March Mad(Hatter)ness Round 2
Since I have no interest in leaving multiple notes for the same teas over and over, especially in a short period of time, but want to relay my subsequent March Mad(Hatter)ness rounds, I’ll be doing them under Random Steepings. These are the results for Round 2!
Peach Cobbler by Bird & Blend Tea Co. VS. Uji-Houjicha: Yamashiro-no-Sato by Fukujuen
My one issue with Peach Cobbler, initially, was some astrigent/drying qualities at the end of the sip, but I found that when the tea cooled a bit, that went away completely, leaving a super smooth, bread-slathered-in-honey, vanilla-sweet, juicy-peach tea. This is certainly one of the nicest peach teas I’ve had; despite being very simple in composition, it is deeply satisfying.
Uji-Houjicha continues to be an outstanding quality houjicha; roasted, nutty, woody, oaty, tasty. Very warm and satisfying.
This is a tough match-up! I am really enjoying both of these teas, and I feel it’s hard to judge a flavored tea that does a great job at recreating its intended flavor against a stand-up example of a straight tea. I think, if I get down to the nitty-gritty, the base leaf in Peach Cobbler could be nicer — a bit more malty/bready to really sell the cobbler pastry (that is, I think an Assam base would aid it better than the Ceylon it currently uses), and perhaps just the lightest addition of some spice, since I think every memory I have of peach cobbler at least includes cinnamon. While this houjicha just makes a satisfying cup with rich flavor notes without tending towards dustiness, barkiness, or bitterness every time.
Uji-Houjicha moves on!
Ya Shi Xiang “King of Duck Shit Aroma” Dan Cong Oolong by Yunnan Sourcing VS. Apple Barley Tea by Lupicia
I tweeked my leaf amount for the Ya Shi Xiang Dan Cong and now I’m not getting that slight drying sensation. It’s very smooth, still strong in toasty nuttiness, a little honey and floral sweetness, and a lingering minerality.
Up against the apple-flavored mugicha… I do really enjoy the mugicha, and it is the sort of thing I find myself in the mood for often. And, I think, if my plain Hida Mugicha had ended up in the bracket, it might have won this round?! But my feelings are pretty much the same for these flavored mugicha, which is that the flavoring feels like more of a novelty than a “cohesive part” of the blend. It’s fun, but doesn’t particularly add much to that extremely strong, coffee-esque flavor of the roasted barley.
Since I feel the flavors of the Ya Shi Xiang create a more “cohesive” taste (a nutty dessert), the Ya Shi Xiang “King of Duck Shit Aroma” Dan Cong Oolong moves on!
(And honestly, it’s going to be a tough match-up between it and the Uji-Houjicha! They have such similar flavor profiles…)
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Pu’erh by Teas Etc. (Snake River Tea) VS. White Rose by T2
For someone who doesn’t really like pu’erh, Chocolate Covered Strawberry Pu’erh is one that I do enjoy each time I make it; that said, the rich cocoa and subtle sweet fruit notes are still on a (much more dominant) earthy/dirty pu’erh base, which just isn’t a flavor that is ever going to be one of my favorites.
White Rose is, by all accounts, an obnoxious example of a rose tea and the sort of floral tea that would be a perfume/bath product abomination to most; but I’ve found that I rarely seem to fit in with “most” when it comes to my tastes and tea, and I really enjoy that super strong rose flavor. So it would be easy enough to award this round to White Rose on taste alone. But I think, more than that, is when I think of the functions of each tea; I really only like Chocolate Covered Strawberry one way, which is as a hot tea, and I do appreciate how warming, energizing, and settling it is. But I enjoy White Rose warm, iced, with milk, added to smoothies, brewed in lemonade… it is just more versatile for me. Which makes it a clear winner in this match-up.
White Rose moves on!
Minnesota N’Ice by TeaSource VS. Sakura Rooibos by Lupicia
Drinking Sakura Rooibos again, I almost feel I may have judged it too quickly, and kinda regret moving it on. I’m far less impressed now than the night I first drank it. Mostly, it’s just a difficult tea to brew. I usually “grandpa” rooibos blends by leaving the bag in, but because of the salt on the sakura leaves, the tea becomes way too salinic to do that. And I’m just having a hard time finding a steep time before discarding the leaves that produces a good, rich flavor, but doesn’t soak them so long that the tea becomes overly salty. I also find that while it wasn’t medicinal for me on my initial tasting, when I was typing up my notes with a steaming cup in front of me, that I am getting some medicinal notes coming out when the cup cools down. I’m hoping that brewing latte-style might fix some of these misgivings since I have a lot of leaf to get through.
In comparison, Minnesota N’Ice may be a more “classic” flavor profile, black tea with citrus, but despite not being a rather-hard-to-find flavor that I really enjoy like sakura, it really does do this concept well. The base is smooth, any addition of the jasmine green to the base, rather than distracting, adds a mellow floral/minty undertone to the whole tea, and the really crisp and bright orange layers over it well. It’s a very “Earl Grey”-esque sort of tea, but it’s also really good. This was probably the easiest match-up for me thus far!
Minnesota N’Ice moves on!