216 Tasting Notes
I have no idea where this rooibos caramel comes from. I have an old Teavana tin with “Roo. Caram.” scrawled across the label in my handwriting, so obviously at one point I knew more about it…you know, for someone who catalogues as obsessively as I do, I’ve managed my teas rather poorly so far. Anyway, this rooibos caramel isn’t much good on its own — it’s far too sweet in a cloying sort of way — so I keep it to sweeten my other teas. Today I tossed it in with an old and rather bitter Ceylon Black that really needs the help, and the result was a nicely balanced cup of black tea. It would have been too bitter for a first cup of the morning, but as a second one the bitter was mixed with the caramel and the rooibos nicely. (I’ll refrain from any philosophical generalizations on the blending!)
I’m fairly sure that I oversteeped this, as it came out so incredibly bitter that I had to add sugar just to drink it. I’ll give at another try and an actual rating some other time.
Note to self: stop getting distracted while brewing your tea!
Although I do have to mention that I have this tea in an utterly gorgeous tin, dark blue with flying cranes, and the tea’s pretty much worth it just for that. I wish I remembered where I got it from.
Oh, very nice! It smelled and looked lovely in the tin, but it had a very weak color and hardly any scent at all in the mug — I almost let it steep longer, and then I thought, No, I always do this to green teas; I should just drink it. And I’m glad I did, because all of that loveliness came right back out in the taste.
Red Rose Orange Pekoe and Pekoe Cut Black Tea really should have been the first tea that I reviewed here, since this was the tea of my childhood.
—Childhood? you ask. Just how young was I?
There’s a funny story there. It started with my first job: I spent the summer I was fifteen working for my aunt who owned a stable. The trainer, the barn manager, and all of the other stablehands were adults, and they all drank coffee. Since I was a young’un, they’d rinse out the coffee pot, refill it with plain water, and point me at the small stash of cocoa in the back of the office. Unsurprisingly, this was a real pain for everyone, and eventually I just took a cup of coffee, dumped in terrifying amounts of sugar and non-dairy creamer, and decided that it tasted pretty much the same (the water had never gotten particularly non-coffee-flavored) so what was the difference, right? And hey, I was a teenager, and if all of that caffeine made me jittery, nobody noticed a thing.
And then, at the end of summer, I left on vacation with my family. First day of vacation, we’re at the beach, of course it’s awfully bright. Second day, still bright, the headache is really setting in. I’m gulping lemonade by the bucketful and trying desperately to explain this agony to my mother. My mother, the caffeine-drinker of my immediate family, recognizes these symptoms. She extracts the story of the cocoa-coffee from me and suggests I go cold turkey. I explain the agony a little more. Since it is a shame to waste a vacation on withdrawal, she brews me some coffee. Third day, I spend the morning bounding gleefully across the sand dunes, then seek out my mother for another caffeine hit.
Let’s try weaning you off slowly, she suggests, and makes me tea. This tea, in fact. I doctor it up like the coffee with sugar and actual milk and am amazed to discover that not only does my headache go away, but this tastes good. I keep drinking it.
We get home from vacation. I keep drinking it.
(I go to college and shift up to coffee, then to expresso beans, then to caffeinated water. I don’t sleep much.)
In grad school, I return to my tea. I have, by that point, had many teas on many outings, but none of them are morning tea. Morning tea is Red Rose with milk and a bit of sugar.
Eventually, as I dropped out of grad school and began commuting to an office in the mornings, I let go of my childhood morning tea. But still, I remain fond and nostalgic. In my mind, this tea is served in at the kitchen table in a brown ceramic mug with the string of the teabag wrapped once around the handle; it’s milky smooth, not too sweet, extremely tasty, and just the right sipping temperature the entire time.
And yes, I still have fifteen or twenty of the ridiculous figurines. Somehow, more than a third of them are polar bears. Make of that what you will.
This is an incredibly hefty, filling fruit tea, absolutely my favorite of the Tea Table tea of the month teas so far. It’s delicious and utterly full of fruit, with the strongest tastes being strawberry and blackberry. No matter how I steep it, it never comes out less than chewy — I am at a loss to know why the company’s website describes this as a “mild flavor”! Although they’re quite correct about its lovely deep magenta color. I need to order more of this right away.
On a tip from Cofftea (http://steepster.com/Cait/posts/25139) I tried this again with cooler water and a shorter steeping time. That did bring out a little more taste, but not really a whole lot more — certainly nothing like what the other reviewers are describing — and it produced a very rough-textured tea as well. I think I shall just pour the rest of these sweet-scented leaves into a potpourri dish and look into obtaining a fresh batch for drinking.