187 Tasting Notes
I wanted something nice and smooth and decaf before bed last night, so I steeped up this puppy. Also known as the only tea from TeaGschwendner that I truly enjoyed.
Okay, that might be somewhat of a lie. I sorta liked the Chili-Chocolate, but it didn’t rock my socks off.
This one still smells like yummy caramel corn to me, in both the dry and the infusion. The taste is a fairly rough-around-the-edges black, with some tinges creamy caramel-ish popcorn at the end. It’s not the most authentic flavor, but caramel corn tastes kinda sugary and fake anyway.
What elevated this cup this particular time was that I did the unthinkable. I added milk. Soymilk to be exact. Very Vanilla Silk, if you’re that curious. And then I added about two pinches of sugar.
The results were pretty awesome. The briskness of the tea became very smooth and drinkable, very creamy and delicious. The sweetening I added highlighted the cream part of the tea description, and made it very soft and inviting. The drink became less of a tea drink, and more of a liquid caramel corn taste.
Pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. This elevates this one beyond the mediocre.
It got the mom stamp of approval as well.
How can people drink this!?
Seriously. How can you consume this beverage and enjoy it unless you hate yourself.
Or unless you have the world’s worst taste buds.
I figured, oooh, English Breakfast! Nom! And on top of it, this one is from Kenya! I haven’t had a Kenyan tea before (I have one on deck from Auggy), but yeah! Cool, let’s stick the little packet in the slot and see what happens.
Well, first off, this brews up really murky brown. Almost mahogany in color. It’s not clear at all. And the smell coming off of it smells like really strong Liptons, maybe jazzed up a little bit. It’s a fairly nice smell, and I enjoy sniffing it for a few seconds before I take the plunge.
I nearly spat it out.
This is SO BITTER. What the hell?! It just lingers and lingers and lingers. It tastes burnt and dead and awful. It makes you want to cry. I’m glad nobody was in my general vicinity when I took my first sip, or else they might have been worried. Due to the face I was making, of course. I imagine that it twisted into some mask of horror. I literally stuck my tongue out, scrunched up my nose, shook my head a few times.
Then I promptly ran to our pantry and dumped this in the sink.
I just needed to relax, you know. No stress. Just some simple, good decaf tea.
And some Zen Sonic the Hedgehog 1: http://www.viddler.com/explore/Docfuture/videos/28/
Sometimes you need to feel strong. You need to believe in yourself. The world is a scary place. Don’t stress yourself out.
We can be heroes.
Drinking tea. Like this, and just relaxing. That’s what I love about tea. It can be a very active beverage, where you’re sticking your nose in the mug, figuring out trace tasting notes, swirling the infusion on your tongue to coat it completely, breathing in to catch the nuances of the aftertaste. Or it could be one of the simplest, most comforting things in the world. Just warm and cozy wrapped up with a nice hot mug of goodness.
That’s what Vanilla Comoro was tonight. Subtly sweet, slightly brisk, light and airy vanilla that wasn’t too forced.
Backlogging from the weekend!
Okay, can we talk about how much my love for Rishi has shot up? Between this, Purple Bamboo, Ancient Emerald Lily, and their Silver Needle… yeah, Rishi has it going on. Their Golden Yunnan is delicious too. I think they’re joining the esteemed ranks of some of my favorite tea companies.
So, this one has been getting a lot of hype on Steepster from some of my absolute favorite posters, so I knew I needed to buy me some Yellow Buds! The only yellow tea I had previously didn’t go so well. It was that awful Yellow Peach put out by TeaGschwendner, and I wasn’t quite sure if I was going to like yellow tea after tasting that.
Well, guess what, this one is amazing. Let’s start with the dry leaves before we get into the taste, though… The leaves are really gorgeous. It looks like a silver needle, but tinged with yellow. Same shape, same fuzziness, just… different color. And the aroma that’s coming off of them is a dusty sort of honey. Like a sunset.
