1287 Tasting Notes
Fall weather is sneaking in for the weekend, and we’re even forecasted to get some rain tonight and tomorrow. The cooler weather always makes me crave grapes and red wine so I thought 1001 and 1 Royal Nights would be a good pick this morning.
Black and green tea mix, so I brewed at 195F. This tea reminds me of Dammann Frères flavored teas with the mouthfeel and intensity of aroma, not too overplayed. It has a sweet and sparkling candylike aroma, a mix of strawberry and grape (more muscatel or red grapes than generic ‘purple’ flavor) that blends together very well and also complements the base tea, which is nothing to speak about but it does give some depth with its glassy-juicy and lightly tannic texture. The tea fannings do have that commodity green tea vibe, it’s like a combination of dried out almond pastry and maybe something along the line of white clay. Unlike Martin, the rose doesn’t stand out to me at all and serves as a soft complement to the fruity flavors.
I really enjoyed having a cup of this. I think it was well done. Thank you, Martin :)
Flavors: Almond, Candy, Clay, Fruity, Grapes, Juicy, Muscatel, Pastries, Rose, Strawberry, Tannin, Wood
This has to be one of the most unique teas that’s graced my tongue, and not necessarily in a challenging or quirky way. It’s beautiful. Previous note was for gongfu, (https://steepster.com/derk/posts/431599) and while that experience was a little lacking, this tea has been shining when prepared western. The dry leaf aroma alone is intoxicating and so clear and crisp. I used to work at a grocery store with a flower shop 20 years ago and this leaf smells just like walking into the rose cooler. Similar in taste-vibe to a good Taiwanese Ruby 18 with its cooling green notes but very much a high elevation Nilgiri with its florality and clean taste. So very gently malty with a big and rounded peachy midtone. It reminds of autumn, too. The scent of that air… A peach tree in October, surrounded by the most luscious garden of roses and cooling herbs, saffron sprinkled on the ground, the fruits of the tree woodened by age and still clinging to branches, the scent of impending frost during the night’s full moon. Small red currants glistening in the moonlight. Big impression there.
So western steeping has been a little difficult to nail down since I’ve been using hot water of unknown temp from the dispenser at work and it’s been an overwhelming few weeks that has left me distracted and inattentive to brewing time. But this tea is freaking gorgeous!! I’d put it somewhere in the 90s on my personal scale and would highly recommend it to tea snoots who don’t shun a western preparation. Brewing in glass does something special to this tea, too, compared to porcelain.
Flavors: Astringent, Butter, Caramel, Cardamom, Creamy, Floral, Forest Floor, Fruity, Malt, Peach, Plant Stems, Rainforest, Red Currant, Rose, Saffron, Sweet, Wintergreen, Wood, Woody
Tried my hand at ice-brewing, following a guideline somewhere that called for 1g of tea to 30g of ice (yeah, I weighed it). It’s better than hot-brewed for my tastes but still too intense for my liking, thick with shellfish umami, soybean sweetness and those cholorphyllic wheatgrass notes. Some of the bitterness is mitigated by this method. The leaf will be relatively easy to finish off as ice brews. Not a repurchase, though. This particular gyokuro is simply not for me.
Flavors: Alkaline, Bitter, Green, Round, Shellfish, Soybean, Sweet, Thick, Umami, Wheatgrass
Vaguely honeybush, tart from white hibiscus but it doesn’t mix well with the grapefruit oil and honeybush. Little bit of ginger pokes through. Don’t notice the licorice root at all. I see where the idea was going but there’s nothing juicy about this to make me think grapefruit.
If the best I can say about Grapefruit Honeybush is that the wrapper is a gorgeous color, then frankly, this tea sucks. The remaining bags are being ambient brewed to get rid of it. If that turns out as poorly as the hot cup, at least it’ll serve a purpose as a soil acidifier for my tea plants.
Flavors: Acidic, Bitter, Citrus Zest, Dirt, Ginger, Musty
Spring 2022 harvest
The scent of the dry leaves is much more satisfying than the tea itself. Mediocre prepared gongfu. Brews strong in the first three infusions but rather thin with flat, undefined taste. Malty, and tangy in a stewed vegetables way. Not much of the spice or blackberry fruitiness in the dry leaf comes through in taste. Fourth infusion on, the tea does well enough with long and hot steeps, producing many more cups. I can’t recall an aftertaste or any cooling or sweet huigan.
I’ll try this out western one day this week and if it doesn’t work out, cold brew for Kiki it is.
Update: it’s better prepared western. More aromatic, as smooth as a tangy, thin-tasting tea can be. Tastes more like cedar this time. I notice a cooling finish. The aftertaste is sour like lemon or oxalis. I do think this tea has great potential. Perhaps refinement of processing will transform it into a truly enjoyable cup. I made a few pitchers of cold-brew for Kiki and she had very positive words :)
Side note: one of the 2 tea plants I found at a local nursery has produced a flower. If only the other plant would flower so they could pollinate each other and produce a few seeds. Patience.
Flavors: Blackberry, Carrot, Cedar, Chili, Cinnamon, Citrus, Eggplant, Flat, Honey, Lemon, Lime, Malt, Menthol, Moss, Orchid, Rosewood, Sour, Tangy, Tannin, Thin, Tomato, Vegetables
It has finally cooled off this evening! To celebrate, I’m having Pear Apple Plum gifted by Martin.
It smells exactly like red apples/apple juice foremost, mixed with the strongest pear aroma I’ve encountered in a tea and a deep jammy-tart berry/blueberry/vaguely plummy/hibiscus base. It tastes mostly of tart-verging-sour hibiscus.
