2221 Tasting Notes
Time to give this one another go. Today, it is smelling immensely appealing, both dry and brewed. The aroma is mostly of coconut, but there’s a bit of fruitiness as well. One thing that I noticed about my tea today is that it’s quite crushed. I’m not sure whether that is from me, or how I bought it, but I’m willing to bet that it’s affecting the flavour.
Anyhow! With three minutes of steeping, it’s not bad. Mostly a coconutty black tea, but I am getting a fair bit of unpleasant astringency at the end. Having read some discussion posts about crushing tea lately, I’m suspecting that this may be due in part to the fact that half of the packet was literally dust. So unlike last time, when I found this tea to be entirely unpleasant, this time I can taste it’s redeeming qualities, but unless I can get rid of the astringency it would not be a tea I’d choose to drink again. Luckily I don’t think I have a great deal of the packet left, so I may just have to finish it up with milk/sugar and purchase another small sample of this and make sure it isn’t crushed!
ETA: Second steep of this is similar to the first, but somewhat weaker and less coconutty. Unfortunately the tannins are still making an appearance, so it’s not great. Looking forward to trying a fresh bag of this – if this tea was voted back from the dead it has got to taste better than this!!
And now for something completely different! My palate is tired of teas with complex flavouring, so I went one that’s theoretically simple…(!)
Steeped, the tea smells like minty chocolate. There is a bit of the peppermint scent that I dislike, but it is in part overwhelmed by chocolate, so I can deal with it.
Taste-wise, it is exactly as it’s supposed to be – a chocolate mint tea. Not particularly sweet, but lots of flavour. I’m finding that the flavour I dislike in peppermint tea is mostly obscured by chocolate, so it’s quite enjoyable to drink.
Not my favourite, and not something I’ll be restocking as minty chocolate isn’t something I regularly crave, but worth the $1.50 or so for the sample size I picked up just to taste it, for curiousity if nothing else! Thank you, Mint Chocolate Rooibos, for giving my tired palate a break this evening :)
Another probably old/poorly stored sample that I have! But going to have some fun with it anyways.
The leaves aren’t particularly fragrant, but I am picking up a bit of a salty, toasty aroma. Not particularly inspiring, but then again, they are old.
First steep 95C/25s
Although a deep reddish brown, the steeped liquor has very little scent. The tea tastes slightly sweet and toasty, but it’s all quite mild. The finish is mildly of oolong tea. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m almost getting a flavour like fall leaves, you know, from the times when you were a kid and hid in a pile of dried leaves on the lawn, and if you covered your face there was this distinct dry leaf smell. Maybe it’s because tea is also a leaf, or maybe there’s some other reason, I don’t know!
Second steep 95C/25s
A little bit sweeter, and again that toasty flavour. My mouth feels a bit dry afterwards. I think it was after(?) this steep that I smelled the wet leaves, and they smelled like burnt toast! Interesting.
Third steep 95C/30s
Similar to the second steep but a bit weaker, and a tiny bit of astringency in the finish.
Fourth steep 95C/30s
The liquor is starting to lighten in colour at this point, and I’m not tasting all that much anymore.
Fifth steep ~93C/~30s
… I can see why they recommend 2-3 steeps. I think this one will go down the drain.
Overall, not a great tea in my opinion, but I recognize that I may be biased due to the tea’s age and poor storage, particularly since my concern is a lack of flavour (it was very weak), and not a bad flavour – I like toasty sweetness! So, I will refrain from rating right now as it wouldn’t be a fair judgement.
Prior to really getting into tea, I used to assume that all tea was equal and therefore brewed at about boiling, and you could leave the leaves/teabags in forever, etc. etc. So this led to many instances of me drinking said teas and tasting some goodness, along with (often) significant amounts of tannins and other undesirable flavours. But I just assumed that was how it was.
A year and a half ago, I learned about different temperature requirements for different teas, and a friend gave me a bit of a primer to this effect, so I used his suggestions as to steeping temperatures for the teas I had, which improved them a bit.
Fast-forward to now, when I have a MUCH better idea of things to do and not to do with teas, and I’ve re-discovered my ziploc bag of all these tea samplers. I can’t say I stored them marvellously (some are opened and clipped shut), and some I’d had for a few years, but I decided to look them up on the company website and give brewing them properly a shot!
So I’ve clearly drank this one before, as the bag was opened, and there really wasn’t very much leaf left. Maybe about a teaspoon. So I only filled my little tea-strainer thing halfway with water to account for that, so about 4oz water, maybe?? I have no idea what I thought when I first drank this tea, so this is essentially an entirely new experience :D
First steeping: 95C/~20s
The liquor is a clear reddish-brown, with only a slight scent to it. There isn’t a lot of flavour to this first steep, although I’m getting a definite sweetness and finish of that lovely oolong flavour I mentioned yesterday in regards to DT’s Quanzhou Milk Oolong. Ok, actually there’s enough flavour for me to enjoy this one, it’s just not initially evident.
Second steeping: ~93C/~20s
Wow, there’s definitely more sweetness coming out here. I’m not used to this, but I really am enjoying it! I need to expand my vocabulary more so I can really describe what I’m tasting. Maybe… it’s like sweet grass? No grassy taste, but kind of an almost vegetal-y sweetness. Mild and pleasant. The aftertaste is again the oolong-y taste
Third steeping: ~95C/~25s
Hmm, I feel like we’re losing flavour now. It tastes much like the previous cup with less flavour. Maybe a touch more of a roasty taste, but that’s it. Still good though.
Fourth steeping: ~93C/~25s
This one mostly tastes to me like toasted rice, with a hint of oolong aftertaste.
