Posts Tagged ‘Citrus Notes’
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
Earl Grey tea is one of the most popular and well-known kinds of tea in the Western world. It was named after the second Earl, Charles Grey, of Britain in the 1830s. Charles Grey was the prime minister at the time the act was passed to abolish slavery in the British Empire. This is quite an accomplishment, yet people know him for his tea instead.
Tea tasting one:
The smell of the dry tea bag is of a classic Earl Grey tea with bergamot oil.
A three minute infusion and the tasting profile are of citrus. No perfume as some EG’s tend to lean. This one needs no milk or other additives. The tea base is smooth, no astringency. Overall, a mild EG teabag with balanced notes.
Tea tasting two:
Brewed the teabag for 4 minutes. First sip and I am getting the same citrus notes as last time I enjoyed this tea. But, as I neared the bottom of my cup bitterness overtook me. The obvious observation to make from this to not overbrew this tea. Three minutes and the EG was smooth and very drinkable. Four minutes and the tea is nearly undrinkable.
I do think that Hampstead tea bags are better than what you might find at your local supermarket. These bags are filled to the brim with quality tea and make an enjoyable cuppa.
You can purchase the Biodynamic, Organic and Fairtrade Earl Grey directly from the Hampstead Tea website.
Tea Company: Grace Tea Company (website)
Ingredients: Black Tea
Vendor Suggested Preparation: not listed
This Grace tea is called Winey Keemun and gets its name from sharing an affinity to wine, at least in using similar descriptors such as body and colour. This tea is a blend of teas from 3 continents: China, Formosa and Indian teas, similar to an English Breakfast Tea. Grace reminds us this is a specialty tea as the leaves have been extra slow-fired.
I did a search and came up with some fairly standard wine terms from Dummies.com. So, is it possible to take wine terms and apply them to tea? I picked a few wine terms and placed their tea compliment following the term: Aroma/bouquet, body/liquor, flavour intensity/depth of flavour, softness/mouth feel, and tannins/dryness in the mouth. Tea typically needs much more inspection than wine. Tasters read the actual leaves. Wine lovers read a label. One could say my humour is “tannic” (dry).
Lets look at the leaf first. The leaf is interesting. I think the longer leaves are from Formosa. There are some broader matt-black flat leaves possibly from China that have a good curl and lots of smaller pieces possibly from India’s CTC processing including some golden tips. The scent of the leaves is a bit like a stone fruit, a peach or apricot. What I am expecting I’m not sure. The leaves are telling me the colour will be quick to express but the flavours will develop with time. Grace recommend a 5 minute steep. So, I’ll try the traditional 2.5 grams in a glass tea pot with 5 oz water at 200 degrees F. for the 5 minutes, then lets see what part of this tea is winey.
The colour of the liquor is clear and bright with a medium mahogany brown-red and a malty aroma to the liquor. There is an acid-bitterness taste and citrus notes that are obvious. The flavour intensity is not as deep as an orange pekoe but not as complex as a Darjeeling, so I’d call this a medium intensity tea. There is some natural sweetness coming through the bitterness. The Formosa minty-clean on the breath is unmistakeable. The softness/fullness in the mouth is enjoyable but not as much as other teas, so I’d call this a medium for mouth feel. The tannins are not light but they also do not have the same strong levels as tannins in wine either. The bitterness is peculiar though and left a strong after taste in my mouth. Astringency from tea tannins leaves a dry mouth, not a bitter mouth. I decided to add milk. Sure enough the tea could take the milk, killing the bitterness. This left me wondering if a 4 minute steep would be better.
I returned to try a new shorter steep and the results were much better. Sure enough, the liquor was smelling floral now. There was a slight smokiness coming through on taste from that slow-fired approach and the bitterness gone. There were taste complexities coming through including a bit of fig-flavours coming in now. There is a pleasant lingering taste . Its amazing what a difference 1 minute will make. This tea is not very forgiving, so watch your timing carefully. Winey tea.
As a recommendation, this tea can be taken in the afternoon with a savory or sweet snack or with a heavier meal in the evening. I think it would be great as an after dinner beverage as well as the robustness would be appreciated.
You can purchase the Winey Keemun English Breakfast directly from the Grace Tea Company website.
Tea Company: Matcha Chocolat (website)
Vendor Suggested Preparation: Open mouth, insert chocolate, close mouth and let warmth heat and melt the chocolate. Enjoy.
If there was ever an occasion for having tea, it’s as part of a chocolate tasting! An expert chocolate blender in England sent an exquisite box of chocolates that combines two well-known anti-oxidants for review. Both Mike and I were more than happy to oblige.
To do a proper tea and chocolate pairing, you need to know a bit about chocolate tasting and what happens. The tea warms the mouth and prepares the palate for tasting and provides flavour notes to compliment the chocolate tasting. The chocolate which is made with a high butter fat content will coat the tongue, protecting the tongue from strong tannins and astringency in the tea but may even prevent some chocolate flavours from being sensed. A quick sip of tea, however helps to cleanse the palate between chocolates and refreshes the senses.
