32 Tasting Notes
I’m new to drinking tea, I’ll readily admit it. When I open my tea and smell it, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be looking for in terms of scents. My nose knows two settings: Good Smell and Bad Smell.
Even so, I was quickly able to tell that this tea is definitely lacking.
“What do you smell?” I asked my boyfriend, who knows even less about teas than I do. “Because I can swear that’s chocolate at the very bottom. Maybe nuts? It’s kinda bland smelling.”
“I don’t think my nose is any better than yours,” he told me. “It just smells kind of run-of-the-mill tea to me. Maybe a little chocolate but it’s faint.”
“Faint” is definitely the word I’d use. Everything about the smell was faint. Even so, I started to steep it.
Aaaand there was not a lot going on. The instructions said to steep a tsp for two minutes at boiling for 6-8oz. (They didn’t say much else, mind you.) The water wasn’t boiling (but close), but I steeped it 3 minutes. I stuck my nose into the mug, but it smelled even fainter now. Maybe straw? If I smelled really hard, I could almost get the scent of chocolate again. I’m fairly sure I was imagining it, though.
It tasted liked it smelled. I could almost smell the malt prior to steeping the tea, but I wasn’t tasting it at all. It was pleasant enough, but nondescript. I didn’t taste any of the subtlety that people cite when talking about oolong. It was just kind of… there. There was almost an aftertaste to it that seemed like it could have been pleasant, but it was faint.
I thought I might have under-brewed it, so I put the tea ball in for another minute before continuing to drink. It certainly tasted stronger, but now it tasted overwhelmingly like straw. Too much brewing?
I had to chuck the whole thing out. I tried brewing the next cup similarly to the first cup, only at four and a half minutes, but all I tasted was water with a hint of tea. Not one for multiple brews, then.
On tossing the contents of the tea ball, I noticed the leaves smelt of damp cardboard. Ugh. Maybe they sell musty tea.
Maybe I’m doing it wrong. And if I am, please correct me. I want to learn! But for me, this tea rates as a mindless drink. Pleasant, but shallow. Alternatively, a good oolong to mix with other teas!
PS – To make sure my and my boyfriend’s noses don’t actually suck at picking up subtlety, I rummaged around the cupboard to sniff our Rishi Chocolate Chai. We could definitely pick up a lot of scents. Sure, we could just suck at picking it up in plain teas, but we don’t have any plain tea to test that theory, apart from the Heavenly Tea Leaves oolong sampler. Mystery for another time.
I’m a fan of citrus teas, but as a general rule I have to admit I don’t like fruity teas. Despite this, when my sister offered me a bag – the box proper is hers – I accepted.
“It has hibiscus and rose hips,” she told me, waving the bag tantalizingly in front of my face. I generally love these in tea, so I went for it.
Now, before I talk about my reaction, let me note that until very, very recently I was not really aware that there was a “right” way to make tea. While the concept of tea being good for more than one brewing registered dimly in the back of my head, I was somehow able to ignore the concept of overdoing it.
So, I had let the tea brew for about five minutes before trying it. I already didn’t like it – too sickly sweet/tart for my taste. I like citrus teas, as I said, but this tea was tart in a way that I just didn’t find appealing. I admit that after the first few sips I pretty much left the tea on the table and went to do something else. And then, when I came back an hour later, it was even worse. Cold, of course, and overbrewed because I’d stupidly left bag in the mug. It tasted like a particularly unripened mango that was somehow too sweet at the same time. (I had not added sugar – I never do)
At any rate, I choked down the rest and told my sister the next day not to worry about me stealing her tea. I just really disliked it. Since I did it incorrectly, I’ll likely give the tea a second chance at some point down the line. However, considering how much I disliked it even when it was freshly done, I’m not holding my breath on changing my mind.
It’ll be a while before I get back to it.
PS – this tea is STRONG, did I mention that?