1280 Tasting Notes
Tea note #400. Happy 4th of July!
Another in the Green Savant sampler.
In the sample tin it has a very green, grassy fragrance, which swings between fresh and dusky. Interesting. It has twisty, twiggy, bird nesty leaves that are darker than the Dragon Well leaves (which I sampled earlier today).
It’s a fairly solid yellow liquor, more intense in color than the Dragon Well. And its aroma is solidly vegetal, too, though not overly strong.
In taste, it’s an ok, but not very remarkable vegetal green tea. Tastier than most bagged greens, but not the rich, multilayered, depth of character laden taste of some greens I’ve had. It does seem to have a deeper flavor than the Adagio Dragon Well, but unlike the Dragon Well, it has a hint of bitterness at the tail. It’s the sort of thing I’ll keep drinking to see if it grows on me but doesn’t hit it out of the park on the first tasting.
My third Dragon Well of the day. This is part of the Harney & Sons green tea sampler, a set of four teas in cute little black tins.
I’m concluding that though I love the name, Dragon Well probably isn’t my thing. At least I don’t think I appreciate it the way it should be appreciated. It seems rather bland to me. This is probably the tastiest of the three versions I’ve tried, and seems to have a bit more depth to it, but it is still very, very mild. I’m interested enough in this version to spend some more time with it, though, and see if I can develop an appreciation for it.
It has a pale yellow liquor with the tiniest suggestion of green and the aroma is sweet, dewy and has a hint of milkiness. There’s a vegetal quality to the aroma, but the taste isn’t deeply vegetal like many other green teas. Nor is it grassy.
I suppose that’s its distinguishing characteristic, that it’s just not like other green teas. Instead of tasting like the run off from steamed broccoli, or like the air smells after you’ve just mowed the lawn, it seems more like the aftertaste of yellow squash sauteed in a little bit of butter. The vegetal quality in this one suggests to me more of the sweet interior of the vegetable than the slightly bitter outer leaves. I still don’t really taste nuttiness so much as a lighter quality. I keep coming back to the aftertaste of pumpkin seeds.
As I write this I’m talking myself into liking this more than I thought I did. Maybe it’s time for a nap. ;-)
I have to add myself to the list of this tea’s detractors. This is part of the Green Savant sampler.
It was my second Dragon Well, and very similar to the TeaFrog only with less sweetness, and more vegetalness, though this didn’t result in a tastier tea.
It has a similar buttery/milky and vegetal aroma and a light yellow/green liquor.
When I first heard about Dragon Well I thought it sounded like something I’d like quite a bit. After two tries, I’m not so sure. I do have some samples from other companies to try so I’m not ready to give up quite yet.
Hey, look what I found! I thought I’d tried all my TeaFrog samples, but this was buried in the “green tea” box. I really do think this is the last one, though.
As with my other TeaFrog samples, I can’t get aroma other than the fruit of another blend that was packed with this bag, but the leaves are pretty; medium green, fairly long, flat and shiny.
The first time I tried this, I fear I did not use enough tea and may not have steeped long enough. I steeped for 1:30, which is what I usually do with greens unless they ask to be steeped for a shorter time. The flavor was pleasant but not very strong.
More leaf and longer does seem to be an improvement, though I’m still finding this a subtle one. I get a light yellow liquor, and an aroma that is buttery, almost milky, a little salty, with a vegetal echo.
The flavor isn’t particularly buttery or vegetal, though. I’m not really sure how to describe it, other than to say it is “green” tasting, which isn’t very helpful. There’s a slight toastiness, but it’s very slight. There’s an interesting dryness on the tongue after drinking that’s almost like the feel of the grab you get from putting certain dried, chip-like treats on your tongue and letting them sit there. After they get moist, they start to feel like they’re grabbing onto your tongue. That’s the feeling I’m getting here. I’m not getting nuttiness, at least not strongly. Maybe more like the aftertaste of pumpkin or sunflower seeds.
