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Recent Tasting Notes
I keep tripping over the box of teas I put aside when I doled them out for Sil. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s been a month, but the opportunity for revisiting them all sooner rather than later presented itself, so here we are.
I love this tea. I often carry it with me throughout the day. It’s a tea that when I don’t want to make tea decisions of what to drink never fails to please me: slightly chocolatey, slightly caramel, slightly sweet, malty and yet smooth, a not in your face kind of Chinese black—I was under the impression that this one that I have is from Yunnan, but their website claims the new one in stock is from Hunan— with each steep bringing different nuance. My favourite steep is the second and the third. The trick, I think, with this tea is to steep it with cooler water to bring out the scented notes. I don’t find it to be too finicky. Nonetheless, sometimes I get better results on different days.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Caramel, Chocolate, Earth, Malt
I wasn’t the biggest fan of this personally, but I think it’s a decent enough hong cha. There’s a lot of maltiness and cocoa to the flavor, along with perhaps a touch of fruit. Towards the middle/end of the session, I started to pick up a bit of a caramel note as well. When I say I wasn’t a big fan of this tea, it doesn’t mean I don’t like it, just that it’s not really to my preference. It reminded me a bit of a “Golden Monkey” tea. I imagine that avid fans of dianhong would really appreciate this tea.
Flavors: Caramel, Cocoa, Malt, Sweet
GCTTB Round 6
God bless you, Tea Sommelier education!
Tonight I’m drinking/eating the best meal I’ve had literally all of 2017 – and I mean to be fair it’s only been twenty eight days but still…
So, I planned this whole thing out as I was going through the tea box for this first time; I saw a traditional black Darjeeling and I remembered the tea/cheese pairing exercise we did as part of the course. I’ve casually practiced this since doing it, but I haven’t really made a big thing out of it yet nor have I revisited cheese pairings with Darjeeling so I figured why not do both! After all, I did receive a Brie baker for Christmas that I hadn’t gotten to try out yet.
So to break it down, my tea was obviously this one but the meal I had was a baked brie topped with red pepper jelly (which was cooked along with the brie) spread over the most heavenly cranberry hazlenut crackers. I know that sounds like a lot of flavours going on but it was thought out, and all came together really wonderfully. The high fat content and butteryness of the brie eliminate the astringency in the mouthfeel of the Darjeeling which can sometimes be unpleasant, and at the same time the butter acts as a flavour carrier. This leaves the beautiful muscatel notes which Darjeeling is so prized for which are drawn out and exaggerated by the sweetness of the cranberry in the crackers.
So like I said, well thought out/planned out – and just orgasmic as well. I was literally moaning with nearly every bite. My only regret is that I didn’t have someone to share it with that would have properly appreciated it.
There’s a crappy quality picture of it in its full glory for you all to be jealous of – and of course it wouldn’t be complete without a song pairing for auditory stimulation as well so here was my selection:
And oh what a night it was!
GCTTB Round 6
Thanks to whomever added this one to the tea box! I currently stock a white Darjeeling from Avongrove which I’ve been enjoying, so I was curious to try out a black Darjeeling to see how they compared. I mean, I knew there would be differences because of the tea type but there were qualities I was curious about to see if they’d carry over.
What I can say is that as far as Darjeeling goes, I found this one to be rather smooth with only the slightest bit of characteristic Darjeeling astringency/bite. That’s kind of in line with what I’ve noticed from my white Avongrove Darjeeling; it’s rather gentle and mild overall. Otherwise, this was really floral which was lovely and then it had a bit of soft malt and just a hint of that traditional muscatel quality in the finish as it was cooling down. I definitely didn’t read the muscat while it was still really hot though.
Pleasant, easy to drink and if nothing else always a good learning experience.
Distinctly charcoal toasted, slightly sweet with pleasantly toasty grain notes. The smell/taste of the brew reminds me of chewing tobacco and marijuana smoke. Notes of minerals/dust are joined with roasted grains, tea tannins, and a heavy mouthfeel. The sweetness really comes in during the second and third steeps where the charcoal notes outweigh the sweet toastyness. Normally the toasted flavour brings the sweetness, but in this case I feel like the base tea would have produced some sweetness regardless of how it was preserved/processed. This is a very high quality oolong and I recommend it to everyone who enjoys charcoal roasted oolongs. It is quite complex and is best enjoyed through multiple steeps.
