40 Tasting Notes
It’s a dreary overcast day, and after sleeping most of it away, an Irish Breakfast was the only way I could imagine facing the remainder. I was raised with Twinning’s Irish Breakfast as 90% of what I knew tea was. As a result, Irish Breakfast blends do two things for me. First they’re a reminder of better days. Less confusing and infinitely more simple. Secondly, they provide a hearty strength I can’t always muster. They take a day like today and add a bit of volume to those silent grays.
While I can’t go on record to call this my hands down favorite Irish Breakfast, it’s exactly what I needed today.
So tonight as I sit down to watch some Archer, I’ll be trying out a mix of black teas in Windsor Castle. Now I won’t be the best for a technical review here. My main bread and butter at this point is still black tea blends. As such, I don’t really have the experience with individual blacks to pick apart where the different flavors are residing. What I can tell you is that I really enjoy this. This may supplant English Breakfast as my favorite basic blend. That of course doesn’t count Irish/Scottish Breakfast blends, as they fall under “HEY BRUH, WAKE UP AND MOVE” blends. I really enjoy the way that the usual might and power of the Assam is reigned in before it’s full punch with a bit of flowery excitement from the others.
It’s black. It’s blended. It’s delightful. For the record, I drank this with a bit of milk and sugar, and have really enjoyed it.
It’s 6:42 in the morning and I haven’t slept. Sure, I rolled around in bed for a few hours, but it’s no good. I have to be at work in 2 hours and 15 minutes. Maybe it’s my fault for having no self control.
“Nah bro, you got this. One more cup of tea, and three more issues of The Walking Dead. You’ll be able to catch all the way up by tomorrow!”
“Three hours?!?!?! Three hours?!?! How many issues did…how much tea…this can’t be. Where is the nymph who stole my time? I demand to know!”
Well you might as well start the day with some faux coffee before you get into a breakfast blend. The bag certainly smells a bit like coffee, but there’s more there. The cocoa and almond brittle bits are there to dress the coffee beans in a sequenced jacket. Not the light, ever so slightly glimmer sequence, but the disco ball fish scale sequence that demands your attention. You will not speak with java without them being heard.
Once brewed the smell of the earthy leaves take the wheel, and the sugary roar of the aforementioned scents nap in the back seat so our grizzled old friend java can ride shotgun. Oh they’re still there talking in their sleep, but they needed some rest before the real show started. This being a sample with about 2 1/2 teaspoons you decided to get weird. There’s that nice solid 16 oz mug that’s your standby, and a smaller 12 oz next it. Doing no real math to figure it out, you decided to pour a bit of milk and add some sugar to the larger vessel while leaving the other plain so you could have dueling cups. So that’s one full 16 oz cup with milk and sugar (3 1/2 min.), and about 5-6 oz’s of the plain brew in the other (5 min.). Good for focusing on one cup? Not at all. An interesting way to start the day that never really ended? That tired grin on your face sure seems to indicate so.
The naked cup sees Java struggling with his seat belt, wanting to jump out of the car at 90 miles an hour, when freshly poured. Give it a couple minutes and cooler heads will prevail. Once the old man gives up and settles in, you get to hear him mumble on about how strong he used to taste. He doesn’t have the fight left in him to yell it at you anymore. It’s more like he and the others swapping stories now. Nice, full bodied, malty stories, so smooth that you know they’ve learned to play off each other when entertaining an audience. Yogurt even pops his little head up every now and again with a little quip. By the time this half cup’s run out of gas, you’re wishing you’d have given it center stage. At night it’s not what you’d be looking for. Too familiar. Too relaxed. But sitting here, waiting on the sun to rear it’s ugly head and remind you what a long and painful day is approaching, you’d give anything to have those old familiar voices keeping you company. The rave still going on next to you is fun, but it’s not what you’re really in the mood for right now.
When you stop to stretch your legs and get in the other vehicle, you’re quickly presented with the fact that this is a party bus with Neal Cassady at the wheel. At the door Almond, Yogurt, Vitamin D Milk, and Sugar ask if you’re here because you got their invitation. They’re not mean of offensive about it, they just want to make sure that you know who exactly is throwing this party. Java’s lingering around, but he’s staying in his seat and watching as the others pull the reluctant Cocoa on to the dance floor. She’s out there trying, but you can tell she’s a little bit uncomfortable. Not really ready to come out of her shell yet. You look on while the party’s still hot and raging, and each of the flavor’s dancing are clearly looking for your attention. They share the dance floor, but not in unison. This isn’t the electric slide, they’re each trying to out do the other. Once the party’s died down a bit and someone opened up the windows and started to cool everything off, things really start to get weird. Someone else steps on the floor and approaches you. As you savor the scene and really drink it in, you realize you must be too foggy. You’re too tired, and the party has died down to lukewarm, that’s the only answer for it. Is that..no. Ba..Ba…Banana? No, no one invited Banana did they? Suddenly you realize it’s just Almond, Yogurt, and Milk playing tricks on you. They’d probably have you questioning your own sanity if you weren’t sure you lost it quite some time ago.
Next time around you won’t just ask for a lift and stumble in unprepared. It’s time you bought the ticket for this runaway ride and settle in for the long haul.
