94 Tasting Notes
Okay so….my new bag of Coconut Cream Pie came in. Unfortunately, I broke my french press while trying to wash it, so I had to make this in a tea ball. When I opened my bag, it smelled so strong and made me gag (I hate coconut usually…). What gives, CCP? Maybe the sample Ricky gave me lost some of its flavor/smell because it was older, or was a different batch, but this bag is too strong. The steeped tea tasted very strongly of coconut as well, in the bad way. Sigh.
I cleaned up my apartment today so that the cleaning lady could vacuum, and as a reward I made myself a cup of Dawn. It’s a lot richer than I remember, which is a good thing. I think part of the change can be attributed to the fact that I didn’t use boiling water in the past, and this tea thrives on boiling water. For anyone who hasn’t tried Dawn yet, it is truly amazing. It’s like unsweetened hot cocoa…there’s even this almost powdery/thick mouthfeel, like you’re drinking a rich suspension of chocolate and cocoa and tea. The second steep is wonderful as well. Simple Leaf, you rock. Congratulations, you get my first 100.
ETA: A slightly longer steep (closer to 4 or 4:30) really makes this seem like a decadent, rich cup of unsweetened hot cocoa.
Four Seasons pisses me off.
Don’t get me wrong—this isn’t a bad tea. It’s actually quite tasty. But it’s just not that special. It tastes, to me, like an average Tie Guan Yin, but missing the delicious heaviness I associate with TGY. It’s delicious, but no more delicious than some of the other TGYs I’ve tried.
But here’s the biggest kicker for me—you have to use a lot of leaf, and it does not produce that many infusions—certainly not 10-15, unless you’re thinking 2 ounce cups in 2 tablespoons of leaf. This is kind of infuriating, since the whole selling point on the Samovar website is that it lasts forever, so you’re getting a good value even if it’s $25 for a small, half-filled tin. I don’t like being lied to or misled. And there sure as hell aren’t 40 servings in the tin I received. Hell, there aren’t more than 15 teaspoons in there. And this tea requires, at the very least, 1.5 teaspoons for 6 ounces of water.
The tasting note descriptions intrigue me…I’ve done a little research, and I’ve never heard of Four Seasons/Si Jie Chun being described as bread and milk. The description I’ve come upon most is flowers, fruit, honey and pineapple. Hm. I’m tasting less milk or lactose or bakey-bready-ness, and more gardenias and sweet floral perfumes. [And yes, I have tried this at a number of different temperatures, and have gotten mostly the same results. No increase in dairy/lactose/bread at a lower temperature, for me.] I wonder how much of the (omg milk! bread!) love for this can be attributed to the power of suggestion…makes me want to experiment by writing up a tasting note for a random tea that’s like “OMG THIS TASTES LIKE CHERRIES!” and then see if anyone else says the same thing :)
So what do I taste? Gardenias, mostly; honey, certainly; and butter from my cooled down second infusion. The proportions of the flavors changes slightly from infusion to infusion, but the leaves don’t last very long either. Something I’m noticing this time around—it’s pretty bitter. I’m not sure if it’s because my water is too hot, or if I’m oversteeping it. A warning: do not try to brew this with 8 ounces and 1 teaspoon. I’ve brewed other TGYs this way and it’s been fine, but Four Seasons is not like other TGYs :) I ended up with one okay-but-light first infusion, and then almost tasteless 2nd and 3rd infusions. It’s so difficult to rate this one…on the one hand, it’s yummy when you do everything right. On the other hand, it’s extremely expensive and you have to use a lot of it to make a decent cup of tea, plus all the reservations I mentioned above.
I know I’m blaspheming, writing a negative review for a Samovar creation…please don’t hurt me!
Okay, okay. I know, I’m not supposed to like this. It’s coconut. It’s CTC black tea. It’s flavored. But oh, mah, gawh, this is soooo delicious with a good sized dash of milk and two heaping teaspoons of white sugar. Oh, my sweet, not-overwhelmingly-coconutty, creamy cup of dessert—I love you, I really do. And I’m sending happy thoughts to Ricky who sent me this sample, because there was no way in hell I’d buy this for myself (coconut and all). But seriously? I have a huge chest of tea that I need to finish before September, yet I went ahead and put through an order for this at 52teas because it is that good. Nom. 100 94 noms.