So the most intriguing sip is definitely the second cup, where the maximum sweetness is noticeable. I’ll definitely have to try this one again, once I get some more of it! Fun experience!
Forgot to log this yesterday, but picked up another one of these. Yum. I think it was a bit sweeter this time (perhaps too sweet), and I really shouldn’t have gotten a large, but it definitely still hit the spot. Yum. I have got to pick up some matcha so I can make lattes for myself instead of dropping $5 or so on one at Second Cup!
Had two steepings of this (I think) on Thursday and left the tea ball in my office… went in there today to grab a few things (including my packet of Fantasy Island) and figured I’d take home the tea ball for the weekend along with my cups to wash them (they get a bit stained at work). This evening, not really thinking, I decided I’d steep this one a third time, since it still smelled yummy and banana-y!
I maaaayyybe should have thought about the fact that I left it sitting for two days, probably more like 2.5 when you consider I first drank it around 9am Thursday at work, and it’s into the wee hours of Sunday here now. Anyways, the purpose of writing about this is because it now tastes like caramelized banana oolong! Which I’m slightly concerned about (as in, has it fermented and that’s what I’m tasting?) but also finding interesting and tasty. So what the heck, I’ll finish it anyways… not toooooo likely to do me much harm… right? XD
So I guess I should have listened to everyone warning about hibiscus imparting a bitter flavour if steeped too long… I cold-steeped this one for a couple days in the fridge (yes, forgot about it), and tried it today. YUCK. It is disgusting. There’s a hint of grapefruit and a ton of nasty, disgusting bitterness. I noted a bit of tartness as well, which was nice, but the bitter/gross flavour ruined it for me. So much so that I Actually Threw It Out.
I guess I’ll try again later, perhaps hot-brewing it then chilling :D
Cold-steeped this again in the fridge for a couple days because I was craving it. And it satisfies :) Not a fan of this one hot, but iced and a little stronger than recommended it is infinitely better. Upping the rating because, you know, I might actually pick some more of this up for the summer!
Onto another tea, fun fun! Tried this one at work before and found it gross (or flavourless, or something objectionable), so brought it home to try here, even though it should be pretty difficult to screw up a black tea, right? Maybe I steeped it too long initially.
So this time, I noticed chocolate chips in the bag. Not sure if I saw these last time, or got any in my teaball, but I made sure to get a couple in there and you can definitely smell it in the steeped tea. Actually…. it smells quite marvelous. Chocolatey with a hint of fruitiness.
OK! This time I’m actually tasting something! Perhaps I should try Fantasy Island tonight too(?) Definitely tasting that lovely chocolatey flavour that IIRC Read My Lips has, but unfortunately, my sense of the fruity flavour is that it tastes rather fake. The strawberry in Strawberry White tasted much more real; perhaps this is a case of either mixed flavours or artificial flavouring that I don’t care for. Ah! I figured out what it reminds me of. It makes me think of cherry candy kisses. Or other fruity filled chocolates, which I’m not the biggest fan of (I prefer nuts, caramel, etc.). Which explains why most people like it, but I don’t (same thing with these filled chocolates!)
So I’m really not sure what happened with my first couple cups of this. Thinking oversteeping (I only did 3.5 minutes with it this time) and a lack of tasty ingredients in the teaball, since I remember only tasting black tea last time.
Glad I got to taste the true flavours of this one, but it won’t be a re-buy. There are other flavoured blacks, chocolate teas, and strawberry teas that I would rather drink.
ETA: Second steep the next day is surprisingly good. Just under boiling water, for four minutes, and I’m getting lovely chocolatey fruity flavours. It’s a bit mellower than yesterday, so tastes less like a filled chocolate, which is nice. Still not enough to make me want to buy it, but it’s certainly pleasant enough to drink, and you even get two steeps!
Trying to drink myself into a tea stupor tonight, apparently. Going on about 8 cups now…
First cup (94C/2min) is VERY milky, but finishes quite nicely with a vegetal and then floral flavour. It’s very smooth and quite tasty. I find the milky flavour dissipates a bit the more I drink, so it must just be my mouth getting accustomed to it.
Second cup (95C/3min) is still quite smooth, less milky though, and the floral finish is a bit stronger. I’m getting just a touch of astringency/dry mouth/tannin feel mid-sip, but it doesn’t carry down the throat so I do find it enjoyable.
I have to admit, I did let these cool down a bit too far, but I do typically prefer my tea in the range of warm to lukewarm. They’re just… a bit closer to “cool” now. But still delicious, unlike some teas that taste odd at room temperature.
ETA: Two more steeps of this tonight. Third cup (96C/4min) smells just lightly floral and milky, but it’s not all that discernible anymore. Most of the milkiness is gone, and there’s just a hint of floral remaining, but I’m left with that absolutely delicious lingering taste in my mouth that just screams oolong to me. The same taste I’ll get in the second/third steeping of Banana Oolong. Honestly, the finish is better than the sip itself; I wish my mouth tasted this good all day! Yum. Nothing objectionable at all in this cup except that the sip initially tastes weak.
Fourth cup (kind of a shot in the dark, near-boiling water for 5min) is interesting and deviates quite a bit from the first three cups. There’s hardly any smell, but the flavour is now kind of toasty-buttery? It’s hard to describe. It’s different, but weak, although not objectionable. The oolong aftertaste is mostly gone as well. I probably wouldn’t bother going this far again, but it was interesting. No unpleasant bitterness coming out at all, so I’m going to blame user error on my boyfriend for the third-steep bitterness last time :D