2007 Tasting Notes
Sipdown, 146. Here’s a true mystery tea… a gold-foil packet of black tea from China from Sil. At least I know approximately what it is! It looks and smells fairly similar to the Tan Yang I brought back from China myself, though with a few less golden tips.
Interestingly, this one smells more chocolatey than I would have imagined, close to Laoshan Black. Definite toasted grain notes, but no honey or caramel. It’s a little more charcoaly than I would prefer, but overall pretty good. I think I steeped it a little strong, which may be contributing to that sensation. Still, an enjoyable cup for the afternoon.
Can’t wait, gotta try the new Blends Club blends! These are all “fall” blends, which apparently means minty and woodsy to Verdant. Ok, sure.
So this tea smells intense dry. Super minty and herby. I am not following the provided steeping instructions because for one I didn’t weight out 5g of the teas to figure out how much that was in volume, and I figured I would try them out at my usual western/blends parameters. Steeped, the tea smells familiar and unique at the same time. First off, with both peppermint and spearmint the main scent is not surprisingly mint. I also get a slight spicy cinnamon/clove note, a slight root-beery note, and a somewhat savory woodsy note. For sure this tea has a lot going on.
I’m going to preface this by saying that I don’t often go for minty teas, but I do enjoy them on occasion. This is very minty for sure, but the rest of the herbs also provide some depth and interest. I have to say, at these parameters the Big Red Robe doesn’t really come through; perhaps that’s the reason for what seems like a large amount of tea in the original steeping directions. I guess there is a “bass note” in this that does strike me as a roasty, slightly caramelly oolong. The dandelion root (I think) provides a light sweetness to the blend, mostly in the aftertaste. I will definitely try this at the recommended parameters as well as cold brewed, as suggested. If you like minty, herby teas you will no doubt enjoy this one!
Sipdown, 147. Every time it goes down, it goes right back up! Thanks to Sil for this sample.
I’ve wanted to try a Sichuan Gongfu black tea for a while now, ever since I fell in love with Bailin Gongfu and Tan Yang Gongfu, and learned there was another type from Sichuan. I’ve been eyeing the one from Teaspring for a while now but never got around to ordering it, so it’s nice to try this one.
The scent reminds me of Bailin Gongfu… grains and molasses, although more grains than molasses. I ended up brewing it a little strong initially, so I diluted it a bit and now it’s quite nice. It’s not as sweet or honeyed as some of the other gongfu black teas that I’ve tried, but it’s tasty and has a nice dark chocolatey bittersweet note. Like dark chocolate chips in a cookie, yum. A pleasant tea for this morning!
I have wanted to try this one for quite a while, but I never got around to making an ATR order. Luckily, I got some from Sil!
This smells familiar to me, but I can’t recall what other tea I’ve had that was similar. It would have been near the beginning of my time on Steepster. It smells like cinnamony and candied almonds, with a bit of pastry. The flavor is nice; it does remind me of thos candied almonds because it is cinnamony and nutty. Is it particularly brioche? I guess it depends on the type of brioche, but I guess I can see it as a pastry-ish tea. Pretty tasty overall, but I find myself wishing for a more interesting base tea, as this one reads as kind of a “plain black” with not a ton of character.
Sipdown, 145. When I first had this I didn’t even look at the ingredients list, so I didn’t realize that it had green rooibos and that the pieces were apple, not pear. Anyway, I cold brewed the rest of my sample and had it today with lunch. It was a pretty decent cold brew, but there was something a little funky about it. Maybe it was just the green rooibos, and I’m not used to the flavor. I wasn’t bad, just a little odd. Anyway, decent, but not particularly exciting.
I am often skeptical of milk oolongs, since many companies seem to be carrying the same, not-that-tasty enhanced-but-claiming-not-to-be milk oolong. This does not to seem to fall in that category because they come right out and say that there is natural flavoring, so I am interested in trying it out. Thanks for sending a sample of this one, Sil!
This is interesting. It has the condensed-milk, buttered popcorn scent of many milk oolongs, but this one delivers the flavor pretty well. There is a hint of fruitiness to the base oolong of this, and the flavoring is creamy without being over the top. I get a kind of tangy aftertastes from this that is nice. That said, this is pretty similar to the other Chinese (not Taiwanese) milk oolongs that a lot of companies sell. Sometimes I wonder if I would be able to taste much difference if I lined them all up and tried them. I do like this one better than some of the others I’ve tried, perhaps they all come from a similar region but different plantations. It is interesting that people seem to react vastly differently to different versions. In any case, I’m not much for these Wuyi Mountain (“Quangzhou”) milk oolongs; I’ll stick with Jin Xuans or ATR’s crazy TGY.
