23 Tasting Notes
I’d been on a hiatus from black teas for a while when drinking this for about a week straight. Long enough where I screwed up the steeping the first couple of days so much that my tasting notes would have been “cigarette ash w/ a hint of city dirt”. I made some adjustments, stumbled onto a good cheese pairing with it, and so luckily all of the shoe bottom associations were fleeting. Steeping too long seemed to be the biggest demon. I found 3 to 3.5 mins to be the sweet spot, going down to 2.5 would certainly work, and anything 4 or more gets pretty unpalatable for me. The temperature worked best between 205F and 212F.
Life is happier when the tea is steeped right. There isn’t any sweetness to the tea at all. The flavor has the fruitiness (minus the sweetness) of dried raisins with lots of seeds in them, tobacco, dried apple (minus the sweetness), and clove. The body is medium, actually a bit thinner than I expected.
Life is happiest when the tea was eaten with brie! In general, the right fats will balance the flavor of this tea (butter, egg yolk, bacon grease.) But this Assam also helped to transform the flavor of the cheese. All Bries have a tart flavor (the further from the rind you get) when they’re young. With better Bries this often means a well rounded citrusy flavor, but with lower quality ones it tends to be a less pleasant sour bite that doesn’t fade as much as it should with age. I happened to be eating a lower quality brie (T.J.‘s double creme Brie) and the tea was able to transform that sour bite into a smoother orange flavor. The bitter elements of the tannin and the cheese rind canceled each other out, leaving a nice mushroom flavor (from the rind.) In addition to the orange flavors created from the pairing, notes of bitter chocolate (along the lines of something that I would expect from a Keemun) and maltiness were uncovered.
I also tried a very simple cheddar, 3.5 yr Parmigianno Reggiano, and 3 yr Gouda with it. They didn’t interact with each other much (no positive or negative, flavors stayed individual rather than combing to make new ones) with the exception being that very close to the Gouda rind gave it a little bit of a caramel latte flavor, but the rest of the cheese was hardly effected by the pairing.
Overall a good quality tea that probably seems more complex (its medium, if there were to be a scale for such things) than it actually is from this review. It just took me so long to get right that I was paying closer attention to details and taking better notes, and possibly getting more caffeinated in the process!
Happy pairing, enjoy!
Night time, the snow stopped falling but its still chilly outside. I brewed up some Chamomile and Lavender and I’m feeling more relaxed all ready. Warmed from the inside. The combination has a mellow sweetness to it. I’ve never munched on hay before, but I imagine that if I were a cow, this is how a nice well kept fresh hay would make me feel. Flavors are mildly licorice, dark honey, musty. Less musty and bitter when the steeped at a lower temperature. At that point there is a really pleasant lemony flavor (I presume from the chamomile) and the licorice flavor becomes more of a fennel pollen flavor (still an anethole profile, but more floral, less earthy, still very light) Body is medium thin.
Steeped at 100C/212F a few nights and colder a whole bunch of nights. The cooler steep is definitely the way to go for me. For the colder steep I poured boiling water into my mug, with the empty (for life) steeping basket in there, and let it hang out a few minutes before filling the basket with herbals and pouring the water back to the boiling pot and then starting the steep. That is my long drawn out way of saying, I don’t know what temperature I brewed it at. Nor do I know the amount of flowers I used, unless you want to consider, 3"diameterX1.5"height of fluffy chamomile flowers w/ just enough lavender on top to cover the chamomile, an accurate measurement. I steep somewhere between 5 and 10 mins. Second steeping the same as the first, and very similar result in flavor. Just slightly milder.
Flavors: Lemon, Licorice, Musty
I love it! Very floral. Like a bouquet expanding in your palate, with some notes of honey and a touch of cardamon. Gentle with regard to tannin. The mouth feel is round and smooth, coating the tongue for a couple of seconds then washing away, leaving complex flavor lingering in your mouth for quite some time.
Tightly rolled leaves. Closer to the green end of the Oolong spectrum. Got 3 solid steeps out of it and one milder, prepared in more of a western style.(2min*195,3min*195,5min*200,a lot of time*205)
I eye up the amount of tea and water that I use, so no stats there, sorry.
Flavors: Cardamom, Floral, Honey