1353 Tasting Notes
Some of you may remember that this is my favourite vanilla black of all time. I’ll tell you a bit about my relationship with Fru P at this point and then I’ll leave it up to you lot to decide what that says about me.
When she just opened the shop, it was shortly after Husband and I got married, so I pretty much just bounded in there in an almost Tigger-esque way, “Are you Mrs P? I’m also Mrs P!” (Fru being Danish for Mrs) I got myself a little bit in trouble with her tea selection, but of course I needed to try the vanilla and it was awesome.
I still keep coming back to stock up on that one. It’s just right for me.
A few months ago when I was in getting a big supply of it to drink at work, I was being helped by one of her assistants, and I asked for “that good vanilla black.”
So the assistant went and got the tin, and Mrs P came rushing in from the side going, “wait, wait, that’s not the one she wants! I’ll get the one she wants,” and then she disappeared out back for a moment.
Turns out when they had last ordered it in, they had bought a vanilla flavoured Darjeeling instead of the regular vanilla black, and Mrs P knows I don’t much care for Darjeeling. Luckily she still had some of the old one out back.
Then, yesterday I was in there again, obviously looking for some of my favourite vanilla.
Now, what does it say about me that the exchange went much like this,
Me: slightly conspiratorial look “That vanilla, you know…”
Mrs P: smiles and goes out back "How much would you like?
She assured me that they weren’t going to replace it completely with the Darjeeling one, so now I’m sort of wondering if she’s hiding the other one out there for the benefit of only a few customers. Obviously, this means that the tea isn’t exactly super-fresh anymore, but you know, in a flavoured black tea that’s less of an issue that it would have been in, say, a green or even a regular black. I feel a bit sort of special and VIP-ish when I order ‘off the menu’ like that.
I love that shop, I really do. I took an intant liking to Mrs P first time I met her, and have never had reason to change my mind. Quite the contrary, actually. And I’m not even in there every other week either.
My long Steepster break has really changed my tea habits into something far more relaxed than before. I’m going to try my damndest to keep it at this level. It feels… healthier, if you know what I mean. And I didn’t even think I was all that obsessive before. I feel like I’m carrying less weight around having realised that I don’t need a tea of every flavour and six different breakfast black and a dozen afternoon teas. Two or three of each is all I require. Maybe one or two extra as a luxury, but still. Keep it small. It means I shop tea far less frequently (and again, it wasn’t even super frequent before) and I do it differently. I shop when I want something in particular and then go straight for those items. After that, I’ll allow myself one or two other samples.
That’s how I got this one. I wanted a couple of things that we have previously enjoyed from TP and this was the sample that I allowed myself. The thing about TP’s samples is that they’re quite large. :) I’m not sure why I went for this one, actually. It’s not a flavour I would normally be interested by. I think I must have been having mango-y thoughts recently when I saw it. Perhaps a recipe with mango in it or something.
It’s an alright tea, really. It just doens’t really taste like mango. It’s more like generic tropical fruit and quite Ceylon-y. I suspect a mid- to high-grown one too. I can see how the spicy grassy flavour of a high-grown Ceylon might match well with tropical fruits, but on the other hand… It rather makes me wonder how it would have presented itself if the base hadn’t been a Chinese/Ceylon blend. What if it had been Chinese only? Or even just a lower grown Ceylon without those spicy-grassy notes? I wonder if that would have made the mango present more as actual mango or if it’s not connected at all.
I don’t know. It’s an alright tea, really. But that’s all it is.
Found the rest of this in the drawer and thought why not? Apparently I previously thought it had a pear-y aftertaste. I feel quite keen on a bit of pear flavour this morning, so let’s hope I still think it’s there.
Funnily enough, first time I had it I also wrote I should update my Steepster cupboard as it was horribly out of date. Today I’m thinking I should just empty it out what with not really having used it at all for eight months. Not sure I will again this time around. I’m trying to make my site usage a lot more casual than what it was, so it’s very much back to basics. You may also have noticed that I’ve discarded the numerical ratings in favour of the recommendation buttons instead. I’m pretty much aiming for ‘Steepster Light’ here. I will let the ratings made previously stand though.
