1506 Tasting Notes
Sipdown no. 70 of 2018 (no. 426 total).
Another one bites the dust in project lapsang sipdown!
I think I’m down to just a couple now besides the Samovar, the Mariage Freres and the Tea Trekker.
Of course, it’s entirely possible there are more buried among the 400+ containers still in my cupboard.
Sipdown no. 69 of 2018 (no. 425 total).
This sipdown results from several batches of this made cold — as the temperature goes up around here, I’ve been going through cold tea faster and faster.
It made a weird, but tasty, cold tea. No. 2 liked it.
One comment on the design of the The O Dor tins — that lip at the top is murder on getting the last bit of tea out of the tin without getting it all over your kitchen counter. More user testing, people!
This is a sample I’ve had for a long time but never opened. I’m trying it as part of project white tea tasting.
Because it’s been so long since I got this, Todd & Holland is no longer selling it. I can’t find anything about it on the internet. I think it’s a white peony. It’s a bit too messy in the leaf department for silver needle.
The leaves in the packet have the earthy, honeydew smell that I’ve smelled in other white teas. After steeping there’s a still a bit of the honeydew, but there’s also a bit more non-melon generic fruitiness in a delicate sort of way.
I steeped the hell out of this — steeped it at boiling for 7 minutes, aka as an herbal, and yes, there is color and flavor. The color is a clear golden yellow, and the flavor is much like the smell. There’s a soft mouth feel to the tea, and a sort of light pungency that I often taste in white teas. This one isn’t too planty — it’s more of a flavor on the back of the tongue that says tea, but in a very white tea way. Hard to describe, but it’s the reason I think people sometimes say white teas taste like black teas a little.
There’s also a dewy sweetness with a tad of honey.
Tomorrow I’ll try this at a lower temp for less time, but I know exactly what I’ll get. Liquor color just a shade off of clear water, if that, and a find the flavor game.
So it’s a white tea, but comparing apples to apples, it’s pretty tasty as these go. Better than some others I’ve had.
But I still don’t get white tea. I keep hoping, though.
Flavors: Earth, Fruity, Honey, Honeydew
Sipdown no. 68 of 2018 (no. 424 total).
Tried the last of this this morning at a lower temperature (185F) and a shorter steep time (4 minutes).
Prepared this way, it’s a completely different tea. Virtually colorless liquor, very little aroma, and I can’t taste much other than hot water and the chocolate muffin I had for breakfast.
I don’t know why this comes as a surprise to me (but it does). It’s typical of my experience with white teas. Unless I steep them like herbals, I get a big fat nada.
All hail the weekend!
I have had a difficult few weeks at work. I’m enjoying the new management gig, but I wasn’t fully prepared for the increased workload.
The name of this tea was very familiar to me, so I googled it — yeah, there’s a Truffaut film called The Story of Adele H. I have to assume that this tea is somehow connected to the film, or to the subject of the film, Victor Hugo’s daughter Adele.
I don’t know the story of the film except for what I’ve read in Wikipedia, which is interesting mostly because it takes place in Canada rather than France during the 1960s. Also, apparently it’s about a romantic obsession. So I’m thinking about all of this as I try this tea.
In the tin, the tea has a fruity smell (the peach) and a spicy smell that is not hugely specific, though I can smell the pepper.
The steeped tea is very dark, like a dark beer but not quite as opaque — the light shines through and where it shines there’s a dark, winy red.
The word I’d use to describe the smell and flavor is stout. I made it the way I normally make black tea and it is extremely strong. Fortunately, the strength doesn’t translate into bitterness, but man, it knocks you back! I think I’ll try steeping it at a lower temperature next time as the other note-writers here have done.
Because I’m so preoccupied with the strength, I find it a bit hard to differentiate the flavors. There’s definitely a peach flavor, and some pepper, particularly in the aroma. I can taste clove as well, but fortunately it’s not too overpowering.
No. 1 tasted it and said “It’s good — peachy but not sweet peachy if you know what I mean.”
