3772 Tasting Notes
I feel like I’m a little late to the hype train when it comes to this tea but oh well…
Had a very pleasant fifteen infusion gong fu session with this tea after getting back from filling out passport information today. Trey had a friend over and the two of them sat with me during my session and we had a very intense conversation about American politics throughout so no tea and music pairings for this session
the few people who regularly read my tasting notes all collectively breathe a sigh of relief. In the same vain, I didn’t take my normal amount of notes while drinking this either because I was with company and I can’t ever really let them know how insane I am when it comes to tea. If I whipped out my laptop or a pad of paper to take physical notes then Trey would NEVER let me live it down. Also, just because I was talking politics doesn’t mean I want to talk politics now: I firmly believe talking about politics is important but it also gives me a headache because of all the stupid shit going on. And, for me at least, this tea community is my moment of peace/zen during the day – so the fewer headaches the better.
So, from memory…
Infusions one to four(ish) were a bit rougher; they had a very mild sort of roast to them, and underlying honey notes. Kind of what I originally interpreted as a wood flavour; but now that I’m thinking on it more consciously it’s a bit more like the smell of crunchy autumn leaves. Which, I know, makes NO sense as a flavour but that’s EXACTLY what it is. Fucking poetic flavour descriptors being so… poetic.
Infusions four to like eight(ish) were much lighter on the already light roast notes and then eventually not even really roasty at all. Lots of mild sweetness/honey though! But not really just honey; also kind of an agave like flavour, which is to say it tasted just a tiny bit caramel like/caramelized. Underlying fruit flavors such as raisin and lemon/lemon peel. All quite soft in terms of presence, though.
Infusions eight to fifteen were so delicate overall. Still a lot of honey in regard to flavour, just very lightly delivered in the sip. Finish was just the slightest bit lemony which was nice alongside the honey notes. Infusions twelve and thirteen were given to Trey and Gauge (Trey’s friend who was over talking politics with us) and they both found it very lovely although weren’t able to isolate any flavour notes. I’m not surprised; infusions fourteen and fifteen were SO soft to me that the flavour was barely detectable at all. Had I pushed for a sixteenth infusion I’m certain it would have just tasted like water.
Overall, very much liked this tea – it’s not often I push for so many infusions when brewing Gong Fu. I am surprised that I barely registered the “creamy” flavour that so many seemed to have observed. But the honey aspect was definitely DEAD on. There weren’t really any infusions that lacked that flavour.
EDIT: Also forgot to mention that my
small Bitterleaf tea order came today so I got to enjoy this session using one of my new teacups. This probably isn’t the best place for a teaware review, but…
This is the cup in question: https://www.bitterleafteas.com/shop/teaware/cookies-and-cream-partial-glaze-teacup
I have to say that it’s just a BEAUTIFUL cup aesthetically speaking. I loved the way the liquor looked in the teacup, and the glaze itself is so charming and perfectly named. It’s also well balanced in my opinion, and sits very nicely which IS something I was concerned about because of the shape of the base. Only complaints are pretty small all things considered: it’s pretty heavy as far as other cups in my collection go, which is a very small thing. The other thing is that the ‘lip’ of the cup is very thick and it felt just a smidgen awkward drinking out of.
But that said, I still want like four more, so…
Picked up a 10g sample of this one yesterday when I went to DAVIDsTEA as well as the Cherry Blossom infused chocolate bark, which I’m sure I’ll review at some point as well.
I actually thought that I hadn’t tried this one before which is why I grabbed it – but I’m seeing now that I’ve reviewed it twice. Huh, guess it genuinely didn’t make an impression. Going into a tasting, it’s never a good sign seeing you’ve actually tried something before but you can’t recall it. Generally that means a tea is average, at best…
Anyway, my whole 10g sample went towards a big cold brewed pitcher of this one. And despite being really hesitant going in, I think the flavour pays off in a big way for me. Recently, I had a very good Sour Cherry flavoured gelato and I’m drawing a lot of comparisons between the gelato and the tea: very bright, sweet and candy-like cherry notes with a cross between maraschino cherry richness and just that hint of tartness/tangy quality that really makes the flavour pop. In addition, this is very floral and rosey which gives it a softer feel despite a bold flavour. Flavour pairings are fucking awesome like that. In addition to the obvious cherry and floral notes, there’s another sweetness in the end of the sip that I’m interpreting as marzipan, and an overall subtle creamy quality that reminds me of french vanilla. Mmm! I find it hard to believe that this version wont make a lasting impression…
In terms of other tea related ‘pairings’ – I’ve been really into tea and music pairings as of late. And no word of a lie, I took my first few sips and IMMEDIATELY changed what song I was listening to because this one came to my mind clear as day:
Something about Evan Rachel Wood’s voice… It felt like cherry blossoms.
Midday cuppa that I had forgot I’d made, so I drank it at that weird lukewarm/just about room temperature state. I hate tea at that temperature. Hot? Yes. Cold? Yes. But room temp… ugh.
More orange than anything else. Very little mint in general, and that’s kind of all I have to say about that. Song accompaniment for when I drank said lukewarm tea:
I’m kind of really into the idea of pairing tea and music, right now…
Ok, so my last review of this included some interesting wording for some of the flavour notes. In particular, I believe the words “cat dander” were used? Did you just cringe? Yeah; can’t say I blame you because ew. Who wants that in their tea?
Well, made this one earlier in the morning before going out and filling passport information and I have to say that it was incredibly improved. Seriously, I’m not in any way sure what caused the difference but this was 100% improved. For starter, there was no off putting cat dander/shedding pet hair vibe. Instead, I got a light taste of anise/fennel and then a mostly fruity/apple body and finish with a tiny touch of roasty chicory in the aftertaste. Can’t help but wonder if knowing the ingredients this time around helped at all?
