260 Tasting Notes
Steepsterites, I started going through my dashboard, realized that I have way too much to catch up on, then realized that I have a lot of tea to log, and then realized that I have email from a week ago that I still needed to respond to, and then realized that it was already 1:30 AM.
When did that happen? It was 11:00 PM two minutes ago! I demand to know where all that time slipped away to. Probably somewhere on the island with Jack and Sawyer and Kate and Desmond. Mm…Desmond. But I digress. [Again.]
Anyhow, you’ll have to bear with me as I slowly, slowly, [or maybe not so much, because 14-odd days of logs is really daunting] try and catch up with what’s been going on in the Steepster-verse. I feel like I’ve finally nailed a decent rhythm so far as school goes, but I’ve got a bit of crazy week coming up and so I’m just letting you know I might be fading in and out a bit [not unlike AT&T’s wireless signal – I’m sorry but I couldn’t help it; their commercials have been driving me crazy]. Okay, on to the tea.
I’ve had some pretty bad Earl Grey in the span of my tea drinking experience. For me, most Earl Greys tend to fall in the middling to bleh range. Andrews and Dunham’s definitely doesn’t land with the majority.
Is this the best Earl Grey I’ve had? No. But it’s solid. The bergamot is visible, but not overwhelming, and I found the finish to be sweet. Overall, it was a very smooth tea, though I did notice it getting a little bitter as it cooled.
I don’t think that this is going to be an Earl Grey that knocks people over with wow factor [especially those drinkers that are more discerning in their Earl Grey tastes than I], but I also don’t think it would be disappointing. It’s one of those teas that I’ll enjoy drinking until it’s gone, but doesn’t scream for a re-order.
O hai, Steepsterites.
I have been buried in school, but I wanted to stop by and say hello and catch up.
So…how’ve y’all been?
Right. Apparently I’ve forgotten how to write in my time away so you’ll have to excuse the abrupt awkwardness of this log.
Also, I can’t stop drinking this damn tea.
No, seriously, it’s buttery and grassy and sweet and I love it and I can’t stop drinking it and we’re gonna get married. The past three days of tea for me have consisted of kukicha, ryokucha, and sobacha and not much else. Cha cha cha. Hahaha.
Oh god. I…I don’t know.
This wasn’t the best time to come back here and post something. My brain is still reeling from the incomprehensible explosion of WHAT that was the Dollhouse series finale tonight. I just said it to my friend, but nobody, ain’t nobody can do bittersweet like Joss Whedon.
At least I have another addiction that I can turn to now that the book of Dollhouse has closed. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go drown my sorrows in another cup.
I was at a loss. I wanted to try this tea really badly, but I also had to go to class. And then I remembered that I had that travel tumbler from Teas Etc. that Steepster Select ran a while ago.
Class actually wasn’t bad, but I was going in sleepy and I credit this tea to keeping me fully awake for three hours of lecture. This is going to have to become a regular practice of mine.
So, the tea.
The tea kapowed me in the face with scent when I opened the tin. I almost half-expected to see a little cartoon splat with WAP! in it. It was almost stronger than Samovar or Harney & Son’s Jasmine Pearl teas smell, which is kind of impressive if slightly overwhelming. I was a little bit afraid that the tea would judo chop my taste buds, but I steeped it, dumped it into my travel tumbler, and headed out into the cold.
And so I sat in class, listening about the physics of acoustics, and I unscrewed the lid on my tumbler.
Smells good. Strong, but good. It didn’t have that artificial tinge that some jasmines can have, which was a very good sign. Good good good good good.
Took a sip, tentatively. It was in that lovely temperature between hot and lukewarm that tips just a little bit closer to hot. The taste of jasmine filled my senses and, after it had been downed, that lovely perfumed sweetness tickled my breath when I exhaled. I had to suppress a little giggle and concentrate on standing waves for a bit, before returning to the tea.
I managed to time finishing the tumbler with our break in lecture [for which my bladder thanked me] and found myself wishing I had more to sip on during the rest of the lecture. It probably ended up working out well, though, because the caffeine kept me awake and I would have been wired if I’d had enough to last me through the end of class.