Unfortunately I’m not a fan of charcoal roasted oolongs because there is that touch of char/smoke I find unpleasant. That isn’t the tea’s fault, though, so I’m going to rate it with that in mind.
Flavors: Cannabis, Char, Dust, Grain, Heavy, Mineral, Roasted, Sweet, Tannin, Tea, Toasted, Toasty, Tobacco
Cocoa, Malt, Plums, Smoke, Vanilla, and Muscatel are all pretty good descriptors, though I would add “Leather” to the mix. Malt, Leather, Smoke, and Cocoa are the best adjectives in my opinion. I am loving the brewed leaf smell, though it reminds me of the blends its often mixed with like English Breakfast and some rose blends. It is also very smooth and has a solid amount of natural sweetness, but dry bitter-sweetness like cocoa.
Evol, you might gasp, but I decided to power steep the entire sample Gong Fu. It actually turned out really nice with super short steeps. Cocoa almost every time. First was 14 due to timing of pouring, and the second 5, 7, 8, 10 and then stop. I actually liked this tea more cooled down closer to 170 F instead of 180 F since I caught more of the nuances with that temperature. The last steep was more malt than anything else with the fading cocoa and leather.
I feel a little buzzed and weighty after this one. A little bit of pressure on my skull…I am mildly tea drunk or too frickin’ drunk of caffeine lol. I did randomly look up that this has a higher concentration of geraniol, an alcohol in the essential oil of roses among other plants. That is what makes me think this is a bit rosy. I don’t know if it is contributing to the mild delirium.
As much as I as I enjoyed the smoke and the cocoa, I am not sure I would drink this often. I pretty much have the same opinion about Keemums in that they are good teas if I am in the mood for mega malt and if it’s good quality. This one comes to that mark for me ’cause of cocoa and leather, but it might not for others. I liked the body a little bit more than the Nepal, but the honey note in the Nepal off sets its dryness. Again, thank you so much Evol! Now, for some water!
This is a black tea, but is extremely smooth. Lots of tannins, but I steeped about 2.5 minutes in 350 mL 95*C water and it was perfect. No hint of bitterness or being overly tannic as stronger black teas can be. Not that I would describe this as a strong tea, more of a medium intensity. Very classic black tea flavor, fully oxidized and full of flavor.I can taste notes of malt, but not specifically milk or grain. It reminds me a lot of assam. No smoke or minerals. After tasting some of the oolongs from Zen Tea, I expected as much, but was pleasantly surprised. I can’t get over how smooth this tea is, it is incredible. I almost get a creamy and thick mouth feel, but without the
Flavors: Malt, Smooth, Tannin, Tea, Thick
GCTTB (round 6) entry
I’ve come to the conclusion I really like peach flavoured things. I also really like ginger and black tea. This is one of my favourite flavour combos of all time.
Brewed 500 mL hot water (just under boiling) for 5 minutes and it was plenty strong. Lots of sweet peach, but not overpoweringly artificial. Some spicy ginger, lots of black tea flavour.
Flavors: Fruity, Ginger, Honey, Malt, Peach, Stonefruits, Sweat, Tannin
Finally a sipdown. This was my first experience with bamboo leaf, and I’m not inclined to try some more blends that use it. The problem with such a light tea is that you get so much in your sample that it isn’t really just a sample any more. My sample was only 15g I think …this did about 15 pots of tea. Anyway, I didn’t want to get rid of it, it is a lovely tea and all. I’m a bit bored with the flavour right now, but I’m sure I’ll be back.
Overall, very fruity with lots of mellow (not acidic) flavours of lemongrass, bamboo leaf, some sort of berry? (it isn’t generic berry flavour, but I can’t pinpoint which distinct berry it is), goji, and tropical fruits (papaya, pineapple, banana).
Flavors: Bamboo, banana, Berry, Dried Fruit, Fruity, Goji, Lemongrass, Pineapple, Sweet, Tropical
I’ve never tasted bamboo leaf before, so this was very interesting.
Flavours of dry corn husk, dried berries/fruit (papaya?, grape, goji, blackberry, pineapple, blueberry), lemongrass, slight bit of floral. I actually really like the blackberry and blueberry in this, it makes the tea sweet and fragrant. Overall, a delightful herbal on a cold day. I’ll be trying this iced when it warms up outside.
Flavors: Bamboo, Berries, Blackberry, Blueberry, Corn Husk, Flowers, Fruity, Goji, Grapes, Lemongrass, Pineapple, Sweet, Sweet, warm grass