439 Tasting Notes
I’ve made myself a little cubby of caffeine-free teas above my kettle to force myself to stop drinking regular tea too late into the evening and then staying up all night.
Teavana’s way the heck out of my way, but I made a trip down to stock up on the Indonesia black, and because ‘Lavender’ and ‘Creme’ are at least two of my favourite things. Weirdly, lavender blossoms are the /tenth/ ingredient. Below… cardamom.
This is a really confusing tea. But I do like cardamom.
It tastes mostly of rooibos and cocoa nibs, a bit of cardamom; I’ve had it a few times, and concluded that there was most definitely not enough lavender, so I’ve been adding a bit of my own. Adds a bit of spice. It’s more of a weak caramely chai with a faint hint of lavender (you can taste it a bit more at the back of your throat, I guess that ‘soapy’ taste) than anything else. But it’s something sweet and warm to drink when I get home from work late at night.
Flavors: Caramel, Cardamon, Cocoa, Lavender
Had this “grandpa style” in my glass travel mug, left to stew without removing the leaves. Good two teaspoons (ish; big leaves). Not even a hint of bitterness, just a thick, dark, sweet honey liquor. Just sorta permeates all through your sinuses.
I was sipping it while working on a teatra.de post, and before I knew it I was out.
Well, Steepster just magically lost my very long tasting note for this one. The first full-length one I’ve wrITTEN IN A WHILE, THANKS, STEEPSTER. To recap:
I’m starting my seventh steep now. First four were 10 seconds long, after that, 15. Brewed proper in my little koi gaiwan this time, 80°c. Leaves smell vegetal, but the liquor is sweet, like magnolia. Strongest infusion was probably the third, and each led with flowery notes, with a vegetal, broccoli or asparagus body; magnolia, maybe a vanilla-like orchid, sorta trails and lingers in the aftertaste. It’s a pretty even balance of the two; didn’t get anything particularly buttery, although the floral sensation tends to coat the mouth.
Around the sixth steep I started eating my dinner, but it was still going strong. Once the leaves fully opened (around the fifth steep), I found a good mix of broken and full leaves. Mostly broken, but still a few whole leaves.
Flavors: Floral, Vegetal
I actually went into Cultivate because I wanted to grab their tieguanyin (was shared some and actually really quite liked it). But they didn’t have any that I saw, so I grabbed this.
A nice reminder of why I love Chinese black teas. They’re always nutty and sweet, rarely astringent. I always enjoy them. Wouldn’t say this one had a whole lot of depth to it—drinking it Western in my owl mug—but it’s pleasant, wouldn’t quite say chocolate, package says cocoa which I can accept. Maybe brow sugar in the context of baked treats, I think.
Sipping this today, just a few grams in my clunky shiboridashi pot for something like half a minute. You get grass in the forefront, not anything too strongly vegetal. Floral in more the trail of each sip, but not the honey or fruity notes the tin boasts.
On a different note, I was shared some of Cultivate’s tieguanyin and adored it; I have to remember to pick some up myself at some point.
Did another steep with boiling water, and it brought out more vegetal notes, and almost masked anything floral. There is a bit more sweetness though; like a very green fruit.
Sipped this at a club meeting and scribbled some notes down while I was there. I brewed it in my travel gaiwan, didn’t have my scale but filled about 1/3rd, and it expanded to fill my gaiwan. Didn’t really count seconds for steeps, but less than 30 seconds.
“Light, coats the mouth; floral mainly, lightly vegetal. Magnolia, lightly sweet, almost buttery. Very smooth. Pick some up for me, I think.”
“Mostly lost count of the steep (>5); floral topnotes dissipated, vegetal and buttery body. Butter still lingers as an after taste, & breathe out.”
I did quite like it, the leaves were mostly green, some red oxidation on some leaf edges but not all; I might pick some up next time I’m over there.
Flavors: Butter, Flowers, Sweet, Vegetal
I’ve fallen back on not reviewing many teas again because I feel like my tastebuds have just faded and there isn’t much I can do about it.
But I sat down with a notebook for this one. Tossed the first rinse.
First steep was very thin, mineral, almost metallic, bitter but smooth, not drying on the tongue; maybe faintly vegetal.
Second steep was more vegetal, still thin but smooth, still felt it was almost a metallic bitterness, but not wholly unpleasant. Bitterness lingered on the tip of the tongue.
Third to about fifth steeps (15 seconds) it evolved to more steamed vegetables, and evolved to a more drying astringency on the tongue, which stuck with you after each sip.
When Soko stopped selling tea to go and let the coffee shop across the street from them take over serving their teas, this was the one I usually got (since they didn’t carry their whole line and Soko’s has since stopped carrying most of my favourites…) to go while studying at the library. There’s nothing much to it, it’s just simple vanilla over a ceylon base. There’s actual pieces of vanilla bean, and I feel like it relies more on the dried bean than flavouring oils, because the vanilla was never particularly bold. But I like simple pairings, so.
I’m coming down with a cold (courtesy of my sibling—I just got back camping with them), but today while sipping this, I made a second steep (first at 3 minutes, which I overleafed I guess because it ended up being VERY strong, astringent, malty with the usual cherry-like berry taste I tend to get). I did a second steep at about 1 minute, getting again malt and cherry, not as astringent this time, but I got a very distinct menthol flavour in the middle of each sip; it didn’t linger, and was quickly overtaken by astringency at the end, with a very dry mouthfeel.