234 Tasting Notes
Another day of intense study, another black tea, and another delightful piece of music. It’s really crunch time for me, so I’ll keep this brief. Today, I’m pairing this malty black tea with more philosophy (but I don’t agree with the author today, so it’s a bit frustrating…), and I’m listening to Das Rheingold as performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Sir Georg Solti. Not the best recording, but I bought this when I was a little less picky, so if you know of a really good recording. please leave a comment.
Anyway, back to the tea, it’s very malty. Not as much as the Golden Buds that I was drinking yesterday, but it’s still the dominant flavor. The tea is a bit too strong yet to be classified as creamy, but I’d say that it will probably be next steep. Finally, the sweet aftertaste provides a nice smooth finish to complete the experience. It’s worthy to note that the tea is sweeter and a bit weaker than last time I brewed it, but not by a terribly significant margin.
As the forth scene of Das Rheingold draws to a close, so does my second cup of this tea. It must say that this was a singularly unique experience for drinking tea, but that might be due in part to the nasty weather I just had to deal with. Anyway, the malt flavor of the tea has begun to retreat a bit, and a wheat flavor has become evident. Also, the wonderful buttery mouth-feel has started to show itself, which combines with the wheat to give a sensation similar to taking a bite of buttered wheat bread, and letting it sit on the tongue. If you’ve ever done this, you’ll realize that it starts to taste sweeter the longer it sits there, kind of like how this tea has a sweet finish. Of course, you should take what I say with a grain of salt, as campus food leaves me longing for something a bit more flavorful…
As the the second act of Die Walküreplays (with an interlude of Byzantine music, see the comment from Bonnie for more info), the third cup of tea finally reached the right temperature to drink. The big developments of this cup was the malt flavor going dormant, and the beginnings of the peppercorn flavors beginning to show up in the aftertaste, lingering on the hard palate of my mouth. Unfortunately, I think this tea is past it’s prime, and I’ll probably only get one more cup out of these leaves.
Ah, the forth infusion of this tea was delightful in it’s subtleties. Most of the flavors of the tea are in decline, but the peppercorn flavor provides a delightful sensation as it dances across the surfaces of the mouth, and once again lingering on the hard palate. Unfortunately, there isn’t much else left for the flavor, so this is definitely the final cup. Surprisingly, one of the things that has stuck around until the (figuratively) bitter end was the buttery mouthfeel. Usually this little sensation would have been long gone from the tea, but that just goes to show how good this tea really is.
First of all, the music for today is the album Beethoven: The Late String Quartets by The Emerson String Quartet. Anyway, I was generous with the amount of leaves I used, and I let it steep a bit longer than usual, but the result of the first steep was still great. The tea is blacker than my ex’s heart, but very warming when you actually take a sip. The flavor is intensely malty, with some nice cinnamon undertones, which results in a pleasant tingling sensation that lingers on the tongue for about two minutes. It’s a very intense experience, and was perfect for waking me up (I’m barely sentient until I have my caffeine). Anyway, this tea pairs well with my music and my activities (reading a bunch of books and articles to study for finals), so I’m really glad that I picked it for today.
The second infusion is still malty, but the cinnamon as gotten more prominent, the taste has sweetened a great deal, and the overall experience is smoother. The aftertaste has a smooth, almost-mineral quality to it. It’s like the tea is starting to become creamy, but it isn’t quite there yet. This is probably due to how strong I brewed the tea, but I’m certain that the next cup will have the creamy goodness that I remember. In the mean time, I’m going to enjoy the current flavor as much as possible.
The third infusion is malty, creamy, and a touch spicy due to the cinnamon flavor. There’s no linen (not that I’ve ever tasted the illusive linen flavor of this tea before), and the citrus flavors hasn’t made an appearance yet. Regardless, it is a well-balanced cup of tea, where the flavors harmonize quite well. On a side note, I switched my music over to J. S. Bach’s Das Musikalische Opfer, a delightfully complex piece of music to complement the tea’s development. My recording is even better because it is a Historically Informed recording, played on period instruments with a tuning system that Bach preferred. The end result is an astounding. Anyway, the tea is getting more complex, and it’s various flavors mesh together well to create something greater than the sum of its parts.
