1915 Tasting Notes
This morning was just bad. Exhausted even though I slept a full night, troubled by mild food poisoning from last night, and most of all, the continual feeling of overwhelming panic about my dissertation. If I seem a bit scarcer than usual around here, it’s because 120% of my time is taken up by dissertation writing right now. Can it be October 18 yet?
Anyway, I had this this morning in an effort to feel better, but for some reason it didn’t taste as amazing as it usually does. I mean, it was tasty but it wasn’t amazing. Maybe I over leafed? It certainly fit in with the rest of the morning.
This one was high on my list to pick up at Fauchon, and even though the matching confiture was sold out, the tea was still around. I love almond, orange is pretty great, and it’s an oolong.
They had a small jar of the dry leaf sitting out at the store and it looked kind of like a traditional tieguanyin base… hand curled leaf balls, but dark, olive green color. Turns out I was correct. There was also some unexplained large-diameter stick in my infuser, but whatever. I am normally not huge on traditional (roasted) TGY, but I think it can work really well in some blends, and this seems to be one.
The roasty flavor is a nice complement to the sweet almond. I wouldn’t call this particularly citrusy, but the orange adds a slight brightness and slight sweetness to the blend I think. It’s kind of like a slightly orangey almond cookie, complete with oven-baking. Oh, maybe even more like orange blossom almond cookies, which I love. Anyway, the afteraste is awesome, as it is very almondy, like I just drank some amaretto. I am happy with this one for sure.
Sipdown, 132. Cold brew, with a pinch of Troika added to supplement the not-quite-enough leaf I had for this.
I do enjoy these Kusmi teas better as cold brews, and as a plus I am flying through my sample tins by preparing them this way. There is something about the base tea that I dislike hot, but it fine cold. Anyway, they tend to be fairly generically citrusy black teas when cold brews, which is fine for me, although I do feel like they probably lose some of their subtlety.
Trying this again. Even though this tea says that it’s 100% black tea on the website, some of the leaf chunks in my infuser were somewhat greenish, so I steeped it at a slightly lower temp. Not that I think that there is green tea in this, but rather maybe a milder black that needs a lower temp, perhaps a darjeeling?
This tea smells a lot like a macaron… it has a light, baked, cookie-ish aroma, along with raspberry and rose. In short, it smells awesome. The taste still has a very faint sharp bitter note, though. It is definitely lighter than before, so perhaps I just need to go lower in temp even, but it’s odd because it’s kind of unlike a usual oversteeped bitter note. It’s also one of those frustrating things where you can tell the rest of the flavors are awesome, but the base tea seems to be mucking it up. Sigh.
Oh and apparently I can’t read because the base is a darjeeling and it says on the website. I guess this goes to show that, no, I still don’t like darjeelings, even flavored ones. Well maybe if I play around with the steeping parameters I can get it to work for me.
There were a few teas I had to buy at Dammann when I was there, and they were all three of the “Jardin” teas: des Tuileries, du Trocadero, and du Luxembourg. They are all green oolong blends, which I haven’t had from Dammann before but I trust them to make awesome. They are also pretty pricey, relative to their teas.
This afternoon I sniffed all of them and they all smelled delicious, but this one called to me. It has a lot going on, but one of the main scents I got is somewhat cookie-like, which must be the combination of chocolate and cereals, and perhaps the coconut milk. Then of course some fruitiness (pineapple) and a large amount of florals (tiare, tomato and cherry flower). I had to look up tiare, but its a type of gardenia.
The flavor was complex and quite tasty. All of those notes, plus, amazingly a bit of floral, buttery green oolong peeking through. It is, as I like to say, very French, which means all the flavors blend so well together they are hard to pick apart, and I often don’t really want to. They all work so well together. I can’t wait to try the others!
Thanks so much to Angel Chen and Teavivre for this sample. When I first tried a Golden Monkey, I like it ok but I didn’t love it. This was of course before I had a black tea revolution and fell in love with Fujian blacks. Even though I started exploring tan yangs and bailins and others, I never really was interested in going back to golden monkey because for some reason I had already decided I only liked it ok. After seeing quite a few steller reviews for this tea, I decided to ask for a sample of it.
I will often split the little sample pouches Teavivre sends into two cups for the black teas, but today I decided to go for a whole pouch at a shorter time to see how it turned out. I will also definitely try this with my ‘usual’ parameters to see how it fares then too. This cup is dark and smells richly of grains and a bit of molasses, although not as honeyed or caramelly as bailin gongfu, for instance. There is a bit of yamminess in this one as well, something I typically associate more with Yunnans than Fujians.
The flavor is very smooth; I had been concerned that it might have gotten a bit overleafed from the scent, which was quite strong, but it seems fine. There is almost a fruitiness to this one, and I couldn’t place the aftertaste until I read K S’s note where he talks about a wine note, and yeah, it does give me the sense of something like a Malbec maybe. It’s sweet and malty, but not in a different way than the other Fujians I know. As I drink it more I am definitely getting an almost pseudo-smoky note to it, not dissimilar to some Keemuns I’ve tried. I interestingly just got a kind of burnt-cocoa powder note from one particular sip, and as it cools its getting even more cocoa powdery, like I made an unsweetened cup of hot chocolate out of dutch-process cocoa.
I’ll give this a preliminary rating but of course that may change as I try out different steeping parameters. Right now it’s meant to reflect that I enjoy this cup, but I’m not in love with it. Which I suppose reflects the rest of my golden monkey experiences. Guess I am just more of a tan yang girl when it comes to my Fujians.
I wanted to try one of my more delicate Chinese black teas with my new water filter (as opposed to a heavily flavored blend) before digging into some other new teas I have. This is, amazingly, nearly a sipdown.
It’s quite honeyed today, and it’s making me feel better about my water being back to normal. It really is an unusual black tea, and unusual for me as well to like it, since I have often not liked very fruity-floral unflavored black teas. Which is funny because I love those flavors in green oolongs, and I love them flavored. This is particulary juicy today, and it really reminds me of cooked, honey-covered peaches. With some slightly grain-y black tea notes backing it up. Very nice cup this morning.
Finally I realized I needed to have a tea I knew the flavor of to test my water. I was feeling not like a fruity tea, and I realized chocolate sounded great. Looking back on my old notes I reminded myself that I thought this one was slightly weak at 1 TBSP for 12oz, so I went for 1.5 TBSP this time.
Turned out pretty great! It was suuuper sweet this time, very chocolatey, and nicely like toasted rice. I think it kind of drowned out the minerally oolong, which works for me. I am definitely happy to drink this up (and I think my water is fine now).
For some reason I thought this would be a good idea to have this afternoon before I figured out if my water pitcher was producing good water or not. This is another one that seems like it had a lot of potential, but possibly tainted by the water. It had a weird bitter note that was very sharp and I’m not certain wasn’t leftover soap aroma from the pitcher. Sigh. But this had nice almond, raspberry and rose notes, and smelled amazing. Will try again, and I have plenty of this one!