Jasmine Green wasn’t pretty strictly jasmine tasting, and it was not a quiet, lullaby-like taste. It was more Whitney Houston power ballad – you know, old school Whitney. I Will Always Love You Whitney. This doesn’t have some of the other notes I’ve gotten out of jasmine tea – like the cocoa notes I sometimes get in Samovar’s; it’s really a solo act. But like Kevin Gillespie in Top Chef has proven – keeping things simple and doing them well can be pretty damn effective. And this tea plays that hand with skill.
Series three has hit the ground running.
This is going to sound awfully staged, because Auggy and I just had a small conversation about how she was wishing that Andrews & Dunham’s Ceylon had a bit of a fruity note in it. She had specifically mentioned raspberry.
I’d suspect that this could be a potential victim of the power of suggestion, if it weren’t for the fact that this tea had an undeniable note of raspberry in it. I have yet to have had a Ceylon that has had this much depth to it. Other ones I’ve tried had been rather one note. [I think teaplz likes to use the term “default black” and that is what I think of when I think Ceylon. Or was. It’s changing now.]
Every now and then, I get a little hint of bitterness that almost hinges on a kind of metallic taste [that I think is the coppery tang they reference in the description]. But otherwise, it is very smooth, with that default black taste and fruitiness.
I’ll have to watch out for the honeydew and burnt sugar next time steep this, because I was somewhat distracted when I was drinking this and didn’t make it to a second steep before having to run out and finish some errands. I know this, because my “notes” [if you can call them that] read as such:
200F | 4 minutes
pay attention next time
and steep it again
You know what? That sums it up rather nicely, so I’m just going to stop.
Oh, except to say that Samovar has samples available on some [not all] of their teas now. Holla.
Part of me was a little frightened that I would actually like this tea enough to cause me to actually put an order through with Adagio. I’m not sure whether I’m relieved or disappointed that it wasn’t.
Chai for me has become very much a drink that reads of warmth and comfort and that is what the base of this chai said to me. However, the lemongrass was just a little too dissonant for me. Lemongrass speaks to me of spring and summer and is a refreshing, clean taste. Chai does not. I was having trouble connecting the two in my mind. Part of me feels like it shouldn’t have difficult, because chocolate and mint are kind of in the same family of combination, but maybe it’s because chocolate and mint are so ubiquitous and I’ve gotten used to them.
Anyhow, it just wasn’t gelling. And then I got some coconut shooting through the taste and that was the clincher that made me decide I wouldn’t be ordering this again. I’m learning to like coconut [I am now in love with the macaroon], but coconut milk is still something I can’t quite cope with and that’s what I was reminded of when I tasted it in the chai. I have some hanging out in the fridge, so maybe it will make more sense to me chilled.
This is all splitting hairs and everything, because really it isn’t bad. The fnal verdict is that this is a good chai, but it’s not going to knock out any of the other ones I enjoy. I can see why people like it so much.
What would a log of mine be without a wayward analogy? [Don’t answer that.] I’m just going to lay it out here at the start.
This tea reminds me of Sudafed. Not because they taste similar, but stay with me. When I was younger my mom used to give them to me and my brother when we were congested and I liked the way they tasted. One time I was feeling particularly petulant [possibly upset because I had to stay home and miss something fun at school – that’s not something that really happens any more] and she gave me a Sudafed and a little cup of water. I told her I wasn’t going to take it and she told me that if I didn’t I was going to be really uncomfortable that day. So I grabbed at it and put it in my mouth and stood there, pouting. Then she said, “You’d better swallow that or it’s going to taste bad.”
I did not [and still do not on occasion] deal well with people telling me to do things.
I stood there, glaring at her, arms crossed, and didn’t swallow it.
A few seconds later, I was spitting it out on the floor and rubbing my tongue with my finger. My mom laughed at me and said she’d make me some jello, and I smiled sheepishly and took another Sudafed.
If you’re wondering what this story has to do with this tea, it’s because it starts out nicely but I found that it has a kind of nasty finish. It’s a shame, too. It smells amazing – somewhere between caramel and kettle corn and I was pretty excited to drink it.
