15 Tasting Notes
When it comes to green tea (and white and oolong teas, for that matter), you should never steep it with boiling water. Slightly cooler water is needed, or else you’ll scald the leaves.
There are three methods that I know of in order to reach the ideal temperature. One is to let the boiled water sit for a few minutes. Another is to temper with cold water, and a third is tempering with an ice cube. In the second and third case, you’re technically using boiling water, but you’re making sure to pour the hot water over the colder parts, and not directly on the tea (if at all possible).
Over my three forays with green tea so far, I’ve played once with each of these methods. To date, I’ve no favourite. I do, however, think that I’d feel much more confident if I had a thermometer handy so I could measure how hot the water was, and making sure I was staying close to suggested steeping temperatures.
In time, I’ll work on that, and find what does work best for me. If anyone has any best practices, I’d love to hear them.
Anyway, on with the tea of the day.
Steeped: 1.5 tsp in tea ball, brewed in-cup. Brewed with boiled water tempered by ice cube.
First cup: Steeped 3 minutes.
The mint is definitely the flavour that comes out strongest in this tea. The other ingredients seem to work to intensify the sensation of mint, without actually taking it over. I can smell the spices and the ginger far more than I can taste them, but the ginger’s sweetness certainly does come through, and I have to guess that the tingliness which I would associate with the mint is actually coming from the spices as well. The overall flavour seems very simple and well-put together for all the ingredients, though.
Second cup: Resteep. Steeped 4 minutes.
The mint less prominent this time around, though it’s still detectable. With its fading, the complexity of the tea’s flavour seems to rise as the spices gain prominence. There’s still a sweetness that hits at the back of the throat, and the different kinds of heat and spice all hit at slightly different times, making for an interesting experience. It seems slightly less cohesive, but still very complementary.
Third steep: Re-resteep. Steeped over 5 minutes.
Still very strong flavour. Again, the spices are coming out more than the mint, but still in a very complimentary way.
Overall impression: An interesting flavour. Goes from deceptively simple to more complex, while still maintaining a strong flavour profile over several steeps, and evolves over the course of them. If I wasn’t so full of tea right now, I’d probably see what a fourth steep was like.
My rating: 80. A-. I like a tea that will last over time with a good amount of flavour to it. Not sure if I would buy it for myself in large quantities, but still something I’d keep in mind for sipping now and again.
There’s something to be said about fruity teas and dessert teas — the teas that remind you of decadence and dessert while having few to no calories. To date, the top caloric count I’ve seen on a tea is around 10 per cup (and I was surprised to find one that high!), and even that’s the approximate equivalent of around a minute or two of physical exertion. So, it really is a guilt-free way to enjoy something sweet, decadent, and delicious. Unless, of course, you decide to have your cake and drink it too. But even then, you’re only getting the large count from one, not the other.
Now, I’m not a total calorie-counting, healthy foods only person. I have my weaknesses and enjoy my share of sweets. But still, it’s nice to have some good teas around for when I’m in the mood for something, but aren’t quite in the mood for a full something big. Or, as I happen to have a strong preference over the temperature range at which I like my tea, when I’m in the mood for something hot.
Steeped: 2 tsp in a tea bag, brewed in-cup. Brewed with freshly boiled water.
First cup: Steeped 5.5 minutes. Clear.
There’s a bit of an odd scent to this tea. Definitely berry-ish, but not something I can easily place. It could either be the mix of the flavours, or the fact that I’m… less than familiar with goji berries on whole. The tea has a nice sweet-and-sour taste to it. A fruity sweet and a berry sour, I think — it reminds me a bit of a mixed fruit pie, but in tea form. There’s a nice richness and fullness to the flavour too. It’s strong, and lasts beyond an initial burst like some of the herbal teas do. It does leave a bit of a sour aftertaste, however.
Second cup: Resteep. Steeped 10 minutes. Clear.
It’s about half as colourful, and half as full in flavour. The flavour that is there is still fairly strong, however, just not as rich as before. The berry’s tartness still comes through, though the aftertaste seems sweeter, bringing more with it from the apple and melon perhaps.
