1353 Tasting Notes
I’m actually cooking today. Honest to Odin making real food for my evening meal and I don’t even have company. Stuff that requires the use of two skillets, a lid and the oven! (Chicken, mash and broccoli if anybody’s that curious) I’m normally pretty lazy in the kitchen so this is a big deal. A feast, even.
I figured a feast deserved a little aperitif, and why not tackle that with one of the Nothing But Tea samples? I couldn’t actually remember what all I had, but when I looked through the miscellaneous basket and came across this one, I remembered exactly why I had ordered it.
This is not leaf. This is ‘formed tea’, matcha turned into a sort of dough and then run through some sort of machinery to come up with these needle-like things. Normally, I haven’t actually joined the matcha band wagon. I don’t find the flavour of matcha all that different from regular sencha and it seems to me to be a pain in the rear to prepare and generate way more washing up than should be required for a cup of tea.
This though, was too interesting to not try, and you steep it just like you would regular leaf.
I smelled the… not leaves… Bits? Needles? Dry paste? Substance? I smelled the thingies before steeping. They had a very green, but a very dark aroma. It had some earthy notes that was a bit like a cross between a green oolong and a mild pu-erh. It didn’t really smell like just another regular green leaf at all, which was encouraging because I couldn’t help but wonder if I was turning my nose up at the trendy matcha only to turn to something even more pretentious.
I also wondered if the thingies would dissolve while steeping so I would have to sit here and stir like an idiot while drinking anyway. This appears to not be the case. The tea is a dark forest-y pine needle green, but there are tons of bits in the filter and the pot after draining, and they are still thingie shaped. At this point it has a very salted aroma and bizarrely remind me of popcorn. Apart from that it’s very like the dry …thingies.
I never really realise how slow I actually am at this, and now that I’ve just taken the first sip, dinner’s ready. So much for my little aperitif there.
I shall be brief with the rest then. It’s actually a fairly thin flavour this. That’s a bit of a disappointment considering how strong the aroma was. Flavour-wise, it’s not that terribly different from your average regular sencha. Bit darker in flavour and a bit earthier, but still not that much difference. And it even got a somewhat longer steep than intended because the potatoes chose the pouring moment to start boiling over.
It’s pleasant but nothing terribly special. We’ll see if the resteeps will prove any different.
Something flavoured and fruit I thought. So I looked through what I had and came up with the basket of non-tinny stuff. Been a while since I’ve been in that one. It also hold my 52teas stuff and remembering that I knew what to go for. 52teas is always good for a fruity fresh blend.
The green is shining through today and being sencha-y. The fruit is more of a sort of afterthought, and while normally I rather enjoy the very fruit-heavy blends, today this more fruit-discreet result is just the thing that hits the spot. What a lucky coincidence.
Wombatgirl sent me this one in our last swap and I’ve been sort of saving it a bit. The sample came in this nice little golden bag, see, which made me feel like it ought to be saved for some kind of celebrating occasion.
And now I’ve got one! NaNoWriMo progress: 50,277 words. Ten days to spare. 1½ scene to go and I’ll have a finished first draft as well. And thus I have bragged about that, and can go back to the tea.
I put the leaves straight into my little pot, so I forgot to smell the dry leaf first, but the aroma of the steeped brew is really nice. It’s got a heavy sort of bottom note to it with some semi-fruity spicy notes to it. I wonder if this is what people are talking about when they say figs and dates? I don’t eat (or like) either, so I wouldn’t really know. I do like that note in tea, though. (I was concentrating so hard on working out the aroma here, that I actually managed to accidentally dip my nose in it…) I’m picking up a hint of cocoa and a wee bit of smoke too, but I’m not sure if it’s contamination from the Tan Yang Te Ji (♥) that I had earlier.
No, that is definitely NOT contamination. The wee bit of smoke probably is, but not the cocoa. SO not the cocoa. There is a very distinct cocoa note here and there’s some caramel as well on the finish and the aftertaste.
