415 Tasting Notes
Sipping this today, just a few grams in my clunky shiboridashi pot for something like half a minute. You get grass in the forefront, not anything too strongly vegetal. Floral in more the trail of each sip, but not the honey or fruity notes the tin boasts.
On a different note, I was shared some of Cultivate’s tieguanyin and adored it; I have to remember to pick some up myself at some point.
Did another steep with boiling water, and it brought out more vegetal notes, and almost masked anything floral. There is a bit more sweetness though; like a very green fruit.
Sipped this at a club meeting and scribbled some notes down while I was there. I brewed it in my travel gaiwan, didn’t have my scale but filled about 1/3rd, and it expanded to fill my gaiwan. Didn’t really count seconds for steeps, but less than 30 seconds.
“Light, coats the mouth; floral mainly, lightly vegetal. Magnolia, lightly sweet, almost buttery. Very smooth. Pick some up for me, I think.”
“Mostly lost count of the steep (>5); floral topnotes dissipated, vegetal and buttery body. Butter still lingers as an after taste, & breathe out.”
I did quite like it, the leaves were mostly green, some red oxidation on some leaf edges but not all; I might pick some up next time I’m over there.
Flavors: Butter, Flowers, Sweet, Vegetal
I’ve fallen back on not reviewing many teas again because I feel like my tastebuds have just faded and there isn’t much I can do about it.
But I sat down with a notebook for this one. Tossed the first rinse.
First steep was very thin, mineral, almost metallic, bitter but smooth, not drying on the tongue; maybe faintly vegetal.
Second steep was more vegetal, still thin but smooth, still felt it was almost a metallic bitterness, but not wholly unpleasant. Bitterness lingered on the tip of the tongue.
Third to about fifth steeps (15 seconds) it evolved to more steamed vegetables, and evolved to a more drying astringency on the tongue, which stuck with you after each sip.
When Soko stopped selling tea to go and let the coffee shop across the street from them take over serving their teas, this was the one I usually got (since they didn’t carry their whole line and Soko’s has since stopped carrying most of my favourites…) to go while studying at the library. There’s nothing much to it, it’s just simple vanilla over a ceylon base. There’s actual pieces of vanilla bean, and I feel like it relies more on the dried bean than flavouring oils, because the vanilla was never particularly bold. But I like simple pairings, so.
I’m coming down with a cold (courtesy of my sibling—I just got back camping with them), but today while sipping this, I made a second steep (first at 3 minutes, which I overleafed I guess because it ended up being VERY strong, astringent, malty with the usual cherry-like berry taste I tend to get). I did a second steep at about 1 minute, getting again malt and cherry, not as astringent this time, but I got a very distinct menthol flavour in the middle of each sip; it didn’t linger, and was quickly overtaken by astringency at the end, with a very dry mouthfeel.
Okay, didn’t have the BEST experience in Teavana today. I’m told they’ve demolished that upselling/overselling tactic, but it still occurred, and he either ignored me or didn’t hear my meek little protest, and I ended up with more tea than I wanted. It sounded like the manager told him off for it though when I left…
But in the end, I’m not complaining because I’m liking this tea so far. He said it finished with caramel, and he wasn’t wrong; it’s a sweet, even-bodied tea that starts with honey and finishes with toasted honey/caramel. It’s bright, sweet, slightly nutty, not brisk, no astringency (granted I took the packages’ recommendation for three minutes to steep). I really have gotten worse at describing teas. This is a very mellow, sweet tea though. It reminds me of some Taiwanese honey blacks—specifically the one Davidstea offered for a short time. That one had a bit of smoke on it though, which was odd. I’ll play around with the steep times for this one in the future, though, since I do have a lot to experiment with.
Teavana has been ushering in a number of single-origin (or country/region specific blends, at least) teas lately, under their ‘Micro Lot’ tab. If their Taiwanese honey wasn’t $30 I would have tried that, although the curled, small leaf makes me think it would be quite similar to Davids’.
Just finishing off Harler’s second handbook, Tea Manufacture, and will be posting a review of it soon on teatra.de, with some comparisons to Werkhoven’s Tea Processing. General “Tea Guides/Handbooks” only offer a summarized view of tea processing and manufacturing techniques, so if you’re interested in processing in India and Sri Lanka, with some brief looks at other areas such as Georgia, I’d pick it up, as well as Harler’s other tea books.
Flavors: Caramel, Honey, Nutty, Toasted
This has always been my favourite, so when Soko’s was discontinuing pretty much everything but their flavoured teas (catering to the tastes of the demographic in the area), I went back and picked up a bunch of what they had left; unfortunately a lot of it was pretty broken up. Maybe it’s because it’s been a while since I’ve sipped it, but.
Rinsed, then first two steeps at 5-10 seconds (a mishap while pouring). The smell is thick leather, which is carried through the taste; there’s something like tobacco as well, the leather is chewy and a touch sweet, but there’s also a slight bitterness at the end of each sip, almost burnt, which I think is due to it being so broken up since I don’t remember it being as present in the past.
This tea was originally from camellia sinensis (Soko’s source), so I might buy a bingcha from them at some point of it, because I still like it as an everyday drinker non-pu “pu”.
Unrelated, I’m working on two, possibly three stupidly long blog posts. On unorthodox tea processing mainly, as well as another book review, and, if I can track down a source for a random fact/rumour, maybe a post on yue guang bai. We’ll see. In other news, scored an NES Advantage: https://66.media.tumblr.com/e3a6a9b5a49879288db89862ea0ad9e9/tumblr_o7flv66oLI1r78eh9o1_540.jpg
Third steep’s softened the bitter edge (it wasn’t strong to begin with); leather’s not as deep. More woodsy, I want to say. Fourth is similar, with it being more woody, with a sweet finish. It continues in a similar fashion for the next few steeps, no leather by about the third, just light and woody.
I got this one as a sample. I didn’t think they’d give out expensive tea samples! I just mentioned that it’d interested me for a while but was WAY out of my price range. It’s a ridiculously generous sample to.
It smells like a sort of thick woodsy amber—amber like the perfume scent amber—almost bordering on babypowder, I guess? Very perfumy. I looked into it, and oud is a type of heartwood that they let get attacked by a fungus, producing a strongly scented resin. This is a mixture of that (I think), cedar and tea flowers. Can only see the dried resin bits, though. Weirdly, no where on the wiki page does it say oud/agarwood/calambac is used in foods.
It’s surprisingly smooth tasting, with the oud/calambac sitting in the back of your throat after each sip. It does kind of overpower the taste of tea. It’s hard to describe, because it feels very one-note since I have no experience with… uh. ‘Oud’. There’s the slightest astringency on the back of the tongue, and something like cedar on the forefront.
I do like it, actually. But I’m not about to dump the money to get a few ounces. I drank it at five minutes earlier in the week (didn’t log), but four minutes smooths it out much more. Maybe I’ll try five minutes again next time to try and get a better idea of the profile.
Flavors: Cedar, Resin