898 Tasting Notes
My migraine yesterday correctly predicted waking to a fresh cover of snow this morning. It left me in a latte sort of mood.
I’ve been trying to use up a box of rice that is a brand that just isn’t a favorite that I bought when my norm was perpetually gone during COVID, and had just enough for one more rice bowl, so thought I’d try a “breakfasty” one for a change. I like to flavor my rice with tea, so I grabbed this one to give it that slight “breakfast” feel. But instead of leaving the teabag in the water the whole time, I fished it out after the rice came to a boil and decided to reuse it to make my latte, as there was a lot of leaf in it — two perfect teaspoons, more than I would ever use making a normal cup of black tea. So with slightly used leaf, I steeped for three minutes in 12 oz. 205F water, then added 4 oz. frothed regular oat milk.
Tastes like a very malty English Breakfast tea, with a honey-glazed baked bread note, and also a bit of nuttiness (which may just be the oat milk, but at least accompanies nicely). A warm maple syrup note is noticeable, and quite pleasant in latte form. I definitely need to try this one sans the milk to see if the tea has any hiding astringency and better judge the sweetness of the maple, but it does make for a good latte choice. I think I’d even enjoy mixing it with a really roasted tea too, like roated mate or houjicha. Hmm…
Flavors: Baked Bread, Honey, Malt, Maple, Maple Syrup, Nutty
Oof, another oldie. I got this packet of mini tuos from the freebie bag at the San Francisco Tea Festival back in 2018. I thought there was only one in the package but there were two tuos, so it’ll take slightly longer to sipdown than I expected.
Gave it a rinse to help the tuo start breaking up, then steeped for 4 minutes. Smells like dirt with a subtle smoky element, and the brew is such a dark, thick brown it looks like the coffee brewed at my workplace.
I’m not a big pu fan, but this one is pretty tolerable to me. Does have a strong dirt flavor, but it doesn’t have that muddy/marshy taste to it, and it coming off as more of a “fresh potting soil” earthy taste. Also some hot hay undertones, and that subtle Keemun smoky note.
Not my favorite type of tea, but I do like the thick and warm mouthfeel and the caffeine is soothing on a head that is upset by winter storm barometric pressure changes.
Flavors: Dirt, Earth, Hot Hay, Smoke
Happy National Random Acts of Kindness Day! Today for the sipdown thread the prompt is “drink a tea that was kindly gifted to you!” Dustin kindly gave me several extra French tea samples above and beyond the THEODOR ones I purchased, including this one! Brewed as my morning cuppa.
Made my first cup with my typical black tea parameters: 2.5g to 350ml 205F water, steeped for three minutes. The packet says to use shorter steeps, but since in general I trend to using a lot less leaf than most folks, I decided to start with my standard, then adjust for the second cup if needed. I find it interesting that the company page says the flavoring is rose and apple, because the aroma I got sniffing the dry leaf was a mix of pear, black currant, and purple grape candy!
The aroma from my cooling cup mostly just smells like pear to me, but knowing that it is supposed to be apple, I can certainly get green apple. I’m definitely smelling rose now; a gentle, sweet floral, finely mixed with the fruity aroma and not overpowering. I’m not getting a strong astringent bite from the tea liquor on the sip, so I think it steeped just fine; the base is a touch malty and a touch smoky, neither characteristics I’d peg for a Ceylon, but that’s what I taste. The fruitiness on the sip still presents as pear to me, with soft rosy undertones. I like the flavor pairing. It’s only long after the sip, once the tea has settled on my tongue, that a mellow sweet red apple flavor emerges.
This is nice! I’m really digging the rose paired with a sweet fruitiness. Thanks for the chance to try it, Dustin!
Flavors: Apple, Floral, Fruity, Malt, Pear, Rose, Smoke
I’ve had a strong craving for this tea lately. One of my earliest tea memories was trying a plum oolong as that, conceptually, sounded amazing… and that particular plum oolong was just awful. They used a darker oolong for the base, the flavoring fell flat, and the slightly woody/roasty flavor of the oolong did not match the flavoring at all ( very dated Steepster review here: https://steepster.com/mastressalita/posts/376793 ). After that I was sort of on a “quest” for a good plum oolong.
