30 Tasting Notes
My hand is sore. Last night I bet I chopped more vanilla beans than you have chopped in your entire life, in 40 minutes. Mad knife skills, but a sore right hand. This morning I decided to have some golden monkey. I have not drunk this tea. in a while as I’ve been drinking a lot of Taiwanese black teas and pu’erhs. This is still as good as I remembered. Chocolatey, malty and smooth. Really tasty tea and my favourite golden monkey thus far. It’s made me peckish for more Chinese blacks. Now it is time to gorge on chocolate for the next several days and then not eat chocolate for a month. Happy spring fertility festival!
Flavors: Chocolate, Malt
It’s that time of year! Sip-down time. All those teas are piling up, and piling up, and piling up and I need to drink them. I was saving my fusion teas to make ice-tea with in the summer but this guy was lurking at the bottom of my tea-basket, untried! How dare it avoid my taste-buds for this long.
The loose leaf is a mixture of black tea and bits of dried plant material. There are rose-hips and a bunch of other stuff that are in the description for anyone that is interested. The smell is creamy oranges, and some coconut? It’s pleasant, not offensive. Good signs.
I brewed this tea following the instructions provided. I also added a touch of sugar. I have found the Fusion teas that I acquired do like a little sugar. Like salt when cooking used to heighten the flavour, but not make the food salty I believe that sugar with certain teas can be used to accentuate the flavours hidden within. I’m sure some purists will disagree with me, that’s fine, flavoured teas are at times a whole different animal and must be treated as such otherwise you might be left with a lack-lustre experience. Also it is worth trying just to see what you can tease from the tea.
But I digress, something that I am fond of doing and at times find myself inexplicably and ineffably incapable of illustrating why. So this tea is pretty good. Orange creaminess, and a sour tang that I think is from the rose-hips. If you have ever eaten rose-hips you will understand. The sourness is not nice in this tea, even though I do enjoy sour flavours. It doesn’t work with the orange cream flavours. Whilst this is a nice cup, and I think that it will make a wonderful ice-tea, I do think that the flavouring is a tad confused and there is too much going on. It all becomes muddled. Would I drink it hot again? No. Would I drink it iced? Yes. Just like Fusion tea’s key lime tea, I think iced is the way to go with this one.
All in all, good tea, confused a little, thinking about it more, the sourness is actually kind of like wood sorrel. Anyone who forages will know the tangy taste of Oxalis acetosella. There is a sorrel tea that is common in Jamaica, this tea has a similar colour and flavour, other than the orange flavours. Look up sorrel-ginger tea if you are interested in finding this particular stuff.
Flavors: Cream, Orange, Tart
This is a new batch of imperial golden monkey that we just got a few weeks ago. It tastes pretty much same as the old batch. But as can be expected when dealing with such complex biological systems these things are never going to be identical. Unless we have lab-grown, hydroponic teas that are exact clones of each other there will always be differences from batch to batch. More rain in one month, less sunshine, more bugs, less bugs, more fertilizer, farmer gets sick, etc, etc. So many factors effect the final product. Anyone who has grown a vegetable garden can attest to the finicky nature of, well, nature. The funny thing is that people expect exact consistency, even though this is nearly impossible to do. Teas are not mass-manufactured consumer products like ipods. There is a reason why companies like Tetley employ expert tea-tasters to ensure that their products taste the same. That being said, when I get teas that are from different batches that taste very, very similar I am always surprised. It attests to the care that the growers and producers have put into these teas; that they really care. This tea has a very, similar flavour profile. It has a slight wine like taste that was absent from the previous batch of tea. But there is more of a dark chocolate flavour compared to our last batch. Delicious. I’ve also brewed this tea for 10 minutes to see how it tastes at its worse. It’s still not bitter, just more malty. This is a great tea for people who are unsure of how to make tea, or who might be a little forgetful, such as myself.
Such a chocolatey, malty, delicious, smooth tasting tea. Just a little more wine like than the last batch. But that’s ok because we are not McDonalds.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Chocolate, Malt, Red Wine
i haven’t reviewed a tea in what seems like ages. But I do have a backlog, including a few pu-erhs, my first pu-erh reviews! Life gets in the way. Children, school, work, plotting my tea-empire, learning german and then a lot of teas I’ve been drinking have been poor quality.
