1010 Tasting Notes
Actually managed to get in a September sipdown, which I had given up on! (Sipdown September is now going to be Sipdown October, them’s the breaks, er, sprains). Counting this as a hardest-to-reach tea for ashmanra’s sipdown challenge since it’s in my bottom drawer and bending down is still a project.
I picked this up in my jumbo order from Deb and this is my first sipdown from that order. Not because it’s my favorite but actually because it’s one of my least favorite, so it was an easy one to lean into when I wanted a flavored hojicha but maybe not one that I’ll miss when it’s gone or one that I feel the need to focus on a lot. This is fine, but just fine, which is made the more noticeable in comparison to some of the other teas in the order (Orange Creamsicle Mousse, for example, is an absolute killer). Made as a latte per package recommendations, this is a roasty hojicha base with a sort of muddled, generic tart berry flavor and a creaminess that’s amped up by the addition of oat milk. Not bad by any means, just not my favorite Deb blend. The Hojicha Cinnamon Raisin Bread Pudding and Matcha Key Lime Pie are calling my name though…
ETA I notice now, looking at other people’s notes on this tea, that they were struck by the hibiscus in it. Which yes dear reader, if you don’t like hibiscus this probably won’t resonate with you. Since I do generally enjoy hibiscus, I’m less sensitive to its overuse, but I can absolutely see how its presence in this blend could read as too strong – and indeed is probably what my brain was reading as “generic tart berry.”
Day 22 of the Dammann Freres advent calendar. This doesn’t taste bad, per se, but the dry leaf definitely smells better (or at least more interesting) than the brewed tea tastes. The dry leaf smells very clearly of candy apple and maraschino cherry. I so wish that those flavors had translated more clearly into the brew itself! This uses the same black tea base as so many of the other flavored black teas in this advent calendar. It’s a bit dry, a bit malty, and rather reminds me of black bread. It also dominates the sip. The caramel apple and maraschino cherry flavors show up delicately, mostly at the end of the sip. I know that’s the thing with a lot of French teas, for the flavoring to be very delicate, but I find that frustrating when the base tea being used is the same one over and over again. Maybe if it was a base that I really loved, I’d be more open to it, but DF’s standard black tea base unfortunately just isn’t that.
So apparently the last time I wrote a note for this tea was ALSO celebrating the dashboard being back! This is practically a tradition now!
I’m in that halfway place now where I’m healing and somewhat mobile, but still should stay off my ankle so it can fully heal. Which I’m trying to be ok with – as much as I am eager to be able to do things for myself and around the home, I’m trying to be ok with not always being able to. So in that spirit, I’m still having my partner make most of my tea. DavidsTea’s salted caramel oolong has been in heavy rotation because it’s one of the few teabags we have at all and specifically one of the few that isn’t made with plastic, so there’s no need to fuss with tearing it open and putting it in a metal strainer. This is a solid sweater-weather tea: sweet, cozy, caffeinated but not in a keep-you-up-all-night way. Juuuust on the edge of possibly too sweet, but not quite there; it straddles that line very well.
Day 21 of the Dammann Freres advent calendar. An herbal, yay! I’m getting plenty of sweet, juicy, tart hibiscus and berry, but not any of the titular mint. Which is fine, it’s still tasty. And it’s good hot and cold. I added seltzer to the last bit of it and it made for a nice tea soda, so bonus points there.
Day 20 of the Dammann Freres advent calendar and it’s more bergamot! If you like bergamot, oh boy, is the Dammann Freres catalogue for you. I, alas, generally do not. I was happy to see another green tea, but the hopefulness that struck in me was significantly dampened by the strong aroma of bergamot as soon as I opened the packet. The bergamot definitely translates to the flavor, but thankfully there are also some other, pleasant notes: peach or apricot, and maybe a hint of cream or vanilla. But really that bergamot is overwhelming.
Wrote this up a couple of months ago but never posted it!
