1018 Tasting Notes
I’ve been steeping the same bunch of leaves for over a day now, and they are still bursting with flavour at the 2 min steep mark. I’m in the good tea place.
So glad I reordered more; I was starting to forget how obsessed I was/am with it. It’s also neat to note a slight difference in harvests. My new packet is from this year’s harvest, and, for the moment, it’s coming across as less buttery but more potent (fresh?) and creamy. This may also be accounted for in an adjustment of steeping parameters though (steeping it at 85C instead of 90C).
Steep Count: +8
(2017 spring harvest)
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Rice
A year ago on this day I was in Agra experiencing amazing things (Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, omg food, ALL the birds) and the less than amazing things (the fallout from the great rupee note recall, peaked emotions in our group after the American election, that scary alpha male langur who was a living embodiment of Two-Face).
I probably wouldn’t have made a note of that if it weren’t for this rose tea evoking all the rose lassis, desserts and syrups I managed to consume on that trip (I also drank it alongside butter chicken, but that’s irrelevant, I swear). Me and rose-flavoured things have a deep, unshakable bond that often drag me down memory lane, to all the other “roses” I’ve ever met in my life. A lot of those “roses” are no longer here – our dormant yellow rose bushes, my Grandmother’s old bedroom (doesn’t everyone’s Grandmother have something rosy scented?), Butiki’s Champagne & Rose Cream, etc.
Rose is a special scent and flavour. Some people abhor it, or find it overwhelming, but I’ve always embraced it. It’s also one of the very few floral notes I can pick out in a lineup, and I’m very proud of that fact (yay for distinctiveness and familiarity).
What I’m trying to say is that this tea and I have history, even though we have never met. We also have a long future ahead, although the tea doesn’t know it yet. Thank you, Daylon R Thomas, for pointing this one out to me and “reconnecting” us.
Um… a more short and serious tea-centric note, with a rating, will come in the future.
Also, here’s one of the fantastic birds of Agra.
Steep Count: 4
(2017 summer harvest)
Flavors: Cream, Rose
Once upon a time I drank a green-ish Darjeeling. The first cup was very sour, near unpalatable to me, reminiscent of my first time trying wine (didn’t like it). Second cup mellowed out into a floral-sweet muscatel brew, which dazzled my tongue with its complexities and “can’t exactly put my finger on what it reminds me of” notes.
Drinking the first cup of this reminds me of that epiphany of a second cup of Darjeeling. I haven’t had a good Darjeeling like that in a few years though, so I don’t know why I’m talking about that. This is just such a different tea. It makes me realize I haven’t gotten out of my tea comfort zone in a while. I wish I had more to play with and temper myself to!
Notes that remind me of my experiences with white tea: hay, sweet grass, honey, melon.
Notes that throw me off: plum (sweet and a little tart), a smooth, alcoholic-grain note like sake (anyone ever get the chance to try those limited-edition sake Kit Kats? It’s a little like that), lychee, and an undistinguished dusting of brown spice that tickles my throat (nutmeg? cinnamon?).
Steep Count: 4
(2016 spring harvest)
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Cinnamon, Floral, Hay, Honey, Lychee, Melon, Plums, Sake, Sweet, Warm Grass
I’m bumping the rating up on this one after I adjusted the parameters and got more than uncooked and unsweetened flower-nutmeg dough, with strong caramel scent.
This time around I actually get a little more of that “hard caramel candy” sweetness,spread through more cups. That sweetness adds more depth to the honeysuckle and jasmine milk-dough notes, and is lightly dusted in nutmeg and almonds slivers. It’s an odd mixture of flavours but it’s interesting enough to keep me steeping!
Steep Count: 4
(2016 winter harvest)
Flavors: Almond, Butter, Caramel, Floral, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Milk, Nutmeg
I second Sil’s assessment that this is reminiscent of Butiki’s Flowery Pineapple Oolong. The pineapple flavouring is so ripe and juicy-sweet. I suspect that the Zomba Steamed Green Tea base and the peach flavouring attribute to the well-rounded quality of the pineapple flavour. The cup leaves lingering notes that vividly evoke the stringy and citrusy sensations of biting into a good piece of pineapple. I don’t really taste the peach, except as olfactory and aftertaste factors, but it’s a lovely addition.