This tea is great for editing a term paper and listening to Mozart’s Requiem mass (if only I had a better recording…). Anyway, I don’t have time for a full review of the tea, but I can say that the first infusion is a bit sweeter than last time, which results in a fruity flavor is making itself known. The flavor profile claims it’s currant, but I’ve never had currant before, so I don’t have anything to compare to. Regardless, this is delightful to drink, especially when frantically working on a paper.
The second cup was marked by an increase in the sweetness, the development of a floral flavor (Hibiscus? I’m not sure, because, once again, I haven’t had all that much exposure to this flower), and the completion of my paper! I’ve started to read a book You are not a Gadget: A Manifesto, which I need to read by Wednesday for my final in Posthumanist philosophy. I also had a delightful little discussion on classical music recommendations (see the comments, and if you like classical music, check these albums out.).
Anyway, music and philosophical ramblings aside, The tea continues to develop along the same lines as last time, providing a delightful experience. I’m actually kind of sad that my living situation doesn’t really allow for a gongfu tea set, as I would really like to experience this tea’s development in smaller increments. When brewed the western way, the flavor profile changes greatly between your steeps, and I’m sure that smaller steps would provide a more rewarding experience. For example, the first infusion was a delightful mix of dark chocolate, with undertones of fruit, yet the second infusion was much less chocolatey due to the strengthening of the fruit and the emergence of flowery flavors. The flowery taste came out of nowhere, but if I had been brewing gongfu style, it is likely that this flavor would have emerged more gradually.
The third infusion hasn’t really gotten malty, but the cinnamon is definitely present. It isn’t very strong yet, but it strong enough to be distinct. This steep is really complex, which means that I’m in the latter half of this session (which is kinda sad, but that’s how western-style breweing works. I really need to put some effort into getting a gonfu set…), and I can certainly expect the tea to gain complexity over the next two infusions. If I end up getting more than five, I’ll be surprised.
This is the forth and final infusion, mostly because if I wait longer, I’m going to have too much caffeine in my system to go to sleep at 1. Anyway, the cinnamon has developed nicely, but the chocolate is now gone. It is also interesting to note that the fruit flavors have changed. Again, the flavor profile claims it’s the appearance of raisin flavors, but I haven’t had raisins by themselves in years, and I certainly don’t remember what they taste like. Hmm, actually, that might make a good snack right about now…
Anyway, it’s still delicious, and I’m glad that I’m ending my day with this tea.
I decided to drink this to celebrate my last class of the semester. From here until the 15th, all I have to do is study like crazy for exams.
Anyway, I kinda forgot about the tea for a bit while watching a friend play a game, and the resulting tea was actually pretty bitter. To be fair, it’s still way less bitter than the 2011 sheng samples I have from Douji, but it still had a lot more flavors than usual. Hopefully I won’t flub the next infusion.
EDIT – Yep, didn’t mess up the next infusion, and the bitterness is gone! See my previous notes for more info.
Just a quick cup before class this morning. I don’t have time to write anything now, but I’ll probably update this note after lunch, when I have a few hours of peace.
I got a good five infusions out of these leaves, which is why it’s my go-to black tea. You just can’t go wrong with it. I particularly like how sweet it got near the end, as I had been generous with the amount of leaves I used, and had brewed it extra strong, and I was probably due for something sweeter by that point…
Anyway, run-on sentences aside, I’m gonna be a bit infrequent with logging my teas until the 16th, when my finals are done. Such is the life of a university student. Best of luck to the rest of you!
I’m backlogging this as I woke up this morning, and found out that 8 hours of work I did yesterday all went down the drain due to a freak accident involving how SAS saves files. Needless to say, the past 6 hours have been full of frantic programming, colorful cursing, and tons of tea. I think I got five steeps out of these leaves, but don’t quote me on that. Anyway, check out my first note about this tea for more detailed information.
It’s been a while since I had this tea, and as I decided to work my way through my remaining samples, I picked this one. It’s pretty good, and it’s certainly a lot better than most Jasmine teas that I get at restaurants, but it’s not great. It’s sweeter than some jasmine, but I still prefer my Japanese greens.