185 Tasting Notes
So here we are my kindred spirits, another oolong to drink.
We’re somewhat new to oolongs over here, and nary a gaiwan to be found in this household! So, for better or for worse, we’re going to western style this tea. The western style thing is kind of a funny label, come to think of it. I’d consider us to be east of China. Gringo, it’s gringo brewing.
This oolong has a very fresh scent to it, like meadow flowers… it just smells fantastic. Like I want to put it in a bag and toss it in the dryer. Though, that’s probably a terrible waste of tea. Anyway, very floral, very pleasant smell.
Missy put this in the pot for about two minutes, and then pulled it out, and poured us some to drink. It really didn’t taste much like tea. It kind of tasted like a hot liquid that once met some tea at the bar, and hung around all night. It had a little bit of a tea flavor, reminiscent of tea, but it really wasn’t tea yet.
We dumped that pot. Let’s just pretend it was an extended leaf refreshing. Our leaves are now VERY refreshed.
Four minutes later, we decide it looks like it might be dark enough to try another pot. It’s now less khloros, and more a fluroescent green, looks like it has a little more life to it. Not quite the vibrant radioactive green of my genmaicha, but almost heading that way.
I have to say though, the flavor is still rather muted (and maybe this is just how this one goes). The tea itself is a very still, very calm flavor in the cup itself. Its transformed from that flavor of ‘hot water’, into something a bit more vegetal. The flavor of the tea has a freshness to it, and a subtle hint of that floral fragrance that you smell inside the bag. Underneath that, there’s a sweet honey note that creeps in, and then the flavor just fades away from you.
It also has a ninja-like astringency that I never quite felt before. It was like all of the moisture had been drained from my mouth before I ever really knew it was gone. I was still looking for footprints on my ceiling.
Anyway. I don’t think I’m a fan of this particular oolong, on this particular day. It could very easily be our gringo brewing, or our extended steep time, or something else completely. It’s likely that we’ll sort of hide this one in the back of the tea cabinet until we get a gaiwan to give it a more fair shot at life. But as it stands… eh… I don’t see us picking up more of this.
My first tea from Teavivre, a wonderful sample sent to me by Azzrian.
Let me say that off the bat, I’m very impressed with the quality of this tea. Opening up the sample, you get a good scent of the tea leaves themselves that is quite inviting. I opened it up to smell it, and then Missy had to go brew it up for us. She says it was so it didn’t go stale, but honestly I don’t think she could resist the aroma.
She tried something a teensy bit different with this tea, in that she brewed a first steeping in a 16 oz tumbler, and then a second steeping, and poured them into our larger pot. So consider this a review of steeping 1.5 ;)
The flavor packed into this tea is good and thick, almost mealy. I’ve thought of other teas as malty, but this truly and thoroughly blows all other maltiness, ever, away. It’s a very tasty, thick, sweet malt flavor that reminds me of a dark stout beer. Underneath that, there’s a honey-like flavor that comes out and is quite enjoyable. At the end, there’s a bit of a grainy flavor that comes out.
Its a very smooth tea, but it has a very thick mouth-feel to it. Again, I find myself likening this to the tea version of a good, dark, stout beer. It has that depth of malt flavor, and this thickness that almost makes your mouth want to chew by instinct alone. That “are we sure this is a liquid?” sense.
I think what’s interesting to me about this tea is that it’s very, very flavorful, but it doesn’t have that… aggressiveness I’m used to in black teas. It almost feels like a night time black tea, if that makes any sense whatsoever.
Definitely puts the bug in my ear to go try some more Teavivre teas, especially now that they’ve added samples to roughly all of their teas, from what I’m seeing.
Forgive the photograph of this tea (and the next like five teas I upload from Mad Hat). I am neither a skilled enough photographer, nor an experienced enough photoshopper to upload a picture that does any tea justice.
So we went and tried our local tea shop today, yay us! It was a good experience, they have a LOT of unique tea blends that they don’t reference on their website, so entering the store I think is really the way to go. The prices are reasonable, they’ll brew you a fair sized sample for $2.50, and with the exception of one minor fluke (what do you mean no one roasts green tea leaves, they only roast the sticks?), it was a very enjoyable experience.
So, the first tea why try from them is their Earl Grey de la Creme, which should be standard fare, but for some weird reason this is our first loose Grey buy since we’ve started on our whole loose leaf journey. Neither Missy nor I are exactly sure why. Oh well, rectified.
Opening the bag… wow. It is overly perfumey. Like, makes you take a step back. I’ve heard a lot of people say they don’t like Grey because it’s “floral”, but have never understood it before. Totally understand it from the smell of this bag. It smells like flowers and limes, which isn’t far from bergamot, but still…
Tally forth, we brew a pot, and it is extremely good. The floral scent is gone, and it’s just back to good old bergamot for me, with maybe just a hint of sour citrus that may be lime. I know lime and bergamot aren’t terribly far from each other, but this kind of distinctly tastes like lime. Well and truly after the bergamot, but still limey. They should cross breed those two and call it a blimey. I’d buy them.
Anyway. Towards the end of the lime tang, I start to pick up just a hint of vanilla. Really not overpowering at all, just subtle enough to tag on underneath the citrus notes and hang in for a little flavor.
The black tea itself is very, very smooth. I believe it’s assam, but it doesn’t quite have that… richness that I expect from assam. Maybe a weaker assam? Does that exist? At any rate, the bag doesn’t say, and I didn’t think to ask. All in all, a very positive blend.
