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Recent Tasting Notes
I went to the MTL Cat Cafe a few days ago with my mom for brunch and this was the tea that I ended up grabbing for myself. Here in Montreal it’s pretty normal for Camellia Sinensis to be the in house tea offering at most coffee shops/cafes but since it’s generally not their most interesting tea offerings I don’t usually grab them – but this morning I just wanted a “classic tasting” black tea to start my day with. Something breakfast blend adjacent, if you will. So this malty and straightforward cuppa definitely served that need for me.
After my two little mini sessions we switched back to Marika steeping up some Camellia Sinensis selections. I realized as I was enjoying my first cup that I’m pretty sure I had never tried the Oriental Beauty from CS prior – which is surprisingly given how much of their oolong selection I have explored through. It was impressive though, and I think in particular we all were blown away by just how sweet and floral the first infusion was. Really tasted like fresh white grapes, lychee, and beautiful Spring flowers but with a more mineral and slightly roasted undertone to pull you back from the aromatic top notes and ground you.
The first of many gongfu sessions throughout the night with Marika and company. This unique pu’erh production is from Camellia Sinensis’ Tea Studio in India and something that has been on my own “shopping list” to try from them for a while. I want to revisit it again in the future because my snap impression on this evening was that despite having a pretty smooth and round feeling liquor the taste was a little flat/lacking for me.
This is one of the most pale and truly white/silver looking kinds of white tea I have ever come across. Truly, photographs don’t come close to doing justice with capturing how pretty it looks. Even though the liquor of this white tea is so pale that it practically looks like water, the taste was pretty distinct and lovely! The top notes had a beautiful peachy sweetness to them, with undertones of white florals and timothy hay. So fresh and fragrant with a lovely clean finish!
Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/Ce4STJ4OFCd/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQ_ZZ3BKcQw
I bought a 10 g box of this tea in my last Camellia Sinensis order in 2020. I was just beginning to be interested in Fujian teas, and thought this would be a good representative. I steeped 5 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma of these fuzzy leaves is of lavender, rose, pastry, malt, and honey. The first steep has notes of lavender, rose, jasmine, other flowers, earth, pastry, honey, pine, and tannins. The bottom of the cup smells like floral marzipan (yum!). The next steep introduces baked bread, butter, and faint cocoa on a lovely floral base. Spices, including cinnamon, emerge in steep three, and the tea starts becoming more herbaceous. By steep five, the tea is more vegetal with a nice honey floral finish, faint malt, and persistent lavender. I even start getting those dill pickle notes I’ve gotten in other Jin Jun Meis. Later steeps are not as flavourful and are a mix of honey, herbs, pastry, malt, and tannins with some metallic notes.
As someone who likes floral teas, I found a lot to be happy about in this Fujian hongcha. It has a complex profile and evolves nicely throughout the session. If it weren’t over $1 per gram, I’d consider buying 50 g of it, but there are similar teas at a lower price point.
Flavors: Bread, Butter, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Dill, Earth, Floral, Herbaceous, Honey, Jasmine, Lavender, Malt, Marzipan, Metallic, Pastries, Pine, Rose, Spices, Tannin, Vegetal
This is a very unique tea. Especially by Japanese standards. I had written a whole note on this one which I was going to post here but then I realized it was on Facebook which means I can’t access it. _ Meh. Though it is not listed on the Camellia Sinensis website this tea is made with Koji mold. The reason why this tea differs from pu erh is mainly that the Koji mold is introduced whereas with pu erh it is naturally formed when left to ferment. Two things I find weird on their website. First is the mention of khaki which is a lighter, creamy brown. This tea has a few leaves that are but otherwise, they’re mostly dark brown. I disagree with this description. Second is the fact that they don’t mention the koji molds. It is an important part of what makes this tea what it is.
Thank you for indulging me in my love for geeky tea talk. Now here’s the tasting note. Overall, I’m not finding much flavor and I’m wondering if I stored it next to something that it shouldn’t have been next to. I’ve had this tea from another company before and really enjoyed it so it’s possible that it’s not the producer. It’s also very evident in that the aroma of the wet and dry leaf is basically nil. There is a bit of charcoal and woody flavor in there but it’s not nearly as strong as I know it should be. I’m going to cold steep this and see what happens.
Edit: Steeped it cold for 3-4 hours. I hate to say this but it tastes like Lipton. Nothing special. I’m going to assume something happened to this batch and will not rate this.
(Not a “real” sipdown because I gave the rest of this to Marika – but close enough!)
Enjoyed a boldly brewed cuppa of Kevin’s Breakfast Blend this morning while rereading some Classic Carnage; one of my favourite comic collections! This interesting blend takes four unique terroirs that are not often seen together – India, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, and Columbia – and combines them into a beautifully balanced and full bodied black tea blend with a round, coating mouthfeel and clean finish and standout notes of liquorice and graham cracker!
Tea Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CejXQHrOEb0/
Another gift from a coworker!
I was really curious about this tea – it’s obviously named after Kevin Gascoyne who is one of the owners of Camellia Sinensis. Though each owner specializes in sourcing different types/regions of tea, I would say that out of all of them Kevin is definitely the most public facing and the one who is most prominently involved with different community and industry events. So if CS is going to put out a tea named for one of the owners then I suppose it makes sense it would be him – though I do hope that in time each of the other owners will get a tea that nods to each of their own specialties…
I really enjoyed the taste of this blend of black teas, though! Since he’s most well known for his love of Darjeeling teas and really just teas from India in general, I was kind of expecting something a little more tannic and brisk. Instead, despite a robust full bodied character, this tea is really approachable smooth/round on the palate and the taste was quite sweet! Honey is the note that springs to mind over all others but also flavours of warm freshly baked sweet breads, candied fennel, and graham cracker as well.
The mix of regions is pretty unique too with the mix being Indian, Rwandan, Columbian, and Sri Lankan – all fairly common terroirs for breakfast teas except for Columbia. I do really like the Columbian tea that Camellia SInensis carries, and their Rwanda Rukeri too for that matter! Both terroirs bring a nice character and complexity to this cup!
This was a gift from a coworker who knows I love hojicha!
I made myself a rich and roasty iced hojicha latte with some extra taro boba and agave which is, I guess, more of a bubble tea than a latte if I’m being super accurate! Though this hojicha powder is super delicious on its own and has one of the most distinct toasted peanut flavours I’ve tried in a hojicha powder to date, it’s also so perfectly suited for this kind of not too sweet boba with a bit more of that starchy taste from the taro and the creaminess of the milk!
(Side note – I think this is now like the seventh hojicha powder I own, haha)
Tea Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/Cc3AcvBsnCB/
Preparation: Tiny tea pot (aka longer steep with less water so sort of gongfu)- straight tea
Tasting Note: I would say of the most popular tea types (oolong, black, green, white and puehr, (sorry yellow you are so scarce in these parts)), straight black and pu’ehr are some of my smallest collections. This tea happens to satisfy both categories. I am really enjoying that sweet grainy and vanilla taste that reminds me of breakfast cereal. I know in the past I have gotten the slightest bit of smoke from this tea as well. I was using a different, smaller tea pot today so I may have oversteeped it a little bit. It still manages to be really good anyways.
Random thoughts: I heard about this tea on Geek Steep, so thank you Marieka/RoswellStrange for sharing it!
Today is going to be a little busy in the afternoon so I won’t get to check the new Witcher episode but I am really excited for it. I finished season 2 and ended up hunting down stickers for a journal layout when it came out. Maybe I can come up with a good planner layout this weekend…
Flavors: Grain, Sweet, Vanilla