73 Tasting Notes
Wow. I’m back home for the night, as Bec and Cara are out at the latest of the charity events Bec’s been organising. Of course I brought my Blue Lantern box with me, and decided not to feel guilty trying a new one without Cara. Now I’m not so sure about that lack of guilt because this was fantastic. I know nothing about oolongs, having only ever had 4 of them, 2 dan congs which I really didn’t like at all, and 2 others which were rather bland, if not tasteless. So no real expectations. Dry, this smelled pleasantly green, but brewed, the smell blew me away. At first I was thinking a cross between jasmine and honeysuckle, but then it seemed much closer to magnolia – the grandiflora variety and that because of the lemony lift to the sweet floral. (I am totally talking real tree here, not perfume!) What I found fascinating was how well the disconnect worked between the very fragrant floral aroma and the on the sweet side of green, rather than a full-on kaley green, but not floral taste. On my third cup now, and it’s every bit as delicious as the first.
This could be the way Iron Goddess of Mercy Oolongs always are, and everyone more tea-savvy will be going “well, duh!”, but I’m still ticked at the idea of an Iron Goddess’s bashful sister tea. sil, is this a floral-tea hater’s almost-floral tea? :) I’d love to send you some to try!
So, was in Becca’s place, with my broken arm and her tea bags and tea pot, generally feeling rubbish, and Cara brought down the box that had arrived from Blue Lantern Tea. Which made me both very happy and incredibly frustrated! I was still feeling a little -unsettled – intestinally, everything tasted off, and I couldn’t treat the teas as they deserved. But, a day later, I finally caved and made myself a cup of this as best I could, and it was sheer bliss. Some of that, admittedly, was the relief of having a cup of really good tea taste good, but most of it was the tea. Better tasting note will come, but for now, it was a delightful Chinese green – very, very tasty, vegetal without being sharp or at all bitter, and light touches of sweet fruit that aren’t in any way cloying. Happy face!
I’m rotating between this and the English and Irish Breakfast blends, but never managing to make the definitive tasting note on any. I think this might be my favourite, though I feel I should be loyal to the Darjeeling-less blends (which the Irish definitely is, and I’m guessing the English too). I make them all with two teaspoons for a cup about 300 ml, and all are nice and strong, round, and astringent enough to know you’re drinking a strong black without taking your mouth off. None is too round either, and someday I’m going to figure out what I mean by too round so it’s remotely comprehensible to others.
My wonderful tea-drinking day yesterday started off with the best cup of this. Good stuff!
My only complaint about this is that I wish there were more info about the teas in this ‘most traditional tea blend’. Love the sense of history you get drinking it, and obviously, love the taste (strong, smooth – very smooth – and just the smallest sweetness as the sip goes down), although there isn’t really “more” history to this than any other tea. Never mind! Like my imaginings as I’m sipping. I’ll probably end up prodding the nice guys at PAT for a breakdown, just out of curiosity. Wiki says Keemun, Oolong and Lapsang Souchong, but that still leaves a lot of territory, and probably isn’t true for all Russian Caravans anyway.
Makes a great breakfast tea, as do both PATs breakfast blends, which I’ve enjoyed and will note soon.
Another of the generous handful of samples Stacy added to my order! Such generosity had to be matched, so I split this with Cara, instead of hoarding my cup’s worth.
If I’d had this before the Pistachio Ice Cream (or the Caramel Vanilla Assam – note to come), I think I’d have assumed I’d ordered the wrong teas, as this must be the best. (My tenses and conditionals are a bit mixed up there, but best I can do atm.) Or if it had been called first-rate green with very delicious touch of vanilla (catchy name, no?), then I’d have expected less eggnog. Having read Stacy’s note here about her original plans for the spicy eggnog additions that went the way of all flesh when she tasted it as is, I think I agree, but it took me a bit of sipping time to get kapow! eggnog out of my head, leaving room for no-punching, no-knockout delicious, smooth, SO GOOD green with just the right touch of vanilla. The tea itself seems to have the creaminess of some greens, but it could be the magic of superior flavouring. Whatever, it is a fantastic tea, which didn’t quite manage to knock Pistachio Ice Cream off its green Butiki pedestal. (I got four infusions, btw!)
