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Recent Tasting Notes
I’m getting closer and closer to having tasted all the black teas in my cupboard once with a note to show for it. By current count I have 15 still untasted and unwritten about including this one.
Two caveats, though. First, I went looking for the Upton Castleton darjeeling today and I couldn’t find it. So I suppose it is possible I put that one in there by accident, but I don’t know for sure. I’m leaving it in for now because sometimes things turn up. There may be others that fit that description as well. Second, I am hoping that after this long weekend, I’ll have reduced that number to nine. If I continue at my current pace, I’ll have gotten through them all by the end of the month, what with Thanksgiving falling in the middle there.
I’ll be a little sad when there’s nothing left to discover for the first time with my black teas, though. This one for example.
Everyone says it tastes like Marco Polo by Mariage. I wish I had tasted that more recently,
though I clearly loved it because I gave it a 92. I got some strawberry with that one. I’m not really getting strawberry with this so much. Maybe a little.
In the tin I smell berry fruit, raspberry maybe. And a cocoa note. I smell even more raspberry in the steeped tea. Not much of a cocoa note, though, more of a cream one. The tea is chestnut colored and clear.
The flavor starts out like the smell, but there’s more to it than that. In the aftertaste there’s a pleasant caramel note that has a touch of sweetness.
Just a really wonderful taste to start the day with.
Flavors: Berry, Caramel, Cocoa, Cream, Raspberry, Strawberry
So right before this I had Gauguin, and when I tasted this I thought: Gauguin without the fruitiness.
There are some other differences. The smell in the tin is more intense with this tea and it has an almond pastry note in the dry leaf. It steeps a little less dark than the Gauguin, though the leaf looks similar. This is more of a clear, dark amber.
I totally get the macaron aspect in the aroma of the steeped tea, which, come to think of it I got in Gauguin as well. Some of what gives it that aspect is, I think, the coconut. Some of it is the cocoa and caramel notes. I wish the pistachio was more pronounced as I love pistachio.
The flavor is very reminiscent of the Gauguin of this morning, but without the fruitiness. I kind of like the addition of the fruitiness, but it’s otherwise too close to call.
Flavors: Almond, Caramel, Cocoa, Coconut, Nuts, Pastries
This tea is something of a mystery. I can’t find any information about it online, and The O Dor no longer sells it.
It’s definitely a black tea, not CTC, and it has bits of what look like dried fruit in it. The dry leaf has caramel and cocoa notes. I am thinking it is likely an Assam base or at least has Assam in the base. The steeped tea has that, as well as some fruity notes and a little smoke. The tea is dark brownish red and clear.
The tea reminds me a little of the Mariage Freres Wedding Imperial from yesterday, except that it isn’t nearly as heavy and is fruitier. If I’m guessing, I’m going to say mango (because Gauguin) and maybe some red berry. I get a little bit of a raspberry note.
It’s rarely the case I have a tea that is as clean a slate as this one. I wish someone else had some and would write about it. Would be fun to compare.
Edited to add: See also note on The O Dor Je t’aime — this has a lot of similarities. Yeah, I think I didn’t zero in on the coconut, but Gauguin has that as well.
Flavors: Caramel, Cocoa, Coconut, Fruity, Mango, Raspberry, Smoke
Sipdown no. no 124 of 2018 (no. 480 total).
I sent this directly to the front of the cold tea line, and it made an ok cold tea.
The thing I liked most about it was there was a lot of it, so it took the guess work out of what got sent to the front of the cold tea line for a while.
But now it’s gone and I will have to make those decisions again.
Bah. So long, So Long.
Last caffeine of the day and close to the last flavored oolong in my stash. I think. I know of at least one other. But the problem with having too much tea is I end up finding things I forgot I had.
I will again embark on the forced oolong ritual for the first taste of even a flavored oolong, i.e., short steeps in the gaiwan starting at 15 seconds after rinsing. Even though in all of the flavored oolongs I’ve tasted this way, it’s only really seemed to matter for one of them. Most seem to change not at all on subsequent steeps so it’s Western style from then on.
