21 Tasting Notes
I am in need of caffeine – so I decided to grab some of this tea since it’s the current tea of the week.
When I thought about this blend, originally, I was thinking strictly a smoky peach tea – but then I decided I wanted another element to it. I had planned on creating a smoked butterscotch tea later this year (in November, perhaps) but while I was brainstorming, I decided I should combine the two – peach and butterscotch – with a black tea base that is a blend of Indian and Chinese teas including a small amount of Lapsang Souchong.
I know in the past, some of my smoky teas have been more smoke than I originally intended. Lapsang Souchong is really potent stuff and when I was LiberTEAS . . . I did NOT like Lapsang Souchong – it wasn’t until I was well into my tea reviewing days that I either acquired a taste for – or learned how to best brew the stuff that I started appreciating the smoky tea. So adding it to blends has been a bit of a learning process for me – and I’m getting better at it, I do believe.
Because this isn’t overly smoky. there is certainly a touch of smoke to it, but it doesn’t overpower the cup. There is a good amount of peach and butterscotch to this too. When I wrote my original tasting notes for this tea – http://52teas.com/blog/tea-of-the-week-for-june-20-2016-smoky-butterscotch-peach-black-tea/ – I conducted the very first tasting without sugar in the cup. My second cup (and this one) has about a 1/2 teaspoon of raw sugar in it and I find that this really helps to bring out the sweetness of the peach and the distinct flavor of butterscotch.
It tastes a bit like grilled peaches, which is what I was going for.
Guess what tea I am in the process of reblending?
One of our VIPs from our start-up Kickstarter campaign selected the incentive to create a VIT and choose a reblend and he told me to choose my favorite reblend to reblend.
Okie Dokie – this one was one of my all time favorites and it’s one I selected because – well, I wanted to reblend it. Fortunately, my VIP was very excited with this choice – so this is the tea we’re going with. Instead of using sun-dried tomatoes in this blend, I used freeze-dried tomatoes so it looks a little different than the original batch.
This is my first taste test of the tea – and I still have some tweaking to do on it. I want a stronger tomato flavor and a more prevalent pepper flavor to it. I went really light on the Lapsang Souchong – so I’m smelling more smoke than I’m tasting so I might add just a little bit more to this to enhance that smoke a little. Or perhaps I’ll add a touch of Keemun to round out the body a little more.
Anyway – this one’s being reblended – so watch for it – it should be done within the first week or so of July (I hope)!
This VIT is “coming soon” to 52Teas. It was created for one of our VIPs who – while chatting with her about what kind of tea she wanted me to create – she told me an amusing story about how she loves grapefruit so much that she would often eat scoops of her grapefruit sugar scrub. Hey, it’s an all natural product and the ingredients are all edible.
Now, I didn’t go and grab a jar of the scrub to eat it to get an idea for the flavor. Instead, I cut a grapefruit in half and sprinkled it with the ginger honey crystals that I keep on hand at all times for when I catch a cold. YUM! I love the combination of grapefruit and ginger so I decided that we had to make this tea!
I used a Phoenix Dan Cong Oolong as the base – which was requested by our VIP – and added dried grapefruit sections, ginger root, crystallized (sugared) ginger and natural flavors.
This is really yummy. The grapefruit is bright and tangy but not too tart. The ginger cuts through some of that bitter, tarty flavor of the grapefruit and gives it a pleasant peppery taste. It’s tangy, sweet and zesty. The Oolong – which is usually more of a fruity tasting Oolong – adds a nice nutty flavor to the cup that was a little unexpected but certainly tasty.
I’m actually taking time to sit down and drink the tea while I write about it! I’ve tasted this tea several times in the last two weeks, but I didn’t take the time to sit down and record my thoughts on the tea until now.
I love the flavor combination of Bai Mu Dan and apricot. These two flavors work together really well. The vanilla adds a creamy element that plays to the natural creamy notes of the white tea nicely. The violet adds a very slight floral note to the cup – it’s not a strong or prevalent flavor and it’s most noticeable while the tea is hot. As the tea cools, I find that the floral note softens as the vanilla and apricot emerge a little more.
I definitely prefer this one hot because I like those floral notes (Note: you probably won’t taste the floral notes if you don’t make sure that there’s a violet in the brewing vessel when you steep this tea because I didn’t actually flavor the tea with violet essence – I just added the crystallized violets to the blend)
Here’s my blog post about this tea that I just published: http://52teas.com/blog/taste-test-when-doves-cry-a-tribute-to-prince-and-his-art/
_For those of you who are looking for brewing parameters, I do make some suggestions on the blog post. If you weigh your tea when you measure it out, I suggest weighing it without the dried apricots and crystallized violets on the scale as they will throw off the weight (both are rather heavy). _
There’s still some of this tea left – there’s only one of the large (maybe 2) and a few of the taster size – it’s going fast!
This is this week’s tea of the week: I was inspired to create this blend because one of my favorite summertime indulgences is heating up a little bit (or sometimes a lot!) of chocolate hazelnut spread (ie: Nutella or Justin’s – which I prefer) and then dipping strawberries in the warmed chocolate-y hazelnut-y goo.
I’m happy with the result of my attempt to recreate those flavors in this tea. Now, mind you, it IS a tea and not the thick, wonderful goodness that is that chocolate hazelnut spread – so you’re not going to get that same thick, rich texture that is almost as satisfying as the flavor. But the flavors are definitely there.
I like this without sugar too – but just a little bit of sugar (I use about 1/2 teaspoon of raw sugar) will enhance the overall chocolate/hazelnut/strawberry flavor.
Flavors: Chocolate, Hazelnut, Nutty, Strawberry, Sweet
I reblended this tea for one of 52Teas Ambassadors (start-up kickstarter contributor). Yeah, I’m still really REALLY really behind but I’m catching up. Truly I am.
