417 Tasting Notes
Back-back-backlog of this tea. A couple weeks ago on my trip, my mom and I went to high tea at Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly Circus. This was the tea that she chose, purely because of the description about Prince William & Kate Middleton, haha. It’s very light for a breakfast blend. It actually reminds me more of the afternoon blend from Fortnum & Mason (that I happen to be sipping on right now). I think it paired nicely with the finger sandwiches, but was a bit weak to accompany the desserts and scones.
The really good thing about this tea was that it didn’t get bitter quickly. And considering the fact that the leaves were just left to sit and steep continuously in the teapots, this was a very good attribute for our high tea adventure.
Alas, my great European journey has come to an end. I actually refrained from buying a ton of tea because a) not enough room in my luggage & b) family & friends not so patient with my tea habits. Anyway, I had high tea at Fortnum & Mason in London, and picked up two teas afterward: Afternoon Blend & Breakfast Blend. Of course, the first day I’m home, I’m breaking them open for a spin!
Afternoon blend is surprisingly light compared to the look of the tea leaves. I actually thought it may have been too light, so I steeped it a little further, which resulted in bitterness. It kind of seems like a weak breakfast blend to me. Next time, I will try with more leaf/water ratio. This tea also seems like a good contestant as a base for my fruit-infused cold-brewed iced teas. I have a whopping 4.4 ounces to play around with, so I can’t wait to experiment!
I steeped a teapot full of this tea even though it was after dinner, and I probably should have cut off my caffeine intake at that point. But my mom requested black tea, so who am I to deny her request? She was surprised at how sweet this tea was compared to black tea bags. Cue long conversation in which I explain to her the differences between tea bags and loose leaf and why tea bag tea can be so bitter in comparison.
Anyway, this time around, there was still that mild malt flavor, but I also finally put a finger on the sweetness of the tea. It tastes just like honey. I’m not sure how I missed that before because it was so obvious this time. It’s definitely a mellower black tea, but that is probably a good thing since I drank it so late in the evening. There was some astringency, but it wasn’t too off-putting. I had a pretty lovely time with this tea tonight, and I’d consider repurchasing when I run low on straight black teas (which is going to take a while).
Edit: As the cup cooled down, the honey flavor definitely popped up and became even stronger. Perhaps this would be a good tea to cold brew? I’m putting it on the list.
My taste buds are still a little out of whack today, so I went with this oolong that I’ve had a bit of a roller-coaster relationship with. Most likely due to my dampened taste buds, this cuppa was pretty sweet and simple with a hint of bitterness at the end. The most important thing for today was that it was smooth and soothing for my throat. When you’re simultaneously plagued by allergies and a cold, a smooth cuppa can go a long way.
So I got around to doing a cold brew of this tea, and was kind of disappointed. It just tasted like any ordinary, plain green tea. I was hoping to bring out some natural sweetness by cold brewing, but I just got a bitter aftertaste instead. So my general conclusion so far about this tea is that it’s nothing special, and I will not be reordering it in the future. Bummer.
Today, what I thought were my allergies suddenly kicked up a notch with the stuffy nose and scratchy throat. It wasn’t until later in the day when it started getting to my head that I realized that I’m probably actually getting sick rather than worse allergies as I had thought (and hoped). Hopefully this goes away quickly because in the next few days I need to move to a new apartment and then take off for a three week adventure in Europe. Fingers crossed!
Anyway, I wasn’t too big of a fan of this tea last time, so I thought that with my tastes dulled by all the sniffling and such that I’d use the opportunity to drink some of this down. It tasted like a pretty ordinary general light oolong, but just the warmth and comfort of tea hit the spot.
I’ve been in the process of moving, so I haven’t been logging my teas as diligently here on Steepster. I originally had this one box designated for all my tea things (teapots, infusers, & teas), but as I was filling it, I realized I had about double the size of the box worth of tea things, oops! So in a futile attempt to sip down some teas, I made a large teapot of this for my mother and myself this morning. I think this tea is a little finicky to me. Sometimes it’s delicious and wonderful, but other times like today, it’s kind of bitter and astringent but at the same time watery? Confusing, but I’m keeping my rating as is, because when I take the time to do it right, it can be quite delicious. Looks like I only have one serving left, so it will be a sad sipdown soon.
My mother is visiting, and she has really loved hojichas since I introduced her to them (just like me!). She isn’t a regular tea drinker, though, so she can’t tell too much of a difference between the different ones I have, so I am taking this as an opportunity to get closer to sipping down on my least favorite hojicha. Is that terrible of me? I say least favorite, but even my least favorite hojicha is still a great, roasty tea to me. Looks like I have enough for one more teapot, so this will be sipped down soon!
I just read my previous tasting note about this tea, and I think that it really nailed my thoughts today about the thick mouthfeel and sweet, vegetal flavors. So I’ll just say that it’s a really nice tea to warm me up on this surprisingly chilly morning (when will I ever stop being surprised by the weather around these parts?).
As I said a few days ago, I was curious to see how this one would taste as a cold brew. I steeped about a tablespoon in my water bottle in the fridge for eight hours. The cold brew turned out to be much different than I expected! It was roasty, of course, but more like a roasted grain flavor. Actually, I recently took a tour of the Sam Adams brewery where we were able to taste a bunch of their malts. This cold brew reminded me a lot of the caramel malts that we sampled at the brewery. It also has some bitterness that actually kind of works with the flavors rather than being distracting or off-putting.
Overall, I would say that I’m glad that I tried cold brewing because it was quite a surprising experiment. However, I prefer this tea hot over cold in terms of a smoother flavor. Also, with how overpriced this tea is, it seems like cold brews would just use up too much leaf too quickly. I only dared try it because I’m still using the free ounce I have from my Starbucks reward.