2986 Tasting Notes
This is a queued tasting note.
Cold brewed this one just to try something different than having it hot. I think a latte is probably the next thing on my list to test out…
I think the cold brew had a much more full flavour. It was sweeter and the cream cheese frosting/icing element was really well captured and conveyed. There were still spice notes, stuff like cinnamon and nutmeg. All of the ‘warming’ spices, really. The ones you’d dash into a cup of hot cocoa to make it feel ‘toastier’ and more comforting. I want to say the carrot tasted sweeter and stronger too – still in a ‘carrot juice’ sort of way, with the sweetness.
Man, writing that last tasting note for Midsummer Night’s Dream has me tearing up a little; I’ve come a long, long way since I moved here to Saskatoon – this city has been amazing for me, it truly has, but I still have really rough days, weeks, hell even months. It’s amazing the way we can associate so much with one tea just because of an experience we had drinking it.
But anyway; I made this a few days ago and it was pretty good. I realized I’d ignored it long enough that I wasn’t 100% sure if the coconut was still alright but it didn’t taste funky at all so I’m thinking I’m still in the clear. The taste was divinely and strongly coconut, caramel, and mulberry with just a hint of sweet hay from the silver needles. The mouthfeel, unfortunately, was very very oily though. I should have added a splash of milk just to hide that a bit better.
I drank this while watching Kingsman: The Secret Service. I’d heard a lot of good things about it but just hadn’t set time aside – and I’m really glad I did. Everything I anticipated it to be was everything it wasn’t and the comedy and action scenes were just… Gold. Just like this tea.
Seriously; the whole thing was wonderful!
At one point, when I was still a relatively inexperienced tea drinker, I bought 100g of this and I really did love it, then during the process of drinking that 100g I fell out of love with it. Lately, however, I’ve been having the intense urge to revisit it – can’t really explain why…
So, this most recent trip to DT I picked up 10g of it; I was a little disappointed today when I realized as I was steeping everything up that I didn’t get any gooseberries in my dry leaf. I mean, the gooseberries are what makes this blend really unique and not just another ‘run of the mill’ orange/mint pairing.
But that said, I did really enjoy it – the spearmint was lovely and soothing and the orange notes very realistic and creamy with the rose-y, floral aspect on top of that making for a really relaxing, therapeutic fruity cuppa. In the moments spent sipping on this today it felt really worthy of the Shakespearean name and romanticism attached. I’ll never forget the first need I drank this one either; I’d tried less than 30 different teas in my lifetime but I was still just as fascinated by tea culture as I am now (just much less knowledgeable), and I was still using tea/tisanes as a method of emotional therapy.
Fair warning, this is about to get sappy.
A note for that first time I tried this doesn’t exist, because I hadn’t joined Steepster yet. It was August 31st, the night before I moved to Saskatoon and five days before I made my Steepster account. I was in a really dark place. At what was probably around midnight I steeped up a cup of this in one of my grandma’s dinky little china teacups with a teaball (because at that time I didn’t even know there was another way to do it) and sat on my couch in the living room after spending my ‘last day living in Regina’ with someone I, at the time, thought was gonna be a lifelong friend. We had watched a movie at the theatre, where I had been working and he currently worked at, had some tea at DAVIDsTEA and I did some shopping, attempted to go to the art gallery (but it was closed), and had supper at the restaurant Tre was working at back then.
As I sat on the couch watching Whose Line reruns I just started crying; about leaving people behind, worrying I was going to move and not be able to make it on my own, about some stupid crush I had at the time which seems pointless now, and just because I was very, very depressed and at a point where, had I not moved, I might not even be around now writing this note and reflecting on that time in my life. What matters is that, in that moment, this tea was there for me and just the right thing to get me through that night.
Why did I stop loving it?
I doubled up on the teabags from Scheherazade because I made a very large, 16 oz. mug of this last night – I was experiencing some insomnia and thought the jasmine would be relaxing and help me sleep. It just tasted really ‘cheap’ and chemical to me – and no, not just because this is a bagged tea.
Despite not loving the jasmine notes I actually liked the green tea used in it though; it was light and buttery with a peachyness to it that I found really pleasant. If anything in the blend relaxed me and helped me get some sleep it was that aspect of the tea.
