2188 Tasting Notes
This is a backlog because I had a cup of this tea before the sun rose this morning. Early mornings for a very full day of birding called for a good cup that could sustain me, if only through the morning hours. I made this in my new Aladdin travel mug, and it worked really well; no leaks even when I laid it sideways on the seat of the car. The steeping basket, which folds up out of the liquid to prevent oversteeping, is too small for oolongs but will work fine for blacks and compact greens. For this tea I actually stuck a sachet of it in the basket because I didn’t want to have to deal with finding someplace to throw the sachet out, and keeping it in the basket was a good solution. It worked well, and I’ll definitely be using this frequently when traveling.
Today I finished up what was left of this tea after sending most of it out in swaps and such. I used a good helping of milk and maple sugar, which made the tea pumpkin-y and pretty tasty. The maple sugar didn’t bring any really mapley flavor to the tea, but it did help bring out some of the other bakery-type flavors.
I decided to try this tea this afternoon, which I got in a swap with brandy3392. Thanks! I do love lemony oolongs, and this one seems like it will be lemony beyond lemony! When I opened the package the powerful scent of lemon immediately rushed out. As I was portioning it out I noticed that the tea seemed to be made up of more jasmine blossoms than actual tea! So I hope I put enough of the blend in my steeping basket.
I don’t usually steep my oolongs for 4 minutes, but this one called for between 4 and 7 minutes so I went with the low end. I honestly can’t imagine steeping any tea for 7 minutes. Steeped, the tea smells lemony and herby with a bit of oolong peeking through. This is a really lemony tea, in both a citrusy way and a lemon herb (must be the verbena) way. Something like this could easily seem tart or bitter or pithy, but it’s got a round, sweetish flavor instead. I think that must be the influence of the oolong, which is otherwise a bit difficult to detect. Occasionally I get a faint, elusive note of florals or the buttery base, and those notes come out more as it cools. The oolong that’s there is really tasty. I like this blend but I would like it better with more oolong in it, I think. It is not for the lemony faint of heart, for sure.
I was excited to get this one in my sample box because I recently tried a different dragon well and really enjoyed it. I am happy to say that this one has lived up to my expectations.
Thanks again to Teavivre for the extremely generous sample of this tea. There’s so much in the pouch! The leaf is bright and smooth, and it smells a bit grassy and a bit nutty and a touch buttery. Steeped, that lovely chestnutty aroma comes out, which reminds me so much of chestnut sweets from a chinese bakery. The liquor is a very pale yellow, only slightly darker than the white of the mug, yet it’s still a flavorful cup. Smooth, lightly grassy, but also nutty and sweet, this tea has a lot of dimensions to it. A really really tasty cup.
As I have no doubt mentioned before, I’m not much of a drinker of unflavored blacks. There are a couple that I have to admit are pretty tasty (Harney’s Golden Monkey, Teavivre’s own Yun Nan Golden Tips), but I still don’t seek out unflavored blacks often. But of course I accepted a sample of this one in my latest round from Teavivre… how could I not, with these reviews? I admit I was still skeptical that I would like it. The leaf is nice looking twisted strands with a scattering of golden tips, and it smells malty and dark and teaish.
This is another one that surprised me with the brewing parameters. 185°F for a black tea? If you say so. The tea came out a lovely dark amber color and again has that malty, sweet aroma. I have to say, alright Teavivre, you got me, this tea is delicious. It is smooth and tasty, with notes of cocoa, raisins, a tiny bit of caramel, a hint of honey, bready, malty… it isn’t actually sweet on the tongue, but it seems sweet, if that makes any sense. Also, this is very similar to the base of The Tea Spot’s Organic Chocolate “O” tea, even though they aren’t the same variety. A big thanks again to Teavivre for this sample; these opportunities really help me step outside my usual teas and experience things I wouldn’t have bought on my own.
Last night when I got home from work I was very pleased to see a big box of tea waiting for me from Teavivre! My next round of samples arrived, yippee! (Also pleased to see: a packaged with new boots in it!)
