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Recent Tasting Notes
Picked this one up at the Tea Festival as a bottled drink, but I didn’t remember to save a photo of it so I can’t remember who the vendor was…
I got it because, obviously, I was excited about the black sesame and matcha pairing – something I’ve dreamed of for what feels like ages now. It was honestly pretty gross though. Not because of the combo of the tea flavours, but because there just wasn’t enough of either the black sesame or the matcha. What is tasted of the most was a watered down/weak match latte with a lot of unnecessary honey.
Maybe the most disappointing thing I sampled at the festival so, for that reason, perhaps good I don’t remember who the vendor was.
A few nights ago I went out to a sushi buffet with some coworkers and we got a few pots of tea for the table. Like is normal of any sushi restaurant, the tea served was Genmaicha. It wasn’t even necessarily nice quality Genmaicha (standard restaurant tea), but rarely does a tea hit as good as a large pot of Genmaicha when you’re two hours into all you can eat maki rolls. Mmm!
I went out to dinner with some coworkers earlier this week to a nice sushi restaurant. After a few courses and a couple of bottles of sake, we were wrapping up the meal and the server asked if we want any coffee as a bit of a digestif. Of course, though, we opted for a pot of tea instead. In typical sushi restaurant style, the only tea they offered was Genmaicha – served by the pot. Maybe it was the warm fuzzy glow of the sake or just the company we were with, but that pot of warm toasty genmaicha hit hard. Very delicious way to cap off the evening.
We were served a pot of this at one of the places we visited during our trip. I do love a good pot of Genmaicha, and the toasty golden notes really hit the spot. I would have preferred no matcha dusting, as it made for a more grassy infusion than a standard Genmaicha – but I also have to acknowledge that was almost certainly the point and I’m just in the minority for wanting my Genmaicha to be like 90% roasted rice and 10$ green tea.
Had this one a few nights ago to wind down after a long day of activities in the hot, uncomfortable sun. I’m realizing this week especially that I am just not built for outdoor activities. I like the comfort of my air conditioned apartment way, way too much.
This was really nice though! I’m not sure how to describe it other than it tasted like sage. Intensely like sage. That’s because it’s literally just dried sage leaves though; absolutely massive looking ones! Very aromatic and herbaceous, and honestly kind of soothing on the throat in a way I didn’t expect at all because my throat didn’t even feel sore prior to steeping this one up.
So, big thank you to my coworker Teri who brought this back for my the last time she was in Turkey visiting family!
This was the other bubble tea flavour I picked so that, if I didn’t enjoy the mint chocolate, I’d have something much more classic to fall back on. I love black sesame and had been craving something black sesame flavoured for a while so it definitely satisfied that long term craving and it was good with the creamy sort of sweet nuttiness that always tastes sort of just adjacent to peanut butter to me. However, it wasn’t quite as good as the other flavour. Truthfully, I felt like it could have been stronger and would have benefited from even more black sesame.
This past weekend I had a board game night with some friends and we ordered in bubble tea since one of the games we played was bubble tea themed. Truthfully, I think we would have ordered bubble tea regardless because it’s one of the shared interests that we all connected with initially – but the game was a good excuse.
This was the one “weird flavour” I ordered from the place to be a little more experimental/try something different. Not the mint chocolate is exactly a weird flavour, but it’s just less common for a bubble tea shop than, say, taro. I think what attracted me to it was in large part the fact it was this greenish blue kind of colour that seemed a little unusual, even for something mint flavoured. Also, I cannot for the life of myself remember the name of where we ordered from.
It was pretty good though! Definitely not the bubble tea for someone who dislikes mint as it was very minty and cooling – but balanced by a nice milk chocolate type of flavour and accented by the crushed chocolate wafers/oreo style cookies that were mixed in with the boba. If you’ve ever had the Dairy Queen Mint Chocolate Oreo blizzard it was a lot like that. I would definitely order it again.
