169 Tasting Notes
I´ve already written it elsewhere, but I´m definitely not a great herbal tea fan, mainly for “historical” reasons (my mother preparing me a blend of dried herbs whenever I got home and complained about some ache or so). However, I nowadays do make my own herbal preparations, for instance I pick and dry rosehips (wonderful infusion, naturally sweet, when having a sour throat), and I pick elderflower to make a brilliant elderflower cordial I like to add to gin&tonic.
I also used to pick elderberries (to make another cordial, or even a fruity gin), but this is less fun work to do (removing green berries, hands are coloured for a few days), and the cordial is very viscous and dense which isn´t the most pleasant texture in drinks. Basically, I remember my mother buying an elderberry sirope to relieve cough. I therefore guess, when buying this Pukka infusion, I had its use in mind over Winter. I now realise I just forgot all about it, used the rosehip infusion whenever the occasion called for it…and so, only now, when finishing some other teas, I´ve rediscovered this infusion and tried it.
It´s true the list of ingredients is large, but for me the elderberry really stands out. In comparison to the elderberry sirope (way too sweet!), this infusion is actually quite balanced in taste. I particularly like its fruitiness being based on something else than the hibiscus used in most supermarket brands. Finally, I want to say that the lovely design by Pukka is an added pleasure.
Since quite a while, I´m planning a visit to Sri Lanka, but due to the awful events this Easter Sunday, I think I´ll put my plans aside for some time. In meantime, I´ll enjoy the wonderful teas Sri Lanka produces.
As I´m also in the process of discovering teas beyond the “standard” black and greens, I was curious to try this Sri Lankan oolong tea.
From the website of The Kent&Sussex Tea&Coffee Co. :
Type of Tea: Orthodox Large Leaf Oolong Tea.
Origin: The Moragalla Tea Estate, Galle province, Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon).
Brewing Instructions: Brew using freshly boiled water left to cool to temperatures between 75 and 80 C. Infuse for 2 to 3 minutes.
How to Serve: This beverage tastes best without any additions. Some, however, choose to add a slice of lemon for a citrusy kick.
Tasting Notes: Moragalla Ceylon Oolong Tea consists of malty, almost roasted notes.
Colour in Cup: Golden-brown liquor, light in tone.
The first time I brewed this tea, I followed the instructions and found the tea quite weak. Now I try to steep it at 80ºC for a bit longer (4-5 minutes) or even use slightly hotter water. If you like malty teas, this is really wonderful. Unlike Kenyan teas which tend to be malty in a “concentrated” dense way (difficult to explain, but definitely something I like over breakfast), this tea is malty in an elegant, quite subtle way. After drinking my first mug, I also tend to steep the same tea leaves a second time (very easy as I use a mug with take-out filter for the loose tea) at the same temperature but for an even longer time. Results are good. However, I don´t recommend a third use as the brew gets to be very watery indeed. Normally after the 2nd steeping session the leaves will have folded open, so you can even visually prepare your tea.
Just a final note about this tea. As I really love this blend, I wanted to buy some more (talking about 1.5 year ago, I think), but unfortunately, after having closed the physical shop, the company All About Tea ceased its activities in 2018 (and I couldn´t even get hold of this blend online anymore the final year of activity). Their popular “Portsmouth Tea” was “rescued” by The Kent & Sussex Tea & Coffee Co., another family business still operating in UK (Kent).
The owner of All About Tea (Gadsden Tea) had a very educational facebook page (closed now) with some very interesting videos about tea. These can still be consulted on youtube : https://www.youtube.com/user/allabouttea/featured
I spent a weekend with friends in France recently, where I drank this tea, or rather infusion after dinner.
Although I lived 6 years in France myself, I wasn´t familiar with this seemingly very popular brand “Les 2 marmottes”. It´s true that quite often French have a “tisane” (herbal tea) after their evening meal, at least that´s the case with most of my French friends, while I prefer a real tea. Also, I tend to buy loose leaf tea, while they most often have boxes with individually wrapped teabags.
The company is based in the Alps and has a nice presentation with 2 marmots in front of some snowed mountain peaks; the teabags are colourful and indicate ingredients and time of steeping and the names often use puns.