In sipping it, it starts out tasting as advertised – that delicious sweet and salty combination you get from caramel, with maybe a little bit of a roasty note swimming beneath that is reminiscent of popcorn. And then I gulped it down.
it was bitter. Sour, almost. And actually, lightly reminiscent of what Sudafed tastes like if you melt far enough through that red sugary shell. It wasn’t happy, and I found myself taking sips of the tea to try to combat it only to be greeted by the far less appetizing aftertaste on the finish. It was an unpleasant little vicious cycle it pulled me through, right to the end of the cup. I would have stopped altogether, if I hadn’t been holding out hope that it would fill out as it cooled. No such luck, I’m afraid.
All in all, the aftertaste wasn’t HORRIBLE, but it did qualify this tea as being something I’m not going to order. I have a little bit left, so I’ll try it with sugar, or maybe some honey. But I’ve got a couple of other caramel-tasting teas that treat me better, so I’ll be sticking with those unless adding some form of sweetener kicks this up to mind-blowing.
I’ve gotta thank teaplz for sending me this, because it is for sure something I would have ordered without thinking [I mean, it’s called Cream Caramel – which is the equivalent of a talking puppy jumping in front of my face yelping “CHOOSE ME!”] and would have ended in annoyance. Here’s hoping the remainder of my sample ends up sparkling.
Auggy was drinking this a couple of days ago, and so I decided to drink it as well, as I’d also gotten some from teaplz. [Folks, it took me literally five minutes to structure that sentence to a point where it made sense so please bear with me today. I also just typed out “sentence,” as esetnce, senetence, setence, sentece, and pony. I don’t know what’s going on this week, I’ve got a really bad case of the mental klutzes.]
I was expecting something like Decaffeinated Chai Agni. That, this was not.
I should have been expecting it after reading Auggy’s review [which I am now perusing again and is bringing me to realize I’m about two days behind on logs]. First of all, at times it smelled like Red Vines [best red licorice ever]. Red Vines, but also…peanut brittle? Maybe? It was something specific, but I couldn’t quite place it and whatever it was that I was smelling was not matching up with what I was expecting to smell.
When I started sipping it, all I could think at first was, “Yep. This isn’t chocolate.” When I began to try and place what it was, all I could think of was that toffee, caramel-like, brittle-taste. I’d almost call it butterscotch. Somewhere in that general family of tastes was where this landed for me.
And then the chili started to arrive, like a train approaching in the distance. I could feel its presence in little pwiffs on the tip of my tongue, and then it grew in volume where it was undeniably there. Luckily, it remained at a volume where it was enjoyable. In that aspect, it reminded me quite a bit of the Decaf Chai Agni [and thankfully, not of the Mayan Chocolate thing].
I’d like to say that I was able to find some chocolate in the tea, but I don’t think I did. At times, I thought I might be tasting it, but it never grabbed me enough to be able to say anything definitively. What I did taste, when I thought I was tasting it, wasn’t a dark chocolate, or a cocoa, or a good milk chocolate taste. It wasn’t Godiva, and it wasn’t even Hershey’s, it was like…Russell Stover. Or Fannie May. Not that I want to rag on those two companies, but in the hierarchy of quality chocolate I’d pin them near the bottom of the totem pole. It’s not that they’re bad, they’re just…no Scharffen Berger. So I’m going to officially unofficially declare that this tea had no chocolate taste for me.
When these two things came together [and it’s possible there were more components to it that I just wasn’t able to pick out], I didn’t really know what to think. Forgiving the absence of chocolate in a supposedly chocolate tea [which was a bit of a high hump to climb over] the tastes did not marry well in my mind. When I think butterscotch sprinkled with chili powder, I do not think, “Oooh, NOM.” And that is what I was essentially tasting. To repeat the mantra that I seem to be using for many of these types of teas that fall in this category for me, “It wasn’t bad, it was just…not good.”
The chili on its own was nice. That was at a good level. I wish I had gotten some vanilla bean from it like Auggy had, because I can see vanilla and chili possibly working together well-ish.
