403 Tasting Notes
This is just what I wanted this afternoon. It tastes like nothing more than sun-warmed veggies, fresh out of the garden: warm, sweet, green, rich. Green beans, or sugar snap peas, or maybe even tomato. A little taste of sunshine on a cold day :)
To think I used to find green teas always too weak and/or bitter!
~2tsp/8oz, 6 steeps
I had actually forgotten that I signed up for Steepster select until I got the email that it had shipped! Must’ve been a black Friday or holiday sale? I went for the darkest, most warming tea first, because it’s really really cold today.
I used one full sample bag (there are two of each tea, and the bags are not resealable; I’ll measure the quantity when I get home) for 8oz water. They suggested boiling water, so I heated my mug over the kettle to avoid the temperature drop from pouring into a cold vessel.
First impressions: dry leaf is big, dark, and twisted, like a wuyi oolong, but they list this as a red/black tea. Liquor: very red! Smells like… an assam? Yes, an assam. With all the rich honey notes, but also a hint that the taste might be more tannic. Taste: oddly muted, definitely a little bitter on the front, then mellows out into something more chewy, like a dark wheat bread. I’m not getting any of the cinnamon or clove spices – will have to see if they come out on later steeps.
So far, I’m not too impressed. I will try the other sample of this gongfu style, it seems like it might benefit from shorter, more intense steeps. This manages to be mild and muddled at the same time. It smells delicious though! Maybe milk and sugar? I try not to do that to good teas, but I also don’t drink a lot of black teas completely straight.
Edit: I like the second steep better. I’m getting more of the subtle spice notes now. I think the first steep was just too much leaf/time/temp and got muddy. I ended up steeping this 4 times, steeps 2 and 3 were the best, though the first steep was also improved by a dash of milk and sugar. Fans of Assam and Darjeeling might appreciate this more than I did.
I’ve been missing blends now that they have their own monthly club and the “classic” tends to be all pure teas, so I decided to join the “Blend” club for a month or two. I was a little taken aback by this month’s theme – Tulsi is not one of favorites, though I don’t dislike it either. But, I really like this one. Especially on later steeps it tastes like marshmallows! Something about the sarsaparilla in combination with a well-suited oolong? I don’t know, but it’s awesome. I usually get a little annoyed with the way flavors taper off on later steeps but this is one where the balance just gets better. I’m on steep 4 or 5, with 2tsp(roughly 5g)/8oz water
I found myself distinctly in the mood for shu pu’er today, which doesn’t happen often, so makes for a very good reason to drink it. I wanted the earthy grounding flavor, the complexity, and the sense of well-being that usually follows drinking it; I wasn’t feeling too picky beyond that. Browsing the pu-erh shelf of my tea cupboard, I found a forgotten tin of cheap loose shu: perfect. I was also craving something spicy and warming, so this would be just right to mix with an herbal chai blend (Adagio’s Thai Chai in this case, which was sent along as a random freebie with my latest Etsy order).
It is everything I wanted: rich, dark, warming, mood-lifting… just the thing for a cold and cloudy day at home.
I used 1 tsp pu’er and .5 tsp chai in my 3.5oz glass pot, steeped just a few seconds until the color was right. 3 steeps so far, many more to come I’m sure