733 Tasting Notes
Grabbed a tin of these sachets and a sample of plain old English Breakfast to see if I could tell the difference.
Verdict after a tasteoff: nope, can’t tell much difference and I don’t think I’m really an English Breakfast person at this point. I’d prefer a thick Assam, a Yunnan or a Taiwanese black to be my first cup of the day.
2.5 grams to 60 ml of just off of boiling water (tap water). Steeped for 35 seconds.
1. English Breakfast HT Blend:
dry leaf scent – like smelling freshly turned earth, hints of a malty scent
taste of liquor – light fruit, dry mouth feel, maltiness from scent not present
wet leaf scent – definitely fresh earth, this has a deeper, more complex scent than the normal EB. That would seem to indicate that the taste should be deeper and more complex and I am just not getting it.
2. English Breakfast:
dry leaf scent – light fruit and earth but not as fresh as the HT blend
taste of liquor – a somewhat lighter version of HT with more fruit notes coming to the fore, still induces a dry mouth feel. I don’t get any smoke and isn’t that what Keemuns are kind of known for? This is 100% Keemun according to the website.
wet leaf scent – reminds me of a second flush Darjeeling with a lot of fruit notes on top of the mild wet earth scent, no malt that I can discern
Always possible that if I try again with different steeping parameters (lower water temp, less tea) these may be easier to differentiate and I may like them better. For now, I get a lot of Ceylon taste in the HT blend and just basic tea from the EB, pretty much. If I had to decide tonight, I’d keep neither in my cupboard though I’d use the sachets when going out to restaurants as it is better than the junk you normally get there. :)
Did a Jin Jun Mei tasteoff today, though I discovered afterwards that I had left out Verdant’s JJM. Ah, well. It’s a start.
Did 2 grams of tea to 50 ml of water at just below boiling. I did not use filtered water since I think that whether or not I keep tea on hand should depend largely on whether or not I like it with tap water. Steeped each for 15 seconds, tasted, let tea continue steeping another 60 seconds while tasting and tasted again. These notes are based on an overall impression, not separated out by 1st and 2nd steeps.
1. What-Cha China Fujian Wuyi ‘Jin Jun Mei’:
scent of dry leaf – meat and smoke
taste of liquor – smokiest of the 4 teas, savory meat, very drying to the mouth
leaf appearance – medium leaf size, some gold leaves, mostly black
2. YSG International (AliExpress) 2014 Top Wuyi Black Tea Jin Jun Mei:
scent of dry leaf – savory smoke and wet leather
taste of liquor – light ash and smoke, a little bit of sweet, more of sour, leaves mouth dry
leaf appearance – medium leaf size, some gold leaves, mainly black, not nearly as gold as the product picture on the site.
3. Shanshuijian (AliExpress) Jinjunmei Paulownia:
scent of dry leaf – hardest smoke & ash scent of the 4 teas, charred wood
taste of liquor – smoke, ash, bitterness, drying in mouth
leaf appearance – largest leaves, no golden leaves, all pretty uniform black
*note that this tasting varies from my earlier note on this because that was with filtered water at work. This should be a work tea since at home I am not very fond of it.
4. MinRiver Tea Jin Jun Mei:
scent of dry leaf – not much smoke and wet cat
taste of liquor – sour, sweet, fruity like date or fig
leaf appearance – smallest leaves, lightest liquor color
This is super good. Light but still sweet with creamy vanilla and some tart cidery appleness. Odd, but adding cream does not bring out the vanilla, but rather the floral notes in the oolong and that doesn’t mix well. I normally wouldn’t add cream to oolong but… I had some and it smelled like it might go well.
And breaking in the Calamityware Things Could Be Worse mug that just arrived today! Woot, woot!
Smells decent, looks okay. Steeped… ermahgerd… this is dessert in a cup. I get the hazelnut and the caramel, mostly the caramel. Tea is an aftertaste here, but that’s okay for what this is supposed to be. Little bit of orange but not a lot. The caramel is a fresh, buttery caramel taste, too. Add just a little splash of cream and wow does it feel like a dessert! I would not serve this with any food course at a tea party unless it was just a plain shortbread cookie. And then you’d leave the table feeling utterly decadent. As flavored teas go, this is off the charts.
