215 Tasting Notes
Okay, so I’ve been a bit horribly rubbish at keeping updated on my tea adventures, but this is partly because I’ve not had enough chance to drink all my teas! That is to say, I spent more of last week in Oxford than I did at home in Manchester, in part because a local ice cream cafe in Oxford invited me to interview last week, and hired me on the spot to work in the bakery. I’M GETTING PAID TO BAKE STUFF, GUYS. This is huge.
I’m applying my craft to creating the most perfect traditional bagels and developing exciting and innovative new pastries and refining existing recipes. I have a feeling that it’s going to be so rewarding.
This is the first tea I made for myself when I arrived home Tuesday night, in part because I’d not been home for nearly a week and my milk had gone off, and in part because I find jasmine to be such a serene, uplifting, and comforting taste. This tea fits the bill perfectly. It’s a beautiful, pure jasmine, floral but not cloying, not too girly. Just very nicely balanced. This tea was a gift from Gentleman, when he spied it at the Booths supermarket (which, I believe, is a small chain mostly local to Lancashire and known for stocking very high quality foods) when visiting a few weekends ago. I’m so blessed with this life.
This was the only tea that I tried to make at the end of a very long workday that remotely appealed. I can’t explain it. Everything smelled wrong and not as it should, except this. This was the miracle tea that made everything all better.
Oh, my kingdom for a life with a steady income and some measure of certainty about my future. Just a smidge. At least this tea is consistently creamy and biscuit-y and perfect and just fills me with quiet comfort and joy.
Fun fact: drink this to accompany a good cinnamon bun.
Your taste buds will thank you. It’s like they were made for each other.
I think I had a flavourgasm. I’m getting more of the chocolate this time, and cardamom and chilli besides. A good heat in the mix today. It’s a nice burn. It’s the kind of burn that reminds you that you’re alive, that life is worth living, and that you should take every opportunity to let your friends and family and partners know how much you love them.
Okay, so now I’m getting sentimental because I found out after work today that a dear friend of many of my dear friends has died quite suddenly. It’s that weird sort of grief, where his presence and influence has been known to me for ages despite never having had the chance to actually meet up with him myself, so I would feel wrong to grieve on a personal level, like it would be an appropriation of other people’s relationships and emotions to do so, but on the other hand, I feel so much for those I know and love who knew and loved him who are stunned and saddened by this loss that I can’t help feeling it too. More than anything, it makes me want more than ever to tell my friends, my partner, and my family just how much I love and value them all, because life and death are such fickle, unpredictable things, and you can see someone healthy and happy and in good spirits one day, and the next thing you know, they’re gone. So I treasure every moment I get to be with the people I love, because those moments are truly the most precious things in the world.
Sweet Jesus H. Corbett, this is really something.
It took me a few sips to put my finger on exactly what I was tasting beyond a darkly fruity sweetness, but I got there by about a third in, and what a revelation it was. The flavour is an inspired confluence of roasted pumpkin, dark treacle, and abura-age, those savoury-sweet tofu pouches used to make inari sushi. Every sip opens up new dimensions of beauty to me. It’s magnificent.
Whoops, I kind of fell off the radar there for a bit. To be fair, I also wasn’t drinking nearly enough tea, and was mostly drinking PG Tips when I was down in Oxford (where I stayed for an extra day, whoops) and then I started my new job, so yeah. Busy bumbly bee.
Remind me to bring a small pantry of teas next time I’m down at Gentleman’s for the weekend. I can’t take it anymore. Plus, I practically half live there already, so it’s only right I have my teas with me!
As for this one, a gift from the lovely sil in our exchange. Oh hellooooooooo, baby. It’s actually been a few days since I had it and hadn’t had time to write up a note, but its beauty has stuck with me. What a cozy, delicious wonder. There’s a very true vanilla and lovely hazelnut that sit in perfect balance over the base, and it’s creamy and comforting. And then there’s this sort of lovely, perfumed almost fruit flavour that’s hiding under there, that’s really difficult to describe at this distance from it, but MAN, it was like a hug from the inside, like a really gentle party in my mouth. You know, the kind of party where it’s just three or four of your best friends just chilling out on the patio of an evening with soft music and conversation that stretches on far into the night. That kind of party. That’s this tea. Yeah, it’s a good ’un.