Anyway, thank you VariaTEA for the tea even if it was a bit of a head scratcher.
Honestly, this is such an incredibly rich tea and I’m really feeling that as I’m drinking this now.
I know, I know: caffeine before bed… It’s not that it’s bad; it’s just maybe a little too much for me right now since I don’t have the biggest sugar/sweet craving at the moment. Kind of tastes like chocolate on chocolate on chocolate. Or, to be less abstract, like I just ate a big mouthfeel of Devil’s Food cake batter and chased it with a bigger spoonful of creamy chocolate frosting.
Of course there are more dimensions than just chocolate; a roasty element and a sweeter nutty flavour that personally I think tastes like walnut. Chocolate is just the most dominant one in every way. Maybe I’d enjoy this cold brew better were I in a different mind set currently?
It just felt much more balanced as a hot tea.
Hmm, I thought I’d tried this one before?
Totally possible I’m mistaking it for another tea though as DT has had so many different coconut blends…
Made this one up at a pot tonight; it’s one of the samples I grabbed in stores today. It brewed up a really pretty pale silvery colour which was nice to look at but honestly not the kind of colour I ideally want in an oolong (even a flavoured blend). Just kind of gives the impression there’s not a whole lot of oolong to be tasted. And such was the case; this had very prominent creamy/buttery coconut notes and a sweetness I’m going to attribute to the melted down white chocolate but very little in the way of base. Pretty basic, boring flavour to be honest. Though, my
equally basic roommate loved it, so there’s that. He’s easy to impress though. I’ve yet to find a tea he doesn’t like.
Biggest complaint from me, though, was the mouthfeel. So, so, so oily! Basically like coating the inside of my mouth in melted down butter. Such an oil slick, honestly. That’s such a huge turn off of mine – but one I’m willing to put up with if the flavour is there. Except it’s not with this blend. Ba humbug.
I do have the rest of the sample cold brewing for tomorrow – and I love most cold brews with coconut so I’m hoping I wont be as disappointed trying that version.
Took me a while to find the generic bubble tea entry…
Stopped at the mall on my way home from work; wanted to see if there was anything at DAVIDsTEA that interested me for the 40% sale. I ended up getting some tea infused food stuffs (review on that to come when I eat it) that I was hesitant about prior to the sale. Also some small samples. One of my friends at the store (Who is moving soon! Who am I gonna get info about unreleased teas from!?) told me that there’s a smaller collection getting released on August 2nd; they’re really cracking down on employees blowing the whistle for unreleased teas though so she couldn’t tell me what the new teas were though. She does know my tastes PRETTY well though, and she said there was at least one in the collection she was sure I’d be interested in. So, call me curious…
After my stop there I also grabbed band-aids ‘cause, like an idiot, I injured myself at work again. I was sorting through a bin of donation are really deeply cut the tip of my index finger on my dominant hand. D’oh! It’s making typing tonight a really big chore. One of out supervisors wanted me to go get stitches, just to give an idea of how deep it is. Learned my lesson and filled out an accident report – though this time is was glass (broken candle holder) and not metal so hopefully no itchy and unsightly complications this time around…
Final stop was for bubble tea! I was torn between watermelon and taro, but eventually settled on taro ‘cause I wanted to try a different companies version of it since I’ve only had it once. Still delicious; really like the subtle sweetness of it. It’s very refreshing and satisfying. One complaint about this particular place (can’t even remember the name; something with Sushi in it – it’s kind of your generic food court sushi place though) is that they used WAY TOO MANY tapioca pearls. Like, a third of the cup was pearls. Which was just so overwhelming. I ended up discarding a lot of them ‘cause there was too many for them to evenly disperse in the ’tea’ while drinking…
Flavors: Sweet, Taro Root
Hard this one on the commute to work because I found myself craving a darker, more roasty oolong this morning…
This was Western style, so it was a bit different than my Gong Fu session. Still, I found it very enjoyable and I was even able to pick out (in my sleepy early morning haze) some flavour notes that were pretty unique. The big thing with this one is that the start of the sip starts out very roasty with mineral, slight char, nutty, and wood-y notes accompanying. The body is definitely pretty unique; there’s a subtle creaminess but also a lot of more savory/umami notes like dill, sea salt, and salted butter. So much salt. Also, this is MAYBE a weird observation coming from a vegetarian who has no actual memory of what real crab/lobster tastes like
and I’m told the vegetarian version doesn’t do the real flavour justice but I found the finish of the sip rather marine with crabby/crustacean-y notes. I felt like I was drinking the broth/stock for a crab based soup or stew, to be honest. Totally not a bad thing, though – it was delicious!!
How old is this tea!?
It doesn’t taste old or stale; when I cracked the tin open tonight I got such an intense aroma of black jellybeans that I melted inside a little. However, scanning through my tasting notes for this tea I think it must be PRETTY OLD. At least a year old if not older, but it’s hard to say…
The flavour is solid though: it’s basically a simple but rich licorice note with just a hint of the rooibos base underneath. I’m drinking it alongside my late night supper which is shell pastas with a thick sauce made with almond milk, garlic, figs, balsamic, and chevre so I knew that I needed a strong flavour in order to compete with the intense ingredients in the sauce (mainly the garlic). It’s not exactly a perfect pairing but it works well enough.
I had a thought when drinking this though; this is a pretty savory dish and it triggered a memory of salted black licorice that my mom brought back from Norway/Poland when she traveled there for school. To be honest, I fucking hated that salted black licorice BUT I’m wondering if I could achieve a better version by brewing up a cup of this and adding a tiny pinch of sea salt to it. Salt is a flavour enhancer, after all, and my tastes have changed A LOT since trying that salted licorice. I mean, that was like six years ago!?
Food for thought, anyway…