Anyway, very sweet, very nutty. That definitely hasn’t changed, even though the leaf is getting a bit on the old side. There’s a strong flavour of nuts to it. I had a phase shortly before I stopped coming here where I was deeply into nut-flavoured teas. Shame I didn’t remember this one then. I couldn’t really tell you which kind of nut I think it’s more like. One sip I think walnut, the next sip I think hazelnut. Possibly we’re dealing with a nut flavour sort of in between the two.
Pear-y aftertaste, though? No, not really. Looks like if I want pear flavour this morning I should go and eat a pear.
I have (nearly) always been a Chinese black kinda girl. I do occasionally enjoy others as well, like I’m partial to a good Assam and I wouldn’t say no to a low-grown Ceylon or a particularly good Kenya, but deep down the Chinese blacks is where I ‘live’ preference-wise.
Taiwanese blacks are sort of the same family (political controversies not even taken into account) and they have lots of the same qualities. Like for example one of the things I like about the Chinese blacks is how they are nearly impossible to ruin. If you have a good leaf, you can steep it to kingdom come and it will still come out perfectly drinkable. Perhaps a little less nice than if you’d done it properly, granted, but it won’t be totally ruined. In comparison, if you did the same thing with an Assam or a Ceylon, it would be a highly unpleasant experience indeed.
I don’t have much experience with Taiwan, though. It’s one of those things, you see. You tell yourself you should explore this or that type or this or that area but just never really seem to get around to it. So when I got a newsletter from Yunnan Sourcing, announcing the opening of Taiwan Sourcing, I jumped at the chance immediately and got a small amount of each of the three blacks they offered. The first one was the one I posted about last time I posted. This is one of the other two.
This is actually saying a lot, as I have entered a phase where I’m less focused on having an enormous amount of tea choice at all time and wanting to try all the teas and all the shops and all the flavours and find the perfect this and the perfect that. This is what happens when you stop using a site for 8 months. In recent times I’ve rather thrown myself at embroidery and am more likely to be spending money on stitching supplies. (So many designs! So little time!)
Anyway, this tea is very minty when you smell it. So minty, you’d think there was mint in it, but there isn’t. There’s a great deal of camphor-y notes to it as well.
It’s slightly astringent when drinking it, especially as it cools down a bit, but not nearly so much as to bother those who don’t care for astringency, I don’t think. I mean, we’re not on an Indian teas level of astringency here. But a touch of it, yes. There’s a cinnamon-like aftertaste as mentioned in the description of it, but for me it’s primarily quite malty and dark tasting. It’s very nice.
Long time, no see.
I haven’t been around here for… 8 months or so, judging by the date stamp of my last post. So why the absence? Well, to be entirely frank with you, forum wank. At the time when I stopped coming here there had been a number of petty little arguments and other rounds of controversy on the board, one following the other. I got fed up and lost interest. This period of time was significant because anything going further than a heated discussion has been very rare on this site indeed.
So time for a break and a break I’ve had. I’ve enjoyed it, but it seems my tea-interest has changed in the meantime. I’m not sure I’d say it has waned, but definitely changed. I still prefer a decent quality leaf and I still brew it loose in the pot, but I’m buying much less, keeping less in the house, and have also come to appreciate the simple convenience of the bag now and then. GASP SHOCK HORROR!!! I know, Steepsterites. But really, once you no longer feel the need to analyse and consider every sip, but would rather just have something warm and satisfying to drink, you tend to start leaning more towards convenience. Don’t worry, I haven’t sunk so low as reverting to Lipton’s Yellow Label or anything of that ilk. I primarily have herbal teas in bags, with the very occasional exception if it’s a decent brand and an interesting sounding flavour. Such as that Nutcracker Sweet from Celestial Seasonings that I remember many people around here being very fond off around Christmas. I’ve even started drinking way more coffee than before, due to this fantastic espresso pot for the hob that we bought in January and Husband buying a coffee grinder, so we can have coffee with ultra-freshly ground coffee. It’s fab!
