2006 Tasting Notes
My first pot of Vanilla Comoro! I’ve been hearing about how awesome it is for a while and knew I wanted to try it, and I finally got around to picking up a tagalong tin of it at Harney Soho last weekend. This is also my first decaf black tea. I was a little surprised to find that the base tea isn’t hidden here, and I taste firstly the black tea and then the vanilla, creamy, caramel flavor blooms in my mouth. Pretty delicious!
Initially when I brewed this cup I got a ton of rose flavor, which was kind of surprising given how many berries and mango cubes ended up in the infuser. But now that’s cooled a bit I get much more fruit flavoring, and the rose is a nice supporting note. This is one of those teas that I’ve noticed shows up from several retailers; at least I don’t have to worry about it disappearing, unless the wholesaler stops making it!
I think my taste buds are still a little blown out from that last tea, so this one doesn’t taste quite as good as usual.
…after a couple of Cadbury Mini Eggs…
Better. I can count on chocolate to smooth over any bad tastes. Now here’s my creamy Earl Grey, although I might have over-steeped or over-leafed a little because it’s a hint more bitter/astringent than normal. Still pretty good, though.
This is the third of my Tea Licious free samples; thanks again! I’ve wanted to try other lavender Earl Greys, so this seemed like an opportunity to do so. The aroma of the dried leaves on this one smells great: strongly of lavender with a bright bergamot behind it.
Brewed, I was surprised to find the aroma had turned kind of… soapy. Now I’ve read many reviews were people complained of finding lavender teas soapy and they write them off entirely because they associate lavender with soap. I have had a few lavender teas now, and I haven’t found them soapy, so I just figured I wasn’t one of those people. This one is seriously soapy. It tastes like soapy lavender water. It’s not residue on my cup, because I actually don’t wash out my cup with soap all that often, I just rinse it most days. I’m not sure what part of the lavender makes it soapy, but apparently there are some blends where even a lavender lover tastes soap. I enjoyed my other samples from Tea Licious, but unfortunately this one I can’t drink.
This is another of my free samples from Tea Licious. The rose part intrigued me, but also listed lemongrass and ginger, a combo I like, and I was very curious. The dry leaf smells like lemongrass and ginger, unsurprisingly; the rose is fairly wiped out. The oolong leaves are very green and crumpled up almost into little balls; I don’t have any rose buds in my sample, but there are definitely petals.
Brewed, the aroma is still very lemongrass/ginger. That carries through to the taste, which is primarily lemony but a bit gingery as well. It’s not peppery gingery, but the lemongrass and ginger meld together to form a very tasty combo. I’d wager that in a competition like this, the usually more delicate rose loses, as it seems to here. The oolong base is very pleasant; a tea with lemongrass and ginger can easily get too ‘sharp’, but the oolong adds a smoothness, almost a thickness to the tea. I guess this is the ‘breadiness’ that people describe with some oolongs. I really feel like this tea is misnamed; call it a Lemongrass Ginger Oolong, and you have it right on the money. It’s delicious, and I could definitely see it filling the lemon/ginger gap in my cupboard right now.
I always love getting a package of tea in the mail, and so it was awesome to come home yesterday to find my free samples from Tea Licious in the box. I must have been in a floral mood when I picked these out, because they’re all flower-scented of some kind. Floral scented Earl Greys are definitely of interest to me, so this was one of the three I received.
The scent of the dried leaves on this one is very rosey, with a sharp citrus aroma from the bergamot. I didn’t have any brewing parameters for this one, so I went with my new standard for unknown blacks, boiling/3min. It brewed up pretty dark, with a maroonish red-brown liquor. The brewed tea smells powerfully like rose, even moreso than the straight up rose-scented tea I have. I don’t get as much of the EG aroma, but I occasionally get a whiff of it through the rose.
First sip… ROSE. Wow, this is rosey. The EG takes a backseat to the rose in this one, though I can taste a hint of bright bergamot at the end of the sip, and its slight astringency made it into the cup. The bergamot is not distinct on its own but seems to be combining with the rose to make it “brighter” somehow. I don’t quite think this was exactly what I’m looking for in an rose EG, but I do really like this tea, especially as a rose tea, and would consider stocking it just for that reason!
I wanted to go back and have these Jasmine Pearls again after my rapturous Harney & Sons experience this weekend. These were the first Jasmine pearls I’d ever tried, and I liked them a lot, but how do they stand up now?
The first time I brewed these I followed the instructions on the package of only putting in 4-6 balls with a cup (so I put in 8 or so with my 12oz cup). With Harney I put in a whole perfect teaspoon, so this time I did that as well. These pearls are a little larger overall, so I didn’t quite get the 24 pearls per tsp that I got with Harney, but definitely more than the 8 I put in last time. Last time I brewed for 5 minutes and it was still very light in color and flavor (no wonder, with so few pearls). This time I went for 4 minutes; the liquor is still light, but the jasmine flavor is a bit more prominent I think, and this time I’m definitely getting a distinct hit of sweetness I don’t remember getting last time. Nevertheless, the taste isn’t as well rounded and it has less depth. The sweetness seems to hang out at the end of the sip and doesn’t quite meld properly with the jasmine aroma. It’s still a nice jasmine tea, and there’s nothing really that’s bad about it, but it just doesn’t blow me out of the water.
My pancake breakfast tea finally arrived yesterday! This is my first order from 52 Teas, and I was lucky enough to get one of the packets added after they pouched all the tea up. I just couldn’t resist! I’ve been thinking about maple in tea; I love that flavor and would like to have it in a tea, but it’s not all that common. Hence this one was a must try!
The dried leaves smell powerfully like pancakes and most of all maple syrup. I was unsure of the brewing parameters on this one, so I looked at the reviews here; they’re kind of all over the place, but I decided to go less-than-boiling and a shorter time to start out. My liquor ended up a dark reddish brown, and the aroma of the brewed tea seems to be primarily the black tea with some buttery, pancakey scents; I’m a little sad the maple has decreased a lot in the aroma. Like some others, I’m mostly getting black tea in the flavor, with the buttery pancake with a hint of maple sweetness in the aftertaste. I don’t like sweetening my tea, so I don’t want to have to do that to bring the pancake flavors out, but maybe I’ll brew it longer next time and see if that helps. Still a pleasant tea, but I like my tea a little more strongly flavored.
Three minutes is a much better steep time for this tea, at least to my taste, although I’m surprised to still get a hint of bitterness on some sips. It’s amazing how much this tea smells like a fresh, ripe, juicy mango when brewed. I could just inhale the aroma all day. Once again the taste is mangoey but surprisingly floral, with possibly even a hint of jasmine, although I think I’m getting that less so this go-around. I really want to get that bitterness out of the cup, because I really want to love this tea. I guess the steeping temp is the next thing to adjust!
I guess I’m in a somewhat chocolatey mood still, because this one called out to me and I decided I wanted to do another tasting of it. This time I steeped it just a hair longer than before, and I think some of the flavors are a little more robust without getting bitter. The aroma is very chocolatey with a floral bergamot undertone. The taste is a little more malty than last time, and predominately chocolate (a roasty, cacao-nib chocolate) with a bright, citrusy texture and aftertaste. I’m not getting a lot of bergamot/EG flavor with this one, although once again I get more as it cools. I’m adjusting this one down a bit because I’m a little less entranced by it’s offerings this time; it doesn’t quite deliver for me on the chocolate or EG fronts as much as I’d like it to. I still enjoy the cup, and it’s definitely unique.