116 Tasting Notes
(This one turned into quite the monster post, so if you just want to read the bit about the tea jump down to “begin tea log”)
First post in forever I know… It’s been a busy couple of months; coordinating weekend sessions, upgrades and new projects at work, the usual medical fun… Oh and let’s not forget the best one of all, a “surprise” special assessment (for those of you don’t both live in Canada and in a condo/strata location; a special assessment can be levied when there is work that needs to be done to the common property (roofing, siding, pavement, etc) whose cost is greater than that budgeted in the maintenance/reserve fund. Extra costs are then levied through the use of a special assessment to the strata owners (in this case myself and my partner) to cover the extra expenses. Fun times… Not).
On the plus side we just got back from a 12 day vacation (planned just over a year a go now, so we’ve been looking forward to it for a while :D) and we had a blast! Did 5 days out in Portland, OR and then another 7 on Vancouver Island. Which, incidentally, is what prompted this post; as while we were in downtown Victoria we stopped by Silk Road Teas. (great place! I highly recommend anyone passing though the area to take a look at it!)
While there I couldn’t help myself and picked up a few “mini-tins” of teas to try. One being this one. I had my first Lychee tea experience a few months back, it wasn’t bad but I had been hoping for something less “in your face” than the one that I tried. So with hesitant hope I took a quick sniff of the sample for this tea and decided yep I’m gonna give it a shot!
begin tea log
The best part about this tea for me is that it contains just two “simple” ingredients: Chinese black tea, and lychee extract… That’s it, no artificial flavors or anything, so right off the bat I had great expectations. The scent of the tea helped to back up those expectations; sweet and fruity with just a slight floral note, the lychee was pleasantly there but not overwhelmingly so. In fact I got some good hits from the black tea, which let the dark, rich malty notes counter balance the bright super sweet ones of the lychee.
Once steeped the liquor was dark caramel brown in color and clear. The scent remained subtle but still presented some lovely lychee aromatics, sweet and almost floral but like in the dry scent, not overly so; and unlike the previous lychee tea that I tried not it was not perfume like or cloying. The darker notes from the black tea nicely complemented the lychee notes.
The flavor in this is quite interesting, the sweet bright notes from the lychee really work well with the malty notes from the Chinese black tea. There’s no bitterness or astringency and the flavor is well balanced. The finish of the sip is where the lychee really shines through but it doesn’t hang heavily at all. The mouthfeel is warm, rich and creamy, it almost coats my mouth.
I have to say that I really, really like this tea; sweet and fruity, yet dark and malty at the same time, it just really speaks to me. I definitely consider this to be an indulgent tea, for those times when I’m looking for something special.
OK I fully admit I’ve been bad at keeping up on my tealogging… I’ve tied 4 or 5 new teas and haven’t written a word, but I just haven’t been able to get in the mood to write so shrugs oh well.
But I’m back for the moment so onto the tea! At first I wasn’t going to get this one but every time I read the description I thought “well maybe…” In the end I decided to try it, if only to see if maybe it might be something my partner likes. The dry scent was a bit… overwhelming; very limey (is that even a word?) and somewhat artificial. I couldn’t really catch much else aside from the occasional apple note (which by the way I was really surprised at the amount of dried apple in this.)
The brewed tea was a murky yellow-green and maintained the lime scents from earlier but now there was a definite “tartness” to the scent, which worried me as I’m not a big fan of tart teas (or really tart anything.) Still didn’t pick up much to really suggest “gelato” but it’s definitely lime. Taste wise? Yep it’s a bit tart, almost sharp in its tartness, but I get some good lime notes and a bit from the lemon grass too. There is a bit of a “creamy” taste to it but I find it more in the finish of the sip rather than the front end and I’m really not getting much if anything from the green tea.
In the end? Not for me… I even tried adding a bit of sugar to smooth out the tart notes and, while that did work, it just ended up highlighting the artificialness of the flavors. So we’ll see if my partner likes it and if not then it’s to the swap pile for this one!
I’ve only got 2 black tea samples left to try and of the two this is the one that called to me more. I was really interested in seeing how it stacked up to Santa’s Secret and Read my Lips (both of which I love for different reasons.) But I have to say that first sniff really didn’t draw me in like I was hoping… the peppermint was very strong and almost harsh in it’s scent, while the coconut (I think) was giving it an odd tang that didn’t quite sit well for me. Deep underneath I found a few chocolate notes too but aside from that I didn’t get a lot from the black tea.
The brewed tea was a clear medium brown and I found that the peppermint basically took over the scent profile. At one point I got a hint of chocolate from the black tea and there’s a touch of creamy coconut way at the “bottom” but you really have to “look” for it to find it.
Flavor wise; lots of peppermint (which is great I love mint) but it’s a bit harsher than some of the other peppermints that I’ve had from DT, just not as smooth. I don’t really get much from the corn flowers and the coconut is a bit odd to me, there but not and it’s leaving a not very pleasant tang in my mouth that isn’t quite covered over by the peppermint. The black tea is nice though, dark and rich as promised but I have to hunt for the flavors a bit, it’s definitely more of a “base” tea rather than an equal ingredient in the blend.