I’m starting to suffer from tea-paralysis; I don’t know what to drink the morning now. Too many teas to choose from. Yea, I know, first world tea-drinker problems eh?
This tea is delicious, not the best tieguanyin, that honour goes to a tieguanyin we got as a sample from one of our suppliers. This is up there though. Amazingly complex flavours, no bitterness, silky smooth mouth feel. There are floral orchid notes, but not over-powering. There is a lovely vegetal quality to this tea as well. If I had to sum this tea up it would be by saying that this is fantastic reference point for what this type of tea should taste like. There are better, and there are far, far worse. But it would be foolish for you to think that this tea is only an average teiguanyin, it is not.
Wonderful tea, would drink every day.
I haven’t reviewed a tea in a while because quite frankly, I haven’t drank any tea worth reviewing in a few days now. A few poor yunnan black teas and one very bad English breakfast tea. So nothing worth writing about, since I wouldn’t have anything remotely nice to say.
The loose leaf is your standard white peony, not a super high quality white peony, but it looks nice. The smell is creamy and slightly buttery, maybe a hint of vanilla. I don’t really smell those subtle spicy notes that you get from a really nice bai mu dan, they are masked by the flavouring.
I brewed this tea following the instructions provided. The infused tea had more of a buttery aroma and less of the cream, this is the same with the first sip. There is a taste of vanilla, and cookies. Very pleasant.
Overall it’s alright, I don’t really get an Irish cream flavour. When I hear Irish cream I think coffee, cream, whisky, Bailey’s, that sort of thing. This reminds me a lot of Butiki’s other butter-cream teas. I’d definitely drink it again though, it is not a bad tea by any means.
Flavors: Butter, Cookie, Cream, Vanilla
This review must be read with the understanding that I absolutely love smoky flavoured food and drinks. I’m a big fan of Islay single malt scotch whiskys. I love smoked meat. Smoked fish. Campfires. So it is with that bias in mind, plus the fact that I love this tea, you should read this following review.
The first time I tried a lapsang souchong tea was in Belfast, Ireland. The tea was a bagged version. I think it was Twinnings, but I honestly cannot recall. It was very early in my tea education. I was a tea neophyte at the time, but sophisticated enough to realise that bagged teas were a perversion of the fresh, well made, loose leaf versions. To digress a little here, I use to hate white teas. Absolutely hate them! All my experiences came from bagged versions of white, which would be sacrilege at this point in my life! Then I got my hands on a very fine silver needle, and a fine bai mu dan and all that changed. The sophisticated nature of those teas became apparent and all was right in my world. Anyway, that bagged LS was horrible. It tasted like rubber, with a slight burning taste. Almost like the zenith of a riot. For note, buses and cars use to burn during riots outside of my family home in Belfast. It is a smell that is seared inside my snoze! So I forgot about LS due to that experience which rather sullied my expectations.
Then I sourced this particular LS. I got it because I started to get into smoky scotches and thought I’d give it another go. I was not disappointed. The smell of the loose leaf is extremely smoky and strong with a definitive pine characteristic. There is, thankfully, not a hint of riot in this tea! This tea was infused for 3 minutes and 30 seconds. Five grams of tea was used per 175 ml cup, a little strong, but I like my tea this way. The smell of the infused liquor is again, very heady, smoky and pine. But there is also a spicy creaminess which gives this tea more character. I can see how a lapsang souchong could become one dimensional, but the spicy, creamy notes add an extra layer to this tea which I enjoy. The first taste is smoke. Then pine. Then malt. The spicy characteristic sits on your tongue playfully, whilst the creamy flavor adds a smoothness to the finish. The aftertaste is all campfire. It transports you to your roots, of a primordial atavistic past. There is not one hint of astringency to this tea. Which always surprises me, every time! No bitterness either. It is wonderful. It does remind me of a really, really high end scotch whisky. That smooth character, the lack of acridity, the complexity of flavor.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. But it is mine, and there are others out there like me, I think.
