1353 Tasting Notes
Good afternoon Wrimos and other Steepsterites.
I’ve broken 8K this afternoon and have reached the point where I realise that my manuscript is nothing short of utter tripe.
Clearly this means it’s time for a change. Today and yesterday my writing teas have been dark and strong. Orange pu-erh yesterday, 1886 blend from Whittard of Chelsea today.
Maybe something light and bright might make a difference. So I took ten minutes to wash and clean my favourite pot (OMG all those yellow bits were actually white!) and turned to this sample I received recently from Nothing But Tea.
Sencha Sakura. It almost sounds sparkly bright and fresh and optimistic, doesn’t it? I haven’t had it yet, and I’m already planning to include a 100g bag with my next order.
It certainly has a ton of cheery cherry aroma. It smells a bit like cherry sweets or that sweet cherry sauce that it an invaluable part of the traditional danish christmas dessert. I can’t smell the sencha underneath at all, only the cheery cherries.
It’s the same thing after steeping. Cherries, cherries, cheery cherries everywhere. It reminds me rather of cherry flavoured winegums, only not as synthetic. Very very sweet though, and I still can’t pick up any of the sencha underneath.
Now I’m getting a little worried after all. What if it’s just cherries in the flavour as well and nothing of the sencha? That would be a shame. It is giving off some rather amazing hot cherry aromas sitting there in the cup more or less right underneath my nose though.
It’s a very christmas-y smell for me. Not because cherries as such are all that associated with christmas in anyway, but it’s just… I mentioned the traditional danish christmas dessert, right? Yeah, that’s what it smells like when I don’t have my nose that close to the cup.
I need not worry about the sencha. It has a strong sencha-y flavour and the cherry isn’t at all as overpowering in the flavour as it is in the aroma. It’s still very fruity though, but it’s not cherry with some tea flavour, it’s a very smoothly blended even balance between the two, and the flavours are perfectly interwoven with each other.
It is indeed a bright and cheery cherry thing. And yes. I shall put it on my shopping list for the next time I want to order something.
Very nice. Girly. But very nice.
On the upside, I think there’s a pretty good chance that I’ll have a finished first draft before I hit 50K. Of course then it needs rewriting, but still. Mind-boggling accomplishment.
November is finally upon us! Let procrastination writing commence!
And no, as a matter of fact, I am not currently procrastinating by writing this post. I am resting. The key to a succesful NaNo is to know your own limits and I know that my ability to concentrate is microscopic. So I write in 15 minute spurts. And that’s gone well enough throughout the day that I can already smell the first 5000 words, which I hope to reach before bedtime. And it’s only twenty past seven. HAH!
So I am resting. Gearing up for the last 15 minutes needed for my goal and taking the time to stay in the writing zone with a Steepster post.
I’ve been drinking this one through out the day and have just made yet another steep of the same leaves. I think it must be the fourth or fifth time or something today. These leaves are SO durable.
I really think I’ve become completely addicted to pu-erh with orange flavour. I loved this when first I had it, nommed my way through the first 100g purchase, nommed my way through the one Wombatgirl sent me (different brand though) and am now nomming my way through the second 100g purchase. Next time I suspect I’ll have to up the amount to a 250g purchase, because this is one of those flavours I really don’t see myself getting tired of.
It works so well when there’s something I’m working on throughout the day, like for example NaNoWriMo, because I don’t have to think while drinking it and I can steep again and again and again so I don’t have to consider things like water temperature or what to have next or anything. It’s also become my absolute favourite tea to have in the travel mug in the mornings when I go to work, which also accounts for some of the rapid nomming.
If you like pu-erh and if you like oranges, I strongly suggest you do yourself the favour of seeking out the combination, because in my opinion these flavours compliment each other so well.
At this point it’s become a stable tea for me, one that I’m very familiar with and know exactly what to expect from. But because the flavours are so well suited for each other and also very intense, it remains interesting to drink. As mentioned before, it’s not something that I can see myself getting bored with anytime soon.
