575 Tasting Notes
This surprised me. It has that plasticky straw floral element I associate with the Earls I don’t like, that Med grocer bottled orange blossom essence and jasmine thing. So you’d think I’d dislike this, but there’s enough great layered other stuff going on—a surprising thick juiciness, indeed the sparkling but also fruity dry wine quality, etc.—I rather enjoyed it. An unusual and lovely white blend.
We got the revert-to-cold snap last night I was hoping for and I jumped on it as a chance to drink up some chai! I did them all proper even, the whole 10 to 20 minute stovetop dance with milk and honey as I’ve decided that’s just the only way I’m ever satisfied drinking chai.
Wasn’t nuts for this one. It was rather bitter. Not awful, but compared to the others I had last night it was my least favorite. Ah well.
This one!! It’s sweet and kind of fresh tasting, I think it’s got mint in it maybe? Anyway, it was a great balance of warmly spiced and sweet. My favorite from last night for sure. Seems I’m always underwhelmed by Townshend’s Earls but enthusiastic for their chais. Yum!
Stovetop 10 to 20 minute milk n’ honey dance, per their instructions I used water and milk (and I do the stovetop warming with the sweetener instead of adding after, because in my experience it’s always better that way). Worth it!
Also really good. Bready, especially while on the stove, per the Laoshan Black (it just smells like salty bread these days to me, dunno where all the yummy chocolate and oats from my first batch of LB ever tried went off to…). But that mellows once in the cup, and the balance of spices is very nice, an ideal basic platonic ideal type chai.
Stovetop, water then milk per Verdant’s website instructions, with honey added towards the end of warming.
This was definitely the winner by a mile in my casual sampling last night of most of the WP blends I ordered. S’mores was kind of odd, not bad but bracingly evocative of things far removed from s’mores (though I can see how a particular mysterious earthy funkiness in it sort of evokes the grain in graham crackers); Mint Chocolate Chip was alright but I’ve other Grasshopper-y teas I like more (with the bonus they’re tisanes so I can drink them late at night, which is when I always crave that sort of thing), not quite as thickly flavored rich and sweet and treat-y as I’d hoped; I’m reserving judgment on Peppermint Chai because I get a strong sense it needs the proper stovetop milk-n’-20-minutes-stirring treatment to do it justice, not the mere whizzed latte deal I did. Nothing undrinkable and everything was at least interesting/compelling/unique. So that’s good!
But this one! So so good. I wish I could give more detail but late night, yadda yadda, hopefully I do a more detailed note soon. It is a great balance of rich satisfying chocolate (that that’s just the Assam is a bit startling frankly, ‘cause it is REALLY chocolatey) and tempering yet invigorating, palate-awakening mint. The two don’t clash at all; they meld so smoothly and deliciously, like an Andes mint but better. Definitely putting this on the “perennial staples shop list”, yum.
Finally got my WP order yesterday, whew. I’m dumb and have been real willy nilly about paying attention to what has caffeine and what doesn’t and planning to drink it accordingly throughout the day, so somehow I managed to stick this in the One Touch for first thing morning tea and proceed to drink all the most intriguing seeming black tea blends after dinner last night, whoops. But somehow it worked out! I think it’s the gentle return of spring we’re experiencing right now (or our usual initial psych out at least); it’s helping my circadian rhythms along.
When I threw this in the basket late last night for this morning, right away I was like “oh, oops” because it’s clearly an herbal…a very unusual, striking looking herbal! It’s safflower but it looks like a bag of priceless saffron, a mound of some kind of feathery stamens with little peppercorn-like elderberry woven in. The smell is warm and spicy too, which contributed to that sense of saffron and peppercorn. I went with it and figured if I was still tired after drinking it today I’d just mix up some matcha.
When the cup was ready, I was startled by the color. It’s unusual indeed—the center is unalarming black tea-like, but it’s rimmed with this BRIGHT, algae-like gold-green with gray undertones. Very strange. But it smelled good, warm and gently spicy, like sweet and peppery smelling wood chips (because of that it kind of reminds me of the smell of the lumber yard/fencing section of an outdoor landscaping shop like the kind my parents would drag me to early every summer…I’d alway groan “not the plant store!” but now those sense memories always amaze me with how vivid they are thanks to all the novel seasonal smells). Dove in and yes, I love this! Maybe not for everyone, but I’m amazed two simple ingredients I’ve had in numerous tea blends can be so powerful. This is camping in a cup to me, the smell of drying forest and earth with some sweet heat—evoked the nights we slept in Olympic National Park, how it felt to wake up surrounded by forest. And I actually think it weirdly makes an excellent morning cuppa—it’s incredibly relaxing but the unusual, unique, strong aroma is also stimulating. It puts one in a very tranquil, peaceful mood before facing a hectic day, makes one feel like they’ve woken up in a forest with dew on everything and the echo of birds singing high up in the towering trees everywhere enveloping you like huge corridors—how can you feel too stressed like that? I would definitely reorder this, long wait time or whatever be damned.