Overall impression: I’m glad I still have enough of this to make another brew or two, because I think I may need the bit of further time to make a full impression of this tea. I like it — like I said, it’s kind of like a mixed berry pie, and I do enjoy my mixed berry pies. However, it’s not… quite something that I’d go out of my way to buy either. Probably on the level of tea I’d request if someone offered it to me, but not something I’d keep in plentiful stock on my own. We’ll see if this changes after another brew or two. ;)
I also slightly regret not having this tea loose, but I didn’t really have the time or the want for as many cups as normal today. Next time, provided I have enough, I’ll have it loose and see what I think of it then.
My rating: 79. B+. Again, not quite there at the yay level, but very close. A solid effort from a solid tea.
I know, I know, you see the name of this tea, and you’re thinking something like fruit punch with a green tea base.
You’d be wrong entirely.
You see, with Rooibos, there are two types: “red” rooibos, which is where we get the name “red tea” from, and “green” rooibos. Like normal green tea, this is the unoxidised form. However, this still counts as “red tea”, as it’s from the rooibos plant, whereas green tea comes from the actual tea plant, Camellia sinensis.
Steeped: 1 tbsp in my 2-cup pot. Brewed with freshly boiled water.
First cup: Steeped 5 minutes. Clear.
The mango/papaya taste is coming through, it tastes kind of… odd in a tea. It tastes… a little off. Like I’m expecting a puree or something thicker and not getting it. I don’t even know how to explain it. The sweetness is odd, but I wonder if milk or sugar would improve it. I will have to experiment.
Second cup: Steeped approx 40 minutes. Added 1 tsp sugar.
The added sweetness does add to the fruitiness, but it still just doesn’t quite work for me…. I feel like I need some other flavour to balance the fruit, or else have it either be stronger or much weaker.
Third cup: Actually around half a cup. Steeped approx 55 minutes. Added milk.
Nope. Still not doing it.
Overall impression: Yeah, this tea’s just not doing it for me. Someone who enjoys mango and papaya more may enjoy it, but it just tastes… odd for me. Not going to resteep it, because there’s no point wasting my time on something that, literally, isn’t my cup of tea.
My rating: 65. C. Like I said above, this just isn’t my cup of tea. It’s not bad, it’s just really not to my taste at all. For someone who likes the flavour combination, it may be great. It just doesn’t do it for me.
I think in song.
That may seem like an odd sentence, but I swear it’s true.
Okay, so maybe not all my thoughts are musically-based, but it hardly takes anything — a word, a phrase, a few hummed notes, a picture of something or a soundalike — and I’m off with a song firmly stuck in my head.
This tea is one of the ones that does it to me far too easily.
While there are a few songs that I suppose could be equally likely to be the cause of this, for me it’s the fault of a certain Alphaville song that may have been covered by (among others) One Direction…. (For those of you thinking of the Rod Stewart song, you’d also be right, it’s just not the one that comes to mind for me.)
For me, it’s a fun game. And a genre-crossing one too, sometimes with results that I’m sure the tea creators or musical artists ever thought possible (though I’m still nowhere near being the next Weird Al).
Still, there’s something all too fun about changing a certain song from A Muppet Christmas Carol to be all about how there’s only one more steep till Christmas. (Tea humour is a wonderful thing, is it not?)
Anyway, today’s musical tea, and another beautiful red/pink-steeping one is reviewed below for your enjoyment.
Steeped: 1tbsp in my 2-cup pot. Made with freshly boiled water.
First Cup: Steeped 5 1/4 minutes. Clear.
More fuchsia than yesterday’s “red tea”, though it’s still the same ingredient (beetroot) creating the colour. There’s a lovely fruitiness from the apple, nuttiness from the almond (which, by the way, is the only nut in this), and sweetness from the cinnamon. Nowhere near as pungent as yesterday’s tea, and I somewhat miss that, but quite enjoyable. Hoping it will be stronger with the second cup (same steep, brewed longer).
