1895 Tasting Notes
There’s nothing more soothing than a nice cup of chai on a chilly autumn day when you have a report to write up for class. This tea has that sort of comfortable familiarity when I drink it – it isn’t anything unusual or extraordinary but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good cup of tea. The spices are nicely balanced, though the cardamom stands out a little bit – which I enjoy. I could see myself stocking this as a staple in my cupboard.
My 52Teas order just came in today and this tea was first on my list to try. It smelled very dessert-like and I was glad that Frank included lots of little apricot chunks in the mix. The tea tasted quite nice but it needed more booze – I couldn’t taste any brandy flavouring which is a shame for something that is the first word of this tea’s name. Otherwise I quite liked it – it had a sweet cakey flavour mixed with fruity apricot notes both of which blended well with the honeybush base. It’s enjoyable even if the lack of brandy was a bit of a let down.
Taking on another sample from the depths of my cupboard. This one has a wonderful sweet, honey-like scent, particularly the dry leaves. However I found the flavour to be a bit disappointing. Perhaps I just need to steep it longer, but it strikes me as bland and weak, especially compared to other Keemuns I’ve tried liked Adagio’s Anhui Keemun and Granville Island Tea Co’s Keemun Grade 1. There are some honey notes tacked on to the end of each sip but it’s altogether too light and weak.
Brr, yesterday it was a balmy 25C degrees outside and today it not even breaking 15C – it’s like Mother Nature said, “Enough summer for you!” and flipped a switch. So right now I’m curled up on the couch wrapped in a blanket and the hot mug of tea I’m drinking is very much appreciated.
This tea smells very much like I’d expect a Formosa oolong to – with a strong roasted, bakey scent. The flavour of the first steep (1 min) is quite unexpected however; yes there are some of those bakey notes but this tea is lighter and sweeter than I expected with some lovely fruity notes.
The second steep at 35 sec was richer and more rounded. This time I could taste some bakey notes in the flavour as well as a smooth honey-and-fruit finish. It also doesn’t cross the line of becoming too sweet like some green oolongs do (like certain Ali Shans for instance).
I’m really liking this oolong as it seems to combine some of the best qualities of a typical Formosa oolong with those of a Chinese Wuyi oolong with great results.
My chawan has been sitting in my cupboard looking dreadfully neglected as I haven’t used it to make matcha since last winter, I think. Lately the only time I’ve had matcha is in coffee shop latés and added into fruit smoothies (which is yummy BTW). But since everyone is raving about Red Leaf Tea’s matcha blends I decided that now would be a good occasion to take out my matcha stuff and find out if there’s something to all this fuss. ;)
For the record, this is a basic grade matcha with a ‘delicate’ level of flavour – I figured I’d start off slow. I was glad for the little brochure that came with my order that had basic instruction on how to make matcha as it’s something I rarely do and it’s a pain to have to refer back to the internets.
Just the smell of the matcha powder was delicious – creamy and sweet, it was almost a shock to taste the grassy matcha when I licked a bit of powder from my finger. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I added a bit of agave nectar to sweeten things up a bit. The matcha base tasted much like I’d expect matcha to taste – I don’t drink enough to have much of a discerning palate yet, but it seemed decent to me. The Bavarian cream flavour was a real treat – rich vanilla cream flavours that reminded me of Tim Horton’s Boston Cream (or is it Vancouver Cream, now?) donuts. It’s subtle, so I think the next matcha I try I’ll go with a stronger flavouring option, but it’s still quite clear to my tastebuds what this tea is supposed to taste like. I’d love to see if I can make my own matcha latés with this one as I bet it would be phenomenal mixed with steamed milk.
This came as one of my samples from my most recent Davids Tea order. I mostly just get a nutty toasted almond flavour from this tea with some hint of cocoa. It might just be because it’s a small sample but I can’t really taste goji berries or anything that really reminds me of fruit at all. It’s not bad, I guess, but I think it needs a more robust base than this white tea.
These came from a friend of mine who lives in the UK (and unfortunately is not on Steepster). The blossom held together well despite its trip through the mail and unfurled nicely without shedding too many bits in the process. The tea was an interesting one – a mix of vegetal and nutty notes with a hint of smokiness. The floral jasmine was in there too, but it was light and restrained which I appreciate as there’s nothing I hate worse than feeling like I’m drinking a cup of jasmine perfume.
90ºC seems like a hot steeping temp for a green oolong, but the short length of time seems to keep the leaves from getting scalded, I suppose. It’s a tea more suited to a gong fu style brewing, I think, and maybe one of these days I’ll get the proper utensils to give that a try, but not today unfortunately.
The first steep at one minute brewed up a nice gold colour and had a lovely lilac scent. The flavour was floral and sweet with a slight fruity note. I think I can pick out the osmanthus, but it’s quite subtle and mixed well with the natural floral notes of the dong ding base.
The second steeping at 45 seconds was lighter and more floral and the third steep at 35 seconds took on more of a vegetal tone with an slight peach-like aftertaste. Each time the tea never lost its smoothness and refined character. Overall it’s an interesting-tasting, good quality oolong, but if you take away the osmanthus notes what’s left isn’t anything really unique.
This is another blend that I missed out on the first time around but managed to pick up thanks to Rachel. It’s not a tea that’s really suited to being drunk plain with very fine broken tea leaves and lots of ginger and cinnamon making it too harsh without some milk added to it. But it really does taste like gingerbread and it practically screams autumn/cold weather/holidays to me. I’d love to do this up as a latté – I’m betting it would beat out Starbucks’ artificial syrup-laden version any day. ;)