33 Tasting Notes
Second oolong to try out. I’m beginning to enjoy these lazy mornings.
This one feels already different from Tit Kon Yum I tried yesterday, from the visual presentation to the scent itself. The leaves look very delicate and fragile when they’re curled up in tiny shapes resembling a pearl (but still not falling to the pearl tea category). They open up very nicely when rinsed a little and watching tea unfurl is a good way of knowing one has a slow morning. Or just spacing out badly.
The scent itself before brewing is more floral than with the other one, more related to the green teas I’ve enjoyed. Even the leaves are way greener than in Tit Kon Yum. Would associate the scent to peony, perhaps, or chrysanthemum, if not directly then by pure smell impuls. A very delicate-looking yet big and astonishing flower comes to mind. It also appears as if the scent would’ve been tinged with something, something soft, to take the pointiest edge away from the sweetness. Refreshing, I give it that.
When brewing I really don’t know what to expect. Since the first one was so delicious it seems I’ve managed to subconsciously heighten my standards already for this.
First try: there’s something wrong. Minuscule bit of bitterness bites through. Alright, if you need a challenge…maybe waking up fully would do the trick…
Second try: Reminding myself that it has combined both Japanese and Chinese methods of preparing the tea. Best result would be Sencha Kura vol. 2 with the determination of a steel monk accompanied by a Tibetan spaniel with an ego of a Siberian tiger. Let’s prepare for the worst then…
Sweet yet sophisticated, tad flat aftertaste. The floral palette vanished and was replaced with fruity tinge, like pure fruit flesh from an almost overly ripe plum or similar kind. Not tangy but toned down to earthy, like the difference between a bit too raw prunes compared to the almost squishy ones. Very soft, and one could feel there’s something covering up the strongest sweetness. Like velvet or silk in the mouth on your taste buds. Very nice light yellowish, golden tint in the liquid. Slightly more airy and lighter than the previous oolong, very thin aftertaste. Scent when brewed is actually slightly stronger than the actual taste. Not as delicious as the other one, but still giving its’ best.
As the cup turns cold the taste changes into more refreshing, but the floral aspect comes back and pushes the plum away, leaving the tasting itself happen during the first seconds on the tongue, then vanishing the flavour almost completely. Wonder how this would turn out when enjoyed with a glass of twelve-year-old Japanese Hibiki whisky…
I have it bad.
Greenish scent. Very pure and refreshing. Hint of sweet. Lingers. Somehow very full scent, didn’t know what to expect really. Takes over the sense of smell. Reminds of sencha on some level, maybe the hint of green does it.
This is my first experiment with oolong beside another type which I bought at the same time just to see what they’re all about and if there are differences between them. Visually they are like day and night, as this specimen has very rough, big leaves and solid character the Wu Cha Oolong has very delicate and more greenish leaves, very thin and sophisticated. This one reminds me of some dry rush by the sea, and on closer look they start to resemble cliffs or worn wood. Beautiful in the sense of aesthetics.
Now for the steep after rinsing (made the morning feel more special, I have time to actually prepare a tea! I could weep.).
The scent takes on more layers, and sweet smoke lingers through, more weight on the sweetness. Smells very strongly, with a hint of dried fruit, maybe fig or dates..something slightly rough yet moist comes to mind.
Then the sip…
It indeed is very harmonic. Very sweet also, with added feeling of thin layer of milky character. Very flowing and pliant on tongue, leaves a pleasant feeling without being too short in its’ aftertaste. Would almost go with floral tinge and it does bring in mind the previous encounter with Sencha Kura; the same type of earthy tone, perhaps the dew on the ground but not during spring but early autumn. As a landscape would say a misty pond at the marshes…or maybe even the gray, worn duckboards through the field of rushes when one’s surrounded by absolute silence.
Silence. That’s the sound of this tea. No thoughts, no noise. Just being still and silent. Breathing.
