847 Tasting Notes
So- I only go to Starbucks when I’m meeting this one friend of mine.
She’s a coworker who was my mentor at work for the past year, and it became our thing, monthly ‘mentor’ sessions that turned into ‘vent’ sessions. I remember when I first started working with her that I felt we were such a terrible fit for each other – I couldn’t do anything right and she just seemed so different from me, so loud and outspoken.
Then my first year ended, that whole official mentor relationship ended…and we still do our meetings and just talk.
So I had this tea yesterday and it was good, but I can’t really tell you much about it because I didn’t drink it with the intent of paying attention to it. It was more sweet than spicy, and I have better chai’s in my cupboard at home. But it was tea, on a cold morning, and I’ll take it.
All my pretty Verdant teas just seem so intimidating to me, sometimes. Or I don’t want to waste them, or something, so I end up hoarding them. Hence why there such big gaps in my tasting notes. I love drinking them and should do so more often. This is my official reminder to myself.
I steeped this western style yesterday (1 tbsp to 8 oz. water), and the rich scent was almost overwhelming. It reminded me of a dark rye bread – grainy with the savory unsweetened cocoa note. This steep is always really strong and it never did tone down into sweetness. That’s what the second steep is for.
Really the second steep has always been my favorite. Thats the one where the chocolate turns sweet and the bread note combines to create brownie in my mouth. I know from experience that I can get more out of the leaves but…this steep is always best.
I suppose if I used less leaf I could probably turn that second steep into the first one, but I do love that savory to sweet transition. It’s like dinner to dessert. All in one cup.
Seriously. I’m going to try that trick where I leave this by my Breville and see if the convenience gets me to drink this more. Because I really, really should.
I keep having this, most likely because it’s just sitting by my Breville and the easy choice in the morning. This is not a bad thing. :)
I just had this with a spot of milk this morning (no sweetener) and it was still creamy vanilla with a bit more citrus of the bergamot. I guess sugar drowned out the citrus?
Anyway, there really is no way to mess this up. Its good whatever way you make it. All teas should be like that…
Dry leaf: Soft, feathery. This is truly one of the most unique teas I’ve encountered in the tactile sense. Notes of sweet potato, cocoa, and malt in the scent.
Preparation notes: 4 g. leaf in my cute little gaiwan and served in my new Tea Merchant cups. I need to post a picture; it was quite the “squee” experience.
Steep one: 10 seconds. Starchy, honey, peppery, in that order. A sweet spiciness and thick, velvety mouthfeel. Honey brown/amber liquor. Sweeter even as the cup cools down.
Steep two: 15-20 seconds. Liquor is a darker brown mahogany. A cocoa note shines through while the cup is still hot. Less honeyed, more straight starch (white potato and not sweet potato). Savory and brothy notes after the cocoa faded out. As it cools, honey fades back in and sweetness returns. Only the Golden Fleece.
Steep three: 30 seconds. Slightly lighter liquor, caramel sweetness in the smell. This steep tastes like the leaves initally felt – fuzzy and soft. Cocoa in first sips, then caramel. Surprisingly a lot weaker in flavor. Will lengthen the next steeping to see if I can fix this.
Steep four: 1 minute. Sweet honey notes, still weaker than I’d like. Sweet potato in the flavor so far.
Steep five: 3 minutes. A red brown liquor but weak flavor. Starting to become a bit astringent.
….I did all those steepings in one afternoon, and saved the leaves to come back to today.
Steep six: 6 minutes. The dry leaf smells really sweet – sugar and vanilla. This is a cocoa heavy steep but it wasn’t just my tastebuds yesterday – this is weak. I’m kind of dumb, though, and didn’t reduce the volume of water in my gaiwan to concentrate flavor. This is starting to be noticeably bitter – will reduce the steeping volume, lengthen the time, and give it one last shot to see what happens.
Steep seven: 12 minutes. Nope. I think the leaves have been spent. It’s just bitter at this point. I really should drink my stash of this down before it gets any older because I think at this point age is the problem. Sigh. Oh well, this is why I’m focused on trying to drink down what I have.
Even spent its miles above so many teas though!
A sample from Sil – and a welcome tea back into my cupboard!
This is the best strawberry tea ever. Perfect without milk or sugar (though not bad with), it is smooth strawberries and cream on a strong black base. I imagine there may be other “red fruits” in there, maybe a bit of raspberry is noticeable if I think about it? And its more the velvet texture of raspberry than the taste, because yuck. Raspberries are gross.
Yum, I am glad to have a few cups of this left to enjoy!
