6 Tasting Notes
Thanks, ashmanra, for sending along this jasmine tea so I can finally get my green tea fix!
If I had to guess, this is something like a 24 oz pot – yeah okay, we do volumes now, whatever. I steeped about 3 tsp of leaf for the duration of Underground by MISSIO. While this jam is about the divergence between affluence and happiness, it resonates because it helps me explore a trend of continuous self-sabotage, missing opportunities before they arise, and experiencing circumstances that make me unable to take advantage of or appreciate the opportunities I do have.
I should be on top, but I’m always underground
Things are looking up, but I’m making myself drown
Luckily, it isn’t written anywhere that there can’t be delicious tea underground. Foremost, I am biased. I love jasmine and I have been yearning for a good green tea since December. I think one of the most important things to me in a jasmine green blend is that the tea itself should take a backseat. Under no circumstances can the tea base be noteworthy!! I want to be JASMINE-DAZZLED, I want to be JAZZLED. Nothing can distract me. If you are a vegetal green, don’t even talk to me. Swipe left. Downvote. Get out. I don’t like your walk, I don’t like your talk, you’re third wheel on my third date with jasmine and I don’t want to see your face. You’re jasmine’s annoying little brother and I know you’re here, you don’t have to say hi, you can just stay in your room on your Nintendo and let the grown-ups have their moment – capeesh?
That said, this one meets my standards. It’s smooth, mellow, and the jasmine isn’t too overpowering – in fact, I think it could even do with a flavor boost, or maybe some extra leaf. Jasmine can get away with anything on my watch, I just want it to have its way with me, okay.
I’ll be right here, just waiting underground.
After an uneventful morning consisting largely of prolonged, low-intensity stretching and breathing exercises otherwise known as the reps in one solid set of Sleeping Til Noon, I turn to a cup of Baker Street to psych me up for one last day of clearing up assignments and preparing for tomorrow’s final exams.
Baker Street is a classic favorite. It has a hint of smoke, detectable but so mild that it should offend no Lapsang opponent. It’s smooth and a little sweet, and I sense flavors that my amateur tastes can’t quite separate but can only inexpertly categorize as “tea”. Now, when this happens, it usually means it’s nostalgic of the blends I was reared on as a larval tea enthusiast and which therefore stand out to me as “default tea flavor”. A glance at the ingredient list suggests this is the keemun I’m tasting. This is magnificently refreshing now that it’s cooled down, especially when enjoyed in my upstairs bedroom in a townhouse with decidedly feeble A/C on this fine 80F day.
Flavors: Smoke, Sweet
As I sit and meditate over a cup of Lapsang Souchong Black Dragon for a short sanity break from my studying, I can’t help feeling like a reclusive biochemistry monk poring over the ancient, sacred texts in search not of the lord’s will, but the answers to next week’s immunology final. Welcome to my monastery of misery, please disregard the fact that the soothing chants you hear sound eerily like weeping.
I have always been a big fan of Lapsang Souchongs, and Upton does pretty well by this one. While most Lapsangs have a characteristic smoky flavor, I’ve found that smokiness to have a range of profiles of its own. From the smoke more reminiscent of cured meat, to the sharp zing of more cigarette-like smokes (my personal favorite), this one falls distinctly in the middle with a smoke that reminds me authentically of sitting in front of the fireplace at home. This is a low, mild, campfire sort of smoke, less overpowering than the cigarette varieties, and less likely to offset the flavors of your food like a more meaty Lapsang. I also noticed – after a few minutes of annoying myself with constant lip smacking – that the base of this tea has a very drying effect on the mouth. I might go review some water, now.
Flavors: Ash, Astringent, Fireplace, Smoke
I was about to reluctantly settle in for another harrowing session of glaring down Immunology PowerPoint slides, when it occurred to me what would really kick down my brain’s door: I needed a warm, soothing cup of green tea.
But I didn’t have any, so instead I made this Earl Grey Royal by The Ô Dor. I estimated a shabby three teaspoons of leaf to a teapot-sized volume of water, yes that is my answer and I am sticking to it. I don’t know the volume and I don’t think it’s on my Immunology exam, so move along. Anyway, I let it steep for about one Arc-en-Ciel by Polo & Pan. Follow me for more recipes.
Evidently my estimating skills were a little off, or perhaps this tea has lost a little of its luster with age, much like myself. The result is somewhat weak, but I can still sense the majesty this tea must have boasted in its nascence, like oral stories passed on in whispers from the leaves as I chuck them in the trash. The bergamot swells in your mouth, with notes of citrus giving way to an essence that lends itself less easily to description. Then again, my tastes are conditioned to detect only two qualities in food, and those are ‘ice cream’ or ‘other’. This definitely falls under ‘other’, but what’s more: the lingering flavors are what I can only try to describe as woody, with a hint of spice, like chomping into ye olde yule log fresh from the fire on Christmas Eve — as one does.
Flavors: Bergamot, Spices, Wood
Tonight, this tea serves as my potion of perseverance as I struggle through a seemingly interminable series of mind-numbing PowerPoint slides. I really hope ‘Twinkies are a boon to my immune system’ is on the exam, because that’s something I definitely internalized from a full day of studying. Yes, it is finals week that finally drove me from the dungeon of my bedroom in search of an invigorating cup of tea. I needed a tea that would kick my brain in the ass and comfort me simultaneously, like a good whiskey sans regrets. Although, tonight, my primary regret is taking Immunology.
Not finding a tea infuser within the first ten seconds of my entering the kitchen, only my last resort remained: pour an approximate teaspoon of leaf straight into a mug. Be a man. Eat leaves. As a student, one takes sustenance where one can, and one requires plenty of sustenance to fuel periodic but essential dance breaks.
Boston is a good choice to keep in your armory because, while it’s a strong, independent woman of a black tea, its flavors are predominantly vanilla and caramel with fruity undertones that intermingle to create a very warm, mellow, and smooth overall flavor profile. That’s all I’ve got. If you want more than that, you’re out of luck, that’s not what I’m in University for. In fact, flavor assessment is frowned upon in chemistry labs.
Even with the leaves sitting in my cup steeping for hours because I am an intolerably slow drinker (tea, anyway), it hasn’t developed that characteristic bite of failure and regret. And by that, I refer, of course, to the unmistakable taint of sorrow and desperation inherent in any student, seeping from their scholarly pores.
I am oversteeped. I am bitter. But this means I am also strong. Hear me roar. And by roar I obviously mean complain.
Flavors: Berries, Caramel, Vanilla