234 Tasting Notes
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.
MASSIVE backlog from the weekend forthcoming! I’ll try and recall all my tasting notes as I post these, and try not to post them all at once (in part because I should really already be in bed, but whoops).
I mean, I went to Oxford and interviewed for job, and oh, it was so beautiful down there. It was a gorgeous day as well, sunny and warm, and I even saw a deer out by Boar’s Hill outside of town! A deer! You don’t see deer in Salford, that’s for sure. I think the interview went really well! But I’m getting ahead of myself, as this is what I chugged before dashing out the door for the train.
The scent out of the bag immediately puts me in mind of Christmas pudding, all warm spices and an almost sticky, figgy, sweetness, with that sort of maple note from the sweet chestnut. Do not be lulled into a false sense of security, however: beneath the Dalek’s cuddly exterior lies a dark and dangerous brew. That is to say, the tea’s sweetness is tempered when brewed by the spice, and the roasty flavours of the mate and the energetic, buzzy spice of the cinnamon. Don’t ever tell them it’s actually very warm and cozy though, as they may well exterminate you. Definitely don’t tell them it’s really nice added to a chestnut sponge cake batter and served with a garnish of dark chocolate Daleks. I may have done this at Christmas. It was awesome.
Now I’m going to pass out because my face still hurts from stress (even though it was SO lovely seeing Gentleman all weekend after being apart for nearly 4 weeks while he was with his family in Japan – oh yeah, he brought back a set of gorgeous little ceramic teacups for me, they’re so pretty!) so more on the crazy days of crazy as I continue to remember what I drank over the weekend.
So it turns out I’ve been drinking this all day and tomorrow I get up at 6 and go to Oxford for a job interview, then pick up Gentleman and arrive back in Mancunia at quarter to 10 at night. Yeesh. It’s going to be a ridiculous day.
But, happily, this resteeps pretty well! The first steep is more peppermint than cream, and the second steep is more cream than peppermint, and I even get a bit more of the oolong shining through, which is very nice. Then the third steep got pretty thin, and I brought it back by dunking a peppermint teabag in for about 20 seconds alongside. It’s such a comforting flavour to me, and since I’ve discovered its resteepability, I’m bumping the rating up just a touch.
I’m probably going to regret going low-caffeine today: while I’m meant to be manically cleaning the flat in anticipation of Gentleman’s return tomorrow night – the laundry’s on at the moment and good Gosh that washer takes bloody forever – I have to be up at about 6 tomorrow morning to get down to Oxford for an interview, so I can’t be over-caffeinating myself and risk not getting to sleep tonight. I’ll probably regret this soon, but in the meantime, it’s a lots-of-things-without-caffeine-in day. Though given that it’s day three or four of my spectacular TMJ-induced headache, we’ll see how long it lasts.
The first thing I note is an enticing aroma of warm honey and apples floating over the blend. The scent and flavour of blend is a mix of tart, bright apple, cutting through warm, fragrant chamomile, and balanced by a finish of sweet, smooth caramel. It has a wonderful brightness that’s lovely with or without sugar, and it’s certainly what I’d choose to drink if my evening at the opera were cut short by a strange man with too many hearts on my operating table.
This is another one of those tasting notes where I can’t really tell you anything about the tea in itself because I couldn’t decide what I wanted to drink tonight and somehow settled on creating a terrifying Franken-oolong by adding a drop of almond extract and a squizzle of honey to this.
It was totally super-comforting and awesome until I got distracted by other things and let the tea get cold, and now it’s suddenly WAY too sweet and it’s all my fault and I’m still just not in love with it anyway, which is probably why I keep adding stuff to it so I can get through this box and move on. Maybe I should just not finish this one, given that it’s 1 in the morning and I have to be up tomorrow to go into town and run errands before cleaning the living heck out of my apartment before Gentleman comes down for the weekend. And I still don’t know what I’m wearing to my job interview on Friday. Whoops.
Guess who just landed another job interview? Yippee! And it’s a place I’d be chuffed to be working for, it’s in the arts, and it’s smack dab in the middle of all the interesting things. In Oxford. Two interviews less than one week apart, in Oxford, after about 10 months of virtually nothing in Manchester. I think the universe is conspiring to send me south, guys. That’s the impression I’m getting, really. There’s a big part of me that’s super hesitant to leave Oop North, and a big part of me that’s unsure about moving someplace quite small in comparison to Manchester, but a bigger part of me that says THEY WANT YOU, GO MAKE IT HAPPEN. None of this has anything to do with the tea that I am drinking, but the tea that I am drinking is also helping to quietly alleviate my ridiculous TMJ headache that’s been brought on by, oh, who knows.