Therefore I’m kicking the score all the way up to 100.
T – 5h 45min on NaNoWriMo starting. If there are any other wrimos out there, feel free to add me as buddy. I’m Angrboda there too, but if you use a different name there be sure to let me know who you are.
I’m on holiday this coming week, planned so that again this year I could get a midnight start. However due to some social circumstances I slept rather badly last night and woke up a lot, so I’m beginning to feel rather used at the moment.
Caffeine is required, and why not warm up for the writing month by writing a tea post.
I had a sample of this one before and on a whim, inspired by the Yunnan Auggy shared with me recently, decided to throw in a bag of it. I can see now why it stuck in my mind. 95 points, I gave the sample! That’s a lot of points. Now I just hope it’ll still live up to that score.
I’m struck by how floral the aroma is. Kind of rosy. Just flowers to begin with and then deeper down when taking a better sniff the pepper-y spicyness comes through. (My mouse just died. Again. Lovely.)
Very spicy on the first sip. I was slurping a lot and I got a mouthful of wet smoke and pepper out of it. Without slurping, it’s more spicy and pepper-y with a hint of smoke than actually smoky. There’s a hint of something sort of citrus-y too at the back of the mouth.
It’s a relatively strong cup of tea, and it certainly has a lot of flavour, but it’s not really all that complicated. I’m not sure I still think it’s with 95 points but with my mouse currently being dead as a dodo, I can’t do anything about the rating until I’ve rebooted the computer.
I do hope I’ll be able to hold on until midnight and get a good midnight start. I’m totally excited about NaNo starting.
(And the mouse is back! Ha! New score.)
I had nearly forgotten this one. It was only because I went to remove the orange pu-erh that Wombatgirl gave me (and which turned out to be my preferred morning travel cup tea) that I was reminded of this one. So now I’m using the other half of the sample, also sent to me by Wombatgirl, and can remove this from my cupboard as well.
(Actually I rather suspect my cupboard might need some general cleaning up because there are things in there I would swear have been gone for a long time… Must have a poke through the Basket O’ Samples soon and figure it out.)
I’m following instructions this time, and the instructed steeping time is 3-5 minutes. I did a cautious 3. Although it felt really weird to do it. 3 minutes is an eternity when you start at 1 minute by standard!
OW! I burned by bongue! Ow….!
The aroma at any rate is lovely. It’s got substance. A sweetish, somewhat heavy body of something like cocoa, and a spicy note floating on top which for me is enhancing the cocoa of the body.
After a reasonable cooling time, I’m trying again, and what I get is remarkably sweet. It’s not quite that thick honey note I found in an Assam that One Enchanted Time, nor is it really a strong kind of chocolate-y cocoa-y thing. But it is sweet.
It starts with a slightly wooden oaky note and then the sweetness comes. This sweetness that is so hard to pin down. More dark syrup than sugar. Slightly spicy and sweet at the same, almost biscuit-y. And finally a finish with a good flash of cinnamon. Yes, biscuits is a good comparison really.
This makes it sound like something that’s primarily a dessert tea, but this is not actually true. It’s got a strong flavour that makes it good for most any time of day.
I rather liked this one, and I would definitely recommend that others try it too.
My Nothing But Tea order arrived today. That was insanely fast! It’s only three days (from the UK to Denmark) since I actually placed the order and I wasn’t even beginning to expect arrival yet. This of course prompted me to pull up NBT’s contact form and send them some rather lengthy praise. :) Really, I’m more and more pleased with this company every time I shop there.
Inspired by the sencha that Auggy shared with me recently, I included some samples of their japanese green selection to my order. Two senchas, one flavoured sencha (sakura, of course), houjicha and kokeicha. The latter of which I find really really interesting sounding, but the Sencha Yamato won the ippy-dippy of which one to try first.
