1806 Tasting Notes
I have to get to dissertation writing today, so this tasting note will have to be short. But I’ve already said plenty about how much I love this tea.
Malty, rich, honey-caramel; this is the black tea that made me love black teas. Before this tea, unflavored blacks were supremely uninteresting and untasty to me, but this changed that. For which I am very grateful!
Hmm, have I never reviewed this? It seems unlikely, but there are no reviews to be found by me so I guess not. In that case I apologize to Teavivre for taking so long to get around to reviewing this sample. As always, you are so generous!
I’ve never been really drawn to white tea. Partly I think because it reminds me strongly of hay, and while that is a pleasant olfactory memory, it is not necessarily one I want to drink (I feel this way about many puerhs as well). I usually enjoy a white tea fairly well but I never crave one.
This tea is so pretty, all downy and soft. Dry, it smells like fresh cut hay. Steeped it retains those hay notes, but also gains a sweet creamy smell. A bit of honey on whole-grain bread, perhaps. That seems to be the predominant flavor for me, and this tea is unexpectedly “chewy;” the texture is thick and the whole thing really reminds me of really good bread. Which is totally not what most others are getting, but there you go! I don’t really taste florals or melon, but I could be convince of roasted summer squash. It’s darker tasting than I expect a white tea to be, and richer. I’d be interested in brewing my other package in a gaiwan (if I had one, not sure if my little gongfu pot would be appropriate) just to see how the flavors differ. Even so, this is quite a lovely, toothsome white tea and I very much enjoyed this cup.
The only good thing about having a freezing cold, over-air conditioned office is that I get to enjoy hot tea year round. I am having the rest of this sample today, although it’s not quite as enjoyable this time around. Maybe I should have rinsed it (but the first time I didn’t and it was fine). But this time it is way earthier, and tastes a bit like drinking lightly orange-flavored dirt water. Hah. Well, sometimes that’s shu puerh, I guess. Maybe I will try a second steep and see if that one mellows out a bit.
ETA: Second steep much better, and more like the first time I had this tea. Nice sweet blood orange, slight woodiness from the puerh. A pleasant cup.
I made this one cold-brewed last night for lunch today. Cold brewing is one of the only ways I still enjoy flavored greens, but I’ve still been having issues with them being too strong or grassy after only 8 hours of steeping in the fridge. This time I tried cold brewing this tea with the same leaf:water ratio I would use for hot brewing, and leaving it for 8 hours.
At first this morning when I pulled it out I was unsure; the liquid was colored lightly on the bottom but was pretty much clear on top. However, pouring it into my bottle to take to work mixed everything up and resulted in a lovely yellow-green, non-cloudy liquid. It also seems to have worked well for the taste as well; this was light and refreshing, with a crisp green apple flavor that really suited the tea. No grassiness or bitterness. I think this will be my go-to for green teas (though with black I still prefer double the amount of leaf), and expect I will be drinking down a lot of the flavored greens I have this summer.
Sipdown, 157. Ah, back to my tea.
There was almost a tragedy this morning when my electic kettle wouldn’t turn on, but it turned out to be a blown socket and not the kettle. Whew. I decided to go ahead and finish this one up today. For some reason I decided to brew it at less than boiling, and I’m amazed at the difference it made. This is suuuper smooth like this, but it is making me realize that I miss the slight bite of the black tea. It brings everything together more when it is steeped at boiling, versus now the flavors seem kind of muddled and not as balanced. Ah well, lesson learned!
Sipdown, 158. I brewed a cup of this hot, iced it, took one sip, and threw the rest away. I also tossed another sample of a MBSC hibiscus/fruit blend that I was sure I wouldn’t like, and I will probably toss the third (but I will try it once to be sure). I ordered these samples ages ago before I knew any better, and naively thought that these blends would be fruity and not overdone. Not only are they almost all hibiscus, but they are old and stale, too. I mean, I like sweet, iced hibiscus, but all of these have had a certain funkiness that is just wrong.
This one’s major downfall was actually not the hibiscus but the lemon peel. It was so mouth-wrenchingly bitter and horrible I couldn’t deal. Like you actually just bit a lemon with the peel on. No thanks.
I’ve been MIA this weekend because I’ve been super busy on a recent trip to Chicago. I did bring a pile of Inti Zen tea bags with me on the off chance I would have time to drink some, and I drank the one tea bag that I had of this one yesterday. I brought an Inti Zen mix pack back with me from Argentina because the flavors sounded good, but they’ve been a tad lackluster so I haven’t gone through them.
This one was ok, but it didn’t have a ton of flavor. I am wondering if these bags would be better two to a cup. It smelled nicely of caramel and red fruits, but the flavor was weak. Well, at least it wasn’t bitter or astringent. Glad to be getting back to my tea tonight!
For some reason I really wanted this one this afternoon. Blame it on looking at the sweets on the Fauchon website too long and dreaming of Paris. This time I brewed this one cooler and shorter time to attempt to combat the bitterness of the CTC part of the base.
It seems to have worked pretty well, but there is still a lingering oh so light bitterness. It kind of grows as the cup cools and I drink more of it. I think it is just a character of CTC teas and is unavoidable.
I know companies sometimes use CTC teas in a blend for a specific flavor it imparts, but to me it is never tasty, and I never want it. This would be awesome if it was on a different base. I like the flavoring on this so much that I will certainly enjoy it with milk and sugar at home, but I wish I didn’t have to mask the base like that. The only other calisson tea here on the database is one of Mariage Frères’ Heritage Gourmand collection, but it looks like it is on a rooibos base, which is a no-go for me.
Ah well, now I’ve spent a bunch of time looking at confectionaries and pastries online in Paris shops. How will I have the time to visit them all! :)
Sipdown, 161. Yum.
The power of suggestion worked today. I saw someone else’s note about a coconut oolong and decided to have the rest of my sample of this one. I would be fascinated to learn about the source of all of these coconut baozhongs, which seem to be pretty much the same everywhere (with perceived differences possibly based on freshness I would guess). And they are so prevalent! But at least they are all delicious. Yummy creamy, toasted coconut and even a bit of cookie to it. Eventually I’ll have a permanent tin of coconut baozhong in my stash, but more of that stash has to go, first. :)
Sipdown, 162. I used the rest of my sample of this one as a cold brew.
Unsurprisingly, this one was quite good as a cold brew. At the specs I used (about 3tsp, 12oz water, 8 hour steep), it was very light and refreshing, with enough flavor to make for a tasty drink. I found the cold steep with way less vanilla and more florals, but all the notes were there, just subtly interacting. I realized once I was most of the way through my bottle of it that it reminded me strongly of some of the gewurtztraminer white wines I’ve had… rose and jasmine notes, with light citrus and goji berry, which is almost standing in for the grape here. In particular I had a dry gewurtztraminer once and this is very similar, but without any alcohol, obviously. Quite lovely, and definitely an iced tea I’d like to have again. Maybe I’ll eventually pick more of this one up!