2999 Tasting Notes
Week #4 of Tea 103 PT2:
These cuppings are from last Tuesday, I just felt too tired after class to break them down here on Steepster after going over them more in depth during class. Remember, the “theme” for the week was ‘pairs’ – so the last two pairs I had to cup were a lightly and darkly roasted oolong, and a 1st and 2nd flush darjeeling.
Starting with the oolongs; I think this was my favourite of all four cuppings that week. Both the light and darkly roasted oolong tasted absolutely phenomenal! The lightly roasted oolong was one I’d done during a previous week and my observations about the taste were basically the same thing. Umm, notes on that here:
Obviously, the visual difference between the light oolong and dark was the most noticable; from dry leaf appearance (beautiful forest green twisted leaves to a more mulched up, flaky roasted brown) to the infused liquour. The taste contrast was huge too; the darker oolong actually reminded me a lot of Butiki’s 1991 Da Ye Aged Oolong just not quite as nice but it had those wonderful petrichor, wood/bark, butter, dill, and roasted peanut notes I get from the Aged Oolong. Not gonna lie; that kind of tea could maybe be a bit of an aphrodisiac for me. Screw chocolate and wine!
The oolong pairing was the one I got to discuss in class too; so my teacher and the other students got to hear me wax poetic about oolong in probably just slightly too much depth for too long a time – but damn that pairing was wonderful. For exam week next week we have to do a presentation comparing and contrasting a ‘pair’ of teas (could be the Ceylons, Kenyan Teas, Darjeelings, Oolongs, or Chinese and Japanese Green teas) and this is the one I’m leaning towards doing, though I think it might be the ‘obvious’/easiest one just because of how drastic the difference is.
The last pairing for the week was the 1st and 2nd Flush Darjeeling; and to be honest I know Darjeeling teas I supposed to be very prized, but I just didn’t like this pairing. In fact, it was my least favourite of the week. However, I think I also learned the most from it – I wasn’t aware not all Darjeeling has that ‘praised’ muscatel note to it, and that’s actually a trait associated with 2nd flush Darjeeling. Visually, I don’t think I’d be able to differentiate the brewed liquor from one another but I was impressed with myself that I could tell the difference between the dry leaf: the 1st flush had greener leaf than the 2nd flush. Honestly, I thought I was reading into things too much with that observation but after the cupping I read the ‘follow up’ notes we had and that was the correct visual indicator, so go me. The first flush was my least favourite of the two (though not by much) – according to the readings from class most people find it to be the ‘superior’ flush of Darjeeling but the simple floral and mildly earthy flavour kind of bored me. The 2nd Flush was very raisiny – probably why I didn’t like it much either to be honest. That favour just doesn’t appeal to me. It also had some acidity, and a note that made me think of rye bread.
Also got more details about the blind cupping we have to do next week: this time I’m allowed to see the steeper liquor (I wasn’t for Tea 101) but I have to identify more than just the generic tea type: I actually have to pinpoint the variety and what makes it different. So, basically, I have to be able to say “Kenyan CTC” or “High Grown Ceylon” and not gonna lie I’m slightly stressing. I just hope my palate is good enough to pick up on the subtle differences.
Finally found a way to drink this that I don’t totally hate! In a last ditch attempt to make this a redeemable tea I added a few splashes of milk to the liquor post steeping, and it did wonders for pulling all of the flavours together.
The butter flavour from the oolong base, which has been my biggest complaint, was a lot more masked/muted and with the thicker, creamier mouthfeel because of the milk it felt a lot less oily and weirdly scummy and more appropriately thick. In fact, it kind of made me think of someone just beginning the process of churning butter – before it had gotten all thick, but was still just slightly viscous. The peach notes feel less ‘floaty’ too, and instead of being painfully juxtaposed to the creamy butter notes there’s a smoother bond where you’re transitioning from creamy, buttery and milky oolong to a more creamy, sweet peach flavour. No obvious disconnect between flavours.
This is 100% an improvement!
Today’s word of the day is… Vigilant!
Vigilant is defined as: “watchful to detect danger; awake and alert”.
