70 Tasting Notes
Opening the 7 Indian teas my husband got me in Bangalore one by one, getting now to the ones I might like least. This ginger green tea, according to the package, contains 10-12% dry ginger (powder). “San-Cha´s Taster has fortified the Indian green tea with the world´s finest Indian ginger.”
I´m not such a fan of ginger, as it often completely dominates the taste (I´m not so bothered when it dominates the smell), although I´m rather convinced of its properties to help digestion. I´ve also heard it can help fight colds. So yes, I sometimes drink ginger tea. However, most of the time the ginger tea comes from a tea bag. This must be the first time I drink loose ginger tea. When opening the packet, I couldn´t distinguish the ginger : I see a broken tea with some dust, I smell a green tea. As soon as the tea is steeping, ginger aroma´s start to appear. The presence of ginger in taste is quite secundary, which I can applaud. You can easily drink a second mug or even a third. Absence of bitterness overall.
Flavors: Ginger, Green
The third tea of the teas bought by my husband in Bangalore. A “simple” green tea (i.e. it doesn´t have special aroma´s, it isn´t blended), so it seems. The packet claims that Indian green tea is richer in antioxidants than Chinese green teas, “as researched by health scientists”. It also says : “Made using the traditional Chinese panning process, our special selection has a touch of smoke and is fuller bodied.”
I´m personally not too worried about which tea and which level of antioxidants is recommended, as long as it tastes alright. I tried this tea a few times, steeping it between 2 and 4 minutes and overall the tea is lightly coloured, has little bitterness (at the higher steeping times, the last sips are indeed bitter, which I think is normal), and has quite a full body for a green tea. My main objections against green tea in the past were the grassy mouth-feel and the bitter finish, which I don´t observe here, at least when keeping the steeping time low and when drinking the tea not too cold. I don´t know whether this is due to the green tea being Indian or having more antioxidants, I guess I just almost never drank good quality green tea before. In comparison with the Chunmee variety I tried earlier (see previous tasting note) however, this is a very “thin” tea, without a well defined tasting profile.
This is the second tea I try of the 7 teas my husband brought home from Bangalore.
As I´m not such a green tea fan (I think this might change with these 7 green teas), I wasn´t familiar with the “Chunmee” type. From Wikipedia I read : “It has a dusty appearance and is generally more acidic and less sweet than other green teas. It was originally produced only in the Chinese Jiangxi province, but is nowadays also grown elsewhere. … This ever popular tea has a bright flavor, light tangy sweetness, and a toasty warm clean finish, making it an excellent green tea during the day or night, with a nice well-rounded flavor and aftertaste.” This is thus clearly a Chunmee tea grown in India, and I cannot see the dusty appearance which is mentioned. No, the tea leaves seem bigger than in other green teas I´ve tried. As far as the tasting is concerned, I had the tea steeping for about 2 minutes and found its taste indeed well-rounded without any bitter or too grassy aftertaste, even when you leave the mug unattended for a while and the tea has cooled down when you take your last sips. The grassy aftertaste has always been my worst part of drinking green teas so far and I´m very glad to know there are also green teas which don´t show this.
The package doesn´t give a lot of practical information, but it does says : “For a healthy skin. Diets rich in polyphenols may play an important part in slowing down the ageing process. The Master Tea Taster has selected Chunmee young tea buds since young buds are richer in antioxidants in conjunction with traditional sunscreens may protect the skin from ultraviolet radiation.” I´m quite sceptical about these health claims, but as the tea tastes nice, there´s no reason to drink it only for the possibly healthier skin you might get ;-)
My husband went to Bangalore for his work, and spoiled me with 7 packs (100g each) of Indian green tea blends from San-Cha. This blend contains green tea and a fairly high amount of rose petals (>10%). I used to buy a rose petal-black tea blend from Taylors of Harrogate and the difference is clearly the proportion of the rose petals. While the ToH blend is definitely first a black tea and the addition of the rose petals is subtle, here the rose petals dominate not only in aroma´s , but also in taste. The label didn´t give any information about steeping times, so I had it steeping for 2.5 minutes. The resulting brew could easily perfume the living room. Very floral and fortunately not grassy at all…you would almost forget this is a green tea!
It´s been an exciting tea discovery last week… this is the second tea to be found in my ChaTale tea box and a first for me, as I had never taken a dark tea or pu erh before. I started looking for information about the product and the way to prepare it (should I loosen the mini cake first or just pour boiling water on it? do I need to rinse it? can I reuse the leaves and if so, how to adapt the steeping time? …), and discovered some interesting youtube videos : http://www.charteas.com/Buy%20Puerh%20Toucha%20tea%20online%20at%20Charteas
Pu erh is a type of tea which has undergone fermentation, and this “detail” makes that pu erh actually can age well. I don´t have information about the age of these mini cakes, but I do know this was a unique tea experience and I really liked it. Maybe the only thing I didn´t like that much was the bloating effect this tea had on me twice during the course of using a single mini cake (and I reused the leaves four times in all).