Anyway, I really was intimidated by the amount of leaves this bad boy requires. Half a teapot worth! I didn’t really measure out the leaf. I poured. It looked to be around 2-3 tablespoons for 8 oz., but what do I know? It’s really fluffy and hard to judge. This one steeps up to a gorgeous pale, pale cream-yellow, and the smell coming off of the cup… I let out a little whimper. That’s how delicious this one smells. It’s wonderfully fragrant of honey-butter. Seriously.
And the taste? Man. It’s actually really light and subtle, but it’s a delicious honeyed flavor. Sort of like wildflower honey. There’s a tiny note of vegetal-floralness that’s awesome. And this melts into a flavor of apples! Peeled apples! There’s something specific to the taste. I kept thinking it was baked, but it’s not. And then it hit me. Almost like those dehydrated apple snacks that I absolutely love to eat.
I’m getting this yeasty sort of taste as well. Almost like fresh out of the oven little breads. I had these breads at Calle Ocho in NYC the other day for an engagement party. They were gently spiked with cheese, but they were pillowy with a crust that gave rather easily. Minus the cheese, the aftertaste is that bread. Oh. My God.
This one is compulsively drinkable to the nth degree. I finished my cup quite quickly, enjoying the savory sweetness that accompanied each and every sip.
The second steep (3:30, 180) didn’t go as well for me. It was still very sweet and apple-lite, but I was getting a stronger vegetal note than I would have liked. I haven’t tried a third steep yet, but I probably will.
But seriously, I’m sort of late to the party and echoing everyone’s sentiments, but this tea is awesome. Thank you Rishi, for another tea well done!
My first MILK OOLONG.
Dun dun dun!
Actually, more of a wheeeee!
I am so super-caffeinated right now. Seriously. BWAHAAAA.
Anyway, I bought this at the Coffee & Tea Festival (for those that didn’t read, I did a huge write-up of the funness: http://steepster.com/teaplz/posts/29743 and yay!) from SerendipiTea on a bit discount. They were so nice at the booth! I didn’t taste this one there, but I couldn’t resist a milk oolong for $9 (special price for the festival) that wasn’t artificially flavored.
Anyway, the leaves are very pretty, green nubby things. Very rolled oolong. The smell coming off of the leaves isn’t very special. A bit green/floral maybe? But nothing super-interesting.
Anyway, the packaging didn’t have any steeping parameters, so I went by what other people have done on other milk oolongs on Steepster. I only did 1 tsp of this in 8 oz. I’ll have to try SerendipiTea’s recommendation on their website when I can… I’ve got 4 oz. of this, so there’s plenty to play around with!
Anyway, the infusion steeps up to a beautiful creamy yellow color that makes me want to eat it all up. And the smell. Homygawd can we talk about the aroma here for a second. Deliciously buttery and creamy and floral and wonderful. Seriously heavenly.
The taste… mmmmm. So light, but packed full of flavor! It’s mostly a floral flavor, very soft but assertive and inviting. Sort of light a tight hug. And then there’s this wonderful milky/creamy note that lingers on the tongue for a bit, enveloped in the floralness. It’s really smooth and nice and mmmmm. It’s definitely more floral than I thought it would be, but not in a rose-like way. More of in a general pollen-y way.
It tastes like spring in a cup, which is awesome, because I’m just about ready to see it coming. I’m sick of this snow.
My mom did not get this tea. She said it smelled like cabbage. WAT. And she said it tasted gross. Whatever, Mom. You are wrong about this.
Anyway, I’m off to make a second steep!
Annnnd the Second Steep (4:00, 190 degrees) was pretty much a success! It was definitely not as wonderful as the first cup, but…
Can I pause for a second to talk about how absolutely gorgeous the leaves are when unfurled? Beautiful. They’re some of the broadest leaves I’ve seen in any tea. SerendipiTea, I love your quality. I love that you’re local. You are awesome.
The color was a bit darker than before, with some rogue sediment on the bottom. At peak, the taste here was kind of “hai, I don’t want to be made into tea anymore.” Once it cooled down a bit, the tea got into more of a happy groove. The milkiness is still there, but it’s a bit subdued. The floral tastes are still very much in the forefront of the flavor. It still tastes pretty damn awesome, and the cup is as fragrant as the first.
