200 Tasting Notes
12 Days of Christmas (52Teas) – Day 12
Could it be? I’m actually opening up a tea, consuming it, and writing a tasting note, all on the appropriate day? It only took me a full 12 days to do so!
When I first opened this tea and smelled it, it smelled like the grasshopper cookies. It definitely sounded intriguing. But when I brewed it.. I don’t know, the flavors just fell short for me. I get notes of mint, marshmallow, and even chocolate, but none of them are overpowering. Maybe I’m just so used to my mint teas being overpowering I expect them to? I think it’s also the base. Not really a fan of that, either. Not sure what it is because my black tea knowledge is limited.
12 Days of Christmas Tea – Day 10
Yes, I’m not really logging these in correct order. This one is actually a backlog, but I have other teas I haven’t even tried yet. So .. uh.. don’t expect them to be numerical, but they’ll get there eventually.
This was a custom blend from KeenTeaThyme and it came in a cute little tin and everything. It was actually quite delicious. The spearmint and cinnamon was quite strong, but I didn’t really taste any guayusa. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. This tea also has gold sparkles in it, which I didn’t realize until AFTER I brewed it in a dark cup. D’oh. Next time, I’ll brew this in a white cup so I can enjoy the sparkles.
As a side note, I actually took a tea blending class in early December. I wish it would have been early enough for my Christmas swap b/c I would love to have designed a tea around my Christmas day theme. But, alas, it was not meant to be.
12 Days of Christmas Tea – Day 11
I am VERY behind on my tealogging (and slightly behind on my tea drinking). This came from Sil and it has a very strong scent – so strong I could smell it through the envelope. I originally thought it was a Lapsang base because of the smokiness, but apparently it’s something different (err.. I’m not sure what exactly).
It’s not bad. I’m not a big Lapsang fan, so I’ve got that working against me. I also think I taste some bergamot, so it tastes more like an “Earl Grey Lapsang” (which I’ll have to check after this note if such a blend exists).
I gave the tea to my boyfriend to try without any prior context (a popular pastime of mine) and he said it tasted like barley. I thought that was an odd comment, but when I did some homework, apparently this tea is like a single-malt whiskey (which is made with barley). I also learned what a single-malt whiskey is, since I know so little about alcohol.
So I’m still on vacation in Austin today, and I went to not one tea store, but TWO (I’ll have to write about the other one later). I’ve heard of this tea company before, but I didn’t realize they had a storefront. So, I decided to check it out.
It’s quite nice, even though it’s off the beaten path. At first I was a little annoyed that they only sell loose tea in 8 oz increments OR in tins, but upon further inspection they also sell their flavors in “sample bags” that range around $4. So, that’s not too bad.
I was unsure of whether or not I wanted this tea, so the lady actually offered to brew me a sample. It’s not bad. A little bitter, but that’s to be expected with grapefruit. The flavor was nice, but I didn’t really think it was a tea I would drink every day, so I didn’t buy it. I DID, however, see some milk chocolate with jasmine tea in it, that I picked up for my BF since he LOVES Jasmine. Hopefully he does.
Also, kinda random, but the lady behind the counter kept referring to the teas as "he"s and "she"s. So, for this tea, she would say, “She can be quite bitter without too much brewing, but she has a nice flavor.” It threw me off a little bit.
I’m in Austin this week visiting my friend. Today we went to Central Market, which is a nice-sized grocery store. The tea selection there was AMAZING!! They had at least 50 bins of loose tea – mostly from Rishi and Republic of Tea. And they had lots of packaged tea as well, a lot I had never heard of – like this brand.
I was really hankering for a peppermint tea (because of my ongoing bloated issues) and I saw this brand and type. The first ingredient is peppermint, but there were a lot of other ingredients too. I should have reconsidered when I saw Licorice Root on the list too, but I didn’t.
