1416 Tasting Notes
This is a nice sized sample in a sealed packet. Too much to be sipped down in one sitting. It’s enough for two servings.
This has a faint orange fragrance in the packet, and I don’t smell tea underneath. The leaves are dark with curls of orange peel among them.
After a rinse and an initial 15 second steep in the gaiwan, the liquor is darker than I expected, sort of a natural honey color. There’s a dark oolong stonefruit aroma with a slight citrus note.
I get what Rabs said about this, there’s an earthy flavor. Even after a very short steep it’s almost bitter, which is disappointing. I get not much in the way of orange flavor. It’s very faint. It could be a fair amount stronger without running the risk of overpowering the oolong base.
Second steep, 20 seconds. The liquor is darker, a sort of brandy color. More orange in the aroma, along with the typical dark oolong toastiness. Still not much orange in the flavor, and as dark oolongs go, this one doesn’t seem to have a lot of flavor to the base, either. It’s not bitter on this steep, but it doesn’t have much complexity.
Third steep, 25 seconds. The flavor has opened up some. There’s a bit more orange flavor, and a rather pleasant, thick mouthfeel. Some astringency and some peach-pit notes starting to emerge from what seemed before a sort of generic woodiness. A slight bitterness at the finish.
Fourth steep, 30 seconds. Pretty much the same as the third.
I may fiddle around with this through a few more steeps, but it’s not doing much for me. It’s drinkable, but it doesn’t bowl me over.
Flavors: Orange Zest, Stonefruits
Sipdown no. 151 of the year 2014. This time I made it with plain Assam (LeafSpa Banaspaty Bliss) as the extra black tea rather than spicy chocolate to see what difference that might make.
It does tone down the spice to about an 11 from a 15 or so, but it’s still quite spicy and there’s a substantial afterburn. Certainly a bit more than I can handle on a regular basis, but every now and then something like this could definitely hit the spot.
I really do like chai, which may explain why I seem to have it coming out of my ears. I haven’t counted all my chais, but I have two other chocolate chais from 52teas and at least ten others (some chocolate, some not) that I can think of offhand, not counting samples. It’s likely that number is higher. Sipping down chais isn’t all that easy for me. It’s higher in calories (because milk) and more labor intensive than most other teas, so I can’t drink it as frequently as I’d like. So getting this sipdown in gives me a feeling of accomplishment!
This is yum.
I think I bought this sample because I liked the name (both because of the London neighborhood and because of the movie), but I’m glad I did. It’s a bold, hearty breakfast tea without being heavy. In the packet, I can smell both a bit of sharpness from the Assam and maltiness from the Yunnan. The steeped tea has a sweet, malty aroma and is a clear, mahogany color.
It has been a while since I had the Earl Grey Shanghai, but this reminds me somewhat of the base of that tea (must be the Yunnan) without the bergamot. I definitely get the “woodsy sweetness” of the description, as there’s something very arboreal about the flavor. I’m conscious I’m drinking something made from leaves when drinking this, and it’s a pleasant reminder. I can also get a hint of sweet tobacco.
Definitely many notes in this one, all of which work together nicely. It’s going on the shopping list.
And happy Easter to those who are celebrating.
Flavors: Malt, Tobacco, Wood
Wow, it’s been five days since I posted a note. Which goes to show how crazy it has been.
The kids were on spring break and going to a day camp, so our schedule got all discombobulated from that, plus work has been such that I come home every day feeling as though I’ve been crushed and ground into a fine powder. And then some nights, I had to get back on the phone for calls with Asia. My left eyebrow has been twitching intermittently for the last week, which sometimes happens when I’m overtired or stressed.
I have been feeling unmoored and I think it is because all vestiges of routine have been abandoned. I haven’t even been having breakfast, really. No morning coffee or tea, or at least not on a regular basis.
Also, it’s been warm-ish here, so I haven’t been craving hot drinks.
But as I mentioned in the last note before the lapse, I cold brewed some of this.
I don’t think my palate is very refined when it comes to tasting iced teas. I mean, I can taste a difference between this and the other cold brewed blacks I have had lately, but not a great difference. I suspect that the fact that the difference isn’t that great is reason enough not to brew this cold, unless I try it hot and it doesn’t send me. Darjeeling may be too complex a flavor to translate to iced tea readily? There’s a little more sharpness to this than there is with the cold Assam but sharpness isn’t really the right word because the cold brewing has blunted it. Otherwise, it’s pretty much a decent black iced tea and does the job of being a refreshing cold drink.
Continued apologies for not reading/commenting as much as I’d like.
Made some of this cold brewed using the same formula I used for the Grapefruit Black. It was quite good, a great thirst quencher which is really one of my main requirements for cold tea. No. 1 liked it as well.
I’m now trying cold brewing the LeafSpa Goomtee Darjeeling. I’ll let you know how it turns out sometime after 5 p.m. tomorrow.
