260 Tasting Notes
All right, Steepsterites. I tried this at a shorter steep time and it was still noticeably bitter, though not nearly as much as before and a weird part of me [my elbow, maybe] didn’t mind it. Maybe I need to drop the temperature down a bit, or wash the leaves before I let it sit. I don’t know, but what I will tell you is that the second steep of this was absolutely phenomenal. Grape-y in a lovely, lovely way. I can’t get into it much more because I need to study for a test I’ve got tomorrow, which allows me to segue somewhat clumsily into the next paragraph.
I’ve been drinking a lot of tea lately, but I’ve got finals coming up, and that means that I don’t have time to log things like I’d like to. It also means that I’m going to have to go dark on Steepster for a week or two because I need to throw myself into school right now. SO, I will see you guys on the other side of the semester. I fully look forward to my activity feed being so blown that there’s no way I’ll be able to catch up. ENJOY YOUR TEA!
Trust Auggy to send me a conundrum in a tin. [Hahaha, just kidding. Love you, Augs.] But seriously y’all, this tea belongs in a carnival somewhere between the bearded lady and the contortionist. It is bizarre.
The leaves will punch you in the sarcophagus if you aren’t ready for the stench when you open up the tin. And yes, I am going to call it a stench, because I don’t think it’s an extremely appealing smell. It smells like brine, with maybe a hint of cucumber [but just a hint]. There’s a spicy nudge that almost smells like cinnamon, but it has that sweet edge Auggy was talking about so it really reminds me a lot of Red Hots, which I was never a fan of. Sometimes it has this sharpness to it that reminds me of when I got pine sap on my hand one time and it was really hard to get off and smelled kind of nasty. It’s one of those smells that is impossible to ignore and makes your nostrils feel not unlike they’re being poked with a skewer.
With a smell this pungent, you’d think the tea would be inarguably disgusting, but surprisingly, or not surprisingly as I am discovering with Adagio’s smell to taste ratio, I didn’t find this to be true. This was one of the rare cases where I was so glad the taste did not live up to the smell that I let out a huge sigh of relief after the first sip.
It kind of tasted like cucumber, but even more of that cinnamon/Red Hots note came out in the taste. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t hate it. The scent of the liquid is still a liiiittle bit overwhelming, but the taste was surprisingly mellow. Cucumbers, a cross between dill and sweet pickles, and Red Hots. There is nothing in my head that say those flavors should meld together, but for whatever reason worked okay.
As it moved to luke warm, it began to get a little bit sweeter, which I liked. But when it cooled, the any taste I could pick out was pretty much gone. It sort of tasted like cucumber water, which I can make a little more easily by just sticking cucumbers in water. EDIT TO ADD: Somewhere around here, in the lukewarm range, I also was getting the flavor of plain, unbuttered popcorn. That kind of weirded me out. Not sure where it was coming from, but it wasn’t completely unwelcome.
So, for the novelty, I’ll probably finish off this sample tin. I’ll just have to hold my nose a bit because the stink of the leaves is strong enough to actually make my eyes water. [I wish I were kidding.] But this definitely isn’t something I’m going to buy.
The Axis of Teavil does it again! Love the new update, Overlords. The tabs are wonderful, and I love the way that the little number count pops up on the notices button to let me know there’s been activity on there. I also am so incredibly appreciative that you’ve now included comments in the tea log stream! Saved me SO MUCH TABBING OVER in an effort to avoid losing my place! [Especially on this laptop, because while I love the Apple’s multi-touch, sometimes when I right-click it doesn’t register and then I end up losing my place anyway. But I digress.]
EDIT TO ADD: Jack, [I think it’s you that’s mainly responsible for this] I just want to add that I love the way that this site looks. Clean, uncluttered, minimal, pretty. It’s one of the more aesthetically pleasing sites I’ve had the pleasure of using. Not to discount your counterparts; you’re all pretty swell.