Even on the second try with more leaf and more time, I’m not finding this to have much depth in terms of flavor. I have had greens that were more flavorful. Perhaps I’m not a Dragon Well fan, but since this is really my first, I can’t conclude that just yet.
After my disappointing Mariage Freres English Breakfast experience, I’m going to do one more black tea before trying to reestablish my interest in greens.
As I’ve committed to tasting my Adagio samplers without further ado, this is from the Adagio Black Savant sampler. (Which makes me feel like I should start rapidly adding numbers out loud or reciting the World Atlas or something. Surely they could have picked a better name?)
This is a very visually attractive tea, and in the sample tin its fragrance has a sort of fruity, or perhaps tobaccoey sweetness. There’s a breadiness, too. It’s a sort of toast with jam signal. And something along the chocolate vanilla continuum perhaps. In any case, it seems like there’s a fair amount going on here.
The same is true of the tea’s aroma. Sweet. Sort of reminds me of what I like about Yunnans. And yet, it’s not entirely sweet. The liquor is lighter than I’d expected but now that I think about it, with about half the leaves being a golden color it wasn’t really reasonable to expect a very dark liquor. It’s darker than darjeeling, say, but lighter than most black tea liquors.
Tasty! For some reason after reading the description, I’d expect this to be somewhat heavy. It’s not. It’s substantial without being weighty. And very, very smooth. Easy on the stomach, too (mine is a little annoyed with me after the Blue Knight Earl Grey and the Mariage Freres English Breakfast, but this is helping to make amends).
I get the “meaty” description, but I find the aftertaste mildly sweet, not really savory.
I’m glad I have more in the sample tin so I can taste this over time but on first impression this is a keeper!
And now for something completely different. I’m about to find out how a venerable French tea house does English Breakfast. On the fourth of July, no less.
I can’t find anything to indicate what’s in this, but whatever it is, it looks like CTC. Like coarse coffee grounds. It has a kind of sweet, baked fragrance. Like pastry.
If I were to guess, I’d say Assam and Keemun. Keemun because in the aroma there’s a suggestion (a mere suggestion, really) of smoke. Assam because… well, it’s English Breakfast. And there’s a suggestion (a mere suggestion, really) of malty sweetness.
I made a mistake in tasting this after Earl Grey without much time between the two. At first I really couldn’t get much flavor at all. Now I’m getting some flavor, but the tea is verging on lukewarm. Must try again. Steeping 3:30 this time too, just in case that was part of the problem. BRB.
Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t find this very flavorful at all. Could it be a bad batch? It can’t be stale, I just opened the vacuum sealed tin which was well within its sell by date. Seriously, I’m reaching for something to describe this as. Even the mere suggestions of smoke and malt in the aroma aren’t coming through in the flavor for me. How terribly disappointing, as I generally quite like Mariage Freres.
Let me try a little milk, see if that changes things.
No. :-( It’s not undrinkable, it just doesn’t taste like much, unfortunately.
Done and decupboarded, and free to frolic with Earls I like better. I did have an interesting experience where I accidentally brewed this in the Breville one morning before I was awake enough to realize I had some Luscious Lemon by Simpson and Vail still in the pot and further too unawake to remember to rinse out the pot first. This resulted in a very very lemony version of the Blue Knight, which was actually not bad. But I wouldn’t recommend trying it at home as it would require buying two products, neither of which blew me away and both of which I have been on something of a campaign to drink up.
I am really looking forward to reusing the little tin this came in, though. It’s tall and tubular and kinda cute. Currently soaking to remove labels and hopefully a good bit of the Earl Grey perfume, too. It made me think of how my Dad, who was a stamp collector, used to soak stamps off of envelopes. Sweet little memory, that.
A while back I bought a number of Adagio sampler sets and never got around to tasting most of them. I’d been reading a number of tasting notes on Adagio and it seemed like most folks on Steepster viewed them as a starter or gateway loose leaf, and I started with specialty tea bags and sort of vaulted over them to Upton samplers and beyond. Then every now and then there’ll be a note about someone really liking an Adagio tea. So I’m thinking, I probably owe it to myself to taste them. I may have unfairly categorized them in my mind. And it would be shameful to be unfair to tea, don’t you think?
