213 Tasting Notes
Catching up on some weekend backlog, as I spent most of the last few days alternately whinging at Gentleman about my lack of employment and, well, making googly eyes at Gentleman like the disgustingly cute couple we are.
If we were anyone else I’d be barfing at how schmoopy we are. It’s cloyingly gross.
Moving on. Not cloyingly gross is Vicki blend tea. Vicki’s lovely. I’d been on a real kick of both chestnut things and cardamom things, having had Nine tea shortly before this one, and making cardamom creme caramel for fancy late dessert when Gentleman came up from Oxford Friday night. I’ve done baked custards and flan and stuff before, but never a creme caramel, so I was chuffed to bits when I released the custards from the ramekins and they’d set perfectly with a pretty pool of runny caramel sauce surrounding them! Heck yeah! And cardamom marries so well with caramel flavours.
To that end, the tea. The leaves’ fragrance begins with that gorgeous cardamom warmth, moving into a lingering, almost buttery caramelized nutty sweetness, reminiscent of lovely, freshly-baked Scandinavian biscuits. When brewed and served with milk and sugar, the Irish Breakfast keeps the flavours from becoming overwhelmingly sugary, while the cardamom offers a lively counterpoint to the almost maple combination of chestnut and caramel. It’s every bit as bright and warm and lovely as one would rightly expect from Vicki.
I’d meant to get this review in much earlier, but then, I’d also meant to get up and put the kettle on about three hours before I actually did. But hey, I applied for three jobs before actually getting out of bed today, so surely that must count as a bit of a win, yes?
I’m also meant to be at a comedy show tonight, but felt too maudlin to do any good at a venue full of giggles. Yeah, so that job I’m meant to have? Pretty sure I’m actually going to start sometime soon, so they say (it’s only been a month since I was offered the position, after all) but there was some kind of hassle with HR not being able to get in touch with either of my references? Gosh dammit! Managed to sort out an email from my old-old job today, but as for my last job, sent an email to them, but who knows. I really don’t want to have to ring them. Or go in and see them. Or anything. My contract ended so abruptly (I was told they weren’t renewing it on what turned out to be my last day, and just sort of had to awkwardly spend the rest of the shift organising baby clothes and feeling shellshocked and trying not to cry) that I’ve just sort of avoided having to actually talk to anyone there, except the one or two people I’m still friends with. Oh, somebody get HR onto my new job’s HR people or something! MY KINGDOM FOR A HASSLE-FREE TRANSITION INTO EMPLOYMENT!
Ok, so my point is, I really, really like Nine. I like Nine himself, and I like this tea. The leaves smell like cozy, fresh-baked goodness, and I just wanted to bury my nose in the bag. Brewed, it’s dark and strong and warm and sweet. At first, I couldn’t taste aniseed at all, instead getting a hint of cinnamon warmth beneath a cozy blanket of sweet chestnut. This was fine for me, as I’d been worried about whether or not I’d like aniseed with the other flavours. It emerges into the aroma and taste as the tea cools a little, but it’s harmonious. If anything, this tea reminds me of taai taais, those soft cookies I used to treasure when they’d emerge in the Dutch supermarket around Christmas time, somehow one of the very few foods where I actually really love that aniseed flavour. I love it here, too: there’s a real nostalgic warmth to this for me, it’s a celebration of comforting flavours put together in an exciting new way, just like Nine’s season was a celebration of how wonderful Doctor Who is, nostalgic and beloved, but also exciting and new. It’s nice to be able to relive that. This is good.
Well, my headache’s gone and I managed one futile job application and did a painting. Ho hum. A cuppa tea while I decide whether I want celery and peanut butter or cup a soup for dinner. Mmm, tastes like poverty.
My one solace is tea. I must confess that I spent most of my cup’s brewing time with my nose buried in the bag, relishing the scent of sweet, sun-dried apricot and floral honey. The tea’s flavour begins with a bold hit of lavender, transitioning into bright, sweet-tart apricot, and ending with a lightly tannic finish: a brilliant interplay of flavours in perfect sync with one another. Brisk, brave, and delicious hot or cold, this is the kind of blend I’d rescue from a burning building without a second thought. It’s like a cuddle from your best friend, and goodness knows, cuddles wouldn’t go amiss round these parts right now.
Big thanks again to Sil for sending this along in our exchange!
Oh, my head hurts today. It hurts like somebody’s prying open my forehead with a pair of rusty kitchen tongs in order for a flock of pigeons to crap directly on the surface of my brain. Either that or I’m about to give birth to Athena. I felt fine until I got that rejection from last week’s interview! Bloody bloody bloody. Back to the drawing board, I suppose. Would it be too much to ask that the mug cozy business began to boom and I could make my rent selling pretty knitted things on etsy? Probably. Maybe I should start approaching local tea rooms with the things. It’s not the worst idea I’ve had. Kelsh needs income.
Heck, I can’t even land a temp gig like Donna! Donna’s kind of my hero. She’s, I dunno, probably somewhere around my age, leads a fairly aimless life career-wise, just like me, and then goes on to go on all kinds of space adventures, kicking ass and taking names and saving everything. And she’s a total sassmaster. Donna’s the best thing to come out of the new series. So there.
