2098 Tasting Notes
When I first got this tea I tried it right away because I was so excited, but then ended up a bit disappointed because I didn’t get as much flavor as I would have liked. After that it sat in the back of my cupboard while all manner of new teas piled up around it, but then I read LiberTEAS’ note on one of the other 52teas about how she always waits a while before trying the new blends because it takes a while for all the flavors to meld together and develop. I ordered both the Pumpkin Cheesecake and the Pumpkin Pancake Breakfast recently and have been waiting to try them, so I thought I’d revisit this one since it’s been so long.
To be honest the aroma of the brewed tea still smells like what I remember: black tea. It’s a bit bright, almost like a darjeeling, oddly. I do get a hint of underlying sweetness to the aroma, but it overall reminds me more of Harney’s Indian Nimbu than pancakes! The taste is very interesting, and definitely different from how I remember. I get a bright, clean black tea, not heavy or malty, followed by a slight aftertaste of maple, perhaps. I don’t really know what’s going on… I read all the other reviews and people rave and rave about how pancakey this is, but I’m just not getting it. Maybe I need to try it sweetened, but I’m not big on sweetening my teas. The overall flavor of the cup is interesting enough that I have no problem drinking it down, but I’m a bit underwhelmed. C’est la vie! Sometimes a tea is not for everyone.
After my previous tea I needed something I knew would be high quality and not over-flavored. I reached for this tea from Verdant Tea’s new Alchemy line because it seemed like it would likely fit the bill. The scent of the dried leaf seems to confirm that: the first thing I smell here is an herby green oolong with delicate floral notes over the top. The tea is chocablock full with jasmine buds and small chunks of orange peel, but the rolled up Tieguanyin leaves still predominate.
This one brewed up a pale greenish yellow, and the aroma has a base of buttery green notes along with a light sweet jasmine. First sip was still a little too hot for me, but I can tell it’s going to be good. Scratch that, this is going to be one of those teas that blows me out of the water. My first impression is that of a buttery jasmine caramel if that flavor combination makes any sense at all. The natural sweetness in this tea is amazing… it’s a light, smooth sweetness like sweet cream butter. Combined with this oolong, the jasmine takes on a totally different character than I’ve ever tried before—warm, rich, sugary, almost herby—but is somehow still distinctly identifiable as jasmine. The orange rind doesn’t really make itself known in the flavor, and I have a feeling that it, like the saffron, is just lending a supporting role to the other notes. As the tea cools it just gets sweeter and sweeter, playing up that buttery sweet jasmine flavor. A++ on this tea, David… it totally rocks!
Ugh… I am currently on some antibiotics which are not kind to one’s stomach, so I was unsure I’d even want any tea today, but I’m doing ok for the moment. Still, I wanted something that might be light and definitely non-upsetting. I chose this new tea, but I forgot what the description was like when I ordered it. Really, Jasmine Lemon doesn’t seem to be the right name for this tea, since it’s really more of a bouquet of all kinds of florals. The tea is full of flower petals and buds of all kinds along with fairly long green and white tea leaves. The aroma is a slightly worrisome artificial sweet-tart fruit candy scent, but I’ve smelled that aroma in dry leaves before and it doesn’t always turn out poorly.
After brewing my tea is a pale yellow with some dusty bits; they are likely small pieces from all of the whole flowers in the leaf. The scent is much more subdued, but still with the same general profile. This tea does taste familiar, but I can’t place it. It’s definitely sweet-tart and slightly fruity in a very floral way. I don’t, however, get any distinct notes; no jasmine, and definitely no lemon. This is the second tea from this company that I’ve tried, and though I’m pretty sure they don’t blend in-house, the teas definitely err on the side of lots of somewhat artificial flavoring that pretty much obliterates any flavors from the tea itself.
ARGH. I just figured out where I know this tea from. It appears to be identical, minus the sencha, to the Macabeo tea from ESP Emporium that I have had and not really enjoyed. A sniff test of both teas confirms that they have the same aroma profile. Interestingly, I do seem to enjoy this one better than the ESP version, but only slightly. Curses! Foiled by a new, tempting name. This is exactly why I wish I knew where the tea was coming from in these places… now I have 2 more ounces of a tea I never would have bought if I had known what it really was.
And with that ringing endorsement, does anyone want any of this? Free to a good home; I have way too much tea right now to have this one languishing in my cupboard.
