158 Tasting Notes
Steepster! I miss you, steepster. I am just insanely busy and, in fact, the only reason I have a few moments this morning is that I’m packing to go on a trip. But I do miss you, and all of your wonderful tea discoveries!
This isn’t one of them, sadly. I’m slowly beginning to come to terms with the fact that I’m running out of Jackee Muntz, and I’m in need of a really solid Keemun to replace it, so I’ve begun the hunt. When Teas Etc. shot me an email about a crazy keyword deal, I decided that the time was nigh. Unfortunately, this isn’t going to be the staple replacement I’d hoped for, but it’s a pretty good tea — it just doesn’t knock my socks off the way that Muntz does.
Reading the scant notes about this I can see that one person thought it was weaker than usual (Auggy) and another person thought it was stronger (someone I don’t recognize). I’m leaning in Auggy’s direction. I’m not sure what I was hoping for, but there isn’t much punch to this one. In the interests of full disclosure I should say that I’m slightly stuffed up from allergies, so part of this is probably not the tea’s fault, but I did steep longer than my standard for new blacks of three minutes, in the hopes that my water would continue to turn amber, which took quite some time.
On the plus side, the flavor is clean, there is a pleasing sweetness present, and even if the cup is slightly watery compared to the Keemun I’m searching for, there isn’t a hint of astringency to be found, which might make it a pretty swell afternoon cup.
And that’s it for me! One brief and inadequate half-asleep cameo before I dash off to shower and throw a few more things into a suitcase so that I can wing my way south for a family reunion I am not even a little bit prepared for. Whee!
Hope all of you marvelous steepsterites are beating the heat with endless pitchers of iced tea.
I can’t believe how remiss I’ve been about adding tasting notes. I didn’t even have this one listed as in my cupboard, but I’ve had it for quite a while now…I’ve gone on to two other tea orders since then! Shameful.
This is a good Assam. The aroma — both of the dry leaves and of the tea itself — is really nice (I don’t ever talk about the smell of the wet leaves because for some reason, the smell of wet tea leaves of any variety is sort of gross to me).
I’ve noticed that many Assams have a sort of berry undertone for me. Sinharaja has that same sort of thing going on, despite being a Ceylon. It’s very complementary to additions of turbinado sugar — something in the molasses content blends nicely (though I tend most often to take my teas, even my black teas, straight).
Not the stiffest Assam I’ve ever had, but pretty stiff, and it has that honeyed biscotti sort of flavor that tends to define the ones I like most. Those people grieving the inevitable emptying of their tin of Thomas Samson might consider this as an alternative, with those shared notes…though it’s definitely a bolder cup of tea than Thomas, and may not tickle every fancy.
Not sure on my steep time here. Less than five minutes, but more than three. I’ve already written tasting notes for this tea, so I don’t think I need to revisit them, but it’s worth noting that I’m digging this one at 190…discovered by accident this morning through a zojirushi oversight. The slightly more bitter astringency is nowhere to be found, and the cocoa notes are much stronger.
There must, I thought, while I stood here at my desk sniffing this package of tea, be something wrong with the inside of my head.
Flavored teas aren’t really my metier. I’ve been curious about them lately, though, and had enough success with the stuff I got from 52teas that I’ve been somewhat emboldened to branch out, after having been thoroughly chased away from them by Teavana.
Still…pear? All of the pear teas that I’ve tried have been abominable failures. One of them is probably what I would consider my arch enemy, in terms of tea, because I want to like it…I should like it…it initially promises me that I will like it…and then I spend the next quarter of an hour rinsing my mouth and wondering why I can’t learn that it’s horrible.
So, yes. Pear tea. Pear ginger tea.
It’s actually pretty good. I think the leaves are CTC leaf…they don’t have the appearance of pellets, per se, but they are very small and shredded in appearance. The pale yellow petals in the blend are quite pretty.
I think this blend works for me because it’s subtle. The pear flavor is there, but it doesn’t taste like stewed fruit. The ginger is there, but it’s even more subtle than the pear; it’s mostly notable in a gentle warmth that haunts your tongue after you swallow, with the sweetness of the pear just peeking about its edges.
I’m not sure whether or not I would rebuy this. I think it would make a fantastic iced tea, actually…
The good news is that Tao of Tea has a sort of frequent-buyer program. Every dollar spent with them earns you a ‘tea leaf’, and these can be used to buy…more tea. Or teaware. Or anything on their site. It’s pretty nice.
It’s also nice that you can buy their tea by the ounce…I bought a whole slew of 1oz bags of tea. It seems pretty inexpensive, as well.
I’m having a difficult time rating this tea today. It’s…very unusual.
Earl Grey is probably the tea that drew me to tea, years ago…strange but true. Especially strange in light of the fact that I tend to have an aversion to intensely perfumey sorts of teas.
