1994 Tasting Notes
Wow, what a shade of pink! Or maybe magenta or maybe melon — not sure exactly what to call it, but it looks more like fruit juice than anything else.
The blend has a strong pungent hibiscusy smell in the packet. Steeped, it retains some of the pungency but also acquires a sweetness, and an exotic guava smell with an undercurrent of berry. This is pretty much exactly how it tastes, too.
I don’t think I have any other guavas, currently, and this is a really nice one.
Flavors: Berry, Guava, Hibiscus
What a strange little blend. I can’t decide whether I think it’s really blueberry muffin or something else. Just when I’m thinking it’s something else, I get a real wave of muffin.
To be clear, in the packet the blend has a tart and pungent smell that is nothing like blueberry muffins or even blueberries. Steeped, it smells quite like hot wine to me — but I think that’s the raisins. It’s possible that I got a large clump of raisins in my spoons tonight and this might not be the same with a different mix in the spoon. The liquor is a vibrant cranberry red. Really gorgeous color. I want a sweater this color.
The flavor, as I mentioned, is somewhat sneaky. At the beginning of the sip it has a winey flavor that doesn’t make me think of blueberries at all, but by the mid-sip and finish I’m getting muffin. Not so much blueberry muffin as muffin in general. It’s a pastry-like flavor, and as it settles in, a buttery, blueberry circles around and sneaks in.
It does live up to its name, which is pretty astonishing. I give it mega-points for that, tho on the whole, it’s a bit on the heavy side for me and I think it would mostly function as a dessert substitute in my world.
Flavors: Blueberry, Butter, Pastries, Raisins, Red Wine
The first thing I noticed about this one was the lavender. Little purple oblong buds in abundance in this tea. The scent in the tin is, remarkably, unlike many other Simpson & Vail flavored teas that have been packed together for shipping — this one has a distinctive smell that lives up to its name. Definitely nectar.
The steeped tea also has this smell. Nectar, floral. Yep. It’s got a definitely lavender scent which carries over into the taste. So three for three! It’s a clear, medium orange-brown in color. The base is surprisingly supportive of this tea without being distracting.
It’s one of the better S&V flavored teas I’ve had. I find this surprising as I didn’t expect to like it at all.
Flavors: Lavender, Nectar
I’m running out of straight black (or unflavored black blends) to try! This is somewhat disturbing, because I thought that the majority of my tea collection was black unflavored tea and I can’t figure out whether the majority is oolong at this point or flavored black tea. I’m not motivated to count the teas in my cupboard. Too much to do today.
This one is really hitting the spot today. The smell coming out of the bag after cracking it open is chocolatey and tree-like. Chocolate covered tree?
The steeped tea has a baked goods, bready aroma that turns into a dark fruity one. I’m smelling blackberries here. The smokiness that keemuns often have here smells to me like toastiness instead. There’s a depth to the aroma that is pleasing, though it’s not what I’d call malty. The tea is clear, and lighter in color than I expected — a sort of amber, or light honey color.
The smoke comes out in the flavor, though it’s not overpowering and certainly not enough to be lapsang-like. It’s a smooth tea, medium-light bodied, and with a sweetness to the sip that is honey-like. It doesn’t taste winey to me; more like toasty bread with a hint of berry.
Very nice indeed. I’m glad to support a (sort of local) company like Silk Road.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Blackberry, Chocolate, Honey, Toast
I think I’ve mentioned that my latest tea-drinking pattern is that I drink only green tea and fruit blends or herbals during the week and black and other teas on weekends and holidays.
There are some variations. For example, last week I found an empty storage tin, so went into my stash to find a tea in a bag to transfer to it. That one happened to be the coconut white from Teafrog, but the tin wasn’t big enough to hold all the tea. So I decided to drink up the excess — I am alternating green tea and white tea at work until the excess is gone (unless I decide to cold brew it, which is also a possibility).
I’ve also mentioned my logic for how I select the next cold brew experiment (I find the lowest rated tea in my cupboard that I have enough of to cold brew, and if it seems like it would work as a cold brew, into the fridge it goes).
I’m not sure I’ve mentioned that there is a micro-pattern to my weekend black tea drinking. This is likely interesting only to me, but I’m recording it here for posterity.
I start with an unflavored black, sometimes one I haven’t tried before, sometimes one I have. After that, I move to a flavored black that I haven’t tried yet. Today, that’s this tea.
The third cup is a flavored black that I’ve had before, and is in active sipdown mode. The fourth is a lapsang, which has its own separate project going on (project Lapsang sipdown).
Today I recorded things a bit out of order. This is my second tea, but my third note. I have the Violet in steeping at the moment, though I recorded it as a sipdown first because I didn’t have a lot more to say about it.
