Posts Tagged ‘Aroma’
Tea Company: Hampstead Tea (website)
Ingredients: Fairtrade black tea, natural oil of bergamot
Vendor Suggested Preparation: Use one sachet or level teaspoon of tea leaves per person. Brew with freshly boiled water and infuse for up to three minutes
This tea has possibly one of the most well-described packages I have ever seen. The single teabag package reads: “Hamstead Tea, London. Organic Fairtrade Earl Grey with aromatic bergamot. 1 staple-free teabag.”
Wow, that is quite a mouthful. I personally do not know anyone who buys teabags who is also concerned about saving some metal, but by the look of the string attached to the teabag, it makes me wonder why more teabag-producers do not follow this. It seems that Hamstead has implemented an easy way to do away with stables entirely. But how about the tea itself?!
The packaging recommends 3-5 minutes for steeping. The last earl grey that I tried oversteeped even with low steep times, so I boil some water and decide to go for the lower end here with 3 minutes of infusion. While I will admit that I am not big on bagged tea, this tea smells quite good, dry in the bag. A hint of orange provides a nice aroma. The steeping tea gives off a pleasant bergamot aroma. The first sip confirms that 3 minutes was a perfect amount of steeping, unless you prefer your tea stronger. For a bagged tea, this is pretty smooth, but it lacks a bit in the flavor profile. This is definitely a quality bagged tea. On my personal enjoyment scale, I would give it a 65/100.
You can purchase the Biodynamic, Organic and Fairtrade Earl Grey directly from the Hampstead Tea website.
Tea Company: Canton Tea Co. (website)
Ingredients: Pu-erh tea
Vendor Suggested Preparation: Use the gongfu style. A small teapot (or small amount of water) with 3-4 g of tea and hot water: 95°C (203°F) infused for just 20 secs. Reinfuse at least 6 times.
The chance to try this tea is something very special. Unfortunately, despite how special it was, I am not honestly sure which of Canton Tea Co’ Pu’erhs this tea is. “Canton Beeng Cha” is all that the label says, and from my limited knowledge of Chinese, I know that a “Beeng” or bing is a round cake of pu’erh. “Cha” is merely “tea.” That being said, I can be sure that this is a pu’erh!
I begin this session of tea by bringing some water to a boil, after which I rise my gaiwan, small pot, and teacup to preheat them. It is pretty amazing how much of a difference preheating ones teaware can make on the taste of the tea that follows. Next, I measure out about one teaspoon of this tea into my gaiwan. I typically use more than this for gong fu brewing (quick and multiple infusions), which is what the directions on the label seem to imply, but for now we will merely follow along. I perform a quick rinse of the leaves with hot water to “open” them.
The dry leaves have a very vegetal aroma, suggesting a raw pu’erh. Yet there is an underlying smokiness and clear, fresh smell to them as well. The first 20 second infusion is performed. The wet leaves smell more malty now, yet still slightly vegetal. Much to my surprise, the tea brews a very pale green. This is very interesting, and not at all what I was expecting. This first infusion carries a very thin flavor. It is clear and fresh, with a smooth, vegetal aftertaste. As per the instructions, I go ahead and resteep the leaves, figuring that it will be different in the second infusion.
Mmm, this tea really kicks it in gear with the second infusion. The vegetal pu’erh flavor floods the taste buds. It is incredibly smooth and just slides over the tongue. I am truly impressed. I put it through several more steepings, and this tea just keeps on impressing. Normally, I prefer cooked pu’erhs to raw pu’erhs, but with a tea like this, I can hardly afford to be biased. I would give this tea an 87/100 on my personal enjoyment scale.
You can purchase the 2010 Xing Hai Raw Beeng Cha directly from the Canton Tea Co. website.
Tea Company: The Necessiteas (website)
Ingredients: Rooibos, vanilla chips, natural flavors
Vendor Suggested Preparation: Use 1 tsp per 8 oz boiling water, steep 5 min
Wow…the smell of this tea is great! It truly does smell exactly like vanilla cola. Yet this is the part where my mind catches up with my nose and hits me over the head, telling me to stop and think for a moment: Vanilla cola tea? As in…a hot liquid that tastes like vanilla cola? (I must be careful here to not call rooibos “tea,” for the sake of the tea-political correct.) While my mind is still trying to make a judgement call about whether or not it likes the idea of hot vanilla cola, my body forges ahead into the unknown to investigate and make some of this interesting mix.
It truly is a mix, according to the label. Rooibos, vanilla chips, and “natural flavors” come together in some magical manner to emulate the smell of this carbonated drink…minus the carbonation! Steeping is incredibly straightforward. 1 teaspoon per eight ounces of boiling water. I double this for my teapot and steep the blend for the recommended five minutes.
