Having another little pot of this, and am going to bump up the rating a little over last time, as I’m finding the flavor more balanced between the cherry and the tea than I did last time. There’s still something a little cough drop-like in the cherry part, but the tea background I found to be quite pleasant this time.
237 Tasting Notes
Had a big pot of this today to celebrate finishing out a busy week at work. The sweet spiciness is welcome, and offers a great balance of warm winter flavors. This is one I have to drink with milk and sugar – it really feels like a treat that way!
Back from a couple of weeks vacation, and ready to drink some tea! This one is interesting, as it features the manuka plant, native to New Zealand and reputed to have numerous therapeutic uses. The dry leaf is very pretty to look at, with deep red bits of hibiscus and small shards of rose hip mixed in with the small, bright green and shiny manuka leaves.
The hibiscus and rose hip bring it up to a light pinkish-red color on steeping, which gives off a fruity/grassy aroma. It’s got the typical tartness associated with the hibiscus and rose hip, but this doesn’t overpower the manuka flavor, which shows a clear woody and slightly piney presence. As for the green tea that’s supposed to be in the mix, I’m not detecting it, but not particularly missing it either.
Not bad, and from the claims made for the manuka bush I figure it’s probably good for me too.
First try of this sample sent by Jessica – thank you! The leaf looks light and grassy/woody, with green and golden brown flakes. It smells generically sweet and fruity, with no strongly identifiable aromas standing out. The recommendation is for 5 or 6 minutes steeping time, which gives us a golden liquor with a very sweet aroma. The taste is a somewhat odd compendium of flavors, not unpleasant though it may take some getting used to. Although I’m not noticing any stimulant effects, I’m not really getting any relaxing or soporific effects like I tend to from chamomile for example. Still, not a bad flavor and I won’t mind finishing off the rest of the sample.
I received a full-sized bag of this from Alana as part of her Secret Santa gift – thank you! I love cinnamon, so the big whiff of spicy scent I got on opening the package put a smile on my face. The cinnamon is definitely foremost, though the orange is trying to hard to hold its own. I don’t notice big chunks of orange peel or cinnamon bark in the dry leaf, so either it’s finely ground and mixed in, or they used flavoring.
After 7 minutes of steeping, I’ve got a deep reddish-brown liquor with a warm and inviting aroma; now both cinnamon and orange are equally present. I’ll take the first few sips without additives, and note that the cinnamon is nice and strong – hot and slightly numbing to the tongue. The citrus note hits more at the back of the tongue and is a nice counterpoint. With half/half and sugar, this is a very yummy decaffeinated drink – great for the winter months.
Another Alana/Secret Santa gift – thank you! The dry leaf is composed of long, light green leaves, and carries a light cherry bouquet. Not as fuzzy as some white tea leaves I’ve seen, but still very delicate looking. At three minutes I’ve got a light golden brown liquor with a mild cherry aroma. The taste is cherry, but this first try is reminding me a little of cherry cough drops more than the fruit. I may need to play around with this one a bit to see if I can bring that out more.
One of the samples I received from Secret Santa Alana – thank you! It has a very nice fresh and vegetal smell, hinting at sweet peas, and the leaves are light grey-green and twisty. In three minutes I have a golden-green liquor, faintly aromatic with buttered vegetables.
The taste is very mild, and includes a little vegetable/seaweed flavor, a tiny bit of toastiness, and some natural sweetness. The astringency is very low, coming across more as just a slight pucker than a real dryness. Not punchy, but a pleasant green nonetheless.
And the song – Al Green’s “Take Me To The River”:
One of the herbal samples from Jessica’s contest, and another Teavana product that smells great – fruity and sweet, really living up to its name there. Much like the Vermont Maple, it looks a lot like trail mix, with good sized chunks of fruit and raisins or currants sprinkled throughout.
It steeps up to a deep red color, and gives off a strong candy-like fruity sweetness. The first sip though – tart! Much more sour than I expected given the smell. I’m actually going to add a little sugar to this to bring it back into balance for my taste buds. Much better now – a variety of fruit and berry flavors in the mix, including apple and cranberry. A nice caffeine alternative hot drink.
