Hello there Steepsterites.
I bring to you a post that it took most of the day to write. I just took notes when drinking and figured I could write a proper post afterwards so as not to get distracted away from the cup by the forming of proper sentences and hopefully coming up with something witty here and there. I’ve been hibernating for most of the day, so I’m not really in any condition to be seriously posting about a tea I’ve never had before, but for some reason I was inspired to try this one today.
It’s a Bethany-tea and she sent me four balls. I used two for a glass cup and saved the other two. The pellets are large and tightly pressed. It’s hard to pick up any sort of aroma from the dry leaves but I feel like I’m catching a small whiff of cocoa. As I dropped them into the cup, one of them bounced off the edge and rolled off on adventures. Those little things can really roll! Found it again several meters away on the other side of the living room.
Having thwarted the escape attempt, I poured water on and watched the cup while it steeped. The unfurling seemed rather slow and the occasional small bubble of air escaped to the surface. I resisted the temptation to stir the cup to see if I could get something to happen, but I could see a clear difference in colour around the leaves at the bottom and the water at the top of the cup. I didn’t want any thin nearly tea, I wanted a representative cup, so I waited until I thought it should be well steeeped and gave it a gentle stir, trying to not whirl everything around too much and let the leaves stay at the bottom of the cup. If I had made it in a pot instead this wouldn’t have been necessary since pouring would have mixed it up. It made the balls fall completely apart and the colour went from palest pale of paleness to a reddish amber that actually looked like a black tea. A bit cloudy, though.
Sniffing at the aroma I suddenly learned to recognised ‘malty’! I’ve noticed that particular taste and smell lots of times before, but I’ve never connected the two until now where it seems wildly obvious. I once upon a time found a tea glossary (here: http://www.chowbaby.com/10_2000/glossary/glossary.asp?synchpage=1&Z=4597646780) but I’ve learned that such a thing is pretty useless, because the only way to really learn how to recognise these things is by experience. To me, anyway.
Anyway, while waiting for some of the top water to get any tea into it, I managed to oversteep the bottom of the cup. Lovely. By the time I gave it a stir, the whole thing had acquired a slightly bitter bite. It had a malty flavour, but I couldn’t really find any of the cocoa notes that I had spotted in the dry aroma and remembered having seeing others mention. I even started wondering if it was something I had just imagined to be able to smell because I thought it was supposed to be there.
Given the slight bitterness, it probably would have helped with a little milk or a little sugar, but since it was brewed directly in the cup, that was not an option. I don’t really like the idea of those additives directly on my naked leaves.
Rating-wise I would say it was around 65, having knocked it down a bit due to the oversteep.
Second time around it was still a very malty aroma. An aroma that really filled the nose when sniffing it. I like that much better than the ones you sit there and smell and search for something TO smell.
It coloured up much quicker due to not having to wait for the balls to unfurl and it also meant that stirring wasn’t necessary. It had a more golden colour this time.
First thing I noticed on the first sip was a very sweet aftertaste. Almost as if it had been sugared. It was less malty that the first steep but I did find some cocoa notes this time, although still not as much as I had expected.
I liked the second steep a lot better, and I would rate this around 78
The colour is really pale now, and the aroma initially is just the smell of steam. I tried so hard to find some that I actually ended up dipping the tip my nose in it. Found nothing. Except, of course, a wet nose. After a really long steeping, mostly because I got distracted and momentarily forgot, some aroma showed up. No malt, but definitely cocoa.
Tastewise the third steep was very like the second, only much weaker. The sweetness was a little sweeter and the cocoa was a little cocoa-ier, but otherwise there wasn’t really anything noteworthy about it. I wouldn’t recommend bothering with a third steep at all.
This one was down at around 55.
Based on these three steeps, I’m landing at an average of about 66, but I’ll push it upwards a bit on account of the first steep having been a bit overdone.