I ordered a bunch of samples of Dancong from DeRen Tea because it’s a type of oolong I have yet to explore. I’ve only tried the Dan Cong from thepuritea, sent to me a while ago by QuiltGuppy, but I enjoyed the flavors in that one so wanted to try others of the type to see if it’s for me!
I prepared this tea “western” style, with 4g of leaves in a 12oz mug, because I don’t have a gongfu setup and probably won’t until I go to China next spring. The leaves are long, dark and twisted, and when brewed some are greener than others. The aroma of the steeped tea is really nice… roasty grains, like a dark oolong, but also sweet and floral like a green one.
The floral note is the first one in the flavor, but it’s quickly taken over by the roasty notes. I’m acutally getting a slight bitterness in the aftertaste, but I’m hesitant to dock the tea for that because I feel like it’s likely an issue with one of my parameters. Other than the lingering hint of bitter, I do like the combo of the floral plus roasted flavors. I’m not sure that I like them more than the pure fresh floral flavor of some green oolongs, but I have a number of other dancongs to try as well!
I have tons of new teas to try, but this morning I wasn’t feeling great so I decided I needed to fall back on my lemon ginger green. I could go for even more ginger in this one, but I love ginger, and this is after all primarily a lemon tea. Still very tasty and nicely soothing for the stomach.
When I got home tonight, there was an extra large package sitting on my doorstep. See, I was expecting a package from Monterey Bay Spice Company, from a groupon I had bought a while ago, but I had just ordered a bunch of samples of a lot of their teas, and this package was way too heavy to just be samples. Imagine my surprise when I opened it up to find a full pound of this tea in there! I looked at my receipt and the sample for this tea doesn’t have the same type of item number as the rest of the samples, which is probably the source of the mix-up, but I did only pay $1 for it. I had been kind of miffed that the shipping for this company is a flat $13, which seems high to me, but I suppose I got my money’s worth anyway.
So I have a lot of this tea. Is it any good? I didn’t even mean to order the decaf version! I decided to brew up a pot tonight to see. Fortunately, it’s definitely drinkable. It’s very, very orangey, with a somewhat more subtle spice compliment. Cinnamon, definitely, but also the kind of warm autumn spices that often accompany it, and none of them is very overpowering. The decaf black tea is inoffensive and hardly present in the flavor, but at least it’s not chemically (at least, not to me). Would I choose this tea to get a pound of normally? Probably not, but you can bet I was relieved when I took a sip and it was pleasant enough.
I have so many new oolong samples right now it’s really hard to choose one to try, but today I was wanting something extra floral, so I chose this one which will certainly deliver. This was one of the free samples that I ordered from DeRen Tea, which has a new online store. I was able to get samples of almost all of their oolongs for basically just the cost of shipping, so I couldn’t resist. Thanks DeRen, for the samples!
Somehow I’ve never tried a jasmine oolong, though I totally love other floral scented oolongs. The dry leaf on this one smells very very jasminey, and includes jasmine petals as well. I might have expected the leaves to be rolled, which seems to be common with green oolongs, but this tea looked more a standard green, with slightly twisted leaves. Brewed, the liquor is a deep golden yellow, and the aroma is all jasmine, sweet and floral with a slight greenish undertone, which makes it smell fresh. I’m realizing that it’s been a while since I had a jasmine tea, and I’ve missed it!
The flavor is very pleasant. It’s very much like a plain jasmine green, but without the grassiness of the green tea. The oolong flavor is slightly vegetal, but in a warm, not bright, way. The jasmine lacks the honeysuckle sweetness of jasmine pearls, but it’s definitely a strong jasmine… people who dislike strong florals beware! There is a very slight bitterness to the edge of this tea, which makes me think that I should drop the steeping time a little next time. I’m enjoying this tea, but honestly there’s not much more to the flavor that would make me reach for this over a jasmine green, and it certainly isn’t replacing jasmine pearls for me. As the tea has cooled almost to room temp, a light sweetness comes out that makes me think that this one would be great iced.
Back to the daily grind! I have fully recovered from my illness that took me out all last week. That, combined with my extended trip, makes getting back into the old routines kind of weird feeling. But my morning tea at work is one of those routines, so I’m easing back in with something familiar and yet new… this Earl Grey from Verdant Tea’s new Alchemy Blended line. I finally got around to ordering from Verdant Tea, which I had been meaning to do for a while, and I was excited to see their new line of flavored teas, which David kindly gave me a free sample of two of them (and I ordered an ounce of another!). Looks like I’ll be the first to rate any of them on Steepster.