I realized that I forgot to post no. 1’s results from his piano Certificate of Merit exam and now I feel bad about not posting it because (to the extent anyone thought about it at all ;-)) my silence may have led you to believe that he crashed and burned.
Brag starts here:
However, such was not the case. He got all excellents except for in sight reading, where he got a good. And he got a branch honors sticker on his certificate.
So now that I’ve set the record straight. This tea is definitely a step up from the Choconut and a decent flavored green tea, but not very distinctive. It’s one of many tropical fruit flavored greens I’ve had that are solid but not exceptional. So I can’t say I’ll miss it much when it’s gone, which should be fairly soon, because chances are I have another tea with a similar flavor somewhere in my stash. Perhaps even two or three…
Sipdown no. 150 of the year 2014!
I feel like I’ve accomplished something. On the other hand, I’ve got a long way to go.
I’m glad to see this one go. It’s marginally better than the other mates I’ve had including the flavored ones, but it is far from a favorite. Also, the more I drink it, the more I taste a weird liquor-y note, like a brandy flavor or something. Not fond of that.
Happy tax day to those of you paying U.S. taxes. I had to get an extension because my bank failed to send me the correct documents on something. Bother.
And happy Passover to those celebrating. Chag Pesach sameach!
Sipdown no. 149 of the year 2014.
I’ve been drinking this one down gradually, interspersed with other things, and had intended to write a note about it this weekend but then Earthlink went kablooey. (Shakes fist at sky.)
I had rated this fairly high initially, I think because I was coming off of a lot of bad flavored green tea experiences and this one was better by comparison. But now that I’ve had a lot of really nicely done flavored green teas, I am dropping this one down a bit. Chocolate in green tea didn’t sound good to me (and I only bought this because I was in a phase where I was buying everything with the word chocolate in it) and I recall being surprised that it was as tasty as it was. After drinking it more, though, I started to become aware of its downsides.
The primary one is that chocolate in green tea didn’t sound good to me because it’s not really the best and highest use of both flavors. Chocolate ought to be rich and luscious, and green tea ought to be refreshing and light but tasty. Their purposes in life are different, in my view. The chocolate here doesn’t overpower the green tea, but that’s part of the problem. It has to hold back to avoid doing so. And the green tea here doesn’t add to the richness of the chocolate and in fact works against it.
Bumping it down a few points. I wouldn’t buy it again, though that’s irrelevant now, as Teavana has apparently discontinued it.
Sipdown no. 148 of the year 2014.
Home network has been reinstalled and is back up as of this morning, but I am woefully behind in reading/writing notes. Apologies.
I got a lot of enjoyment out of this tea while it lasted. I am not sure it’s the end all and be all of Irish Breakfast blends as I haven’t had enough of them (and haven’t had any recently enough to compare this to), but it consistently struck me as a tasty, brisk, medium-bodied black tea that was almost never heavy on the stomach when drunk first thing in the morning. If I didn’t have a ton of other black teas yet to try that I’m looking forward to tasting, I’d certainly miss this one.
Sipdown no. 147 of the year 2014.
Friday, my ISP went down in California and it is only now back up. I’m unable to get online through my router, but I can get on through the DSL modem alone.
I hate my ISP. I want to get cable because though I live in Silicon Valley, I can only get the most limited DSL service, 1.5 MBPS in my area. Which sucks. The problem is I’ve had the same ISP for almost 15 years and everyone…. everyone… who has my email address, from banks and doctors to friends and relatives, has this email address for me. I’m not sure what to do about it, but the situation has become intolerable.
In any case, I drank other teas this weekend and even took notes on them, but as this is a sipdown, it’s the only one I think I’m going to post. I’m just really in an awful mood and I don’t want to be a downer through five notes instead of one.
The blend I drank is different from the one currently up on the T&H web site. This one is cranberry only, not the “riot of red fruits.” Perhaps the riot is better.
This was a dark brown tea with small leaves. I believe it was a keemun base, or at least had a lot of keemun in it because it had a smoky aroma when dry and after steeping and there was smoke in the flavor, too. The dry mix had pretty red petals in it and among the smoke was also a berry aroma, but not clearly cranberry.
The tea’s aroma had some maltiness and a berry note. It was a deep reddish brown color.
I had this twice, though I didn’t log it the first time because it was one of the teas that the Original Spice Decaf encroached upon and all I could taste was this weird cinnamon aura. The second time, yesterday, that was not present, thankfully.
Unfortunately, the tea was pretty bitter. I steeped for four minutes and perhaps it would have been less so if I’d only steeped for 3, but since I don’t have more, I can’t try it. I had high hopes for this, but it didn’t do it for me. The underlying tea base just didn’t work with the flavoring agent—too strong, too smoky, and the berry flavor too light, vague almost, with no natural sweetness at all. I can see liking a black cranberry tea with a more amenable base, and it makes me want to try some.
But this, alas, was a total bust for me.