237 Tasting Notes
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.
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.