I’ve been kind of…I dunno, not disappointed exactly but not bowled over by most of the Tea Guys samples I’ve tried over the weekend (they often smell fantastic dry and at first in the cup, but the flavor is unbalanced towards tart or bitter, with a base of totally unremarkable tea), so I was expecting to be meh about this otherwise fantastic sounding blend for afternoon tea. R came home out of sorts—had a terrible day at work, complete with another fight breaking out in his classroom—so I tried to cheer him up with my favorite Dead Authors podcast (the one with Nietzsche and Lovecraft!), open-faced toasted apple tahini sandwiches, and some of this. It was better than the others I’ve tried so far (Maple, Chocolate Ginger Bourbon which was actually pretty good leftover cold, I forget what else). Very strong honey aroma and the pistachio’s definitely present too. Still an unremarkable tea base, but I didn’t mind so much with such flavor and aroma. Quite nice, and amplified from the honey in our sandwiches. I’m not sure I’d bother ordering again from Tea Guys unless some of the others are better too, but if I did, I’d get more of this. It wouldn’t surprise me if their stuff generally makes for good fragrant rubs or marinades, or other culinary/cocktail steeping tasks as they’re always fragrant at least.
Oh my gosh, I am so impressed with Shang and happy I finally tried them out. I placed an order Thursday and it got here Saturday! With a free sample of this! Egads. And, most important of all, this tea is incredible. I’m no white tea expert (though nor do I dismiss/avoid them, particularly in spring…I don’t drink them as regularly as other tea types but I enjoy them when I remember to have them, if that makes sense) so maybe take this with a grain of salt, but this is the most incredible smelling straight white tea I’ve ever had, pretty sure. It’s potently fragrant, and the body is surprisingly full. I’ve been struggling to figure out just what mouthwatering fruit or herb it’s reminding me vividly of—the closest I can get is a fragrant, musky melon crossed with an extremely tangy light grape (or similar, like starfruit), and there’s an element of incredibly sweet, tangy, fresh cut grass. I LOVE it. My eyes kept rolling back every time I put my face to the cup, and it was the kind of situation where you shamelessly start sniffing hard to the point you know you’ll tire out your senses but can’t stop because the smell is just so attractive. Unbelievably wonderful. The flavor is good too, but nothing compares to the aroma. Huge fan. And what a perfect season for it too—this has been the first gorgeous springy weekend we’ve had really, and I was busy through all of it roaming around out socializing and having a great time. Happy happy.
This also resteeped like a charm. I took a break around steep 4, but I’m sure I could resume and the next cup would probably still be delightful. The first few steeps were under 30 seconds (the first one was only 10 seconds and yet the cup was amazing in aroma, flavor, and texture), then I started stretching them out, a minute, then more, and so on.
ETA: Just looked at the other notes hoping I’d find my missing fragrance note—hay and clover, yes for sure. I think it may well be fresh clover that’s what I’m most grasping at. Reminds me of hot hazy summer afternoons in the big yard at daycare when we’d make chain necklaces with clover and grass. So vivid, yet strangely so unnameable/hard to pin down…
And something like cucumber, yes for sure, but sweeter and tangier, like the fruit version of cucumber. G’ah. Why can’t I identify it.
ETA2: I figured it out!! :D It’s banana blossom. If you aren’t familiar with it, think like the inner peel of a very very unripe green banana, with a little more floral/musky tone floating above. Yes! That’s it!
Two of three separate shipments from my Feb 3 Fauchon order arrived today—they must’ve really hustled to make it nearly fit the original projected delivery window (a day late), because until like 2 days ago it wasn’t even shipped yet. The last part hasn’t been packed/shipped yet, kind of weird…
Alas, this is precisely that kind of femmy, floral orange blossom water-like bergamot I have an aversion to as opposed to the soapy-clean bright zippy “masculine” sort. Not undrinkable and lots of Steepsters seem to prefer this kind (it’s like Lupicia’s). That said, the tea base is smooth and soft, reminds me a little of the soft unobtrusiveness of most Kusmis.
Hoping I can pawn off some of this to my Frenchy femmy in-town pal. If not, maybe I’ll find someone on Steepster who can give it a good home.
Had for afternoon tea with R, an unexpected surprisingly langorous event (usually he comes home late from work Wednesdays due to faculty meetings, but they were canceled today). Nice for sure, but hot on the heels of Daruma it reminds one of it while falling short in comparison (a bit less exotic fruitiness, no peppercorn savory unique refreshing element). I’d rather reorder Daruma (yum!) and just continue to get any ol’ lychee tea I can get my hands on (with preference to Butiki’s)—it’s a flavor that just works so well with tea period that no matter who does it I always end up enjoying it. I’m noticing a pattern with that, where certain flavors feel kind of can-do-no-wrong to the point even if they’re not normally the ones I’d pick first (or eat the real version of first), with tea they’re a no brainer (the opposite holds too—some flavors, no matter how delicious in real life, never seem that great to me in tea, or so hard to do with it that finding a good specimen is tricky…figs, bananas, cinnamon, strawberries—most berries really—spring to mind first).