177 Tasting Notes
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This was a real surprise!
Of all the far flung fruits to flavor a tea with, noni was the farthest from what I’d have expected. My grandfather was Hawaiian and planted the idea of noni in my head a long time ago. He learned to stop doing this as it seemed to make his continent bound family feel deprived of unique experiences. But the sketch (he was an artist) he made of it stuck in my mind. After a depressing lack of information in the 1998 Encyclopedia, I forgot about noni fruit, another unverifiable detail of the technicolor dreamland that my grandfather left behind.
Twelve years later, noni popped up in some articles about super fruits and diabetes but not in stores. Not even the giant all-exotic-foods-and-animals-imaginable foodie mecca known as Jungle Jim’s in Ohio. (It was a year ago when I went; perhaps they have noni juice now?) The scientific name is Morinda citrifolia, noni is part of the coffee family and has some more colorful common names such as pace, apatot, dog dumpling, great morinda, Indian mulberry, cheese fruit, and apatot.
Noni fruit has an entire user’s manual full of health benefits. While I remember a very humorous conversation about noni’s use in bowel regularity (grandpa humor…“better than prunes!” I believe he claimed…)I did not know how extensive the health benefits were.
Noni fruit is high in the basic food panel nutrients like vitamins C and A, potassium, niacin, a smidgen of sodium, and is overall similar to the nutrition data of an orange. It contains all nine essenscial amino acids, a very rare quality, although I would imagine it very expensive as a significant protein source.
Among its purported benefits are treatment of diabetes and lupus, quite a contradictory characteristic for a fruit, treatment of athlete’s foot and assistance in fighting infection and cancer. Noni fruit promotes T-cell growth and metabolism. I’m not sure, but I would imagine topical application is needed for treating athlete’s foot an possibly the claims for treating hair loss, but hair loss could be related to vitamin deficiency.
Red Leaf’s Noni Matcha is 100% raw and freeze dried to preserve as much of the nutrients and properties of the fresh fruit as possible. I’m not as gun-ho about raw foods as some health enthusiasts I’ve known, but after an unsuccessful attempt to grow dragonfruit, I physically cringe when rare and special foods are processed in a way that makes them as nutritious as canned green beans. Waste not, want.
Noni fruit has a strong odor when it’s growing and the only other tea including it is a tisane with the odorless leaves from Chi of Tea, to my knowledge. This is why some call it cheese fruit or even vomit fruit, and equate its smell to durian fruit! I think papaws have a similar mixed reception, and I love those.
All this myth and medicine packed into one fruit, I had to order some Noni matcha, if only to share some with grandpa’s memory.
After arguing with the post office over whether or not my street exists (property lines have been redrawn here thrice this year), the mysterious matcha arrived. I had an old Fossil watch tin to sift it into and opened the bag.
Wham! The smell hit me in a wall of floral aroma. The smell is amazing and complex. Notes of jasmine, strawberry, rose, passion flower. I couldn’t even imagine how this could be derived from something called cheese fruit! Then again, pulp and rind most likely have distinct smells, just like orange peel and pulp.
Just before I boiled water I realized that I only have one chasen right now; using it for such a pungent matcha would leave a strange and gradually odoriferous taste in any more chawan of matcha I would prepare. Possibly even in the shino-yaki chawan I’ve been using for everyday use.
My solution was a miso bowl and the spiral wire whisk from Ikea that I swear was invented to be a cat toy and accidentally transferred to the cooking department. After trying it once out of curiosity on culinary grade matcha, it frothed as well as preparation with a chasen, but the froth disappeared instantly. I haven’t made matcha to drink with it before and I must admit I was trying not to laugh at what I was watching. A loud green slurp of superfood in a louder orange soup bowl was being prepared with a baffling chrome kitchen tool that resembled a misplaced lawn ornament, while my two month old kitten watched everything with absolute confusion.
