1558 Tasting Notes
Up way before dawn. While zapping spam and catching up on tasting notes, I decided to have this again this morning. Today I made a 4 oz concentrate then added milk and a little sweetener for a latte. Very comforting, though it would have been better as an evening cup. I don’t like being jarred awake but this is a little too cozy for 6:00 AM. Don’t know until you try. Warm. Silky. Vanilla.
Twice in one day I find myself not aligning with some of the other reviews. I am not a vanilla fan normally – well except in my morning frap. I don’t dislike it. Vanilla just doesn’t enter my radar as a choice often. That said, I liked this one. The white tea stars are pretty to look at but I don’t think they add or take away from the taste. The vanilla is a bit overwhelming in the dry scent. The wet leaf has a caramelized vanilla aroma that I liked. The taste is strongly vanilla but not in an off or offensive way. My favorite thing about this blend is the aftertaste is pleasantly vanilla and fades quickly. It does not leave that sweet icky taste I dislike in many vanilla blends.
The thing I noticed in a some of the reviews is that the Assam base was bitter. I just don’t get that. Back in my tea bag only days, Ceylon was the ragged bitter cup and Assam destroyed my stomach. This caused me no grief at all. So maybe the difference is past experience (some of you have just had a lot better Assam in the past than me) or I have simply become immune to moderate or less bitter. I found it nicely smooth.
Someone (don’t remember who) mentioned latte in their review. I am thinking a little sweetener and some milk, this would be delicious.
Another example of how different people respond differently to a tea. I so love this one. Some said it was bland. Some said it was just an ok everyday kind of tea. I find that interesting.
I’ve had this maybe 10 months. Every time I prepare it I get sucked in all over again. The dry scent reminds me of a freshly cleaned stall with the sweet straw and hay aromas. Once water hits it, a nice light smokiness drifts into the air. Sipping, I get tack leather, caramel, cocoa, honey, and that touch of smoke. If this is an every day tea – I’ll take it!
I have been making my morning frap for months with Cafe Al Fresco brand sugar free vanilla and caramel syrups. I ran out. Our Walmart seems to have stopped carrying flavored syrup. So I bought Torani brand at Kroger. It is more expensive and personally I don’t care for the taste. The vanilla is way too light on taste. On the other hand, the caramel tastes more like butterscotch – which I’m OK with – but it is so highly flavored I can’t adjust it down enough. I hate change. They say it’s good, but it never is (My Sheldon melt down moment). The bottles last a long time, so I have a while to find something else. If it wasn’t for wanting sugar free, I would try making my own. Splenda will not thicken like a syrup and I can’t get xantham gum to work without making a clumpy mess. O well, the sun is out and it may be the last 70 degree day of the year. Through whining now. On to the next!
Had this one again. Last time I used 195 F water and a 2 1/2 minute steep. It was slightly drying but otherwise a smooth tea with a light peppery citrus bergamot. This time I went full boil (212 F) and the recommended 3 minute steep. With my comfort tea version (Ahmad) a 3 minute steep will produce a rough edge from the Ceylon base. This new version from Nina’s also has a Sri Lanka (Ceylon) base. I was curious if it would develop the edge – not to be confused with the guitar player for U2 ;) Turns out a longer steep made a better cup of Earl Grey than before. It did not develop a sharp bite, rather it stayed nicely smooth. I did not notice drying this time. What I did notice was the bergamot became richer and stronger. A very good, solid, cup of Earl Grey. Not as refined as the old Keemun base but to me the heartier Sri Lanka base adds character.
Started my day at 4:00 AM. At 6:00, I found myself chugging Mtn Dew and zapping spammers. It kind of makes me happy.
I decided chamomile rose silver needle would be a good one to get me through the rest of the day. I often have silver needle in the morning as it seems to pack almost the caffeine buzz of the Mtn Dew, however it works much more evenly, with no face punch. Keep your assam, I’ll have silver needle. I figured between the theanine in the leaf and the chamomile, it would keep me relaxed and focused. The rose just smells pretty and looks beautiful in the mix.