This tea has some mixed reviews here on Steepster, and the consensus seems to be it’s just ok and not one of The O Dor’s best. I’m trying to remain unbiased, but the smell in the tin is pretty consistent with that assessment. More than anything else, it seems rather generic. General (and very faint) floral, generic and (and very faint) fruit, generic and very faint oolong smell.
This is surprising, because given what is in this tea I’d expect a very strong aroma out of the tin. Pineapple if nothing else. But I don’t smell strong pineapple or strong anything, and that is not a great sign.
The tea is a dark, rosy amber. It smells a little spicy and a little citrusy (bergamot, I am guessing) but there’s nothing special about it. It has an almost generic earl grey flavor, except that in and among the bergamot is some other fruit that keeps the bergamot from actually being bergamot — there’s no bitter citrus zest note to this. The other flavors, none of which I can really taste separately, are likely exerting most of their effect in tamping down the bergomotness of the bergamot. I do taste something that is vaguely like passion fruit, though.
It’s not that this is terrible, but I agree it isn’t the best of The O Dor. It’s more that it lacks anything that makes is special than that it is bad.
I’m sending this directly to the cold brew queue. I have a feeling it might find its special something there.
Flavors: Bergamot, Floral, Fruity, Passion Fruits
I wasn’t able to drink tea and write notes yesterday because I was out of town, so today I’m continuing with the project to taste all the teas in my stash and write notes about them.
I’m just really tired of seeing a bunch of “no notes yet” in my cupboard.
I don’t know whether my taster is off this weekend or what, but both the Fruits D’Alsace I had earlier this morning and this seem to me like they need to be stronger. It is possible my taster is off. I had a stuffy nose last night and something going on with my right ear. But I woke up without any of that, so I thought I had nipped it in the bud.
The smell in the tin is fairly faint to me, but it smells mostly, but not richly, of chocolate. There is some mint, though I’m unable to discern what kind. I think it’s likely to be spearmint which I find to be less aromatic than peppermint.
The aroma has less chocolate, more mint, and a sort of malty tea smell that makes me wonder if there is Yunnan in the blend. Its a dark color, orangish-brown. Not a lot of red.
The flavor, too, has more mint than chocolate. I wonder if this is a what got into the spoons issue, or whether it’s an age issue, or whether this is just how the blend is. It’s a very subtle flavor all around, both the chocolate and the mint. So if you like subtle, this is probably a good choice. The aftertaste has a nice blend of chocolate and mint.
I tend to like richer chocolate, so that’s reflected in the rating. But it’s still a quality blend.
Flavors: Chocolate, Malt, Mint
My second installment of personal drama: the car.
When No. 2 was about to be born, I decided I couldn’t face the prospect of two kids in car seats in the back of my Acura Integra, which was at the time 11 years old anyway. (And guess what, now it is 23 years old and I still have it. It would have been about $2K in trade in value and it was worth more to me to keep it as an alternative ride, mostly because my mother had given it to me and she died a year after she gifted me with the car.) I am not a tall person, but the idea of having to bend over, strain my back, and bump my head, and the babies’ heads, every time I put them in or out of the car seat wasn’t at all appealing.
Around that time I got a big bonus at work so I went looking for a new car that would make a good baby mobile, but was also something I’d find fun to drive. It needed to be tall enough that I didn’t have to bend over to get the kids in car seats.
I started looking at Land Rovers, in particular the LR3. I was a huge Joy Adamson fan as a child. My mother read Born Free to me before I could read myself, and my totem animal has always been a lion. As a subsidiary to these other fandoms, I was a Land Rover fan and I’d always wanted one — because that was the car Elsa rode on top of. I liked to imagine myself driving through the bush with a lioness riding on my roof.
At the time, I really wanted a Discovery but they had stopped making them. LR3 was the short-lived replacement. It turned out that the LR3, in the color and with many of the options I wanted, was available for almost exactly the amount of my bonus — which I took as a sign from the universe that I should get it.
I did, and I never regretted it. Not even when the car went out of warranty and every time it went into the shop, which was a lot more often than the Acura, it cost at least $1500 to get it out. I still loved it. I loved the color, I loved the feel, I loved the navigation system voice (a haughty English type we called Nigel).