And since I consider this a fundamentally unserious tea, I pulled out the frou-frou. :)
Taking some time tonight with a couple of these in the little tortoise and hare teapot. And feeding the tea ibex. He looks pretty good with the cones on his back. :)
This tea is still excellent. Om nom nom. Smooth and mellow malt and deliciousness without any smoke.
This is very floral. The scent is really nice and natural, not artificial smelling like perfume, but like flowers. Rose and lavender were the foremost notes in the liquor, bergamot took midrange for me and the rosemary I’m not sure about. I prefer this before it cools. After cooling, it takes on an unwelcome sweetness with the pure floral notes fading. The tea base blends well with the florals, a mild strength black tea. Going to experiment a bit with steeping parameters. It was good enough to drink it all, but I feel like there is more to be had from this tea.
Oh my sweet T-Rex. This smells AMAZING. Snorting in the scent from the little sample bag it’s full of dried autumn fruits, brown sugar, and some hay. And the leaves are gorgeous. look like a moron over here at my desk with my nose stuffed deep in a bag. :)
Steeped, it turns into a warm leather, deep chocolate and yeast, sweet liquor with malt that is intense enough that I feel somewhat guilty drinking it at work. I don’t normally write tasting notes at work out here online, but I had to for this one. I must get some of this. More than a sample.
If I were being rational, I’d try this side by side with Assam Enigma and that other Assam I love from Golden Tips before I said I have to have a few ounces of this one. But rationality rarely enters into my tea purchases, I realize. I will, however, not buy unless it is on sale or with free shipping, so I should have at least a few days to do some testing. Harney seems to have had sales every few days for the last year or so. Some better than others, and not always a blanket X% on everything or free shipping, so I may have more time than I think. :)
Regardless, I am going to savor this sample.
Another to fit into random since I don’t think there probably needs to be an entry for an Ali Express seller that I can’t find in the database already. :)
This was the jin jun mei that I bought on 11/11 from Shanshuijian Tea Shop. I guess I wasn’t thinking about it when I bought. I figured I’d start my quest to find a replacement for Min River’s Jin Jun Mei and I was already ordering from this shop for a tea pet. This was acceptably priced during the sale. I did not register at all that I was ordering a pound of tea.
Good thing it’s pretty decent. :) I had 2 steepings at work today. Both Western style. Holy cats but this smells amazing in dry leaf. Malt, molasses, brown sugar and hay. First time was at boiling for 3 minutes. This is not the sweet spot for me. The smell of the dry leaf doesn’t translate well here. The taste was tobacco with some malt and mild smoke. It’s thick and savory with almost a saltiness to it.
Tried again in the afternoon for just off boiling for 2 minutes, about the same amount of leaf, 1.5 tsp or so. Super hot, it wasn’t impressive. I let it sit in the Libre for an hour or so, cooling down gradually. It was still hot when I tasted it again and paid attention but this time it was living up to the dry leaf scent. Honey, molasses, hay, malt… mmmm….
The true test is yet to come though. Have to try it here at home with my normal water and compare side by side with Min River. Even if it doesn’t replace that one, it’s plenty good. I still won’t use a whole pound of it in a year though. So if anyone wants any, holler and I’ll send you some, no cost.
Had a tea filled weekend but nothing new so I’m just going to log them here. :)
Harney & Sons – Golden Monkey, Nahorhabi Assam Full Leaf
Yunnan Sourcing – Yunnan Black Gold Spring 2014, Pure Bud Bi Luo Chun Yunnan Spring 2015
Mandala – Pure Buds
Teavivre – Superfine Tan Yang Gong Fu (sipdown after making a pot to share on Saturday)
Golden Tips – Assam Gold
Chai Me – Chocolatey Chai
Verdant – Golden Fleece
They were all excellently nommy.
And on a side note, this is how I know I have a problem. http://tinyurl.com/hqz239q
This box is stuffed full of Yunnan Sourcing & Mandala Teas, all with very similar flavor profiles. And one Yunnan from Silk Road Teas. :) For size comparison, that silver thing in the lower left is my scale and the cup in the upper left is about 10 ounces. I feel proud of myself that I did not place an order with any of those 3 companies this weekend. :)