1511 Tasting Notes
I don’t normally go for chai. I like all the ingredients but find the ginger is often overdone or it is too peppery. I found this one to be very balanced. I started with a straight chai and water steep. The spices were all pretty even except I couldn’t single out the cardamom. For the purist this blend does not have pepper. The black assam base is easily tasted and had an unusual fruity greenness to it. I got brave and added one packet of sweetener, as I know chai is normally supposed to be very sweet. This made all the flavors pop just a little bit more. So I went crazy and added milk. I never add milk with the exception of my morning frappe. The word I used on my blog to describe this was SHAZAM! Normally I think milk mutes and muddies the flavors. In this cup it separated them. Even the cardamom came out of hiding. Never again can I say I don’t like chai. I fully intend to stove top simmer this in milk and sugar next time. Very impressed.
I read through the reviews trying to figure out why this has such a wide range of opinions. I still have no explanation. I personally have not been drawn to vanilla teas. While I will drink Earl Grey cream, I much prefer straight in your face Earl Grey. So, I went into this not expecting much and got a tea I really like. This is not a straight vanilla bean and black tea. There are almond slivers, and coconut pieces in it as well. The vanilla and coconut blend neatly together in a well behaved and balanced way. I think I understand why some didn’t like it, as the flavor is not overwhelming. Normally, I think vanilla is so over used, in a blend, it is all I taste. Here, it has just the right amount, for me, as I also taste the other ingredients. The almond the least, and if I didn’t know it was present, I doubt I would catch it. You can taste the black tea base. There is no bitterness and no astringency (@195F/3.5m). I can’t identify the base type (probably assam) but unlike some teas I at least know it is there.
When you try this one use a clear glass teapot. The leaf filled mine with floating, hanging, and settled leaf. It was the best leaf display I have seen in a while.
This is my first yellow. It starts subtle with stone or possibly nutty notes, then is submerged under a wave of good bite. Quite a contrast. Your left smacking your lips and tasting lingering floral and vegetation.
The second mug found the subtle notes replaced with bolder notes that reminded me of biting into a raw white potato along with the sweetness of corn. This is again followed by the wave that withdraws leaving the vegetal aftertaste.
Complex and interesting. I love how each of the reviews here have interpreted it in different ways. That kind of reflects that complexity.
Following ashmanra’s lead, I used the gaiwan this morning and made several quick little steeps. The lid of the gaiwan smells heavenly of jasmine. Its’ touch is much lighter in the light orange brew. Keeping this below 20 seconds produces a lovely cup with little bitterness. At 20 s it needs sweetener unless bitter is what you like. The little toucha really expands into a cup full of leaf. Much enjoyed this today.
I appear to have a bug. I guess it wasn’t my wife trying to poison me with grilled cheese two days ago. My back hurts and heating pad is the only relief I have found. My stomach is in knots. My head hurts. I am trying to keep hydrated but honestly I don’t feel like drinking. I’ve have wanted raw pu-erh for a couple days but no one in the house knows how to fix it (or even what it is) but me. Finally feel momentarily well enough. Used my gaiwan and a 15 sec steep. Raisin, woodsy, a touch of smoke, and a fruit – apricot I think. More important I get an immediate sticky lip feel and a much desired rumble in my bloated gut. Time for more.
My wife wanted grilled cheese. Not a fan. Now I remember why. I am doubled over with cramping. Found this on my desk. No idea where it came from. I am guessing my son through it there. It is obvious this is peppermint. It is just as obvious it is very old. It just isn’t working for me. Guess I’ll have to tough it out :(
My weekly update: I was so excited to play with my new (used) teapot I almost forgot to share about this one. The tea loving server saw us coming in this morning and begged the others to let her wait on us. Yeah – cause that means way better prepared tea. And a new tea bag with each cup. What a novel idea.
This week I took her a baggie of Teavivre’s Yunnan Dian Hong Golden Tips and a sample bag of Teavivre Jasmine Dragon Pearls. The pearls were harder to give away because I don’t know if I have any more at the moment. I told her these blow the ones I previously gave her out of the water.
I asked her if she was steeping the teas more than once. She said, “Are you kidding me, I’m steeping them until they have nothing left to give.” Awesome. She told me she pulled the teas out at her book club and shared with ‘the girls’. They loved them – dragon well was the favorite. As you can tell, I’m loving this.
I asked if she was willing to try pu-erh. She did not know what it was. I told her it smelled like a horse barn and tasted like leather. Her eyes lit up. Now I have to go through the drawer and figure out which one I have is the best example of what I just told her.
Tune in next week, same bat time, same bat channel.