The smell does proceeds it. While I have spent the past three days smell the bag and waving it under people’s noses, bringing a few inquire into matcha and superfoods, the taste is not nearly so bold; which is fine, it has a taste appropriate to the standard level of flavor I got. Actually I would imagine the strong flavor level to be as overwhelming as noni fruit’s durian like smell. It has a fruity, strawberry, dusty pineapple taste. The matcha is subdued and earthy, not grassy or distracting. Flavored matcha is often aimed at smoothie use and people who don’t like grassy tastes, so I guess this is spot on its purpose, but I love grassy tastes. This is unique and I mentally put it with licorice prunes; a distinct flavors that one remembers.
…And someone tell me if drinking noni cures athlete’s foot.=)
Thanks to Keen Tea Thyme for a sample of her signature blend! It’s a slight variation she called “Wedding Pearls” made with white pearls for her friend’s wedding favors. This is just peachy keen, if you’ll forgive the pun. The peach flavoring is stronger than I’d expected. The first steep doesn’t have much jasmine but the next two steeps had a heady perfume like jasmine flavor, very high quality jasmine pearls.
I love the flexability in brewing time. Forgeting a tea while absorbed in a task is unavoidable. Although, I left one steep out for a few hours in 85 F heat and it fermented! I’ll have to remember that about long steeps with fruit or sugar.
Pink pearls is a great sweet-tooth tea.
I both love and dread finish off an ounce of Butiki’s flavored tea; it’s the last of the best, but it has the flower dust that makes the best and most flavorful cup of the batch. I’m going to be disappointed for weeks. Or until Pistachio Ice Cream Green is remade. HINT. NUDGE.
This fits the end of summer. The light color and body are suited for humid, chilly evenings. Refreshing and a good confirmation I am shifting to autumnal food like pumpkin and persimmons. This tea always makes me want to read haiku…
Tried a sweet style first steep and hot water second steep and combined them-umami syrup! Killing dual cravings for sweet and savory at once. Too tired to speak with first person pronouns.
My boss drinks this by the bucket full iced, and it’s agreeable. He gave two boxes of this. Although, they were opened but full, so I have to wonder if he’s collecting the included seasonal figurines that are inexplicably absent. =D
Wow, this was exactly one cup’s worth in a rusted mint tin from…maybe two years ago? Still tastes savory for Fukamushi in four ounces of water. Tough stuff!
I still can’t get over the charming packaging for the promotional samples (see link for photos). The citron oil is light and natural,I really couldn’t tell it was added as opposed to an inherent flavor. It seems hard to conservatively use Bergamot without being undetectable.
It reminds me of some Bi Lo Chuns, with a savory tone from the white tea. This is light and perfect for re-hydrating and relaxing when sensitive to stimulae, especially after the superpowered rush of much matcha!
Full review and photos:
This is a nice spinach like stabilizer for my sluggish morning. I wish I had some strong Fukamushi but this should get me through until lunch.
The smell is true orange peel, not fake! I steeped the bag for 25 minutes in 180 water, and the doubled steeping time worked! A real blood orange flavor emerged, slightly sweet and pungent, like the blood orange soda my blood sugar can’t handle!
I’m very disappointed this was discontinued. This is the first rooibos I could enjoy unenhanced, and the first truly blood orange flavored tea I’ve had.
Full Review here:
I am of the opinion that good chai needs peppercorns but few seem to agree. Epi Tea’s blend included both peppercorns and red pepper in addition to vanilla, with no intrusion of cloves. I picked this first from the samples, obviously. It certainly sounded like a great chai, vanilla, cinnamon, and cardamom present, peppercorns hiding in the back but when I tasted it, it was all vanilla flavoring. I got some cinnamon and an astringent Assam taste, but no peppercorns, pepper, or ginger. Re-examining the tea bag, I couldn’t find a cardamom pod and I could barely smell the peppercorns. I re-steeped in two ounces of warm water for an hour for a mild cinnamon and vanilla sip. Over all the advertised spices weren’t there, although the bag I received seemed full. Maybe a longer steep? I only had one bag to experiment.
