2982 Tasting Notes
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.
That’s such a unique and fascinating flavour idea, and the minute I saw it on East Indie’s website I knew that I had to try it. For anyone who isn’t aware of East Indies Tea Company, they’ve got some really interesting and well executed flavoured blends. Their ‘specialty’ is probably dessert blends. Also, for people not aware they seem to be the supplier for most of, if not all of, Della Terra Tea’s blends – a company pretty well known for having wonderful flavoured dessert blends.
When I cracked open my sealed up package of this the smell was really overwhelming; I honestly have only had persimmons once or twice and I found that they tasted like a very sweet tomato, almost with an orange-y flavour. The aroma of the dry leaf certainly causes me to relive that experience; it’s intensely sweet and fruity with a strong citrusy scent that makes me think of really ripe mandarin oranges or perhaps very ripe mangoes. Visually, there’s lots of dried fruit (Persimmon? I wish there was an ingredients list for this blend) in the leaf as well as a multitude of little yogurt drop type things. All of this in conjunction had me very, very pumped to get this tea steeped up!
I gave this a nice, long steep to make sure I drew out as much flavor as I could and to also give the many yogurt drops time to fully melt. I was somewhat worried that when they did melt the liquor would either get a little oily or I’d get “yogurt scum” similar to what happens with melted chocolate chips but neither really happened and the liquor was very smooth and thick. The flavour was quite wonderful too; while I ultimately think the gelato aspect of the blend could have come across better, as it was basically just added creaminess from the yogurt drops, the persimmon was very well executed! Persimmons, simplified, are basically just very sweet tomatoes and that came through. I got that wonderful umami flavor that a tomato has that manages to linger all over your mouth, but also fruity notes that made me think of very, very ripe mango or either naval oranges or really ripe, in season mandarin oranges.
Anti-rooibos tea drinkers be warned though, while the flavor is strong and lively it doesn’t completely mask that rooibos base so expect to taste it alongside the lovely persimmon/citrus notes. But overall this is just a really wonderful, unique flavored rooibos and I’m extremely happy with it and definitely recommend trying it if you find yourself with the chance to.
This isn’t as fresh as it used to be, that’s for sure but it still produces a heavenly brew with wonderful honey, caramel, and waffle notes that combined create the illusion of stroopwafel. I did find some raisin notes creeping into the finish of this brew though; they can get the fuck out of here though: that’s not what I want out of this tea! It’s a delicious, sweet tea to enjoy any time, raisin aside.
I think I’m joining Stephanie’s quest to sipdown all the Butiki before it gets bad, starting with this tea…
This is a queued tasting note.
Hmm, cold brewing this one really made the lemon stronger. I actually liked the flavour; it was a very solid, intense lemon pudding/custard flavour but with just a little tartness/sharpness to it. It would’ve been better if some of the other elements of the tea had come through a little more and made this less monotone but it was a very, very solid lemon cold brew overall.
Lay’s “Do Us A Flavour” contest is back again – as with tradition I bought a bag of each kind of chip to test out; Americans have different flavours but for Canadians here were my thoughts on each:
My Favourite: Scalloped Potatoes.
While this is easily the least creative/original chip flavour this year (I mean it’s basically potato flavoured potato chips, right?) I thought it also tasted the best. Basically, picture the best cheddar/cheese potato chip you’ve ever had and then add the flavour of green onion/chives and sourcream. That’s what this is. Delicious.
Runner Up: BBQ Baked Beans.
I hated them at first, not gonna lie – but the more I got through the bag the more oddly compelling I found the flavour. It was savory, and kind of “meaty” (without being overly so) with a sweetness to it. Plus, they’re wavy chips and wavy chips will always be infinitely better than regular, flat ones. Also; ideal for dip! And this is a flavour that can easily support a good dip, like say French Onion? These were Tre’s least favourite, though.
Third: Butter Chicken.
I’ve never actually had butter chicken; I’ve never found a good vegetarian alternative to it, and I’ve been vegetarian so long that as a kid it was never a dish I wound up trying and even if I had I don’t know whether I’d be able to remember it? So with no real knowledge about what butter chicken should taste like I have to say I found the flavour of this one to be rather mild/flat and nondescript other than the peculiar flavour of cinnamon? However, this was definitely Tre’s favourite of the four.
And The Loser: Smoked Meat.
I actually thought I might like these ones, but they were just all kinds of awful. It felt like some amateur had just been incredibly heavy handed with the liquid smoke. They also tasted unbearably artificial and I found after eating about six or seven chips my mouth was even starting to feel numb! I ended up abandoning this bag at work in the staff room for people to try, so it never even made its way home for Tre to try.
From what I can remember, this was a pretty popular blend from Della Terra prior to the ‘shut down’ they’re currently going through; I think it was on my wishlist for a while but I was never at the point where I was dying to try it.
However, when I recently participated in a group order from East Indies Tea Company, Della Terra’s supplier, I got a chance to nab an ounce of this blend I was still fairly curious about it – and an ounce is the perfect sample size to really get to play around with a flavoured tea like this so I was on board!
My first taste was hot in a timolino; I was expecting a move obvious ‘carrot’ flavour though I’m not sure why since the flavor carrot cake is in large part made up of the spices and the trademark cream cheese icing. The carrot I did taste was mellow and sweet though; kind of ‘carrot juice’ sweet but more subtle. I also tasted some lovely, gentle spice notes: cinnamon and nutmeg specifically. I like that sort of ‘warming’ spice flavour that doesn’t go as bold as most Chai, or which doesn’t incorporate ginger. Bleck; who needs ginger!? The rooibos base was present and tasted both peppery, which detracted from the blend, and a little like graham crumbs which in a way added to it even if ‘graham’ isn’t a traditional flavor related to carrot cake.
Now the cream cheese frosting: almost as crucial as the cake itself if not more to be perfectly honest…
I had high expectations because I’ve seen from other Della Terra/East Indies Tea Co. blends (namely Monkey Bread) that they can be very successful executing this flavour and so I expected that to be represented in this blend too. And I think it was. The aroma of the liquor (dry, steeping and steeped) was spot on cream cheese – the flavour a little milder, but still there. The “tang” of the cheese is there, and I can feel it on the sides of my tongue. Sure, I feel it everywhere but it lingers the longest there. It’s creamy too, but more muted.
I don’t know what exactly I expected overall – it wasn’t this, but even still I found this to be a pretty exceptional tea and I’m happy my curiosity drove me to try it.