411 Tasting Notes
I’m coming down with a cold (courtesy of my sibling—I just got back camping with them), but today while sipping this, I made a second steep (first at 3 minutes, which I overleafed I guess because it ended up being VERY strong, astringent, malty with the usual cherry-like berry taste I tend to get). I did a second steep at about 1 minute, getting again malt and cherry, not as astringent this time, but I got a very distinct menthol flavour in the middle of each sip; it didn’t linger, and was quickly overtaken by astringency at the end, with a very dry mouthfeel.
Okay, didn’t have the BEST experience in Teavana today. I’m told they’ve demolished that upselling/overselling tactic, but it still occurred, and he either ignored me or didn’t hear my meek little protest, and I ended up with more tea than I wanted. It sounded like the manager told him off for it though when I left…
But in the end, I’m not complaining because I’m liking this tea so far. He said it finished with caramel, and he wasn’t wrong; it’s a sweet, even-bodied tea that starts with honey and finishes with toasted honey/caramel. It’s bright, sweet, slightly nutty, not brisk, no astringency (granted I took the packages’ recommendation for three minutes to steep). I really have gotten worse at describing teas. This is a very mellow, sweet tea though. It reminds me of some Taiwanese honey blacks—specifically the one Davidstea offered for a short time. That one had a bit of smoke on it though, which was odd. I’ll play around with the steep times for this one in the future, though, since I do have a lot to experiment with.
Teavana has been ushering in a number of single-origin (or country/region specific blends, at least) teas lately, under their ‘Micro Lot’ tab. If their Taiwanese honey wasn’t $30 I would have tried that, although the curled, small leaf makes me think it would be quite similar to Davids’.
Just finishing off Harler’s second handbook, Tea Manufacture, and will be posting a review of it soon on teatra.de, with some comparisons to Werkhoven’s Tea Processing. General “Tea Guides/Handbooks” only offer a summarized view of tea processing and manufacturing techniques, so if you’re interested in processing in India and Sri Lanka, with some brief looks at other areas such as Georgia, I’d pick it up, as well as Harler’s other tea books.
Flavors: Caramel, Honey, Nutty, Toasted
This has always been my favourite, so when Soko’s was discontinuing pretty much everything but their flavoured teas (catering to the tastes of the demographic in the area), I went back and picked up a bunch of what they had left; unfortunately a lot of it was pretty broken up. Maybe it’s because it’s been a while since I’ve sipped it, but.
Rinsed, then first two steeps at 5-10 seconds (a mishap while pouring). The smell is thick leather, which is carried through the taste; there’s something like tobacco as well, the leather is chewy and a touch sweet, but there’s also a slight bitterness at the end of each sip, almost burnt, which I think is due to it being so broken up since I don’t remember it being as present in the past.
This tea was originally from camellia sinensis (Soko’s source), so I might buy a bingcha from them at some point of it, because I still like it as an everyday drinker non-pu “pu”.
Unrelated, I’m working on two, possibly three stupidly long blog posts. On unorthodox tea processing mainly, as well as another book review, and, if I can track down a source for a random fact/rumour, maybe a post on yue guang bai. We’ll see. In other news, scored an NES Advantage: https://66.media.tumblr.com/e3a6a9b5a49879288db89862ea0ad9e9/tumblr_o7flv66oLI1r78eh9o1_540.jpg
Third steep’s softened the bitter edge (it wasn’t strong to begin with); leather’s not as deep. More woodsy, I want to say. Fourth is similar, with it being more woody, with a sweet finish. It continues in a similar fashion for the next few steeps, no leather by about the third, just light and woody.
I got this one as a sample. I didn’t think they’d give out expensive tea samples! I just mentioned that it’d interested me for a while but was WAY out of my price range. It’s a ridiculously generous sample to.
It smells like a sort of thick woodsy amber—amber like the perfume scent amber—almost bordering on babypowder, I guess? Very perfumy. I looked into it, and oud is a type of heartwood that they let get attacked by a fungus, producing a strongly scented resin. This is a mixture of that (I think), cedar and tea flowers. Can only see the dried resin bits, though. Weirdly, no where on the wiki page does it say oud/agarwood/calambac is used in foods.