Second cup: Steeped approx 30-40 minutes. Clear.
Stronger fruitiness. There’s a lovely, sweet aftertaste which lingers after. The nutty flavour comes out quite nicely as well. Still a little mild, but stronger.
Third cup: Resteep. Steeped for 10 minutes. Clear.
The tea is now a salmon pink. Still some fruity and nutty flavour, but very mild. Nothing unexpected, though, as most tisanes don’t resteep well at all. (I’ve always wondered how flavoured teas can, but tisanes can’t. Anyone have any idea?)
Fourth cup: Same resteep. Steeped for around 40 minutes. Clear.
Although there’s not much substance, there’s still a lovely ghost of nutty, fruity flavour that lingers long after the tea is drank. Pleasant, though not substantial.
Overall impression: This tea is very delicious, but also very light. I feel like I would want to brew this at a higher strength than recommended (and I used a heaping tbsp as it was!), in order to try and get a stronger flavour from the tea. However, the flavour that is there is good — fruity and nutty, though I’m still not sure how accurate a name Forever Nuts is when only one nut is involved. (That being said, it still makes me want to sing, so I guess it’s all good.)
My rating: 79. B+ Lovely, but not quite enough… substance to get an A from me.
One thing that I love about herbal teas is the colours that they come in. My absolute favourite? The ones that brew a bright beet pinkish red. The colour is so rich, and I know I’m in for a slightly dry, probably fruity, and overall delicious cup of caffeine-free delightfulness.
Today’s cup is one of those, and certainly did not let me down at all. Yum! Plus, with the name, it’s suddenly all wintery, and perfect for Christmastime! Double yum!
Steeped: 4 tsp in 2-cup pot. Brewed with freshly boiled water.
First Cup: Steeped 5.5 minutes. Clear.
Very red. Very fruity. There’s a dry, strong fruity flavour that hits all at once, and then disappears almost as quickly, followed by a mild, nutty taste. There’s a lovely sweetness to it. There’s also a, pleasant, dry, fruity (or at least berry-y) aftertaste.
Second cup: Resteep. 15 minutes. Clear.
More red than a second steep of these red-coloured teas usually are. The initial burst of flavour is missing, but it automatically goes to that nice aftertaste. There is, however, a nice, sweet initial taste, and it still has quite a try mouthfeel.
Third cup: Same resteep. Approximately 40-45 minutes. Clear.
The fruity taste is a bit stronger, and the tea seems somehow a bit thicker. There’s still a bit of fruitiness (someone else mentioned apple and I think that’s what it is) but I’m mainly noticing the sweetness over any actual flavour. Still fairly enjoyable, but not as wonderful as the first steep by far.
Overall impression: The first steep is amazing. It makes me almost wish that I hadn’t given half of it to my mother. The second steep wasn’t half bad either, though not anywhere as near as the first — especially good considering it’s a tisane, which often don’t resteep well at all.
My rating: 80. A-. Would be higher if the flavour lasted longer than a burst or if it resteeped as wonderfully (though it still is a better tea for resteeping than most tisanes!). Still, I can’t deny the lovely flavour at least a low A.
Day 10, everyone! Somewhere between today and tomorrow, we reach the official 1% mark! Isn’t it wonderful? I hope the rest of the 99% is just as fun and delicious as this first bit has been. :)
That being said, today was a bit of an icky day. Thankfully, once again, the tea elves have managed to anticipate my needs and given me a nice low-caffeine, medicinal-ish tea to soothe all my problems and pains away.
Seriously. I don’t know how they do it, but I’m glad that as of yet the tea selections (in my advent calendar and not at all chosen daily by me) have been able to suit my needs perfectly. Thank you tea elves, whoever and wherever you are.
Steeped: 1.5tsp in tea ball. Brewed with freshly boiled water.
First Cup: Steeped 4 minutes. Clear.
The lemongrass and ginger are what hit me the most. The overall flavour is mild, refreshing, earthy/grassy/herb-y. It somewhat relaxes me to drink it.