But then it got old. 13 years and 130K miles later, everything went pear shaped. The electronic diagnostics reported a transmission fault, and the car started to buck and shudder. The engine light went on. And then, the brake light went on. One of the wiper blades jettisoned from the car like it was ejected out of a crashing fighter jet. To make matters worse, mechanics now apparently can’t fix cars unless the electronic diagnostics tell them what to do. And my car’s diagnostics printout was about 40 pages long. Essentially everything was wrong with the car, according to the diagnostics. Land Rover said it was the transmission that needed to get fixed first. So we took it to a local transmission guy and left the car there for a month while he tried to figure it out. He concluded it wasn’t the transmission…
So I started looking for a new car. I wanted one exactly like my old one, but they no longer make them. They don’t make the color, British racing green, except in the Range Rover which was about $50K more than I wanted to spend. They no longer have 8 cylinder engines for the Discovery (it’s back to Discovery again). And initially they told me I would have to have an American voice for the navigation system. This turned out to be false. As it happens, everyone on this side of the pond apparently wants the haughty English navigation voice so they figured out a way to make it happen.
I kept waiting for the new concept Discovery to come out because at least it had 8 cylinders. But the last news about that was in 2017, and my car wasn’t likely to make it indefinitely.
So I got comfortable with the idea of getting something that wasn’t exactly what I wanted. The way I got there was: I basically decided to get every available option to make up for the fact I couldn’t get exactly what I wanted. Of course, no car like this exists anywhere except in the ether of the “design your own” web site, so I had to order it.
And then Land Rover fucked up my order! The dealer placed an order with at least four errors in it, and then said there was no way to change the order because the timing was such that the car was already being built. The BF and I (mostly the BF) made a stink about it, and they agreed to order us another car that was correct. That just got done this week and the car should arrive in 4-6 months.
Meanwhile, my LR3 was looking less and less likely to make it another 6 months. Not only that, No. 1, who will be 15 in May, said that he really really really wanted me to keep the old Land Rover and fix it up so that he could drive it when he got his license. I had originally planned to fix up the Acura (which needs minimal fixing — new paint, sunroof motor repair, a dent fixed) for him. And actually, that is still the plan. But it got me thinking that No. 2 will be coming in hot right behind him. And the trade in value for my LR3? $2K if you’re lucky, said the dealer. (Why is it always $2K?)
So I got the LR3 fixed.
Wouldn’t you know, the LR3’s transmission is the same one they use in the Mercedes, so we found a transmission guy who knows German transmissions and he figured it out right away: this transmission has a life of 120K miles and we were at 130K, so yes, it was definitely the transmission. After he fixed the transmission, the engine light was still on — but that turned out to be an easy wiring fix. He also put on new brake pads. Yes, it was expensive, but there are upsides. I get to keep the green car, and I get to keep Nigel (in his original iteration, which I like better than the new one). And No. 1 and potentially No. 2 will have a very safe car to drive around in when they get their licenses.
So now I will have 3 cars (!) which sounds really excessive. But it’s not like it’s a Lamborghini, a Ferrari, and a Maserati, and we will also have 3 drivers eventually.
End of saga.
Now to this tea. The leaves look like a CTC cut, so I expected this to be quite strong. The tea has a malty, chocolatey smell in the tin.
After steeping the tea has what I’d describe as a stoutness. The color is dark — maybe not quite as dark as Guiness, but if tea were beer it would be on that end of the spectrum.
The aroma is chewy and malty and has a coffee-like note as well. I get the cream and the chocolate, too.
It’s quite nice for an eye opener; stronger, chewier, and a tad harsher than the Class Photo I had earlier today.
It’s very tasty, but because it’s a bit heavy it’s not the sort of thing I’d be likely to drink every day.
Flavors: Chocolate, Coffee, Malt
Drama of all different types seems to be rampant in my life at the moment, not all of it mine. Some belongs to No. 1, some belongs to No. 2, some belongs to the workplace. My personal drama has mostly revolved around wildlife issues and car troubles. Raccoons have apparently torn parts of the roof off our house. Good thing we found out before the rain starts. The roof repair guy said we’d definitely have had leaks if we hadn’t found out about the raccoons.