Then I discovered Lupicia, and this tea. Taiwanese Dong Ding oolong base, with French mirabelle plum flavoring. The oolong and the flavoring compliment each other so nicely; the base is soft, floral, sweet, and buttery, with a silky smooth texture. The flavoring, likewise, isn’t an intense wallop but a gentle, sweet, juicy stonefruit flavor. It doesn’t have the tart/sour elements I associate with (at least traditional) plum, tasting closer to honey, wildflowers, and a cross between apricot and plum. It has that sort of perfumy quality that I’ve noticed from my (very limited thus far) introduction to French teas.
It’s been bitter-cold in my area (common for our Februaries!) and rather than turning back to chais I’ve found myself craving spring teas instead — greens, florals, and bright, fresh fruits — teas just like this one. I guess I’m ready for spring already!
Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Floral, Flowers, Honey, Perfume, Plum, Stonefruit, Sweet
Steepster Freeze 2021 #3: 02/14/21
My herbal tea pick for Valentine’s Day! This is supposed to be a mix of roses and cocoa shells, but my (very old!) sampler packet seems to be 90% rose buds. They are pretty, but I can’t imagine I’m going to taste anything other than straight rose tea…
Aaand… yup. Just tastes like I steeped rose petals in water. I mean, I’m fine with the taste of rose, I quite like it in fact, but it just feels like there is no body to the tea, and none of the other ingredients are contributing anything, which makes it disappointing. If the cocoa and lemongrass were coming through, those notes paired with the rose, even if more subtle or background notes, would be a pretty pleasant flavor pairing. I like the idea conceptually. I want to believe somehow my 20g pouch was just badly scooped and I ended up with way too many rosebuds, but if the proportions are accurate, then… ya. Disappointing. Other reviews on Steepster are very positive and seem to indicate there should be chocolate here, so I don’t know why I pretty much just have a pouch of nothing but straight rosebuds.
I’ll probably just finish it off making rose water that I add to other things.
Low rating isn’t because I dislike rose tea, but because this was billed as a chocolate rose tea or “Turkish Delight” and that isn’t what I ended up getting.
Flavors: Floral, Pepper, Rose
Steepster Freeze 2021 #3: 02/14/21
I swear the Dashboard freezes are directly coorelated with the Sipdown Challenge days… of the three outages already this year (seriously, it’s only mid-February!) two of those have fallen on those “fun theme days”, of which there are only five a month… what gives?
So, whenever the site is working again, I guess I’ll post this. It’s Valentine’s Day (a holiday that I, as an aromantic asexual person have never celebrated anyway) but I will gladly drink a chocolately tea. Especially as I’m trying to finish off these little Piper & Leaf samples…
This is a black tea with bits of fig, coffee, and lots of cocoa shells/chips. Steeped 3.25g to 350ml for 3 minutes at 205F. The brew has a strong coffee aroma, but also a dark chocolate scent that, together, are making me think of a mocha only darker and sans the creamy milk. Smells a little like spices as well, sort of a mixed chicory/pepper/cinnamon aroma.
Flavor tastes much like the aroma. May be “luck of the scoop,” but I’m getting coffee first, cocoa second. I’m fine with that, as I like the rich and slightly bitter flavor of black coffee, and with the cocoa, the cocoa is presenting more as an extra dark, bittersweet chocolate, rather than something really fudgy and sweet. It also veers the tea away from having that waxy “thin artificial chocolate” sort of taste like most chocolate teas. Still getting a sort of chicory/peppery flavor though neither are in the blend… not sure where I’m picking up that particular spice note.
It’s a nice cuppa, one I’d consider more of a “coffee” tea than a “chocolate” tea, but I’m digging that not-too-sweet-not-too-bitter balance of the flavors.
Flavors: Cocoa, Coffee, Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Spices
I’ve been craving sakura lately, and found this sampler from a very long ago Yunomi order. These are actual sakura flowers, preserved in salt and ume (plum) vinegar.
I first tried making some rice by adding one flower into my rice water while it simmered with the rice. The finished rice definitely tasted of the preserving agents, having a pleasant salty and tangy plum flavor, with a more subtle hint of cherry in the background.
Then I decided to try making a matcha latte with it. The directions on the tea suggested rinsing the flower to remove the salt, then steeping it again, and adding back in any of the “salt water” to taste. I prepared it pretty much as suggested, with a 2 minute steep for the initial rinse and a 5 minute steep for the second. The rinse steep was, indeed, extremely salty/umami in flavor, but I could taste that distinct soft floral cherry flavor in the brew… possibly a little more tangy fruit than expected, as I think the ume was bringing that out in the cherry. It did make me think of a soup broth, so I can see why that worked well for my rice. The second infusion had more of a sweet, floral aroma, and the cherry blossom looked like a little jellyfish floating around in the water! Lacking the salt and vinegar, the tea had a very soft and mild sweet and floral taste, like extremely watered down wild flower honey.
