208 Tasting Notes
This is a nice rendition of what I’d consider a standard sort of Assam. It’s smooth, malty, and sweet. I’m picking up on the caramel but am not getting much in the way of chocolate. This is a good thing for me, as I’m that rare person who doesn’t like intense chocolate notes in black teas. This tea may even be a little bit too far on the side of smooth and sweet for me—I do tend to prefer a little more bite in my black teas—but it’s making for a very enjoyable cup nonetheless, and I won’t have any trouble finishing up my stash.
I received a sample of this in my January Lupicia newsletter. I tend to be skeptical of dessert teas, especially the ones that claim to taste like pastries or baked goods, plus I’m not a fan of the tea base Lupicia uses for many (most?) of their black blends. So I was prepared for disappointment. But I ended up enjoying Cookie quite a bit. It does taste surprisingly cookie-like—although I know there’s no chocolate, for some reason I’m reminded of the cookie part of an Oreo. I guess it’s the interplay between the assertive base and the caramel flavoring that’s giving me the sense of something chocolate-ish; I see most people seem to get more of a butter cookie flavor, but it’s very much not that for me.
I’m not sure whether or not this uses the Lupicia black base of doom, to be honest. I’m certainly not bothered by the base here—it is surprisingly bold, though, with some astringency and a touch of bitterness—but I can’t say whether or not that’s just because it works better with the flavors here than it has in other, often fruit-flavored blends I’ve tried. I’d consider picking some more of this up next time I order from Lupicia; it’s not a must-have for me but I think there’d be a place for it in my cupboard.
This really tastes like passion fruit! Passion fruit is one of my favorite flavors, and it doesn’t show up in teas or tisanes all that often so I was pleased when my mother brought a bag of this back from Israel for me. The hibiscus had me slightly concerned, but while it is present it’s only strong enough to add some pleasant (and accurate, passion fruit-wise) tartness. I’m not really picking up on the mango, but I can live with that. This is one of the nicest caffeine-free options I’ve tried lately, and it’s certainly something I’d like to pick up more of when I’ve made some progress working through my current stash. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by most of the Wissotzky teas and tisanes I’ve tried so far; they’ve almost all been a cut above the average bagged grocery option.
This is a really nice Darjeeling. It’s quite fruity—grape and dried apricot, mainly—and not very floral. I’m not picking up on the nuttiness mentioned in the description, and I wouldn’t say it’s sweet either. It’s just as astringent as a good Darjeeling should be, and it’s not too heavy on the grassy, herbal kinds of notes that I often find overwhelming. I tried the 2012 Sungma First Flush from Happy Earth and didn’t much care for it, but I tend to prefer second flush Darjeelings so it’s no surprise that this one’s more to my liking. Thanks for the sample, Nicole_Martin!
This is the other Steepster Select sample I picked up from Jason at the meetup, and I think it might be my first karigane. It’s light and vegetal, with no bitterness whatsoever. I’m getting some grass and some seaweed and a little bit of nuttiness; there’s the tiniest bit of astringency (which is a good thing in my opinion). There’s something very fresh and spring-like about this tea, and I’m liking it quite a bit. This is one I wouldn’t mind having some more of.
I love roasted oolongs, so I was very happy to receive this sample from Jason at the last NYC meetup. This is indeed roasty, but it’s surprisingly light at the same time. A bit too light for me, in fact—I love those super dark, strong-bodied coffee-esque oolongs, and this is not one of them. It almost reminds me of houjicha. I’m enjoying this and would happily drink it again, but it’s probably not something I’d want to keep around.
I brought this to work and went with the usual extra-long and under-monitored steep I tend to do here, and the dried apricot notes I just barely detected when following the official parameters are much more prominent. The sweet potato I noticed before is morphing into caramel, too. I’m enjoying White Rhino more this way, although I’m still pretty firm in my belief that white teas are just not my thing.
I picked some of this up at the last NYC meetup, courtesy of the ever-generous Nicole_Martin. I was sceptical about this blend, but I enjoy both peppermint and green rooibos independently so thought it might be worth a try. When I opened the bag, I got a very strong, very fresh-smelling whiff of peppermint. Once brewed, peppermint is still the dominant note. However, the green rooibos is very present in the background. Green rooibos always makes me think of honey whole-wheat pretzels, and that plus peppermint is just a weird combination. The white mulberries are a nice flourish from an aesthetic standpoint, but I can’t say I’m picking up on them in the flavor profile. An interesting tisane to have tried, but my suspicion that the primary ingredients here are best enjoyed separately has been confirmed.
Although the dry leaf smells very strongly of caramel, flavor-wise I’m really just getting Premium Taiwanese Assam. There’s some sweetness and the tiniest hint of caramel, but as hard as I try I can’t detect any vanilla. I’m a big fan of PTA, and a cup of it is never unwelcome. But there’s just enough extra going on here to make me feel like I’m missing out on some awesome burst of flavor that I can’t quite reach. In the future I’ll stick with the unflavored version, but I certainly won’t have trouble finishing the rest of my stash.