257 Tasting Notes
Well. This tea is just what I needed.
I’d been saving this sample from sil for a rainy day, and it’s hammering it down, so it seems apt. Metaphorically hammering, mind: started my new job a few weeks ago, and MAN, is it not what I was told I’d be doing when I accepted the post. I’ve never been in a situation where a job, or anything for that matter, has left me feeling so continually angry. This, combined with my not being able to lift my right arm due to apparently having injured it quite badly while working on Saturday, and my not actually knowing what my work schedule is even meant to be this week – and I was promised full-time – is wearing me down horribly. I can’t stay. I also can’t afford any period of unemployment, as it looks like I’ll be paying rent on two properties as ownership of my former flat is changing hands right before I’d planned to vacate it, meaning I have to wait to talk to the new owners to give notice, and… ugh. Definitely can’t afford paying on two flats, let alone one. None of this is okay.
This tea is a tonic for my increasingly frayed nerves. I can see why it’s so well-loved! I’m met with a lovely nutty butteriness that’s got definite biscuit notes to it, without being overwhelmingly sweet. It’s such a comfort, and I’m so glad to have had the chance to try it out!
I’m posting less frequently than I ought to be largely because I AM ATTEMPTING TO MOVE TO OXFORD and man, it is stressful. I mean, I’m IN Oxford, but most of my stuff is still up in Manchester, and I have to end my lease up there and get into a place here and it’s so stressful aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa tries not to cry But hey, I’m waking up at 5 in the morning to make bagels all day, so it could be worse. I’ve got a massive backlog of teas to note, so will attempt to, like, get back to posting normal, I promise.
But first, Iris, which is decidedly not normal at all. She’s a pretty ridiculous blend, actually. Even without the sprinkles, the colours of this tea are joyous: the leaves are a rainbow of orange and red and green and pink and blue, and a myriad of shapes and sizes. And then, to top it all off, RAINBOW SPRINKLES. The fragrance hits you as loudly as the colours do, a sharp and bold hit of citrus and pine: stick with it a moment longer, and notes of aniseed and rose waltz in with all the air of your tipsy auntie. When brewed, it’s as good dry as it is sweet, so take it as you’d take your gin. Sugar brings out the subtle aniseed notes that follow the bergamot that anchors the blend, while whispers of rose lend a soft roundness to the blend’s lively mouthfeel. It tastes like a crisp, complex mix of botanicals that positively demands to be made into a cocktail. I like to think that dear Auntie Iris would most definitely approve.
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!