To give you an idea of how strong the smokiness in this tea is, in our Early bird blend, we use 0.8 g of LS per 25g of finished tea. So it makes up about 3% of that tea. Strong stuff that must be respected if you are going to blend with it. At least this particular lapsang souchong is.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cream, Pine, Smoke, Spicy
I was going to review this tea a few days ago but never got around to it. Today, though I have time to sit down and think about what I need to say about this tea. If you are in a hurry and do not wish to read on, here is the abridged version; this tea is a marvel.
I opened the packaged and stuck my gigantic nose in; cherries, chocolate and vanilla strike me as the most dominant scents. I first brewed it according to the instructions provided, but then decided that this needed to be enjoyed gong-fu style. This way you really do get to appreciate the fine quality of this tea. Each subsequent infusion provides your palette with a new experience. It’s a taste teeter-totter where the cherry and the chocolate compete for first and second place on your tongue. The first few infusions you get chocolate, nice decadent dark chocolate, and then cherry. But as you get into the second, third and fourth infusion the cherry starts to dominate. I am starting to think that the cherry flavour is actually from the Tahitian vanilla beans. Though this tea has now informed my brain what flavour I was tasting in the wild mountain black. It was cherry! Anyway Brendan has really, really shown himself to be an adept tea blender. Picking very good ingredients, and then blending these guilefully in such a way to produce such complexity of flavour. It’s a wonderful thing. And something we aspire towards. Though on the flip side, it’s really hard to fuck things up when your ingredients are epic to begin with. So I don’t know if I’m impressed by the ability to source ingredients, to blend, or to conceptualize then implement.
The only down side to this tea is that it is expensive. But like a fine single malt scotch, teas such as these should be savoured. I know as well as anyone how expensive some of these teas can get. Not to mention that vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world, with Tahitian vanilla being some of the more expensive varieties. I don’t think this tea can be achieved at a lower cost though. It would be difficult. But with amount of infusions you can get from this tea, and the enjoyment one receives from consuming such a work, it’s worth it!
Flavors: Cherry, Dark Chocolate, Vanilla
Today our order from Whispering pine arrived. So we stopped everything we were doing because we just had to try those teas immediately. We originally discovered this company when we came up with what we at the time thought was the original idea of chopping vanilla beans into chocolatey flavoured Chinese black tea. We wanted to see if anyone else had done this. How naive we were. Anyway, as soon as I open the bag I’m struck by the sweet sweet smell of milk chocolate. Delicious, delicious chocolate. The scent of chocolate is very strong, and the vanilla is very heady. You can really tell that WP has used very good quality materials to build this tea. I followed the instructions stamped upon the front of the package. The smell was strongly chocolate, the taste was chocolate and vanilla. This tea does not disappoint at all. It has lived up to its hype. Cocoa amore is even better. I’ll review that one tomorrow. But this tea, I’m currently drinking gong-fu style, is good for multiple infusions, with little degradation in the flavour.
Flavors: Chocolate, Vanilla
What a wonderful little tea to start the day! This is another tea, one of the many, many teas in fact, that we acquired from Butiki tea. The dried leaves are dark, tightly rolled balls. This is another one of those teas in which those little darling leaf-hoppers do their business and chew on the leaves. The tea tree releases polyphenols in order to assist in repair. These compounds are responsible for the unique taste of these teas.
There is a strong ‘oolong’ scent from the dried leaves. It reminds me ever so slightly of the wild mountain black. The mouth feel is silky smooth with an ever so subtle astringent finish. The taste is damn good. There are definitely honey notes. That predominates. It’s almost brown sugary. Slight hints of apple and roasty toastiness, and of course very floral. But not in a ‘your grandmothers potpourri’ kind of way.
I like this tea. I’m four infusions in and the flavours has still not abated. I brewed it, 5 sec rinse, 10, 15, 25, 35. The brewed leaves have an almost acrid artificial smell to them which I dislike, but this is a minor contention and only worth noting in passing.
Flavors: Apple, Candy, Floral, Honey, Orchids