55 Tasting Notes
Tea at Sea included a sample of this in my Black Friday order and I’m glad they did. I’ve not been wild about most Ceylon black teas I’ve tried, but this is a green, so I opened it with no preconceptions. The dry leaves are flat with no remarkable odor (or perhaps it’s that I’m a bit stuffy this morning). The wet leaves show a whole other character – verdant and bit lemony. Then I got to the sip and whoa! It’s all over citrus balanced with fresh green. To me this is really citrusy, seriously lemony not in a mouth puckering way, but bright, clean, and fresh. It has a long finish that stays on the tongue and those glands at the back of the mouth for a satisfyingly long time (it’s been half an hour and some breakfast since my last sip and I still feel it). I could not drink cup and after cup of this at one sitting, but I wouldn’t want to either. One bracing cup at a time is perfect.
Flavors: Citrus, Green, Lemon
Another Fortnum & Mason tea from our trip to England. This is a pretty tea with lovely dark brown leaves and an earthy and cocoa scent in the dry leaves. The monkey’s chocolate and malt come out more in the brewed tea, but they are not overwhelming, just nicely balanced. The rich flavor has no tannins. It’s not exactly a soft mouth feel, but it goes down easy. In short, it’s an exemplar of its type. Glad I brought home enough for many cups.
Flavors: Cocoa, Earth
The end of August saw me and my family on a 12-day trip to England and Ireland. I had to stop at a few tea shops, natch, including Fortnum & Mason in London, where I got this lovely 2nd flush darjeeling. I wanted to buy out the shop, but with budget and suitcase space in mind, I had to limit my selections. So glad I got this one though. The dry note is so floral and rich that I just want to keep sniffing it even without making the tea. The wet leaves are less floral, but still rich and chewy, more like wet wood (oak?). The taste has a surprising touch of honey and is overall warm and deep. I know that first flushes are a connoisseur’s delight – kind of the Beaujolais nouveau of the tea world – but this kind of flavor is why I lean more toward the second flush teas. I have enough of this to last me a little while, but if anyone is going to London, I recommend picking up a couple ounces of this.
Flavors: Floral, Honey, Oak, Wet Wood
Whew! It seems like forever since I posted a review. Time to get back in the saddle and the Oriental Beauty from Tea Ave seems like a good place to start. Tea Ave specializes in Taiwanese oolongs and this may be the best of their offerings. The leaf aroma is of fresh grass and the flavor over several steeps follows a perfect arc (I started at :30 and added :15 for each subsequent steep). The first smells rich and slightly sweet; the flavor is a bit watery but has a long finish and hits those glands at the back of the tongue. The second steep smells and tastes notably more honey-like, but with a slightly shorter finish. The third steep has a rich and soft mouth feel with more honey flavor up front and less in back. The flavor arc heads down after that, getting progressively drier on the tongue and less sweet. Tea Ave’s hype says that you can get up to ten steeps, but I found it pretty tapped out after six. Still, six steeps of lovely, sweet, lightly roasted oolong is nothing to sneeze at. I got this as a sample and I’ll definitely be ordering more.
Flavors: Freshly Cut Grass, Honey
I don’t have a lot to say about this tea except that it’s nicely balanced and extracts a lot of flavor in short steeps (15/25/35). The flavor was peachy sweet, but not too, balanced with just a bit of smoke. It was entertaining to watch the liquor go from reddish gold to dark, then darker orange.
Flavors: Peach, Smoke
I had high hopes for this tea that were not realized. The wet leaves were nice and earthy, redolent of warm spinach, and that first steep was pleasant, but clearly not developed. It woke up a bit more in the second steep, but still nothing to write home about. The mouth feel softened somewhat in the third steep, but there was still not much there. Either I underleafed or this is a very subtle oolong. Worth another try, but it didn’t do much for me. Hey, they can’t all be fabulous.
I didn’t know what to expect from this because I could have sworn that the dry leaves smelled a bit of rubber along with the floral. Each steep was pretty distinct. First had a mild astringency, soft mouth feel, and tasted a bit of almond husks. Second was soft and warming, but no nut or much of any other strong flavor. The nuttiness came back a very little bit in the third steep and there was an aroma of clean laundry. I was not blown away by the overall taste – it was not as nutty as I might have expected – but I have to say that the chachi was lovely after the second cup. I felt calm, full, and relaxed, and it made me sit up straight and smile.
Flavors: Almond, Lemon
In additon to tasty homework for my tea sommelier class, I’ve been tasting lots of other new teas, but have not had time to write them up. I’ll try to catch up over the next couple of days, starting with this absolutely delightful Taiwanese oolong that came as a sample from Tea Ave. Wow, what a brew! I only regret that it took me this long to try it. The first steep smelled nutty and spinachy, but the flavor was dry, a bit floral, and kind of citrusy. By the third (1 min) steep, it had really come into its own: rich, dry, still citrus, but also with honeysuckle. That citrus kept going and going and going until I lost track of how many steeps I’d done (I started at 30s and added 15s each steep). There were at least eight and it was not tapped out. Sample not enough – need more of this deliciousness.
Flavors: Honeysuckle, Nutty, Spinach
This seems like pretty quintessential Golden Monkey. It’s got the dry scent of clean forest floor with malt overtones. The wet leaves are even maltier, but the steep is more sweet than malt. Go figure. The monkey has always been a house fave and this one fits right in. Yum.
Flavors: Malt, Sweet
How lovely! This one made me sit up and smile. The dry nose caught my attention right away with its deep keeemun richness. The flavor has a firm base, with definite malt, but balanced with a lighter, slightly sweet topnote. Definitely a keeper.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Malt