470 Tasting Notes
We meet at last, Candy Cane Lane. As a peppermint junkie I’ve wanted to try this forever: I went to 6 different grocery stores during the holiday season and not a single one had the CS seasonal blends! What the heck. But thanks to a swap with Marcel Duchamp I am finally trying this one out!
Piping hot this really just tastes like peppermint, I was a little disappointed. No vanilla, definitely no cinnamon! But I let it cool a bit as I was reading and once it was hot but not too hot the magic happened. Peppermint, vanilla, cinnamon, oh my! This reminds me of Santa’s Secret and Della Terra’s Peppermint Bark, only a bit softer (because of the green base instead of black) and the cinnamon gives it a really warming feeling.
This is so good! Like, outrageously good for a bagged tea. I usually have Twinning’s Peppermint on-hand for when I need a bagged mint but I think I will be swapping it out for this. I mean, it has everything! Super minty and refreshing, smooth vanilla, warming cinnamon, plus it’s decaf. Yum!
Have you noticed that sometimes a tea will get a whole lot of tasting notes in a few days? Not even a new tea or one in a tea subscription. That is what happened with this one, I saw some notes on it and was suddenly hit by a craving. Thanks to my swap with Marcel Duchamp, which was perfectly timed, I get to try this one!
I love spiced orange teas. Not cinnamon orange, which can quickly become overpowering, but that kind of melded ginger-cinnamon-anise blend that’s not quite chai. This tea smells SO good while it is brewing, rich and wintry and divine.
The orange and spice are definitely strong here! I don’t know if the oolong really stands out at all, maybe it’s a little woodsy but honestly it’s Teavana, I don’t expect the base to shine. I just want a nice orange cinnamon cup!
But, lurking in the background… hibiscus! What. Not in the description at all! I don’t even know why it is here! The orange flavoring is tart enough as is. I think without the hibiscus I would be head over heels in love with this blend but as it is I just like it. Well, actually I really enjoyed my cup! But I’d like it more without the hibiscus. I’ll be cold brewing my leaves though, which I’ve found lessens the hibiscus (especially if they’ve been brewed once already).
Ah the mythical Golden Fleece. It’s been built up to such levels of epicness by fellow Steepsters that I’ve been hesitant to even open my sample. I had convinced myself that I needed to refine my pallet more so that the beauty of this tea wouldn’t be lost. I mean, it’s such a rare tea and people love it so much… I honestly almost felt guilty having it, like I knew I wouldn’t appreciate it fully and someone else who could was missing out.
Three days ago I decided that was the stupidest thing ever. Tea is about the journey, not building any single leaf up to be some mythical destination. Golden Fleece is not the endgame, it’s a step on my teaventure! So I ripped open the packet with glee (okay, I carefully cut it up, but that is not as dramatic sounding) and inhaled the delicious aroma. Malt! Chocolate! Like fancy chocolate cake. Flourless chocolate cake, the “so dark and decadent it should be illegal” kind. And that just from the smell~!
So far I’ve brewed up 4 steeps in my gaiwan. I tasted them all individually and in the end mixed them together into a mug. There was not a huge amount of variation in steeps 1-4 so I feel like it’s okay to do! 1-2 had some faint vanilla notes that weren’t present in 3-4, and 3-4 were a bit deeper in color and flavor (though I chalk that up to the longer steep time).
I love Yunnan blacks, and this is a delicious one! Malt and caramelized sugar are the predominant notes, the sugar flavor bordering on almost bitter but the brew is smooth enough to make up for that. Oddly enough there is no cocoa or chocolate in the steep even though it smelled so heavily of it! My cup is leaning more towards yeasty bread, rye bread, maybe even pumpernickel! Very dark and deep.
There are also some citrusy orange notes similar to what I got from Teavivre’s Yunnan Dian Hong. Blood orange!
I’ll be honest: I like this tea, but so far it’s not showing me any “wow” qualities that I haven’t seen in other high-quality Yunnans. Of course I have many steeps left in these leaves and half the sample to go, so the journey’s not over yet! I will hold off on a rating until I feel like I have really “gotten to know” this tea: I brewed it at near-boiling as per the instructions on the back but some of the notes (caramel, orange) verged into bitter territory and I think this tea would benefit from a lower temperature. Also going to try out cold brewing, because why not? Gonna get as much use out of these pretty leaves as I can!
My neighborhood is the exact opposite of a food desert. A food oasis! It’s so packed with places to get delicious goodies that I honestly don’t know about even half the places within a 2 block radius. Might sound like I am exaggerating but it’s the truth! For example, 2 weeks ago I discovered a Chinese bakery literally around the corner from me that has been there for years. Yet I missed it! Considering that I am addicted to red bean buns this is like the best news ever.
Plus, everything is insanely cheap. Spent $4 today (no taxes since it’s cash only!) and got a red bean bun, a taro bun, a pastry cream stuffed croissant and a raisin & cream cheese pastry. Yum! Of course I can’t eat all of those in one day, I’m so stuffed from my late lunch of homemade korma that I don’t even have room for a bite right now. But they smell so delicious! I keep sticking my face in the bag and taking big whiffs.
Um, yeah, so this is supposed to be about tea. Whoops, I got carried away by my love for red beans! Can you really blame me? I made this last night while planning my bakery trip (see, they are connected!) thinking that a citrusy jasmine would go well with heavy desserts. This tea isn’t really what I expected, though. It’s floral and citursy but not in any identifiable way. I’d never go “oh, this is jasmine and lemon!” Really, it might as well be rose and lime or lavender and orange on the label.