Definitely smells like a Sencha. It has that salty, grassy kind of aroma that is becoming more and more familiar to me. It’s quite mild on the intensity of the aroma though, and it has a note of something else that I can’t really place, but it’s definitely familiar. I even suspect it’s something I’ve eaten recently so now I’m searching my brain for what it could be. No result though. I’m sort of leaning vaguely towards unsalted peanuts, but that doesn’t really seem quite right either.
I accidentally steeped it a full minute because I wasn’t using my head at the time. I’d have used half that if I’d spared it some thought, but it’s too late now. It does have a fairly prominent nearly-bitter note now though that I know isn’t actually ideally supposed to be there. It gives it a certain stabby sharpness.
Underneath that however there’s a vegetable note, like asparagus and to a smaller degree broccoli.
Even with a double steeping time, I’m finding it quite nice, but not really as good as the one Auggy shared with me.
Good morning Steepsterites.
This tea was literally calling out to me this morning.
“Aaaang!” it said. “I feel sooo negleeected! Whyyy don’t you driiink me any mooore?”
Poor little Lapsang! Just sitting there in the tin being all lonely and unloved. :´(
I can’t have that, can I? So I made a cup, and I made it extra strength too.
The aroma is all smoke and campfire and coniferous trees. There’s a sweet, surprisingly fruity note underneath as well.
Oh yes. The initial mouthful of smoke. The finish of pure sugar (note that I haven’t actually added anything to the cup. I almost never use additives and when I do I say so). Not even the slightest hint of astringency or bitterness or anything in spite of the fact that I used about a third more leaf than I normally would have. It’s just remarkably smooth on the middle.
I’m coming quite close to deciding on this one for my Perfect Lapsang. TeaSpring do carry some awesome LS and they’re fun to try. But this is what I’ll come back to. It’s awesome, it can totally measure up to TeaSpring’s LSs in my book, and it’s somewhat more cheaper only having to travel from Copenhagen to me and not all the way from China. (Even if I do think it’s a little bit fun to get mail from China)
Oh my little nomsang souchong! Please forgive me for straying!
So I was feeling inspired by my own last post (how pretentious!) and I tried to remember how I had scored the other of my Assams, this one especially since it’s the one it’s the longest time since I’ve tried. So I thought I’d look it up. And then I thought I’d make a cup so I could post about while looking it up anyway.
And what I’ve got here is a raisin-y aroma with a very strong honey note.
Could it be?
Actually, no, at this point it’s mainly just the aroma. It’s actually too hot to drink yet, but I did get a sip and that was very heavy on the raisins.
That aroma though… Yesterday the heavy honey flavour didn’t come out until the last half of the cup, after it had cooled down some. So all hope is not lost.
Letting it cool a bit, I try again and am immediately disappointed by only watery raisins and just some spicy pricklyness. But then the aftertaste hit me. Honey. Whole bee hives of the stuff. At this point it’s only really there on the absolute finish and in the aftertaste, but it gives me some rather interesting expectations for the rest of the cup.
A little further down the cup again, and the honey note has expanded some. It’s not only on the aftertaste any more, it’s just sort of gradually taking over the flavour and afterwards it’s like someone coated the inside of my mouth with honey. It is, however, still not the super-strong honey that I found in AC Perchs’ FTGBOP yesterday afternoon, but it is actually getting close.
But I’m still not sure how exactly I got it to do this.
This is what I’m having at work, I think I’ve mentioned that before.
I’m sharing it with my boss and usually we take turns buying milk for it. I don’t usually take milk in tea, but while I rarely do it at home, I do think a little milk really suits a lot of Assams. But anyway, she was on vacation for the last week and a half so I’ve been all alone with the tea. Once I ran out of milk, I did buy a new half liter, but forgot to bring it, so I was just drinking it plain.
Lately I’ve found a lot of raisins in Assam. It’s funny really how I’m finally beginning to learn to spot those typical flavours. It’s taken me ages. I’d find them in each individual tea, but it’s only just in the last year or so that I’m learning to really associate a specific region with a specific flavour profile. It makes it so much easier to work out what to expect from a new one.
