257 Tasting Notes
I have been horribly, horribly remiss in actually logging tasting notes for, uhh, the entire month of February. Shame on me. I guess the wedding kind of preoccupied me for quite a while there, then I was in LA on book-promo duty (which I’m terrible at because doing social frightens me at the best of times, and actually telling people to go make a donation and invest in Seasons Of War? Eep! At least the work speaks for itself, as far as I’m concerned…) and since I got back I’ve been sick. Started with flat-out exhaustion, like, to the extent that I fell asleep at my desk enough times in a morning that I just went home for the next 2 days, then came the migraine, and now I’m deaf on the left side again. Yippee!
So I’ve actually been drinking a lot of tea in between attempting to get writing done, wrestling with spreadsheets at the office, and panicking about where the heck I’m going to rustle up £600 from for my ridiculously expensive visa application so I can keep living in the same country as my spouse. So yeah, Stupid busy.
And REALLY into the spicy teas of late – I keep reading about how cinnamon is really good for you, but not actually sure that the amount in, like, a cup of tea is going to make a lick of difference. But who cares? It’s delicious. It’s like a super-spiced apple crumble that snuggles you from the inside out. I love this tea. It’s spicy and juicy and cozy and all of the things I want to be drinking right now.
For the past couple months, I’ve basically repeated the words “wedding dress” to myself every time I’m tempted to just go eat mac n’ cheese for lunch instead of edamame because everyone wants me to do everything at once and my salary band does not remotely justify this level of pressure. Wedding dress, I tell myself as I succumb to another packet of biscuits because THEY’RE RIGHT THERE ON MY DESK ALL THE TIME AND I DON’T EVEN LIKE THEM ANYMORE BUT THEY’RE THEEEEEEEEEEEERE. Wedding dress, wedding dress, wedding dress.
I have to fit into this thing on Saturday. I’m pretty sure any pretense of trying to eliminate any of my abundant lumps can be thrown out the window now. Surely it is so. We’ll both make a concerted effort to fit into those too-tight jeans as newlyweds. Honest to gosh, we will.
But first, I really want mac n’ cheese for lunch. There’s kale in it. Surely that counts as one of my five-a-day. I had matcha and rice milk for breakfast.
But I digress. I thought I’d tried this one already, but apparently I hadn’t, and what a very pleasant surprise it was! Like boom, pineapple and juicy and sweet-floral with a luscious, soft mouthfeel. It’s going to take all the willpower I have not to scoff the entire bag of this pretty quickly. It’s gorgeous. I’m so glad I get to try it.
How is the weekend halfway over? Ok so we kind of slept until half past 10 and then played Lego Marvel Superheroes until like 1 and I broke the salt shaker and set of the smoke alarm attempting to cook sole meuniere. Good day. I need more weekend than this. Booooooooo.
As for the tea, it’s nice having a tropical fruity solution when you want citrussy goodness with sweet sunshine and absolutely no coconut. The green rooibos base plays very well indeed with fruit, and this is a perfect example of that. And it’s also really nice when you leave the last third of it until it’s stone cold. This will serve me well in the summertime, I think.
I realise that pumpkin spice is kind of an autumnal flavour profile, but after a really good think about what I should be wanting to drink in January, I couldn’t really get beyond this. It fits the cold weather: it’s spicy and creamy and warm and I’m definitely tasting the pumpkin, with lashings of cinnamon and nutmeg. Honestly, this is kind of just the sort of thing I want to have year-round anyway. It’s gorgeous.
Ok, this is good. Apparently there’s a dusting of raw cacao on this tea, giving it its chocolate aroma and flavour, and to be fair, it does smell an awful lot more like chocolate than a lot of chocolate-flavoured teas. It’s a light brew, but still definitely tastes of chocolate floating over a decent oolong, with a dry mouthfeel and hints of malty ovaltine and, in later steeps, the return of tasty cardboard. I’m still not convinced it’s doing anything significant to detox me, because I think detoxes are unnecessary and dumb, and I am DEFINITELY no skinnier. But while this is by no means a substitute for actual chocolate (and I don’t think substituting healthy versions of bad things you like to eat works anyway, because it’s never more than a shallow imitation) but man, it’s a nice cup of tea. Shame it’s backed by all these price-inflating health claims, though, or I’d probably buy a lot more of it.