Second cup: Resteep. Steeped 5 minutes. Clear.
It’s odd. Anything with lemongrass tends to give me this herbal medicinal feel, but that doesn’t make it seem… uninviting to me. The spiciness from the ginger is a little less, but there is some nice sweetness along with the herb-y and lemon-y flavours, and just a hint of bite. It’s quite nice, really, even if it is still a bit medicinal.
Third cup: Re-resteep. Steeped aprpox 5 minutes. Clear.
This cup holds up to resteeps a lot better than some of the other teas I’ve had so far. This is the third steep, and the flavour qas still quite strong, rather than being barely there but still drinkable. Still rather herb-y, and still easiest to pick out the lemongrass. Quite enjoyable.
Overall impression: This tea really does live up to its name of “detox”, at least in feel. Something about the herbal nature of the mix just seems… detoxifying to me. While I haven’t had a full meal that I need digestive help with as the tea suggests it’s best for (quite the opposite actually, I’ve hardly eaten today due to some stomach problems), it feels nice and soothing, and makes me feel like
My rating: 85. A. I wasn’t expecting to like this as much as I did, but it just seems all… natural and… right. I’m not sure how else to put it.
Although I’m rating it high, I’m not sure if it’s something I’d stock a lot of, but it’s certainly something I’d consider keeping around. This is the kind of tea that, while I wouldn’t go for as an indulgence, would definitely be great for when things aren’t all quite right, and I want something to help calm me down. Particularly if paired with some soothing music and ocean sounds…..
Part of me thinks this tea is misnamed. It’s called “hot lips”, which I associate with a slightly spicy gummy candy. Lip-shaped, bright red. However, this reminds me more of the cinnamon hearts from valentines day than that particular dime store candy.
However, a tea by any other name should still taste as…. …tea-ish, right?
Steeped: 1.25tsp in tea ball. A splash of cold water in the bottom of the cup, then boiled water poured in.
First Cup: Steeped 3 minutes. Clear.
Without taking a sip, already I can really smell the cinnamon. Wow!
The spiciness is the most obvious thing about the flavour. The first few sips seemed hot in both senses of the word. As it cools, I’m noticing the slight sweetness to the tea itself, though the spiciness is still quite strongly coming through. I’d probably like a bit more of the cinnamon sweet, actually, to balance the spiciness, like in a cinnamon heart.
Second cup: Resteep. 4 minutes. Clear, then sugar added.
Again, the heat of both kinds is the first thing I notice about the tea, outside of the cinnamon scent. There is a bit of a dry taste, I think it’s from the cinnamon.
I tried adding a bit of sugar, and it brightens up the flavour for me. The spiciness isn’t really as strong as it was in the first steep, though it’s still there. The sugar adds a nice balance to the cinnamon flavour though, I quite enjoy it.
Third cup: Re-resteep. Approx 5 minutes. Clear, then sugar added.
The flavour seemed rather dull (mainly the cinnamon) until I added a bit of sugar. Again, it really brightened the steep up. Still, starting to fall a little flat. This will probably be my last cup.
Overall impression: I never really got a taste of the tea at all. I’m not sure if I consider this a good thing or not, as it’s the first ingredient. Still, the flavours that did come through were fairly enjoyable. I still would have liked a hint more sweetness in the tea itself to brighten up the spiciness.
My rating: 78. B+. Certainly not bad, but (again), the ideal tea, in my opinion, should need nothing added to be its best. By that standard, this needs to be a bit more sweet to get an A from me.
I didn’t get to open my tea advent calendar until nearly 3 in the afternoon today, having been out of the house from within half an hour of my awakening just short of 2pm. Upon finding a breakfast tea behind the door, I promptly wondered aloud if I was allowed to drink breakfast teas after breakfast time.
I was promptly answered with “no”.
I decided, however, to be a rebel and drank it anyways.
