237 Tasting Notes
Some people in my office got together and purchased a Flavia beverage maker for their coffee, and one of them gave me a packet of English Breakfast Tea because they know I don’t do coffee. Unfortunately, I’m not finding it drinkable. The smell has a strange pasta-like redolence to it, and the taste is bitter and cardboardy. Not too surprised – I don’t know how they expect to get flavor out of the leaf when it seems like the only thing the machine does is inject super-heated water into a pouch of who-knows-how-old tea dust and then squirt it out again into a paper cup. Thanks for the chance to try it, but I’m sticking to loose leaf.
I often find that lemongrass takes over my palate when it’s included in a blend, but was inspired to buy a sample bag of this when I saw that it also had vanilla in it – one of my favorite flavors and usually able to hold its own as well.
I was pleased that the bag had a generous amount of leaf in it – after five minutes I had a deeply golden green-brown liquor with a fresh citrus aroma. Sure enough, on first sip the lemongrass was definitely the most vocal component of the mix, but I could also sense the vanilla there, softening and rounding out the high notes. I’d call it a soothing and successful blend.
My last bit of this from the sample pack, and I’m sorry to see it go! Caramely, thick and rich orange-brown liquor, needing help from no additives to be absolutely delicious. Possibly my favorite discovery from the Canton Tea sampler special they had on a couple months ago.
Another sampler pack, picked up a couple weeks ago. It looked like it had a nice potpourri of spices, so I thought it was worth giving a try. I’m actually a little surprised that the inclusion of both anise and star anise doesn’t give it more of a licorice flavor. At most they add a little warmth and sweetness to the background. In fact I thought this would be more spicy than it ended up being – it was subtle, and not overpowered by any one spice flavor. If I got more of this I’d definitely try steeping it for longer and perhaps even preparing it chai style.
Got this one as a Christmas present! I think pear and ginger go together really well anyway, so I’m already favorably disposed towards this tea right out of the gate. The smell of the dry leaf is heavy on the ginger, with some fruity sweetness from the pear in the background. I was surprised at how small the leaf particiles were; lots of very small, almost dusty particles, and not many pieces bigger than about 1/4 inch square. The ginger bits are also easy to see, and there are a lot of them.
Smells great, and steeps up to a medium golden brown clear liquor. As far as the tasting, the pear and ginger flavors are superbly balanced. The pear lends its floral sweetness and the ginger its heat and tingle. The tea base is very light, as I’ve come to expect from white teas, but that’s okay. I’m liking how the main players come to the fore.
I made a nice little pot of this today but then was immediately called into a meeting and didn’t get a chance to try it until several hours later, when it had gone quite cold. I’ll hold off rating until I get a chance to taste it properly, but I do think it will be a good one. It’s got some jasmine in there too, so I’m hoping the two aromas/flavors will play nicely together.
My last bit of this sample, and I have to say I’m sad to see it go. I really enjoyed today’s cup – put a little extra sugar and half/half in it to make it extra rich and dessert-like. Looks like I’m going to have to wean myself off rich and sweet holiday food slowly…
Another one picked up last week – it interested me because it brings together rose and vanilla, a mix I wouldn’t have otherwise thought about. It also lists a rather vague “fruit aroma” in the ingredients list, so I’m not sure what that will do. The dry leaf is dark and smells very fragrant – rose for sure, not much vanilla, but a generous helping of fruitiness too. And as I look at the leaf closely, I can see the rose petals and bits that look a lot like little dried squares of orange peel. This could be interesting!
It really smells good as it steeps, and comes out a medium brown liquor. The flavor profile is floral, very aromatic from the rose petals, with a little bit of juiciness from whatever fruit aromas they’ve used. Very little astringency or bitterness, even without any additives. Once I put a bit of sugar in, it becomes softer and not so perfumed, and with half and half it’s dialed back even more. If I’m going to put additives in a tea, I almost always put both sugar and some sort of dairy product, but I think this is one tea where I’d put sugar only so that I don’t dull the flavors too much. The vanilla never put up much of a fight against the other notes in this tea – too bad! I would have enjoyed more of that flavor.
I’ve got an English Rose from Whittard of Chelsea and that one is flavoured with jackfruit, which rather surprised me as I was expecting something more rosy and not all that exoctic. Perhaps this fruity addition trend is normal for an English Rose blend…
Whew – jackfruit is such a strong flavor too – another one I’d not usually think of pairing with rose.
Couldn’t resist this one, as I love the traditional Christmastime baked goods from German-speaking Europe known as Lebkuchen, and I wanted to build up my non-caffeine collection as well. It also interested me because it includes sandalwood, a scent I like but not something I’ve ever seen in tea before. The dry leaf smells warm and spicy, and very yummy.
Wanting to wring a decent amount of flavor out of it, I steeped it for seven minutes and got a nice deep reddish brown liquor that smelled strongly of cinnamon with the sweetness of almonds lurking in the background. I know this will cry out for additives, but I’ll try it first without – strong indeed in the cinnamon department! Quick, some half/half and sugar…now that’s lovely. The almond comes into its own now; boy does that nut know how to play well with dairy products! Post-additive, cinnamon and almond are still the stars of the show, with cardamom showing up as a lingering aftertaste. Not clear on where the sandalwood may be, but I’m happy to try this again another time to try and find out!
Another sample bag picked up recently; I was interested in this one because I’ve had very few Indian green teas. It recommends parameters of 1.5 minutes steeping at 195 degrees, and I think that is spot on. This produced a light golden brown liquor with an aroma that combined both vegetal and apple-like fruit scents. The flavor is naturally sweet and juicy, with just a tiny bit of buttered vegetables behind the fruitiness. Practically no astringency and no bitterness. Glad I tried this – very different from other greens I typically like, but I wouldn’t mind having more on hand.