260 Tasting Notes
Lena sent me a bit of this tea, and I was in the mood for something fruity tonight so…ta da! Now give me a cookie. [Just kidding. Maybe. Do you have cookies?]
She had written down a 30 second steep time, was counting it in my head and I got a little distracted [not surprising] so it was probably closer to 45. Not that I’m sure that would have made a huge difference. It didn’t come out bitter or anything, thankfully.
The liquid smells distinctly of apple. To me it’s clearly apple of more of the granny-smith, green variety, but also…baked. Something about it makes me think of apple baked into a pie without the additional seasoning.
At first, the taste was very much like every green apple candy I’ve had without about 95% of the sweetness. As it cooled down, however, it began to fill out. I can’t place exactly what it was that happened, but I think that I got a little bit more of that sour taste [in a good way] and the sweetness balanced out really nicely with it. By the time I reached the bottom of my cup I was pretty satisfied.
I hardly got any sencha taste, though it could very well be that it just mingled very well with the apple taste. In looking at the leaves, I hadn’t been expecting a really bold, robust sencha taste [they’re a bit dark and a little twiggy] so I think that this is a case of the quality matching up pretty well with the flavor profile.
I didn’t give this another steep because it was pretty light to begin with, though in the future when I have a little more time I might give it a go just to play around. I definitely enjoyed this, but as we almost always have apples around here I usually just eat one when I’m craving one. So, I don’t think that this is going to be something I’ll order.
Last night, I was going to clean the tin that I was keeping this in and I discovered that I had some left. I’d been craving it all week and I thought it was gone. I wasn’t too peeved, because I ordered some more and it should be in soon, but I was ecstatic when I discovered that I had enough left for a cup.
I think I only have one of maeda-en’s herbal teas left to try from the sampler I got through Steepster Select, but so far this one is definitely my favorite. If teas had emotions, this one would be happy. It’s light and bubbly [as in friendly – the tea itself is not bubbly], but at the same time has an undertone of warmth to it. It’s like biting into a bright little amber gem. Not that that makes any sense.
To me, the flavor shouldn’t be tasty as it is – I think puffed wheat breakfast cereal with a sugar glaze and I think boring [but I like to do breakfast up big, so that may just be me]. There’s something about this that makes it crave-worthy, though. Even after I steeped this three times last night, I could still go for a cup. Or five.
I find it clear, sunny, refreshing, and comforting. In fact, I’m giving it a ratings bump. I really like it. Say hi, Soba-cha! [I really need to stop personifying my tea or I’m gonna start weirding myself out.]
flickr picture | http://bit.ly/82kHtE
My thoughts on this feel similar to Auggy’s, so since she sent me this tea I’m going to do a small homage to one of her prior logs. Here we go.
Hmm…Auggy sent this. Intriguing. Have I tried a CTC before?
I don’t think so. Hee, they look like coffee grounds.
I don’t smell anything.
…Dirt? Light dirt? What the what, am I congested?
I’m bored. Are they expanding? They’re not. Wait… Nevermind, nope. Is it done yet? How cold is it outside? 25? Poop. Is it done yet? I want to see Avatar again. I need to make cookies. Oh, laundry.
Pull out infuser. Hold up the basket.
Okay, now I really don’t smell anything.
Hold up the cup.
Tilt head. Furrow brow. Blow on liquid.
Still not cool enough.
Checking the weather… Scanning the newspaper… Tapping my foot… Making a sandwich…mmm…ham.
What the world. Needs now. Is love. Sweet love. It’s the only thiiing. That there’s just. Too little of. Ah damn it, this is going to be stuck in my head all day, isn’t it?
Check the cup.
Mm, okay. It’s kind of…sweet. But also malty. Bake-y? Oh. OH! Bitter. BITTER!!!
Okay. Kinda sweet at the front of the tongue. Sort of flat at the sides. Let’s try the back…
BITTER! Breathe. Oooh. That’s kind of sweet. Kind of…darjeeling sweet. Especially if I concentrate on the center of my tongue. I wonder what’ll happen if I move to the back…
Well, that was both predictable and stupid.
