502 Tasting Notes
Alright, I’m willing to try this again as fall is approaching. It still smells like that bubblegum you used to get on Halloween from the old folks down the street.
I tried to dress it up a little with a splash of 2% milk and a dash of cinnamon on top. It’s certainly an improvement. The milk’s creaminess rounds it out, but it still doesn’t really taste like pumpkin to me. And there is still no spice at all, aside from the cinnamon that I added. How can you call something “spiced” when it’s plain? C’mon, Adagio, I trusted you!
Today I ventured back to the First Oriental Market, as I’m low on plain black teas and I wanted to try something new. This was very well in my price range, and my past experiences with black teas from the Fujian Province of China have been good. Also, I admit, I love pioneering teas that are new to Steepster.
The packaging is mostly in Chinese, so a lot of the details are lost on me. But it comes bagged, and it smells like it’s going to be a strong, no-nonsense black. I can’t detect any distinct notes just from the scent of the bag. The leaves themselves are black and crushed up like most cheap bagged teas.
It brewed up dark in four minutes, reddish amber with a malty, honeylike aroma. The flavor is surprisingly smooth and very malty. Almost creamy in its aftertaste. It’s milder than I expected, but enjoyable. Like many Fujians I’ve tried, it has a hint of cocoa in it as well. I’m happy that I have a whole box to go through, and I look forward to having this in a tall iced glass.
Finally got around to trying this flavored Keemun.
The tea itself is lovely. Dark brown leaves mixed with red and pink chunks of lychee and whole dried raspberries. There also appears to be some kind of red flower petal mixed in. It smells incredibly strongly of lychee. Like perfume, roses, and red fruit. I can kind of smell the raspberry as well, but the lychee buries it.
The flavor is similar. Lychee, lychee, lychee like a punch to the face. The rose flavor, which I believe is coming from the lychee also, is very present. Peppery almost, but not as strong as a plain black rose tea. The raspberry is there, but you have to really feel for it. Same with the flavors of the Keemun. I think next time I’ll give it another minute to see if the black tea will make more of an appearance. Either way, this is interesting, and STRONG.
So, I’ve been playing around with this tea and I have discovered something worth mentioning. Unlike a lot of Earl Greys and things that are similar, like this, Melange does NOT hold up well as an iced tea. It loses a lot of its subtle flavors and something about it being cold just breaks up the harmony. So, fellow Steepsterites, this is your warning. Make this tea iced at your own risk.
Backlogging from a few hours ago when Steepster was down.
I had been saving this tea for last, as I am a bit crazy for Teavivre’s regular, non-organic Bailin Gongfu. Upon opening the packet, I knew I was in for another treat, as it smelled just like the regular version. Strong, malty, chocolatey. And so on my shopping list.
This version is almost identical to the other in looks and taste, except that it has a slightly more “toasty” flavor. But this is very welcome, for such a hearty black tea. It would make the perfect breakfast cup, in my opinion. Powerful, dark, and bracing. This could easily be my favorite unflavored black tea. It’s what I’m going to be comparing other Fujian black teas to.
I also want to note that in the second steep, the leaves lost a bit of the cocoa flavor and tasted more nutty and toasted.
I got a sudden craving for chai tonight, so I made myself an iced cup.
This kinda another dud by Peet’s as far as I’m concerned. I was happy to see the cinnamon bark and ginger pieces when I made it, but their flavors are weak. The coarse black tea they used overpowers it. When I go for chai, I go for something heavy on the spices and complex. This will do for now, but it’s making me really miss Adagio’s Thai Chai.
A few days ago I went back to Cozee Teas because they seem to have the best selection of bulk loose leaf teas in my area. (And bubble tea!) The place was looking nicer, more organized, and was beginning to get that Decatur feel with local art for sale on the walls. I hadn’t planned on buying anything when I went in, as I mainly wanted to take a peek at what black and bubble teas were available. But two of the teas caught my eye and at a very reasonable price, and I had to have them. So I picked this and a Raspberry Litchi black. And I’ve got my eye on their Vanilla Chai Spice.
When I opened the package to sniff, I was reminded instantly of Adagio’s Earl Grey Moonlight. It smelled like a strong Earl Grey with an equally strong scent of vanilla. That vanilla was not hiding in the background. The taste is very much similar. Lemony vanilla with a black tea that stands up for itself. Ceylon, I think, but it’s hard to tell over the vanilla. Anyway, I’m having it iced and lightly sweetened and I’m really looking forward to trying it hot.
This is another one I’ve had my eye on for a few months. I was thrilled when it was offered to me by Angel at Teavivre. I’ve previously tried their Keemun Hao Ya, and I loved it. While it was smoky, this doesn’t smell smoky at all.
The dry leaves are particularly dark, almost black, and extremely thin and long. Like brittle spider legs as I measure them above my slightly cooled water. They smell very strong, pungent even. Once brewed, the tea smells like honey and wood with a hint of something that kinda makes me think of pumpkin.
The taste is intriguing and delicious. This is a rather strong black tea as far as Teavivre’s lineup has been so far. It makes me think of a malty puerh. I’m going to give it maybe three minutes and thirty seconds next, in hopes of making it even stronger. Must experiment. But for now, I think I liked the Hao Ya better.
I had to have some more this morning, so this was my take-to-work tea of the day.
The first time I reviewed this, I was drinking it hot. Today it was cloudy, but still very hot outside, so I went with iced. It takes on a whole new dimension when it’s cold! When chilled, a distinct honey flavor emerges, and the fruitiness takes a front seat. I was reminded, strangely, of pineapple at first. I’m not sure where that was coming from, but I liked it. The following fruit flavor was a little more indistinct. Fruity, but not a specific fruit I could name. Anyway, if you haven’t tried icing or coldbrewing this tea, I think it needs to be done before you run out!
My third round of Teavivre teas arrived today! I couldn’t wait to get home and get started.
This is my first Golden Monkey. I know, right? How could I be such an avid black tea drinker, but missing out on this? Anyway, I opened the packet to smell it as the water heated, as usual. Faintly smoky, with hints of cocoa, hay, fruit, and malt. So deliciously promising.
Even after only two minutes, the tea was a dark red amber. It smelled less smoky and more malty, still reminding me of fresh clean hay. The taste, of course, is fantastic. It reminds me a lot of some of Teavivre’s other black teas… they all have a distinct cocoa-like taste that I’m starting to think may come from their tea region itself. It’s delightful, and I haven’t tasted it anywhere else so far. But it’s difficult to describe. I know it may seem weird, but it kinda tastes the way a new, clean piece of printer paper smells. I’m also getting the yam/sweet potato taste others have mentioned, and I really like it. This is such a savory, satisfying black tea.