545 Tasting Notes
When I requested a sample of Life in Teacup’s first picked green tea of this year, I told Gingko (LiT’s manager) to surprise me on the two other free samples he offered with the green tea. The teas on LiT are more “serious” looking than any teas I’ve had so far, it was late at night, and I love surprises. This jasmine green tea is one of the surprise samples I received (and you’ll just have to wait until I review the other one to know what it is). I should add, since this my first tea from LiT, that Gingo responded to my email quickly and I was emailed when the teas were shipped. A+ for customer service to LiT.
So, I’ve never had a jasmine tea before. I wasn’t sure I’d like a jasmine tea, or any floral tea for that matter. I worried I’d have to write a “I don’t like this” tealog for tea samples I was kindly given. Turns out I didn’t have to worry, not only did I like this jasmine green, I really liked it. I didn’t expect to like teas with smokey notes (A&D’s Yunnan and Jackee), but I did. I do have to brew them on the mild side so I don’t know if I’d like a truly smoky tea. So far, I’ve liked all new tea types I’ve tried, despite any prior expectations. Good, right? Maybe. I can only store and drink so much tea.
The tea sample packets came with no steeping instructions so I had to look on LiT’s website for them. They are also on Steepster. I did find them a bit vague. My leaves did not float mostly, only a dozen or so with most at the bottom, so I had to guess at steeping time a bit. Luckily, I seemed to have guessed pretty close to right.
I opened my sample packet and looked and smelled. The leaves were small dark, dark spring green curls. There were very few jasmine petals in my sample, but I think such is the luck of samples. The smell was all flower. I’d call it gardenia since I’ve never smelled a jasmine flower. The wet leaves lightened in color a bit and smelled like gardenia’s on a hot summer day after a rain shower. The tea had the same smell and was a warm, bright tan.
I tasted. Flower! Just what I’d expect a flower to taste like if I were to decide to eat one for some bizarre reason. I like flower taste? Really? Weird, but I do! The green tea is light with absolutely no bitterness.
I oh-so-rarely steep a second time as soon as I’ve finished my first cup, but I did. In the middle of writing this tasting note, in fact. Same steeping parameters as the first cup. Lighter in color and only slightly lighter in flavor.
I wish I’d made this tea during the day so I could have resteeped it as much as I could or until I tired of it. (Oddly, after tofu coconut curry leftovers for dinner tonight, I wanted to try this tea. It sounded like it would go with Chinese/Thai foods. As it grew later, I wasn’t even sure I would make tea tonight but I kept thinking about trying this.) Although, I might do a third steep even this late at night. Luckily, I should have two more tries out of this sample to enjoy. This tea makes me eager to try my other samples from LiT soon.
Thomas Sampson threw his manly brawn around and ended up in my cup this again this morning. He was steeped for less time and in cooler water in an effort to reduce his bitterness a bit. It worked. And I think I got a bit of bake-y too. More of a honeyed biscuit though. I liked it. He will not have to fight his way into my cup tomorrow morning. His second steep (5 min, 205°) was weak but drinkable. Much more honeyed biscuit and less bitter, smoother. The slightest pinch of fresh leaf will revive him there, I think.
In one of my last tealogs, I was wondering where takgoti had gotten to. Then suddenly, where is chrine? Well, the husband was in a car accident early – 6am – Monday morning on the way to work, detailed below.
The husband: Drives our Prius, The Bunny. At 50 mph on cruise control. In the right lane. To get 53 mpg. While commuting 45 min to 1 hour each way to work. Lights on cause it’s still dark out. Assumes truck will pass him at the last minute cause they often do. Highway is flat and straight. The speed limit is 70 mph. No other cars are around.
The 18 wheeler: Does not pass the husband. Runs into his rear end, driver’s side.
The husband: Propelled a bit into left lane. Gets car off the road and stopped without hitting the tree line.
The Prius: Damaged but fixable.
The husband: Not badly hurt, ever so thankfully. Impact related back pain. On meds. Drowsy, zoned out, quiet.
Now, the tea. Also in non-sentence form. First tea since accident. Not sure this was the best time to try a tea for the first time. What the hell though.
Look: Thin, longer than Jackee, more curled, black with spots of tan and brown.
Smell: Papery – dusty, musty. A bit floral, oddly. Slightly sweet.
Look: Flat dark brown.
Smell: Papery. Raisiny. Sweet.
Look: Deep brown with red tones.
Taste: Bitter. Honey/sweet. Soft. Bitter.
I think I need to steep it less time or at a lower temp.
By the way, if Jackee “caramel” Muntz reminds me of takgoti, Thomas “bake-y” Sampson reminds me of Auggy.
So how was the 2nd steep of Jackee?
Well, I steeped it for the same amount of time as the 1st (3 min 45 sec). Let it cool slightly to be able to drink it. Realized it was weak. Steeped 30 sec more. Still weak. Steeped 30 sec more. Better but weak. Steep 1 min more. I taste tea mostly now, not watery. Steep 1 min more. Now somewhere over 6 min steep time on a black. I stop. I drink the mug. Sweet and smokey.