This was the last tea from board game night, and unfortunately I’m not sure of the vendor. Coworker & boyfriend said they bought it in BC, but couldn’t remember the company either. It was in a small tarnished gold looking box/cube, with a label on the side kind of weaving an elaborate “story” for the tea about it being a Yunnan origin green tea, made from ancient 400 year old trees… I was skeptical.
The tea itself, I’m almost positive, was actually a sheng pu’erh. Visually, it looked much more like a maocha than green tea and steeped it tasted distinctly like young sheng. Green, bitter, and a little bit tangy fruity. It was actually pretty nice, but I didn’t have the heart to ask what they paid for it because I just had a gut feeling it was probably A LOT. I was very appreciative of them for sharing with me, though!
I wrote a tasting note about a week ago from a Nepalese Green tea that a coworker was gifted at the Toronto Tea Festival, from an unknown vendor, that she brought back to be shared with our team. This is the black tea counterpart from the same person…
I kind of liked this one, but it definitely doesn’t have much black tea characteristics to it at all. Like, it’s basically a black tea in the same way that a 1st Flush Darjeeling “is a black tea” – though I really think this was even more significantly less oxidized. I looked at the steeped leaves after having the mug and some of them just looked like straight up green tea. The flavour was crisp and very vegetal; like green bell peppers and artichokes. It had a hint of floral character to the undertone and a pleasant mild astringency. It lacked any perceivable sweetness.
This is something that a coworker who attended the Toronto Tea Festival this year brought back for me to try – she got it for free from a vendor, along with a different Nepalese black tea, but she didn’t catch the name of the vendor and the vendor’s name isn’t on the tea packaging either. In fact, there’s NOTHING on the packaging – just a green zip seal bag with a clear peek-a-boo style window…
It’s not a bad tasting green, as far as green teas go, but as I’m sure most of you may have gleaned it’s just not my thing. I really appreciate her thinking of me and bringing it in for me to try, though!
It’s pretty mellow, and the steeped tea smells quite smokey and of uncooked green beans, though steeped up the smoke taste is very, very light and the vegetal quality reminds me a little bit more of iceberg lettuce and shelled, raw peas. The finish is a touch mineral. I prefer this profile over a more grassy/marine tasting green tea but it’s still a little too vegetal for me.
So, Chinese/Lunar New Year recently passed and my landlord was kind enough to invite me over to share supper with her and her son on the first night – we had some really delicious dumplings, though despite her saying they were vegetarian I’m quite confidant there was some type of meat in them. I don’t think it was malicious, but more part of a language barrier…
(I ended up feeling pretty sick the weekend after, but I don’t know if that’s related or not)
While there, she served us some lemon verbena tea with the meal and the soothing citrus notes were actually really delicious with the cilantro mixed into the dumplings. For those wondering, I did eat them – I was morally conflicted, but since I didn’t know that they had meat in them for certain and I was a guest I felt like it would be really rude to refuse to eat. The thing that weirded me out about the tea, though, was that as delicious as it was it was served in a yixing pot. Like, I know I have some strange tea dedications for some of my yixing pots but I don’t know that I’ve actually seen or heard of anyone brewing herbal tea in yixing clay before? It kind of made me a little bit sad to see.
In other news I’m moving to a new apartment – one literally right across the street from the building that I’ve in now. However, more on that in a future tasting note.
A coworker of mine recently received a bunch of random tea samples from a family member; the sort that are the individual serving size vacuum sealed in those little red/blue/gold/whatever foil bags – she tried one of each and decided she didn’t like them, so they’ve now been passed off to me to give ’em a shot and see if I have any success…
The packaging is basically all in Chinese, except for a couple which have the word “Tie Kwan Yin” on them – but two of them do have pictures on the front, this one and a package that appears to maybe have a picture of burdock root!? The photo on this one is a bundle of asparagus – intriguing, right? Obviously I had to start with the cryptic asparagus tea – so I opened up the package and, well, it’s weird. It doesn’t really look like tea leaf at all, but it’s certainly got that very green kind of “generic herbal ingredient” look. I made it into one giant mug and shared that with everyone in the lab so we could all experience this cryptic asparagus tea; I think the leaf kind of looked like Jiaogulan (the kind that’s not rolled with glucose) but our resident plant expert said it had more of a asparagus stalk appearance.