Is this the reeeeeal liiiiife? Is it just faaaantasssssy?
What the world. Needs now.
Lather, rinse, repeat. I think I need to try this again, either with additives or a shorter steep time, or both, or whatever. It was interesting. I wouldn’t necessarily call it enjoyable. Overall, it reminded me of a keemun. A very near over-steeped keemun. I hope you enjoyed the rather censored journey into my brain. Thanks Auggy, I’ll be logging this again, I’m sure.
I decided to give this another go this morning, but I’ve got an intense-ish day of baking ahead of me and I need to make this short. [A true challenge.]
I can taste the pumpkin. That’s very nice. But in order to get to it I need to sift through the spices a little, because to me this is heavily spiced. Not spicy hot, but spiced like…pumpkin pie. So at least appropriate. For that they get points.
The one thing that I definitely don’t like about this is that it’s drying my mouth out rather noticeably. Also, it’s just a little on the bitter side. I probably should try this out as a proper latte, or maybe I’ll just top it off with some whipped cream. However, I think I’m going to hold off on it for a while as I suspect it’s making my stomach a bit upset.
Anyhow, it easily claims the crown for the best pumpkin flavored tea I’ve had, but I’m probably not going to reorder it. And now, I can finally put a rating on this. [Yes, that was bothering me.]
I realized that I haven’t logged this in a while, though I drink it pretty often, so here we are.
This has remained one of my favorite teas to go to sleep with for months. I find the combination of spices to be soothing and calming, so it does a pretty good job of helping my brain wind down when it’s time to go to bed. [And trust me, that’s really not an easy job.]
The rooibos flavor is definitely prevalent, so all you rooibos haters out might not be fans of this. The one thing that I can say for it is that this is one of the few rooibos teas I’ve had where the accompanying flavors actually work with the rooibos instead of just…being there [or in some cases working against it], so I don’t know. I don’t want to speak for other people’s tastes.
I’m nearly out of it, so it’s a good thing I stuck it in this last order at the last second. It’s also warming my insides a bit, which is a good thing because it is mother effing cold here right now. I mean, easily below freezing and I don’t even want to know what it’s like with the wind chill factored in. Rooibos is supposed to be good for that warming quality, and it’s working for me, so I’m just going to finish this cup off and then, you know, freeze to death. Farewell cruel world.
I’m being dramatique [and a wee bit pathetique], but it really is helping. All right. Night, Steepsterites.
I forgot to add this to my cupboard, but I just finished off the sample, so…mission accomplished?
This review is going to be totally lame, because it’s going to sound very similar to my soba-cha and mugi-cha tea logs. So, you know what? I’m just gonna cut out the middle-man:
- most of the sweetness
+ dark taste from mugi-cha
+ kinda…spicy? [peppery, maybe]
+ maybe a little nuttier
I like it, but not as much as soba-cha or mugi-cha. So I guess it’s a good thing that my sample’s gone and I didn’t order it. Anyhow, it was interesting. And I’m writing this as I’m trying to listen to a podcast, which isn’t going over too well because I keep typing what they’re saying so I’m just gonna stop right now because if I keep going this isn’t going to make more sense.
Now I want soba-cha. Damn it.
Lovely, lovely Carolyn sent me some of this to try and I can see right off the bat why she likes it. It is a really delicious tea. The aroma is heavy and rich. The flavor profile evokes things that would make most dessert lovers drool – cocoa, caramel, honey.
It is smooth, and the flavors blend seamlessly. It is a tea that benefitted for me from sticking to the tip of the tongue and the back of the mouth, where the sweeter flavors came out to play. Sucking in air over it intensified the sweetness, but inhaling through my nose with a closed mouth evoked a kind of honeyed perfume taste that was extremely pleasant.
