1076 Tasting Notes
Day 6 of the Tea Thoughts Winter Countdown box. Got a pretty bad migraine and have been stuck in bed all day. On the up side, at least I had this yesterday and wrote up my note ahead of time so I’m not going to be behind. I’m generally not a fan of dong ding because I often find that it has a mineral note that, as we’ve established, I don’t particularly enjoy. But this one doesn’t! This feels more like a tie guan yin roast, just not quite as heavy. There’s an almost floral greenness underlying the roast. Glad I gave this a chance. It’s great for a chilly winter’s day. I had this Western-style but will probably gong fu the remainder.
Day 5 of the Plum Deluxe herbal advent calendar. I made this up as a latte without looking at the name or ingredients, since I’ve been having fun doing that. It’s frickin’ delicious, but my initial impressions turned out to be completely off base! I found it deeply chocolatey, undefinably nutty, and gently woody from the honeybush. Except there’s no chocolate here, the nuttiness is hazelnut, and there are orange peels that I just didn’t pick up on. Generally really pleased with this one, though, which is good because I picked some up for my dad as part of his Hannukah gift based on just the description!
Day 5 of the Tea Thoughts Winter Countdown box. I had a lot of work to do today so I brewed this up Western-style, using the whole cake in a spacious steeper and a 10oz mug. I did 95c for 2 min for the first steep, with a very very quick initial rinse, and I was amazed at how quickly and thoroughly this cake blossomed in the steeper. More than anything it reminded me of those little toys that expand in water. I don’t know if they’re even still made, but I remember loving them as a kid because they were tiny and then when you added water they’d get way way bigger (or so it seemed to me at the time). This had the same spirit of rapid, joyful expansion into something fun. Definitely a smooth drink, with a dominant roasted savory flavor and a gentle sweetness. It reminds me of toast with a thin layer of honey on top. There’s a second cake, which I suspect would yield many steeps if brewed gong fu style, but given how much this one expanded I’d probably break it in half for that.
Day 4 of the Plum Deluxe herbal advent calendar. I decided not to check the name but I didn’t need to – there was an unmistakable apple cinnamon aroma as soon as I opened the little plastic packet. I was a little nervous to see that this was a black tea, but I took it on faith that it’s a decaf and will take some extra melatonin tonight just in case. This is crisp red apple and sharp cinnamon playing wonderfully together over a pretty basic black tea base. It’s a little brisk, a little tannic, and more drying than I generally like my teas to be. I would have sworn that there was clove in here but the ingredients list says that my palate is lying. Since I don’t have any cream as they suggest, I drank half the mug plain and added oat milk to the second half. It actually works really well with oat milk! It softens the tannic aspect and makes it much less drying. The clove note also fades with the addition of oat milk, so my best guess is that I was picking up on some flavor aspect of the base.
Day 4 of the Tea Thoughts Winter Countdown box. I opted for a heavy-handed leaf when I gong fu’d this, partly because it’s a chilly day and partly because I didn’t want to leave half the packet languishing in my tea drawer. This generally isn’t my favorite type of oolong, so to me this seems fine but not astonishing, you know? If I want something with a heavy roast, I’d rather reach for a tie guan yin than a rock tea. The heavy minerality just isn’t my scene. So to me this seems like a pretty standard mid-range rougui – roasted, tastes like rock soup, and despite all the digital ink spilled by countless tea companies (and my own love of cinnamon) I still can’t really discern a cinnamon note. But I think that’s more about how rouguis generally taste to me and less a reflection of the quality of this specific one.
Day 3 of the Plum Deluxe herbal advent. I decided to brew this up without looking at the name, which was kind of fun! Might do that for more of the blends in this calendar. This smells and tastes strongly of chicory and hazelnut to me, reminding me a bit of the Honeyed Hazelnut from last year’s advent. Turns out there’s no chicory in the blend. Honestly I had not picked up on the cocoa being in here until I actually looked at the name/ingredients. My palate must be confusing the cocoa for chicory for some reason. Despite my failure to correctly identify the blend, it’s really tasty and enjoyable! Makes a darn fine oat milk latte.
Day 3 of the Tea Thoughts Winter Countdown box. Once again failed to take notes the first time I steeped this, so I only have notes for the second time, when I opted for grandpa style brewing. Probably because I did it this way rather than gong fu, I got more of the savory notes rather than the sweet ones. It’s like warm hay. There’s a cooked note in here, but also a dry grass note. I don’t have the right words but it’s really nice “sunny day on an imaginary farm” vibes (key word imaginary, very much sans all the less pleasant smells of real farms).
I last had this a decade ago, and am pleased to find it as enjoyable now as it was then. We went out to a very awkward family dinner tonight, but at least the food was good. I ordered chamomile tea. Delightfully, that turned out to be this instead of something generic! The teabag contents are about evenly split between whole flowers and the broken-up leaves that often characterize cheaper chamomile teas. The flavor is sweet apple and honey goodness. I almost ordered a second cup!
Flavors: Apple, Honey
Day 2 of the Plum Deluxe herbal advent calendar. The instructions suggested cold brewing this one, so I set it up this morning in order to be able to enjoy it as an evening cuppa. The dry leaf has a creamy, almost vanilla frosting smell that, combined with the visible carrot pieces, made me think that this was a carrot cake blend at first (the packets aren’t labeled with the names of the teas). Actually drinking it, though, it definitely has a candy apple flavor – sweet apple up front, a hint of caramel mid-sip, and a candied orange peel note running parallel. It’s a bit of an odd flavor profile for an iced tea; it works, it’s just a combo I’d more readily associate with a hot beverage.
I really like that there’s enough tea every day to try it out a few different ways, but not SO much that it’s overwhelming and hard to get through. It allowed me to brew up a big mug of this blend hot for comparison. It was still good, with the same candy apple and candied orange peel flavors, but there’s also an earthy note – maybe from the calendula? It’s not bad, it doesn’t really add or detract from the flavor profile, it’s just… there. I can see why they recommend the cold brew, it really is better that way!
Flavors: Apple, Candied Fruit, Caramel