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Recent Tasting Notes
I felt I needed an injection of caffeine after my T2 herbal and fruit samples, so I picked up this little caddy of Chai from Tea Palace that arrived in the post today.
This is really nice. It holds just the right amount of spice for me. I can clearly pick out the ginger and cloves, and the cardamom is also quite strong. I don’t get much cinnamon, but there’s a slight zing from the orange peel right at the end.
I don’t think I love this enough to buy more when I finish my caddy off, but I like it a lot!
Flavors: Cardamom, Cloves, Ginger, Orange Zest, Spicy
My long Steepster break has really changed my tea habits into something far more relaxed than before. I’m going to try my damndest to keep it at this level. It feels… healthier, if you know what I mean. And I didn’t even think I was all that obsessive before. I feel like I’m carrying less weight around having realised that I don’t need a tea of every flavour and six different breakfast black and a dozen afternoon teas. Two or three of each is all I require. Maybe one or two extra as a luxury, but still. Keep it small. It means I shop tea far less frequently (and again, it wasn’t even super frequent before) and I do it differently. I shop when I want something in particular and then go straight for those items. After that, I’ll allow myself one or two other samples.
That’s how I got this one. I wanted a couple of things that we have previously enjoyed from TP and this was the sample that I allowed myself. The thing about TP’s samples is that they’re quite large. :) I’m not sure why I went for this one, actually. It’s not a flavour I would normally be interested by. I think I must have been having mango-y thoughts recently when I saw it. Perhaps a recipe with mango in it or something.
It’s an alright tea, really. It just doens’t really taste like mango. It’s more like generic tropical fruit and quite Ceylon-y. I suspect a mid- to high-grown one too. I can see how the spicy grassy flavour of a high-grown Ceylon might match well with tropical fruits, but on the other hand… It rather makes me wonder how it would have presented itself if the base hadn’t been a Chinese/Ceylon blend. What if it had been Chinese only? Or even just a lower grown Ceylon without those spicy-grassy notes? I wonder if that would have made the mango present more as actual mango or if it’s not connected at all.
I don’t know. It’s an alright tea, really. But that’s all it is.
Yet another from the EU TTB! Man I was bad at logging those. Apparently I wasn’t so keen – all I have written about it is ‘52. No keep.’ Haha so not for me! I remember thinking it was a little odd and sour, but that’s about it. I’ve read the other notes on it, and I don’t remember tasting anything that the other girls did. Maybe the sample was funked up by something else in the box?
Another tea from the EU TTB round 2. I remember this a little better, but still not well. It was quite malty and almost bready, and I remember being quite impressed. I didn’t keep it as I was more into trying flavoured teas at the time, but I think if I happened across it again I’d give it another shot.
The raw leaf is green, thin, long and crisp with yellow and brown discolouration. Some pieces are highly glossy and reflective. They have a floral, grassy and somewhat dry perfumed scent.
Once steeped the tea is yellow orange in colour and has a sweet grass, pea and perfumed scent.
Flavour is astringent, floral, sweet, grassy, buttery and dry with a perfume after taste. It’s sweeter than expected actually, which makes it rather pleasant. Dryness and perfume quality is minimal.
As it cools it becomes lightly nutty and the floral tones become stronger.
Overall: It’s a nice Dragonwell, nicer than I was expecting actually. It still isn’t perfect though, the sweetness would be nice in small doses but I couldn’t drink too much of this one. I may consider buying this one in the future.
Tea Palace, I have such fond memories of their shop in Covent Garden. I am always reminded of them when I come face to face with one of their teas. To give people a quick low down – I visited London with my husband for our anniversary one year and it was a very nice day trip.
So this Mao Feng, it has some silver tips present though it’s mostly dark green and brown curly leaves with some sticks/stem present. It has a sweet, floral scent.
Once steeped this tea is sweet and thick with dry nut, grass and floral tones. Also is slightly bitter. It’s somewhat perfumed too which comes through stronger on my second bowl.