It’s surprisingly smooth tasting, with the oud/calambac sitting in the back of your throat after each sip. It does kind of overpower the taste of tea. It’s hard to describe, because it feels very one-note since I have no experience with… uh. ‘Oud’. There’s the slightest astringency on the back of the tongue, and something like cedar on the forefront.
I do like it, actually. But I’m not about to dump the money to get a few ounces. I drank it at five minutes earlier in the week (didn’t log), but four minutes smooths it out much more. Maybe I’ll try five minutes again next time to try and get a better idea of the profile.
Flavors: Cedar, Resin
So I ordered a tea book off of abebooks yesterday, went to check my email for the confirmation, and learned that my grandma found an interesting book on tea and would be sending it along. So… double the tea books. I’ve got way too many books.
That’s my preface.
This was kind of a gift! Some people are just kinda the damned sweetest. I wanted to try this and the chocolate cake one, because I’ve noticed lately that Davidsteas have been getting bogged down with a lot of “stuff” (one of the gripes I often have with Teavana), and this one didn’t look too bad.
UNfortunately, this reminds me strongly of Teavana’s S’mores. Because half the stuff I thought was tea was actually roasted carob. Again. Can we please cut this the hell out. The reason I like Chocolate Chili Chai and Red Velvet Cake is because they don’t contain carob, and do absolutely fine in their cakey chocolately taste without it.
So yeah, unfortunately this tastes more like carob than black tea, with a hint of waxyness—I think from what I can assume are white chocolate curls. The tea’s very cloudy, much like S’mores was. Smooth creamyness, maybe from the cloudy particles, might be the vanilla flavouring although there’s nothing that tastes straight up ‘vanilla’.
Sucks because it DOES smell good dry, but brewed it’s all carob chocolate instead of vanilla. It’s still nice and inoffensive, though I feel bad about not loving it since it WAS kinda a gift.
I dislike that Murchie’s has upped their 25 gram minimum to 50, and gotten rid of their loose-leaf 25 gram boxes. One of the most solid things about them an some of the other chains (yes, DavidsTea) is that their minimum was way more friendly/made it much easier to sample many teas at once without getting stuck with a tea you didn’t like.
At any rate, they still have the boxes of ten teabags, which I opted for even though I tend to find there’s a difference in taste between their fanningteabags and looseleaf teas.
I associate Canadian breakfast with keemun for some reason, but this blend is strongly assam. Actually, I just checked and it SAYS it’s keemun and ceylon, but this is so overwhelmingly NOT keemun OR ceylon. Maybe an african-grown assam, but still definitely assam. Strong and malty, and almost that overly-tannic berry taste. It’s still got a bit of maple, but it’s definitely a very strong, astringent tea, which might just be due to the teabag although I don’t know how to explain the tea-blend discrepancy.
Brewing korean greens in japanese teapots. What a world.
Worked out fittingly, since the first note I get is seaweed. It’s not bitter, but I was pretty careful about the water. Seaweed with something else vegetal. Definitely not sweet, and it tapers into a very mineral aftertaste.
I walked by Soko’s today and they had the rest of these out in their 50% off cart. So I guess they’re discontinuing them.
Well damn, I had to grab a tin then because I really do like this tea. I might have grabbed the rest of the tins… But I hate having more than 100 grams of any tea. It just feels like too much. I guess it wasn’t too popular—Kusmi never had the single-ounce sample tins for this tea, so I’m not surprised. I was lucky enough to try it way back when the owner of Soko’s gave me a spoonful. It’s always been an odd blend for me, but I’ve always liked it.
Since the last time I had a tin of this, and now, I’ve tried violet-flavoured sweets. Which, with the addition of sugar, are powdery-perfume sweet, but not unpleasant. This could definitely TAKE sugar, maybe even milk, but I like it as is. I made it a bit too strong this time around, but it’s pretty much how I remembered it. A bit like the sweets, minus the sugar, with a medium-bodied china tea base. Hunan? Maybe a bit of Keemun? I’m guessing, but there’s something smoky in that base. I still don’t know how to describe violet as a flavour, other than powdery old candies, maybe. Like the kind of sweets an old English grandmother might have.
Looking back, I might have rated this a little too zealously, but it is a personal preference. Might rethink that rating in the future.