This was a delicious warm-weather tea and it will be missed (along with the aforementioned weather)!
Flavors: Citrus, Peach, Pineapple, Pleasantly Sour
This is a lovely tea sample The Teaguy sent me ages ago, and I’ve come rely on it every time I feel a little under the weather. Strawberry, spearmint, and nettle makes a fine balance of tasty, clean and “medicinal” (placebo effects galore!).
My family members have also taken to drinking it when they feel blah. It’s that catching.
Unfortunately, the trend of me being drawn to this herbal tisane while ill has also discouraged the writing of tea notes. I will try better in the future, tea friends.
Thanks again, Teaguy, for sending me this winner!
Flavors: Medicinal, Spearmint, Strawberry
While the Christmas theme, coupled with the IKEA association (lignonberries), makes me view this tea more favourably, I’d enjoy it more if it had a more exciting green base. The wintery fruit flavours are tasty, and like something that aforementioned company would be proud to sell.
…But Chinese sencha is the bane of my flavoured green tea-filled existence, and my feelings are torn (when my “non-tea” friends claim they hate green tea I swear they are getting some of their biases from an oversteeped batch of generic straight Chinese Sencha).
Edit: To clarify, the recommended steeping parameters fit this tea perfectly and there is no bitterness- just lots of veggies. The parenthesis is more a reflection towards my experiences with Chinese Sencha in general, which have made me a tad jaded and not just a little bitter in person.
Flavors: Berries, Pear, Vegetal
I’m lost when it comes to steeping green oolong. There are so many different methods and parameters (western, traditional, and hybrid) spread across companies for similar to exact same types of oolong, that I don’t know where to begin. I’ve steeped this type of oolong at near boiling for 1min with pretty awesome results, and I’ve also done the same temp and amount for 20s for an equally fine cup. Most commonly, I see a 3min steep at about 90C, which is a coin’s toss for how it works out for me.
Life is hard.
Anyways, Camellia Sinensis recommends a rinse, and then a 4-5min steep at 95C. That never worked for me; I found it made the cup overly vegetal, on the verge of being sour.
For my very last serving I decided to follow a 20s steep time, with a touch and go, 1min range increase after the third steep, and this solved the aforementioned problems I had with this tea. I found that the liquidized floral-sweet qualities and the milk-nut notes of the cup were given more room to breath and take on a silky texture. The marine note I noticed the first few times all but disappeared.
Too bad I hadn’t steeped it like that from the beginning! It makes that that $12/50g tempting, indeed.
Steep Count: 4
Flavors: Dandelion, Flowers, Honey, Honeysuckle, Milk, Nuts
This was the second lovely sample I received from Mandala. I was a little sulky when, a couple days after I placed my order, they added this as a tea (that description)! I would’ve ordered it instead of the random puerh I ended up going with (edit: looking for Special Dark replacements- Noble Mark is still around and Noble Dark doesn’t exist… yet).
First and second steeps exceed expectations, with a creamy and silky profile and a touch of high grade dark chocolate (traces of earth, nuts, berries). Mandala description says later steepings have notes of brown sugar but I get hints of that now. The aftertaste reminds me slightly of dark chocolate covered acai/blueberry jellies. These flavours mellow out as it cools, becoming simply milky with an earthy dark chocolate finish.
Third steep was equally perfect.
Fourth steep was ditto (this was from last night so I may have been half asleep and missed the development).
Steep Count: 4 + a rinse
Flavors: Berries, Brown Sugar, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Milk
Four Season oolongs and ginseng will never be my favourite things, but this is still a nice tea to pull out when I want something green, clean, and vegetal. I’m placing it into the “when I’m sick” category.
If there is anything interesting going on with the base oolong I’m not picking it up. The ginseng is the Boss here.
Steep Count: 4
Flavors: Apple, Cucumber, Earth, Fruity, Menthol, Mineral, Vegetal