If I keep telling myself that, I’ll believe it too.
OK, I probably have said this once or twice about my reblends but I think I’ve actually did this one better than the original. First of all, this isn’t Shou Mei – it’s a top-notch Bai Mu Dan (I found a new supplier for my white tea so it’s even better than the White Peony I was using!) and the sweet Bai Mu Dan with the sweet cotton candy notes is sublime.
This might even be better than a freshly spun batch of candy floss that you’d get at a carnival because – you know – tea.
This will be available in the next couple of weeks. (I’m still working on this Ambassador’s VITwhich should be finished in the next week and once it’s finished and I have those teas on their way to him, then I’ll release the remaining stock.)
I’m currently taste testing this chai which was reblended to be part of the Spicy 3-tier collection. I took some liberties (LiberTEAS) with this blend because while I did quite enjoy the original, it wasn’t quite as spicy as I thought it would be based on the name of the tea. I expected more heat from the original than it delivered, so I added some chili flake to this to give it just a little bit more heat.
And since I am a chocoholic, I added more chocolate flavor in the way of cacao shells and white chocolate chips (as well as mini chocolate chips) – both of the chocolate chips are VEGAN!
This is my first taste test of this tea – and I didn’t add anise because I wanted to wait and see how the tea faired without it first. I quite like it without the anise, actually. I’m a big fan of anise – love the stuff! – but I am thinking maybe I’ll save the anise for another blend, perhaps a chocolate anise blend. I think that without the anise, I am getting more of the marshmallow notes here and I think that the sharp notes of anise might interfere with the fluffy marshmallow flavor.
As it is, this is quite lovely! Spicy, a good amount of heat without me having to run to the kitchen for something to tame the heat. A nice amount of chocolate-y flavor, a touch of marshmallow. Tasty, if I do say so myself.
Perhaps I’ll rename this Chocolate Marshmallow Spicier Chai (especially since that’s what i thought it was called anyway. haha!)
I’m currently taste testing this tea for a second time – the first time, I didn’t get as much heat from the habanero that I wanted so I added more. Now it’s just what I was hoping for from a tea called Mango Pineapple Habanero.
I’m a fan of the habanero pepper – my favorite way to enjoy it is by grilling it, peeling it and then removing the ribs and seeds, mincing the roasted flesh and adding it to crushed pineapple. I’ll serve this sauce over vanilla ice cream and it’s so yummy. It’s spicy, sweet and really, really good.
So I wanted to create a little bit of that flavor for this tea but I wanted more than just pineapple for it so I decided to add mango to the mix. I used whole, dried habanero peppers and cut off the tops of the peppers and removed the seeds and the ribs and cut up the flesh into tiny bits. This takes away a good deal of the heat from the pepper (there’s still plenty of heat though!) and allows much of the fruit notes of the pepper to shine through.
This is really good. Not recommended for those who aren’t able to handle the spice, but for those looking for something yummy to warm you from the inside out, this will do just that! (And it will be added to the website on Wednesday!)
I just had a latte using this chai – I have been neglectful lately at brewing a cuppa for my hubby so I decided to make up for it by making a chai latte which is his favorite tea beverage.
To be honest, I don’t often go latte with my cuppa chai because I rather like the flavor of the tea straight up (with just a pinch of raw sugar) – I grew to prefer it this way in my reviewing days. But I’m still one who does enjoy a latte every once in a while and this one makes a really nice latte – it brings out the creaminess of the eggnog notes.
I’ve been thinking over my holiday collection over the last couple of days. In truth, I needed to rush these teas and I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to to perfect the recipe because I failed to take into account how long it would take to get the Kickstarter going and to get those funds so that I could get everything rolling. That’s the best piece of advice I could give to anyone who is looking to start a Kickstarter – plan your time wisely. It will take 2 weeks after the Kickstarter is over to get your funds – so know this well in advance so that you can set your Kickstarter in good time!
Next year, I will take these lessons with me when I do the presale. I definitely will be using Kickstarter again because it’s very helpful to have the daily sales separate from the holiday pre-sales. My daily operations would have been a terrible mess if I had tried to do the presales on the website. I guess another option would be to start another website – but that would have been a tremendous amount of work and in the end it would have cost about the same – but with more work. So Kickstarter is the way to go.
I’ve also taken into account the various reviews and tasting notes that I’ve read about the teas – I do read them! If you have a blog and you’ve written a review for one of my teas , please point me in that direction!
Anyway, I do plan on doing some adjustments to the various recipes – I want to make the Hot Chocolate tea a little richer so I think I’ll blend the black tea base with some other teas, perhaps in addition to the teas from Verdant, I’ll use a rich Assam to enhance the body. The Chestnuts tea, I’ll go a little lighter on the Lapsang Souchong because it seems like most people tasted smoke and little else. Maybe I will also need to enhance that base with a Nilgiri to go along with the Malawi tea and Lapsang Souchong to add something extra to the body so that the smoke doesn’t present itself so strongly. And we’re also planning on bringing back the 12 Teas of Christmas – it will be a little different than what Frank was doing and will include the 5 Holiday teas – I’m not sure that I’ll do 12 brand new teas for the box but I’m also not nixing the idea either.
Wow – I’m chatty this evening, aren’t I?
So, I’m taste-testing this at the moment before packaging it up tomorrow.
So good. Even if I do say so myself.
After I blended this tea, I worried because I thought – what if the roasty-toasty, somwhat smoky notes of the Houjicha just don’t meld well with the gingerbread. But it works – and it works wonderfully.
I’ll be one very happy tea sipper if all my holiday teas turn out as good as this one did.