73 Tasting Notes
The last few days I already had a sore throat, but this morning I got up feeling a wrack! Fortunately, I could sleep a couple of hours longer, took a paracetamol, had a nice hot shower and this enabled me – just – to face the day. Slowly but surely trying to get things done…and then, a nice comforting tea comes in handy!
Snowball is a sample the nice people from Bluebird Tea co. added to my order and I thought this tea would be the perfect “comfort tea”…and it sure is! I used to like a good cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows, but it seems as though I grew out of it. Here I´m having this tea and as far as my – limited for feeling ill – taste buds tell me, this IS hot chocolate with marshmallows. The coconut adds nicely to the blend as well.
I´m not sure whether I´m still into having this type of tea on a regular basis, but today it did what it needed to do. For people who like chocolate drinks, this is by far the best tea based drink I have had up to now; for Xmas tea fans, this is a nice alternative w/o the spices. Contrary to other reviews, I don´t feel it´s necessary to add milk to the tea.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa, Coconut, Marshmallow
Finally managed to order some tea from Bluebird tea co. I bought mainly Xmas presents, but as a treat (and to get to the amount of zero post&package!) I got me this tea. I´m fond of rhubarb in all the possible appearances it might arrive in, and this combination (the custard addition) was kind of fascinating. It also got wonderful reviews and a “great taste” rating… I would therefore try it out as soon as it arrived…and there we are!
Generally I find rooibos quite boring, but as it isn´t showing off in this blend, I´m quite OK with it. The smell of the tea is brilliant…definitely the custard steals the show, and the rhubarb is blended in in a very subtle way. Steeping (for 4+ minutes) gets you a really nice drink, where the rhubarb gets to shine this time. So rhubarb in mouth and custard in nose, and the senses are glad, very glad. As far as I am concerned, this is a far better combination than the traditional Xmas blends (cinnamon etc.)…and less tiring as well.
Flavors: Custard, Rhubarb, Rooibos
Third tasting note and the end of the small tin I had. I enjoyed the tea, but I guess I expected (a lot) more, especially fragrances in the steeped tea. Although I had it steeping a bit less time today, it still didn´t avoid the aroma´s to largely disappear when steeping the tea. The drink is nice enough, doesn´t turn bitter rapidly when cooling, so is OK in this way, but I won´t buy a larger tin of this tea, no. Need to finish now some other small tins of Kusmi tea I bought at the same time as this Anastasia…
Flavors: Bergamot, Orange Blossom
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