2201 Tasting Notes
It snoooowed last night! Just barely, but it did. Oh it’s going to be cold outside, which it hasn’t been for the last couple of days. Guess I better bundle up today.
I now steep this tea at 5 minutes, which is something I never, ever do for black teas. Crazy! What did they do to this tea to inhibit oversteeping like this? It is truly mind blowing.
Tonight I headed to a German cafe that is near my hostel in UB to get some work done and have a light dinner. I decided to have a pot of tea in the late afternoon before dinner, and I chose this one out of the tea box based on the recommendation of my waitress. I knew it was a fruit tea and I decided if I was going to have a tea bag I would at least have something that wouldn’t matter so much if it was fine pieces.
It certainly smells like sweet raspberry and bright lemon, and it brewed up a bright, ruby red. I suppose I should have known there was hibiscus in it, but I didn’t think about it. According to the google-translated ingredients, it has both hibiscus and rosehips, so a double dose of tart. As such I dumped the little tube of sugar provided right into the pot. I happen to love hibiscus, as long as it’s sweetened. I could maybe go for a little more sugar for the whole pot, but on the whole it is nice. Tart, slightly sweet, with a nice raspberry flavor. I feel like the tartness of the hibiscus kind of melds with the tartness of the lemon, so I can’t quite pick that one out. Teas like this are definitely something I enjoy as long as they’re sweet enough!
I am the only person staying in this part of the hostel right now (there is another separate apartment on a different floor, and another separate building), which happens to also include the main office. I guess partly because of this, no one is staffing the hostel between 9pm and 9am. At night no one comes around so it’s not a big deal, but this morning I was woken up several times by endlessly ringing phones (seriously who lets the phone ring for 5 minutes straight??). Finally I got up after some vigorous door pounding (I’m in a room at the back of the hostel, too, so that I almost didn’t hear), but by the time I got out there the person was gone. So I got up earlier than I wanted and now I’m hoping my tea will help me out. I only used one sachet for my cup this time but I steeped for 5 minutes. It is much the same as it has been! I have to say, this is perfectly drinkable but one of the first things I want when I get back is a big cup of Double Bergamot. MMmm.
Again with the lost tasting notes! Ugh, second time today.
1 sachet of Earl Grey Mallows, 1 sachet of Pomegranate Rose, both Impra Tea
I had a quite a greasy dinner tonight, plus a big beer, so now I’m feeling a bit bleh. Not good since I wanted to get some work done tonight. I thought some tea would help (though I don’t honestly think I’ll be getting anything done! :P)
Because these teas don’t seem eager to oversteep I thought I would try them both at the same time in the same amount of water. I like berry-bergamot blends and rose-bergamot blends, so I definitely like the idea of a berry(ish fruit)-rose-bergamot blend. It turned out pretty well… the bright bergamot cuts through some of the sweetness of the pomegranate. I wish there was more rose, of course. With double the leaf this tea is finally showing signs of being too strong for my tastes as the cup cools, but it’s not too bad.
Argh, the internet ate my post! Or actually, the stupid, inconstant internet at this hostel ate my post… I didn’t realize my connection had dropped until I pushed “save changes”, and then it took the post and gave me back a “no internet connection” page. :P
Anyway, I steeped this one at 4 minutes this time and there is still not a hint of bitterness or astringency. I get the feeling this one could go much longer even! It is still a very mellow cup… though I think perhaps I have gotten used to the mega bergamot in my new favorite Earl, Todd & Holland Double Bergamot, so everything else seems weak. This is just overall not super robust, though. I will have to try it with actually rolling boil water when I get home, though, because I am sure the water machine in the hostel does not really get there in temp.
Four minutes steeping this time resulted in a cup just as smooth and lovely as the first one, but with a bit more intense pomegranate flavors. I can get a hint of rose in the scent if I really take a deep sniff, and I think there is a little hint of it in the flavor now as well. If I were at home I would mix this with a bit of rose black just to up the rose factor.
Mm, I had a long sleep last night, and it was the kind of thing where you were so exhausted and you wake up feeling refreshed but also all your joints still remind you of how exhausted they were. Usually I only have that kind of sleep after getting back from a long trip (it’s definitely a post-jet lag sleep as well), so it’s kind of funny to get it in the middle (well, toward the end) of such a trip.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to a nice cup of Earl Grey, which I haven’t had in 3 weeks. This one I boiled some fresh water for in the little water-boiler-thing, so the temperature should be about boiling. Like the Pomegranate Rose from this company, the tea base on this is nice and smooth. I do love a Ceylon-based Earl. This one is kind of middling-bergamotty… it’s not very strong, but it’s not too weak, either. It is probably the minimum acceptable amount of bergamot for me. :) I like mallow blossoms in Earls because they often add a slight richness and sometimes almost a sweetness. This tea could almost be a little stronger, so maybe I will steep it for 4 minutes next time. It’s still tasty and definitely a good, solid Earl. I won’t have any problems drinking up the sachets I bought.
This morning I woke up in my Mongolian hostel and went to have the free provided breakfast, that is, toast, jam, and chocolate hazelnut spread. Works for me! They also provide tea, but I found out that the only tea in the cupboard was a box of Lipton tea bags. Blech. I have a lot of loose tea right now, and I have all kinds of pots and gaiwans and such to brew it in, but now it’s all packed up in boxes and bags and I didn’t want to deal with it, so I thought I would see what the grocery store had for tea and maybe buy a box of something more palatable.