Dawn is a decadent tea, and yet it doesn’t leave you with a weighty feeling. Some teas are so luxurious that I feel like I should be in a food coma afterwards [tea coma?]. This certainly has that heavy, silky feeling in the mouth that I love, but something about the finish doesn’t feel heavy. The aftertaste is nice and light.
When I first saw the name of this tea, I didn’t really “get” it. I mean, it was a pretty name and all, but it seemed abstract to me. Now, I completely get it. From the dark leaves to the light amber liquid, to the heavy flavors lifting into airy sweetness. I don’t think I’ve ever had a tea that was a metaphor before [though the fact that I can find one in this may partially be because I have a tendency to overanalyze things]. However, it makes complete sense to me, as someone who has already seen more than a few sunrises in her quarter of a century already.
It reminds me distinctly of one of my last days before winter break at UVA, when a bunch of us trekked up a big hill to the nearby-ish observatory around midnight. We had no real agenda other than spending some time with each other before the semester ended and we all went to our respective corners of the country. Boys tackling one another and girls huddling in the chill. Climbing trees and drinking beer out of a pony-necked bottle. Telling stories and laughing, and waiting for the sun to rise together. We grew quieter as morning approached and eventually settled down in a section where the trees cleared enough to see part of the campus. All you could here was us breathing, and our breath streaked the air around us. The darkness began to lighten as the sun started to warm the horizon as the blushing, yellowed, amber tones bled across the sky. The almost heavy feeling in the atmosphere that seemed to settle in as the typical waking hour approached started to lift, and within a span of time that seemed to pass far too quickly we’d witnessed a natural phenomenon. It’s an act that’s occurred more times than I can count, practiced and perfected over the eons, but I hope that it never gets old.
For a tea to mimic such a simple, beautiful thing that is strongly tied into the memories of so many people is pretty powerful, and I can see why this would be a true delight to wake up with. So I must say thank you to Carolyn, and make sure that I order some more of this. And soon.
I don’t know if my expectations towards Yunnans have been making many of these unenjoyable for me, but…I’m getting ahead of myself here. [Though you can probably guess where this is going.]
I braved the cold earlier today with a couple of friends [I mean, serious cold, like wind whipping you, don’t even want to know what the temperature was with wind chill, lung stabbing cold] to check Teaism’s Dupont Circle location out. They brew it for you behind the counter, so I can’t list any parameters, but we made our way upstairs with three teapots full of tea and sat down to catch up.
Teaism is a neat space. It’s got kind of a rustic feeling to it, and they have a ton of teaware on display, which was cool. It’s a little cramped, which is pretty much par for the course for a lot of DC spaces, but when you’re coming in from the holy crap cold it reads as cozy. My friends got their Jasmine Pearl and their Silver Needle, which I won’t log because I only tried a few sips of each [relatively unimpressive]. I drank nearly the entire teapot of this, though, so I feel that I can speak to it somewhat solidly.
Reading the website’s rather short description of this, it sounds about right. It brewed into a bright amber finish. It had a sweet finish to it. And…really, that was about it.
There wasn’t a lot of depth to this tea. It was dark. It tasted a little malty. It was smooth. The sweetness was a dark kind of sweetness. Kind of like brown sugar, or maybe like yams. And that was really about it. Oh, it began to dry my mouth out a bit towards the end of the pot. That’s really it.
Considering that it was $3.85 for the pot, it made me kind of angry. I’m not usually one to notice that kind of stuff, but having a small kind of concept of how much margin they’re making off of something they’re calling high grade made me feel a bit blah. [Luckily, this was quickly righted when we went somewhere else and stuffed ourselves with Thai food.] It’s not that it was bad. I’m making it sound awful, I know. It was pleasant enough. It just wasn’t…eh. My lack of ability to be able to finish this log off shall have to be indicative of how I feel about this tea. Eh.
Blerg. Disappointing on so many levels, not the least of which that Williams Sonoma rarely lets me down.
First of all, let me say that this is essentially a powder. I opened the tin, expecting…you know, spices. This is a not that. It looks like sand. It looks granulated.