The cup itself looks very delicate with the promised yellow color, and makes one agree with the golden tint in it. Not too bright, just enough to resemble the falling leaves and the humid autumn weather we have here at the moment. Well collected ensemble of senses and associations.
As I let the cup turn cold while writing and take the final sip..oh my.
Found myself falling for oolong. Fancy that.
Very full. Tickling. Definitely a tiny hint of smoke in there. Slightly…pointy but nice. Small trace of subtle sweetness, maybe a fruit..perhaps lychee? Reminds of that at least-
I went and purchased this interesting case with few others and have been pushing, pulling and threatening my schedules to get myself some time to drink. my. tea. in. peace. thank. you! Instead of hastily gulping down the average joe’s Lady Gray of Twinings (very good while working, doesn’t get in the way with its’ taste, very trustworthy) while running to the classes, meetings, the gallery where yours truly found herself working as an intern at the moment and playing dodge ball with the pleasant thing called life in general.
No need to emphazise the happiness when the calendar said I don’t have to wake up at seven thirty this morning but could actually sit down, watch the rainy morning and finally, f i n a l l y, would be able to actually enjoy a fine cup of tea without doing homage to Felix Baumgartner (nice jump though).
So. After reading Angrboda’s interesting post about keemun some time ago and how wonderful that tea seems to be, morning’s first cup is with that.
As described the scent above, this tea somehow tickles its’ way to my nose. Can’t say whether it’s because of the slight pointy layer of aroma or the subtle sweetness or the both combined. Still, enjoying the scent very much, it seems to be very good tea for rainy mornings and promises to slow down the time a bit.
The scent while steeping turns more round and full, and the smoke pushes through. The thin layer of something sweet remains, but mostly it’s all about full smoky scent.
Sneaky. The sweetness is the first to taste, refined through smokiness, almost as if tasting smoked sweet fruit, maybe even smoked fish. Very full yet delicate, aftertaste a tad bit thin and short but all in all tasty treat. Hm. Time runs forward as always but personally seemed to reach the point where one just stops caring about it. Good tea.
And then going for a slightly longer steep, just to see what will happen…
The sweet flavour gains more strength but still keeps itself in balance with others, fills the mouth quite nicely and lingers a little bit longer than with the first steep. Making me drowsy.
Both with assam and darjeeling there seems to be a small twist in my cup. They both can turn very bitter when they choose to, and very rapidly. Good that I never back off from a challenge.
This assam calls for some patience. The scent of the leaves is quite sophisticated and it gives an impression that this one likes to be drank in the mornings. Even a hint of sweetness pushes through after breathing it in a few times. Othervise very obvious scent of strong black tea.
After brewing the scent transforms into more sharp and tangy form. The sweet aroma is there but somehow more narrow and thin. Very pointy.
It seems to awaken something at least.
The ‘fight-or-flight’ response, that is.
The flavor is indeed strong, but in a slightly disturbing way. Having troubles to put my finger on it when it harasses my tongue severely at the same time. Feeling almost molested. Even the aftertaste disappoints, very thin, short, fast and bitter. Something one wants off from the tongue and then opting not to swallow the second time. Not the best position in the -
As surprising as it is, the whole situation takes 180 after adding whole milk as an attempt to salvage the situation for all the teas holy. Suddenly all the bitterness is gone, the promised spices dare to announce themselves as small trace of something sugar-y and cardemum-y linger around and – where did that nutty flavor appear all of a sudden? It gets thick and full and long and swallowable and I really need to stop writing innuendos now.
Sliver of bitterness bites through the milk though.
It bit the wrong tea drinker.
“Thanks but I’ll pass.”
“It smells like cowshed…mm, no.”
“You really want me to taste something you just described with a word ‘manure’?”
Seems like it’s ridiculously easy to get misunderstood when it comes to describing a taste and then equally hard to persuade people to taste it after smelling it. More for me then.