I like Mao Feng though it’s far from my favourite green tea. I always found it to be dry and perfumed, too much for my personal taste. This is easily drinkable and enjoyable but it will not be a tea that I will purchase. In terms of quality this met average expectations, the leaves post steep have brown/red discolouration with some holes.
Flavors: Drying, Flowers, Grass, Perfume
A very nice, very classic vanilla. I don’t like the addition of the flowers because, really, they don’t add anything to the taste and they are just there to look pretty – only once they’re wet they just look sad and floppy. But nevertheless, this is a lovely tea. It’s also great for blending with other black teas (I loved it with Adagio’s Hazelnut).
A sample from the EU-TTB (European Travelling Tea Box). My husband asked for a strong black tea, something that wouldn’t upset his stomach (any further than it already is), so this one was chosen to try.
Once steeped the tea smells lightly smoky and wooden, along with a gentle floral touch.
It tastes as it smells, there is an air of smoke with some floral hints and a wooden yet malty finish. Also has a natural sweetness. Strength is decent, I would say medium. It’s also clean tasting, not bitter or rough in any way and it’s sweet, wood and flower tones linger beautifully in my mouth.
Overall it’s a nice Keemun, lots of flavour and strength but without any nasty surprises. It’s not as creamy or sweet as some of the finer Keemun I have tried but this remains a nice, top notch every day Keemun. I would buy this to make a change from my usual Teavivre Keemun.
Flavors: Floral, Smoke, Wood
The dried tea has a very strong perfume, and it can easily be overpowering if you smell it from too close. It took my quite a while to really appreciate the scent of the bergamot on the dried tea.
The citrus notes are somehow relatively more noticeable once the tea is brewed. The intensity of the bergamot is spot on, the base slightly pungent.
Queued post, written April 7th 2014
Here’s one from my TP order recently. I had also bought a large pouch of golden Monkey from Jenier, a tea of which Husband as very fond, so I just got a sample tin for comparison. Mind you these samples are a size that some of you lot buy when you don’t buy samples. 30ish g in each.
This one has a lovely aroma. It’s grainy and strong and I could smell it as soon as Husband came and set it down on my saucer. It also has a fair amount of hay and Yunnan-ness in it though, which makes me think it’s possibly not as closely related to the Jenier one as I initially thought.
It tastes somewhat Yunnan-y as well. A good amount of hay in the note, but not as bad as Yunnan can sometimes be for me. It also has a strongly starchy flavour and a strong note of something that reminds me of root vegetables. My initial thought was that this tastes like carrots, actually, but this may be influenced by the fact that we have a carrot flan on the menu for today, which I’m going to go and make a start on in a moment.
It doesn’t have as much in the way of grain in the flavour as there was in the aroma, but there’s a sort of cocoa note in there. If you can imagine the flavour of pure cocoa and then twisted in some way.
Finally as I swallow there’s a good amount of smoke in the flavour as well. The same sort of smoky note that I get from yunnan blacks, actually, the sort where I think it’s like smoke but I can see how some people would think it was more like pepper.
This is a very strong tea. Much stronger than the Jenier one, which I believe is Fujian. I think this one must be Yunnan. I shall have to look it up. I have to say that while this is good, I do prefer the one from Jenier.
Hm. Having looked it up, apparently this one is Fujian too. I wonder how they made it so Yunnan-y. I shall send some of it to Auggy for a second opinion, I think.
Queued, written March 24th 2014. And RE the woes of tea provided by work, I have learned since that if I take a bag of English Breakfast and a bag of something fruity (I favour black currant) and steep them together, they make up for each others’ short-comings and produce something which, although still not even within sight of ‘lovely,’ is at least fairly easily drinkable.
I had the sort of day today where, when I came home, I showed Husband the last dregs of a to-go coffee and a half eaten cake and said, ‘this is my lunch today.’ CRAAAAAZY busy! Luckily, or unluckily whichever way you look at it, I was right on the other side of the door from the coffee-vending machine at work, so although I never got to have either of my breaks, I still had tea.