This tea almost lives up to her sassy awesome. It’s just a little quiet, like Jack’s was yesterday. But the hints of citrus and cinnamon are definitely taking the edge off my headache. The Irish breakfast base has enough backbone that it doesn’t taste too watery or astringent, and milk and sugar are welcome additions to the brew. There’s a bit of orange that carries through, while cinnamon provides a warmth that builds toward the end of the sip. It’s Donna in one of her quieter moments, but I can definitely see her appeal.
Finally, I’m back from Easter weekend! Came home to a rejection letter (boo) and finally enough time to sit down and properly taste the teas sent to me by the lovely Sil in our swap!
So, Captain Jack Harkness. If I’m honest, I was expecting something a bit louder, but with a dark undercurrent, and it’s subtle compared to that. But that being considered, it’s tasty! The scent is a full-on boom of chocolate, though I wasn’t surprised this fell away a bit when brewed, looking at the ingredients. I feel like the amount of ceylon in here waters down what could be a more indulgent brew, but the almond in the fragrance gives me a scent that reminds me interestingly of oats and a touch of booze, and then the chocolate comes back in as the predominant flavour. It’s light and lovely, and definitely cries out for milk and sugar to balance it. All things considered, a pleasant brew indeed. It’s not leaping out of the cup and snogging me with flavour, but certainly making my day a little brighter.
This is my 100th tasting note. Woohoo!
I’m getting more cinnamon in this brew than I did my first go with this tea. I don’t think I did anything differently, so I may have just got more bits of cinnamon in the spoonful of tea. Regardless, it’s got a sort of very light texture that contrasts with the weight of the flavours. It’s niiiiiice.
Wowzers. Okay, so I sort of spent most of today curled up in bed feeling like shaking scum whose organs are trying to murder here slowly from the inside out, instead of, like, getting work done. It’s a miracle I managed to will myself into the kitchen to put the kettle on, really. And when I did, I knew today’s priority would have to be gentle, sweet things that would cuddle my insides and keep me cozy and maybe make me not want to throw up. Peppermint things fit the bill, and this one’s fluffy and playfully peppermint as it gets.
The brightness of the peppermint is tempered a little by the lemon and cream, and milk and sugar elevates the blend to something altogether comfortingly magical. indeed, it somehow manages to strike a perfect balance that’s at once cozy and refreshing. Dodo, you’re marvellous! I feel slightly more human at last! I might even be able to get dressed and leave the house before the day’s through, though that may be a minor stretch. It’s a damn cozy peppermint creamy tea, though.
Oh man. Had this the other night when I was feeling oddly groggy and blergh after a long day and WAY too much pasta for dinner (I really should have known better!) and it elevated wonderfully. Somehow, the spearmint and jasmine combo makes the whole thing into a sort of sweet, juicy floral. I’m wary of florals tasting a bit cloying if they’re strong, bu somehow this manages masses of jasmine while being incredibly light and soft and sweet, while still being packed full of flavour. This, plus a big fluffy blanket, plus watching James May attempt to build things on telly, plus someone to cuddle up to, is basically my ideal quiet night in.
I’m so torn between being nervous about the job I interviewed for on Friday and nervous about the job I’m interviewing for on Thursday and being weirded out that the job I have hasn’t phoned me to ask when I can come in to train since they offered me the position weeks ago. I’m going to have to phone them and ask what’s up, but I kind of want to know whether I’m phoning to ask when I actually start working so I can make plans for next month, or if I’m phoning to tell them they’re going to have to find someone else.
I look forward to having things to talk about that aren’t related to looking for jobs. I’ve turned so boring. This was my post-interview brew before I crashed on the weekend with Gentleman. Also, his postcard from Japan arrived today, only a week after he’d actually returned from the UK. It was a beautiful photo of a field of tea! He knows me so well.
This blend gives army cocoa a run for its money. The fragrance begins with a heady dose of deep, dark cocoa, moving into a sweet richness reminiscent of smooth ganache. When brewed with a little milk and sugar, it’s cozy and just a bit sexy, the chocolate underscored by the hint of grassy chicory from the roasty mate and a whisper of hazelnut. The chocolate is decidedly the star here, and it expresses a remarkable depth and complexity, a balance of dark, bitter cocoa and playful sweetness, a lot like Captain Yates himself. I swear that my one solace in this world is tea. This time – when you’re up to your neck in debt with still no job to speak of, and the Commonwealth Prize judges didn’t shortlist your story – this is the time when soldiers are made.
I was so delighted to find a coffee shop serving interesting local teas when I was down in Oxford on Friday, and I thought an oolong would fit the bill nicely before my interview.
I’m also grateful I had enough time to do a wee before going to the interview too, as I kind of hoovered three cups of this in the space of an hour. Yum!
This brews up a lovely, pale shade of buttery yellow, and yields a lovely, sweetly floral flavour. Beautiful notes of honeysuckle to this one; a real treat on a sunny spring day. I’ll be seeking out more from these folks when I’m back in Oxford on Thursday, for sure.