Oh Narvin, I absolutely adore you. He may at times be misunderstood, but he really is genuinely lovely. The scent upon opening the bag is subtle, but not without complexity: a gentle hint of bergamot is backed by notes of subtle fruit, like apricot or peach, but it’s definitely dry, not sweet. The brew is simple, not overly flavoured, with a brisk, dry mouthfeel: the earl grey pairs beautifully with the bright notes of the ceylon, and just a trace of that subtle sort of stone fruit that still has a bit of lovely crunch to it. I take it with a bit of sugar, of course, because Narvin really is an absolute sweetie. It’s a blend that just makes me happy, just like Narvin.
I keep trying to find a darjeeling I think might be a suitable replacement for the Good Darjeeling I left at home. That tea was perfect. So when I found a darjeeling at that table at the market, I figured three quid was worth giving it a go.
I’m getting, at first I thought it was smoke, but more like – grass, trees? Dirt? Yeah, a bit of dirt. Not in a bad way, though; rather, it’s a clean sort of earth, if that makes sense at all. The darjeeling muscat comes in toward the end, but tiptoes in quite quietly instead of marching in and shouting I AM DARJEELING, and I’m getting a touch of astringency. Maybe I should have given it a minute less.
Actually, it’s better now that it’s not piping hot. I’m getting more of the sweet raisiny note in the aftertaste and the clean earth flavour is less prominent. I think this is one to neglect on the kitchen counter for 15 minutes after taking the leaves out, THEN drink. Oh, now it’s yummy. I’ll still experiment with brewing time a bit, just to see if I can get the very most out of it.
And now it’s cold, and it’s really good cold! Not iced, not cold brewed, just that sort of lazy I-forgot-I-was-drinking-tea-and-I’m-in-a-drafty-room cold. Even better than warmish.
It’s still not my Good Darjeeling, but I’ve come to the conclusion that nothing ever will be.
My relationship to chocolate teas is kind of funny.
Like, most of the ones I’ve had are nice, but more than any other teas, I feel like they’re the ones that genuinely need milk and sugar in order not to just taste thin and bitter to me. And if I want full-on chocolate flavour, I’m likely to just reach for a tin of hot chocolate, which is always going to feel richer and more decadent than a chocolate-flavoured tea. That being said, chocolate tea has its place and I do quite like them.
And this is a good example of what a chocolate tea should be. I don’t really get a white chocolate flavour specifically (though there are white chocolate chips in the mix along with the tea leaves and some marigold petals) but once I added a good slug of milk, there was a definite creamy mouthfeel that could be attributed to the white chocolateness of it, and that gave it a nice finish. I do tend to find that chocolate is one of those flavours in tea that seems to work best for me in conjunction with certain other flavours, so don’t be surprised if future tasting notes of this one see me mixing it with peppermint or cinnamon or strawberry. I think it’s a tea that will work really well in that way.
Is there anything funner than wrestling with your wifi in the morning? I don’t think there is. Like wow, so when I run out of bandwidth and go to the Three website to top up for another month, it all works fine until it goes to process my card payment, which has to be redirected through the verified by visa page, which won’t load if you’re out of bandwidth. Well played, Three. I think I spent a good hour refreshing the top-up page before caving and buying a day’s worth of BT Wifi just to get the stupid payment page to load so I can have internet this month. facepalm
I am not a happy camper. Cheering myself with an old episode of Bake Off on iplayer and drinking a cuppa while I decide what to make for lunch out of my diminishing pantry.
Brax is smooth, lively, and comforting. The warm scent of clove and ginger is prominent on the nose, with a sweet undercurrent from the almond. The irish breakfast provides a solid base for the spices and almond, which shift between buzzy, energetic spice and light sweetness. A few sips in, the slight earthy-sweet of the oolong makes its presence felt for a moment. This is a complex tea. the longer you sit with it, the more delicious secrets it reveals to you. If only it would reveal the secret of how to renew my wifi data plan without the website being a little monster…
What a delightful day. Went to our favourite market in Altrincham and found loads of lovely things. Met a lady who was spinning wool and it turns out she’s originally from Toronto! Yay, Canada!
Oh yeah, and there was tea. I couldn’t possibly pass a table full of tea without investing in something or some things. I don’t normally go for rooibos as a first choice, but a) this smelled lovely; and b) my friend absolutely HATES black tea, like just can’t abide the taste of it at all, but reckoned that this smelled lovely too. So I decided I had to at least get it for her, brew us up a cuppa, and see if it was a tea she could enjoy.
And she did! It’s got a good, well-established caramel flavour that works well with the rooibos and a nice smooth, sweet texture. I took mine with a dash of milk, she took hers without, both were scrummy. So I sent her home with half the bag, and I hope she enjoys it! Yay, I found a way to share the love of tea!