I had mentioned that the loose blend smells entirely of vanilla cola. Upon removing the infuser from my teapot, I catch my first whiff of the prepared drink…and now I get more variety to the aroma. The rooibos smell is much more prominent, the cola scent itself is there, and the vanilla laces the whole of the aromatic profile. Still charging onward with this endeavor, I pour my first cup and sit back to sip.
The taste of the brew is not as strange as I had anticipated. The rooibos comes through heavily in the flavor, causing this tea to be better described as “vanilla-flavored rooibos with light hints of cola.” The first thought that comes to my mind is “Well, this is fun.” The spiciness (meant, theoretically, to emulate the cola) adds a nice touch. Having experienced great vanilla rooibos in the past, this twist was novel and tasty.
Overall, this rooibos definitely made for an enjoyable and fun experience to try. If you like vanilla rooibos, or even rooibos in general, I highly recommend checking out The NecessiTeas Vanilla Cola. I would give it an 83/100 on my personal enjoyment scale.
You can purchase the Vanilla Cola directly from the The Necessiteas website.
Tea Company: Gorreana Tea (website)
Ingredients: Black Tea
Vendor Suggested Preparation: not listed online
A couple of months back, when the time came for me to select my IAATL samples, I squealed with delight when I found a new growing region listed. Portugal. There was tea. Grown. In PORTUGAL! I was stoked and immediately requested it. Alas, I was a hair to slow for the loose leaf Orange Pekoe, but the teabag version was still available. Silver medal ain’t bad.
For those that don’t know, Gorreana Tea (yes, I know what the name sounds like – stop giggling) is the only tea plantation in mainland Europe. It was founded in 1883, and it was “green” before the environmental connotations even existed. And since the tea plants they grow are in the Azores region (i.e. high altitude), they are naturally pest and pesticide free. Yes, that means “organic” to you hippies out there.
It wasn’t easy judging the contents of the OP teabag. After all, they were mostly hidden from view. That and I didn’t feel like tearing it open to view the fannings. I knew they would be fannings just by the feel of the bag. So, I put nose to filter and whiffed…and was greeted by something sweet. Splendid start.
I guess I “could’ve” adhered to some formal brewing instruction for this…but I didn’t. It was a teabag; I treated it as such. 12oz. cup of near-boiling water and a three-minute steep. Seemed a reasonable approach.
The liquor brewed to something I can only describe as “soft cherrywood red”. It had a very gentle-seeming appearance – beguiling even. The aroma was slightly tannic, incredibly floral, and welcoming in its gentleness. The same was the case with the taste. It started off with a midly astringent intro but cascaded into something different. This was an orange pekoe through-and-through – lacking the Darjeeling spiciness but possessing the subtleties of a soft blanket in beverage form. This was the most perfect teabag that I’ve ever dunked. I wish I had more of ‘em for early afternoon tea fixes. Hopefully, an opportunity will come in my fantasyland future to try the loose leaf version…at the plantation itself. *Le sigh*
You can purchase the Orange Pekoe directly from the Gorreana Tea website.
Tea Company: Arbor Teas (website)
Ingredients: green tea
Vendor Suggested Preparation: detailed preparation is found on their website.
I received this matcha as part of a sample pack from Arbor Teas – a company that prides itself in carrying only organic products. What I didn’t expect was an entire tin of the stuff. I guess they knew how quickly I go through matcha. (Heck, I drink a bowl a day as is.) Also a surprise was the fact that their matcha was sourced from another company I had prior dealings with – Aiya, from Nishio, Aichi Prefecture, Japan. I had sampled their Organic Ceremonial Matcha before, but that came in a bag. This time around, I had the opportunity to do it right – from a refrigerated tin.
When I snapped open the pop-top to the tin, I was greeted by bold green powder within. It wasn’t the brightest powder I’ve ever encountered, but it was still welcoming enough. The aroma reminded me of untamed grass and mochi cakes. Just what I was expecting from an Aiya-made product.
For the first time, I was finally able to prepare an Aiya matcha with an Aiya-sourced chawan (matcha bowl). I used 3 small chashaku (bamboo teaspoonfuls), sifted them with a strainer into the bowl, and added roughly 4-5oz. of 160F water. Then I proceeded to vigorously whisk them with my chasen (bamboo whisk) for approximately thirty seconds…or until bubbles appeared.
It frothed up rather nicely to a velvety foam that covered the green tea soup beneath. The aroma was slightly rough, mildly sweet, with an impression of artichoke hearts on the end. The taste reflected this as well with a grassy forefront, a subtly bitter transition, and a wonderfully wildernessy feel for the rest of the body. Needless to say, it was not the most delicate of matchas out there. It packed a mid-grade wallop with a high-grade intro.
This should never be prepared koicha-style for fear of producing a vegetal brew. A thin tea (usucha) prep brings out the jewel-’n-jade crispness it promises. A more-than-pleasant matcha, whatever your ceremony might be.
You can purchase the Organic Matcha Green Tea Ceremonial Grade directly from the Arbor Teas website.