967 Tasting Notes
And on to the third and final buckwheat tea! This one actually came straight from the generous folks over at Bird Pick. If you didn’t know, they offer 3 free samples for free (http://birdpick.com/faqs/#A7). Visually, this tea looks different from the others. It’s obviously broken-up buckwheat, but the texture is more like shards and almost reminds me of sanding sugar. The scent is different as well… actually it kind of reminds me of Play-Doh. Heh. We shall see!
Thankfully, the steeped tea does not smell like Play-Doh. In fact, it has that same roasted peanut aroma as the other teas, perhaps with a touch of sunflower seed shell. This one is definitely different from the other two I’ve tried. The flavor is nutty, but it’s rougher and it reminds me of sunflower seed shells. Not as much of a fan of this one unfortunately (at least, compared to the others).
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Grain, Peanut, Roasted nuts, Toasted
I figured since I tried one buckwheat tea, I might as well try the other samples I have as well! This one also came from Dexter. Visually, it looks quite different. While the H&S version was coarsely crushed, this one is whole pieces of buckwheat, and they look like smaller versions of shelled sunflower seeds to me. I could detect a touch of roasty scent from the dry grain, but not much.
The steeped tea smells exactly like roasted peanuts, or perhaps peanut butter, with salt included. The aroma is a bit more buttery than the other tea. The flavor here is a touch milder, which makes sense to me since because the buckwheat is whole, there’s less surface area and less of the inside exposed to the water. Perhaps this one should be steeped a little longer than the crushed version. Anyhow, the flavor is very roasted peanut, and there’s a bit of that toasted wheat cereal taste as well. Overall, very similar! I couldn’t tell you which I prefer…
Flavors: Grain, Peanut, Roasted nuts, Sweet, Toasted
This one came from Dexter. I’ve found myself very interested in this and other similar soba cha teas for a while now, but this is the first time I’ve actually tried one. Dexter was sweet enough to send me a sample of this one and the Yunnan Sourcing version. The kernels (?) are a warm medium tan in color and only a couple millimeters in diameter. I didn’t get much of a smell from the dry grains.
As soon as I poured the water, I could smell roasted peanuts. Yum… The steeped tea itself also smells like roasted nuts or a toasted grain cereal. This is delicious! It’s hard for me to describe it because it reminds me of something specific, but I can’t think of what it is… I’ll just say it’s quite roasty but not in a strong way like mugicha, it’s more mellow and nutty. It tastes somewhat similar to that “Honey Smacks” puffed wheat cereal that I had as a kid. There’s the same lingering sweetness that I noticed in my mugicha earlier. Yummy!
Flavors: Grain, Peanut, Roasted nuts, Sweet, Toasted
Stephanie was kind enough to send me a bag of this one. I promptly cut the cold-steep tea bag open and put it in a ziploc because I really like this kind of tea hot. This barley is crushed up and texture is fairly coarse. It smells strongly roasted and similar to coffee, similar to the other barley teas I’ve tried. I used about a teaspoon and a half for 10 ounces of water.
Mm, this is tasty. It has the rich roasted flavor of coffee without being as strong and overpowering as straight coffee is. And there’s no bitterness at all, which is lovely. There’s a clear, light sweetness that lingers with the roast in the aftertaste. Yum, very good, and I’ll definitely try a little cold-brewed as well.
Flavors: Coffee, Roasted, Sweet
My boyfriend and I went by our local small market again today to pick up sandwiches for lunch. I also picked up a tin of this tea and a few single serving packets of fancy hot chocolate (amaretti cookie and crème brûlée flavors among others!). I’ve found that I really enjoy Republic of Tea’s rooibos and herbal teas, so I figured this one was worth a try. I was very pleasantly surprised by the mellowness of the scent when I opened the canister – I half expected it to smell like cinnamon candy tea. Instead, I can actually smell the rooibos tea as well as the cinnamon and vanilla. I used two bags in about 11 ounces of water.
Once steeped, the cinnamon is a tad bit stronger, but thankfully not overwhelming. Hm… This one is a bit off. There’s barely any cinnamon or vanilla flavor, and the base tea tastes quite odd. It’s not woody like I normally find rooibos, and it has a taste that’s almost like wet rags (ick). Definitely a no for me. :(
This one came from mj, and I’ve had it for a little while. Tonight I was craving some hot chocolate, so I thought I’d give it a try! Dry, it looks like a course milk chocolate-colored sand. It’s a mixture of larger, darker, flaky pieces with smaller, lighter, more powdery looking granules. Dry, it smells amazing, just like hot chocolate. I let my cup steep for 10 minutes.