So, Formosa Oolong. After glancing at the description on here it’s clear that I’ve got some experimenting to do, because my label says 180 at five minutes but Sir Jason has copied over here that it should be 212 at three. This could be why this tasted somewhat weak to me. I was surprised to see the 180 water temp, but I usually try the companies’ suggestions first before switching things up.
I’m beginning to redefine my thoughts on formosa oolongs. I’ve now had a good number of them and two of them now [this one and the Silk Oolong Formosa that Auggy sent me] taste of tropical fruits and sunnier climates.
There wasn’t as much of that buttery taste that I’ve grown to love in most of the formosa oolongs I’ve had. The flavors also seemed more separate, like it juuuuuust wasn’t quite coming together. And it was also just a tad watery.
Okay, tea. It seems that you were doing your best impression of that awkward first slow dance – where you’re standing arms length apart and just kind of rocking back and forth. I’m hoping that changing up some stuff on you will result in more of a Viennese Waltz. We shall see.
Ah, ceylon. I didn’t grow up drinking black tea, and so this doesn’t really speak of nostalgia or anything to me. I think I might have tried one of Adagio’s ceylon teas at one point near the start of my getting into teas, but I just never bothered trying to get a baseline for this flavor.
So, I got my order from Tavalon in the other day, and I decided to pop this open.
It isn’t complex, but ceylon doesn’t strike me as a tea that is trying to be. It’s simply there. Some days, that’s what I want. I also think that if I EVER get around to playing around with adding things into my tea, this is the one that I am going to want to use.
It’s also nice to know with certainty that this is what I’ve been tasting in all of those flavored black teas I’ve since had, and I now feel like I might be able to pick it out of blends more easily.
This order also marked the arrival of my brand new tea stick, which I used to brew this. YAY. As we currently don’t have the ability to review tea ware, I’m just going to write a couple of thoughts on here.
1. It’s pretty solid. I’ll admit to thinking that the mesh sliding part would be a little flimsier, but I was pleasantly surprised to open the plastic cylinder to discover some pretty solid construction.
2. It recommends just scooping the tea out of the tin, but I’m not really sure on the logistics of this quite yet. It’s a bit unwieldy as a scoop, and if I eventually begin weighing my tea out like I think I will, I won’t be able to do that anyway.
3. The holes in the mesh are rather big, and the chamber is obviously more limited than a pot or a basket infuser, so that limits the kind of tea I’m going to be able to use it for. It’s not big enough to let, say, an oolong expand. And any teas where you notice small bits would not be ideal for this.
4. It’s rather long, so the hook at the end is currently of no use to me as it’s longer than any mugs I use are tall, but it’s not something that gets in the way or anything and it was a thoughtful thing to include.
Anyhow, I really like it. And when using it to brew this tea, it worked splendidly.
So…I am really very much at odds with this tea. Not knowing a ton about darjeelings, I’m not sure how this measures up in terms of what you typically get from them, but I think that I could really like it. Here’s what’s got me scratching my head.
Steep one was VERY bitter. I followed what they said on their website, which said five minutes in boiling water, so maybe toning one of those aspects down could get rid of it, but at the same time, the bitterness…I don’t know. It kind of began to remind me of wine at one point, and that was likely because I could really taste the grape.
It took me a while to get used to what “grape” can mean when I got older. As a younger me, I used to devour white and red grapes brought home from the grocery store. We used to freeze them during the summer and suck on them. I sometimes ate grape-flavored candy, or have a grape-flavored soda, or, though this was far from appealing – grape-flavored medicine.
Now, grape means much more to me than that one-dimensional [well, two-dimensional if you count red vs. white] grape taste I knew then. I’ve had dolma, though that technically involves leaves, and I’ve grown to love wine, so this tea fits in with my newly acquired idea of what grapes can taste like. In fact, it kind of reminds me of the flavor profile that dolma can take on.
What this REALLY makes me think of is this spray that I got from Caudalie. It reminds me of it a LOT. It’s in the taste, it’s in the smell. And I don’t mind it, but it could be a turn-off point for some people.
http://www.sephora.com/browse/product.jhtml;jsessionid=VBQGKJ50ET4RICV0KQNQIGQ?id=P6025&shouldPaginate=true&categoryId=4171 – the spray is awesome, just as an aside. Super refreshing. Makes me face all tingly.