YUM! Maybe I’ll do a third steep, we shall see…
I think I got the hang of this now.
Today I was determined to get this tea correct. I messed up so badly the first time through, that I wanted the second time to be pitch-perfect. So I used a teaspoon of this in 8 oz. of water (instead of a tablespoon in 9 oz.) and steeped it for a minute. I started my pour at about 50 seconds, just to make sure I wasn’t going overboard.
And WOW, okay, the difference is astounding just in color alone. I’ve got here a clear, lime-green liquid. It’s absolutely stunning to look at. Not olive-green sludge that I had the last time. There’s a bit of green, foamy-looking sediment at the bottom. Nom nom.
And the smell coming off of the cup is definitely more of what sencha is supposed to smell like. It’s highly grassy, with buttery undertones. It smells like a fresh-cut lawn.
Now the taste. Okay, you know what? I can get behind this. I get this. There’s definitely a high grass content to this, so if grass isn’t your thing, then this shouldn’t be for you. It melds into a very light, butter note,. This is chased by a more savory element to the tea, a briny element that reminds me of kelp or seaweed. Rounding out the flavor is a touch of bitterness. It’s bitterness, mind you, not from oversteeping. It’s an inherent and almost pleasant quality.
There’s a mouthfeel too! Not as silky as something like Samovar’s Ryokucha, but it feels full and dense.
I recommend waiting a bit between sips, because a most wonderful aftertaste will grow across your tongue. I can’t describe it, but it almost tastes like you’ve sucked the chlorophyll out of a leaf. Even though I’ve never done that before… that’s what it tastes like. A very specific, juicy-green sweetness. Really bright and pleasing.
So yeah, I think I’ve got the idea about this sencha thing now, and it’s actually a lot better than I thought it was going to be! Thank you, Steepster, for helping me figure out what was wrong with my abysmal first steep, and thanks to takgoti, for being kind enough to send me some of this to nom on!
Finally some good tea today!
I’m actually completely snowed in today. I tried walking around outside and nearly fell on my face. Several times. There was no way I was going to make it to the bus stop in those conditions. Not to mention the severe delays.
So I figured I’d steep up some very happy-making tea, to ward off the cold. And to have something delicious to drink! We’re winding down to the end of the Golden Moon sampler here… just Honey Pear and Coconut Pouchong left.
Anyway, when I cut open the package, there was an awesome rush of a sugar and caramel and delicious smell. Man. It’s leaning more towards the sugary side of things, smell-wise, but this is pretty intoxicating. I kept sticking my nose in the packet and breathing in deep. Ahhhhh. I’m not getting a lot of an oolong smell from it, which is perfectly fine.
So I steeped up a teaspoon of this bad boy, and watched the leaves unfurl. Rolled oolongs. So. Much. Fun. The resulting infusion was a light goldenrod color, and the smell coming off of it? Delicious. Absolute chewy, buttery oolong goodness, which I was surprised about. I thought it’d be more of a sugar/caramel smell, but nope. There’s a heady floral component to it. Almost like a wildflower honey smell (which is delicious, by the way).
Hot, I’m just getting a sort of light, buttery-oolong style note. But as the cup cooled down, I began to taste a delicious trace of sugar, and hints of caramel after every sip. The taste is pleasingly light. I don’t know why I thought this would be darker and more syrupy, but it really isn’t. This is so pleasantly sippable that I’m holding my mug in two hands and sticking my face in it, a little smile on my face.
I’ve been so deprived of good tea.
Anyway, as the tea cools even more, there’s this little magical period where the sugary taste really comes to the forefront. The cup even smells more like the dry leaves. It’s absolutely delicious. The oolong here is very light and supporting. It’s funny. It’s like all the components here are in an ensemble cast. I can’t really pick out a dominant flavor, which I like.
The second steep for me (3:00, 190 degrees) wasn’t as good as the first. It was definitely drinkable, but it had that sort of spent-leaf taste that I don’t really enjoy. It’s almost a heavier flavor, an overcooked vegetable flavor. There was still a little bit of a sugary taste to it, but everything was much more muted.