So anyway, raisins. And also some sweetness. Some would say malty sweetness, and to a certain degree I agree with that, but sometimes I think it’s more along the lines of honey.
The reason I’m posting about this one now is that yesterday at work I had an experience that was much like what I imagine it feels like to have succeeded in making Jackee Muntz go all caramel-y. The last half of the cup, cooled to just the right temperature was pure honey. It felt thick in the mouth even. An intense and dark honey with a little black tea around it.
It was UH-MAY-ZING!
And this is the reason why I’m giving the rating of this one a few more points.
I reckon this is a fairly good leaf grade. Obviously it’s not The Best Ever out there, but it’s not just an OP either. Funny that this, and not the FTGFOP should turn out to be something coming very very close to being My Perfect Assam. Even when I don’t get it to be so utterly honey-y.
I wish I knew what I’d done to achieve that though. I have some other good Assams in my possession at the moment and I’ll get through those first, but once they’re gone, I may very well just order some of this for at home as well as work.
Inspired by my tea-taste twin, I went and made me a cup of this also. And decupboarded. And whimpered heartbrokenly while doing so. Then I went and looked it up on TeaSpring’s site and with even more heartbreak determined that I simply can’t afford to keep myself in a steady supply of Hao Ya A. They have a ‘regular’ Keemun also, which is half the price of Hao Ya A, so I’ll have to try that one out and see if it even remotely measures up to this one. If it doesn’t, I’ll try and get the Keemun Superior or whatever it was called (Keemun Imperial?) from Nothing But Tea. I rather liked the sample I had of that one.
So yes, I’m drinking this cup with all the attention I can muster to get as much as possible out of the last leaves, while at the same time trying not to dilute it with my tears of Hao Ya A-less despair.
On the upside, I managed to make it just about perfect this time. It’s so smooth, almost viscous! And sweetness times lots. And rye. And grain. And caramel-y sweetness. And a bit of smoke, but not much this time actually.
It’s just… Yes.
Hao Ya Nom. That totally ought to be a leaf grade. Just saying.
Trying again. Cleaned the pot and everything and have had both a green and an oolong that didn’t go yunnan-y, so I’m feeling confident that it’ll go better this time.
Yes, I do indeed have a much better result now. It’s super-smoky on the nose and quite spicy. A little oaky but not much and there is a hint of rye. (I feel like I’m getting better at describing the aroma. It may not make that much sense to others but I know exactly what I mean). If I really flare out my nostrils and concentrate on it, I think I can pick up some underlying sweetness, but it’s very very slight)
Surprising touch of spice on the flavour. My initial sip involved a small black pepper association, which may or may not have been the smoky combined with the fact that it’s still a wee bit too hot to drink. It’s not there in the second sip, here it’s just smoke in surprising amounts. Really. Surprising.
Underneath that there is the rye-y slightly oaky body of it. It’s a little prickly and evasive. I had expected many things from this tea. I had not expected it to be shy. Come on out and play, Jackee… How can something so smoky be so shy, I don’t understand it!
As the tea cools the flavour appears to become more couragous as well, coming out more and becoming larger. I wouldn’t say it’s the heavy silkiness that others have described, so I’m not sure I’ve managed to find the elusive caramel. I wasn’t really expecting to either, I don’t typically have that kind of luck.
Of course I’m a little disappointed that I failed at caramel, but for what I actually got, it’s still rather nice. I’ll enjoy the rest of the leaves. And I shall give it another go. Yes. I won’t have to be annoyed at myself for not realising that A&D was unavailable to me before it was too late to try S2 (also have a sample of Thomas Sampson to try, also courtesy of Auggy )
ETA: What a minute, what was that? What the…? It’s not a lot, but at this point, halfway down the cup, there does seem to be a slight sweetness to it. It’s not a lot. It’s very very slight and it may be my imagination. But where did that come from all of a sudden?! That’s not fair when I’ve already posted!