The hot water coming out of that thing isn’t actually very hot. No more than 70°C or so, I expect. The selection of teabags is cheap Pickwick. I didn’t really care, though. It was that or nothing, as I didn’t have time to go and make some in the thermos. I tried the orange flavoured one, which tasted strongly of orange, but in the way that a borderline mouldy orange smells, and a strawberry flavoured one, which I used to love as a child but now struck me as uncommonly sweet and not very strawberry-y. It probably didn’t help either that both bags were steeped to kingdom come in order to get anything out of the leaf in such cold water with a side-effect of a fair amount of astringency. They both tasted horrible, but as I discussed with someone recently, as an act of desperation, it’s fine. Those two cups in fairly quick succession took care of my thirst and kept my slight caffeine-deprived/stress-induced headache at bay. (For this alone, those two bags would probably have been worth at least 95 points on the enjoyment scale!)
I’m home now, though, and I want some proper tea. Therefore I chose this one. I seem to be getting a little interested in Assam these days. Not hugely, but a bit. I bought this one with my recent TP order. Just the one sample. Not hugely interested. Just a bit. :)
The leaf smells lovely. A bit spicy and a bit tobacco-y and a lot raisin-y. I’ve noticed that in Assams before. The best cups of Assam I’ve ever had in my life were all heavily raisin-y in flavour. After steeping it doesn’t smell that much like raisins though, which is a little bit of a disappointment. The aroma isn’t actually superstrong in this cup, but I am getting some malty notes and something kind of dairy-like. There’s a cream-ish quality to this, even though no additives have been put in there.
It has a very sweet and honey-like flavour, which made me nod in a sort of satisfied way. I quite enjoy that honey-y note. I’ve noticed it before in breakfast blends, but I seem to forget that Assam can create that note as well. It’s not actually all about the raisins.
I’m getting that Assam cardboard-y aftertaste, but there isn’t really very much of that. It’s mostly the honey note right at first, paired with something a bit malty and sort of wood-y, and then a mild paper-y aftertaste.
After a few sips, a slight and pleasant astringency appears, and it becomes clear that this is actually a rather stronger tea than immediately believed. This is good, because that is exactly what I need. If I was an additive-adding kinda gal, this is the note that would have carried the milk, I expect. At this point they honey-sweet note has also transformed a bit, becoming more malty and borderline raisin-y. It’s getting there, but it isn’t actually raisin.
This is a lovely tea, and exactly what I needed at this point in time.
From the queue, written March 20th 2014
This one came from my second Tea Palace order. The first order was primarily flavoured things, where as this one was only straight blacks. I didn’t really have much in the way of straight black so a Tea Palace order and a Jenier order (and a Bad Dog! moment which is in shipping limbo still) made up for that.
I got me a large supply of this one. One of the things I found myself sorely missing was a proper Keemun, you see. I know, I’ve got that supermarket-y one which is fine, really, but it’s not a proper Keemun. It’s only a blend. I wanted a real unblended Keemun where all the leaf actually came from China.
Just giving the dry leaf a sniff made me go “Aaaah!”. They’ve got that awesome China aroma, smelling like grain and pine trees and a little bit like smoke. After steeping it smells like that as well, but with a goodly addition of caramel. Ooooh yes. I still remember that Keemun that Andrews and Dunham had in their first or second series. The one which, when brewed just so, could go all caramel-y. I only had a few samples of it, and never managed to achieve that, but it has ever since been my ambition to rediscover that phenomenon. I came close with the A&D, but never quite there. I can’t remember what it was called. It had a punny name.
The strong note of caramel in the aroma here… Yeah, it reminds me of that one.
Oooh this one is quite strong on the smoky note! I loves me some of that. And underneath the smoke, nearly as smoky as a mild Lapsang Souchong, there is sweetness. I’m not sure it’s caramel-y sweetness as such, but it’s leaning in that general direction. Grainy and a little bit melted sugar-y. With some experimentation, I might be able to play a little with that. I shall report back if I am succesful.