Typically, a chocolate tasting starts with the lowest cocoa content, usually the milk chocolate (about 40% cocoa content) and moves towards increasing densities of cocoa arriving at the dark chocolate (about 70% or more cocoa content). The notes in the tea can either compliment the flavours of the chocolate, elevating the flavours of the chocolate or can even mask the flavour notes of the chocolate. Getting a good pairing is a challenge!
The tea is selected to provide delicate tasting balance and should enhance the chocolate. Tea provides a depth of flavours, high citrus notes, floral fullness, marine and vegetal qualities and even some smokiness. Chocolates have these flavours too. A chocolatier provides a tasting and sensory experience to the consumer by playing with the blending, complimentary and contrasting flavours and aromatics.
As this is a chocolate tasting, we wanted the chocolate to be the focus and not the tea. To that end, Mike and I met at a local tea shop that could provide us with a range of teas while sampling the chocolates. We looked at the notes in each chocolates and selected the tea with the aim to either compliment or to elevate the flavours in the chocolate. We had some hits and misses. That happens when you sample a product for the first time and don’t know where it will lead you. We had some surprises as well.
Here is the list of chocolates sampled and their characteristics followed by my review and recommendations, Mikes review to follow at a later date:
Jasmine Silver Needles White Chocolate – A white chocolate shell filled with white chocolate ganache infused with jasmine silver needle tea. 2 Gold Star Great Taste Award winner.
First, thanks for sharing, Bro! This little morsel of white goodness with a swipe of gold leaf over its creamy god-send, was the perfect way to kick-start a chocolate and tea tasting. Having no prior expectations, a sampling of this sensational white chocolate immediately spirals one’s head into lofty clouds of sensual pleasure. I kid you not!! I was completely overwhelmed with the instant gratification of the intense jasmine floral flavour filling the mouth and nostrils. The soft sweet mellow centre carries the jasmine tea flavour and the white chocolate combines with the warmth of the mouth in a smooth rapture. The white chocolate is merely an accessory yet is a needed buttery component to this master bon-bon to disperse the flavours throughout the mouth. Having warmed the mouth with white puer tea was a necessary preparation.
If you are looking for a head rush, this is it. You have arrived at the moment in time when you can allow the taste sensation to completely overwhelm you into a state of bliss. The experience lasts longer than you’d expect and then ever so gently glides you down back to earth with caramel notes to finish off with a creamy aftertaste.
I did note that the green tea flavours were lost completely to the jasmine notes however. The white puer meant nothing to the bold jasmine. Using a white tea to prepare the pallet by warming the mouth and setting up some flavour profiles would be lost on this chocolate that would overpower most white, green or even black tea. Consequently, this delightful chocolate is best on its own.
China Rose & Raspberry Caramel – Milk chocolate heart filled with caramel, flavoured with an infusion of dried pink rosebuds and the season’s best China black teas, blended together with raspberry puree.
I’ve always found China Rose a heavy black tea with a cloying oily intensity. One bite of this chocolate and you have a very long experience ahead of you. The heart-shaped milk chocolate with a red swirl is filled with caramel. The chocolate shell very thin and fragile and the caramel was a bit runny but smooth. I was surprised it made it this far in its container without accident.
Like the jasmine white chocolate, the rose was overwhelming, intensely cloying and irreverent to one’s wishes that it go away quickly. It just doesn’t do that. Maybe its a good thing if you are a rose lover because I’m sure someone would swoon over it the sensation. However, it was like having a bath in rose oil. I was expecting some raspberry seed to break up the monotony of the rose and as a reminder that there really was raspberry in this confection. I just couldn’t find much strength of the raspberry in the except weakly as a middle note.
Still, the overall feel was very smooth, a rich chocolate followed by the tannins from the black tea as evidence a dryness in the mouth. Overall, an interesting experience but one that should be taken on its own.
Mint & Green Tea – A square of milk chocolate ganache infused with mint and green tea, has fresh mint and aromatic floral green tea notes.
While this sample looks heavy, this square piece of mild chocolate provides an ample mouthful. The first sample was not very pleasant however and it would seem to have had no mint in it. Put it down to an omission, I sampled another piece and was happily engaged in yet another flavour experience. While I was anticipating an overwhelming powerful mint freshness, it just didn’t come through. I was a bit disappointed but then there was an understated herbal mintyness coming through as discernable by drawing in the breath. I thought a Nilgiri tea boasting floral and spice was an excellent compliment to this chocolate. The tea stood up well with its mild astringency to offset the creaminess of this larger square. The chocolate used for the shell was also excellent with complimentary light fruity and floral notes to the herbal background. I found the finish was a bit heavy of cream taste and a bit gamy for my liking but was impressed that the tea and this chocolate were an excellent match of all the tastings. With any more mint, there might be an interference with the tea tasting. There was no point is having more green tea or a mint tea with this chocolate as the tea would overwhelm the subtleties if the tea in the chocolate. Also, the flavours dropped quite quickly, leaving you with lots of complex tastes in the Nilgiri tea to savour afterwards. It was a classic moment in pairing.