I have to give this credit for being one of the most accurate to smell teas I’ve ever had. It smells like root beer down to the carbonation.
I made this extra strong due to not thinking terribly clearly though, and ended up with a liquor pretty much the color of actual rootbeer (which is to say, practically opaque black). So between that at the astringence (user error, not a fault of the tea), I added some milk and a bit of sugar to soften it.
With additives it turned into that milky brown color that a rootbeer float becomes when the vanilla ice cream melts into the soda. That’s what it tasted like, too – creamy ice cream soda that has lost its carbonation but is still tasty. I prefer it the way it was for my first cup, though – good without additives, creamy just as is.
After the success of the Tropical Splash iced tea I made, I really found myself wanting more iced tea and I remembered how tasty and fruity this was even when hot. I know it’s January but maybe if I keep icing tea summer will come faster. These are things I tell myself.
Anyway, I did my usual boil 1/2 gallon water, steeped 4 tbsp. tea at below parameters and sweetened with my normal amount of sweetener for an iced tea (1/4 cup sugar, which amounts to about 1/2 tsp. per cup).
I still really smell an underlying banana-ness to the peach but I like that. Normally banana kind of overwhelms any other flavor and so it’s nice to see it tempered a bit with the juicy, sweet peach notes at the forefront. This is the juiciest peach I have ever smelled, too. I said this in my previous note but it really makes me want a fresh one. Or a couple of fresh ones, to make a pie out of…
Anyway, I let it chill overnight to have the flavors settle and GAH. Peach juice, with a nice added astringency from the hops so you get that sweet peach and also a tart note that you sometimes have with an unripe one. The tea itself has a pleasant nectary consistency that makes me sad only because I imagine that will mean I finish my ounce of this far too soon.
Liquid summer, guys. That’s what this is. The best peach tea I’ve tasted.
I’ve not been too into the more decadent, desserty teas lately. No real reason, that I can say, except I’ve gotten a lot of new teas that I’ve been trying and they just don’t fit in this category. This tea was in my line of sight when preparing breakfast yesterday so I made it for the convenience more than anything else.
Steep notes: 1 tbsp leaf to 16 oz water, milk and sugar added.
The cream cheese was definitely front and center this time. Blueberry and cream cheese and smooth black tea and it was finished quickly as it usually is. The first few sips of this remind me if how good it is and then I can’t put it down until the cup is empty. The consistency of it is one of my favorite things- and this is definitely one of my favorite desserty teas.
First, a story:
I had gone out with friends to breakfast last week and ordered hot tea (earl grey – I don’t know the brand) and was surprised, in a good way, when they brought it out to me loose in the equivalent of a Perfect Tea Maker from Teavana. Not as surprised as the other girls, though – they had never seen one before. They stared at the steeper and their eyes got even bigger and all conversation stopped when I put it on top of my cup to let it drain.
“I’ve never seen that before.” One of them said. “Where’s the tea bag?” was another question. There was much turning over of the plastic steeper to see how it worked. Then the waiter came by and refilled it to let it resteep. All of their minds, collectively, were blown. All for a cup of pretty mediocre Earl Grey.
Okay, digressing to actual review now:
When the girls at the breakfast asked how I liked the tea I shrugged my shoulders and thought of Smooth Earl from Compass Teas before telling them I prefer it with vanilla (tea snob that I am). That was before I met this guy though.
A sure sign of a good tea to me is one that I can’t stop thinking about or want to have again soon after I’ve had it. For the sake of having a lot of other teas to drink I avoided coming back to this one right away, but it has been in the back of my mind.
So yesterday to celebrate having almost a week off from work I made a huge mug of this and savored that thick vanilla scent and taste. So lovely. I wish when I’d been at the breakfast last week I’d been able to show everyone this Earl Grey Cream. This is what amazing tea is.
A lot of you already know that, judging by the other tasting notes here, but really. Its finding teas like this that you wouldn’t have known about otherwise that makes the whole tea habit so much fun. For me it is, anyway….
I always manage to drink down teas iced much faster than I drink it hot. I think its because as a rule hot drinks don’t do as much to quench my thirst and are more for enjoyment than anything else. Iced tea is usually what I love to drink with meals.
This was, predictably, great iced. I had it with a few different foods and really it went perfectly with all of them, though it did take a good overnight in the fridge before it reached its full potential. It did end up reminding me of Hawaii and had a very nectar like quality (guava and mango are so sweet that doesn’t surprise me) with a pretty floral scent, which is a plus for me – I prefer to smell flowers, not eat them.
I like this iced for sure. I can’t wait for summer to get here so I am drinking cold tea more, because this will be a must order for me then!