Whew, this is rather intense. It’s definitely strong dark chocolate flavor, but I had a hard time drinking it straight, so I added some sugar to my cup. I would be curious to see how this comes out if you try to steep it in soy milk instead of water (I have a sample of Maracaibo so I may have to try that). I can definitely taste a touch of cinnamon warmth. I’m unsure whether I can taste coconut, but I have a feeling the flavor notes described on the different varieties will be hard to find unless they’re all tasted beside each other. Overall, a good substitute for hot chocolate, but since I added sugar to mine anyway I don’t suppose it’s any better for me. :P
Flavors: Cinnamon, Cocoa, Dark Chocolate
This sample came from boychik (and originally, from CharlotteZero). This tea is based on a type of French candy which is made of a paste of candied fruit and almonds covered in a layer of royal icing. Sounds delicious! The tea itself is a red rooibos base, and there are pieces of sliced almonds, cacao shells, and perhaps some kind of dried fruit mixed in. Dry scent is both sweet almond and tart fruit, possibly apples.
Once the tea is steeped, the rooibos aroma is fairly strong, but I can definitely smell sweet almond/icing along with the cacao shells and perhaps a touch of cinnamon. Hm, this one doesn’t taste like much, unfortunately. I don’t know the age of this sample but I assume it’s fairly old since it’s had three owners. There’s a little bit of almond in there, but even the rooibos flavor is weak. I tried letting it cool and it didn’t seem to help much.
Withholding rating on this one, as I think the age of my samples has affected the flavor.
Flavors: Almond, Cocoa, Rooibos
Another sample from TeaTiff (sorry it’s taking me so long to try them!). Apricots are one of my favorite fruits, so I’m surprised I haven’t tried more apricot-flavored teas – I know Harney has one among other companies. The dry leaves of this tea are small and very dark, and there’s nothing mixed in. They smell strongly of sweet apricot, yum!
Once steeped, the apricot aroma is unfortunately a bit lessened. I can also smell the malt of the black base. The flavor is good, but honestly I could go for a little more apricot presence. It’s more of a subtle apricot among a mild, mellow, somewhat malty black base. I’m sure a touch of sugar would help bring out the apricot flavor, but I will not be tempted! If anyone has a good, strongly-flavored apricot tea recommendation, I’d love to hear it. :)
Flavors: Apricot, Malt, Peach, Smooth, Sweet
This was a sample from TeaTiff. The leaves are very small and somewhat broken, and almost black in color. There are a few ivory-colored flower petals mixed in along with a few other bits and bobs that I can’t identify. Dry scent is vaguely sweet and dessert-y, I can pick out almond but not necessarily chocolate.
Mm, aroma! Steeped, this tea smells heavily of cream along with some almond and orange. This tea is almost creamsicle-y, but with more emphasis on the cream than the orange. I’m not really getting any chocolate, but there’s definitely an almond pastry flavor, which is quite lovely. This tea brings to mind some kind of orange and almond-flavored tea cake with glaze. I’m sure a touch of sugar would bring out the dessert flavors even more.
Flavors: Almond, Cream, Malt, Orange, Pastries
Another one from cookies! I know she was anxious to be the first person to review this one, and it’s such an unusual tea and not what she expected. So I’m going to try it too and see how it tastes to me! The tea leaves themselves are rather small (I looked on DTH’s website to see what kind of tea it is, but all it said was “Chinese”) and they’re very dark, almost jet black in color. There are little shiny brown barley grains mixed in throughout, and they’re quite cute. Dry scent is rich and roasty and reminds me of coffee, with a surprising sweetness.
Wow, it smells even sweeter when it’s steeped up! There are also roasty and woody aromas here, and perhaps even vanilla? Such an interesting and unusual tea… There’s definitely a strong roasted grains flavor combined with a sweet woodiness that reminds me of bourbon vanilla. In the beginning on the sip, there’s something that tastes like green beans with bacon to me. There’s a little touch of roasty bitterness that’s very reminiscent of coffee, which I’ve found in the flavored barley teas I’ve tried as well. I wonder what the base tea tastes like by itself, as all the flavors here are rather unusual!
Flavors: Coffee, Grain, Green Beans, Oak wood, Peanut, Roasted, Sweet, Vanilla