Overall though? I’m not a fan, and while it’s certainly not a horrible tea, it will be going on my swap pile.
I love salted caramel so a tea that (supposedly) tastes like it? Oh ya I’m all over that! So then the question became which caramel should I get, the black tea version or the rooibos? Well time to do a bit of a taste test and see. Now I’m not doing this side by side so I’ll eventually get to the rooibos blend but I had this one at work with me today so it’s first up.
I get a lot of caramel in the dry scent, mixed in with the slightly darker notes from the toffee which is great. The coconut confuses me a little and there’s some mild malty notes from the black tea. But more importantly there’s an odd tone in there that I can’t quite place, it’s really artificial and almost off putting. I’ve actually smelled it in other DT teas (usually ones that have coconut in them) so I’m wondering if it’s a particular additive that DT uses? Not sure but I’m a little hesitant about trying it now…
The murky brew is appropriately caramel colored and has a film on top from the various caramel/toffee additions so I’ll need to give my mug a good wash afterwards. The aroma is darker now, the malt notes are more in the forefront and it really starts to smell a bit more like toffee than caramel but I like both so I’m not complaining. I can’t find the coconut at the moment but that artificial scent is still there, though it is milder.
Taste wise it’s a bit of a disappointment; it’s salted caramel (sorta, really I get toffee more than caramel but that’s probably the influence of the malt from the black tea) but it doesn’t have any rich, creamy (or even buttery) notes to complement it which this tea really needs. And that odd scent is still sticking around and is now leaving an odd aftertaste in my mouth. It’s also not very sweet for a desert tea.
In the end I added 1.5 packets of sugar and 2 of creamer (for 10oz of tea) and that helped. It’s still got that odd artificial note that I don’t really like but then again the last caramel I had we made at home and homemade flavors are always better than the store bought stuff. As of this moment I can’t see stocking this in my cupboard but I’m willing to give it one more shot before the remaining 15g go in my “to swap” pile.
I wasn’t sure what to think of this tea when I read about it online; pu’erh with oolong? The ginger I could see but the orange? And what in the world is eleuthero root?? But when I got into the store and had a chance to take a quick sniff of it I could see where it all started to come together. The scent was filled with sweet orange notes; under laying that was a bit of spice from the ginger and the earthy notes of the pu’erh. I couldn’t catch much of the oolong but there were a few floral scents hovering in the background that were most likely coming from that. I was really surprised at how the orange and the pur’eh complemented each other, I never would have guessed/thought of that combination.
The steeped liquor came out a deep orange-brown and the scents darkened significantly. The orange was still there and was the highlight of the profile but the earthy (almost loam like) notes from the pur’eh were out in full force. The ginger seemed to serve as a bridge between the two scents, melding them together in a very interesting way. The floral notes from the dry scent are still there but aren’t as noticeable as they were previously.
As for the flavor, this is definitely a pur’eh but it’s not as earthy as others that I’ve had in the past, the oolong (and the rest of the blend) certainly helps to lighten the flavor profile of this base. Like with the scent profile the ginger definitely helps to bridge the pur’ehs loamy flavors with the bright citrus notes from the orange; it also leaves a pleasant tingle in my mouth (I love ginger!) There’s a touch of creaminess that could only be from the oolong and I can definitely get the floral notes on the back end of the sip.
In all I was really surprised by this blend, dark and compelling but with some lovely orange highlights. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s “good for me” too! I can definitely see myself keeping some in my cupboard.
Tasting note 101! I totally didn’t realize that I cracked 100 yesterday! :)
Another tea I picked up in my “sample” buying spree the other week. I’ve never had Genmaicha (from anywhere) before but the description sounded very interesting, especially since I really like the flavor of roasted and/or popped rice.
I was really quite surprised at the amount of roasted rice in my package; it looked almost to be half and half with the green tea which was great to see, but there were only a few popped kernels so it wasn’t quite as visually stunning as the images on DT’s site suggest. The smell though… I had to go back to it a few times… at first all I was getting was the roasted rice. Then after the second or third sniff I started to get some notes from the green tea, bright vegetal notes with a few floral hints mixed in.
The steeped liquor came out a light yellow-green and the aroma was filled with deep notes from the roasted rice. There were some sweet tones from the green tea as well which had a bit of a fruity scent now, though I still found that there also was the more “traditional” vegetal scent as an undertone. As for the flavor…. It carries over from the aroma quite nicely. I find it filled with dark puffed/roasted rice notes with slight vegetal hints from the green tea and every once and a while I get a few floral notes on the finish. It’s not astringent either which is good since I accidentally over steeped this a bit.
I have to admit though, I keep looking for a molasses/malty flavor to go with the puffed rice notes and I haven’t even had puffed rice squares in years! It’s a good, solid tea; but definitely one that I’d have to be in the mood for.
(PS I had a hard time finding this tea to log… When I searched for “Genmaicha David’s Tea” it took me to a (basically) empty page with no notes or ratings on it which I found odd so I went hunting further and eventually found this page. Weird)
Next! So I’ve heard tell that some feel that this tea is fairly similar to DT’s Sugar & Spice (Fall 2013 collection) so since I missed out on getting S&S prior to its discontinuation (though now that I look it’s seems like they might still have some left… hmmm…) I thought I would give this a shot.
