592 Tasting Notes
For the past week or so, I’ve actually been drinking a lot of this tea. About a year ago, I suddenly went from loving oolongs to being put off by them and it has been a slow journey back to loving them ever since. Even nowadays, I still can’t ignore this odd taste in oolongs, but I can still enjoy them. Anyway, I really enjoy the roasted flavor of this oolong, but this morning it was not cutting it for me. So I took it as another opportunity to try a flavored iced tea. This time around, I poured my tea over ice and raspberry flavored syrup. That was a baaad idea. I can’t explain why or how, but the raspberry and oolong flavors are not playing nicely. Actually, I think that the raspberry emphasizes that odd taste that I don’t like in oolongs. I’ll finish my Frankenstein-monster-cuppa tea but I will not be repeating this combo again. Oh well, good to know for future experiments.
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!