One of the Secret Santa packets from Alana – and another winner! It smells very fresh coming out of the bag, with light fruit and toasty notes foremost. The leaves are long and fairly dark, and since I don’t have much experience with Formosa oolongs, I’m interested in how this turns out.
I’ll give it about 2.5 minutes for this first attempt, in 185 degrees. The liquor is a nice clear orange-brown and the smell of the tea continues to highlight the dried fruit, coming through now as a very juicy aroma. Taste-wise, it’s a great example of a classic oolong – very silky and smooth texture, just a little bit of toasted flavor, a good amount of natural sweetness, and virtually no astringency or bitterness. A real winner.
Another herbal sample from Jessica – thank you! The dry ingredients look like trail mix – plump pieces of dried fruit generously mixed in with the cinnamon and shaved almonds. Not too surprisingly, it smells like a spiced-up trail mix too. It steeps to a very pretty pinkish-red color and smells perfect for a cold winter’s day, like a cinnamon-topped fruit crumble. The taste pretty much follows this direction too, with a good amount of natural sweetness, tart fresh fruit, and a dusting of spice. Too bad this one has been discontinued, as it’s a really nice herbal mix.
Oh yes, the accompanying song – Moonlight in Vermont, here interpreted by Ella Fitzgerald:
Another sampler from the Secret Santa variety sent to me by Alana – thank you! This one has a great fresh strawberry smell to the dry leaf, which also features small bits of dried strawberries. It steeps up dark fairly quickly, so I stopped it at three minutes this first time around. The smell is clearly strawberry without being artificial or cloying – very promising!
Taste is excellent – the fruit flavor is clearly there, not at all fake, and blends nicely with the strong black tea base adding just enough astringency. With half/half and sugar, the astringency is evened out and the strawberry is turned creamier. This is a very nice fruit flavored tea – delivers just as expected.
Being a huge Beatles fan, how could I not think of this song when sipping a strawberry-flavored English tea?
This is one of the samples I received from Jessica as the winner of the herbal tea portion of her recent giveaway – thank you very much! The packaging is very cute – a little cardboard cylinder with a slide off top and nice graphics too. This particular one has a green tea base with lots of other ingredients, including ginger, orange, peach, chilies, acai, and cloves, plus some bright safflower petals which make it look very festive. It’s got a nice fresh and fruity aroma, strong on the peach.
I gave it about 2.5 minutes at 180 degrees, and ended up with a deep greenish-yellow liquor, just a little cloudy. The fruit and spice aromas are very noticeable and pleasant. On sipping it – WOW! – this is spicy! The chili and ginger work together to really give it a burn. Don’t get me wrong, I really like very spicy food, and have occasionally had some chili in teas and tisanes, but this is by far the strongest chili-flavored tea I’ve tried. The fruit is there as well, and a nice green tea base. Next time I’ll be prepared for the heat – it was really surprising the first time around!
The first of the teas I received from my (still anonymous until they step forward or I can decipher the worn away writing on the package) Secret Santa! The leaves are very fine and curly with a nice golden hue to them. They have a light malty aroma to them and a little bit of dried fruit.
They release their color quickly on steeping, so I’m going to limit the time to about a minute and a half for this first attempt, and start the tasting without any additives. Even with this short steep time it’s got a decent amount of astringency, so I’m glad I didn’t go too much longer. It also has a pronounced malty breadiness, almost moving into the realm of a light smokiness. I’m putting in just a little sugar and half/half to round it out and see what happens. Still quite strong, not terribly complex, but a good Monday morning cup to start the day with.
This one interested me in the store because it included lemon peel among the ingredients – something I haven’t often seen compared to the much more ubiquitous orange peel. It also features a wide variety of tasty spices which I hope come out in the flavor. It certainly smells spicy and citrusy at the same time, like lemon peels coated in ginger-cinnamon dust. There are lots of spice pieces to be seen mixed in with the rooibos too, so I’m hoping this will be a strongly flavored chai. For the first time though I’ll make it tea-style rather than chai style and see how that comes out.
