348 Tasting Notes
Black tea to get me through a Black Friday at work. Fitting. What else could impart some feeling of Zen while corralling Canadian children playing hockey in the hallways. Answer: An aged Taiwanese black tea. This stuff tastes like Buddhist chocolate. Or at least how I imagine chocolate Buddhists would taste.
I’ll stop now…this is getting weird.
It being Thanksgiving Day – and given the fact that I’m working – I figured it a perfect time to down at least two pints of an American-grown tea. Not just American, one grown and processed in my own state. The leaves for this black tea were picked from a small tea garden as part of the Minto Island Growers outfit. J-TEA International purchased a heap of their leaves and processed them into a black tea product. Similar to a Taiwanese black.
This is my go-to tea when I’m on the go. I can steep it forever, and it doesn’t bitter. The taste is malty, sweet, kinda fruity and…well…’Merica.
I even had to visit the garden it was grown from once WITH the tea in question. (http://steepstories.com/2013/08/14/tea-garden/)
Happy Thanks-Teaing, Steepster.
I don’t often say to people: YOU MUST BUY THIS NAO!!! But I’m doing so here. Especially to those of you with palates that lean toward the smoky. This is a sugarcane-smoked black tea from Taiwan, and it tastes just like that description implies. It’s smoky-sweet with a floral sensation throughout, much like a Li Shan black…but without the malty kick.
I can’t sing praises about this enough.
I even roped friends into trying it with me. You can read about that here: http://www.norbutea.com/JinXuanXiaoZhong?category_id=133
Yeah, I was floored.
Been awhile since I’ve talked about a tea on here…and it had to be one I didn’t like very much. Oh well. This one meant well.
This is the first blend that I’ve delved into since…uh…yesterday. (That English Breakfast teabag shouldn’t count!) First impressions: It was a blend. A green tea blend. Specifically, Chinese sencha as the base with orange and red bits strewn about. On smell, it was…well…fruit sugar. Not sure if they were aiming for apples with the aroma, but I got the impression caramel dipped apples. And we’re almost two weeks out from Halloween.
I obeyed the brewing instructions to the letter(ish) – 1 tsp. of blend in a 6oz. steeper cup, infused for three minutes. The water used was “about” 170F degrees. Couldn’t say for certain.
The liquor brewed a pale, somewhat foggy green with a leafy (but sweet) aroma invoking a sense of honey-dipped peanut butter. When I sipped it, I must say I recoiled a little. There was an unwelcomed syrupy texture on the forefront. It settled down, allowing the rest of the tea aspects to shine through, but it was definitely jarring. Like, “flavored tea” jarring. The middle was sweet and lightly floral. Some of the natural grapy lean of the Chinese sencha even poked out like a prairie dog. But…the finish.
No polite way to put it. The epilogue and aftertaste were…soapy. Astringent, still sweet-ish, kinda lavender-y…and just unpleasant. If only everything from the middle and top note had remained. I think that the blended elements themselves could’ve held this infusion up better without the flavoring agents. ]
A second infusion was a drastic improvement, keeping hold of the fruitier aspects, while ditching the soapy palate texture.
I’m almost completely certain Oriental Beauty is my favorite type of oolong. I’ve enjoyed every variant I’ve tried of it, thus far. And this is, by no small margin, my favorite. No, not just because it had the words “wild” and “arbor” in the title. (Although, that certainly helps.)
The taste is all tart, sweet, fruity, and some form of magic not known to us humans. I would say more…but that might be windbagging it a bit.
Like I did here: http://steepstories.com/2013/09/19/wild-arbor/
There are certain words that will instantly trigger my interest. Five of them are “whiskey”, “barrel-aged”, and “Lapsang Souchong”. When combined…my head explodes. No, not literally, that’d be messy.
I had mused on what a whiskey’d Lapsang would taste like. There was no doubt that I’d enjoy it…but I didn’t know how much. It seemed perfect. Well, the first time I tried it, it almost was. Almost. Something was missing. Then I decided to steep the heck out of it for five minutes. Holy wow…flavor country dialed up to eleven.
Oddly enough, in and around the time I tried it the perfect way, I was gearing up to see The Great Gatsby. Naturally, I had to draw parallels between that flavorful experience and the movie I just watched because…well…science.
You can read that tangent here: http://steepstories.com/2013/05/16/carried-away-by-whiskey-tea/
Finally! Finally, finally, FINALLY!
I got to try this. And it was perfect. I have a fetish for Yunnan golds in general….but now I have one for this tea in specific. After nearly two years of people extolling its virtues, it finally made it into my cup. It was honey-ish, malty, floral, and teagasmic in all the right ways. Definitely worth the hype.
Even better was the conversation it invoked. You can find that here: http://steepstories.com/2013/05/09/golden-fleece-feast-fest-a-taste-of-eugene-and-tea-from-neighbors/
As if I hadn’t had enough caffeine today, I decided to rip into a bag I received from Rare Tea Cellar – an oak-aged Keemun. I’m a sucker for anything that says “cask-conditioned” or “oak-aged” in the title. Although, that usually applies to beer, not tea.
This is very much a Keemun through-and-though, only a lot bolder. Like Assam bold, only with a bit more seniority. It’s hard to pick up on what the oak barrel contributes, but it is easy to see that this has all the trappings of a semi-aged hong cha. The flavor has a sense of “experienced” to it. Funny thing, too, the wood-sweet aspects of the Keemun are there, but there’s a wildernessy presence as well – usually a trait found in Yunnan blacks.
All said, I’m sold on the oak-aging thing.
This little treasure was a surprise. Well, I knew I was going to like it since it had the word “Gold” in the title, and the fact that it had a lot of tippy leaves in the mix. Okay, sure, I’ve heard that such a presence doesn’t affect the taste any…but I like shiny things. So, shush.
This tasted like a cross between a tippy Dian Hong and a 2nd flush Darjeeling – Arya Ruby or Giddapahar clonal, to be precise. There were shades of malt, honey, cedar, peppers and grapes – all juggling at once. I’ve had a few Nepalese blacks in my time, but not one that actually tasted like something from China. I just dug the fact that it was so smooth and – for all intents and purposes – on the far side of unique.
(In case you haven’t guessed by now, “unique” is my thing.)
Wow, been awhile since I’ve been here. And – lo! – the site is working! Double-celebration!
This tea had three things going for it: One, it was from Nepal. Two, it was an oolong from Nepal. Three, it had the word yeti in it. The fact that it was going to taste good seemed to already be a given.
This is the first Himalayan oolong I’ve tried that actually mimicked the taste of an oolong for Taiwan or China. I like the muscatel kick of the region, but this offered something more traditional.
And, of course, in “traditional” fashion, I had to write more about it…and mythical creatures: http://steepstories.com/2013/04/16/wrestling-a-wild-yeti/