612 Tasting Notes
This tea is off the chain! I’m no stranger to lapsang souchongs as a fan of smoke, even hits-you-in-the-face-ashtray smoke teas. This is, I’m pretty sure, the best smoke tea I’ve ever tried. It doesn’t shy away from that intense smoky quality that distinguishes LSs from other mildly smoky-hinting teas, BUT there is a splendid sweetness at the end of the sip that sets it apart, and so much wonderful complexity in between—I could be hallucinating but I swear I get nuttiness, chocolate, and a little bit of fennel. Ever so slightly woody feel without being so noticeable as to veer into, say, Darjeeling territory. So many LSs are blunt instruments, the sort where you don’t feel bad using up some ground up for meat-free smoke rubs for roasted veggies or whatnot to give them a grilled flavor. I wouldn’t think of wasting any of this one on that though—too subtle, too many worlds inside it. Fantastic.
Got around to this generous sample finally because I was looking for one from Mandala (still haven’t found it…eurgh) and unearthed this in the mean time. A lovely leathery but mellow pu erh. I really need to give Yezi more props here than I do—I adore Qing Pin and the scotch-y tea, and this is a great intro to pu erh, flavorful but not scary, ha. (I still don’t share the fuss for Jin Pins from any company I’ve tried them from, but I reckon that’s like me and Monkey teas; my palate is just not wired right to catch the subtle notes in their full glory.)
DeliriumsFrogs is the best friend a girl could want—she sent me a care package loaded with goodies (import chocolate bars!!), including this tea, just because she noticed I was curious about it. :D She is a master empath and I love her.
It doesn’t surprise me one bit this is a Butiki offering—it’s subtly beautiful and quite unusual. You know right away it’s not a black tea—it brews up a gorgeous bright light orange hue—but something about it tends to make one think of certain special Darjeelings without actually tasting just like one. There’s this nutty, almost savory yet also still sweet quality to it that reminds me a lot of some of the best green teas, but a floral note too that again, brings to mind the muscatel wonder of a Darjeeling without actually being that note precisely. And amazingly, there is in fact a tobacco note—not smoke, mind you, but unlit tobacco. And yet there’s nothing really exactly woody or grassy here. The body is marvelously silky, and there’s a cleanness to the end of the sip I quite enjoy.
The dry tobacco’s what sets this apart most, I think, and it works wonderfully with the floral and nutty elements, and especially the silkiness. This isn’t a tea to drink while distracted—it’s got a lot of unusual stuff going on, and deserves full attention. It’s an experience more than a blank comfort, if that makes sense; it reminds me of some of the perfumes I’ve sampled recently that are complex and special, more than mere adornment. And yet it’s not hard to drink at all, not “avant garde”. I feel lucky to have this chance to experience it.
Whoa, I’ve been so very lazy about checking the in-depth details of my tea before drinking it lately and was not expecting this to be the way it is! It tastes more like an oolong than a black tea to me (perhaps not surprising given the source…oh Taiwan, you and your wonderful oolongs!), with a steeped color that reminds me a bit of the old fashioned Formosa Oolong from Harney, not dark and not light, in between. The overwhelming “whoa!” note that hits me immediately is apple cinnamon. Not tart-then-sugary apple juice-like teas (which I hate), more like eating homemade, still-chunky-firm applesauce made with rosy apples, a a variety with a lot of floral aroma. I’m so busy being surprised and enjoying it I think I’ll return to this note later. Tea! I love how you tempt me and flirt with me, how just when I think I’ve got you all figured out and we’re comfortably married and middle-aged in our relations, you go put on a new dress or I find out you can fix an engine or something I had no idea you were capable of. You sexy thing.
My internet’s been acting up lately to the point it’s just broken for half the day no matter what we do, so I’ve been a bit AWOL and might be scarce for a few days. Sorry guys.
Had this for morning tea and was taken aback at how sweet and peachy it smelled at the top, almost like the old fashioned Formosa Oolong. Delicious. I didn’t read the copy before making the cup so didn’t know what to expect, and then when I saw the Darjeeling-ish light ruby hue I was like “a ha!” Needless to say it’s right up my alley. A shame it doesn’t resteep well past a second steep, but so sweetly Darjeeling-like while being a little different, with yeah, almost old fashioned oolong characteristics, that I could easily see gulping down more of this. Perfect for early spring when you still want the comfort of the black teas you’ve grown addicted to over the long winter but with hints of something more spring-like, fruity-sweet (indeed, a little musky-sweet; I sense that honey mentioned by others) and floral, lighter. Thumbs up.
An awesome surprise gift from Dexter3657, who knows of my affection for the Frenchy teas, particularly DF and Fauchon. Thank you! :D
This is a boozy, sweet-tart cherry tea. As with so many DF blends, it smells amazing as soon as you open the bag and continues to be heady through steeping and finished cup. I love it—it reminds me a little of the liquor-steeped cherries I put in my highball drinks in springtime. Lemony tart like a Corpse Reviver, but a little plush and jammy too, where there’s a burst of juicy bright red cherry to balance it, keep it from being too puckery. It’s not like a dried fruit thing, nor like a straight fresh cherry…kind of like a pickled fruit (and Ysaurella ‘s right, it’s more like a red berry profile too, not just cherry). It’s weird, I hate tartness in tea with stuff like apples…but I don’t mind it with this jammy cherry profile…guess I’ve learned something new about my tastes!