Whatever the hell it was, it smelled very salty – like seaweed or, ironically, sea asparagus. I also thought that there was an aroma of like very, very dark chocolate; just that sort of dense and bitter cocoa type of thing but I have no explanation for why this weird “asparagus tea” was giving me chocolate vibes from the dry leaf.
Steeped up… Well, it was an experience. It tastes kind of like a Japanese green tea in that it’s got a lot of very saline marine/seaweed type of notes; really green and grassy too. Whatever chocolate I might have been experiencing in the dry aroma 100% was lost in the taste. I was not in any way a fan of this, which isn’t surprising given my strong aversion to Japanese green teas. Of all the people in the lab only one person liked it, and he got the rest of the mug all to himself because of that.
I am happy I tried it though, whatever “it” was. I really do love trying new things, and this was certainly a new experience. I’m excited to see what’s in the rest of the little mystery tea packages!!
Another Mystery Tuocha!
I was working under the assumption that all of these were different kinds of shou, but when I unwrapped this foil covered heart compressed tuocha I was surprised to see that I had selected some sheng! It was a pouring wet day, and the idea had actually been to steep up some shou to enjoy with a mandarin orange – sort of like a low budget/DIY “Chenpi” blend for the cold, wet weather – but not that I had unwrapped this sheng I felt like I’d committed to steeping it up…
Like I’ve experienced with most heart-style tuocha, the quality of this sheng is pretty average. It’s less so about the leaf being used in the tuocha than it is about the appearance of it when compressed. Which is fine; sometimes something kind of average without any off notes or qualities that really deserve to be fully focused on is exactly what you want – I was able to get a lot of work done over the course of an extended session because I was able to just happily sip away at my steeps without paying them close regard, and still have a lovely session.
I had a short Gongfu session of another of these “mystery tuochas” (see previous tasting note for an explanation) yesterday morning/afternoon before leaving work for the day – this one was in a yellow wrapper with green font and pressed into the sorta “standard” shape for a little tuocha. It was clearly blended with something, but like the previous one it was very challenging to figure out exactly what that something was…
Thankfully, I work in an office filled with really cool people – so I had one of my coworkers who speaks and reads Chinese try to translate the wrapper for me, and another who has a background as a horticulturist try to identify the ingredient that was blended into the shou. We’re pretty sure it was chrysanthemum – but osmanthus is also a possibility.
Whatever it was, it must have just been for visual because it really didn’t come through in the taste of the steeped infusions at all – which were just a strong, full bodied earthy note with a sweet undertone and finish. Pleasant, but not remarkable in anyway.
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFz2J6S0J0c
One of my coworkers gave me a bag of ripe pu’erh tuochas that she had been gifted by her mother in law (who is Chinese) – she said she’d never drink them, but knew that I really enjoyed ripe pu’erh so figured that maybe I’d have a use.
I’m into mystery tea – so now I have this bag at my desk at work, and whenever I’m in the mood for random pu’erh I can grab a tuocha from the bag and brew it up. I should probably add that all the tuochas in the bag are different. So, it’s not just a bag of a dozen or so of the same mystery tuocha. Each one is going to be a surprise!
This one definitely had something blended into it – you could visually see it compressed alongside the tea and then, after the tuocha had broken up following a couple steeps, it was more clear that the mystery thing was likely a type of flower. I’m no plant expert, but I happen to sit right next to one! Seriously, my desk mate is a horticulturist who specialized in functional herbs and flowers. So, after some taste testing of the next few infusions, and letting her poke around in the steeped leaf we determined that the mystery thing was more than likely osmanthus.
It was a pretty good pu’erh – I didn’t brew a ton of steeps because I also had work to do. However all were quite tasty; very sweet and a little floral on top of a rich, clean earthyness.
