2006 Tasting Notes
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.
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!