This is the first straight tea that I’ve had the chance to review so far. (It only took me around 1/125 of the way to make it to one!) Straight teas are very interesting to review, in my opinion, because the lack of flavouring means you get to concentrate on just how the tea alone tastes. You may think that black tea is black tea is black tea and green tea is green tea is green tea and so on and so forth, but that’s not true at all. Even the little bit of experimentation I’ve done in the past has definitely shown me first-hand how different one can be from another. The method in which the tea is processed, how it’s finished, where it’s from, and several other factors really allow for a large variety of flavours to come out of different varieties and blends of teas that fall under the same general category (such as “black tea”).
Of course, as you’ll see, in order to best describe these different teas, I may need to work on my vocabulary a bit, but that’s a task I shall indeed relish!
Steeped: 1tbsp in my 2-cup pot. Brewed with freshly boiled water.
First Cup: Steeped 5 minutes. Clear.
One easy way to tell that I need to expand my vocabulary: I’m having problems describing the taste of this black tea in ways that go far beyond tea-y, but I’ll do my best. Although the brewing time is well within the suggested time limit, I’m still finding it a little bitter. There’s a bit of strength to it, which I like, but there is a bit of an off-putting bitterness. I assume it would taste better with milk and/or sugar… which is more or less the standard way to drink a good breakfast tea, in my humble opinion. (That being said, the best black teas can be really enjoyed clear, and I’ve had a few which I’d never put anything in.) It’s enjoyable as it cools, with a bit of a flowery taste.
Second cup: Same steep. Steeped approx 1 hour. Added milk.
Ok, I got majorly sidetracked between cup 1 and cup 2. But such is life, and I’m glad to have my second cup now. I’m really noticing the earthy and slightly floral scent of the tea. The bitterness is very much cut by the milk, though it still could do with a bit of sweetness. However, I think it would be better paired with something sweet rather than have the sweetness directly added. Just a hunch.
Third cup: Resteep. Steeped 10 minutes. Clear.
I think I like the milder resteep better than the original steep in all honesty, at least as far as flavour depth goes. Although there’s some bitterness to the scent, there’s not much in the taste at all. The tea is milder overall, but the distinctive flavour still really comes through.
Fourth cup: Same resteep. Steeped for around an hour (again). Clear.
Despite the long steep, due to it being a resteep, it’s really not that bitter. Actually, the flavour is strong, but less powerful than the initial steep, making it really enjoyable despite (or even due to) the long steep time.
I’m actually tempted to try a third steep and see how that works out, but I don’t think I could handle it right now, so leaving it at two steeps it is.
Overall impression: Not bad. Not the greatest cup of black tea that I’ve ever had, but I can see this being good in the morning as well. I wish it were a little less bitter, but I think that paired with something sweet like a pastry (this and a Danish? mmmm…), it would be perfect. Especially with a bit of milk in the tea itself to cut the bitterness.
As I said, my ideal cup of black tea would not require any milk to be at its best, so for me, this one is out for that purpose, but I can still see it holding up quite well in the right context for sure.
My rating: 75. B. Not a bad breakfast tea, but not the ideal cup of black tea either.
Steeped: 1 tbsp in my 2-cup pot with freshly boiled water.
First Cup: Brewed 5 minutes. Clear.
There’s a sweet, citrusy flavour to this, and a roundness to the taste. Quite enjoyable.
Second cup: Same steep. Brewed approx 10 minutes. Clear.
Pretty much the same as the first cup. Perhaps a bit stronger, but that’s to be expected. I’m definitely enjoying this… and it does have a nice dessert-ish flavour to it. Not the most well-versed in crème brulée, but from what I remember, it may be reminiscent of the real dish.
Third cup: Same steep. Brewed approx 15 minutes. Clear.
Flavour is stronger. I let it cool, but it’s not as nice when it’s not hot.
Fourth cup: Last of the first steep. Brewed 20-30 minutes. Clear.
A little too strong by now. It seems thicker as well, and again cooler. The tea definitely is best hot and brewed a bit less than this.
Fifth cup: Resteep. Brewed 10 minutes. Clear.