When I steeped this tea, I was hoping for some yummy peppermint tea with “accents” of other herbs. But what I got was mostly licorice root. Ick. This must be a very detoxifying herb because it’s in a lot of detox teas. My second steeping was less licorice-y and more peppermint-y, which was better, but who wants to do two steepings just to get the taste they like.
All in all, this tea was underwhelming. I was really hoping for more with all the crazy ingredients.
My favorite tasting detox tea is still the Yogi Peach Detox, even though I don’t think that has any peppermint in it at all.
Blehhhhh Steepster. I feel like crap. And I’m also consulting my Steepsterites for medical advice.
Yesterday I had a stomach ache pretty much all day, so I drank various mint teas and herbal teas (like this one). Dinner time rolls around and since I’m feeling kinda bleh, my boyfriend and I go out to dinner to a vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant for soup. Originally I was gonna get pho, but we end up getting something called a “Hot Pot” which is a lot LIKE soup and is often called “Chinese Fondue”. Anyway, we ended up eating the exact same thing since we are sharing it.
We come home to watch TV, I make it through one episode, and my stomach starts hurting like crazy. It has escalated from “stomach ache” to “I think I’m going to hurl pretty soon”. You know the feeling ;) I try to shake it off by going to bed… and proceed to toss and turn for the next several hours because I don’t want to get up and throw up. 3:30 rolls around, I give up the ghost, and go into the bathroom and throw up – of course. I go back, try to go to sleep, but toss and turn for another hour until I get up and throw up again. Bleh. Eventually, I find sleep for a couple hours, before being woken up at around 8 (because my BF is leaving for work) and throw up a third time. Yay. So long herbal tea.
So now I’m trying to figure out what’s going on and how long it’s going to last. My boyfriend and I ate the same thing for dinner, so I don’t think it was food poisoning. The whole day I didn’t even eat anything exotic: rice, vegetables, cereal. I did drink some kombucha, which some would call odd, but my stomach was already bothering me by then. I’m hesitant to blame it on my hippie drink.
I don’t really have a fever. Which makes me think that it’s not the flu. My BF has me all paranoid because he mentioned how his boss had salmonella and it lasted for weeks. Iccch. I’ve been keeping my meat intake low, but the night before last my boyfriend and I did have a raw tuna and avacado appetizer at restaurant (which we’ve had several times before). I had the majority of it, although my BF did have some, too. Is it possible he wasn’t affected by that but I was?
I’d normally be fine letting things run their course, but I’m set to go out of town this Friday. I really don’t want to be sick. I’m really hoping this is just a “day” thing. My stomach still feels a little icky (not as bad as before, though). I’ve been drinking water, but I’m scared to eat anything else. I probably will soon, though.
So I’ve been hearing so much about gongfu I couldn’t resist trying it for myself. Also, this gives me an excuse to buy more tea hardware. I saw this “easy gaiwan” and just had to have it (http://www.yunnansourcing.us/store/product.php?id_product=128). It’s the same one Daniel Scott has in his icon. I don’t know if I’m ready for the “big girl” gaiwans, so I liked how it had handles and a built in strainer. I’m also using a strainer basket (also from Yunnansourcing) and a random 4 oz cup I found in the cupboard. One day I’ll get a fancy tea cup, but not yet.
Also, to keep the water warm but accessible, I brewed some hot water and put it all into a cast iron pot for me to pour in segments as I type. As you’ll see over the course of my “steepings”, the water got cooler more quickly than I thought. So this is why people get a Zojirushi.
I chose this tea because everyone has raved about it, and I was just “meh” about it. I thought brewing it gongfu style might help “bring it out” more and make me see what all the fuss was about. Also, it has gongfu in the name. How can you not love it??
I wanted to be part of the cool kids so I wrote down my thoughts of each steeping. But since this is my first time, you’ll see my notes aren’t quite so refined. Oh well, it was an experience.