Day 19 of the Dammann Freres advent calendar. One nice thing about finishing this advent calendar so late is that I feel like a lot of these fruity teas are better suited for hot weather. This one, for example, begs to be tried iced, but I wouldn’t have done that in December. The dry leaf smells like fruit salad! Kiwi, apricot (or possibly the combo of mango and bergamot if experience with DF’s Bella Blanca is any guide), and something else I can’t place. Looking at the ingredients list, it’s kiwi, orange blossom, violet, bergamot, and peach. So my sense of smell clearly still isn’t 100% where it was before this latest bout of covid, and/or has trouble distinguishing between their yellow/orange stone fruit flavorings. Nonetheless, onwards to the tasting!
Mostly I taste kiwi, stone fruit, and bergamot. As it cools, the bergamot gets even stronger, which… why?! Either the bergamot is too heavy-handed or I’m really sensitive to it. I keep thinking the base tea is chun mee, but I don’t really know that or have any specific basis for believing it, just some little signal in my brain that keeps wanting to label it that – even though I haven’t had chun mee in years!
I sprained my ankle about ten days ago and haven’t been able to move around much. Which means that the task of making tea has fallen to my wonderful partner. It’s been lots of straight ginger tea and DavidsTea’s salted caramel oolong, because that’s what I have in safe, easily accessible teabag format. I should really get it together to make a separate tasting note for that one. But tonight I just couldn’t take the monotony anymore and hobbled into the kitchen to make myself a cup of this hojicha. (Not a slight to the other teas, it just gets a bit dull and frustrating to basically only have two tea options for over a week). This is one of my comfort teas – roasty, great at any temperature, and just an all around workhorse of a hojicha. There’s only a handful of teas that I keep perennially in stock; this is one of them, and I feel its absence if there’s a gap.
Day 18 of the Dammann Freres advent calendar. I was excited to see a white tea in here! This brews up a nice amber color. The dry leaf smells clearly of apricot, bergamot, and almond. The apricot and bergamot flavors are both pretty strong and balance each other nicely, though the overall impression is a touch more tart than I’d like. I think I’d be ok with it if it wasn’t also so drying; tart plus drying doesn’t leave the most delightful after-sensation. No idea where that almond went to!
I’m looking at the ingredients list now and it shows mango, not apricot. I had apricots for breakfast this morning (several hours ago), so that flavor is very fresh in my mind, and this still reads closer to apricot than mango for me. If I had to guess, I’d guess that my brain is reading the combination of the sweetness of the mango flavoring and the tartness of the bergamot flavoring as a tarter stone fruit.
I iced the second steep and had it a couple of days later. When I came back to this tasting note to add details from that steep before posting, I was surprised to see how consistent the experience was. That iced steep also had a tart stone fruit flavor. Not overly sweet, but definitely fruity. What did come through in the second steep that I didn’t find much in the first was a slight floral note.
Disappointingly, I didn’t get much from the base tea here, besides that drying sensation and light-to-medium body. To the blend’s credit, the base doesn’t clash with the flavorings, and perhaps is supporting them so seamlessly that I just can’t tell. But after so so many black tea blends, I was hoping for a white tea that would really wow me. This is tasty enough but I’m not floored, you know?
Day 17 of the Dammann Freres advent calendar and it’s yet. another. bergamot blend on the same. black. base. Even though I am generally not a fan of Earl Grey and was dreading this one, I actually found it pretty enjoyable today. THIS bergamot with THIS base, today, is working for me. Possibly because it also isn’t muddled with a bunch of other flavors, so I don’t feel resentful that the bergamot is stealing the show. Here, I can appreciate the balance between the bergamot and the base, and that the bergamot doesn’t have that weird chemical-y taste that it sometimes can.
ETA: Since it was late in the day, I had to stick half this mug in the fridge for the next day. Surprisingly, this is really good cold!
Day 16 of the Dammann Freres advent calendar. I’m afraid my notes on this one are a little sparse, unfortunately. Hot, the most prominent notes were cherry and cranberry. I couldn’t taste the lemon so much as feel an acidic citrus juiciness at the end of the sip. I quickly decided that this would be better iced and let it cool/stuck it in the fridge. But then I drank it during a busy workday and forgot to take notes! I remember enjoying it. I definitely thought it was better iced than hot. But nothing sticks out in my memory as to particular tasting notes, or thinking “wow this is really good,” or even “wow this is really bad.” It did the trick, it was kinda different than what I normally drink which made it fun, but it ultimately just wasn’t super memorable.