When I was at DAVIDsTEA yesterday the barista asked me, since I’ve tried so many of the teas on the wall and many discontinued ones, which my favourites were – and I replied truthfully that Cranberry Pear and Blueberry Jam have been two of my favourites for years, but it made me realize I haven’t had either in a while…
So, I set this one up to cold brew when I got home and it was my first tea of the day today! It’s still so good; this brew was incredibly sweet and fruity with really bright, tart cranberry notes. When I strained the leaf I could see all the once dried cranberries had swelled up so big they looked like they were going to burst! The gentle tartness of the cranberries then subsides and you can taste the mellow creamy pear which is the last thing you taste with the sip.
Still loving this one.
Continuing to sipdown Butiki teas…
This one’s special to me because it was the first Butiki blend I ever tried – and you know what? Even with any entirely different prep method it’s still every bit as good as the first, mind-blowing time I tried it.
Today’s word of the day is… Nullify.
Nullify means: “To cancel; to render or declare legally void or inoperative”.
My Dad and my nephew were in town yesterday, so before work they took me out for tea/brunch at my favourite restaurant in town – it’s called Prairie Ink and it’s located inside a McNally Robinson’s which just makes it infinitely better in my opinion. What’s better than tea and books?
I ended up getting a pot of a loose blend called “Ruby Chai”; since McNally’s has this huge Tea Forte display I incorrectly assumed that it was a Tea Forte blend but I just checked both the Steepster database and Tea Forte’s website and they don’t carry a blend by that name so who knows what the company was, hence why I’m logging this here…
Anyway; as someone who’s not really into Chai that much I quite enjoyed this one. Probably ‘cause the clove in it was very intense, as was the cinnamon but the taste of ginger was incredibly mild. It also used a rooibos base which I wasn’t expecting (but I suppose is probably where the name comes from) though I do think it provided a nice change from the little Chai I do drink, which is typically black. It was a relatively simple blend overall though and just right for brunch with family before work.
Stopped at DAVIDsTEA on the way home, after work, yesterday. I was hoping to get one of the samples of Peanut Butter Cup that they were giving away but I was a little too late and my store had run out; despite that I still ended up grabbing 10g of Midsummer Night’s Dream – a blend I used to love and wanted to revisit, and a
free 50g of Ceremonial Matcha as well as this tea, as an iced latte!
To be perfectly honest, I really hated the last DT flavoured matcha that I tried and I hadn’t intended to try another one but when I saw that the ingredients for this blend didn’t include coconut sugar but instead used cane sugar I figured I would give this a chance to see if it was any better. Of course, since I had it in store I can’t really say too much about the dry leaf – one of my biggest problems with the mint matcha was how incredibly clumpy the dry leaf was and I don’t really know if that’s an issue with this tea. For what it’s worth, it did stay relatively suspended in my iced latte and at the bottom I wasn’t met with a whole bunch of matcha which had sunk back down. I mean, that could be because a lot of this tea isn’t ‘matcha’ but the sugar acting as a filler but that’s a whole ’nother thing…
One thing about matcha in milk is of course it always kind of mutes the flavour of the matcha and I definitely was surprised how mild the mango tasted in comparison to everything else, and while I do believe that was partially because of the milk I also watched the barista include four perfect teaspoons of matcha which is so much more than I ever would have myself so you can’t entirely blame the milk for the mild mango flavour.
That in mind, I really enjoyed the flavour of the matcha – it was very creamy with pronounced marine notes like seaweed and a kind of ‘ocean’ freshness as well as a bit of a grassy or ‘hay’ flavour. Really delicious; and a huge step up from the Mint Matcha. I also just have to note how pretty this latte looked; it was this really lovely pastel green kind of colour and just really aesthetically breathtaking.
Overall; I’m still not jumping on the DT ‘flavored matcha’ bandwagon but I do think this is an improvement (though I’d be happier if DT stopped presweetening my teas for me) on their first batch of matchas which used that coconut sugar.
Got a jump start on this week’s cuppings for class; something cool about this week was that one of the sets of cuppings was a ‘blind tasting’ where we steeped a bagged and a loose leaf version of the same (or at least very similar) English breakfast for a person of our choosing and had them both review the tea, but also determine without knowing which is which what the ‘better’ was.
Because he’s really the only person I have easy access to, I used my roomie Tre as my guinea pig for this tasting. Just some background information for anyone who doesn’t know: Tre is not a tea drinker, and when he does drink tea it’s what I’ve picked out specifically for him and generally with a lot of added sugar. For the purposes of this tasting, he didn’t get any sugar or milk with the teas. Also, he’s a chef which you would think means he has a more refined palate but in all honestly I’ve never met someone with a weirder one. Anytime I have him blind taste/smell something he’s either simply off base or just not even in the right field to begin with.