So, finally, my pu erh experience was as follows : I heated water to 100ºC, used the freshly boiled water to give the mini cake a quick rinse (10s max.), and inmediately poured new boiling water on the mini cake which I then steeping for 2 minutes. I used a ceramic mug with a (ceramic) tea filter which can easily be taken out, so I just withdrew the filter and the loosened cake in the filter was inmediately ready for a second brew. The first brew was very dark, the aroma´s of the tea were quite strong and reminded me of wild mushrooms (I adore wild mushrooms, so this was definitely a positive thing). The taste was quite strong as well, with a very present smell and taste of something having undergone a fermentation. Logical of course, but I was impressed : the tea tastes completely different from anything I´ve tried before! About half an hour later I steeped the pu erh a second time, by pouring freshly boiled water over the tea filter in the mug. I had it steep 30s longer (so, 2.5 minutes in total) and the colour of the tea was similar to the first brew. Not a lot of change in taste and smell either. The 3rd-5th brew I made the day afterwards. I guess the tea might have lost a bit of its qualities, but I must say that the 3rd and 4th brews were still very nice (steeping for 3 or 3.5 minutes by then). The 5th time (steeping time of 4 minutes) the result was clearly inferior, and almost no colour developed.
As it was my first time drinking pu erh, I didn´t have a reference, but I liked the experience and look forward to trying other pu erh teas. I might buy a larger cake, but I need then to get some more material (tea needle, tea knife) to loosen the tea leaves. http://www.teavivre.com/info/pry-pu-erh-tea/ tells you a lot about this process.
Flavors: Mushrooms, Peat
Recently I discovered there existed something as a tea box subscription, and I started to compare different plans by different vendors who send to the UK. I decided that I wanted to give ChaTale a try and subscribed to their Yummy Breakfast plan (always including an Earl Grey tea). I had barely paid for the plan when I received a mail from ChaTale that their tea box subscription plans weren´t going as well as they had expected and that they were stopping it. A wonderful start to my decision. On top of this, my box got lost in the mail, and so I finally received a replacement box about 1.5 month afterwards. This was the Earl Grey tea which was included in the box. The smoky aspect is very subtle, which gives it the huge advantage not to need milk. I followed the directions in the box and had the tea steeping for 3 minutes. The aroma´s from the tea are very gentle and in a way, you get a similar impression when drinking the tea : smooth, aromatic, almost velvety in the mouth. This Earl grey isn´t strongly citrusy, neither does the smoky touch dominate…it stays very well balanced indeed.
Flavors: Earl Grey, Smoke
This is a tea I have since quite a while and I think it might have lost most of its fragrances, as I cannot find any trace of the bergamot. It´s very herbal, both in smell (of loose tea and of steeped brew) as in taste. Green tea still very present, and absolute need to limit the steeping time to a minimum (1-2´) as the tea gets (too) strong easily. Definite taste.
Flavors: Grass, Green, Herbaceous
I need to agree with some other opinions written about this tea : these are excellent tea bags (in my opinion most probably the best quality and taste you can get from a teabag available nationally in a major store)… and when I finished the first box I bought (without writing about it in steepster), I bought another one. As someone else said : the Kenyan tea is quite strong, and in UK this implies mostly that people add milk…I like my tea black, but indeed, better steep it a short time if you want to avoid it getting too strong (I don´t really think it gets too bitter, it gets “deeper” if that makes any sense). It´s quite funny : when I bought the tea, the cashier at M&S told me that he had lived in Kenya and that he really believed that one of the better teas (and coffee) came from there, but that in general they are underrated. The strength of the tea is rated as 2, and I agree again with a comment I read on steepster that some teas rated 2 actually seemed smoother than some rated 3 (the same applies for M&S´s single estate Rwandan Rukeri teabags). I compare both with coffee (as I like it : strong and full-bodied).
Flavors: Coffee, Smoke, Smooth
There we go again : it seems that autumn has arrived already! More of a reason to get this spicy chocolate tea out, as I consider it a bit as “comfort tea” ;-) Especially when the weather is sad. As my partner asked to have some tea – very exceptional!!! – I decided to make a pot. So much nicer as well, or at least so it seems. Spicy and chocolate in a not overwhelming dose which I can only applaud. Yesterday, I prepared oxtail and I added some chocolate to the sauce, and what a – subtle – way it is to enhance the flavour! Well, here it is similar, I believe. So, I´m rating this tea a bit higher this time as well…
Flavors: Chocolate, Cinnamon, Clove
Yesterday I prepared some rhubarb compôte, one of the little pleasures of life, if you ask me… I adore rhubarb, its fibres and especially its sour touch, and how it seems that when adding sugar that sour aspect can survive and taste like only rhubarb can taste. The wonderful thing about being in UK is that the rhubarb season (which ends late June in Belgium) goes on a lot longer and even now – at the end of August – , I can still get the rhubarb at Farmers´Markets. It freezes brilliantly as well, so I´ll have some stock for the winter months.
And so, when having finished preparing the compôte, I thought I should look for that aromatised black tea with rhubarb I still had…somewhere! And I found it! It´s getting to the end of its shelf life (best before date : 8/2016) and especially the rhubarb has sort of disappeared from the taste. In the nose you can still get it (together with the strawberry). One of the aromatised black teas I really love is Marco Polo (in France you can find it everywhere : the better known is a Mariage Frères blend but I think – cf. Thé des sages – they deliver it to a lot of tea shops all over the country) where the caramel blends in nicely with the black tea. Why do I mention this here? Well, this tea reminds me a lot of Marco Polo, and adds an extra delicate berry finish to it.
While I´m a bit sorry to notice that with time the rhubarb addition to the tea has disappeared from the tea experience, I´m also quite happy to get a closer alternative to the Marco Polo blend (which I don´t have currently in my tea collection). For the rhubarb touch, I´ll stick to the compôte…
Flavors: Caramel, Rhubarb, Strawberry