853 Tasting Notes
UGH. I got the flu vaccine today (I have to, for work) and usually every time I get it a get a little sick, since that’s what a vaccine is. It’s definitely setting in a little – I just feel… off and my sinuses feel like they want to be congested, and I have a headache on top of that. Pffth. I HATE that this happens, and that I effectively have no choice but to subject myself to it every year.
Anyway, so I’m not in a great mood tonight and I knew that called for a special tea that always makes me happy. One of my old faithfuls. This one, with its lemon creamy goodness, was definitely it.
I had it without additives as usual and it was fabulous. This tea really shines as it cools down, which, since I’m a slow drinker, works out well. I’ve been spending most of the day looking up french tea companies on Steepster and trying to sort through the many blends they all offer. WHY isn’t there just one big superstore where I could buy each companies wares at once? That really would be so lovely.
Because seriously, if a hallmark of french teas is delicate, natural flavorings of consistently good quality like this one, then I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to get to this point.
Flavors: Cream, Lemon, Vanilla
Today’s cup has no milk or sugar in it and is surprisingly sweet and decadent on its own. I mostly taste cinnamon and bread and smell syrup, but it puts itself together and really is very accurate taste wise.
The mouthfeel is rich and there is no bitterness whatsoever. I have enough left for one more cup and am pleasantly surprised by how well it has held up to time – this pouch is well over a year old but if anything tastes BETTER than when I got it!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cinnamon
45 teas in my cupboard with this sipdown, guys!
I haven’t seen a number this low in a while and it is INVIGORATING! My cupboard is so clean! There are even more teas that are close to a sipdown. I don’t even know myself anymore.
This is a solid breakfast tea, even though I’m drinking it at 1 AM. My body doesn’t really notice caffeine so it doesn’t matter when I drink my black teas. Tonight’s cup is without additives and distinctly reminiscent of a Ceylon – bright and surprisingly not as astringent as I’ve alluded to in my past tasting notes. I make iced tea A LOT in the summer and do so by bringing water to a boil, adding the leaves and then cooling it down – and right now – this scent from this cup – is exactly what I’d smell when it was freshly brewed. Vaguely malty and citrusy, almost like bits of sunshine trapped in a liquid.
Ceylons make me so happy.
Based on my experience with this tea right now, I would definitely recommend. I have my favorite breakfast tea from Upton, but if you like Ceylons and you need a good breakfast tea that is strong and bright – this is your blend.
Absolutely hits the spot tonight.
This was the perfect tea for tonight, being October and all. There are a lot of the heavy spices and then there’s also a good pumpkin flavor as well – though it needs milk and sugar to help out the flavors.
Texture on this one is thinner than I’d like, and its watery even with whole milk added and a slightly higher than recommended amount of leaf. But it’s a decent seasonal choice for a midday cup of tea.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Pumpkin
I can’t believe I’ve had this tea for so long! It’s going on three years now and since I was cleaning out my cabinet I had to try it to make sure it was still good.
I used the 185F for 4 minutes parameters on this and it WHOA was it ever astringent! But it was also sweet peach and roasted grain, the way it’s always been. Still great quality, so maybe I’ll get on the ball and DRINK more of it!
So, by mistake I overlooked a response to a tasting note I wrote about Steepster Select’s Obukucha from earlier this year. I was swooning about the briny seaweed notes in that tea, waxing poetic about how it is exactly the taste profile I want in a Japanese tea, etc.
The reply, written 8 months ago, would have saved me A LOT of searching for flavor profiles. Turns out that the salty mineral taste I seek is Uji region specific. D’OH. So I ordered some of that, but in the mean time I have like 5 other senchas to get through before they lose their freshness. This tea, which I got from the Obubu tea club earlier in the year, is one of them.
Brewed at the hot water steeping parameters ( 5g. tea for 6 oz. water @ 212F for 30 seconds), I opened this and the dry leaf smelled immediately of sweet buttered spinach. It looked like jade green grass clippings, so, quality sencha in other words.