We only found out about the raccoons, though, because of the rats. Our house is built on a hillside, so we have a rather large under house area — not a basement because it isn’t dug into the ground, but an area of that is below the flat floor of the first story. Some of this area is partially finished, and that’s where we have weights, a treadmill, etc. No. 1 was complaining about not being able to work out, and when asked why, he allowed as to how there was a dead rat in the workout room. We called the rodent control folks and they trapped another 3. Shudder. They have now patched up all the gaps where they think the rats were getting in, so there’s that. They also looked at the roof, et voila, raccoons.
The car issue has even more threads, so I’ll save that for my second cup of tea.
This tea has some of my favorite flavors in it: chocolate, hazelnut, almond, and orange. They’re all smellable in the dry leaf, and miraculously, also in the aroma of the steeped tea. You don’t have to chase them that much either — they sort of hand off the job of stepping to the fore like choreographed dance soloists. One comes forward, then recedes, then another comes forward. More like yearbook entries than a single class photo, really. The tea is a deep red, sort of a cranberry color when held up to light, and a dark orange brown when not.
The flavor is hitting the spot this morning. My only complaint is that the nuts and orange aren’t as strong in the flavor as in the aroma. But this isn’t much of a complaint, especially when I consider what it might do to the balance of the tea to pull any single lever more than it has been.
Flavors: Almond, Chocolate, Hazelnut, Orange
Home – 7:30 PM
From my swap with ashmanra.
Hmm, I’m finding this one a bit underwhelming. It’s meant to be a red fruit macaron green tea. I definitely get the red fruits – mostly strawberry and sour cherry. And it’s tasty enough! But I wish there were more almond flavor. There’s perhaps a hint of nuttiness, but I may be imagining that… ;)
It’s a fairly tasty red fruits green tea, but I was hoping for more macaron!
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Bitter, Cherry, Grass, Red Fruits, Strawberry
Home – 8:00 PM
This is a sample from my swap with ashmanra. I think this may be the first time I’ve tried THE O DOR…?
How can this possibly be a Chinese green tea…? The leaves are small and thin, and super dark green in color. If I didn’t know better, I’d say this was a Japanese sencha, and a shaded or steamed sencha at that.
The flavor of the base tea also says “Japanese” to me. It’s a bit intense and quite vegetal with notes of umami. Maybe it’s a Chinese sencha…? Regardless, it’s definitely of quality. I oversteeped it a bit – I would recommend a 2 minute steep for this one. But even with some bitterness, it’s pleasant.
The flavoring is very nice, light and buttery biscuit with vanilla essence.
I can see an order from THE O DOR in my future… Too bad I would have to spend €150 to avoid paying €35 in shipping fees… Sounds like a group order opportunity. ;)
Looking at their €75 advent calendar now… ❤
Flavors: Butter, Cookie, Cream, Mineral, Spinach, Sweet, Umami, Vanilla, Vegetal
I’m finally getting around to trying this one and I hope I don’t like it. I say that because it is no longer on the The O Dor web site and I haven’t heard of anyone else trying to do a tomato tea.
If I do like it, it will be the sort of thing I hoard until the end of time. Or at least until The O Dor brings it back.
I would not necessarily have identified this as a darjeeling without reading the existing notes because the leaves in the tin smell fairly strongly of tomato and lemon. I really can’t smell the tea itself.
Various notes mention a tendency toward bitterness, which must be a function of the tomato and citrus rather than the underlying tea — I’ve never had a bitterness issue steeping darjeeling for 3 minutes. Since this is apparently not the most forgiving tea, and because I can find no recommended steeping instructions for it from The O Dor on the tin or elsewhere, I’m going to follow Ysaurella’s recommendation and steep it at 190F for only 2 minutes as a starting point.
The steeped tea is a coppery amber color, darker than I expected. And it definitely smells like tomatoes!