The thing that I found very intriguing about this is that it sweetens a lot in the aftertaste. You drink it, and I discovered that letting it sit for a little bit allowed it to settle so the aftertaste would be stronger, and it’s kind of intense but afterwards? Complex, and dare I say delicious? I was really digging it. It reminded me a lot of wine at that point.
In the second steep, the bitterness was almost gone. I stopped there because I got distracted or…maybe it was time for dinner or something. I’m not sure. But I ended it with cup two. I’m definitely going to make some time for this over the weekend so I can play around with it any more.
I’m glad that I soldiered through the bitterness to discover how enjoyable it ended up being because otherwise I would have surely sent Auggy a ‘BLECH BLECH BLECH BLECH BLEEEEEEEEEECH’ email for sending it to me. It makes me think of warheads – you sit there and suffer through the bitter sour taste, but that makes the sweetness at the end just that much better.
Changing some things around could completely get rid of it, but…I don’t know. The more that I think about it the more I kinda like it.
I’ve gotten so used to my tea experiences evolving to surprise me pleasantly that it’s a pretty huge shocker when something begins to lose its hold on me.
Does this mean that I think that Jackee Muntz sucks? Niet. It is, however, different.
I’ve mentioned before that black teas do weird things to my taste buds. Sometimes they taste one way, sometimes they taste another way. On one day I might think, “WHOA, raisins?!” but on the next it might be, “Ooooh, malty.”
When I was reading people’s thoughts on keemuns [not just this one, but others as well] and they kept talking about smoky notes and woody taste and whatever, I didn’t get it. I thought that maybe I was missing something, but I didn’t really care because to me, this tea tasted like I was sucking on a caramel. Caramel was what I tasted, and that was really all I tasted, and MAN was it good.
I have no idea what happened that changed this tea for me. It could be the water. It could be that I was doing something weird with the temperature gauge and I didn’t notice. It could be that I was hitting a very specific time with my steeping and there’s something off now. It could be that when I started drinking this I was having ongoing problems with a cold of fluctuating intensity and so my tongue was out of whack. Maybe I ruptured the space-time continuum and in the warping of time I was unwittingly residing in a magic place where this tea was phenomenal. Maybe a unicorn was pooping in my strainer. I have no idea, but now, I’m tasting what all of the rest of you are talking about and I’m not nearly as much in love as I was before.
That last sentence sounded really depressing.
So, anyhow, woody, check. Smoky, check. Kind of a hint of that caramel, but because it isn’t nearly as present as before it’s become disappointing. It’s got a hint of bitterness to it as well.
What I really need to branch out and try more keemuns to get a better gauge for what I think of this one. I should probably try that one from Adagio that people keep talking about. I need the playing field to level a little bit more before I can fairly judge poor Jackee, as he’s got a lot to live up to in his former self, but for now I’m dropping the rating.
I drank what I had left of this today, and while I’m not going to move the rating down because I still think this is pretty awesome, I definitely like it better hot than chilled.
To be fair, part of the reason that I like this so much is because it reminds me of that hot chocolate I was talking about before, and drinking this cold removes that comparison. And it’s not that this tastes bad cold or anything. It’s more that the sensations become very dissonant.
There’s that spiky heat from the chilis, clashing against the cool bite from the…well, the cold. And something about those two butting heads and not really melding results in a striking sensation that I don’t really find pleasant. Spiced chai cool, I find almost calming. That feeling was absent in this cup.
This is in no way going to deter me from continuing to drink this. I’ll just be doing drinking it hot.
I wanted something citrus-y today, but most of my citrus teas have a lime kind of flavoring to them and I wanted something more along the lines of orange. Then I remembered that Auggy had sent me this so…bam.
