1528 Tasting Notes
365 Days of Tea Challenge – Day 28
Almost done with the first month of my challenge!
I haven’t tried that many teas from Mariage Frères (if I remember correctly, they only sell in 100g bags and their shipping is even worse than Dammann Frères). I actually bought this one at the Paris airport based on the good ol’ sniff test. And I guess my nose is trustworthy, because I love this one!
This is definitely a French tea – it has that French flavoring sense about it. I’m not really sure how to describe that… Musty? But not in a bad way? That just sounds weird.
Anyway, this one is lovely and smooth with some nice, rich honey and dried fruit notes. In particular, it reminds me of fig and dates. There’s also a nice mellow lemon flavor that really helps lift the blend and balances out the richer flavors.
There is a bit of a light floral note, but I mostly attribute that to it being a French flavored tea. ;)
Flavors: Dates, Dried Fruit, Fig, Floral, Honey, Nectar, Smooth, Sweet
365 Days of Tea Challenge – Day 27
Yep, it’s Bird & Blend again. What can I say, I’m a bit of a fangirl…
Unfortunately, this one is underwhelming me.
It smells nice, like a rich salted caramel sauce. But the caramel doesn’t come forward as strongly in the flavor. I think it’s partially because this has a rather strong black tea base – there’s definitely some Assam in there, and perhaps also Ceylon. To me, the caramel flavoring isn’t strong enough to compete with such a powerful black tea blend.
I even tried adding a touch of sugar to help coax the caramel out, but it didn’t seem to help much. Plus, I never add sugar to my tea, so it just tastes weird to me! XD
I do have a full 50g of this one (it was one of the teas that popped up randomly during their big Boxing Day sale). Next time I’ll definitely try to play with the steep time, to see if I can subdue the base a little and let the caramel shine a bit more. I’m sure this would make a delicious latte as well.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Butter, Caramel, Malt, Tannic
This is probably the best tea I’ve had from Adagio thus far.
That’s not to say it’s great or anything, but I am enjoying my last mug of it. It’s a very unassuming tea – just a generic black base with some nice fluffy vanilla flavor. I do get some marshmallowy notes from this, as well as a hint of coconut.
All things considered, it’s a perfectly nice vanilla black tea. I really need to find a favorite of those…
In other news, I’m currently looking at yixing teapots. So I would love to hear your favorite sources for such things!
Flavors: Coconut, Malt, Marshmallow, Smooth, Sweet, Vanilla, Wood
365 Days of Tea Challenge – Day 26
This one is a swap sample from Kawaii433!
I did a gongfu session with this today. Now, let me preface this by saying that I am an absolute gongfu novice. I’ve done one or two sessions previously, and even that was multiple years ago. But I’ve been enjoying oolong quite a bit lately, and I’ve been very inspired by the notes of my fellow Steepsters! So I bought an inexpensive gaiwan from Amazon and decided to get my feet wet.
I was a bit confused by the instructions on Mandala’s website, as they have two different steep time recommendations, and the tea volume is 1 teaspoon per 8 ounces, which isn’t very useful for gongfu. So I also looked at TeaVivre’s instructions and sort of made the rest up…
I did a 10s rinse, which I actually did drink. The rinse and the first couple of steeps had some surprising tropical mango and pineapple flavors that I really enjoyed. There were also light mineral and vegetal notes, and even a touch of coconut. The aroma throughout all of the steeps was very creamy and buttery with strong fruity tones.
Around the third steep, the tropical fruits transitioned to a juicy peach flavor, which is more in line with what I would expect from a Taiwanese oolong. In some steeps, it was a bit closer to nectarine. There were constant notes of grass and leaves throughout, as well as a light creaminess and lasting fruity aftertaste. In some of the later steeps, I was surprised to find a sencha-like umami seaweed note. There was also a honeysuckle-like floral note that was very light in early steeps, then gained strength near the middle before tapering off for the later steeps.
The overall flavor started to wane a bit during the last couple of steeps, but I likely could have gone for a few more before it faded entirely. I was surprised to not find a ton of creamy or buttery flavor here, but it’s entirely possible that was due to my parameters.
I will say, I think my steeping parameters were likely not very good, because I got quite a bit of astringency in the middle of the session. So I likely should have gone with smaller time increases between steeps. I’ll remember for next time! Luckily, Kawaii was very generous with her sample, so I have enough to try this one Western-style as well. I’m going to hold off on a rating until then.
7g – 120ml – 190°F – 10/25/35/45/60/75/90/120/150/180s
ETA: I also cold-brewed the spent leaves for a day or so, which resulted in a lovely mellow and refreshing peachy beverage!
Flavors: Astringent, Autumn Leaf Pile, Coconut, Creamy, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Honeysuckle, Mango, Mineral, Peach, Pineapple, Seaweed, Smooth, Stonefruits, Sweet, Tropical, Umami, Vegetal
Sample Sipdown! (57)
This smells like a maple bomb, and I am so excited because of it! Maple is one of my very favorite flavors, and it’s often too subtle for me in tea. This is like sniffing a bottle of pancake syrup…
Hmm… I’m not sure how I feel about this one. There is a nice amount of maple, which makes me very happy. There is also a nice amount of bergamot, which normally I also enjoy.
