470 Tasting Notes
I am a jasmine fiend. Rose is my favorite floral note, but jasmine is a very, very close second. Especially with white tea—I think jasmine and white tea are meant to be together. It’s a match made in heaven! And this is, without a doubt, my favorite white & jasmine that I’ve tried (so far, but I’m guessing I’m not going to find one that tops it… though I do have a Verdant sample tucked away somewhere I haven’t tried yet).
First off, it’s just so pretty! Fluffy little leaves like lambs. I want to pet them, which is kind of weird. You probably shouldn’t stand around stroking your tea. Which I totally didn’t do. No way!
I associate jasmine with calm, soothing teas. Which this definitely is—it’s relaxing, calming, light and airy. But it’s also crisp and refreshing, bright and sparking from the silver needle base. It’s an odd, interesting combination that I was not expecting. There’s notes of honeysuckle and grass and morning dew. It’s a perfect cup of tea for the end of summer, and it feels like the first days of fall to me. Summer is slipping away, but it is still in the air—you can feel that lingering warmth and the soothing feeling of days spent doing nothing but relaxing. And on the horizon are days of crunching leaves and cool breezes and sweater weather! Okay, maybe the lovely weather has me reading a bit too much into this tea. But I am in tea-love! Thanks so much to Angel for this super generous sample.
I never used to be a crafty person. I used to hate making things, but all of a sudden I’ve found myself catching the crafting bug. It started out pretty simply: I needed a way to organize all my jewelry and ended up making a stand for bracelets, then a tree for rings. But now the crafting bug has seeped its way into all corners of my life, including cooking. Which means… canning! So how do you combine canning and tea? Well you can obviously do tea-infused jellies and jams, but I found something much better (if you have an unwavering sweet tooth): Earl Grey Milk Jam! Which is not really a jam at all, but a rather decadent condensed milk concoction.
I thought for sure I’d written a note on this tea before: it’s a floral but rather hearty earl grey due to the addition of rosemary, so I thought it’d be perfect for this experiment. It’s a pretty simple recipe
1/2 cup cream
3/4 cup whole milk
1/3 cup honey or sugar (you can use brown sugar, raw sugar, whatever)
4 tablespoons brewed tea
The original recipe, which I’ve tweaked quite a bit, says to simmer for half an hour. This is a load of baloney, because it took an hour and a half on a pretty high simmer for the mixture to reach the proper thickness for me. It’s kind of labor intensive, because it needs to be stirred every few minutes so it does not reach a full boil. You want it dark and thick! It makes a small jar-full, I used an old relish jar that had been very thoroughly washed. The milk jam needs to be strained once cooked, since it is essentially a custard and will have some thicker “chunks” and you want a nice, smooth texture. Allow it to cool a bit, then pop that sucker in the fridge.
It’s originally meant to be a spread for toast and such, but I’ve been using it to add a bit of depth to rice pudding, yogurt, things like that. It’s absolutely fantastic, and if you have the patience to hang out in your kitchen stirring for over an hour it’s definitely worth a try! I imagine it’d be great with all kinds of tea, not just earl grey. I’m going to try chai next!
Hello everyone! I have returned from the dead! Actually I’ve been very much alive, but the past few months have been hectic to say the least (warning: this is not so much a tasting note as a life update note, so if you’re expecting tea stop now! I’ve commented a whole lot on this bad boy before so I thought it’d be a safe one to pick. Plus, it actually does tie in at the end. I promise!)
My boyfriend was diagnosed with ulcerative collitis two years ago, when he was 20. Usually when you’re young it’s an easy disease to control but he has been in a constant flare since then—if you know anything about uc, you’ll understand how totally hellish that was for both of us. None of his medications worked, the constant steroids they had to use to control the ulcers caused crazy mood changes, and he even had some very rare traits of the disease that his doctors had never seen (like ulcers on his appendix… and skin).
This summer we finally hit our limit. The disease had overwhelmed us. Surgery is a pretty extreme solution, because it involves cutting out his colon. Yup, the whole thing… at 22. And then rebuilding it 2 surgeries down the line, but it’s kind of insane to have to do something like that at this point in our lives (though we have been together for 5 years).
His family is not exactly… traditional, you could say (okay I’m being polite here they’re kind of extremely hard to deal with) and he had to have the surgery down in Philly since his doctor is there (which was worth it, since his doctor is AMAZING), but this necessitated me staying in the hospital with him. The entire time. Thankfully they do let non “family” members (at this point I consider myself family, and so does he!) stay over so I slept curled up in a chair, living off Lipton (Lipton!) for 6 days before he got the all-clear to go home. It was horrible, hellish, yet somehow a wonderful bonding experience that brought us together closer than ever, and perhaps I’ll write more about it later. But not now!