That’s the method to my current madness. It’s making a dent, I think, particularly in the lapsangs.
Now, for this tea. The dry leaf smells like the melange of Simpson teas that shared their essential oils through the paper packing bags they came in, so there’s not a lot of interest there.
Steeped, the aroma is of — plum! Maybe tending a bit toward the prune-like. It’s a dark flavor for the synesthetes out there, a bit darker than I associate with plum which is why I’m going toward prune.
Now that I have prune in my head, it’s hard to get it out and that’s pretty much what I’m tasting as well. But it’s not a scary prune. Scary prune is shriveled and dry. This is juicy prune. If you’ve ever eaten prunes out of a package, you know when you get that one that’s really soft and juicy and reminds you of the plum from whence it came? It’s like that.
The tea is dark, reddish brown, and clear.
I am not sure I’d buy this again, but it’s a fun change.
Flavors: Dried Fruit, Plum
Sipdown no. 55 of 2018 (no. 411 total).
This did grow on me some, though I still find it a tad soapy and I prefer the Kusmi overall. So I’m bumping the rating.
I had considered trying this cold, but ultimately decided against that. I figured the cold wouldn’t help the tendency toward soapy/lotiony. Part of me feared it would create suds.
I found a never-before-opened tin of this that I somehow I missed logging in my cupboard.
I am adding Darjeelings to the list of teas I’m puzzled to have so many of. Like Lapsang, Chai and white tea, I honestly don’t think I need more than a couple of Darjeelings — perhaps one or two first flushes and one or two second flushes. I like it fine; I definitely like it better than most white teas (because I don’t get much flavor out of most white teas) and I probably like it better than Lapsang or at least I find it to have more versatile drinkability. It’s easier to drink than Chai, because it’s a straight steep rather than a recipe, and I have to be in the mood for Chai so there’s that.
But though I like it, it’s not my favorite black tea. I prefer Chinese black teas. or at least blends with them in it. So how did I end up with a gazillion Darjeelings?
OK, that was rhetorical. I know how I ended up with them. I bought them during the impulse-driven acquisitional phase that I’m still sipping down. I thought I was making some headway there until I found another tin I had to add into the cupboard. Ugh.
Sorry I’m being so loquacious this morning. I slept a really long time, comparatively, and still work up tired. I’m in one of those periods where the shit just keeps piling up. There’s tax day coming, my scanner stopped working for no good reason last night, and yesterday I walked out of work to the parking lot to find a crack in my windshield. I’m expecting one more thing to break because breaking things usually come in 3s, I have found. I’m also expecting something else to go wildly wrong because I’ve had a spate of things go wrong other than the breaking things.
No wonder I slept a long time. I’m stressed.
Anyway, I love the color of this tea’s dry leaves. They’re greener than most and they smell earthy.
The tea’s aroma has a sweet note to it that I find both unusual and pleasant. I don’t think I would have identified pineapple, but I do smell something fruity (I too got plum), and also something a tad bready, like a soft roll. The liquor is light colored, almost a peachy color.
The flavor is pretty smooth, which I’ve come to expect from first flush Darjeelings. But it has some bitterness in the finish that I don’t love and though it doesn’t waterlog me, it’s not highly flavorful either. The flavor it does have isn’t bad, but it doesn’t bowl me over.
Sipdown no. 54 of 2018 (no. 410 total).
It was next in line, and now it is gone.
This wasn’t the most spectacular iced tea, but it was serviceable. I’m not changing the rating, though, because I try not to base ratings on my reactions to iced things, much less those that have been in my cupboard an unseasonably long time.
When I wrote about the green version of this a while back, I was surprised to find I hadn’t written a note on the black version. I know I’ve had this before, but somehow never wrote about it.
I intend to try this at different temperatures and steeping times given the variety others have used. Starting with boiling for 3:30.
In the tin, I smell cocoa and berries. In the steeped tea, I smell berries and vanilla bean.
The berries I smell are red, rather than black or blue, but as between strawberry and raspberry, I get a bit of a mash up. There’s a sweetness that is very strawberry like, but it’s almost like it’s at a distance, which is very raspberry like.
The tea is a clear, medium-dark amber. I wouldn’t describe it as smooth in the sip, but it doesn’t have a bite, either. The aftertaste is quite smooth, though, with a somewhat silky mouthfeel. It’s got a magical French thing going on with the flavors, which are very like the aroma with the added bonus that they integrate and balance seamlessly with the tea base, which has a depth that gives the tea a lot of character.
It’s got to be one of the best I’ve had from Mariage Freres, so it’s no surprise it’s their signature tea. It’s not the best tea I’ve ever had, but it’s awesome and something I’ll want to keep around.
Flavors: Cocoa, Raspberry, Strawberry, Vanilla