Let me just say that the supermarkets in Ulaanbaatar seem to carry a ton of imported European products in general, and that definitely applies to tea. The tea row had a huge selection, from Chinese imports to American and European. First I was going to grab a box of Ahmad Earl Grey because of KS’s good reviews of that one. Then I saw the Earl Grey by this company, with mallow blossoms and in a pyramid infuser. I prefer pyramids to teabags, so I picked up that tea plus this one, which sounded up my alley. Then I was stunned to see a small selection of loose Dammann Freres teas in tins, plus a couple of boxes of their “cristal” sachets. Let me tell you, I almost bought a box of Goût Russe, but in the end my thriftiness won over. The two boxes from this company together were about a quarter of the price of the box of Dammann Freres, and I didn’t know if the price for the Dammann box was high or usual (now I know it was higher than the price on their website, but only slightly). This tea seems to be a direct Sri Lankan export. This particular blend doesn’t show up anywhere on their website, so I don’t know what the story is with it. The labels on the box are in English and Mongolian.
I am totally exhausted but I need to do some work tonight, plus I wanted some tea, so I decided to have a cup even though I normally wouldn’t have a black tea this late at night. My goodness, it’s not working and I want to fall asleep right now. :P I brewed this with water from this kind of odd hot water gizmo that boils water then keeps it hot in a big tank. I mean, it’s not like one of those hot water dispensers that kind of heats up the water before it gives it to you, it’s different. I don’t know how long that water’s been in there or how hot it was, but I’m guessing reasonably hot.
The tea smells very pomegranate-y but not very rosey. That’s pretty much how it tastes, too. The ceylon base is smooth, pleasant and not a hint bitter. The pomegranate flavor is nice and juicy but I definitely wish there was more rose to this one. I don’t really get it as a distinct flavor, just perhaps as something slightly floral? I don’t know I’ll have to try this one again and pay more attention. I’m just so tired tonight! And it’s only 8:30pm, what am I, 90 years old? I definitely got a slight sweetness from this one as well that was very nice. Overall a perfectly lovely, if not mind-blowing, tea. I look forward to trying the Earl Grey tomorrow morning.
This is possibly the most expensive pot of rose bud tea ever. I’m at a cafe in the Beijing airport (Cafe Sambal, to be specific), and while I wasn’t shocked that my food was way overpriced, especially by Beijing standards, their profit margins must be the highest on tea. A pot of rose tea is close to $30, and that’s one of the “cheap” teas! Heaven forbid I want a pot of tieguanyin or something. It’s a pretty decently sized pot, but it doesn’t come close to $30 of herbal tea. But having not had the greatest of days so far, I said F it, I want some F-ing rose tea.
I’m realizing that I’ve never actually had just straight rose buds tea. I bought those rose buds at the beginning of my trip that I used to mix with the tieguanyin I bought, but I never drank them on their own. Rose buds as an herbal infusion really taste so different than, say, a rose black. They’re unsurprisingly much closer to the flavor of a white tea with rose, which usually is just literally white tea and rosebuds. This is reminding me a bit of the Meditative Mind blend from the Tea Spot, which is a white tea with rosebuds along with some jasmine pearls. But you never steep white tea for very long (at least I don’t), so it’s been interesting to see how this pot has progressed as it has steeped from my first cup, after steeping a short time, to my final cup, after it has steeped for at least half and hour. I mean, basically all the flavors stayed very similar, but they just intensified incredibly. At first it was lightly rosey, a bit vegetal, a tad earthy, slightly hay-ish (all those descriptors make me understand why rose buds go well with puerh). Of those, the rose and hay come out most, but then there’s a lovely, surprising sweetness.
Well, they just refilled my pot with hot water, so at least I’m getting closer to my money’s worth. I wonder how long rose buds last in infusion? I guess I’ll be finding out this afternoon!
Well, my worst fears have come true. I heard tell about excessively long delays on the Beijing-Ulaanbaatar route from Air China. Sure enough, today I got up before dawn to get to the airport for my 8:30am flight, and then an hour before boarding they “update” the estimated departure time to 7pm!!! Beijing airport does at least offer free wifi (in 5 hour chunks, though I should be able to get another 5 hours after this one expires).
Well before that news totally destroyed my day, back when I was happy and carefree (:P), I stopped at a Costa Coffee in the airport and got a tea and a muffin. I almost got an Earl Grey since I haven’t had one in so long (I guess I have plenty of time to go back and get one now), but I decided that since I was in China I would get the “Chinese Black Tea” on the menu. It was loose leaf and they brewed it in a little glass teapot. I had assumed that the English translation of “black tea” meant hong cha, as it is typically translated in the states, but when I got the tea and took a big whiff, it was clear that actually it literally meant what the Chinese call black tea, which is puerh. There it was, that earthy, woody, hay-ish, barn-ish scent I’ve come to associate with your typical tuocha. They didn’t steep it for super long, so it was not too strong and it was overall a very pleasant cup of tea. Not something I would go back for, but only because I’m not the biggest puerh fan overall, but I did enjoy my cup.