I think I need to do something different next time. Perhaps hotter water on the 2nd steep and a longer initial steep time. I might also turn my 1st steep at 3 min 30 sec. The 1st steep was quite strong. I believe A&D said on their website that Jackee could take 2 steeps. They said that about the Yunnan and it could. I think I just need to fiddle with it.
So, Steepsterians who’ve had Jackee and done a 2nd steep with him, what parameters did you use? How did he come out?
My A&D DFT Series 2 arrived yesterday. It shipped on Thursday so I wasn’t expecting it until early next week. I got it from the mailbox too late in the day to try any yesterday.
After a delicious lunch of chicken enchiladas, I decided to go on the caramel quest with Jackee Muntz. The dry leaves were small – four to eight millimeters long and thin, mostly straight with some curves, and deep cocoa brown with some reddish and tan accents. They smelled smokey, like antique library books starting to burn. The wet leaves looked like broken pencil shavings in shape and were a rich brown and a dark sierra brown. They smelled smokey but more tarry, almost putting-down-asphalt like, but without the toxin edge to the smell.
The cup of tea was a rich brown with a touch of red to it and smelled smokey and burnt, yet sweet. The sweet part smelled like a dessert-type food that I haven’t identified yet. It reminded me of the fair. At first, I thought hot burnt caramel corn or kettle corn. But that isn’t it. I’ll keep sniffing subsequent cups and see if I figure it out.
And now for news of the caramel quest. I’d like to thank everyone who paved the way for me with their tealogs because I found caramel. The first sips were smokey and ashy with some sweet. As the tea cooled, I could taste the burnt sugar taste along with the smokiness. By about half a cup left, it was smokey and light caramel and just warm. The last few sips were caramel with a bit of smokiness and cooler. I also noticed it had a thicker mouth feel as it cooled.
I noticed the taste of this tea change a lot with the temperature of it. I’ve noticed that before but never so prominently. Maybe it was only because I was paying such close attention looking for the caramel. I have to admit I wasn’t expecting to be able to find the caramel in the tea, especially after smelling the dry leaves.
I think I was planning to write something more but I seem to have had a brain blank thinking about this tea. Since I’m planning to do a 2nd steep shortly and drink this tea again quite soon, I’ll end this tealog instead of leaving it up until I remember more of what I wanted to say.
Also, while I was typing this the thought occurred to me – I haven’t seen anything from takgoti in a few days. Where is takgoti? Has she been around, or told us of her absence, and it slipped my mind? (I just thought through my other favorite regular posters and they’re all accounted for.)
On Wednesday night, I tried another tea from the Celestial Seasoning sampler Barbara gave me. I went for the True Blueberry this time. There were four bags instead of the three there were supposed to be in the sample packet. This isn’t the first time this has happened to me in a Celestial Seasoning sampler. I even got five bags once.
Since these fruit herbals have steeped quite strong at their recommended four to six minute, I steeped this one at only 3 minutes. I had hoped to maybe get another steep out of the bag but I didn’t – too watery. The blueberry flavor was light, smooth, and only a little tart at the end. It was easy to drink. I do think I’ll try steeping this longer next time.
When we last left Chrine Tuesday night, she had just tealogged the teas she drank that day and was about to go into the forum for a certain chai recipe she’d see and make stove top chai from the last of her Rooibos Chai…
Oh.my.gawd. It was SO good! I used Takgoti’s chai recipe which teaplz posted in the forum using Lena’s suggestion of brown sugar (to spread the credit around for this wonderful experience). It didn’t even come out as good as I could make it and it was still so good.
With the Rooibos Chai at least, I could have added more tea cause I would have liked the chai flavors to be a little stronger. I also could have used less sugar. But this is the last of the Rooibos Chai that I had so I will be moving on to trying it with Rishi’s Marsala Chai. I also covered the pot when I turned off the heat to left it sit and steep so it would stay hot and it bubbled up out of the pot a bit. Next time I won’t cover it or at least won’t cover it right away.
I also got to use my big big lavender and gray swirl pottery mug which I got when I was around 11 visiting my grandma. I don’t use it much anymore cause it holds two servings of tea or coffee. Although, it is cavernous and round and stays warm really well for a long time.
I am sure I will be steeping my chais this way from now on for the most part. Although, not too often because of the milk and sugar.
1 c boiling water. 1 tbsp brown sugar. 1 tbsp Rooibos Chai. simmer 5 min. 1 c milk. bring to boil. turn off heat. steep 10 min.
This tea is definitely better on the 2nd steep, no milk. Less strong, bitter.
I forgot to say on my last tealog. I ordered A&D DFT Series 2 this morning! It was getting too low in stock and I was getting nervous I’d miss ordering it before it ran out. I was #24. Carmel, here I come!
I have very little left of rooibos chai so tonight I’m planning to look up someone’s, can’t remember who, stove top chai recipe with milk on the Steepster forum. I remember seeing a good looking one. I’m going to drink it while I watch more of PBS’s Masterpiece Contemporary’s Place of Execution or while I read The Shipping News. Except, I put the burner plates in the dishwasher to clean!! They need to get done soon so I can use the stove.