Haven’t had much time for tea these days, but I broke down and made myself a cup of this after I received my samples from The Jade Teapot in the mail. I think this might be the same as Art of Tea’s Uji Gyokuro, if it matters.
This is my first gyokuro, so I’m a little hesitant to rate this. The leaves are very dark green and full of chlorophyll. It seems like there are quite a few stems in this sample, so it’s probably not the greatest quality Gyokuro. I emptied the entire sample packet (about 1.5 teaspoons) in 8 ounces of water.
First steep, 45 seconds: The smell is very similar to matcha, or at least the vegetal flavor of matcha. The taste is also reminiscent of it, except less seaweedy and powdery than matcha usually is. I can’t really pick out much other than the grassy, delicious taste of the gyokuro…I’m not getting butter or gardenias, although there is a slight perfumy quality to the liquor.
Second steep, ~30 seconds: Okay, I should have only done around 5 seconds for this second steep, because it was quite bitter. Still, it was delicious. Less sweet, and more savory.
Third steep, ~2 minutes: Lighter than the second steep. More savory/umami, and a bit bitter and drying. It’s very brothy, for lack of a better word; I kind of wish it were a bit saltier. The flavors are considerably weaker, though, and there isn’t any of the sweet/buttery/green/vegetal yumminess that there was in the first two steeps. Perhaps next time, if my second steep is shorter, the third steep will still be tasty.
Overall, this was nice, although I think that there are probably some better examples of these flavors out there! It has made me curious to try more gyokuro.
I’m not sure if this tea has gotten spoiled or not…but there’s kind of a weird smell to it. Perhaps the chocolate bits or white bits (coconut?) went rancid? shrugs
Intrepid tea drinker that I am, I went ahead and steeped up a cup, and added some milk and sugar.
At first, I was like :x but then I was like :D
Hot, this is meh. There is a slightly fruity-almost-tart-but-not-quite-tart taste that’s throwing this off for me. I can kind of taste chocolate, but no coconut. It’s just sort of average-to-strange tasting tea.
But then! I left my nearly full cup cool, and came back to it. And oh, mah, gawd. It tastes JUST like chocolate milk. It looks like chocolate milk. It smells like chocolate milk. But best of all, it TASTES like chocolate milk! :O
But, alas, I am not looking for chocolate milk, I’m looking for tea, so I’m giving this a middling score.
I have a ton of homework left for tonight (blah) and a whole gallon of milk that expires today, so I decided to whip up some black tea. I also bought sugar for the first time! Yay! Sugar!
I’m not a /huge/ fan of apple cinnamon flavored things (although I do like apple pie), so I wasn’t expecting to like this very much. To me, it tastes like sweet (well, I added sugar and milk) apple-flavored black tea, with a generous side of creamy graham cracker and spice. I’m not tasting any vanilla, but the milk I added does give it a nice creamy feel. It’s pretty good, but just not my thing. It did, however, exceed my expectations, as I was expecting to hate it. I’m sure people who like apple flavored things will love this tea. My rating is more of a personal preference thing, and not a reflection of whether or not this tea tastes like it should/good. Thank you Ricky for the sample :)
Edit: There’s almost a coffee-with-vanilla-creamer-ish taste to my cooled down cup…an interesting development!
A big thank you to Ricky, for sending me some of this tea!
I used to hate coconut, but ever since trying Golden Moon’s Coconut Pouchong I’ve been feeling braver about it. So, of course the first tea I picked out of Ricky’s lovely package is this one. I usually prepare teas I’m tasting for the first time without additives like milk and sugar, and at the recommended steeping parameters. Instead, I made this with milk and sweetener, as multiple people mentioned how it tasted better as a latte.
The dry tea has a very light smell, at least compared to the Coconut Pouchong. Steeped up, it’s delicious. Creamy, and just slightly coconutty—but that’s fine with me. Unfortunately, I only had Splenda in my apartment, so it’s giving the tea a kind of funky taste (I can’t stand Splenda anymore, for some reason!) but otherwise, this is a lovely dessert tea. It’s very basic, but I like basic. I’m pretty sure once I make room in my tea chest for more, I’ll be ordering a package of this for myself.