BLERG. My allegies have hit something fierce, even though I’m taking allergy pills every day. A combination of cat and springtime is killing my senses. Ughhhhhhh.
That said, I filmed an episode of Coronation Street on Friday, and it went really well. I do hope they invite me back to reprise my role sometime. I can’t say much more because spoilers, but hopefully I won’t forget to check when it’s on! Anywho. Hoovered about 5 cups of this throughout the day, and as far as basic tea goes, I do prefer it to some. It’s quite strong, so to be honest I only brew it for a minute while stirring my sugar in and then dump the bag. It’s not got that sort of cardboard taste you get with some basic black teas that I find really blech. It’s pretty strong and smooth.
Also, on an almost totally unrelated note, yesterday was Gentleman’s birthday party, and along with the vegetable lasagne and roast and vegetables and salad and garlic bread and everything, I made a Doctor Who Death To The Daleks quarry cake. It was a dark chocolate and tonka bean sponge sandwiched with tonka bean buttercream, enveloped in dark chocolate ganache, and scattered with a cascading landslide of cornflake-marshmallow cookie crumb soil, and the TARDIS and a small army of Daleks dotting the landscape. I’m stupidly proud of this thing.
You know when you know it’s almost bedtime but there’s that thing you really wanted to get done before bed, so you start doing it, and before you know it, it’s the wee hours of the morning and you’re staring down your laptop while a progress bar advances at almost undetectably slow rate and you just want to sleep but you can’t?
That’s a good time for a cup of chocolate mint tea. This is another very comforting taste for me, and this one is just as a chocolate mint tea should be. The chocolate is warm and creamy and smooth, and the mint leaves a refreshing finish. Sometimes I get more mint, sometimes I get more chocolate, most of the time it sits in balance. I do love a good creamy minty tea. Mmm, good.
Big hugs to Sil for sharing this one!
This was a tough day, this day, but I survived. I had a job interview this morning, and it seemed to go well, but it became clear not far into the interview that I am super not suited to this job at all, and while the staff there were really sweet and nice people, there’s no way I could do that job. As evidenced by the hour of shop-floor trial run they had me do, wherein I was very politely told off for attempting to help a customer slightly further than I was technically qualified to do. A valid point, to be sure, but asking me to interact with the customers while not actually allowing me to do anything other than say hello and ask if they need help – when I can’t actually help them myself – seems a bit pointless. Just means an hour’s worth of customers had to repeat their questions to two different shop assistants. I think they could tell I was feeling a bit not okay with it. As evidenced by the fact that I was meant to get a call by the end of the day to schedule a second interview, and I haven’t heard back from them. I don’t think I will. It’s a relief, to be honest. Gosh knows I need the money, but still. It would have been a BAD job for me.
To that end, major comfort tea is needed tonight.
This is one of those comfort teas I could drink forever and ever and never tire of. The sprinkles in the mix poke out here and there, providing little moments of colourful joy. The tea leaves themselves smell just like a chocolate orange. It tastes like a chocolate orange too, but so much more than that: the rich flavours are softened in brewing, flanked by complex, earthy background notes, soft tannins, and a subtly creamy texture that is brought out further with a little sugar and milk. A highly agreeable, comforting full-bodied tea, where all flavours sit in perfect balance. I’d rate it as a good choice as well for folks who want a Doctor Who fandom blend, but aren’t fond of Adagio’s black base, as the Mambo tea that forms the backbone of this blend is a VERY different beast to the standard Ceylon, and itself has prominent smooth cocoa and slightly peachy notes that are brought out and heightened here. A fitting tribute to an underrated, yet decidedly awesome Doctor.
Good ol’ Rose. I do like her, you know. And this is nice and cozy. Light on the bergamot and lavender, and nicely raspberry. I like this raspberry in blends, it brings a sweet freshness you don’t get from a raspberry-flavoured black tea, that blends well with the subtle floral background notes here. I wish there was a little less of the ceylon texture in the background, but it’s a very comforting flavour.
Thanks again to the wonderful Sil for sending this my way!