Pu’erh was something that bugged me ever since I ordered it in a small restaurant when we visited with our class in St. Petersburg. While others were trying to locate the second head I seemed to have suddenly grown without my knowledge I enjoyed my pot and the fact that this tea is divine with blinis with some smetana and honey. Then it promptly slipped my mind when I tried to remember it afterwards, leaving only the trace of taste that I tried to hunt down occasionally. Nagging taste memory, one could say.
But it’s worth nagging, though. The scent of the leaves is very subtle and earthy, and one can sense the full, round character this one has. And yes, it reminds me of those summers spent in the countryside adventuring in whole bunch of different animalsheds, but hey. Nostalgia is a good thing to experience once in a while. Besides cows smell pretty much a whole lot better than some humans I’ve met, or even yours truly after a rough night.
Putting that aside…
The color of the tea after steeping is magnificiently dark and rich, well suited for the chilly autumn season we have here at the moment. Crisp, sunny day with almost every tree wearing something else than green for a change and then a steaming cup of pu’erh. Ah, the simple joys. The scent turns more soft and somehow acquires even a thin layer of smokiness. The cow turns into a worn piece of wood which has once been part of a wall for a cowshed a decade ago. Faint, but not there, so to speak. It gives more way to the earth itself. The after taste is very rich and lingers thickly on tongue after swallowing, putting all the other things aside and making one focus only on the tea.
When accompanied by a delicious smoky single malt all is well.
One more factor to make the autumn look even more beautiful.
Every now and then there are situations that just crave for champagne. Putting up the first personal blog ever for instance, which you can find from here:
So, what to do when it’s Monday, the first day of the week and it’s only 11 a.m.? Well of course every good art student goes for the real thing since noblesse oblige. This time though yours truly went for a green tea blend called Thé Champagne, which with its’ name hits close enough.
The scent of old, dried fruits is unmistakably an underlayer of the floral palette, and delightfully the added strawberries don’t push too much through. As nice as strawberries are, they still work best when fresh and straight from the fields. Dried ones…not so tasty.
Always having flavors added as aromas is something that makes my neck prickle a bit, since it’s so easy to taste only the added aroma and in worst case scenarios the whole thing being very artificial both in smell and taste. So as with the real thing itself, this champagne is also something to approach with caution. The brewing takes the edge off of the scent, and turns it into more tea-like in its’ softness and fuller form. So good so far.
Oh come on.
Giving myself a toast and going for another cup. Now it tastes. The dry taste lingers first on tongue, accompanied with the green tea, and somewhat airy character is thrown at you. No trace of bubbling though. Which might actually be a little unnerving if being suddenly hit with sparkling sensations. The promised champagne gets lost and stays only in the smell.
I can see this tea fitting situations where talking is the main thing instead of really tasting the tea. This is just tea for company. Nothing interesting, just very light and airy, a little bit of sweetness which does lose to the taste of dried fruits. What fruits they might be, maybe some apricots and grapes, but overall undefined.
I suspect the deities of decadence are not laughing with me in this case.
A nice, basic black russian tea for mornings, noons, afternoons and evenings. An all-around-companion when one needs something not too complicated. Very soft flavour and works with strong and light steeping, also seems to fit with the Wild Cherry (at least for my husband). Very simple taste palette, mostly just earthy and pliant, hard to define any actual tastes in it. Having drank teas in Russia few times this definitely is russian tea, somehow they seem to have a similar kind of semi-tangy sweetness in them which gives a nice twist to the character. Not too sweet though.
Scent of sweetness is the first to push through, but also very earthy and fruity aromas accompany it, as a very delicate trace of dried fruits tries to get noticed. For some reason makes me think of dried apricots, but there are some other scents in it as well, dodging everytime I barely put my finger on them. Sneaky sencha this is.
The steeping process itself is both frustrating and rewarding if everything goes well. I have been working with this ninja-like specimen for some time and it still loves to give me gray hairs. To be honest, I can sometimes be considered very anal person when it comes to making things by the book to the utmost ridiculous detail, but this, this tea promptly makes me lose it. I have a craving desire to get it j u s t r i g h t yet at the same time I’m going berserk and think of ways of making this experience to go so wrong that even UN should consider intervening. Send me some of those blue barrets and I’ll show you an international escapade to last a lifetime. Which might lead to banning this type of tea and mentally scarring few generations, but what the hey. A n y h o w.