Cold brewed the rest of my sample; it was like creamy orange sherbet with a fresh minty finish! I’m so happy I decided to revisit this one for the nostalgia! I absolutely wont be getting another larger amount of it like I did last time ‘cause then I’ll reach that point where I’m drinking so much I’m sick of it – but it’s a tasty tisane to have every now and then.
I got new glasses today! Well, sorta – I picked out new frames today. Two sets actually; one has black sides and a clear plastic front and the other is more of a gradient going from black to electric green from top to bottom. Both a sort of chunky, plastic style. I can’t WAIT until they’re ready to get picked up. I haven’t had new frames since Grade 11 or so; which was almost four years ago? I’m definitely a different person than I was then, and my glasses, which are an every day accessory should reflect that.
Still working on sipping down Butiki teas;
I made this one earlier in the week (and brought some for Chef Darcy to try too) and it was still pleasant as ever. Very, very potato-y in a comforting way, with warming fluffy cinnamon and nutmeg notes and a soft supple apple flavour. I don’t remember if I even did a side by side comparison between this one and the original Potato Pancakes version but between the two (I’ve got them both currently) this is totally the one I’m liking more at the moment.
To be fair, I think the Potato Pancakes version is much older though.
Tre just got home from games night and is slightly buzzed; the first thing he said was “it stinks in here” and truthfully that’s not a lie – but the reason it stinks is because right before he left he cooked a WHOLE BUNCH of shrimp and then left the dirty dishes in the kitchen. So the house is all… fishy.
I really, really hate when Tre tells me to do things though. Upon the revelation that the house smelled bad he asked when my next day off was – and it happens to be his next day off too. He announced he was going to clean and then told me I was too. You are not the boss of me! We are equals. He can ask me to help clean (again; I’m NOT the one who made a mess/left the house smelling foul) and I may or may not agree – however, I have eight cuppings to do on Sunday for class and I don’t have the time nor energy to clean up after him and be commanded around on top of that.
This sipdown was actually a bit of a let down; I decided to try something difference I’d cold brew the last two nettles – though not the full 25 oz. I normally do because that’d be quite watered down. Instead I did about 14 oz. but sadly it still tasted very weak. Like, very filtered, slightly peachy spring water? It was a sad experience. I may very well revisit this tea though because I found both hot times I drank it were really quite wonderful!
In other news; I got trained in another area at work today! I’m now going to be doing the ordering for all of the chocolate bars/gum/batteries faced in my department which is a pretty much daily job. I definitely feel good about the fact I’ve been getting increasingly more responsibility at work and more recognition at work, though it does kind of suck my job ‘title’ hasn’t changed and none of these new responsibilities have come with an increase in pay…
Still, praise/acknowledgement feels nice.
Thank you Liquid Proust for the sample!
I’ve heard great things about Dayuling Oolong; and I’m very happy to finally get the chance to try one! The high, high altitude at which this tea is grown (greater than 2500 meters) and limited quantity that can be produced because of the geographical location are a giant part of what makes this tea so special. At $20 an ounce, this isn’t the priciest tea in my cupboard but it’s certainly up there – I can’t help but cross my fingers and hope it’s worthy of the price tag. Thankfully I’m not the one who paid for it.
I have to say, the leaf is very beautiful; dry the rolled up leaf gives off a very large, ‘thick’ appearance and has a weight in my hands. After the first infusion I could see why; the leaves are so giant – some of the biggest I’ve ever had the pleasure to brew up. Almost every single one is a completely full leaf, and I even picked out a stem that had not one, not two, not three, but FOUR completely intact leaves branching off it. Just stunning!
I certainly wasn’t going to squander this sample by Steeping it Western Style; so I enjoyed a lovely evening Gong Fu session. Sometimes I feel I can get a little stuck in my head when I’m drinking tea or doing Gong Fu in particular and I focus too much on the technical side of things while trying to pick apart flavour – and I didn’t want to do that with this tea so I just kept doing infusions without really taking physical notes; and I just kind of let the tea ‘speak to me’ while I drank it. It’s so delicate and fragile with very lovely, complex nuances! Teas grown at higher altitude tend to be more complex because, due to the altitude, they grow at a slower pace – and that comes through here for sure.