I’d put the price at mid-range, a little higher than some other Grey’s I’ve seen, but for $9.50 for a four ounce bag, I’m definitely not going to complain. Plus it’s supporting a local business, blah blah sustainability, blah blah closed economy. Consider that the entirety of my Keynesian Economics understanding.
As an amusing side note, each of their teas has a pencil-drawing style picture of an animal, unique to each tea, with a little quote in French. This one happened to be “Ceci n’est pas un Colobus Monkey”. This evidently hearkens to a famous surrealist painting called ’The Treachery of Images". Our daughter, much more obsessed with France than surrealist French artists, asked about it.
Uhh… bonjour? Non. Adieu!
My Steepster Select box came today as well… man, I am just getting a ton of new tea to try!
In the bag, I wasn’t really sure what to think about this tea’s smell. It truly smelled like hay and fresh grass, and I was setting myself up for disappointment. I just can’t handle the teas that taste like I’m drinking hay. It’s just not right. I’m sure it’s healthy, but it’s not right.
Let me say that I was delightfully, pleasantly surprised by the flavor of this tea. The toasted-ness definitely brings out some malty, sweet notes from the green tea that makes it super enjoyable. It is truly transformed away from the green tea flavor into this sweet, nutty blend. I’d believe you if you told me this was some kind of toasted nut infusion, rather than a roasted green tea. Other than, you know, the green leaves that were obviously in the bag.
Almost as an afterthought, underneath all of that roasted goodness, you can begin to taste the green tea base. I’d be bluffing, at best, if I tried to say I could figure out what kind of green tea flavor it was, but I know that it doesn’t taste that much different than the aftertaste I get from my genmaicha.
Now, I’ve never had a houjicha before, having only recently learned what it was. I’m really curious how ‘different’ this may taste from those roasted green teas. Am I truly tasting something unique and remarkable from Mauna Kea, and therefore it deserves me paying $10/oz for more? From my current level of inexperience, it’s really hard to say. But this will definitely kick around in the back of my mind as I try other teas.
On that note, anyone have a houjicha they would recommend?
Another very generous sample from Azzrian. Thank you!
In a past log, I gave MarketSpice’s Seattle Spicy Chai a fairly favorable rating. It was really an eye-opening experience for me. One, simply due to the level of spicyness in that tea. Two, it was the first really spicy tea I had ever tried. I had a few masala chais before that had ginger and peppercorn in them, but never anything that really made me say WOW, SPICY! So it was very eye opening. It was almost like a punch in the face ;)
So I gave it a very high rating. Maybe it was naive, but it felt right at the time.
This blows it out of the water. Like fishing-with-dynamite kind of out of the water. The flavor on this tea is astounding. The cayenne pepper really takes a front seat in the class, puts its hand up and just starts BEGGING to be called on. Its fantastic. The chocolate notes follow shortly after, and are very malty and smooth, especially compared to other teas I’ve had with chocolate in them. The ginger and cardamom peek in just after that, and its all finished off by a soft spoken almond/cherry affair.
On a somewhat interesting personal note, my taste buds have always had issues with almond/cherry flavoring, they’re basically indistinguishable to me for some reason. This makes most things that are supposed to taste like almonds taste TERRIBLE, and most things that are supposed to taste like cherry be, well, fairly tame rather than overly fruity. This blend plays a similar trick, but the cherry-ness that I pick up (both scent and taste) work well with the other flavors, mainly the chocolate. Rounds out the whole experience quite well.
Another interesting trick… with the Seattle Spicy Chai… the peppercorn flavor really… you really get used to it fairly quick, and the spicy isn’t as spicy once you get a few sips into the cup. The cayenne, while maybe not as big of a shock to begin with, doesn’t lose any of it’s potency. It stays just as powerful all the way through (or at least through the eight or so ounces I’ve drank so far). Plus, because it’s more long-lasting than upfront, Missy enjoys it more. Bonus!
This is totally going to replace Seattle Spicy Chai as the spicy tea I keep in my cupboard. Thanks again for this sample Azz, it really is wonderful!
Genmaicha will always hold a place in my heart. It more or less kicked off my journey into loose leaf tea. A box of Serendipitea’s Genmaicha was left in my cupboard from when a friend of mine had rented a room for a bit, and out of curiousity more than anything, our loose leaf tea journey was born.
For such a simple blend, it is truly an amazing flavor combination. The earthiness of the toasted rice, with that rich, roasted flavor that just fills up inside of you. Unlike any other tea I’ve ever drank, this tea makes me feel comforted and soothed. I think that’s part of the reason Missy chose to brew this genmaicha tonight… it was comfort tea, to wash away the horrible memories of the icewine.
The green tea in this particular blend is a little vegetal, probably more than I’d typically be okay with. But for some reason, it seems to fit in this tea. It probably has more to do with the ‘green’ coming in after the somewhat ‘brown’ taste of the rice, the green is more of a second string than a first seat. The toasty-ness is really the star of the flavor profile.
It also has a fairly charming color to it, as it develops into this translucent green that almost glows, like you’ve stumbled across the key to life… itself!
At some point in time I’d like to try someone else’s variant of genmaicha, but I really do enjoy Serendipitea’s. It doesn’t hurt that I can get it from Amazon for a ridiculously cheap amount, and it’s at my door in two days (Prime membership makes impulse buying far, far too easy). Though, we had just recently bought another 8 ounces before we had found the wonder that is Steepster, and the many other tea peddlers that are out there.