It actually does remind me a little of the aforementioned Tan Yang. It’s not as aggressive and as heavy as the Tan Yang, it’s more like a Tan Yang Light, but it’s got several of the same key elements.
At the very beginning of the sip there is the cocoa and underneath that a body of the fruity-spicy note that formed most of the aroma as well, and then on the finish there’s a heavy caramel.
This is absolutely gorgeous, and I’m lucky because Wombatgirl actually sent me TWO samples of this one. I shall save the other one for a special occasion I think.
Let’s let Wombatgirl redeem herself with something a little more me-ish. And what better than A&D? With this one I have now tried every single A&D tea except Series 1. But that’s okay, because Series one didn’t have anything I was interested in anyway. I’m not particularly fond of Ceylons, don’t much care for Dragonwell, and have found the Nepals I’ve tried to be rather too Darjeeling-y. So this is the last of the ones that count for me.
The aroma of the dry leaves isn’t very strong, but it’s very nice. There’s spicy pepper-y very Yunnan note to it that makes me think I’m definitely not going to get disappointed by this one.
There’s something sweet in the aroma after steeping that I can’t quite pin down. (I saw that about everything, don’t I?) I’m leaning a little towards something semi-chocolateish. Maybe something to do with raisins as well. And that is of course all along with the spicy pepper that is typical for the region.
Aaaaah, this is good tea. Very typical Yunnan-ish to it, and actually, I’m shocked at how quickly I’ve come to recognise the typicalness of the type. It’s very Yunnan-ish, but there’s something else underneath. Something that tastes a bit like that note from before smelled. I really do think we’re leaning towards something to do with chocolate on that one, although I still can’t really pin it down.
But yes, this is much much much much much much much much much much much better.
I have to admit that I’m quite wary of this on. It’s so WAY out of my comfort zone you wouldn’t believe it! Maybe Wombatgirl is secretly trying to do me in…
We’re definitely in Tisaneland here. And even that seems a bit far fetched because there aren’t actually any leaves in here. Or flowers for that matter. Well, that’s not true, there are some few leafy things that look sort of like bits of grass. The rest is dried fruit. Dried fruit. I feel like I’m steeping up a health snack bar or something here.
The aroma of it has something in it that is extremely sharp. I don’t know what it is but it’s really really sharp, stabbing at the nostrils and very unpleasant to be honest.
As it’s poured it also takes on a certain specific red colour that all the members of the Anti Hibiscus League out there would be able to spot from a mile away. I’m hoping very much that it’s caused by beetroot here, though. Also, difficult to pour as the fruit bits kept wedging themselves into the spout.
After steeping that stabby sharp note is thankfully gone. It smells sweet and fruity. Like… warm juice. I’m not sure I really want warm juice… whimper
This is tart. But it’s not hibiscus-y tart, but still kind of tart. All I can really taste other than the tart note is apples, and really, apple juice? I prefer that cold thank you very much. I don’t think this blend was invented with me in mind.
I’m very sorry Wombatgirl but this just won’t go down on it’s own. I shall try the remainder of the sample that you sent me as additive to plain black, but as it is, I can’t drink this. My face keeps screwing up. Are you sure you’re not trying to poison me?
Having a mad craving for sweets and cake and desserts tonight, so I made up a cup of this one instead. On a whim I added some of the cacao tisane thingie that Wombatgirl sent me, thinking maybe it would give it some sort of chocolate covered strawberry sort of feel to it.
I can’t really recommend doing this, to be honest. I mean, it’s not bad as such. It’s just not what I was expecting to get. The cacao shells have completely overwhelmed the flavouring that was already there, so now it just tastes like any other plain chocolate flavoured tea. I think I gave it too much cacao shell.
Oh well, you win some, you lose some.
Look what I found!