To make things a tad bit more interesting: the first time I encountered this tea was in a tearoom just a couple of hours before my wedding. I needed something to soothe and take my mind away from all the things happening around and sat there for a good hour by myself, wedding bouquet on the floor, enjoying the crisp, sunny spring winter morning (in March) and the delicate lingering taste of this tea. What I would’ve really said at the altar without having this moment, best to leave it untouched.
But that moment gave me a reference how the tea should look and taste when it’s made properly: spring green, like the first leaves that pop out in the trees, and very, very intriguing mixture of morning dew, dried fruits and sweet promise which doesn’t dominate others but complements them. The earth element was present, like fresh grass at five a.m. when the dew is on the ground. Ideal for mornings, that is.
Hence the frustration. Since being a person who doesn’t want to use thermometers and all that but learn things through trial and error because it’s always fun and problem solving is something my half-engineer mind enjoys, the steeping at home goes something like this many times:
First attempt: a bit too warm water, turned yellow and bitter and the flavor sharpens so much it’s violating my taste buds. eugh.
Second attempt: temperature just right, nice and green and sweet, but just had to forget the sieve in the cup as ended up doing something else suddenly. Well, at least it was g r e e n. The taste turned ugly. Note to myself: do not make complicated tea while making as well complicated art and/or schoolwork.
Third attempt: A-ha! All is right, the taste lingers as the sweetness is just right as well the solid character, not too thin on tongue and long enough to make the cup last longer. The dried apricots turn into more undefined rough yet subtle underlayer, like the after taste of dried fruits one usually ends up on the tongue: something dry yet still solid and moist. Very pure taste of green, if one could say that. This is what I enjoy with sencha, somehow the taste, even with trace of sweetness, resembles something I categorize as ‘pure’. And it’s also something I wouldn’t enjoy during winter, somehow light and airy flavor suffers when there isn’t enough natural light to boost them. Finnish winter melancholy blues is too much to handle for these types. Figures. Optimists never last here.
Still retracking my way to the succeeded attempt, step by step. But, everytime when things turn right, it’s worth it.
The UN approves.
Something that may or may not be cherry, accompanied with the ’there’has-to-be-some-right?’ tea leaves trying desperately to compete with the overwhelming sweetness in the scent. Perfect tea for making divine pralines, especially when dark chocolate is involved. Since that’s why I bought this overcute specimen.
The scent after simmering a couple of minutes is still sweet and I start having doubts with it. Not that I haven’t enjoyed sweetness in my cup before, but compared to Japanese Cherry, that I also happen to have and need to introduce to people who don’t know it yet, which is green tea with cherry bits in it, this type of sweetness is like getting suddenly trapped in the middle of a swarming group of gothic lolitas and end up seeing more frills than in your baby pictures combined. No sense of discretion with this one.
No harm meant for the lolitas, though, frills and me just don’t mix well.
After the first sip…
Not so bad.
Actually the sweet aroma that teases until the ‘bitter’ end (ah, the joys of bad puns) suddenly seems to give room to other tastes there are. As if finally realising that as cute and adorable as it is it’s still blocking the way and needs to move a bit. It gains more dimensions, gets longer, and instead of getting a frosting on your tongue it lures to take another sip and to enjoy it’s company. Sadly the trace of cherry gets lost, keeping itself as a very thin undertaste and the initial sweetness transforms into a character I’m yet having difficulties to decipher. That factor leads to a tad flat flavour and not so round as I hoped. The final feeling resembles something between actually tasting the branch where the cherrys grow instead of the treat itself and the nagging sensation of needing to add something to it. Something strong.
My husband solved the problem by promptly mixing it with russian black tea.
I went for Lapsang. And that is yet another story how things turn out when cute things meet rough smoky characters. Not so ugly as one would have thought.