420 Tasting Notes
So when I was in Paris a couple of weeks ago, I actually did manage to visit a couple of tea shops including Mariage Freres and Kusmi Tea. In general, the teas that I smelled at Mariage Freres came off too perfume-y or artificial to me in the store. In addition to that, I was pressed for time and the shop was busy with many customers, so I did not end up getting anything there. Now that I’m re-tasting this tea, which was so generously sent to me by Stephanie, I’m kind of regretting not carving out more time to really poke around and actually talk to some of the salespeople. This tea does such a nice job of balancing the almond, spices, and black tea base in almost a creamy sort of way. On the other hand, perhaps it was good that I didn’t stick around too long because I already have enough tea as it is! Anyway, looks like my next cuppa will be my last of this tea, so I’ll be sad when it’s gone.
I’ve had a “four seasons” oolong before that blew my mind. Now I don’t know what makes an oolong a “four seasons” oolong, but when I saw this at Teavana, I decided to go for it. I used another one of my Starbucks rewards to get a free ounce of this tea because I didn’t want to commit to two ounces before liking it. The sales girl was really pushing me toward the Monkey Picked Oolong, saying how much she and everyone else in the world loved it. I actually already have that one and am not as enamored with it as everyone else, so I stuck with this oolong.
At the first couple of sips, things were looking good. It’s sweet, creamy, and floral- my favorite characteristics of a green oolong. It wasn’t quite as amazing as the other four seasons oolong I mentioned earlier, but still good. As I was getting to the bottom of the cup and the tea cooled a bit, I noticed more bitterness and some astringency as well. I don’t know if it was because it was toward the bottom or because the tea had started cooling, but I wasn’t too happy about it. It wasn’t unbearable or anything, but I’ve had many delicious oolongs that set the bar pretty high. So anyway, a decent cuppa (& better than Monkey Picked IMHO), but I would probably not purchase this one in the future. With Teavana’s pricing, I could better spend my dollars on better and/or cheaper tea.
On an unrelated note, I’m so happy to be able to drink hot tea again because of the rain. I usually don’t like rain, but I guess this is the silver lining!
After figuring out that my new city has not-so-great tap water (even filtered), I decided to try out some stronger teas for cold brewing to cover up the weird chlorine taste of the water. That is how I decided to cold brew this gunpowder. I put about a tablespoon of tea in my water bottle for 6-7 hours in the fridge. On the positive side, the taste is very strongly smoky, so I can’t taste the weird tap water anymore. On the other hand, the smokiness was a little too strong for me. I think I’m not such a fan of smoky in teas. There was also some bitterness at the end of the sip, but it wasn’t too strong.
Ok, I’ve cold brewed this one as usual, but today it is not tasting so good. I’ve noticed lately in my new apartment that my teas don’t taste as good as I remember them to be. I think that the tap water in Boston is just tastier than the tap water in Cambridge, even though I filter my water in both cities. The Cambridge water just tastes more like chlorine (I think?), which is off-putting. So the usual roasty toasty goodness of this genmaicha is competing in flavor with the chlorine, which makes me sad. I guess I’m gonna have to start making my tea differently!
Because this tea wasn’t anything too special as a hot tea, I’ve been using it in cold brews. Today, I was drinking some cold brewed (~12 hours) alongside my dinner of Vietnamese summer rolls. I mention this because the summer rolls had mint in them, which I think complemented the tea very well and made it even more refreshing. It actually gives me an idea to add mint leaves to the cold brew next time. I guess I’ll have to go out and get some mint leaves first, but I will report back if/when I do!
The first time I tried this tea, I did so as a cold brew because it sounded so promising. That little experiment did not go over so well (see previous tasting note), so I was hesitant to try it again. This time around, I’m trying it hot, and though it is a little better, I still do not think that this is a tea for me. My main problem with it is that it comes off too perfume-y in both the hot and cold brewed versions. In addition, the blood orange flavor is less of a juicy blood orange and more of the rinds. I find this rind trend to be similar in other citrus-y teas, which is kind of frustrating to me because who really eats the rinds of citrus fruits anyway?
Sipdown (109)! Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever had so many consecutive sipdowns! Though a lot of other people around Steepster probably speed through three sipdowns like it’s no big deal. Anyway, I’m still jetlagged from Europe, so it just makes me feel confused and uncomfortable all day. Even though it’s getting late, I was really craving a Japanese green, and this one happened to be one of the only straight Japanese greens left in my unpacked sample drawer. It is vegetal and thick as it was before, but also a little more savory today. Perhaps it is because I used a little more leaf than usual to finish off the sample. Anyway, I’m sipping on it while reading The Year of the Flood, and all seems pretty good in the world for now. Though I’m not likely to reorder this one anytime soon (spending hiatus), it was very nice while it lasted!
Sipdown (110)! Well, sort of because I used the one bag I had, but I still have a pretty full pitcher of this to work on for the next couple of days. I decided to rebel against the given instructions and just cold brew this baby. I stuck it into the fridge for about 5 hours, which is a little short for me, but I was impatient! First impressions are that it is a very candy watermelon flavor rather than straight up fresh, juicy watermelon. I was a little disappointed by that but not too surprised. The black base seems a bit weak, but that may be because of the short cold brew time. I may just embrace the candy-like flavor and add some sugar to it later to make it like Southern sweet iced tea (or as they call it just “iced tea”). I will come back and update this note if I do, or if my feelings about it change as I get through the pitcher.
I was really hoping to like this because I saw Frank’s moving sale and really wanted to help out! Even though SBT & 52teas flavors are so inventive and fun, I just don’t think they’re up my alley as I continue to stray away from flavored teas and toward straight teas. If you like your flavored & sweet teas, though, you should definitely check it out!
Next day edit: So I sweetened a little using a simple syrup, which did seem to enhance the candy watermelon flavor. I also realized that the off-putting flavor from yesterday was a bit of a medicinal flavor. After this realization, I couldn’t bring myself to finish the cup, sadly.
Sipdown (111)! It’s an exciting sipdown because it’s the first from my new apartment! Ok, that’s probably not terribly exciting to others, but it is to me. Of course, most of this was sipped down when my mom came to visit and fell in love with hojichas, but couldn’t really tell the difference between them. I do feel a little bad about just feeding her my least favorite hojicha, but she still very much enjoyed it. And even though I won’t be reordering this particular hojicha, it was a very good tea anyway.
About 90% of my tea is still boxed up in various places around my new apartment, and this is one of the few that I actually have handy in my sample drawer already. Also, I’ve inadvertently chosen one of my mugs as my go-to mug for roasty oolongs. Anyway, my opinion of this tea hasn’t really changed, so rather than repeat myself, I will just refer you to my previous tasting notes. Ah, laziness at it’s finest ;)