I can’t really promise that I’ll come back to regularly visiting the site. Maybe I’ll have a peek in now and then. Interestingly, I seem to have gained a lot of new followers while I’ve been dormant. Not sure how that works, but then again, I’m here now so, hi! waves
So why am I back now? Well, Steepsterites, Husband and I have spent a lovely week in a rented summer house in the South of Denmark. Understand that this area of the country is culturally very much coffee country. This was reflected in the summer house which had not one but two coffee makers and a sufficient amount of coffee cups to serve twenty people. At least!
For tea drinkers? Bit of a waste-land, and the forced creativity that followed was what made me think of you lot.
The house had no kettle. Not an electric one, not one for the hob. No kettle whatsoever. Okay, we had a sauce pan.
The house had no teapot. None. Hm. There’s a ceramic bowl with a handle and a small spout.
The house had no mugs. Loads of coffee cups, though…. The lack of mugs was for me the most dire. Coffee cups are fine for coffee, but for tea they’re rather small. Local charity shop to the rescue, where we bought two mugs and donated them to the summer house when we went home.
So, Steepsterites. Go to your kitchen. Cuddle your kettle! Pet your pots! Hug your mug! These things are pure luxury!
Now, this tea I’m drinking. My long break from this site has caused me to lose some of the tasting routine that I had built up before. I can probably still taste more nuances than someone who has never tried analysing a tea flavour, but some things are no longer as clearly different from each other as they once were.
As a consequence, when I drink this tea, the first thing that comes to mind is simply ‘this is very nice’. And then I try and think about some details and I feel a bit lost. There’s a familiar note here, how did I usually describe that? Another note there, is it more grainy or malty? I think I’d describe this as a fairly malty and somewhat grainy tea. It has a good body and a long aftertaste, and now I just sound like I’m trying to write a wine label. I’m so not used to this.
In the end, though, it’s a highly satisfying Taiwanese tea, and with a name like this, how can you not love it?
So, what’s new with you lot?
“Ewwwww, that sounds disgusting… I must try it!”
That was pretty much my reaction when I first saw this and subsequently added it to my wishlist. Some of you may wonder why I find the idea of toffee popcorn so icky. It’s because in this country popcorn comes with salt on them. That’s it. Salt. Only salt and nothing but salt. Not butter, not food colourings, not sugar, not jam, not chocolate, not taco sauce, not mayonnaise, not chili, not beans, not nothing. And certainly no caramel or toffee of any sort. Salt. That’s it. Just. Salt. With salt on is coincidentally also the only way in which I am and will ever be prepared to eat popcorn. Anything else… I can’t imagine anything more icky.
So. I really don’t know what possessed me to get this. Probably the word ‘toffee’ overruled the rest of the name.
Anyway, it smells sweet and caramel-y while also smelling fairly salty. Can’t really smell popcorn apart from the salt, so I’m telling myself it’s salted caramel flavoured instead. That sounds far more appealing to me and in this context it smells rather nice indeed.
Flavourwise, I can detect a whiff of something that could possibly be popcorn, but it isn’t convincingly so. I can’t really find much in the way of toffee at all. It’s actually more like a nutty tea than anything else and it does also contain both almond and macademia nuts. This is also because the base is a blend of black tea and oolong, and oolong can be quite nutty in flavour sometimes all on its own.
It’s actually a pretty okay tea, although it seems I’m enjoying it mostly because it doesn’t taste like what it’s called at all. Peculiar thing, that.
In other news, happy new year Steepsterites. I hope you were all careful with your fireworks if you had any, minded your fingers and wore your safety glasses. We had a fair bit of it here as the neighbours put on a good show. We don’t usually buy it ourselves. Of course nothing can beat the view of fireworks we had from the balcony of the flat where I lived before we moved in together. That was in the middle of a large town and from the balcony we had views of nearby hills, so ideal watching conditions. The cats took proceedings relatively well. There was some cowering under the bed around midnight when the fireworks were at peak intensity but other than that they made a minimum of fuss.
More Christmas present tea. I have to say that I put this one on the list pretty much only for the benefit of Husband, who is a whisky enthusiast. A few days later (when it was too late to do anything about it) he mentioned that while he liked whisky, he wasn’t generally very interested in whisky-flavoured things. Oh. Well, plock.
