73 Tasting Notes
This is a new one from Mountain Rose Herbs! I was pretty excited because I love the idea of vanilla and black tea. (That, and because I am a total chocoholic, black teas + chocolate is also a marriage made in heaven in my opinion!) That said, however, I really don’t like super “dessert-y” teas with lots of added flavorings. I’m kind of a purist and generally appreciate when I get notes of those flavors naturally from the tea itself. I know there are many, many variations of vanilla or chocolate or caramel dessert teas that are made by various companies, but I just don’t want all of the flavorings they usually add. But on the off chance I do feel in the mood for an added bit of flavor to complement the tea, I like the minimum amount necessary and the more natural, the better! As in, for example, the use of real fruit bits instead of fruit flavor, or real vanilla bean instead of flavoring. (Speaking of flavorings, I know this is a bit of a tangent but does anyone know what those mysterious “natural flavors” are that many manufacturers add? How do they make them? I’m not saying they are all bad, but I just tend to find them too artificial-tasting. Any good articles out there I could read on the topic? I’d really like to know the chemistry of it all…how these flavor profiles are created, etc.)
Anyway, sorry it’s taking me so long to get to the point. This is supposed to be a tasting note and instead I’m turning it into a long story about flavored teas. Sorry!
So this Vanilla Black is pretty good, a little sharp-tasting sometimes and overall very bold. The vanilla taste is there, but it almost has a slight bitterness to it, and the flavor is not as full and rich as I would have expected given that this tea has vanilla beans as well as vanilla flavoring. I like it, but something feels sort of wanting or out of balance—it’s nothing drastic and obvious, but something just under the surface that is hard to pinpoint. I think it might be lacking more of a smoothness and richness from the vanilla? Or maybe the Assam is just too bold to be blended with vanilla and therefore a different choice of a black tea base would be preferable, like a Yunnan black that is more mellow? Not sure.
I do like this but it’s not my favorite. I’m not sure I would order it again. It is a good accompaniment to dessert though—I had it with a slice of pound cake and that was pretty satisfying! Maybe adding cream and sugar would round it out more, but I’m just not a fan of doing that to my tea!
Oh and a quick extra blurb here: I once tried making my own using a Madagascar vanilla bean and adding bits to a black tea I had (can’t remember which kind) but it didn’t really work. The vanilla failed to blend well with the tea and I could barely taste it, even though I had scraped a good amount of vanilla specks into the tea and added the pieces of pod as well to steep along with the tea. Disappointing. Maybe I wasn’t doing it right. Has anyone else tried making their own vanilla tea this way? Or tried adding their own natural flavors? What did you do that worked?
This is my standard English Breakfast tea. I drink it almost every morning (I typically start my day with either this or the MRH Assam). It is a delicious classic I can rely on and enjoy frequently. I love its smooth, well-rounded rich flavor with just the right amount of subtle briskness and a nice, slightly sweet aftertaste. A very tasty tea indeed.
Oh my, this is such a delightful treat! This would be a perfect black to pair with dessert, although it is so good I think it is dessert in and of itself! These delectable Ceylon black tips have a wonderfully smooth and sweet taste. I especially enjoy the lovely, lovely chocolate notes. The leaves themselves even smell of chocolate before they are steeped! How unusual to find a “chocolatey” tea that is naturally that way and not with added flavor. Yet the chocolate notes are just that: light notes that dance on the tongue in tune with the other flavors. Excellent!
Very nice! A light, tasty tea that is faintly reminiscent of Darjeeling but stands apart with its own flavor. Its taste is of a smooth, mellow black tea with notes of pine and a sweet blackberry finish. It leaves a slightly dry lingering taste on the tongue that, for me, is rather pleasant.
I just received my tea order last week and, after first enjoying some of the delicious Indian black teas I have been craving from Mountain Rose Herbs, decided to have a refreshing cup of my favorite white tea. As soon as I opened the bag, I was disappointed. I couldn’t believe my eyes. My precious White Peony, which I have ordered before many times, was no longer whole leaf!! I was so shocked to find all those lovely leaves and buds all chopped up to smithereens, my beautiful baby hacked to oblivion…! Why, why, why??? I can’t believe they would do that to this wonderful tea, which was so perfect when it was whole! Why couldn’t they have left it as it was?
Trying not to panic, I proceeded to make my cup of tea (using less leaf than I used to when it was whole—I used to use a large heaping tablespoon but figured because it’s broken leaf I would need only the standard teaspoonful), hoping against all hope that perhaps it would still taste the same as I remember it: sweet and slightly floral, like honey and flowers… So I held my breath and waited for the infusion to finish steeping.
and poured it into the cup. It was darker in color, like a darker brownish yellow (unlike the lovely golden honey-color I fondly remember). I took a sip. It was not the same. My worse fears had been confirmed. Something in this tea had been lost—the delicate taste was gone, replaced by a stronger, more bold and flat vegetal flavor. I wanted to cry. (And then I somehow managed to keep it together, reminding myself that I am an adult, and that there really are worse things in life than a disappointing cup of tea! Ah, perspective.)