I can’t paint my face and jump up screaming in the stands for this tea. I’m not even sure that I’d sit there and half-heartedly wave a flag. But I’ll go to the game and drink a beer. And if they want me to hold up one of those colored cards to make some kind of picture message at some point, I’ll do that, too, even if mainly because no one likes the dead-pixel-a**hat who refuses to do even that. This metaphor is out of control. I’m going to end this log.
There was something off about this tea.
The smell reminded me of medicine, for one. I think that it had to do with the fact that so many medicines are “berry” flavored and the vanilla aspect of this for me contained the alcohol-ish aspect of vanilla extract.
The taste was marginally better, though what I mainly got berry out of this and I wanted more vanilla. The vanilla taste that I got, when it occasionally decided to surface, gasping for breath in the sea of nondistinctive berry flavor, didn’t really taste like vanilla. It was more extract-like, to begin with, but even the creamier aspect of it wasn’t quite vanilla flavored. Looking at the list of ingredients, I think that it’s because this contained white chocolate [which I usually like, but am not sure how I feel about it in tea]. I also think that a lot of the medicinal taste came from an unfortunate combination/balancing of the hibiscus, the rooibos, and the currant that are all supposed to be in this tea.
Maybe I just got a bad spoonful. I’m hoping that’s part of it, because I couldn’t resist trying Caramelized Pear again and it wasn’t nearly as good the second time around – not as rich and caramel-tasting, mainly pear, and the rooibos was coming through that time around. I think it was mainly because I was getting kind of the dregs [I didn’t have any apple pieces in that one, though teaplz isn’t to blame as the sample she sent me was taken from a sample].
I apologize because I’m beginning to confuse myself here as I’m kind of behind on logging the new teas I’ve been trying. To put this into some semblance of order, I tried Vanilla Berry Truffle, was disappointed, then had Caramelized Pear a couple of days later and realized that it might be because I wasn’t getting a good array of physical components into the actual tea.
Though, re-reading teaplz’s log, she wasn’t terribly happy with this tea either. So…
I don’t know. I’m having a weird day. I’ve been having these moments where I get songs stuck in my head, and then I hear them over loud-speakers when I go out or to run errands [often muzaked]. It’s been making me feel like I’m on an extremely boring version of the Truman Show. And trying to transition from doing f***-all to studying is leaving me murky and smogged. My chi has been Los Angeles’d. Does any of this even make sense? What is a horse shoe? What does a horse shoe do? Are there any horse socks? Is anybody listening to me?
I wasn’t taken away by this tea, but it wasn’t horrible. It was bizarre and imbalanced, not unlike this review. It was yellow slanty-mouth on the Steepster sliding scale. So that’s where it’s going.
I picked this up on a whim when I was in the grocery store the other day. I won’t lie, it was because I thought the box was pretty [but it also helped that I’d had a good experience with Mariage Frères previously].
The dry leaves have a strong scent, reminiscent of the great Marco Polo experience of 2009 [ah, 2009] except instead of smelling like Strawberries on Steroids [coming atcha in 2011] it smells like Cherry Blossoms on PCP. So, delicious.
The scent actually reminds me of a few things. Grenadine, for one. Also, some types of gum. Extra, maybe, or Bubblicious. But most of all, Mr. Bubble bubble bath, which my parents would not let me or my brother have anymore after one of us dumped half a container in the bathtub. [I still maintain that it was him.]
Taste wise, this tea is light, like sugared flowers. That kind of light. It’s sweet, and that stays with me in the aftertaste and pulses in intensity as I breathe in and out.
It actually reminds me of Ludens cough drops, which, as anyone who has them may be aware, can be most accurately called candy. They do not taste like cough drops. I am 98% sure they are just candy and have little to no medicinal value. They taste a hell of a lot better than regular cough drops do as a result [if you like candy, that is] and I would beg my dad to bring some home when I was sick. [He often did, on the condition that I actually ate one real cough drop for every three Ludens or something like that.] Anyhow, this tea reminds me of that, just with the volume turned down a bit.
If I were to sum up this tea in one word, it would be sparkling. It seems to shimmer with sweetness, and has this almost nectar-like quality to it.