The dry leaf on this is composed of very high quality looking Yunnan Golden Buds along with a smattering of orange rind and a few shards of lemongrass, but the black tea is by far the main component here. It smells very citrusy-bergamotty in an utterly delicious way. I steeped it for 3 minutes this time since I do that with all blacks the first time around, and the liquor is a dark reddish-amber. The golden buds have definitely come out in the aroma now… the tea has a rich, honeyed aroma, slighly caramely, like some of the other “golden” teas I’ve tried, with a bright slightly citrusy earl grey note that is really secondary to the tea, but still present.
In the taste, first I get a bright bergamot note that opens up into a honey-caramel golden bud tea taste, and it all finishes with an aftertaste that combines the two nicely. The bergamot is bright and bordering on astringency, not very tempered by the orange and lemongrass, though I think they do make it a decidedly citrusy bergamot as opposed to a floral one. It’s bold without being strong, if that makes any sense, because it doesn’t overwhelm the golden buds, but it also is no shrinking violet in the flavor. I’m really digging this Earl Grey blend, which is pretty different from other Earl’s I’ve tried before, mostly because I don’t think I’ve seen an EG made exclusively from golden buds! Definitely a winner, and one I think I will likely have to keep around!
I had a groupon for this tea company that was expiring in about a month, so I went ahead and bought the tea while I was already buying tea from other places. So expect a lot of new teas here for a while, because I have a ton of stuff to try!
Before my travels, I was really getting into oolongs, so a lot of my new teas are oolongs. I’ve always wanted to try the Raspberry Oolong from AC Perch’s, which is supposed to be awesome. Funny, that there aren’t very many raspberry oolongs out there from any tea company, but this one happened to have one, so I had to get some. The dry leaf pretty much hits you over the head with berry aroma. Sure, raspberry, but also just tons of all kinds of sweet-tart berries. There doesn’t seem to be any berry pieces in the dry leaf, but there is some kind of pinky-red petal in there… possibly hibiscus or rosehips, which is a bit surprising. Nibbling on a dry petal makes me think hibiscus. There aren’t very many of them in there, so we’ll see how they affect the steeped tea.
The tea brewed up really light yellow (no pinkness), and it smells tart-fruity and a bit floral. There’s also a bit of that green oolongy aroma in there. Despite the light color, the taste is pretty full. I’m enjoying it, but I do think it’s a tea that might not be for everyone. The raspberry flavoring is quite strong, especially as it cools, and it kind of drowns out the oolong itself, though I feel that it’s definitely lending a floral character to the fruit. And I can’t decide whether the flavoring might taste a bit artificial. I don’t get any hibiscus or that it’s too tart from this. Actually the aftertaste is rather sweet. Nevertheless, I am enjoying the pot and I will have no problem drinking up my ounces of this.
I’ve decided that my guts have recuperated enough that I should be able to handle a cup of black tea. I’m putting off trying some of the new samples I have, particularly a bunch of puerhs, until I seem to be at 100%, but I should be able to handle other teas now.
An inti zen mix box of tea bags was one of the packages of tea I picked up in Buenos Aires before I came back. I tried their Earl Grey early on in the trip, and when I saw the mix box I really wanted to try this tea when I saw the list of ingredients, with honey, vanilla and cacao. The tea bag has an intense scent of beeswax-y honey, with a slightly odd herby note. Brewed, the aroma is kind of odd and complex. That beeswaxy honey aroma is still there, but it’s joined by what I guess is a combo vanilla/chocolate note, but it’s hard to separate them.
It tastes ok, but yeah, that honey flavor tastes more like eating a honey beeswax lip balm than actual honey. The tea itself has a bit of a bite (apparently it’s an assam), and it almost seems like there is more spices hidden in the tea; it reminds me of a light chai or something. I don’t get distinct vanilla notes, and the chocolate seems to meld in with the black tea. There’s a slightly musty, hay-like note in the aftertaste. I’m also reminded that I don’t much care for assams. And tea bags make me much more sad then they ever used to… I don’t mind sachets, but tea bags are just always so disappointing. Well I’ll be back to my collection of loose leaf at work next week.