Flavour is lighter. Still citrusy, smooth and rounded, and nice. The lingering taste is gone, though. I rather miss it….
Sixth cup: Same resteep. Brewed approx 30 minutes. Clear.
Ok. So, I gave up on the teacup and poured the rest into a larger mug. The teacup just… wasn’t the best way to go for drinking this tea on my own. But oh well. That being said, I think the tea may be best served in a dainty mug, halfway between these two vessels. Something to keep in mind for next time.
As for the tea itself, the resteeped flavour is stronger now, more reminiscent of the first cup. The smooth, creamy aftertaste is back, if still not as strong as it was on the first steep overall. The tea cooled as I drank and again I am reminded that this tea tastes much better hot.
Overall impression: A very nice flavour. I’m surprised by the ingredients in this one — it tastes like it should have something citrusy or creamy or something in it, but it’s just rooibos and flowers. Still, delicious, especially warm. And smelling the dry tea is wonderful as well!
My rating: 84. A-. It would’ve made a straight A if it were as good cooled as it is hot. Still, it’s got a lovely flavour for a dessert tea, making a great and calorie free alternative to the real food.
This tea is an interesting one, because I swear to you, it is best served in a clear vessel. It will do fine in plain mugs as well taste-wise, don’t get me wrong, but it has a visual element to it. This is a tea that I will never ever ever drink out of an opaque travel mug, because I would miss the visual element, which is part of the enjoyment and wonder of the tea itself.
As it is, I would brew it in a clear teapot, like on should use for flowering teas, if I had one. As it is, I don’t, so I try to make the most of it in-cup as I can.
What makes this tea so special you ask? Well, the short version is that it sparkles. Tiny specks of glitter appear to be floating in the tea, making for a beautiful sight, especially when looked at directly under a source of light. Yes, this tea is absolutely perfect for those who like a little bling, those who enjoy a bit of magic and whimsy in their food and drink, and Twilight fans alike (but only perhaps if you’re Team Edward).
Myself? I fall closest to the whimsical side of things if had to choose. In any case, having the beautiful visual element makes my day.
That being said, on with the review.
Steeped: 1 tbsp in my 2-cup pot with freshly boiled water
First Cup: Brewed 5 minutes
This tea is very mild, with a vanilla aftertaste. The spices come through as well, for sure, but the overall flavour is very mild and light. I wonder if it might do well with a longer steep time. That being said, the visual experience is AMAZING!!! I love watching all the suspended sparkles in the tea.
Second cup: Brewed about 40 minutes. Milk added.
I tried a little bit clear before I poured the cup proper with milk… no real change in flavour strength.
Usually, when I make it with milk, the top still sparkles beautifully, but I can’t seem to make it do so this time. That being said, the milk goes quite well with the vanilla. The spices still seem underdeveloped, but I’m enjoying the sweetness of the tea as a whole.
Third cup: Resteep. Brewed for around 30 minutes.
There is a mild substance to the flavour… a sweet, vanilla, spiced somethingness. It’s still very weak, and I wish it was stronger, but it’s still good. Also, the tea is just as visually interesting as it was on the first cup. Seriously, I love these sparkles.
Fourth cup: Same resteep. Brewed for around an hour. Added milk.
The sweetness and slight spiced-ness are still coming through as I sip. I wish I’d left the milk out though I prefered it without milk, I think. Plus, it’s still not as sparkly with the milk as usually is still. Perhaps I put in less gold sugar balls somehow or something? That being said, I let the last half the cup cool while I ate lunch… the sweetness and slight mulled/spiced-ness was nice after my meal.
Overall impression: A little lighter in flavour than I like, but still quite nice. For those of you who have tried Bigalow’s Constant Comment before, it’s like that tea with vanilla and sparkles added to it. Seriously, though, I might have to pick up a large amount of this tea just to watch it glitter. I love it!
My rating: 83. A-. I may have rated it lower for taste alone, but the visual element is A+++++ so I have to balance them out a bit.