It’s not a smooth tea, this one. The amount of smoke takes care of that. But that’s alright. I’ve never understood it when people classify Keemun as a mild tea. The best Keemuns for me are strong things with loads of body and a dark, full flavour. There’s nothing at all ‘mild’ about that. I suppose in comparison with an Assam, it would be milder, but it’s not mild. Far from it.
Oh, this is good stuff!
I had a surprise swap with Scheherazade and this was one of the teas she selected for me, and the one I picked first to try (i want to try Om very much but kind of not in the mood for something I know will be strange and different right now). This smelled heavenly, and it´s a blender I do not know.
The tea itself, is a bit baffling – smells like caramelley apple which is a win indeed. The tea base reminds of Dammann´s and specifically their Pomme d Amour tea. But while I am not crazily in love with Dammann teas in general or that one specifically this one cames out worse out of that comparison – the tea base is (even) weaker and there is a kind of tannin like acridity which I can not quite name but which is not working for me.
From the queue
Don’t expect a lot from this post. We were out last night for a family occasion (a wedding anniversary. Copper = 12½ years. Yes, this is a thing in this country.) and although we left early-ish, it was still nearly 1 before we got to sleep. So I’m quite tired this morning after that. In Denmark, for these things, we sit at the table for a very long time and there’s a relatively long wait between courses, so that everybody who wishes to do some sort of entertainment, speeches, songs (we sing home-made songs about the center(s) of attention. Very, very traditional) what have you, can do so. So we were at the table for some five hours or so I should think. After that, they had a band for dancing, but since none of us are dancers and such and we were tired, we decided to leave then, having reached the point of too-many-people-too-much-noise.
So a cup of something fortifying is called for and the choice falls to this LS of which I bought a large tin. Without having ever tasted it before. With LS, I trust the type itself enough that this is not necessary.
This one is quite nice but seems a little rougher than my favourite from AC Perchs. It’s got a good amount of smoke and feels a little scratchy and dry on the swallow. It doesn’t mean that it has lost the sweet fruity note, it’s just not as pronounced. As it cools, the smoke really begins to take over. I don’t think this is quite as rough as those really tarry ones, but it’s getting there.
Very nice and just what I need.
Gosh! Seems I’ve actually already done this earlier. It must have snuck back inside the yet-to-try box somehow and I never realised it until now when I wondered why the slider had pre-set itself on 91. How did it know??? O.o Looking at the two posts, I seem to have had rather different experiences with it. I blame the second post having been made the day after a long night. Not the best of times, really. I’ll let the old rating stand.
From the queue
It’s been ages since we’ve had an LS in the house. Well, actually, it’s only been a couple of weeks since we finished the one that Bonnie shared with me, but it feels like ages. So obviously, when I shopped with Tea Palace, I thought I would have a tin of theirs. This is a type where I have no need of samples really. I already know I’m going to enjoy it, and I know for certain sure that Husband will enjoy it. So if I’m shopping for LS, I’ll get a larger amount regardless of whether I’ve tried the one offered by that particular company before. (If I’m shopping for something else, I might get a sample, though)
This one smells fairly mild on the smoke until you pour boiling water on it, then it’s quite tarry. Peculiarly after steeping it becomes quite mild on the smoke aroma again. Chameleon trick there. It’s a very sweet aroma too, but I don’t think it’s fruity-sweet like many LS’s are to me, but more sort of like I can pick up a bit of grain and malt underneath. Interesting, because these are not notes I normally associate with LS.
The flavour is also fairly mild. Not super-smoky, but again with a great deal of sweetness to it. This time it’s more sort of what I would expect. Fruity-sweet rather than grainy/malty-sweet. It does have a bit of a mineral twinge to it, which I could have lived without, but apart from that it’s a very nice specimen of the Lapsang Souchong race.
This is another great vanilla black. Angrboda knows her vanilla blacks. The vanilla here is more mellow, but still apparent and the base complements nicely. Not nearly as intense as Fru P, but still lovely.