I said this tea came into play and indeed it did, because I brought it with me! His past room at UPenn had fridge, and this is his absolute favorite tea so I brought it to cold brew for him. Alas, surgery recovery rooms don’t include fridges because they want to carefully monitor the patients’ food & drink intake so neither of us had any good tea that week. So no tea for us, because Lipton brewed in coffee-tasting water is possibly the worst beverage on the entire planet.
There is no way I can ever hope to catch up on past notes since I’ve been binge drinking tea (kind of like chain smoking, except without all the bad stuff since unsweetened tea really has no negative sides!), but I’ll try to pop by more often and catch up on all the notes I’ve missed from you wonderful people! I’d also like to thank Kittenna for reminding me that I’d suddenly vanished—forgive me, but my social media obligations have been the last thing on my mind!
Ah, flavored matcha. You’d think after the roughly 5 thousand flavors I’ve tried (okay, not really, but over 20 for sure!) I’d be worn out and ready to settle down with my current selection of favorites (maple, butterscotch, caramel popcorn, pumpkin pie, and macadamia nut). But no, my tastebuds still seek out adventure and exploration! And since pie is one of my favorite things I snapped up the two new pie-themed flavors the instant they went on sale. Apple Pie was fantastic and I was hoping for the same deliciousness from Rich Berry Pie.
In the bag this smells like… cinnamon? Super heavy duty spices! Which is weird, I don’t think they are mentioned in the description. But pies often have cinnamon or nutmeg added, so I suppose it’s not unusual: I am just used to spice-free berry pie.
I think this would probably be best as a latte but I went with the shake-it-in-a-water-bottle method for my first go-round… mostly because I’d already consumed two lattes that day. Matcha overload! I did add a splash of milk for that creamy quality.
Mm, this really does taste like pie! I think the pie-like qualities of buttery, flakey crust aren’t quite as prominent as they were in Apple Pie but this matcha is also more complex. There’s the multilayered berry flavor (I get mainly raspberry and blueberry) along with the cinnamon and nutmeg. I think perhaps Spiced Berry Pie might be a more accurate description for this one, but either way I am totally loving it! I think it would be especially good mixed with the cheesecake or caramel matcha for that extra rich element. You can get some here:
My mom is attempting to switch from coffee to tea. She loves loose-leaf but she pretty much won’t make it unless I am around. She’s convinced that she’ll mess them up, but really I think she just likes it better when I make it for her! So bagged tea it is. This is one of the ones we picked, because I thought it would taste like one of those fancy coffee shop lattes.
It certainly smells like a latte! Very strong caramel and vanilla. There’s zero discernible tea smell. Worrisome! But the taste is, like, the exact opposite. Strong tea flavor, though it’s that generic black CTC taste. No real depth, but very strong and brisk without being bitter. The vanilla and caramel are really toned down in flavor, in fact this smells a lot better than it tastes. It’s not bad, and I certainly don’t mind drinking it, but I wish the vanilla/caramel was a bit stronger.
Perhaps a longer steep, but the base is already so assertive I worry about it getting bitter. Maybe this would be best as a latte? Or made in a big mug with a bag of earl grey!
I had a very happy accident with this tea. I made candied lemon peels last night and was left with about 7 cups of lemon-infused simple syrup: I didn’t want it all to go down the drain so I saved some for sweetening iced teas. Unfortunately I didn’t spoon this into my Rainforest Nectar coldbrew like I should have but poured it, resulting in CRAZY SWEET TEA. Like “oh god kill me now this is how I die” sweet.
So I cut it with filtered water, added lemon slices and juice and voila: Rainforest Nectar Lemonade! It is SO good with that pop of citrus with the rich tropical fruits, it’s so so delicious. The mix of fruit is great: passionfruit, mango, pineapple, kiwi! A unique blend, especially the kiwi: you don’t see a lot of that. I won’t rate this tea until I have it on its own but if you have this, mix it with lemonade. Trust me, it’s mana from heaven.
I really need to try to space out my tasting notes. I tend to not write any for 3-4 days and then do a whole bunch all at once. Sorry for clogging your dashes, everyone! I just get in the mood to write about tea every few days.
Okay, so this note isn’t really about tea. Last night I went to our local diner, it’s my dad’s birthday week (yes, in my family you get a whole week!) and he requested a diner trip one night. We ended up going after Survivor (another family tradition), so we got there at about 9:30. But it’s a diner, they’re 24 hours! We got a really weird mix of food: my mom (who cares only about dessert) got greek yogurt, my dad got banana pancakes and I got spaghetti & meatballs. Which were totally phenomenal.