I think it’s hilarious that Sil managed to send me a couple of Dammann teas that I haven’t tried yet, since it sometimes seems like I am the Dammann queen of Steepster. But I never grabbed this one, mostly because I am not big on cherry and it is one of the flavors here. Although it is almost a red-fruits blend, really, I guess just three instead of four.
Anyway, this smells lovely, as expected. Red fruits and caramel and vanilla… yum. There is a tartness to this that really reminds me of real cherries (not cherry flavoring) which I do enjoy. The caramel and vanilla are sweet and smooth, and as always I love the base blend. This reminds me of Mélange Vénitien, which is red fruits plus vanilla, but no caramel. I liked that blend but didn’t get a lot of vanilla, which is not a problem here. The caramel definitely bumps it up. If I was going to restock one I would restock this one, which is somewhat surprising to me but I guess I should know better by now. I always love Dammann!
Sipdown, 146. Thanks once again to Sil for this sample. ANother Taiwan black tea!
The leaf of this one has much fewer whole leaves in it, but the are there if you go digging through. I guess that’s probably a result of mechanically picking. The aroma is honeyed and fruity like apricot. It also has that fruity-black scent that I’m not really a fan of, but that is hard for me to articulate.
Fortunately, I enjoy the tea itself quite a bit! Who knows, maybe fruity Taiwanese black teas are growing on me. This is nicely sweet, slightly fruity, with a texture that is at once tangy and juicy as well as smooth and creamy. Not a hint of bitterness or astringency. Whatever that note I don’t usually like, well, it’s not that prominent in this one. I don’t love this one as much as the Sun Moon Lake I had previously, but it is quite delicious and I’m really glad I got to try it.
Thanks to Sil for this sample! Even though it’s not quite up her alley (bergamot, natch), I thought it might be up mine. Sachets were nice because I brought one to “tea time” today… The girls in my department have been getting together for tea time once a week, which has been awesome but a bit disheartening. I had hoped it would be a good way to spread the tea love and such, but everyone just avoids the teas I bring each week. Whether I bring fill-your-own tea bags or sachets or what, people always just go for the crappy bagged tea. Sigh.
Anyway, this tea. I will rate it once I brew it under better conditions (unfiltered water at tea time) but it was pretty tasty. Like an Earl Grey cream, but the added caramel is really nice. More EGC producers should consider it. There was a hint of bitterness to the base that was not pleasant, but it also wasn’t too bad. All together a nice tea, but not exceptional.
Sipdown, 147. So, Yunomi.us has a thing where you can request free samples for review. You can select two teas, and they do warn you that requests are not guaranteed and they may substitute a similar tea in its place. Fair enough. I requested two black teas because I am curious about Japanese black teas, so I chose two that sounded most interesting (based on the limited descriptions) and sent off my request. I didn’t notice at first that I got neither of the teas I requested. One was a different first flush black tea; I am satisfied with that substitution. The other was this tea. I would not consider banana flavored black tea to be similar to unflavored black tea other than the fact that they both contain black tea. Also, of all the flavors they could have sent me, I happen to hate banana flavoring (I barely like bananas themselves), so this may backfire on them. I know they couldn’t have known that, but they could have played it safer and sent a different unflavored black tea. Also, whether due to international shipping in a flat envelope or initial packaging, this sample was mostly dust, which isn’t promising. (Note that I did just get samples from Teavivre in a flat envelope and the Oriental Beauty oolong in that was not crushed to bits).
The dry leaf smells like banana candy, not shockingly. The steeping instructions provided give a time (2.5 minutes) but not a leaf to water ratio or a temp, so I guessed. I was scared of the tea dust, so I gave it a cooler temp. After one minute the liquor was already very dark, so I pulled the brew basket. Now it smells like banana candy with a slightly grounding background of black tea, but I can’t make out enough beyond the banana flavoring to tell much about it.
Yup, it tastes like banana runts. You know the little fruit-shaped candies, each with a different flavor, and there were the little yellow banana guys? I never see runts around anymore. Although someone did have to use them in an episode of Cutthroat Kitchen recently. Anyway, it tastes like banana runts. And a hint of black tea, mostly coming through as a slight punch of bitterness in the back. I do think that if I liked the type of flavoring used here, I might like the tea itself. But I’ll never really know, I guess. Oh well, hopefully the other tea I got will turn out better.