I really like this one. Thankfully for me I’m not getting any cherry cough medicine associations (it’s nowhere near that kind of pinpointy plastic sweet), though I can kind of envision how someone could. It’s perfect for this afternoon—beginning of a long weekend, going to see a play tonight (feeling FANCY Anna! ha), another festival tomorrow, lots of time to just relax and chase each other around the house and play some more with perfume. A little luxurious but fun too. Exactly right for my mood.
This was a super generous sample from Stacy (I only see now it says it’s not eligible as a sample but she sent me one anyway because I mentioned it, eeek and whoops). Big ups!
I’ve been curious about this one for a while, because I had no idea such a thing was being made at all in Japan. It’s not like other pu erhs I’ve tried (granted, I’m still a newb). It has a rather strong brown rice element, kind of nutty and grainy, with a mildly sour-sweet finish. I can see what they’re getting at when they mention chestnut—there’s a mouthfeel at the end of the sip that has that sort of creamy-grainy texture which, combined with the nutty brown rice flavor, evokes chestnuts, particularly that…I don’t have a good word for it, not quite plasticky but you know…that element chestnuts have other nuts don’t (some people dislike that part, but I love it!). (ETA: I think this is perhaps the same thing Sil is ingeniously describing as “tasting like the texture of a prune”, yes.) Never had a tea quite like this one, where it has a sweetness and cleanness, yes, but it almost feels savory somehow. And the copy’s right; this also mysteriously manages to feel like something to get your motor going like old fashioned gas station coffee, but I can’t quite describe why or how because it doesn’t resemble a brisk black tea at all (something about it reminds me a teensy bit of either the Khongea Assam or the Four Season Oolong though, which both have that deep but specific, “narrow” “blackness” too).
It might just be fanciful notions racing in the head thanks to knowing it’s from Japan (you know how that can be!), but something about this also makes me think of big spreads of Korean or Japanese dishes, pickled and fermented vegetables and a big basket full of steaming rice…salty fish broth…seaweed wrappers and buckwheat noodles. Like I’m in the back room of the Korean restaurant my college TA worked at, smelling steam that smells like all those ingredients that go in those dishes—rice, sesame, fresh clean smelling fish. It’s not that it actually smells or tastes like these things. But somehow it makes me think of those meals and those kitchens. I’m guessing it’s that powerful roasted rice element.
I also think Terri is on the money when she mentions hojicha (and someone else mentioned genmaicha, yes) and sourdough. (I love when other Steepsters are better at IDing things I can taste and smell but can’t shuffle through my mental archives precisely enough to name myself!)
Pouring it from my gongfu glass teapot, I notice the color through the spout is marvelously reddish-pink-tinged, almost like rose wine. Collected in the cup, it’s a bright burnt sienna, reddish-brown umbery tones.
I’m really glad I got to try it. It grows on me the more I sit here. I think it’d be delicious with or after a big Korean or Japanese meal.
Another fantastic surprise gift from boychik. Thank you!
This tea is unbelievable. It makes me wonder aloud “why does anyone make dessert tea with anything but pu erh?!” To be honest, I’ve been drifting away from flavored teas—hoping it’s just a phase as I focus my attention on pu erh mostly, and because this tends to happen when it starts to warm up—but maaaan this is just the thing to snap me right back. As soon as I opened the bag I was hit with the best rich deep caramel aroma I’ve ever smelled in a tea, and then while rinsing, steeping, and putting my nose to the finished cup it just kept delivering. The body is somewhat full but not rough, and the flavor has this ever-so-slight raspiness that keeps that deep, heady caramel aroma from turning too cloying or gummy—it’s a grounded, toasty caramel, not those individually wrapped light colored candies with cream in the center, not that milky. I reckon this is so people who like it nice and toasty can revel in it (deep deep deep!), and those who want that milky sweetness can add cream and/or sugar to taste. I love how it’s so decadent yet it still definitely tastes like TEA, full of that dark, mysterious, murky wonder.
I feel teased because I’m too broke for even something so reasonably priced right now (or anything for that matter), but let me tell you, as soon as I have a chance to I’m ordering this one. It has the potential to ruin me for any other dessert tea, gadzooks. boychik really knows how to find stuff that hits it out of the park! If you love deep dark rich breakfast blends with sweet treat hints (which I loved about Butiki’s Irish Cream Cheesecake, wish there were more morning blends like that that can wake you up but also make you feel a little indulgent) as well as the sweet rich shu pu erhs and maybe even the roasty coffee-chocolatey Wuyi oolongs, I have a feeling you’d be smitten. It is a little like Herbal Infusions’ Moose Tracks meets Butiki’s Irish Cream Cheesecake meets Mandala’s Big Red Robe Fancy Grade. And something about the end of the sip, how it’s thinner and clean, kind of reminds me a little of Lupicia’s dessert flavored Orzo tisanes.
A wonderful surprise gift from boychik. This tea is unlike anything I’ve had, I reckon. It’s smooth and sweet and has some satisfying rich black tea flavor, yet there’s a freshness, almost a green element to it too, a little plant-like. The sweetness is a kind I’m not at all used to with black tea; it’s more like the kind I love and associate with greens like Laoshan Green and good bilochuns. I wonder if that’s the cane sugar they describe in the unusual quick-fried process. Whatever it is, it’s delicious and unique (and perfect for the season, which can’t make up its mind if it’s still winter or going to honestly stay spring—this is how I feel right now: https://scontent-b-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc1/t1.0-9/10154100_622880174469069_8744260657632339606_n.jpg ). Later steeps bring out an oat bran smell I’m digging. Man, I may have to procure a bunch of this. Awesome find, boychik! And thank you so much for sharing it (and so much of it! Gosh) with me. :D