But what’s great about this, at least for me, is that it’s the essence of tomato without the acidity, or the pulpiness, or any of the other things that can be unpleasant about tomatoes if they aren’t gorgeously ripe, sweet, and juicy. Not that this really tastes like gorgeous, ripe, sweet, juicy tomatoes either. I am not sure how they managed this, but it’s kind of like they added the smallest amount of tomato possible that could provide enough flavor so that it’s recognizable, but not so much that it tastes like spaghetti sauce. There’s a floral essence as well, which keeps the tomato from being too heavy.
Fascinating and unique. I can’t say it’s my favorite thing ever, but it’s pretty amazing in how it accomplishes what it sets out to do.
I’m not entirely sure about this one yet. Chai is a weird beast — usually very dependent on what ends up in the spoon. This time I had a lot of red peppercorns, so I’m tasting a lot of pepper, but I’m not sure that’s really what this chai is about.
I made it on the stovetop using the Golden Moon French Breakfast as the extra black tea.
It turns out I don’t have as many chais as I thought I did. This one, the other two I’ve tried recently, the Tea Table chocolate, the Rishi and the Samovar. I think that’s it.
Samovar will always be my fave, with Rishi as a spicier alternative. But I think this one could be pretty nice. I’m just not sure I’ve experienced it in all its potential glory yet.
Flavors: Cardamon, Pepper
This is lovely. I don’t think it quite rises to the level of J’aime Vert, or at least how I remember J’aime Vert, or perhaps I like the combination of flavors in J’aime Vert slightly better — but this is something I’ll enjoy drinking and may consider for a long term addition to my cupboard.
The smell in the tin is very floral, not fruity. After steeping there is an orangy citrus note, but it isn’t sharp, and the overall aroma gives the impression of roundness which I think is coming from the rose. The tea is greenish yellow, not as bright as the color of its tin, but in the same color family. There is some particulate matter that settled to the bottom of the cup.
The sip is where all of the flavors come together. There’s a freshness from the citrus note, that stops short of sourness or bitterness though it isn’t sweet. There’s a depth from the berry notes that adds a touch of sweetness, and the rose carries over its roundness into the flavor.
Flavors: Berries, Citrus, Rose
I’ve had this tea (unopened) for a while, but surprisingly I hadn’t put it into my cupboard here. I’ve now remedied that misstep. Finding more tea that I haven’t put in the cupboard isn’t exactly encouraging. I am finally down to under 400 tins, and I had hoped I’d be down one more today. I’ve said before, it sometimes feels like my tea breeds while I’m not looking. It feels like that today.
But anyway, I really like this one. At first I didn’t get the macaron reference, but then I don’t get much almond from this. It’s not that it isn’t there — there’s a nutty aura to the aroma of the dry leaves that carries over into the tea’s aroma and flavor, but it’s not the primary note.
Instead, I smell and taste cherries in a big way, and some other berries and some creaminess, almost.
As the tea cools, the macaron reference becomes more understandable for me. The almond is more pronounced when the tea is cooler.
I don’t taste the tea base much, though there’s some green-ness tempering all of the above.
Complex, interesting, and really appetizing. Yum.
Flavors: Berries, Cherry, Creamy, Grenadine
This came as a “sachet mystere” (or mystery sachet) in my Theodor order which arrived fresh from France just this morning. Yes, despite having just been in Paris again a little over a week ago, I didn’t bring any back and therefore shelled out the exorbitant shipping prices for here in the EU. In any case, they were generous with the samples they included and Une Autre Idee was the first one I’ve made this morning.
In the mug, it’s a gorgeous red-tinged rooibos with a pleasant, sweet smell of tropical fruits that are rather natural instead of cloying/too artificial. The smell alone is delicious, but the taste delivers as well. The pineapple and coconut are at the forefront but not so overpowering that they seem too perfumey. The floral flavor, which I can only attribute to the marigold, comes in softly after, giving it an herbaciousness that really suits it. This is another one I can imagine being lovely iced, but hot is just as pleasant and I may include a larger serving in my next order!
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!
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
A lovely, mellow black tea for tea time with your best friends! With a sweet nutty scent of almond and pistachio, it reminds me of macarons and certainly of afternoon tea!! The liquor is not really sweet though, and that is exactly why I find it a great companion to tea time (you don’t want a sweet tea when everything you eat is so sweet already).
Flavors: Almond, Coconut, Nutty