I was hesitant to get tea with my dessert (a totally divine cannoli) because, well, it’s a diner. But I saw some brightly colored boxes on the back wall that I immediately identified as Harney & Sons. What, H&S in my local diner?! Awesome! Since it was rather late I just got peppermint, which while simple is one of my favorite herbs. It’s just so naturally sweet and refreshing and relaxing.
It’s kind of hard to rate peppermint teas—I mean, it’s just one ingredient! But this was a really nice one. Smooth and naturally creamy, with a strong but not overly strong bite from the peppermint and that great natural sweetness. That’s why I love peppermint and not spearmint! Bleurgh, spearmint. My arch mint enemy! This, though, was the perfect after-dinner treat.
How does this have almost no notes after being released for a month?! I just got mine and I had to try it right away based on the smell! I love love LOVE cardamom in non-chai teas—I mean I like it in chai too, but it really does shine on its own. Peach seems an unusual combo, but it really works!
I actually made this one for my dad, he always likes when I make him blends he’s never tried before. He was in the mood for something fruity so I picked this one! Mm, it smells so good brewing!
Peach can be a love it or hate it flavor for me—I hate even slightly fake peach and I often get “over-peached” where I get tired of the flavor after like 3 sips. But sometimes I am really in the mood for it! Thankfully this is not a fake or overdone peach, it’s quite subtle—in fact it’s not even super evident as peach in the cup. Very mellow and summer-y tasting, like super ripe peaches that you’d use for a pie.
The cardamom is what really makes this though. Earthy and strong, it tempers the peach and makes it into something totally different. I’m not surprised that this combo works so well, peach goes fantastically with strong spices (look at all the peach & ginger teas!). Cardamom is the best pairing I’ve tried with peach by far: better than ginger, cinnamon, vanilla, any other fruit. It’s just… perfect. These two were meant to be together!
And the base! It adds a really nice, vegetal background. The 3 ingredients are all so different but Frank worked his magic. This is so great! If you were on the fence, get this—you won’t regret it! Unless, you know, you don’t like peach/cardamom/green tea.
Woah, the reviews on this one are all over the place! I like to browse other reviews before I write any notes on a tea, though I always like to start with a general score in mind first. I don’t want to be affected by other reviews, but at the same time it’s nice to get a general sense of what others think! But this, goodness, I have no idea! It has plenty of 90+ scores but then quite a few lower than 30. Divisive!
I think many people aren’t fans of RoT’s small teabags and steep(ish) prices, but they were my intro into loose leaf and I’ve stuck by them. I have a tiny mug of tea before bed every night and their bags are the perfect size for a small cuppa! This is a blend I’ve been meaning to try and I got a sample from Marcel Duchamp. Thanks!
There isn’t a whole lot of depth here. It’s strongly almond and the vanilla makes it taste like marzipan! The base is strong but kind of one-note. You know, it tastes like black tea! Generic but tasty. Maybe this isn’t the most complex blend and I probably haven’t made it sound that appetizing but I really enjoyed it. For a before-bed, no-fuss tea this is great! I LOVE marzipan and while this isn’t advertized as a marzipan blend it really tastes just like it.
I ordered this one because several reviews mention liking it better than Lupicia’s Strawberry & Vanilla, which I adore! So of course I just had to try some. I should have known from past attempts though that whenever a blend is compared favorably to one of my faves, my opinion will be the exact opposite. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I have strange tastebuds when it comes to some teas! Like Tower of London: a lot of people like it more than Paris, but I find it kind of flavorless and flat in comparison.
So, this tea… I wish I wasn’t thinking of Strawberry & Vanilla while I was drinking it, I might have liked it more. S&V isn’t very natural tasting I’ll admit, it’s like strawberry quick milk, but this strawberry doesn’t strike me as being very natural either. It’s like strawberry hard candies! I also don’t get a whole lot of creamy flavor either. I think more cream/vanilla might balance it, but at first sip this just reminds me a lot of strawberry chapstick. Kind of takes me back to being 12!
I do like the green/white blend, it makes this tea very light and airy, but it’s weighed down by the candy-sweetness of the strawberry. However everyone else seems to be really enjoying it, so I can’t help but wonder if maybe mine had a bit more flavoring than others? In any case I’m not a big fan of this blend, though I won’t have any trouble polishing off my ounce—I think it would make a great summer iced tea with some lemon slices!