I could see this being a good late night tea. It’s comforting in a vanilla way. Perhaps this one is more accessible than Fru P?
This tea is 100% green tea that has been scented with jasmine blossoms. The scenting process was in all likelihood achieved by alternating layers of green tea with layers of jasmine blossoms on some sort of structure. In comparison, sometimes the tea and the jasmine blossoms are blended together, and you can see the jasmine buds in the end product (this is the processed used for “Jasmine with Flowers” from Tea Palace for instance).
Dragon Phoenix Pearls is a very pleasant tea, somewhat sweet and with a very distinctive and strong fragrance.
Hurrah! My second Tea Palace order arrived today, containing four new black teas none of which are already in the database. Typical. I’ll add them… later. Also, Steam now have a family sharing feature which gives me access to all the games that Husband has bought and vice versa, meaning that I have today discovered Terraria. Four hours have gone into that particular time-sink already… So let us celebrate with another post from the queue, and what better way to celebrate the arrival of a TP order than by posting about the last tea from the first TP order?
My last tea from the TP order.
This one is… It smells strongly of peppermint. What was I thinking??? Is it possible that I was simply seduced by all the pretty blue flowers? Yes, yes it is. It has Yunnan tea, peppermint and these blue flowers and that’s it. So what in the world possessed me to put the sample tin in my basket? Granted I’ve been more inclined to think favourably of a peppermint tea lately than I was just a year ago, but even so. It’s hardly a must-have sort of thing for me.
Oh well, perhaps I’ll be wiser once I’ve tasted it. As mentioned the aroma is very sweet and minty and the blend has pretty blue flowers. I’m not picking any note up from the base of it, though.
The taste comes across as an anonymous black tea with a lot of peppermint at first. It’s really very sweet with the mint here, and I’m only vaguely getting Yunnan-y hints from the base. The sense of the smell of hay and earth and ‘thickness’. But not the actual smell or taste of it.
Call me strange, but this is actually a sizable plus in my book.
I still can’t imagine why I bought this in the first place, but obviously I should trust my instincts in these matters.
(I checked the order confirmation and I did order it. It’s not another mistaken inclusion like the hong mao feng/mao feng confusion)
Oooh I did an Ang™ on this one. Veeeeeery full cup. Yay surface tension. My small china pot fits these mugs exactly and knowing this, sometimes I become rather more focused on emptying the pot than the fullness of the mug. Resulting in… well, you can guess.
Anyway, here’s another one from my recent Tea Palace order, and it’s one that I’ve been looking forward to trying. The name of it rather appeals to me for some reason that I can’t really explain. Also the description says it has notes of caramel, and we all know what the c-word does to me.
It doesn’t say anything about where in China this was grown, but it smells like it may have been Yunnan. Which means that the both of the unflavoured black teas I bought from TP come from my least favourite tea-producing part of China. I wonder if I should be concerned about this? It does smell Yunnan-y, though with the strong aroma and the prominent hay-like notes. It smells very malty as well, which isn’t something that I can remember if it’s a characteristic of Yunnan as well, but my subconscious says ‘yes, that’s Yunnan.’
I may actually have to write to Tea Palace and have this cleared up…
Ooh this is quite full flavoured, but not the mouthful of hay that I was beginning to expect. It is indeed quite sweet, and I can see where they get there caramel notes from. Personally I think they’re more malty than caramel, but it’s still that same sort of ‘family’.
It’s the sort of dark, full flavour where I would expect to find a lot of grain-y notes, but there aren’t really too many of those. It’s just all… smooth and slippery. Rather earthy, actually. As it cools it starts to remind me very much of a quite mild pu-erh, reinforcing my Yunnan theory further. I am 99% certain it’s a Yunnan tea, this.
It’s quite nice, but rather more of a mouthful than I had anticipated. I think the sample tin is enough for me, as I suspect this is going to be a special occasions sort of tea for when serious flavour and pick me up is needed.