Here is what I learned – the first cup I went light on the leaf. It was predominantly rose. It is quite lovely, and natural. I had to pay attention to pick up on the chamomile later in the sip. It is slightly sour and slightly sweet. I really wasn’t able to pick up on the white tea. There was an interesting spice flavor mixed in that reminded me of allspice. It was kind of cinnamon, kind of clove. This was not exactly background but not the driving flavor either. I had my wife taste it. She thought it tasted minty. Interesting how differently we perceived it yet both noticed something else was going on in the cup.
For cup two, I doubled the leaf. Now the predominant flavor is apple. It is almost apple sauce. I don’t make out the spice flavor from before but it must be contributing to bring out this sensation. I also taste honey. Interesting how the chamomile has taken the lead. This drifts into the rose later, but rather than dropping off, the chamomile travels along side the rose. It is a very interesting combination.
I can pick up the silver needle but only lightly. There is subtle notes of hay and cucumber. Had I not tried straight silver needle before, I might have missed these notes.
A very interesting and changing cup depending on the amount of leaf used.
Cannon Ball! Love the name. Some of the balls are monstrous (I wanted to spell it monsterous but spellcheck said that is not a word – should be). Some of the balls are only the size of average oolong nuggets. The dry scent I got I have not seen in any other review. It was bread and honey, kind of malt with sweet hay. Thought maybe I didn’t get the press thoroughly clean but the pouch had the same awesomeness.
The first cup was crisp, vegetal, and savory. Dryness builds as the cup cools. It had a bite that was the good bitter. The aftertaste had a citrus note that to me wasn’t obvious at first.
The second cup I used less water – 8 oz with the same leaf (the first was a 10 oz mug using 7 balls). The scent is highly lemony. I did not notice the dryness, but because of the amount of leaf and the 2 1/2 minute steep, the bitterness was kind of intense. I added a little sweetener and it balanced right out. Now it tastes very nutty. The sweetener made the citrus really pop and there is a good dose of grassy vegetal late in the sip that along with some floral notes drift right into a healthy citrus aftertaste.
I don’t have time for a third cup at the moment but according to the review on SoriTEA Sisters it will be the best cup yet. I hope to find out for myself later.
Unique and worth a try.
This may be too extreme for even me. I just popped Chef-Boy-R-Dee Ravioli in the microwave because it was easy. I’m not even sure it counts as real food – mostly grease and starch I think. Then I brewed up Golden Tips because it is awesome. They don’t play well together (imagine that). A lot of the subtleties of the tea are covered in spicy sauce. Not my best move but the ravioli is gone now and I still have plenty of tea to cleanse my palate. The bread notes are already present just waiting on the sweet potato and other flavors to emerge.
This isn’t an official review. I am going to play with this one a few times before making a final assessment. This is a new blend of Nina’s Earl Grey. Apparently it is not on the market yet. I was given this as a gift from a thoughtful Steepster friend. I have tried the old blend and my note is on Steepster. The old blend has a keemun base and is very refined and civilized. This one has a Sri Lanka base (Celyon) which should give a slightly rougher edge to the cup.
The scent from the tin is citrus and peppery bergamot. Very intense when dry and all concentrated. I did this first cup at 195 F. That is what I have been using lately for Earl Greys. I steeped for 2 1/2 minutes. I try not to go longer with a new black until I see how it affects my stomach. Some cause a great deal of burn. The brew is ruby red and very pretty. It turns more root beer as it cools. The wet leaf has a nice leafy scent under the less intense than when dry bergamot.
The sip is – Earl Grey! What I mean is it is Earl Grey the way I like it. The Ceylon base is drying and tingles the cheeks. It has a slight bite. Had I used hotter water I could boost that bite, I believe. The bergamot while hot is kind of laid back. As the cup cools it grows in intensity. Me like.
OK, apparently this has turned into a review. So let me add as a final thought before I experiment more – My experience with Nina’s beyond this blend (and their Lapsang Souchong – which is awesomely powerful) is their teas are noted for being very refined, wonderfully flavored, and mellow. This tea is not mellow or refined and that is what I like about it. My thought is Nina’s might be better to offer two Earl Greys with expressive names to signify the difference. I am not too sure how this blend will fair with their usual customer base. When it comes to Earl Grey I am definitely more of a barbarian!