But yes. Yum.
Okay, this one smells really delicious. Like ginger and peaches and lovely stuff like that. Really heady and strong. My dad kept stealing the teabag from me and sniffing the contents and oohing and ahhing.
The bag is really cute too. Some sort of silky fabric, and inside… TEA. Like, actual leaves. This makes me very, very happy. I was very tempted to go in there and FREE THE LEAVES but I figured I should try to steep this puppy up the way it’s meant to be steeped: in the bag.
Anyway, since my friend at work gave me the bag, I had no idea what the parameters were. So I just steeped this up for a bit, and… yeah. The tea doesn’t smell as good as the dry. There’s a bit of a musky/musty order, and the black tea smells a bit dusty. But it’s not that bad.
So I go in for the sip and… hrm. The black tea here is pretty bitter. The ginger peeps through and then trounces your tongue. Bounces on it like a trampoline and says “HAI THURR.” It dissipates into a peach flavor that’s actually pretty okay-tasting, except for the fact that there’s a peach hand lotion taste to it. Like if you’ve ever licked your hand after putting on lotion. That sort of creamy/icky/soapy taste. Yeah. I don’t know what it’s doing in there, since I don’t wear lotion, or maybe it’s just some weird by-product, but anyway…
This one was a bit bizarre. Successive sips made it taste better, and when it cooled it tasted a bit better and sweeter, but I couldn’t get past the hand lotion taste. And the bitterness of the black.
Sigh. Well, tomorrow’s Friday and I’ll be able to steep some lovely stuff at home! Looking forward to the NOMNESS.
So I was a bit adventurous at work today, and I figured, let’s explore the options in the Flavia machine! Oh look! Here’s a Japanese green!
So I have no idea what the leaves look like, because they’re concealed in a foil packet thinger. I’m pretty sure there is leaf in this, and it’s just not powder. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if it was powder. If I get bored enough, I just might cut one of these suckers open. I wonder if I’ll be horrified at the contents.
Anyway, this steeps/pours/does whatever and it’s a neon green, akin to a sencha or ryokucha. NOT BAD, I’m thinking to myself. The smell coming off the cup isn’t half bad either! It’s grassy in a very Japanese green/sencha-like way, with a very faint hint of butteryness. Hrm.
So I wait for it to cool, and sip, and HOLY GOD BAD. Yeah. Um. What the hell. I feel bad for the poor person that had this, thinking that this is what sencha really tastes like, and then never had Japanese green tea again. It’s ridiculously bitter. You can tell that the machine has absolutely no clue about water temperatures and steep times and the like. The leaves taste like they’re screaming for help, dying as they’re engulfed in scalding water. It’s such an unpleasant taste. Blech.
I tolerated a few sips before I had to toss this one. This makes me only all the more eager to nail the sencha I have here in my house even more.
And so the work tea saga continues…
Hrm. So maybe this whole work tea experience isn’t working out quite as well as I hoped!
So I figured I’d finish off the sample that takgoti sent me, and try some Ancient Emerald Lily at work (I have a tin of this as well).
I think the problem is actually my Flavia machine’s water. I’m not sure having the water run through the same spout that produces coffee and hot chocolate and various types of tea is such a good thing. Or maybe it’s just the water that tastes bad…
Anyway, this tea, which is one that I found in the past to be very enjoyable, pretty much fell flat today. None of the flavors really stood out. There was a weird, almost mineral-like taste, and the formally nutty notes were really harsh and unpleasant. The lower water temperature I used really caused the tea to lose a lot of its astringency, which was definitely pleasant. And as the cup cooled, there was definite green-sweet peeping through.
But overall, the cup just wasn’t as good as I’ve had in the past. Tea is probably 99% water, so I have a feeling the water might be the key to my problem. The next step is going to be boiling some water in the microwave and then letting it cool to an appropriate temperature. Or I might test another tea, like Adagio’s Gunpowder, and see how it stands up to these icky water conditions. I don’t want to be ruining tea with bad water.
Looks like the hot water kettle + bottled water might just end up being the more viable option…