This one was sent my way from Angrboda.
The steeped tea smells strongly of berries. The taste is more subtle, with the berries clearly there, but not overwhelming the tea base. The tea base also complements well. I’m not generally a fan of berry amalgamations, though I love berries individually, but this tea is quite delightful.
In other news, the flights to home/Jamaica are officially booked! I couldn’t rearrange my psych presentation, but that only means I’m back one day early. YAY. But I’m finding it difficult to be excited because the amount of work I need to get done in the next three weeks is seriously overwhelming. I should probably just install an intravenous caffeine drip.
Another from my recent TP order.
I expect if I told you that I had made an order and NOT bought any of this, half of you would probably have been ready to call an ambulance for me or something.
And I must say, it smells heavenly! All sweet and vanilla-y and awesome. It doesn’t have the punch and strong caramel-y notes that my favourite from Fru P does, but it’s still pretty good. Mind you, I think the Fru P blend is a wee bit on the pungent side aroma-wise, so if I end up having a cup that tastes like Fru P’s and smells like this one does, then there it is. The Perfect Vanilla Black.
Hm. It’s quite a harsh flavour just at first. I’m not certain exactly how vanilla can be harsh at all, but that was my immediate thought when I tried to think of a word to describe it. Then after that very initial harshness it blooms into full on vanilla. Again it’s not as strongly flavoured as Fru P, though, so I’m afraid it’s not really coming up to Perfect standard.
Still quite good though, and it gets more vanilla-y when slurped and when it cools a bit. It has quite a caramel-y aftertaste to it as well.
It’s lovely, this, absolutely lovely, but I still prefer Fru P, which is probably best as I can get that in town.
Here’s another one from my recent Tea Palace order. My first order from them, but certainly not my last!
However… Hong Mao Feng?
As we know it’s so called because they use the buds and they curl up in the same way that mao feng green tea does, but hong mao feng is a black tea.
So when I get a tin of large curly leaves, many of which are sort of silvery and/or dark green and which smells distinctly floral, I get a little bit concerned. Especially when I know that the shop actually also carries mao feng green.
I decided to put my trust in TP, however, and brew it like I would any other black tea. This gave me a light yellow cup with almost no aroma at all. What is there is sort of peach-y. A very delicate mineral flavour with touches of grass and a warning hint of bitterness when swallowed.
A far cry from the description of a smooth yet robust flavour and typical Keemun full-bodied taste.
I think, by accident, they’ve sent me a tin of mao feng green, mislabeled as hong mao feng. I shouldn’t have sprung for the large tin what with it being a limited edition product and all then.
It seems drinkable enough, though, so I can’t be bothered to start making too much of a fuss about something that was probably an honest mistake. I can easily see how it could have happened with the similarity of the names. I’ve emailed the company and asked if I should return it. They didn’t want it back, so I’ll just drink it, but they are going to send me a replacement. I had an email reply only a couple of hours after I sent mine in.
(On the bright side, if I’m correct that it’s mao feng green, I’ve actually received a much more expensive product than I’ve paid for. Shame I’m not more into green tea then!)
It is now a few days later, and Tea Palace have sent me a replacement and a profuse apology. They didn’t want the mistake tea back, so I’ve got a big tin of that as well. From my corrospondence with them I sort of got the impression that I’m correct in having received the mao feng green the first time, so that’s what I’ve decided that is.
Now this is more like it. I could tell as soon as I saw the leaves, and it also brews up nice and dark. No nasty surprises here. It does indeed smell grainy and keemun-y too. Imagine that. Keemun that isn’t keemun!
It’s a good strong tea, this. It has a strong cocoa-y note at first and then all the grain-y notes underneath. There’s malty sweet notes in here as well, which in combination with the cocoa notes make it a rather sweet cup.
It doesn’t have keemun’s natural almost-smoky flavour, though, but I’m fine with that. It’s a very good cup of tea, this, and I’m glad I a) sprang for the 100g tin and b) decided to make a fuss about the green tea mistake after all.