This past Monday on September 3rd I went to my first ever Tea Ceremony and the experience was unlike anything I’d ever done before. Usually in the past when I drink tea it is often rushed, it’s almost as if I am just drinking quickly for it’s benefits like helping with a sickness or warming me up if I’m cold. I think it was very eye opening to really take time and understand the process of making a pot of tea that is thoughtful. It was peaceful and a moment that involved patience. I tried multiple teas from Ancient Black tea to White tea. The Ancient Black Tree tea had the boldest flavor in my opinion and I immediately felt more energized after drinking it. It’s like it awakened me.
I love the fact that certain cultures use various teas to signify the coming of seasons. For example, Da Hong Pao is often used in tandem with the coming of Fal—just as the weather is starting to turn chilly. This tea will definitely warm you up on a cool Autumn morning.
We heated the water to just below the boiling point and allowed the tea to steep for 10 seconds, adding five seconds for each re-brew. The aroma was very potent and reminded me of flowers or wood. I didn’t actually care for the initial taste, I think because of the woodiness. The aftertaste, however, I found to be quite pleasant. The tea left a subtle salty-sweetness on the back of the throat that stayed for several minutes after drinking.
Flavors: Flowers, Salty, Smoke, Sweet, Wood
So, my mom came home and surprised me the other night with a bottle of Ginger Kombucha! However, it wasn’t labelled or anything so I’ve no idea where it’s from or even really how she got her hands on it. My guess would be that it’s a homebrew.
Regardless, it was VERY good. I’d say arguably the best kombucha I’ve tried yet. Though to be perfectly fair that’s not a huge competitive pool, but even still. It basically tasted like ginger beer. Not ginger ale, mind you – but really good ginger beer with maybe a bit more acidity/vinegar-y tang. I’m not usually a huge fan of ginger either, but damn…
I also used a bit of in an a Kombucha Coleslaw recipe I’d stumbled upon. It was very easy to do, and I have to say I actually really liked the overall flavour too. I mean, lately I’ve been a “slaw fan” in general but this just worked out really nicely and I felt like it brought an extra, special sort of quality to the dish – though obviously it wasn’t fizzy or anything.
Yummy! Wish I knew where this was from…
Received this as part of Liquid Proust’s intro to puerh thing. Seems to be a shou. It has a slightly sweet and smoky aroma. First steep has roasty notes and a lasting warming sensation. Even as the tea cools, this warming sensation builds in my chest. Slight astringency. Vegetal aftertaste that reminds me of green tea.
Sweet aroma in the second infusion with more astringency.
Flavor is smoothing out, but weakening by the third infusion. While taking a break from it I feel nicely relaxed, with that warmth still lingering in my chest and a slight, pleasant buzz settling over my body.
Resteeping again after a few hours, the taste is mellow and earthy.
Flavors: Roasted, Vegetal, Wet Earth
Received from a friend, unsure of the vendor, but in a silver package with a green border and the tea character on the front.
Large flat almost translucent leaves. Classic Tai Ping Hou Kui look.
One of the most unique looking teas I have brewed in my 100ml gaiwan. Enough leaves to cover the bottom and then some.
Flavors: Very light and sweet. Grassy with very mild vegetable notes. A long finish with a slight tart flavor. Very subtle tart flavor on the back end. There’s a mild woody note that is pleasant and the tea reminds me of green beans.
I dont know where I got this tea from. I cant seem to find any mention of this in an email receipt, and its in a plain black ziplock, so unfortunately I cant trace it. The grade was an FBOP which I am not used to as well.
Hints of honey, orange, citrus, rose, wood, nuts. But the predominant flavour is the sour astringent note that is present even when brewing at less than 75c. This leaves a drying in the mouth, which disappointed me a tad because I thought I had got my brewing of first flush Darjeeling down, but alas this tea didnt cut it.
I would like to find some good grade first flush this coming year, decent unbroken whole leaf to try as I do like good darjeeling. This wasnt quite it, and I have had some nice ones from Puttabong.
Flavors: Astringent, Honey, Nuts, Rose, Sour, Wood