But I’m sipping on it and trying to decide whether I like the combination or not. I will say, I don’t taste the rooibos at all, only the black tea part of the base. It’s somewhat tannic and seems like a generic Assam.
I am definitely wishing that I got more creamy vanilla here, I think that would really help to tie the bergamot and maple together in a London-Fog-with-maple sort of way. As-is, I feel it’s perhaps slightly discordant?
That’s not to say I don’t like it, but I’m not sure I like it enough to drink it again.
Flavors: Astringent, Bergamot, Maple, Pancake Syrup, Sweet, Tannic
Sample Sipdown! (56)
I’m not sure what it is with me and banana teas lately. I’ve gone bananas for bananas! But seriously, I keep reaching for them…
This one is pretty good. The banana flavor is somewhat authentic and somewhat Runt-y – I think it’s possibly really banana Runt flavor and there’s some cream or vanilla that’s helping it out a bit. There’s a nice buttery flavor as well.
I do absolutely get walnut or pecan notes, which is surprising to me. I feel like nut notes in tea are almost always the marzipan-y almond extract kind, which to me doesn’t really taste like nuts. And perhaps there’s a hint of cinnamon here?
There is some sort of weird artificial or chemical flavor though, I’m not sure if it’s the banana Runts combining with walnut in a weird way. It almost tastes plastic-y if that makes sense? But it’s very mild and doesn’t detract too much from the cup.
Overall, it’s pretty good. Obviously Anne’s Banana Pancakes tea has ruined me for all other banana teas now… How cruel! :P
Flavors: Artificial, Banana, Butter, Candy, Cinnamon, Cream, Malt, Nuts, Smooth, Walnut
365 Days of Tea Challenge – Day 24
Sample Sipdown! (55)
This is absolutely my favorite so far from August Uncommon.
The base tea is smooth and a bit malty with some bread notes. The apple is crisp and refreshing – definitely a green apple but not the candy sort. And then the fennel just adds a nice unexpected savory anise flavor that somehow pulls the whole thing together.
It’s like some sort of interesting seeded dark bread, pumpernickel-esque, with thinly sliced green apple on top. Admittedly, that doesn’t even really sound good, but the tea is really good!
I will it’s somewhat savory, and there’s quite a bit of fennel, so not a good choice if you’re not a fan! I’ll definitely be picking up a pouch of this sometime in the foreseeable future.
Flavors: Anise, Apple, Baked Bread, Fennel, Green Apple, Malt, Smooth, Tart
Sample Sipdown! (54)
I lowered the temperature a bit for this based on the suggestion of my fellow Steepsters.
It smells good, with nice buttery cinnamon notes!
I can taste a little bit of the same cinnamon and pastry notes as well, but they’re extremely light. They’re definitely overpowered by the rooibos base.
I may have just been unlucky with my sample, as there are other reviewers who loved this one. Hmm…
Flavors: Cinnamon, Frosting, Pastries, Rooibos, Wood
I think I’m in the minority here, but I really love this one. Even hot, I love it.
The combination of roasted barley and watermelon is an odd one, but I find it very enjoyable. There’s a lovely natural sweetness from the barley here, and for me that goes perfectly with the watermelon flavor.
This is a sipdown of my existing packet of these bags, but happily I just ordered some more barley teas from Lupicia once I heard about the US website closure. So I have two unopened packets each of this one and Pineapple Barley! Hooray!
I’ll have to remember to drink them cold brewed sometime…
Flavors: Candy, Coffee, Melon, Roasted Barley, Sweet
The second sachet from my B&B advent calendar. I had two sachets inside one of my “single serve” wrappers! I also had a pouch of this from my subscription, but ended up selling it to tea-sipper upon request.
I quite like this one, and I’m honestly not sure why. I’m not often a fan of chai, nor am I always a fan of rooibos. But for some reason, this strikes a good balance in many ways.
The main flavors for me are cinnamon, clove, cardamom, and black pepper. And I actually enjoy the pepperiness here, when often I find it strange in tea. There’s also a nice dried fruity note, I suppose representing the fig in the pudding. I wouldn’t call it specifically fig, but it is a sort of sticky dried fruit flavor with honeyed notes. The pepper flavor sort of builds as I continue to sip, with an interesting tongue-tingling effect.
And the rooibos base is nice and deep, with brown sugar/caramel and wood notes.
I’m not sure it’s really pud-ish. But it is a nice rooibos chai with some subtle fruity notes. I’m not sure I would feel the need to stock it, as I’m not generally a chai aficionado, but I’m very glad to have had the opportunity to try it!
Flavors: Black Pepper, Caramel, Cardamon, Cinnamon, Clove, Dried Fruit, Fig, Honey, Spicy, Sweet, Wood