Mariage Frères didn’t offer any insight for steeping, so I put it in for three minutes, drank about a third of the cup, stuck it in for two more, and then drank the rest. The three minute mark had more flavor, so next time I’ll try a full cup there and probably continue to play around with some more steep times and stuff. I know that I’m tired because in that previous sentence, I wrote “but so and,” so…I’m going to stop here.
Oh, except to say that this note is based on the 3 minute steeping because I liked the flavor better there.
Okay, but so and good nighting!
I was thrilled to receive a tea swap package from the lovely teaplz recently and this was in it.
Pear tea is not something I’ve had a lot of good luck with. It’s my favorite fruit [thinking about the validity of that statement and deciding it’s definitely true], and therefore it’s not something that I’m going to be satisfied with if I have to reach for in a tea. [Kind of like the elusive pumpkin, I suppose.] I don’t want it to be light and floaty, though light and floaty pear done well is better than artificial or this ain’t pear. I want it to be in my face and smack me around a bit.
The fact that this combines with my favorite dessert flavor [thinking about the validity of that statement and deciding it’s definitely true] means that this tea could easily be my Icarus. It could soar up high on the warm air currents and then tumble silently before crashing fatally into the sea.
Fortunately, this tea is like Icarus’ happy ending. It’s the Icarus Remix. Pears have a relatively short season where they’re really good [or at least it seems that way because I can’t get enough of them when they’re around] and this tea is going to become like crack for me, especially when pears aren’t in season. I’m already calling it, everyone. When I get really effing weird on Steepster [weirder – that is] and start spitting nonsense, it’s going to be because I’m either out of Ryokucha or this tea. Look forward to it.
Take a second to travel to Imaginationland for a second with me here. Think about a nice, ripe, juicy pear. You know, where they’re in that state of limbo between firm and mushy and when you bite into it you have to have a towel on hand [if you care about that kind of thing] because you inevitably end up making a mess. Now, cut that pear up into little half inch cubes and stick them in a bowl. You still with me? Okay, now there’s a saucepan on the stove to your left. It’s got some caramel sauce bubbling in it – deep orange-brown, bubbling, thick, and satiny. Give it a good stir, cut off the heat, and let it cool for a minute. Excellent. Take the caramel, and pour that all over the pear bits. The whole thing. Don’t hold back. Stir everything around gently, do not smush the pear.
Now, take out a spoon. Put the spoon in your mouth. Remove your belt and wrap it around your head. Take off your shoes and go outside. There will be a bag of trash in your trashcan. Take that out, and…
I’m kidding, I’m kidding.
Okay, take the spoon. Dip into the mixture and…I think you can take it from there.
That is what this tea tasted like to me. It was rich, and the caramel and the pear were both just so very much present. Between the mouthfeel and the taste and just the absolute giddiness I got from the fact that they nailed the pear so hard it won’t see straight until the weekend. Just…AH.
The two tastes didn’t combine often. When they did, it was maybe just a smidge weird, but the majority of the time it tasted like a piece of pear coated in decadent caramel, and Zeus help me, it’s going to take an insane amount of willpower to keep this sample from disappearing before I order it.
As it cooled, the caramel started to melt away a bit and the pear came to the forefront. The only thing that could keep me from being disappointed at this is the fact that I love pear to the point that it raises eyebrows, but the fact that the tea did this for me is something that I think y’all should be aware of. [This was also true of the second steep – more pear than anything else. I let it sit for seven minutes on the second infusion, but I’ll try steeping it a little longer next time. The more mileage I can get out of this the better, I think.] Oh, and the rooibos didn’t come into the picture at all.
Anyhow, win. Just…win. It was such a win that everything else could have lost that day and I wouldn’t have cared much. The ONLY reason that this tea isn’t going to get a flat out 100 from me is unfortunately because of something that also makes it so awesome. It is sweet and rich and a full on dessert tea. I can’t drink this every day, though I wish I could. If I did, I’d get sick of it, which would make my tea self cry, and this is not a tea I want to have to take out of rotation.
ABSO-EFFING-LUTELY DELICIOUS. Thanks, teaplz!