. The liquor is a pale yellowish green, and it smells awesome. Fresh and floral, warm and buttery, sweet and creamy. Yup, the raves about this tea are totally warranted: it is amazing. The main body of the sip is light and fresh and green and buttery, and then toward the end the florals (orchid, magnolia, lilac) really come out along with a very lightly sweet aftertaste that gets a bit stronger as the tea cools. It still never gets as sweet as some oolongs I’ve had, just a faint wisp of sweetness to tease your taste buds. All of the characters of a Tieguanyin are present in spades in this tea; truly an amazing example of it’s kind.
I’m drinking my afternoon cup of tea a little earlier than I usually do today because I want to have not one but two afternoon cups! I just have so much tea that I can’t wait to try it all, and for some reason today I really want some.
I’m thrilled to get a chance to try this one, sent to me by Angrboda! This is definitely one of those teas that gets raved about so much I really wanted to try it. The caramel smell of the dried leaf is very nice… I could just smell it all day, I think. It’s caramel but not a very buttery caramel, but I can’t quite put my finger on how to describe it. The brewed tea has much more black tea in the aroma, with a burnt-sugar caramel aroma behind it. I feel like the caramel makes itself known a bit more in the flavor, and it’s definitely a roasted-sugar type caramel as opposed to a buttery-creamy caramel. It actually distinctly reminds me of some kind of burnt-sugar candy I bought in London once. It pairs pretty flawlessly with the black tea base, which is pretty smooth but it still has a bit of a kick to it, by which I suppose I mean it’s fairly bold. I was surprised by the low suggested steep temp on this one, but upon drinking it I feel like the black tea might have overtaken the caramel at a higher temp. Overall a definitely delicious tea!
Another sample from SimplyJenW! So glad I get to try this; I love lychee fruit, but I haven’t had a lychee black tea before! My first thought when I smelled the dried leaf was “Mmm, lychee fruit!” But the scent wasn’t overpowering. And even though I distinctly identified it as lychee, I don’t think I ever noticed how much lychees smell like rose. I guess that’s probably why I like them so much.
The lychee aroma stayed niced and strong in the brewed tea, backed with a nice, rounded black tea base. And the tea definitely delivers in the flavor: a good, robust lychee flavor (which comes with a healthy dose of rosey-ness), with a pleasant, smooth black tea base that compliments the lychee well but is still a major player in it’s own right. Mm, this is definitely one I’ll have to keep around!
This is the first time I’m logging this tea, but it’s not the first time I’ve had it. I randomly found it when I ordered it at a chocolate shop in San Martin de los Andes, and was surprised that it came out loose-leaf instead of in a bag. It was tasty and had a flavor combination I hadn’t seen before—bergamot, jasmine and red currant—and the chocolate shop sold tins of the tea, so I brought one home. The tea company is actually located in another small Andean village near San Martin, which is cool and unexpected.
The leaf is pretty chopped up, composed of a lot of small pieces. There are some jasmine blossoms, sugary looking red currant pieces, and some other brighter pink dried fruit pieces as well. The dried leaf smells nicely red-fruity, a bit jasminey, with the bergamot providing a high bright note.
I meant to brew this for three minutes but forgot to start my timer, so I’m not quite sure how long it brewed for. The predominate aroma in the brewed tea is the red currant with somewhat floral notes behind it. Despite an unknown steep time, the tea came out well! Lots of red currant in the flavor, with some pleasant jasmine behind it. The bergamot isn’t the star here, but plays a supporting role, kind of like Harney’s Paris or Tower of London. In fact, it kind of reminds me a bit of those teas, which is probably why I like it. Even the obviously not high quality tea base provides a pleasant foundation and provides some nice caramely notes. The tea isn’t sweet, but the aftertaste has the illusion of sweetness. This isn’t a tea that will be easy to find again, so I guess I better savor it while it lasts!
I’ve been drinking a lot of flowery teas lately, and this afternoon I decided I wanted something with a bit more heft. I was going through the tea samples I got from SimplyJenW and this one definitely jumped out at me. Figs are one of my favorite! I’m so happy it’s fig season now and I can get them at the grocery store. I’ve really enjoyed the fig flavoring in some of the Dammann Freres teas I’ve had, so I’m excited to try this one with it’s unadultered fig. Also I have a groupon-type deal for Ovation Teas, and I’m glad to be able to try some of their teas before I buy!
The dry tea smells great, very much like sweet dried figs. The tea is speckled with rather large chunks of dried fig, I got two in my cup this time, which is promising. Steeped, I lose some of that rich, figgy aroma as the black tea base comes out, but I can still detect it when I breathe in deep. The flavor is sweet and nicely figgy. It’s not overwelming, but I definitely am getting the fig-in-tea flavor, as well as nice rounded eating-a-dried fig notes. The brown sugar flavoring just seems to accentuate the fig and give it more of a fig newton filling type of flavor. I am getting a hint of bitterness in this tea base, which means I will have to remember to brew it at a lower temp next time. The only thing I worried about with this one was the Assam, which I don’t think I’m partial to, but as long as I can prevent the bitterness I think the black tea base tastes fine. Thanks so much for the sample, Jen!
Another afternoon, another oolong. This one is another of my samples from DeRen Tea, and it is certainly tasty. Let’s back up, shall we? The leaves in this tea are very large and loosely scrunched, opening up to huge whole leaves when steeped. The scent of the dry leaves is lightly green-oolongy, with a faint floral tinge. Steeped, the liquor is a very pale greenish yellow and the florals have come out much more in the aroma, with the oolong base taking on a warm, buttery character.
The taste is pretty true to the aroma: light, buttery, slightly vegetal oolong, with a lovely dose of florals and a natural lingering sweetness. I looove oolongs with that natural sweetness, so that ups the marks for this one. The florals are somewhat indistinct… this doesn’t have the floral notes of a particular flower (at least not one that I really recognize), but instead amps up that general floral character that some oolongs have. Overall very very nice.
So this is the second Anxi oolong that I’ve had in the last couple of days (the first being the base of the Gardens of Anxi by Verdant Tea), and they’re both really sticking out to me as great. I have an Anxi Tie Quan Yin also from Verdant that is a spring 2011 harvest, so I now can’t wait to try that one too. Yay for tea discovery!
Several days ago, after I had this tea, I took my steeped leaves and put them in a cup with water for a cold steep. I ended up leaving them steeping for a long time, but I think it was ok because I had less leaves than I would normally use for a 16oz cold brew, and they were already steeped previously. Anyway I pulled it out today and it’s really nice. Very jasminey, with some sweet creamy oolong flavor in the aftertaste that I actually didn’t get in my initial steep. Quite a success, and I’m tempted to cold steep all of my leftover oolong leaves like this to see how they turn out!