Lapsang Caramel – A dark chocolate heart filled with a caramel flavoured with lapsang tea, a sweet, delicate smoky fragrance with a hint of fruitiness.
After some thought, a Ti Kwan Yin tea was selected to work with the smokiness of the Lapsang heart with the elegant blue swirl. This darker chocolate has an overall thin shell and the caramel centre carries the largely smoke flavour. The smoke flavour is reminiscent of bacon flavouring so I placed the flavour as both pine and hickory-smoke. Combined with the tea, there was an immediate flood of strong marine and seaweed notes not unlike the umani tastes you would find with Japanese Sencha tea. It was quite alarming because the chemistry was truly there for this chocolate in combination with the tea creating a synergy of flavours. The smoky flavours resolve quickly though, unlike the rose or jasmine chocolates that lingered for more than 5 minutes. It could leave you asking for more but a 2nd chocolate just doesn’t have the same effect. You can’t repeat the experience because your senses are already over whelmed. So, sit back, sample one of these bonbons for a one-of-a-kind show, enjoy the Ti Kuan Yin as a chaser and wait on the Tao.
Phoenix Honey Orchid – A square of dark chocolate ganache infused with Phoenix Honey Orchid tea, an Oolong tea with flavours of honey and lychee. Decorated with a white and red swirled motif.
The tea selected for pairing was Golden Leaves, a type of honey Oolong that was intended to help bring out the orchid flavours in the chocolate but not cover up the subtleties of the oolong. This was a mistake. The tea did not do a thing for this chocolate. The decorative colour circles on top of the chocolate suggests a complex taste is ahead of you and indeed it is a ‘finisher” chocolate for après dinner. You would need nothing more. But what tea could compare with the velvety deep rich chocolate with a slight leather tannin to complete the sensation? While there is a fullness in the mouth, the cream does not interfere by coating the tongue.
In fact, I find this a superior bonbon. Exposing myself as a dark chocolate lover, I will share with you that giddiness when you’ve hit your high. Oh, yes, this chocolate does not disappoint. But where’s the tea? It no longer matters when the rich chocolate elevates you to euphoria and sustains you for the full hit. But really, what tea does go well with this? I tried a Japanese Sencha but the tea was completing with the chocolate, heaven forbid! I tried a Keemun but it was too smoky to the chocolate. Next, one of my prize possessions – a 1st rate 2010 Darjeeling, 1st flush Makaibari clonal tips from Kurseong Valley (think sweet, buttery, rich muscatel, floral and other complexities). Finally – the right tea. The chocolate complimented the tea by accenting the muscatel and floral notes. The chocolate remained unchanged (a good sign). I enjoyed the tea even more as the tannins in the tea held up to the creamy dark chocolate. The Makaibari became the finisher to the chocolate. I was in heaven again for a long time.
In conclusion, I would rate these chocolates as follows and to be sampled as recommended:
Jasmine Silver Needles White Chocolate – on it own and away from any other food or drink. Drink what you will before to warm the mouth. Other than that, any tea selection won’t matter because the Jasmine will overtake all tastes. Plan some solitude to fully enjoy the experience.
Mint & Green Tea – Milk Chocolate with Nilgiri is a perfect compliment with neither the tea or the chocolate competing with each other. It is a perfect taste pairing to accent the aromatics.
Lapsang Caramel – Dark Chocolate with Ti Kuan Yin. Such chemistry is rare.
Phoenix Honey Orchid – Dark Chocolate with Darjeeling. This must be the taken as the last morsel, even after a dessert to finish off the meal and to welcome the evening.
China Rose & Raspberry Caramel – Milk Chocolate must be taken separately from other food or drink and only when a long-lasting sensation of rose is desired. It will complete with everything else.
You can purchase the Matcha Chocolat – China Tea Collection directly from the Matcha Chocolat website.
Tea Company: Drink The Leaf (website)
Ingredients: Black tea, safflower petals, natural flavorings
Vendor Suggested Preparation: 1 tsp per 6oz water/210 degF/3~4 min
Dry leaf appearance: black wiry leaves with bright orange and goldenrod shavings mixed throughout
Step one: open the bag
Step two: breathe deeply
Step three: put 1 tsp of dry leaf per 6 ounces of hot water, wait 3-4 minutes
Step four: pour the dark amber brew into your favorite teacup, take that first sip….
WOW. CITRUSY. CLEAN. BLACK TEA. GOOD.
Folks, what we have here is a home run from Sri Lanka! This tea is smooth with very little astringency. It has citrus notes that are perfectly balanced in the black tea base. I fear I do not have enough of this tea in my cupboard.
You can purchase the Blood Orange Black directly from the Drink The Leaf website.