The matcha latte wasn’t quite the indulgent experience I was hoping for; I have a hard time with matcha tasting too bitter if I use water, and I thought the sakura tea would help with that. It didn’t really. Still tasted like strong seaweed to me. Added milk and some honey and that calmed the matcha flavor down to something tolerable, but it was overpowering any sakura that might be present. It presented more as an aftertaste, after the grassy/spinachy/seaweedy flavors subsided.
There are a few more flowers left in my pouch, so I’ll continue to experiment with different uses!
Flavors: Cherry, Cherry Blossom, Floral, Flowers, Fruity, Honey, Plum, Salty, Tangy, Umami
Pulled this as my next “daily drinker until gone” package of old tea. Like (most) of my old tea, it still wasn’t opened yet! We got dumped on with the white stuff last night and I just want a simple, warm cuppa this morning.
Very tiny leaf for being full leaf and not CTC! Brewed 3.5g to 350ml 205F water for 3 minutes. Brewed cup has a lovely aroma of subtle barbecue smoke, tangy orange, and molasses, that together make me think of some fancy meat glaze.
Ooo, that is a strong cup of tea! Has a very deep flavor and some astringency, but is surprisingly smooth for how dark of a cup it produces. I get a strong burnt leather and smoke note, with a bit of a malty undertone. Toward the end of the sip, a subtle citrus is present, most close to orange zest. I get sort of a dark molasses and black pepper, thick and sticky coating feeling left afterwards on my tongue. Also, a ghost of a rose note left in the aftertaste, too. Tea is just a bit mouth-drying, now that I’m halfway through the cup.
It’s tasty, and I do like keemuns, but I might try using a little less leaf next time and see if that makes a difference on the astrigent/drying qualities without affecting the flavor too much.
Flavors: Astringent, Burnt, Citrus, Drying, Floral, Leather, Malt, Molasses, Orange Zest, Pepper, Rose, Smoke, Umami
French Friday! From the depths of the sampler bag from Dustin… thank you, Dustin! Steeped 2.5g of leaf in 350ml 175F water for 2 minutes.
Dry leaf has a fresh and bright orange aroma. Steeped tea is a pretty marigold color and smells more akin to tangerines, particularly the pithy zest of the peel. The flavor, too, is making me think more of tangerine than orange; there is something very crisp, bright, pithy, and tangy about it, with a mild citrusy tartness. There is apparently ginger also in the profile, but it is extremely mild against the bright citrus flavor; there is a subtle warming quality to the flavor, but I don’t really get a distinct gingery taste and certainly no heat. I do feel like I taste a bit of lemon peel along with the citrusy elements, which may just be my brain’s association of pairing lemon with ginger. I don’t really taste the base against the flavoring, but it provides a light mouthfeel and there is a hint of a hot hay note waxing underneath. Mostly, it is a very bright and slightly tangy tangerine-flavored tea. There is a very refreshing quality about it, and I bet it would make a very nice cold brew.
Flavors: Citrus, Hot Hay, Lemon Zest, Orange, Orange Zest, Spices, Tangy
Happy National Pizza Day! One of my local favorites is a chicken garlic that has lots of veggies and basil on top, so I decided to brew some tulsi (holy basil) as my nightly tisane. This was one of the boxes of tea that Todd brought me back from his once-ago trip to Ireland. Thanks, Todd!
This is a blend of the three different varieties of tulsi (my preference!) I am pretty sure I’ve only ever had tulsi in blends, not straight, and it is interesting taking in the aroma as is… the pepperiness I’ve always gotten in the flavor really comes out on the nose, as well as a sharp citrusy scent, and something that smells like a cross between sandlewood and cinnamon, with an herbaceous/woody undertone. The flavor is mostly what I’m used to with tulsi — a little minty, though lacking any sort of cooling menthol, a little citrusy, and a little peppery, though I’m also tasting a slight roasty note here… tastes a little like chicory, though leaning a bit more dry/herbaceous.
Pleasant and relaxing… I will probably also have a cup of Aesthete’s “La Vie en Rose,” which is a tulsi blend with a strong fennel presence, as I just finished a bowl of Minestrone soup with some very fennel-forward sausage! (Mmm, sausage!)
Flavors: Cinnamon, Citrus, Coffee, Herbaceous, Mint, Pepper, Roasted, Spices, Wood