Yes, this is good.
Sipped on this last night while I rested my sleepy, aching bones, and finished the last of a pair of paintings I made as a thank you to a friend for sending me a DVD of Parks and Recreation, after some ruffians absconded with my copy when they broke into the old house a few months back. So happy to have the gang back in my life.
Why isn’t eggnog such a readily available thing in shops in the UK, I wonder? It really is a shame, as it’s one of my most beloved winter flavours. To that end, I was really grateful to see that Stacy was still doing an eggnog tea, and even more grateful when my little bag of it turned up at my door. It’s got a bit of buttery green taste and a lovely, creamy mouthfeel, with that lovely sweet eggnoggy flavour, and just as much nutmeg as there should be. It’s even pleasant when you nod off while watching River Cottage and the last half of your cuppa’s gone cold by the time you wake up. Good.
Goodness, what a day. I was so exhausted by this week that I was legit anxious about going 45 minutes up the road to Slough to see some Doctor Who peeps I’ve not hung out with in ages – and so tired that I stuck around for about 2 hours before heading home, and I think we spent a good 45 minutes of that having a coffee at the bar because the crowds were making me squirrely. My social threshold is low these days.
So I wanted something really fundamentally cozy and brown when I came in, and this is one of the most brown teas I know. It’s got a soft roasty earthiness to its fragrance, with a punch and creaminess from the coconut. I also discovered tonight that the best way to serve it is to brew it for like 10 minutes and serve it without accoutrements. It’s cozy, earthy, layered, and those little top notes of fruit just lift it really nicely. And the coconut doesn’t overwhelm, which is forever my concern with coconut. This is good. This weekend is good. Good.
Dear Gosh, this was the worst day ever. Trying to catch up after a week’s worth of doing a special time-sensitive project while also covering my normal jobs, plus an escalating series of new demands left me standing in the lift with a tea trolley and sobbing. It was awful.
Tonight demands a good, solid cuppa. This is cozy and good, with malt and raisins and good. Very good. I feel better.
Such a pleasant surprise after a horrible, horrible day at work that saw me both taking a short lunch and leaving late and not getting everything done and everybody wants me to do more things and everything’s going wrong and then I spilled a cup of coffee just as I was getting ready to leave and cried.
Then I got home and found a lovely little bundle of happiness from Butiki waiting for me on my doorstep! I couldn’t wait to get stuck in and try something lovely – I went for this fine specimen because the fragrance was magnificently enticing – mmm, chocolate – and the leaves themselves are these lovely, lofty, fluffy curls. The flavour is every bit as comforting. It kind of reminds me of a very nice darjeeling, but there’s more: I’m getting soft cocoa, caramel, dates, raisins. Wowzers. So cozy. This has made my day.
Before I dive into tea examination proper, it needs to be said that my crush on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is escalating to a level that may be construed as unseemly.
As for the tea, oh blessums, this is nice. Just like Katarina (whom you may remember from the like 4 episodes of Doctor Who where she was a companion, three of which are missing) this blend is innocent and sweet, and full of kindness and love. The fragrance is redolent of falling leaves, sweet grass, and an abundance of perfectly ripe stone fruit. The peach and apricot lead the flavour, as lovely straight up as it is sweetened with sugar or honey. It tastes like sunshine on a gentle, warm springtime day, which seems somehow oddly fitting for a night when we’ve been told to expect snow. Living further north here in the UK than I was in my home and native land, I kind of understand the collective winter seasonal affective disorder that falls over a country where the sun comes up at like 9 and goes down by 4.
(And then in summer, the humidity renders my asthma and hayfever and eczema so bad that I’m just a sluggish misery guts all the time – there’s about 2 weeks of the year in Oxford where I’m actually at my best!)