Anyway, here it is. I have to say that I wasn’t expecting much from it myself. I don’t like whisky. I don’t like most kinds of alcohol really. I don’t like the way spirits feel in the throat and I can’t even smell a beer without making a face. I can drink wine, but usually only a glass or so. Seldomly two, and very very seldomly more than that. So a whisky flavoured tea? Naaaaaaaah.
I have, though, recently become keen on smelling his whisky when he has some. I can pick up some of the same sorts of nuances as in tea, although it requires a fair bit of concentration to sort of smell ‘through’ the alcohol. Over Christmas he and my father had one that smelled distinctly orange to me (as in the colour orange, rather than the fruit.) and another one which I thought smelled a bit like almonds.
This one smells really very nice, actually. It has cocoa kernels in it and carob, so there’s a strong cocoa-y note to it, but I’m also picking up a scent of whisky from it. Primarily because I know it’s supposed to be there, but it very clearly resembles some of the whisky that Husband prefers. Also vanilla, a bit, so the whisky this flavour is supposed to imitate was obviously stored in bourbon casks. THE THINGS YOU DISCOVER YOU KNOW SOMETIMES!!!!
From the flavour I’m getting a fair bit of cocoa again and a fairly oaky sort of note as well. Those are the two strongest notes for me. Underneath that a bit of vanilla and permeating everything is something which I imagine must come together as something whisky-ish.
However, Husband just came into my room and said that he didn’t think it smelled or tasted like whisky at all… The theory I’m working under now is that I can imagine whisky a lot easier in this because I’ve only got the smell of it to work with. I can’t believe he didn’t find it whisky-y, though! I really think it is!
Rather better than I was expecting, though. I find I quite like this. Probably wouldn’t buy it again, though, since Husband was a little luke-warm on it.
Here is some Christmas present tea. I put this on the list because, pear. Because, marzipan. Because, tartlet. Need I say more?
It smells jolly nice, although not particularly pear-y, marzipan-y or tartlet-y. At least not right at first. But jolly nice. If I concentrate and breathe the scent for a while, I can smell it all coming together in marzipan-y tartlet-y niceness and with some fruit that I can easily imagine could be pear. The more I’m breathing the scent, the closer I feel it comes to the target. Gosh, I want to bake a pear tart now! Those are so good with a bit of creme fraiche…
In the flavour, though… Not really. No amount of concentration really manages to bring it together for me. It’s jolly nice, it just doesn’t taste like I thought. Perhaps this is due to the mysterious addition of mango. The ingredients says it’s got mango in it. Why??? The only thing thing of the title that I feel I can taste with certainty is the marzipan of the title, although it feels more generically nutty than marzipan. Luckily I’m very keen on nut teas lately. Jolly nice.
This post is likely to be a bit… Part of my Christmas present from Husband was a box of handmade chocolates and they’re terribly distracting! I shall try to focus on the tea as well as possible. (The nifty thing about them is that he could tell the person in the shop which I don’t like and have a box completely without minty chocolate and without liqour-y ones.) I’ve nearly eaten all of them anyway, om nom nom nom! I bet I’m going to get mocked for how quickly they went, but seriously! You can’t just have one chocolate. It’s unpossible!
Anyway, tea! Husband, when prompted, suggested an oolong. I thought that sounded like a good idea, so I thought I’d have this one. One more thing to tidy out of the cupboard. Today I’ve had the Great Steepster Cupboard Tidy of 2014. My cupboard housekeeping has rather slipped lately. I tend to gather a few things for removal before doing anything about it, but this time it had just never got done so the pile of things to be removed only got larger. Plus all the things that I didn’t actually have anymore because I’d forgotten to remove them when I used them up. Or never added in the first place. And of course the pile of stuff that went in the compost because it was unlikely to get used up ever. Some of it was from last year’s tea calendar! Brought my cupboard down to pretty much half the amount of teas. But it’s tidy now, and everything in it is stuff we would conceivably drink.
Not doing well with this tea. It’s very good. It’s oolong-y and roasty and very supreme indeed. Not sure it’s particularly more supreme than their normal one (which was sold out at the time which is why I bought this one), but it’s pretty supreme to me.
Smells like bark and tastes toasty and a bit bread crust-y and I wonder what’s inside this chocate with a nut on it? Ooh nougat! Om nom nom nom nom!