Yeah, I do, but I’m having a devil of a time rating this. I can tell it’s a quality tea, and I suspect user error here, but for me it’s not as lovely as I wanted it to be. I’m rating it lower for now until I figure out if I can open up the flavors some with a lower temp.
Flavors: Clove, Peach, Pepper
In the packet, this smells very rosy with a hint of citrus and pepper.
After steeping there’s a more orangey smell. Less rose, but still some pepper. The tea is a clear, medium brown orange.
The flavor is a nice mix of all the scents, heaviest on the rose. It’s not one of my favorites from Mariage Freres, but it’s pleasant. Though I might not put it on a shopping list, I’d drink it again if offered.
Flavors: Bergamot, Citrus, Pepper, Rose
Continuing with the breaking open of white teas that I’ve had for a while but never before opened or tasted, given that I’ve at least tasted most of my unflavored black teas to the point where it’s hard to dig out the last few untasted ones.
I skipped right to the steeping method I used with the Silver Needles from Tea Trekker — boiling at 7 minutes. I noticed that everyone else who has written notes on this tea has steeped at a lower temperature and mostly for less time. I have a lot of this so I’ll be able to try different methods.
The dry leaves smell earthy and a bit odd, and plastic-y which I suspect has nothing to do with the tea and everything to do with the container it was in.
After steeping, there’s still some earthiness but none of the weird drowned plant smell that I sometimes get from plain white peony. Instead there’s a kind of a sweet, honeydew note. The color is light gold and clear. As a side note, steeping at low temps often results in colorless or near colorless white tea for me, and I feel comforted by the fact that higher temperatures bring out some color in the liquor. It’s probably just psychological, but it makes me feel like the tea is going to have more flavor.
The flavor is a bit plantier than the aroma and there’s a quality to the flavor that reminds me of trees. More leaves than wood, but there wasn’t a leaves flavor option.
I’ll experiment with it more, but I have the usual white tea problem with this one. I’m not sure I am tasting it as it was intended to be made. In the past, I’ve not considered plain white peony particularly tasty or interesting though I’ve had some nice blends with it as a base. That’s true here, too. I preferred the silver needle, once I was able to get any sort of flavor out of it.
Flavors: Honeydew, Wet Earth, Wood
I’ve had this one for a long time, and I know I’ve tasted it before. It appears I haven’t written a note about it before now, though.
The name makes me think of Steepster’s Anna, who I enjoyed following while she was hanging out here. Anna, if you’re listening — come back and say hi!
There’s not a very distinctive smell of the dry leaf, though as mentioned, this tea is old. Perhaps it had more aroma when it was younger. Now it smells earthy and oddly peppery, without any real berry or cream to it.
After steeping, the aroma turns more toasty/rich with berry high notes and a sort of creaminess around the edges. It’s a dark reddish amber and clear.
The flavor takes this even a step further with the berry, though not with the cream. More raspberry, and about the same amount of creaminess. It’s just a hint, really, not a definite, heavy vanilla of the creamy or beany variety. It has something of an odd, papery flavor to it that is noticeable at the beginning of the sip, but thankfully dissipates.
It’s enjoyable (except for the hint of paper, which I’m willing to discount) and was probably even better when it was young. But I prefer the French red berry blends. Mariage Freres and Kusmi do wondrous things with berry flavors, as did the late great American Tea Room (which, though not French, was still wondrous).
I can, however, already tell that this will make an excellent cold tea. So part of my rating is anticipatory.
Flavors: Cream, Paper, Raspberry
Sipdown no. 67 of 2018 (no. 423 total).
It feels good to sip this down because it was a big honking bag, almost dimensions of letter sized printer paper. I’d say it’s about 8×10.
Lesson: hot water and long steeps gets some flavor out of white tea, as does cold brew.
I’m still not sure I grok unflavored white tea, or perhaps it’s that I don’t fully appreciate it because I am not sure I’m tasting it prepared as it was intended. I should probably try some at a tea house somewhere, where a professional makes it, so I know I’m getting the preparation right.
Still, what I’m tasting in both hot and cold brew grew on me enough to get this into the green smiley face column, ever so slightly.