Now that I know that sencha varies by region I’m that much more fascinated and interested in picking up the differences for myself. This is an earthy sencha – in that it gives me no marine/seaweed characteristics whatsoever. It is grassy, and again, that sweet, buttery spinach is what I taste. It doesn’t have what I necessarily consider to be umami, but it does have just a touch of astringence when it cools. Overall its a sweeter sencha, and a solid one if salty brothy senchas aren’t your thing.
Also, it pairs quite well with seaweed salad and udon noodles. I can speak from experience :).
Flavors: Butter, Grass, Spinach
Well today was a much needed “clean up the tea cabinet day”. As evidenced by this tea, which was unlabeled in a tea bag and OPEN TO AIR (I know- I have no idea what the heck I was thinking either).
I only was able to find out what it WAS through going through past tea orders and looking at the other packages that came with it, and then remembering that I had a coworker who said to me, one day “I think I like oolongs” and well, that must have spurred me giving her the bag with the label/steep instructions and keeping the small amount (OPEN TO AIR – WHAT WAS I THINKING??) to get around to eventually.
Ugh, so that was forever ago and I don’t hold out much hope for this sample that was way too pricey to have treated so callously.
The dry leaf didn’t smell like much of anything (gee, I wonder why) but once steeped according to Tea Hawaii’s directions (3 minutes, 208 degrees) the aroma of both the amber liquor and wet leaf are surprisingly nectary/honeyed, a la my beloved dan cong.
First sips are honeyed and grainy, but then there are unmistakable flowers. Honeyed floral notes – if ever I doubted this was an oolong these flavors have convinced me. I normally don’t like floral flavors but it works here. It walks the line between a lighter black tea and brings in the florality of the green oolongs but is its own self. Maybe the fact that it is Hawaiian grown vs. China grown is what makes a difference? I swear the floral character is different – honeysuckle and hibiscus vs. jasmine. Given my love for all things Hawaii, it doesn’t surprise me that I would prefer a Hawaiian oolong if given the choice.
So yes, this is a good tea. Even as weakened as it was – I liked it. I am glad I got just a sample of it though, as I don’t see myself reaching for it regularly. Quite fun to sip on as I work on making heads or tails of my poor neglected tea closet…
Flavors: Flowers, Honey
I’m thinking that sTEAp shoppe teas just do not age well at all. This was surprisingly watery, even with milk and even with pretty big amount of leaf (almost 1 tbsp. to 12 oz. water, when normally you can do 1 tbsp. to 16 oz. water).
It just was thin and bland, which I know is not the tea I’ve had before. There was no fabulous bready notes, no real cinnamon either. Overall a disheartening cup. I’m a sucker for the idea of a cinnamon bun-esque tea and I thought this was it so now it’s back to the drawing board, I guess.
Good thing I kept such diligent notes on my teas – taking the summer off from drinking has made my memory rather short.
But reading the note brought it back – this was the pseudo vanilla tea. The one that if you add sugar turns into chocolate. Which is problematic since I don’t really like chocolate tea.
So I was at least able to avoid bringing out the chocolate notes, though by following my prep notes I got a tea with a great texture (thanks to some milk), but with no flavor. Thick tasting water. Maybe as it cools I will get some more flavor.
And nope. Thick tasting water is all I came away with. Blech. Good thing my sample was done after this, because it is really not for me.
It feels SO GOOD to be getting back into my morning tea routines! It’s like coming back to myself!
Backlog from this morning, and continuing on in my mourning of the Butiki shop closing:
This is the assam that acts like a ceylon, to me. It’s got the rich earthy assam but there is also a citrusy brightness that I love from ceylons. The best of both worlds.
This is a tea I DON’T usually have with milk, just a touch of sugar and even that’s not TOTALLY necessary. It’s my ideal breakfast black – well, between this one and my precious East Frisian blend.
Lovely, and another one I’ll miss when it’s gone…