The two main flavors are lemon and ginger, which I think go well together. The other spices are there more as a texture than a taste – they add body and warmth to the two main elements. With milk and sugar, it’s a very tasty chai but still a bit mild – I will definitely have to try it chai-style at some point.
Finishing up the last of the variety of TeaGschwendner sampler bags I picked up recently. On this one, I think I probably should have gone beyond their steeping parameters, which call for 2 minutes at 212. At this point I’m getting hints of flavors and aromas, where I really expected something a bit more fragrant and flavorful. I do get wafts of rose, subtle reminders of the green and black tea base – but would have prefered more. I’ll hold off rating it until I get another chance someday to steep it longer.
Picked this up from an overseas hotel room – interested because I like elderblossom flavoring. Also called linden in German and tilleul in French. It steeps up to a light greenish-yellow liquor, with a mild herbal/slightly sweet and citrusy aroma. The flavor is gently musky and just a little naturally sweet – overall, very relaxing.
My last bit of this tea from the sample pack, and it’s ending up being a little more than the usual amount of leaf. It was really impressive how many different flavors I ended up getting from this, from a rice and vegetable beginning, through fruit and a mild roastiness to a grassy finish. Quite impressive when it’s all coming from one tea!
This is a super mild and buttery Darjeeling – the texture is really rich while the flavor remains on the gentle cycle. The recommended parameters are 2 minutes at 212, which yields a light orange-brown liquor with a fruity and slightly malty aroma. Gentle flavors emerge with bready, dried fruit notes, held together by a rounded creaminess.
Last bit of a sample I got from them recently – I was in the mood for something sweet and buttery but still robust to start the day. It’s a good, solid coconut flavored black tea, not overwhelming in its complexity but very enjoyable with milk and sugar.
Ah, that’s much better than the Flavia mistake earlier this morning – I needed something to cleanse my palate after that. I put a little extra half/half and sugar in it, so now it tastes like warm cherry pie a la mode with a hint of almond extract in it. Gooood….
Some people in my office got together and purchased a Flavia beverage maker for their coffee, and one of them gave me a packet of English Breakfast Tea because they know I don’t do coffee. Unfortunately, I’m not finding it drinkable. The smell has a strange pasta-like redolence to it, and the taste is bitter and cardboardy. Not too surprised – I don’t know how they expect to get flavor out of the leaf when it seems like the only thing the machine does is inject super-heated water into a pouch of who-knows-how-old tea dust and then squirt it out again into a paper cup. Thanks for the chance to try it, but I’m sticking to loose leaf.
I often find that lemongrass takes over my palate when it’s included in a blend, but was inspired to buy a sample bag of this when I saw that it also had vanilla in it – one of my favorite flavors and usually able to hold its own as well.
I was pleased that the bag had a generous amount of leaf in it – after five minutes I had a deeply golden green-brown liquor with a fresh citrus aroma. Sure enough, on first sip the lemongrass was definitely the most vocal component of the mix, but I could also sense the vanilla there, softening and rounding out the high notes. I’d call it a soothing and successful blend.
My last bit of this from the sample pack, and I’m sorry to see it go! Caramely, thick and rich orange-brown liquor, needing help from no additives to be absolutely delicious. Possibly my favorite discovery from the Canton Tea sampler special they had on a couple months ago.
Another sampler pack, picked up a couple weeks ago. It looked like it had a nice potpourri of spices, so I thought it was worth giving a try. I’m actually a little surprised that the inclusion of both anise and star anise doesn’t give it more of a licorice flavor. At most they add a little warmth and sweetness to the background. In fact I thought this would be more spicy than it ended up being – it was subtle, and not overpowered by any one spice flavor. If I got more of this I’d definitely try steeping it for longer and perhaps even preparing it chai style.