This one combines lapsang souchong and earl grey, and there is definitely no mistaking that fact: you can find both very powerful, very fragrant notes together here.
I’ve read that other people have thought ‘smoked pork’ when they smell lapsang souchong, and I’ve always been a little bit tickled by that; for me, lapsang souchong has always just smelled like a campfire, more pine-like than meat-like.
This is the first time I’ve opened a bag and thought…oh…definitely smoked pork.
The tea does not, thankfully, taste like smoked pork.
I’m sort of reminded of Samovar’s Scarlet Sable, unsurprisingly, but I think I prefer this one. The longer I sip it, the more I’m enjoying the sweet, citrus-floral component. It seems to linger on the palate just as well as the smoked lapsang does, making this tea feel lighter than your average lapsang despite the fact that I think it’s really not, in actuality. It does lack the harsh, acrid tar element that some lapsangs seem to tend toward, but since that’s my least favorite quality of lapsang souchong, I can say I’m pretty glad that it does.
This was definitely not the tea I wanted when my order from Tao of Tea came in, but I was so curious about it that I couldn’t help myself. I’m not sorry that I had some. It’s a strange combination, but it works! Citrus and floral and smoke. Gonna have to say…this tea…is a harlot in a housefire.
A little bit more in-your-face with the flavor than many teas I consider staples, but one of those blends that probably occupies a space that no other tea can wholly occupy.
I am increasingly fond of this chai. There’s something remarkably uncommon about the smoke-laced depths of it. It still reminds me of re-enactment villages and antique shops, and the stony fire pits of the Anasazi…or maybe venerable old houses made of good, creaking wood, with big flagstone fireplaces.
Something about it smells almost undeniably feminine to me, too. I cannot for the life of me tell you what the reason for that might be; the tea doesn’t smell floral or sweet or fruity, but somewhere in the back of my mind, it sets off little bells of familiarity strong enough to warrant the thought.
It’s not the chai I reach for every day, but a definite ‘reorder me’ tea even so.
So, my 4-Hour Work Week Samovar thingy came a few days ago, but I hadn’t had the chance to open it up until today. And…I discovered that the included book is missing! This is actually not a huge problem for me, since I ordered the special for the yerba mate…but even so!
Anyway, I must be seriously insane to be sipping on yerba mate at nearly 8pm in the evening. I’m questioning my own judgement here…but really, it smelled nifty and…new tea! Too weak to say ‘no’.
I’m really digging the smell, honestly. It’s very grassy…but less like the soft green grass of summer, and more like pond reeds of some kind, or something slightly woodier, something thicker, with a stalk. Bamboo, maybe. Not quite sure. It’s an earthy, nutty, but grassy (reedy) smell with a green note at the very end.
The description notes that there’s licorice root in here somewhere, but if so it’s so subtle that I’m not able to isolate it on its own, which for me is a good thing.
It almost has a savory chalkiness to it. That sounds terrible, but I’d say that it reminds me of…I don’t know…oats or some other grain before you turn it into granola or oatmeal or what-have-you. Not chalky, per se, but…
Oh, I’m totally spacing the words that I want. Maybe finishing this cup will help!
This is a pretty robust cup. I can see people either loving it or hating it, but I definitely dig it. I’m really looking forward to trying the other two that came in the set!
Whee, 100 tasting notes. I sort of felt like I ought to have a really rarified tea for my 100th, but then I had one of those mornings where everything that happens seems custom-designed to frustrate and annoy. I couldn’t help but to reach for something sweet.
I’ve been awfully lazy about tasting notes lately. In point of fact, I have none for this tea, but my pouch of it is very nearly empty now, which saddens me. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I have.
There’s not too much that I can add here that other people haven’t already. The shavings of coconut are large; the vanilla is very subtle. The black tea holds up well to both. While it’s a decent tea without any additives, making it like a chai on the stovetop — sans sweeteners, but with a very generous spoonfull or two of sweetened condensed milk added along with regular milk — makes for a completely decadent treat.
I wouldn’t say that it’s a substitute for pie, of course…or even that it tastes exactly like coconut cream pie, when consumed hot…but the results are so delicious that this hardly matters, in my opinion. Thinking about it, I wonder if the viscosity and sweetness when served iced would make the difference?
Regardless…this was just the cup of tea that I needed for drowning a very cranky start to the day. It’s not an ‘every day’ tea for me…but it’s quite nice to have it on hand, and I think I can probably find a regular spot for it in my cabinet.
Upped the amount of leaf significantly this go-around to see if I could pull a more saturated liquor out of the leaves. I think I did…but the result is still undeveloped and somehow unconvincing to sip on. It’s completely inoffensive as a tea, but there just isn’t much substance to it at all, and what is there isn’t intriguing enough to make hunting for it with focus a worthwhile time.
Not bad. I would drink it again without hesitation…but I won’t be sad when I run out of it.