It’s weird that the flavor is so vague. I am usually really good at identifying floral scents—we had all kinds of flowers in the garden when I was little and I spent a ton of time gardening with my dad (or rather, running around with the kitties while he worked ^^;) so I can generally tell the difference between lilac, magnolia, violet, hyacinth, rose, etc. But here it’s just… kinda generic floral. Like walking by a flower shop—you get hit by all these flowery smells but none of them are distinct. And the citrus is the same way! What kind of magic is this?
It’s not a bad cup of tea, it’s just… weird. Well, not weird tasting, but it’s frustrating not being able to identify smells and tastes. Ah well, lemon jasmine tea does sound really good so now I am thinking about hunting one down!
I have been on the hunt for a rose, lavender and peppermint herbal blend for a while, so when I got home from my meet with Mercuryhime and saw that she’d put a whole ounce in my goodie bag I nearly squealed with joy. Secret Garden, are you the tea I’ve been looking for?
This is not a pure rose/lavender/mint blend—there’s chamomile and rooibos in there as well. The chamomile I don’t mind at all since it’s good for getting sleepy, and there’s so little rooibos it’s not enough to trigger a headache. So far so good! I made up a cup of this last night and actually fell asleep before I could finish it so I guess that is definitely a good sign.
This is a really floral blend. I mean it has 3 floral elements! The rose is quite strong but there is not a ton of lavender, just a soft backing note. The chamomile is more in play than the lavender I think. The mint is almost as strong as the rose, which being a peppermint fan I love! And then finally there’s my old enemy Mr. Rooibos, which thankfully is doing little more than making the cup kind of red. There are some woodsy notes that I associate more with honeybush and no gross medicinal taste (or headaches, yay!).
All in all, a success! I would eventually like a blend that is just mint, rose and lavender… though probably it would be easier and cheaper to blend it myself. Thanks Mercuryhime!
Blueberry coffee cake! That is what this tea tastes like. It’s not as in-your-face cake-y as Pineapple Upside Down Cake, but the flavoring is still there. Soft cinnamon backs up a very natural tasting blueberry flavor for a really wonderful cup.
While this is a green/black blend it tastes like a pure green one to me—and looks like it too, it brews up very pale! I’ve been looking for a good cinnamon & blueberry tea and this is most definitely it. The cinnamon isn’t hot and spicy like in some other Della Terra blends, but warming and soft like you’d find in baked goods. The sprinkles add a little sweetness so you definitely don’t need any added sugar in the cup!
Plus it’s such a pretty blend, the pink sprinkles and green leaves really make me think of Easter and the egg hunts I used to do as a kid. My cousin’s neighbor had a HUGE farm and she would hold a massive Easter Egg hunt there. Eggs filled with candy, not real ones! It would take all day to find them all, they would be everywhere: tucked down rabbit holes, hidden in tree branches, even some in her house hiding under table legs and in teapots! There would always be a few in the chicken coop too snuggled in with the real eggs. It’s a miracle we never broke anything (both her china and our limbs from climbing around so much!). Some of my favorite childhood memories are from that farm and for whatever reason this tea is bringing me right back there. A lovely blend!
Another holiday blend from the Traveling Tea Box! It’s funny that Candy Cane Lane seems to get such amazing reviews (and I finally have a sample of it to try, hooray!) but the rest of them have low ratings. I was disappointed in the Nutcracker blend but I must persevere!
This is, hmm, interesting. Doesn’t taste a whole lot like gingerbread, though there is definitely ginger and cinnamon in here. But I am tasting this odd almost chocolatey element which sounds like it would be good but it’s oddly fake and waxy. And at the end of the sip it’s sour for some reason? I greatly prefer the Bigelow Gingerbread one, this is just a little funky.
I cold-brewed my leftover leaves from last night on a whim, and oh man am I glad I did. This is one of the best cold brews I’ve ever had! And very different from the hot tea.
The maple is still there but in the background, and the pecan is what really pops. And it’s not just generically nutty, but very identifiably pecan! It’s like an ice cold liquid pecan pie… which, yeah, may not sound that appetizing but it is beyond delicious. Bumping up the rating a little!
The blueberry black I tried from the same company wasn’t so hot, but this one from the Traveling Tea Box smelled a lot better! Well, that makes it seem like the blueberry black was gross or something—it wasn’t, perfectly palatable, just not blueberry at all.
This one is a lot better! The blueberry still is not that strong, but subtlety is nice in a green blend. It’s a little floral as well, just like the blueberry black. For some reason there are no real floral blueberry blends, but I think it’s a flavor that would go well with rose! Perhaps I should try mixing some of my own, hmm.
Anyway, this is a nice blueberry tea. Not too strong but not weak either. It seems like one of the harder tastes to get just right for some reason, often it’s just not quite as strong as I’d like!
This one smells like absolute heaven. Malty, chocolatey, I want to eat it! Funnily enough, the file name for the image is “Whopper” so the fact that it smells just like the candy is intentional.
However, I think the licorice in my last tea messed up my taste buds (there’s still that weird sweetness in the very top/back of my throat) because I am getting…. tomato broth. No joke, like a malty tomato. Uh… I don’t think that is normal! It’s malty and I can taste the chocolate but I think I am going to have to pop this one in the fridge for later when my taste buds aren’t completely flipping out.
UPDATE: Let this chill out in the fridge and added a splash of cream. No more tomato! Either it was because of the licorice or somehow my brain made it all up. But seriously, I’d swear there was tomato in there at first. Ah well!
Now that it doesn’t remind me of tomato soup this tea is delightful! Very strongly chocolate-y, probably one of the strongest chocolate flavors I’ve tried in a tea. And the malt is so good! But I really think this one would be best off hot so I am holding off a bit on a rating until I can brew it up right. Maybe even as a latte!