So as this is the second steeping, a bit weaker flavor is to be expected. I also put a splash of vitamin d milk in the cup before pouring.
Brilliant idea is brilliant. I can’t wait to get the full first steep of flavor of this with a bit of milk added. Even with the weaker 2nd steeping here, the milk makes the grenadine less overpowering, and adds a nice richness. The general flavor here is that of the ghost of strawberry jam. Like…if the ghost of strawberry jam was the Swaze Craze in the middle of the film Ghost. It’s lingering, you think it’s there, but it’s not quite strong enough to make it’s presence fully known. I immediately knew that I recognized it, but had to search for a moment to place it.
At the same time, that could be because my pallet is generally more confused than a kid on acid in a house of mirrors.
First and foremost, this is my first experience with any Monk’s Blend. The smell from the bag is a sweet knee to the face. Incredibly sweet and intriguing. I’ll be steeping this at around 195 for roughly 3 1/2 minutes. One minute into steeping and there’s a very nice dark copper color.
Now I’m just starting to spread my wings into the world of flavored teas (The Earl aside of course). This seems like a very logical starting point for me, as I already know that I like grenadine. Cherry’s always been my favorite flavor of everything, and though grenadine doesn’t automatically equate to cherry, that’s what most of us associate it with. Regardless, grenadine makes me like things. For example, I don’t like any tequila that isn’t top shelf, but I’ll flat out murder a Tequila Sunrise.
Based on the sweetness of the in bag smell, I’ve decided not to add any milk or sugar, which is a bit odd for me. I’m looking forward to trying this again later with a splash of milk, but after my initial taste, I know I made the right call. This is a smooth tea with a nice sweet finish. The grenadine clearly carries the flavor, but their* is a subtle creaminess added by the vanilla. That’s just the way I like it. When it comes to vanilla, a little bit goes a very long way for me. I think it’s a bit sweet to be a daily drinker at this point, but I’m definitely glad that I’ve got a couple oz’s on hand. I betting that a splash of milk will add a nice bit of creaminess to the flavor that will make me enjoy it even more, though I can’t see any reason to add any sugar to this. I’m also looking forward to trying this blend iced.
*I was talking to multiple people, both online and in person, while trying to write this. As such, I completely forgot to proof read this little review at all. While most people would have simply made the correction upon noticing it, I just can’t live with that. The there, they’re, their error is far too egregious a mistake for me to just edit it out after it’s gone public. I’ve snuffed the myriad of other typos I caught on one read through (which in no way means I didn’t miss any), but only that was left to stand as shining monument of how inept I become when I attempt to multitask.
First of all, It’s St Patty’s and inbetween bar runs I decided to fix some tea. Consider my results skewed by the only liquid I love more than tea.
For this round I used slightly less tea, and added a touch of milk and sugar. It really makes for a far more intriguing and complex brew. As I stated before, I believe I used too much tea, but with less tea AND milk and sugar, it’s a whole ‘nother ball game. The taste I experience before was blatant and upfront. With this, there are three distinctive tastes. First you get the smoke (which is extremely subdued and far more palatable), which is followed by the milkiness, and then the sweetness brings up the rear. All in all, this is a far more enjoyable experience for me. I do wish I could be a bit more eloquent in my description, but there’s booze out there begging to be drank, and there are sober kids in China, so I must do my part.
So I’m new to teas that aren’t bagged Twinnings or something similar. I’ve grown up on standard English and Irish Breakfasts (especially the latter), with a bit of the Earl now and again. Of course I’ve had my experiences with Chai, Green, White, Mate, etc., but typical British blends in teabags is what I know. Saying this was a new experience would be a major understatement.
The smell emanating from the bag was something I simply wasn’t prepared for. I had seen Lapsang Souchong advertised as smokey, but I had no idea. It’s a cross between a snuffed out campfire and the remains of a burnt building. I can easily see this being off putting to some, but I really enjoy it. It took me awhile to place what the smell reminded me of, but I finally nailed it. Anyone who grew up with a firefighter and remembers them coming home after a run knows that smell well.
Now this is one of Empire’s Micro Blend teas, and they state that one heaped teaspoon will make a full pot of tea (32 oz) of tea. I like a stronger tea, so I used one teaspoon for one 16 oz cup. As expected, after steeping I was left with a nice dark liquid that put off a scent only slightly subdued from the bag. I normally take my black teas with a splash of milk and sugar, but I’ve decided that I’ll try a cup of all of my teas straight before reverting to what’s comfortable. The expected smokiness is immediate and unlike anything I’ve ever drank. Somehow this entire time I’d convinced myself that the flavor wouldn’t be able to match up to the strength of the scent. I have no trouble admitting that I was wrong. What’s far more surprising is the smoothness that underlies the whole affair. The smoke refuses to be ignored, but there’s a slight sweetness that sneaks in behind it, coyly hanging on to it’s coattails.
This is something I wish I would have had in the winter. Tomorrow (well later today at this point), I’ll be trying this again, but with a bit of milk and sugar. I think the next brew I’ll slightly reduce the amount of tea as well. While I really enjoyed it, it was just a bit strong.