Dry this tea is very… well if bling-y was a word that’s what this tea would be, visually anyways. Black tea with gold sugar balls and sugar crystals (plus the bits of lemon peel) make for a very eye catching tea. Scent wise the sweet sugar and vanilla are the main notes with some undertones from the cloves and lemon peel to help break things up. I don’t find much from the black tea though.
The slightly murky, orange-brown liquor has a similar scent profile, though the sugar has toned down and instead I get more from the cloves. There’s the odd citrus/lemon note but it’s not very prevalent. As for the flavor… I could sum it up in one “word” (I’m into making things up as I go today!) Meh. The clove melds nicely with the malty notes from the Chinese black base and the vanilla is the icing on the cake of that combo but aside from that it’s very one-note. I’ll get a hit every once and a while from the lemon but it almost comes through (for me anyways) like detergent lemon rather than the bright citrus that it “should” be. And it’s almost too sweet for my tastes, a bit cloying really.
In the end, I’m glad I tried it but I won’t get it again. Oh well, I can’t love them all!
Backlog from yesterday. Ok back to trying some non-flavored teas. I’ve been holding off on this particular sample for a while now and this afternoon is the perfect one to give it a shot. Since I only have one sample package, and I was hoping to have enough leaves left to brew this up a second time, I used only 4g and modified the gong fu method that was listed on Teavivre’s site. It worked out pretty well!
The dry tea is very light and wiry, while the scent has many floral notes, along with some deeper sweet tones. After a quick rinse I steeped my first cup for 25 sec; the aroma of this first cup was filled with honey notes and floral undertones, both of which were also present in the flavor profile. The mouthfeel was warm and rich with a slight astringency at end of the sip.
My second cup was steeped for 50seconds and while similar to the first I found the floral notes to be much higher in tone while the honey flavors became almost creamy. The third cup (70 sec) was deeper in both scent and flavor, with fewer floral notes while still being rich and smooth.
I had 3 more cups after this (85 sec, 1:40min and 2 min) and the scent and flavor profiles continued to get softer. After the fourth cup the soft floral notes made a bit of a comeback where as the honey notes, while mild, stayed somewhat consistent throughout. I did also notice a few darker, almost spicy notes staring to come out in the later cups.
In all it’s a really lovely tea, lighter than I was expecting for a chineese black, but not my all time favorite. Though it is one that I would be happy to have again in the future.
I’m apparently on a (blue)berry kick these past few days, not that that’s a bad thing (I actually really like blueberries) I just don’t usually have them blended with my tea. So next up? A herbal blueberry tea, probably the only one of DT’s spring collection that really called to me.
Dry this blend is visually dynamic with a bright, clean but yet sweet scent filled with berries. The pineapple and lemongrass lend a very refreshing tone to the profile as well though I don’t get much from the cornflowers.
Once brewed the blue-purple infusion gives off a slightly milder version of the dry aroma. I find the lemongrass to be slightly more present at this time but it blends well with the pineapple and berries.
Flavor wise it’s very similar to the scent profile, berries mixed with a blend of pineapple and lemongrass. It’s a nice light, refreshing mix that goes well with the season. My biggest criticism comes from the candied pineapple, the fruit itself works well with the blend but the sugar from the candy-ing process leaves behind a certain flavor and aftertaste that I don’t enjoy.
Aside from that it’s a pretty good tea, one that I could see cold brewing in the summer too.
So yesterday I tried DT’s Superberry and it was good (surprisingly actually since I was expecting a bit more artificialness to it) but I don’t want to have too many of the same “flavors” in my cupboard so today I’m going to try this tea. It’s actually been on my “to try” list for quite some time so I’m rather excited to see if it lives up to the hype.
Dry the tea smells exactly as advertised… packed with blueberries and sweetness. That said there are a few scents in there that I don’t typify as being part of “blueberry jam”, raspberry for one. I can also pick out a hint or two of the elderberries but that is much closer to the “proper” jam scent that it doesn’t stand out as much. I also get a few dark notes from the black tea but again not too many so I’ll have to see how the base complements the tea once it’s brewed.
The liquor comes out brown but with a certain distinctive bluish-purple tint which could only be from the blue and elderberries. There’s a definite loss of blueberry scent at this point (actually of berry sent in general) but what remains is warm, dark and a bit malty. Honestly it’s almost been transformed from blueberry jam to blueberry syrup to my nose. It’s certainly different.
Taste wise the blueberry is very subtle (especially compared to the dry aroma) and still sweet but not overly so with just a bit of tang from the raspberry flavoring. The maltiness from the black tea really makes me think more flavored maple syrup than jam and I don’t get much from the cornflowers.
In the end I think I prefer Superberry more… I find that if I’m in the mood for fruit I like to taste the fruit. (or maybe that’s just the mood I’m in today… I’ve got enough to try a few more cups to see if this holds true) but for the moment, while it’s a good tea, I can’t see myself stocking more of it.