So here are the highlights from this tasting:
When it came to the loose leaf version, he said that the colour of the ‘tea water’ (liquor) was obviously a lot lighter, which I somewhat agree with. While I don’t think the difference was drastic, it was noticeable. As far as the aroma he claimed he couldn’t smell anything but hot water. Which… I don’t even know how, but I digress.
When it came to describing the taste, he very accurately described the feeling of astringency without knowing the name for it – which I told him. He said this sensation was “mild” and when I further probed whether or not he liked the feeling he said he did. That it “felt like what tea should feel like”. But I could not for the life of me coax out any other flavour descriptors other than the astringency and the super not helpful “it tastes like tea”. No Tre! Break it down! However, saying that would’ve been like shouting at a wall so we moved on.
When it came to the bagged version there was the obvious flip regarding the liquor; “It’s darker than the other one. Almost black”. Well no, not black – just a nice rich red/copper kind of colour. As far as the aroma goes he claimed it ‘reminded him of Earl Grey’. I’m not entirely convinced he wasn’t just throwing out what tea terminology he does know. Seriously; what knowledge he retains about my blathering on about tea astounds me. The other day he correctly used the term ‘chawan’ while I was making matcha, but he thinks he tastes/smells bergamot with an English Breakfast? He has one weird palate.
But going further into what he tasted with this blend, he said the astringency (at this point he had been taught the right term) was “more powerful and long lasting” and he called the tea “slightly sweeter” but again I couldn’t coax any more out of him other than “it just reminds me of Earl Grey”. Doh!
I then had him guess which cup was which and he correctly did so, and finally I asked him which he preferred, to which he replied… The bagged tea.
What a tea pleb. But seriously; his logic behind the bagged tea was that it was better because it tasted stronger, and more like ‘what tea should taste like’. I guess taste is a subjective thing and I’ve got to understand that, but the way he processed each cup just seems so… Weird. I wish I could experience each of them the way he does. It would surely be an enlightening experience.
Since he didn’t feel like drinking both full cups I ended up taking a sip of each after he’d left. Now, to be fair I knew which was which but I thought the loose was definitely better. The astringency was pleasant, there wasn’t any bitterness and I could taste the nuances, like the malt and bread notes, better. The bagged, on the other hand, was really harsh and brassy and the amount of astringency kind of made me gag. How anyone could interpret that cup as tasting “sweet” has me seriously perplexed.
Also, again, Earl Grey!?
Summary of Tasting Notes from the last three cuppings for Week 3 of “Tea 103”:
The final three cuppings I had to do were an Orthodox Assam, 2nd Flush Darjeeling, and a lightly oxidized oolong. Regarding the oolong, my ‘prof’ said she wasn’t 100% sure what kind of oolong it was, but that the flavour profile was very similar to Tung Ting. I actually liked all three of these teas, which means when combined with the Pai Mu Tan I did earlier in the week there wasn’t a single tea I didn’t like – though I’d definitely say the darjeeling was my least favourite and the oolong my favourite.
The Orthodox Assam had very generic Assam notes; malt, cocoa, honey, etc. so nothing really particular to note with that one.
The Darjeeling displayed characteristic Darjeeling notes; a muscatel/raisin note which was really pronounced with this one and some spicier/cinnamon type notes. But the most note worthy thing was the strong metallic taste – it reminded me of pennies. When I brought this up in class today I was told I was probably interpreting the astringency and the way it made my mouth feel as metallic – and honestly I kind of felt like that generalization devalued my taste experience. I’m familiar enough with ‘astringency’ to know it when I’m experiencing it, and this brew wasn’t actually really astringent at all. More than that, what we’ve learned in class is that astringency differs from bitterness because it is a feeling and not a flavour, and I not only tasted those metallic notes but I could smell them too.
The oolong was really lovely; the quality of some of the leaves/teas we’ve cupped have been a bit questionable (I’d call out the black teas over anything else, to be honest) but this was definitely a very nice oolong. The leaves were very long, and finely twisted up and were this really beautiful dark green colour. The flavour was initially very floral, but transitioned into a smokier toasty finish with really pronounced buttery artichoke notes. Absolutely delicious! And, I get to taste the same tea again this week so I’m really excited for that.