I’m a fan of vanilla on all facets of its existence: the smell, the oddness of the pod, the picturesque orchid on which it grows. The history and mystique of the vanilla bean is as rich as its aroma; one of my favorite books is a history of the vanilla trade. And of course the taste! I used to make coconut milk ice cream with Madagascan vanilla beans every month for my family.
Despite its extremely difficult growing conditions and scarcity on a global scale, Madagascan vanilla is so soothing and ever present it is “plain vanilla.” It is the safe and sure option in western desserts. Challenged to pick a starting point in the dizzying array of Red Leaf Flavors, I naturally picked vanilla. Aren’t I a brave little toad? And I only spent twenty minutes picking between French or Madagascar!
This the real deal. The real vanilla bean! Every latte and crème cookie hints at the reality of this sleek and pure vanilla, matched by the clean grassiness of the matcha. I got the regular strength of flavoring since I love matcha as much as vanilla. The two most distinct flavors of my strange childhood of mixed heritage in powdered bliss! It’s just as sweet as ice cream too. Most people think matcha is quite bitter, this version is great for those who need to limit their sugar, like me.
I got into the habit of sprinkling matcha on my post-ride ice cream but I can’t enjoy ice cream in the winter. Red Leaf’s Madagascan Vanilla Matcha (available at http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/madagascar-vanilla-matcha.html) is my cold weather vanilla fix. Unfortunately hot ice cream is sickening syrupy and overwhelming. This matcha, however, it as comforting and delightful as summer ice cream. I find it interesting that Red Leaf says it’s therapeutic for anxiety, as I’ve long held the same belief, but never seen it listed as anti-anxiety in herbals. Can fault this matcha at all? Nope. This matcha is a wonderful reminder of the sweet and simple things in life that make it worth the effort.
Today is exceptionally damp and chilly, a real seashore sort of morning. Perfect for finally breaking open this bold Assam! Even at three and a half minutes this is quite strong and enough to shake the sleep from me. The initial flavor is old amber, woody with carob and a sharp port call of a finish. It has a refreshing aroma of peat moss and old books. I don’t need yancha every day, so I’ll see how many misty mornings I can make this treasure last.
This tea is absoulutely remarkable-it tastes exactly like vomit smells. I had to clean after a green boy scout who had too many s’mores and soda today, so I’m being quite literal, not snarky and judgmental.
Hot brewed once, I thought I over-steeped a cheap tea that need colder water and time. Hot brew twice and cold brewed with half the box, the stench and taste was the same-regurgitated vanilla and strange fruity mush. Perhaps the flavorings spoiled or this was a bad batch but I would advise another choice for cheap working tea.
I entered this with low expectations, a vague hope for some mangosteen flavor in mind, and settled for a pleasant peach flavor with a phantom astringancy to assure me there was some tea in there somewhere. But no mangosteen.
Retrying this with vetiver incense it tastes fine. I tried it previously while burning Dragon’s Blood incense, giving it an odd cough syrup tinge, and was ignorant to the source of this problem. I was more curious than concern since I new it was a type of resin. Looking it up, it could come from a number of trees, including Calamus , which are growing by my porch! Dragon’s blood is also used for ink and varnish, which would through off anyone’s sense of taste. A roasted yerba mate or a heavily oxidized oolong might work better but I doubt burnt varnish pairs well with anything. XD
David Duckler has me thinking about how incense and tea interact, this tisane is a good example. Usually it’s a bit grassy and bitter on its own (due to my forgetting about my drink for a good hour or so), but when I burned some Dragon’s Blood incense today to scare off the bugs, the taste took on oddly medicinal and sweet taste. I needed a honey cough drop after forsaking sleep and it tastes like my evening mate. Very interesting…however, I am too tired to ponder the specifics of this. A repeat experiment (I certainly have enough work to get through) is something I look forward to trying.