Let’s revisit the story of this tea, shall we? I used to get this from Luka, the local shop where I live, but as I was pretty much the only person interested in smokies they took it off the shelf. When I was told this, they let me buy the lot of what they had left which turned out to be some 600g or so. I was then promised that when that ran out, if I wanted some more, I could just let them know and they would make sure to get something for me then next time they ordered from their supplier.I took most of it with me to work and drank it there for several months, and after I was done with it, I’ve never taken advantage of the offer to have them get me some more specially. I was sort of sated, you know? But then yesterday I found this little bit squirreled away in the lunch room cupboard at work, all lost and forgotten. So I took it home with me and have now made me a cup. There isn’t very much of it, only enough for one, maybe two, small pots after this one.
You know, I’m thinking when I’ve had this again (and when I’ve actually got some spending money again, can we has pay day soon?) maybe I will stop in at that shop and see if the offer still stands. It might be nice to have some of it back again.
It’s been so long since I’ve had it I’d pretty much forgotten all the details of it, but then the first sip was of something so extremely familiar (well it would have to be, wouldn’t it, having got through a whole pound!) that I just fell right back into it.
I’ve made it a bit strong this morning, but I’m probably steeping considerably shorter than I used to do when I had it last, so there should be more steeps in it than I remember. Plan is to keep going at this one for the better part of the day.
It’s turned into something oddly dual layered. There’s the pang of prickly lapsang smoke and underneath that the heartier blend of green and english breakfast with the sweeter notes of LS. The bottom layer is all thick and viscous and it feels like there might actually be milk in it, even though there isn’t.
I have to say I recall it being more evenly blended, but then again, who knows how long those leaves have been hiding at the back of that cupboard and I’m not brewing the exact same way anymore either.
This is the second steep as I had the first steep in my travel cup this morning.
Nine times out of ten the second steep of this tea turns nicely smoky. But this one isn’t. It’s not even close. Not even slurping the sip can bring out any smoke. What it is, however, is remarkably sweet.
There’s a sweet note in it surrounded by that cocoa-y spicy flavour. Sort of like if you take a Keemun, brew it just so and then strip away all the smokiness. It’s got that grainy note of rye and brown sugar.
I’m completely floored by this. It’s like the leaves just decided all on their own to skip the second steep identity all together and go straight to a later one.
And I can’t guarantee that making this pot didn’t also involve some dregs in the pot that had been there since early this morning because there wasn’t room for them in the travel cup. They ought to have been unbelievably bitter by now thirteen hours later. And as you can’t dilute your way out of a bitter tea… Why is there not even the tiniest slightest hint of astringency or bitterness in this cup?
I don’t understand a single microscopic speck of this, I just really don’t.
JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT THIS STUFF COULDN’T GET ANY MORE AWESOME! O.O
Tan Yang, the chameleon of teas.
This tea has been very carefully selected as one of the very most delicate sorts of tea I own, and I’ll tell you why.
Come time for cooking dinner, I discovered that I had no tap water. A little investigation told me that this was because it had been turned off so that they could fix a leaky pipe somewhere and that we should not expect to have running water again until 2.30 as the earliest. 2.30 was three hours gone by the time I discovered this, so who knew when there might be tap water again? So I waited a little while for the water to return while bemoaning the fact that I couldn’t cook dinner without water and that this fact made three times as hungry as I was to begin with. At least.
Then I realised that if I had to use the bathroom, I wouldn’t be able to wash my hands after. Then I decided to make a mad dash to the nearest grocery store for some bottled water rather than wait it out. You know, just in case.
Of course after having returned with my loot, the tap water has been turned on again (and it’s a lovely yellow too), but at least now I can do things without having to wait for all the yellowness to be gone.
Seeing as I actually had bottled water in the house now, I decided to see if I could tell any difference in tea making as opposed to my regular tap water. Hence making the most delicate tea I could find in my cupboard. I do have a plain Pai Mu Tan also, but that one’s getting rather on in age, so I figured a fresher one would be a better test subject, even if it did have a ton of fruit in it.
And I only just now realised that I took the dream tea when I meant to take the temple tea. Oh well, they have the same base, so same difference in this instance.
So! Interesting experiment ahead! Can I make out a difference between my tap water and this bottled stuff that cost money and didn’t come out of the faucet for next-to-free?