This one was high on my list of teas I wanted to try from Teavivre because I love oolongs, and I especially love milk oolong, and I was disappointed that it appeared on the site after my first sample batch came. But lucky for me Angel Chen and Teavivre are exceedingly generous and they sent me another box of samples, this time including this tea. Thanks so much!
The steep parameters were pretty different than any other oolong I’ve come across, mainly steeping in boiling water. But I used those parameters anyway, because that’s what was called for. One of the other grad students came into my office right after I steeped it and remarked that this tea smelled good, and I would agree. It smells floral and creamy and buttery and vegetal.
This jin xuan definitely has great flavor. It’s buttery, it’s creamy, it’s floral, and it’s slightly sweet at the end. Really delicious. I will say that I think my concept of a milk oolong was a little warped by having ATR’s first… that is a fantastic tea, and indeed very milky, but it is a tieguanyin varietal not a jin xuan, which gives it a pretty distinct taste that’s different than other jin xuan oolongs I tried. For a while I would try milk oolongs and nothing could quite live up to ATR’s, but that’s because they weren’t playing with the same rules. When I adjust my expectations to what jin xuan milk oolongs usually taste like, which this seems to be a great of, I think I’ll be a lot more pleased with the other ones I’ve tried.
I haven’t had this one in a really long time, and this time I decided to brew it with the parameters that Teavivre gave for their white tea that I had tried, which are pretty different than the parameters I used last time (175°F, 3min).
The brewed tea smells hay-ish like I’ve come to associate with white tea, with a light rosey aroma. The flavor is pretty nice; it’s got that hayish note, and the rose flavor is light and not perfumy at all, and the whole thing rounds out to be a bit sweet. I actually associate that kind of sweetness with hay; sweet alfalfa is actually sweet if you chew on it (no wonder the horses love it), and this has the same type of sweetness. About midway through I started eating a slice of dark chocolate birthday cake (for one of the faculty in our department), and wow that’s an awesome pairing. I’m not sure whether my fondness for this tea has increased because my palate has changed a bit since I last had it, or if the brewing parameters made a difference, but I’m definitely digging it more this time. Especially with cake. Mmm, cake.
So I am almost, almost done with my rosey teas, or at least the ones that acutally are rosey. I mean, I still have a few that sprinkle a few rose petals into the mix, but nary a rose flavor is to be found. Those don’t count.
Guys, I am almost out of this tea. Like, I think I have less than a cup of leaf left, which probably means it’s getting blended with other things in a cold steep. Sad! I have quite a list of “standard panel” teas that are no longer in my possession, and it will be a while before I can restock; this one will soon be joining their ranks. I love the flavor blend in this, and that it always seems to wake me up even though it’s a black/green blend.
This tea is just one of those teas that makes me smile as soon as the hot water hits the leaf and a wave of wonderful aroma comes out of the cup. It’s just so good! It’s also one of those blends where I don’t even know what all the different flavors are, but I like them. Yes, I get the florals, including the rose, but there’s also a fruitiness that I’m not quite able to identify. Sometimes I wish I knew, and other times I don’t really care because whatever it is, it tastes good.
What? Valentines day is over, you say? Oh, but the parade of rose teas continues. By tasting through all of them I’m getting a sense of how the “rosey” part of my cupboard should be stocked, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.
When I think about it, this tea isn’t too far off from the Shalimar Oolong I have. It’s rose and passion, except it’s on black tea instead of oolong and the Shalimar also has mango in the mix. I’m happy to report that the weird metallic taste I was getting last time is gone, thank goodness. Just tasty juicy passion fruit with a nice rose, all on a tasty black base. I think this one is a little tarter than the Shalimar Oolong, and I’m honestly not sure which I prefer. The Shalimar is certainly more easily accessible, this one being brought back from London. All the same I would probably pick up another tin of this the next time I’m in London.