It’s quite a floral tea, that’s for sure – while the infusions I did blend together I remember the first couple had really lovely, pronounced floral notes of orchid, lily, and a bit of violet as well. Incredibly well balanced though; not ‘perfumey’, forced or over the top in the slightest. Other things I noticed were this very cool, crisp freshness. I kind of instinctively want to call that flavor ‘the smell before it rains’ but I don’t know if there’s a technical word for that. I know petrichor is defined as the smell of rainfall on dry soil/earth (and that’s my all time favourite smell) but this wasn’t quite that: it’s the smell of rain before any has actually fallen. No earthiness.
This was such a pleasant, relaxing tea though! I’m not sure how many infusions I got in total but it certainly lasted quite a while and made my evening magical. Probably well worth the price tag just to say I’d tried a Dayuling, but all in all a very delicious, serene taste experience too. I definitely felt a little tea drunk/buzzed afterwards.
I made this hot in a timolino this time around; I really wanted to see what the flavor difference would be compared with the cold brewed version.
What I found was that this was much milder in general, and the green tea didn’t travel well with the timolino and was very masked because of hot light it was in the first place. However, both the strawberry and toasted rice came through and they didn’t clash like they were in the cold brew. Perhaps that’s because they were both much more muted and dull as flavors, so there was less ‘competing’ flavor overall.
Today’s word of the day is… Abashed!
Abashed means: “ashamed or embarrassed”.
Funny story; Tre just took a look at my mini calendar to see what the word was and instantly read it aloud as “ABBA Shed”. I corrected him, and he instantly became the perfect example for the meaning of this word.
I’m still trying to make this sample from Liquid Proust work for me…
I think my biggest problem is honestly the really rich, intense buttery notes from the base more than anything else. It’s too buttery and that’s a problem because other flavour notes like the roastiness, or lighter floral notes and notes of nuts are getting badly masked.
When I worked at a movie theatre, I remember this sort of ‘inside joke’ type thing where when staff went to the movies (as we often did, because they were all free) we’d get asked at concession ‘would you like butter on that’ with everything. It was a way of poking fun at management’s constant urge to up sell the butter. Well, there were a few times I actually said yes – just to do it. Butter in my sprite, on my nachos, and in a bag of fuzzy peaches…
This is kind of like that butter in the fuzzy peaches except it’s as if there’s more butter than peach candy. Actually, it’s like having a bag of butter and someone through in three or four fuzzy peaches. The peaches are an after thought.
Side note; don’t even get me started on those nasty ass bags of ‘butter flavored oil’ that we used for the free pumps in the lobby. If you’re going to the movies and you want butter on your popcorn pay the damn 50 cents for the real butter. Seriously; it’s fresh, comes solid like butter should and gets slowly melted down like you would at home for fresh popper popcorn. The free stuff in the lobbies is literally butter flavored oil.
I popped one of the bags (they’re like the size of a large bag of flour) by accident once while I was changing it in the lobby and totally wrecked my uniform by drenching myself in that nasty ass oil. I still gag thinking about how bad it smelled; and I swear I could smell it on me days afterwards.
I’ll end on a positive note for the tea though: at least it’s better hot than it is cold.
This tea has lost a little bit of it’s spark; but it’s still tasty. While the lychee isn’t as succulent, mouthwatering, and juicy as it used to be, one nice thing about that is I can better taste the nuances and subtleties of the base tea and I have to say I had a real appreciation for the floral notes, such as lily and orchid, which were present and the other light fruity tones such as peach!
Also, I really want to say thank you to everyone who tweeted with the hashtag #Stantec4TheHomeless for my Dad’s Homelessness Awareness fundraiser! Stantec committed to $3 per tweet or retweet up to a max of $7,500 and they hit that goal this afternoon! Currently, they’re sitting at about 1,500 nights of shelter raised! Also, I got a chance to talk to my Dad this evening and he asked me to pass along thanks to everyone on his behalf as well. It made him really happy knowing people in all parts of the world were hearing about SHRM’s fundraiser.