The smell of…whatever it is, kind of smells like chai. It definitely has that spiced quality to it. But overwhelmingly, and it took me a second to recognize this because I was NOT expecting it, it smells like rubber cement. I kid you not. It has that distinct, alcohol-like quality to it, and it does that sharp, not quite stinging thing to my nostrils that rubber cement does.
At this point, you’re probably wondering why I didn’t just stop here, but the guy in Williams Sonoma had spoken very well about it. I’m guessing that they’d had samples before in the store and he’d tried it. I know you’re thinking “retail spiel” etc., but I used to work retail and I can usually recognize when someone’s trying to sell you something just to make a sale. Plus, I don’t think that the people in Williams Sonoma are commissioned, but I could be wrong on that. Anyhow, I figured why not, since Angrboda had had some of David Rio’s stuff [from a completely different part of the collection] with some success.
So I, somewhat dubiously, measured some out and shook it into some milk that was heating in a saucepan. I didn’t bother adding any sugar, since it looked like it already had some in it.
Once the mixture had heated adequately [though some of the powder never quite dissolved, which was somewhat disconcerting], I poured it into a cup.
Okay. This kind of makes me think of what it would taste like if Swiss Miss did chai, except you don’t get any mini marshmallows. It’s synthetic tasting. And at the risk of sounding gross, the overall taste makes me think of that taste you get in your mouth before you brush your teeth in the morning. That, plus maybe some spices, plus sugar. If you dumped a teaspoon of sugar into your mouth first thing in the morning, you could probably replicate this pretty closely.
I’m already trying to strategize trying to return this to Williams Sonoma. It would be ridiculously pretentious, so I won’t do it, but a big part of me wants to bring in some of Samovar’s Masala Chai and make it for them, then say, “This? This is chai. This is spiced rubber cement. Can I return this please?” Likely I’ll just go in and ask nicely and hope they allow me to exchange it for something else. Though if I see the guy that recommended it to me, I’ll probably give him a few polite words on what I thought about it. Plus, he was kinda cute, so…you know. That doesn’t hurt either.
If that doesn’t explain why this rating is going to be abysmal, I don’t know what else will.
It’s been a while since I both logged and drank this tea, so now seems like a good time.
I’m pretty sure that I’ve had this since I logged the last [and first] time, but that’s part of the reason why I’m probably not going to reorder it. It’s not a remarkable tea. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, and I’m not going to change the rating on it, because it’s reading at a 75 still, but I think that part of the problem is that some of its notes remind me of Ancient Emerald Lily to me, and when a tea reminds me of a tea that is, in my mind, superior, well…I think you can figure the rest out.
So here’s the thing about Green Needles. For me, it starts out a little bitter. It’s almost sour, even. Eventually in the aftertaste, and even more so as it cools, it becomes sweeter. A nice, edging on juicy, grassy sweetness [this is what reminds me of Ancient Emerald Lily]. And then over time the bitter, sour part of the tea disappears. I should probably just wait until the tea cools enough for that to be gone, but I’m not patient enough.
The problem that I noticed, even when this becomes sweet, is that this has an almost scratchy texture to it. I’m not sure quite how to explain it. Kind of like that feeling your lungs get when it’s really [and I mean really cold outside. Or if you breathe in heavy fumes. It reminds me of this one time when I was at swim practice during the winter [we swam indoors] and there was a chemical spill. All of a sudden, we all got this kind of scratchy feeling in our throats and we all started coughing. Then we had to evacuate the building. [We got dressed first, of course. That would have been inhumane.] It was really cold outside. Our hair froze. It was grand. And actually, now that I type this, laughing gas. That funny feeling you get in your throat when you inhale laughing gas.
Anyway, I don’t know what causes that feeling. And I didn’t write about it last time, so I don’t know if I got it before. I’m guessing not. Maybe I won’t get it next time. I think I just need to drink this more often, even if it’s mainly because it means it’ll free up a little space on my tea shelf.