This herbal tea contains 45% of elderflower, making it quite delicate. This might be ideal in a drink to have just before going to bed, I prefer a tea with some more character…
This is obviously the best “green tea with jasmine” a for the rest very nice Chinese restaurant in Madrid, Spain can offer. I must admit it looks great : a bigger than usual paper envelope containing a piramide teabag. The piramide teabag doesn´t contain dust, but it´s not exactly big leaf either. Although the use by date lies still 1,5 years in the future, the teabag isn´t particularly aromatic, something I usually associate with Chinese jasmine tea. As I was first served the teapot and a teabag of mint tea (the green colour of the envelope is quite similar to the one of this jasmine tea), the water had already cooled a bit when I started steeping, definitely a good thing with this type of tea (the envelope says you should steep at 100ºC though). The steeped tea is better than what I expected from its fragrance (or the lack of it), and is actually quite alright to have instead of water or beer to accompany food. I think it lacks character to have on its own.
What is worrisome however : that even Chinese or Japanese restaurants (had a similar experience in a Japanese restaurant last week), claiming to serve authentic food, pay little attention to the quality of the tea they offer…or maybe they think that it´s more important to impress by the quality of the wrapping?
Flavors: Green, Jasmine
According to its name (Digest), this herbal tea should help digestion…so maybe more to this tasting note tomorrow ;-)
I´m not such a fan of herbal teas (it reminds me too much of my childhood, when my mother scooped all type of dried herbs together to make me a cup of herbal infusion when I was feeling under the weather), but this one is quite OK : mint teas are often very strong (and sweet), and here it´s balanced by the fennel (and according to the list of ingredients also ginger, cardamom, liquorice, cinnamon and lemongrass…which I cannot really distinguish, to be honest) so overall it´s easier to take.
Flavors: Fennel, Mint
In September I returned to León and so, I returned to the wonderful tea shop near the market, and bought myself another packet of this tea. This meant also that I could finish the first packet I had bought last year ;-) (as I had kept a bit, just in case the shop was closed)…and in meantime, I´ve already tried the second packet.
The instructions were slightly different from the ones indicated on the first packet, and maybe brewing it like this now, the tea is slightly stronger in taste, but it still combines perfectly the sweet touch of the caramel with the taste of a solid pu´erh tea…just perfect for a cold autumn day!
I´m very cautious about ginger in tea (and gin, and beer…), as it easily dominates everything else. During my last visit to a Palais des Thés shop, I got a refill of this tea as a present, and although I immediately felt some worry when seeing the blend was mainly green tea and ginger, I think I quite like it : the ginger is present in a subtle way (in aroma´s you get almost more orange peel than ginger) and the potentially grassy taste of the green tea is well complemented by this ginger-orange peel addition. Nice work, Palais des Thés!
Flavors: Ginger, Green, Orange Zest
During my recent visit to the Palais des Thés (PDT) shop in Tours, I not only picked a tea I had wanted to buy after having tried a sample given at a previous visit, but I also looked (and especially smelled) through the teas on offer…how I love the way PDT shows off the fragrances of their teas with the small glass bell jars! So, after testing quite a few different blends, I decided to buy this Montagne Bleue blend : you can clearly identify the notes of lavender and rhubarb indicated on the label.
Although PDT´s tea sommeliers say this blend can also be taken iced, I´ve taken it now a few times hot, and it is really enjoyable : the aromas stay and one can easily recognize rhubarb and lavender in mouth as well. My personal experience with a lot of teas using rhubarb is that it´s almost entirely present in nose, as in mouth it has disappeared, especially when the blend includes strawberry (which seems to overwhelm the rhubarb most of the time). Here this is not the case, so if you´re into rhubarb – as I am – and you like black tea, this is a wonderful blend to enjoy! If I still have tea available next Summer, I´ll need to try to prepare it iced as well ;-)
Flavors: Honey, Lavender, Rhubarb, Strawberry
When I bought some teas at Le Palais des Thés shop at Tours, I got a sample of another of the blends in the DETOX range. On the teabag it says : “Japanese detox, a delicious recipe combining the detox benefits of Sencha green tea, spirulina”(a type of seeweed)“, and buckwheat. This delicate blend features soothing notes of nashi pear, making it the perfect choice for a relaxing break.”
I must say this blend combines almost perfectly a delicate fragrance in nose with a subtly complex drink in mouth. No aroma or flavour overwhelms the whole experience, which makes this a wonderful choice for a dreamy afternoon tea. I received a (long) phone call when I hadn´t finished my mug of tea yet, so I also had the opportunity to sip the cold infusion…which is still OK, although “flatter” in taste profile.
Flavors: Green, Pear, Salty