Another of the samples Ysaurella sent me – thank you again! Cara and I had this the other afternoon, but I had no chance to make a note then, so finished off the last of it in a small cup just for me. I think if this one had tasted as good as it smelled, I’d have been in trouble. I sniffed and pondered and sniffed some more, and finally came up with strawberries and cream with vanilla sugar. And some undefined but gentle floral note. Now, I haven’t eaten strawberries and cream for ages (although soya cream is a really good substitute these days), and have no idea if cream actually smells, but this is still what my sniffing was telling me. The cup itself didn’t have quite the same richness and depth of flavour, and again, my imperfect tasting gave me very slightly underripe strawberries, vanilla and again, that elusive light floral taste. (Is it the sunflowers? They sure look pretty, but even tasting one gave no clue as to whether or no they taste sweet. Yes, I do regularly taste the leaves after infusion!) Very nice, and the black & green tea base is very good – though I wouldn’t have got green myself, I don’t think. Perhaps if I hadn’t had Ysaurella’s careful preparation notes to hand I might have got the green in the bad way?
I’ve tried the Pleine Lune as well, but going to brew it up again for tasting note for that, but so far, I’m extremely happy that the Pouchkine has been the hit of the teas Ysaurella sent for me. This way, I know which Mariage Frères teas I want to get when I get to the London shop, but am not so smitten I have to pay MF shipping rates to Ireland Right. Now.
Lovely sample-sized sachet sent to me by Ysaurella, who thought I’d like it. You were so right, Ysaurella! I have a somewhat uneasy relationship with Earl Greys, as I love the flavour of bergamot, but often find it so overpowering I can’t get enough of the base tea tea-ishness, so it’s more like licking a bottle of essential oil than it should be. This, however, is delicious! The other citrus flavours make a huge difference, as you get orange, lemon and bergamot flowing over your palate, but they’re all restrained enough to keep them from being too dominant. And the touch of smokiness is surprisingly right with the citrus – well, it surprised me. I could see vanilla with Earl Grey immediately, but wasn’t sure about smoky.
I’ll definitely be getting this when I order from B&B again – thank you so much for introducing me to this one, Ysaurella!
Generous sample sent to me by Stacy along with my order – aim: to make me no longer fear the puerh, accomplished! Thank you, Stacy! I’m not going to be able to do a proper tasting note for this one, especially given the number of infusions I got before I had to leave it and do other, more boring things. (Like cleaning.) But briefly, some of the notes I got were tobacco (strongest in the first infusion), honey (ditto), oak, a peppery bite (didn’t taste like pepper, but had that kind of bite – strongest in 3rd and 4th infusions), and then back to a very smooth oaky smokey one, with that lasting through all subsequent infusions. I was trying to get the flavour of the ‘bite’, and it was driving me crazy, as I could not pin it down. And suddenly I got it – serendipity helped, because we’d just got some Amaretti biscuits, which I haven’t had in ages, and we’ve been eating at night with our rooibos. These are totally different tasting from the macaroons I’m more used to, although the package translates ‘Amaretti classici’ as ‘classic crunchy macaroons’. The ingredients are sugar, apricot kernels, almonds and egg white, in that order, and I don’t know if it’s the apricot kernels that give the bite, although other than very bitter almonds, it can’t be anything else? If it was just the baking longer to make them crunchy, they’d taste more of toasty almonds. Anyway, that’s the bite in the Puerh!
Very much enjoyed drinking this today, and still have enough for another session!
No time for a proper note, but I made this yesterday for Cara (23 y.o. daughter)and me, managed to add a bit too little tea, and served it with a smidge of coconut palm sugar. Cara took one sniff, then one sip, and said’ and I quote: Aw, YUM. She then asked rather desperately if it was just a sample size or if I’d got a lot, and said it was her new favourite tea. I agree! However, wasn’t sample size, but I think I’ll need to order again x a bunch to consider that we have “a lot”.