2201 Tasting Notes
Now watch as I survey some of my favorite teas. Going back to all of these after two whole months away is interesting. On one hand it is a revelation, I can’t believe tea can taste that good (Malagasy tea is really that bad). I also pretty much forgot how all of my teas really taste. But on the other hand they are all so familiar, like an old comfy sweater, and when I sip them its as if I had just been drinking them the other day.
This one is easily one of my favorite blacks, and I am always astounded that it is so affordable and delicious. Lovely cocoa-caramel-grainy notes that I could just drink all the time. I think I have a couple more cups of this before I need to order more, although again I am torn by the want for my staples that are gone, and the need to drink the tea I have before I order any more. My stash is kind of astoundingly big, and I think my new goal is to drink it most of the way down before I move in 4 months (this time moving out of my office, too, which is where all my tea stash is).
tap tap Is this thing on?
Yes, it’s true, Steepsterites, I have returned! After two months in remote Madagascar, I am back in the states and back in tea heaven. Malagasy tea just plain sucks (tastes like nothing no matter how long you steep it), so I have basically been tea-less for over 2 months now. My return was even delayed two days by some mega-craziness at the end of our field season.
Now I have about a million things to take care of plus I am currently homeless and not having a lot of success finding an apartment. Do you know how many problems you run up against in daily life if you don’t have a permanent address? A lot.
But yes, lovely delicious tea is now mine. It is very difficult to chose a first tea after all that time, but I didn’t spend that much time thinking about it really. And fortunately this tea is still flavorful and wonderful despite it’s advancing age. Love that floral marzipan combo, and the tasty black tea peaking out from underneath the flavors. Man it’s good to be back and having a nice cup of tea.
I am kind of confused by the myriad of Earl Greys that Twining’s seems to offer. I am now in Heathrow Airport (London) on my way to Madagascar and I had a bagged EG that wasn’t the typical yellow-pouch one but instead a black with “The Earl Grey” on it. But when I go to Twinings’ site it seems that perhaps it’s just a packaging redesign? I dunno, but I’m sticking it under here anyway.
So yeah, I haven’t had tea in it seem s like forever. I have been running around like crazy trying to get my apartment packed up and get ready to go into the field. Also, the weather decided to give me a big F-you and be exceedingly hot and humid for the last couple of days, so not hot-tea weather even if I did get a little break. But now finally I have time to relax in my layover in London and I finally got a pot of tea. Twining’s isn’t my favorite, but I actually enjoyed my pot of tea way more than I did last time. Maybe they did a slight reblend, or maybe I just appreciate the base tea more this time around, but it was nice and well rounded, and not bitter or astringent at all. Very pleasant and welcome after the plane ride.
I was looking through my stash and realized I haven’t yet tried this one though I requested a sample of it with my last order. I’ve wanted to try this one for a while because I love the idea of Verdant doing a chocolate Alchemy blend, although to be honest I wasn’t totally sure about all the other odds and ends. I mean, I’m not a huge mint tea person, and I never seek out chamomile, but I was intrigued all the same. I figured this morning the black tea could help me wake up and the chamomile and mint can help calm my nerves and stress of moving.
A quick sniff of the dried leaf yields a minty and herby aroma. I started out intending to steep this with different parameters but once I saw the steeping instructions in the description here I was able to pull up and adjust before actual steeping. The steeped tea has a really interesting smell. First I get mint with perhaps a light, hayish, appley chamomile accompaniment. But then some serious chocolatey aromas come out to play. It’s definitely a little chocolate-minty in the aroma.
The combo of flavors in this tea reminds me a bit of an Andean herbal blend I got in Argentina, if it had a chocolately black tea base instead of being an herbal. That’s a good thing because that tea is also one I liked way more than I thought I would. This tea is slightly sweet, chocolately, minty, and a bit fruity (I always think chamomile tastes appley). It all works really well together. And it is having the added benefit of making me feel alert as well as calming my nerves. A good choice for this morning!