So I’m going to make an effort to start tasting my Adagio samplers now, and so you’re likely to see a lot of Adagio notes coming up. I’m sure I’ll get distracted by other bright shiny teas along the way, however.
Since I just tasted the Harney & Sons Silver Needle, I thought the Adagio namesake would be a good place to start. Besides, it’s after 10 p.m. and I can’t exactly start with the black teas now.
I’m steeping according to the Adagio suggestion of 180 and 7 minutes in the Breville. This is very different from the H&S suggested time of 3 minutes, though the temp is close (they suggested 175 for theirs).
The needles look and smell similar to the Harney’s, however they seem to smell a bit stronger. This may simply be a matter of sample density, however, as I’m putting my nose into one of those little sample tins the color of elementary school walls. I get slightly more earth than air and water in this one, but all three alchemical elements are represented. There’s a bit of hay to the smell.
I’m relieved to see that the color of the steeped tea is very similar to what I got with the H&S even with a more precisely measured amount of tea. Very nearly clear, water-like. I don’t get a great deal of aroma from the tea. What I do get smells like a very dilute version of what the dry needles smell like.
Ok. I’m waiting, tea. Where is your flavor? The H&S seems to me to have a lot more flavor even with less tea steeped for less time. Am I crazy? Have my taste buds done gone kablooey after an epic run of tea tasting? (Trying to get to that 400th note, you know.)
Seriously, something is not computing here. I’m getting virtually nothing. Not artichoke, even, which I would not have minded as I love artichokes. The most I’m getting is a vague, dewy sweetness and a little grassiness. And maybe some of that graininess others have mentioned.
Ok, hold the phone. I’m halfway through the cup now and now, I’m getting flavor. Holy way to tease, batman. And you’re lucky I’m patient, you Silver Needle you.
Basically what I’m getting now is the H&S without the deliciously wonderful honeysuckle note. It has the same slightly vegetal downturn at the end of the sip that is mitigated by the sweetness. Though the vegetable in question here is not bok choy. It’s not artichoke either though. This must be a characteristic of Silver Needle?
I prefer the Harney, but this is ok. I think I have some more Silver Needle samples tucked away in the white tea box. Note to self: try some over the next couple of days.
Switching to white tea now, given the hour. Steeping this at the time and temp in the H&S tasting note.
Beautiful, long, feathery silvery/green needles. They look like they’d be soft to the touch. I’m using the entire sample packet. It measured out to about 1.5 cups worth of tea. The dry leaves have that earthy, watery, airy scent that white tea seems to have to me. Essentially all the alchemical elements except fire.
The liquor is… white? Clear? (Did I use too much water in the Breville? Or do it blame it on my clear glass tasting cup?) It has a very faint floral aroma. The sort of smell you admire on a friend who has used just the right amount of perfume. I think it must be the honeysuckle I’m smelling, as it doesn’t seem jasmine to me. In any case, it’s divine.
There is flavor here, but you have to be patient. It’s sort of the same reaction I had to the GM Snow Sprout. At first it’s like there’s nothing there, but then, all of a sudden, there is. There’s sweetness, of the sort that reminds me of the nectar that I used to suck out of the ends of shrimp plant flowers as a kid but not as strong. There’s a floral flavor note that carries the honeysuckle from the aroma into the mouth. And there’s a tail of a slight vegetal bitterness, not at all unpleasant, just the sort you’d find in the bok choy of the H&S description, but mediated quite successfully by the sweetness of the tea.
Not recommended for those who prefer strong flavors in teas. I generally prefer strong flavors but I’m always amazed by how an extremely subtle tea can also grab me and I can like it just as much as the deepest smoky tea. I guess that probably says something about my personality but I’m not gonna dwell on it.
I think I’ll resteep this instead.