581 Tasting Notes
I brought this tea in to work because I remember it being such a lovely cuppa to have in the morning during the winter. However, when I steeped it up at work this morning, it was a completely different experience. First off, the leaves had this powdery stuff on it that I don’t remember from before. I think maybe some of the leaves were crushed and became like a tea dust coating the other leaves. Perhaps due to this, the tea turned out bitter in contrast to the gentle tea that I remember from months ago. I was disappointed, of course, but then I realized that I could use this opportunity to try out some more iced teas with the syrups at my office.
I dumped the rest of the tea into a cup with ice and a pump of strawberry syrup. I do feel a bit blasphemous using this nice tea to make a flavored iced tea, but oh well. The strawberry syrup did a nice job of not only adding some strawberry flavor but also masking the bitterness with its sweetness. The syrup wasn’t so overpowering that I couldn’t still taste the maltiness from the black tea, though. So I guess what started off as a disappointingly bitter cup turned into a successful iced tea experiment. Not bad.
Backlog. The first time I had this tea, it was at work, so I didn’t quite trust myself with exact steeping parameters. So this time, I brought the tea back home to pay better attention to it. The result? I still get a raisin taste from it, and not so much Laoshan Black flavors as several others have commented on about this tea. I don’t know if maybe this batch is different or my taste buds are crazy (which is always a big possibility!), but I’m not really tasting LB. That said, it is still a very nice tea, but not my absolute favorite. I’m glad that I was able to grab a sample with my last order.
Sipdown (90)! I threw one of these into my Butiki order way back when they first announced they were closing for good :‘( This was my first experience with a flowering tea, so it was pretty exciting watching it unfurl and move around in my clear teapot. In my excitement over finally getting around to steeping a flowering tea, I didn’t realize that this was a green tea. I’m not a huge fan of Chinese green teas, so I’m not going to leave a rating for this one. I will say that it smelled very sharp and this translated to some bitterness in the tea. There were probably some other floral flavors in there somewhere, but I just couldn’t get over that sharpness of the green tea base. No regrets, though, because it was definitely a cool experience.
Well, I had a bit of a failed experiment today, but that’s okay. I cold brewed this one overnight in the fridge with about 1 tbsp of tea in my water bottle. When I got to work this morning, I realized that it was quite bitter and somehow not very bold/malty at the same time. I tried to salvage the situation by dumping it into a cup with ice and a couple pumps of Torani blackberry syrup that they have at work. It does taste a bit nicer, but still bitter and a little empty. I would probably add sugar or agave or something at this point, but I don’t have any handy. I’ll drink the rest of it since I have it, but I am probably not gonna try another cold brew with this particular tea. Moving on!
Edit: I only initially poured half my bottle into the ice & blackberry syrup. So with the other half, I poured it over ice and peach syrup. It is much better this way. I think that maybe the peach syrup just has a sweeter flavor than the blackberry, so it helps fill the emptiness that I experienced with the tea by itself and masks the bitterness. Not bad.
Well, I did something quite different today at work for tea. As I mentioned in a previous tasting note, this latest batch of LB that I got in January is not hitting the spot for me as did previous batches of LB. So this afternoon, when I was resteeping, I noticed that our office has a bunch of those Torani flavored syrup things. I usually don’t add anything to my tea, but I thought I’d mix it up a little. So I plopped some ice cubes into the tea to cool it to an iced tea and added a couple pumps of peach syrup. I think I like it? It reminds me a bit of Snapple’s peach iced tea, except much less sweet (which is good). I will probably try it again with different flavors/amounts of the syrups. Next time, I will probably also steep a stronger cup of tea to offset the ice added to cool it down. Depending on how this goes, this could be my summer work drink staple!
I had a little sample of this one lying around. I think it may have been from the first round of the T&C TTB, so I’ve had it for a while. Even though I usually prefer unflavored teas, I’ve been having straight blacks and oolongs at work daily for a while now, so it was time for a little change. I thought that the vanilla flavor was nice, and not too overpowering or reminiscent of pure vanilla extract. However, the base tea seemed really weak. I don’t know if it is because it is a decaf tea or just because the base tea is otherwise weak. I expect a black base to be bolder and complement the flavor of vanilla. Anyway, I only have about 1 tsp left, so perhaps next time I’ll try blending it with another strong black base as a non-decaf cuppa.
I finally broke open the new batch of LB I bought back in January. It was perfect timing to order because I had just run out of my old LB. Unfortunately, I’m a bit disappointed by this batch. I actually steeped tea from this batch on a few different days to make sure that it wasn’t by error with either temperature or amount of leaf. I have come to the sad conclusion that this batch is a much weaker version of what I had before. All the yummy flavors of chocolate and baked bread and such are still there, but much more muted. I used to steep the same leaves at least 3 times before giving up on the flavor, but I can barely even resteep it once with these leaves. Sadness!
I’ll probably keep my rating the same for now because I know that this tea can be perfectly awesome at its best. I may even pre-order the Spring LB when it becomes available to see if it improves. I’m not giving up yet!
Sipdown (91)! This is a sad sipdown for me. I only had a few teaspoons left of this, so I brought it to work to be sipped down (my first work sipdown!). Anyway, I realized that this tea isn’t quite suited for my office where I frequently forget about my tea steeping away forever. The first steep was perfectly malty and complex, but I left it steeping for something like 10 minutes on the second round. Unfortunately, there was some resulting bitterness that wasn’t so pleasant. It wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t finish the mug, but it was not a nice way to say goodbye to this tea, either. I’ll miss this one!
I haven’t really been posting tasting notes because I’ve been rotating through the same teas at work, including this one. I just wanted to add this because the other day, I accidentally left the tea leaves steeping for over 10 minutes while I was working on something. At first, I was horrified, but when I actually tasted the tea, there was not bitterness at all! That was a wonderful surprise. The tea was much stronger than I am used to, but that wasn’t enough to keep me from finishing the mug. I also noticed that it brought out a smokiness that I usually don’t really taste all that much. Loving this tea, running out too fast!
I should really resist opening up my new teas from my Verdant order until I sip down more of the ones that I already have open in my cupboard… But I have no self control, apparently. I just couldn’t resist opening this one up for work because I was really craving a chocolate-y tea. This tea definitely delivered that and more. I will say that this batch of LB Genmaicha seems to be a tad weaker than the one I finished off from about a year and a half ago. It may be because I just steeped it differently this time around or something, but I’ll have to keep my eye out for it in future steepings. (Not that it will really diminish my love for this tea anyway).