1st steep – I was supposed to throw this steep out as a rinse, but I just don’t have the heart, so I thought I would try it. I got some light chocolatey notes. Also, this strainer basket is great, but where the heck do I put it when I’m done with it? Right now I’m just putting it over my gaiwan upside down, but next time I should bring along a plate of some sort. Oh geez, more hardware. This gong fu stuff sure requires a lot of room. This is what I get for not using a “serving pitcher”.
2nd steep (20 sec) – Used more tea this time. Definitely stronger and maltier. I’m getting notes of toast in here, as well. And I noticed the tea mentioned caramel, so yeah, I can see that. This is very different than the first steeping. Except I didn’t remember to swirl the leaves around in the gaiwain. Should I have? Maybe I’ll do that next steep and see how it goes. Also, I should use less water since this first true steeping spilled a little bit because I’m trying to get it just right.
3rd steep – (40 sec) My water has cooled down a bit. Boo. Don’t fail me now cast iron. This is a little bit smoother – not quite as maltier. I wonder if my water isn’t hot enough. Ah well.. Also, I noticed this was supposed to be 30 sec NOT 40 sec. Whoops.
4th steep (50 sec) – Now my water has cooled down quite a lot, even though my cast iron still feels hot. Why have you neglected me, cast iron? Also, I had my first pouring fail. I thought the lid was on properly, but I went to pour and it wasn’t and I spilled some water. Oh well, cleaning it up wasn’t too bad. The tea isn’t bad, but now it’s starting to have this metallic taste to it. Hmm.. I better drink my water fast so I can do another steeping before my water gets too cold.
5th steep – (1 min, 10 sec) – Need to figure out an efficient way to time these things because looking at my watch and hoping for the best probably isn’t going to cut it. So uh.. I guess the steeping time is right. We’ll hope so. Also, this tea is luke-warm and I’m not really tasting anything besides metallic-ness. I guess I need to break down and go make some warm water from the kettle, which is in the other room #firstworldteaproblems.
6th steep – (1 min, 30 sec) – Okay, so I went back and actually got hot water from the kettle. I steeped this the time allotted, and now it’s kinda bitter and extra metalic. Bleh. I wonder if I messed things up by using luke warm water the last few times. Should that really matter? As it cools though it’s not THAT bitter, but it’s that exciting, either.
Okay, I think I’m done with this tea. I gave it 6 good steepings, but I’m just not going to love it, especially near the end. The gongfu experience was fun, but it’s a lot more work than my traditional western style. I’ll definitely try it on some more teas to try and see what fun I can extract out of them.
Okay, take two before I throw this tea bag out. This time I used “green tea” temperature water and steeped it for about 2 minutes or so. I’m hoping to bring these green tea notes out that I supposedly missed the first time around.
And…. no. It still tastes like black tea to me. And it’s still too astrigent for me to enjoy. Maybe even more so the second time. Not enjoyable at all.
Good try, Starbucks, but this random blend brings me no joy. I gave it a shot.
Well I didn’t break down and get the David’s Tea advent calendar, but I do happen to know that this is the tea for Day #1. And, I just so happen to have some of this tea that I bought when in NYC, so I decided to finally give it a try.
And, it’s not bad. It’s not the best black tea I’ve had, but it has some nice butter and rum undertones. I don’t know if this would satisfy someone’s alcoholic craving, but it definitely has those notes that peak through. As someone who rarely buys alcohol because it’s so pricey (and usually not very healthy), I’ll take it ;)
Starbucks was having a BOGO on Tazo teas. I saw they had Joy, the seasonal blend, as part of this sale. $7 for 30 sachets seemed like a good deal, but I wasn’t sure if I would like the tea. So I bought just a cup to see if I’d like it.
The verdict? Bleh. I might have steeped this longer than I needed to, since it’s a little bitter. I’m mostly tasting black tea. There’s supposedly oolong and green in here, too, but I don’t really get it. I’d recommend this to someone who likes Christmad stuff and black tea.
I’d bet this might perk up with a little milk. I’ll give it a second steeping and see what happens.