I am running around like crazy lately, so I don’t have time to say much more about this one than: every time I have this I am reminded at how freaking delicious it is, and how much it is like a fruity Coquelicot Gourmand (Dammann Freres). The almond is just amazing in this blend, sweet and creamy and almondy and fantastic. Love love love it.
I was thinking about stashbusting again this morning but I don’t think I have any black teas with just the right amount of tea in them for one cup. So I thought about teas I have had for a long time, and this one came to mind. I bought my Dammann teas a little over a year ago in Paris so I feel like I should probably drink them up (gives me an excuse to order more!). This tea is the closest to being finished of all of them.
Mm, it’s more delicious than I remembered (I guess that speaks well to the aging properties of these teas). Hazenutty, chocolatey, with a hint of citrus. A hint sweet, and a smooth, creamy mouthfeel. Really delightful. Dammann uses such great bases to their flavored teas, and it really makes a difference. Love it!
Another sample stash busting! I am on a roll today. I’m not sure how I managed to drink this only once before but my sample was mostly empty today. Maybe I drank it without knowing it?
I probably ended up using a bit much leaf in my cup this time around, but it still is a very tasty cup of tea, and a very nice dian hong. Mmm, sweet potatoes and oranges. With this much leaf I’m missing out on some of the honeyed notes unfortunately, but perhaps on the resteep.
Ah, stashbusting feels good. I got this sample ages ago from JacquelineM and this morning when I was looking for a tea I realized I could kill this sample so I went for it.
I am glad that I held onto this tea for as long as I did because I appreciate it so much more than when I first got it. I liked it ok then, I really like it now. Can’t wait to discover Harney’s other black teas in a whole new way now that I’m a black tea drinker!
Thanks to Fong Mong tea, who provided this free sample for review. It’s been a while since I’ve had a Dong Ding (or any oolong besides a TGY), so I am looking forward to trying this one. I am following the western steeping instructions that they provide, but I can’t bring myself to steep the tea for 6 minutes. I did bump it to 4 minutes rather than my usual 3 because the Blue Jade I tried from them didn’t seem quite full flavored at 3 minutes.
The steeped tea smells roasty, a bit floral, and a bit vegetal. I have to say that I do think this one is oversteeped, unfortunately. There is a bit of astringency and a hint of bitterness that I don’t think would be there if I had stuck to 3 minutes. Otherwise, the flavor is pretty nice… a tad roasty but not too strong, some nice oolong flavors under there. Unfortunately this bitterness is taking over more as it cools. I ended up dumping out the first steep and steeping the leaves a second time for 3 minutes. This time the flavors are nice and pleasant, no bitterness. Lighly roasty, vegetal, not very floral or buttery, but with a very slight sweetness that lingers in the aftertaste. I like this dong ding pretty well, but like I said earlier I don’t love even lightly roasted oolongs. Most dong dings are lightly roasted, as I’ve found, but every once in a while you happen across an unroasted one. I enjoy this tea (now that it’s not bitter), but it’s not something I would seek out.
The other day I had a cup of China Rose Black from ESP Emporium that I’ve had in my collection for forever, it seems, and it was definitely underwhelming. Not nearly as good as I had remembered, and I was wondering if it was a result of changing palates or old tea (since it just didn’t seem as rosey as it once did).
So I thought this morning I would have a cup of this, which I haven’t had in forever, just to see how this has held up. I got this at the same time as I got the rose black, and it’s been in the same kind of containers during it’s life (ESP’s non-airtight folded bags for a while, then some small tins toward the end).
This one has held up better it seems, though it does seem a bit… old. The flavors just aren’t as strong, but this cup isn’t overly weak or anything. I guess I am finally getting to the point where some of my older teas are fading, which is sad. I’ve been doing better about working through my stash and not buying new teas, but I still have a huge amount right now. Guess I better get drinking!