1613 Tasting Notes
My first tea of the year was supposed to be my green tea powder, but after one sip I realized the milk had turned nasty. So down the drain it goes. I grabbed a cocoa mix that came with yet another well meaning coffee mug Christmas gift (finally got them to stop buying bad tea – now to convince them I have too many cups). The cocoa was surprisingly not terrible but not tea.
I woke up this morning craving the grapey goodness of jasmine dragon pearls, then remembered I gave it to the newby. Found a packet of Jasmine Bi Lou Chun and forgetting how much it expands, placed it in the glass filter that goes in my teapot. Completely filled the filter. sigh. So the tea is more bitter than jasmine, but mostly muted.
Not a good start to the new year. Time to regroup and start again.
Having a very unmotivated day. I’m not feeling the greatest. Today I just want something comfortable. Nina’s Earl Grey was the one I grabbed. The more I sip this one the more I appreciate it. The bergamot is very present but does not scream bergamot at you. The base is so much smoother than my normal blend that it has taken some time to adjust. So smooth. To me, I taste assam and breathe bergamot. I like that. Then the aftertaste is a fruity bouquet of bergamot and tea. Very good choice today.
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.