I popped open the bag and gave it a whiff while I read her tasting note. It smelled like orange sherbet, which is my favorite kind of ice cream, so I got a little excited. I was surprised to see that this sucker is supposed to be steeped in boiling water, but I took one for the team and did it anyway.
It didn’t scald anything, shockingly enough [or not, maybe, since Lupicia says to boil it], and it was actually pretty light in flavor. It definitely tasted like an orange. A sweet orange. Really, more of a synthetic orange. Like the kind of orange you’d taste in a Capri Sun, as opposed to something fresh squeezed. Maybe orange jello. It didn’t have any tartness to it, which I didn’t miss.
To be fair, this is comparing it to something like a navel orange, though, and not a mandarin which typically read much sweeter to me. However, it still doesn’t quite taste natural. The flavor is also light. Barely there. Like something you know is definitely there, but you have to grasp at.
In my mind, this is both good and bad. Bad, in that if you reach for this because you’re craving that flavor it probably won’t sate you. Good, because it keeps it from being…well, Capri Sun. This wouldn’t be an every day tea for me, and I think that the orange flavor being both so light and unnatural tasting is going to keep me from buying it. I’ll enjoy what I have left, though. In the meantime, I have a box of orange jello powder in the kitchen if I want that flavor. No Capri Sun, though. [I always hated the stabby pouch thing. Led to disaster too many times.]
I haven’t had a lot of darjeelings before. I think that I recall maybe having tried a couple, but for whatever reason I never revisited them and I can’t really remember what I thought.
I figured now was a good time to start trying them again because I got a couple from Auggy, so I brewed this one up today.
I think I like it? Unfortunately, I was trying to read a textbook at the same time, so my attention was a little divided. It definitely wasn’t unpleasant, but being at a disadvantage both because I couldn’t fully concentrate it and I don’t have a lot to compare it with, I can’t say anything definitively.
What I can say is that it was…I don’t know if light is the right word. It wasn’t light like a white tea, or even some greens. Maybe soft is more accurate. Yeah, that sounds right. I tasted a sweetness that wasn’t grassy, and it wasn’t sugary either… It almost tasted like the sweet taste I associate with green beans or peas, but…I don’t know, with more of a floral touch? I also, at times, got a woody taste and there was a bitterness to it when it began to cool. I steeped it a couple of times, and it didn’t change much from one to the next. I probably could have gone for more but then my stomach started telling me it was time to eat so when I got back I decided to move on to something more familiar since I was having difficulty focusing.
This probably isn’t helping you very much; I’m losing my trail of thought, too. But I wanted to get this down so that I would remember it when I inevitably try darjeeling again. It wasn’t unpleasant, but I definitely need to be drinking it when I can pay attention. If I remember what I’ve read about these correctly, they’re supposed to be relatively complex.
That’s what I tasted on the first two steeps. Delicious, warm, buttery, with fruity notes and that distinct cookie flavor, shortbread.
I should mention that I’m now on steep five of this.
I know that I’m really digging an oolong if I get this far with it. Even though I know that oolongs are generally meant to unfold over steeps, if it’s really not gelling with me after steep two, I have a lot of trouble forging ahead [and often don’t]. Clearly, that’s not a problem with this one.
Auggy [thanks Auggy for this, by the way] and LENA F. mentioned tropical, candied, Juicy Fruit-ish flavors from this, and I didn’t really get that strongly until at or around steep three. The buttery component had become significantly weaker during the second steep, though I could still taste the shortbread, but by steep three it became notably more tropical in character. It shed its tartan and bagpipe and threw on a hat made of fruit and a coconut bikini.
Here in steep five, it’s light and fruity. I’m probably going to stop at this cup because it’s become significantly weaker for me. Similar to when you drop some fruit into water and let it sit for a while. It’s still enjoyable at this point, but in another cup I suspect the flavor will have dissipated beyond the point of notability.
This isn’t as complex as other oolongs I’ve had, and it is very, very different from other formosa oolongs that I’ve tried, but I imagine that I’ll want to have it around for, at the very least, those first three steeps.