A thought. IMO, tartness is a bright something experienced on the tongue, short-lived. Sourness is a sharper, more gripping feel that pinches somewhere in the back of the mouth/lower jaw/salivary glands.
Normally with flavored teas, it drives me nuts that I can’t taste the flavor, only smell it. Here, I can find some of it hiding in the hibiscus before it pops out again as I swallow.
This was a pleasant tea I’d recommend to people with a love of strong orchard fruit notes. For me this was a too cloyingly apple and in general intense with that jammy-tart profile but very well done, especially the pear flavoring!
Flavors: Acidic, Berry, Blueberry, Fruity, Hibiscus, Jam, Pear, Pleasantly Sour, Red Apple, Tart
Makes an awesome pitcher of cold-brew, unsweetened. Tart and hibiscus-y — just right, not like some hibiscus that is excessively sour. Big note of natural, fragrantly sweet cinnamon. I notice the rosehips and cinnamon more this way compared to brewing a hot cup and the orange peel and body much less. This is the refreshment needed with the past few days’ temps in the one-teens.
A winner hot and cold. It’s very cheap as far as teabags go (or it used to be before inflation — I think it was $1.49 or $2.49 at Sprouts late 2021).
Good morning :)
A combination of dewy, silky matcha, grassy kukicha and subtle piney-citrusy yuzu peel. Roasted nut nose. Brisk, mineral and tingly mouthfeel. Hints of butter and vegetables. Sweet feeling in the throat. Paper & Tea says invigorating — that’s a good description. Yuzu is gone with the second steep and it’s somewhat drying. Edit: Yuzu came out after cooling. Future cups will probably consist of one 3-minute steep at a lower temp.
Simple and satisfying, this will be a good morning bracer during this week’s heatwave. Thanks, Martin :) Anything yuzu is welcome in my house!
personal crap below
You know, I want to bring up something I heard yesterday that left a feeling I can’t shake. I was picking up my bicycle from the mechanic downtown after having several parts replaced. A customer in front of me started berating the shop owner (sole employee who puts his blood, sweat and tears into this business) about a perceived lack of communication and how everybody has been trying to sleight him since Covid began. He kept escalating the situation in front of the owner’s young son. Then this came out of the customer’s mouth: “You know it’s really difficult as a consumer (true emphasis here) to know where to put my money these days.” I thought, damn, his identity is wrapped up in consuming. I mean, I know everybody has been stressed, tensions are high. But the impression is sticking around. And then to hear the CFO of Bed Bath & Beyond jumped to his death in NYC the other day from 18 stories…
I can’t put into words what this makes me feel. I wish you all inner peace. Have some tea. Reflect on who you are and what you want to bring to this world in your relatively short time here.
Flavors: Brisk, Butter, Drying, Grassy, Mineral, Pine, Roasted Nuts, Silky, Vegetables, Yuzu
Coming back to this tea a little over a year later. https://steepster.com/derk/posts/421128
The impression in the mouth and body remains mostly unchanged. Where it has changed the most for me is in its aromas.
The dry leaf at a short distance smells like limeade sweetened with brown sugar, a touch of cherry. In hand, it’s verging away from the previous experience’s prune into cherry, tangier, without as much that dried fruit richness; dates. Warmed leaf is tangy fruity with a deep sweetness — cherry limeade, dates, brown sugar, a chocolate undertone. Surprisingly, none of this carries into scent of the rinsed leaf which is like wet vegetation and uncured tobacco. The color of the liquor is a golden honey brown. First few cups’ aroma is of roasted barley.
The body is rather thin and astringent but refreshing. It is somewhat fruity with a mild, smokey dark bittersweetness that comes out on the back of tongue. The first steep is cooling in the mouth only, presenting as a small puddle of mintiness where the bitterness also sits. Fluffy sweetness is cut quickly by astringency and acidity. I begin to get warm and sweat but it’s nice on this day of stifling heat. Aftertaste is the same as before — mostly cherimoya with some apricot — though less pronounced. After that fades (rather quickly), the mouth is left with a tingling, metallic feeling. The leaf still needs to be pushed hard after the first few steeps to bring it back to life. In later steeps, the smoke shifts from feeling to taste. The tea is not dense with flavor and has the longevity of plantation leaf. Body feeling more subtle than before; then again, I’m pregnant with a super burrito baby.
This tea is in a state of change, with those more acidic notes of middle age pushing through. I feel like this is definitely going to head in the tobacco-dried fruit-chocolate direction with hints of cola spice, but I do think the leaf needs a more humid environment than mine to successfully age into that. Right now, I’d put this at 70.
Flavors: Acidic, Apricot, Astringent, Bitter, Brown Sugar, Cherry, Chocolate, Dark Bittersweet, Dates, Lime, Metallic, Mint, Peat Moss, Prune, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Tangy, Thin, Tobacco, Tropical Fruit
Orange Cinnamon Turmeric + other stuff like hibiscus, ginger, rosehips and apple
Tart, juicy orange flavor with just enough orange peel taste and blackberry leaf sweetness to make this feel damn near fresh orange juice. Fresh, not Tropicana. Fresh. Warm, sweet, gentle cinnamon. Turmeric — notsomuch, maybe an earthy base tone. This would be better had on a winter Saturday morning to brighten the soul but here we are on a late summer evening. Very drinkable, chuggable even.
Thank you, Martin!
Side note: tea plants have rebounded quickly from the aphid infestation.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Earthy, Orange, Orange Zest, Tart