Anyhow, I am now left with an 8 oz bag of the Shredded White Peony. What to do, what to do? I knew I could make this tea for my husband, who is most definitely NOT a tea snob like me and who gasp! thinks all tea “tastes basically the same”, and therefore is my typical go-to person for disposing of sub-par tea so as not to waste it. But I felt I should not give up on my poor peony so easily. It used to be too good of a tea to waste on my husband. So…
As with all things, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I decided that this tea could possibly be blended with something else and produce a decent cup. Fortunately I had also just bought a bunch of MRH’s peppermint leaf (I will have a separate tasting note on that because it is SO good!) and thought the flavor of the white peony would actually work well with some nice crisp, refreshing mint. I resolved to try it and made 3 cups of an infusion from 2 teaspoons white tea + 1 teaspoon peppermint leaf. The result: VERY GOOD! It was light, minty, slightly vegetal but not too strong, the white tea flavor came through and was not overpowered by the mint, and overall I would say it made a fine blend. I call this tea, “Winter’s Breath” as its taste brings to mind that moment when you step outside on a snowy winter day and inhale the crisp clean air. It should provide the perfect drink for Christmas morning, or on any winter day when the snow is falling outside. As I seem to always get in the mood for mint around the holidays, this should be good for all my intents and purposes this year.
As to why MRH decided to cut up their white tea, I have no idea and am curious to find out. I might call the company and just ask about it, because I do miss how it was sold before. I love MRH, they have excellent teas and this is the first time I have ever been disappointed with their product. I’m sure they must have a good reason for not selling it whole leaf. Oh well. Don’t cry over spilt milk. Or in this case, broken leaf.
Because this tea was always good before, and the essential taste is still there (although it is much stronger and less complex than before) I will hold off rating this for now. I am going to experiment a little and try steeping it at different temps, for different times, and see if I can’t get closer to the taste I love and remember before.
My husband and I were in Des Moines this weekend because I was running a 5k, and lo and behold it just so happened that the race was practically right next to my favorite tea shop: Gong Fu Tea! Naturally, as soon as the race was over we headed over there to splurge on some tea (gotta have my post-run “recovery” beverage, of course!)
I ordered a cup of this milk oolong and thoroughly enjoyed it to the last drop. Admittedly I am not a very knowledgeable or experienced oolong drinker so I don’t have much to compare this to, but in my opinion is was very wonderful and unique. My son had fallen asleep in his stroller, the tea shop atmosphere was perfectly relaxed and soothing, and I just sat in their comfy chair and had a peaceful moment all to myself as I savored each sip of this tea, letting its warmth envelop me and its exquisite taste take me away to another world. Every so often I would open my eyes between sips and jot a note on what mouth was experiencing.
This tea’s flavor consisted of pleasing, warm, mellow notes reminiscent of coconut milk. It was rich and buttery with a lovely light sweet lingering finish. It was delicious, like a homemade butter cookie right out of the oven, yet at the same time it was not at all too heavy or rich. Mmmmmmmmm. I REALLY would have liked to purchase more of it in bulk to take home, but I had some other teas I’ve been wanting to try and my budget was limited. Alas, I will just have to wait to get it another time.
I usually like black teas to get me going in the morning, but occasionally I will be in the mood for something lighter to start my day. This morning I got out my Dao Ren green tea—which is what I like to think of as my “breakfast green tea” because it fuller-bodied than other green teas and thus makes for a perfect breakfast cup. It is smooth, thick, nutty, and sweet, but not strong or astringent, and has a “gentleness” about it that makes it quite comforting. It brews up a slightly cloudy golden-green color, with a nice warm vegetal scent. It is a pleasant way to wake up and ease into the day, suitable for when you don’t need to be jolted awake (as when drinking a brisk, black tea). It is very satisfying and holds its own for breakfast—but also serves for the afternoon too.
I was surprised that one person had commented they steep it for only 1-2 minutes, although I know that is the case typically for green teas. I just can’t understand how that is long enough to taste anything though! Maybe my water is hard and that is interfering with my ability to taste the subtle notes? (I use regular tap water, usually filtered although I need to change the filter on our purifier so maybe that’s the problem?) but any tea flavor is barely detectable for me at 1-2 minutes, and I’ve tried different water temperatures. This goes for virtually all my teas. If it is not a water issue, then perhaps it’s simply that my palate just isn’t sensitive enough (and thus why I tend to prefer black teas over green in general). Perhaps I need to try more green and white teas and work on developing my tastebuds to pick up on their subtleties! I don’t know. Does anyone else have this problem?
I happened to get this tea on a whim during Teavana’s big annual tea sale, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it! I would agree with others who have noted that they couldn’t really detect any chocolate flavor, but it was sweet and malty and altogether wonderful so I can’t complain.
I only wish I had more…sadly that stash of tea is long gone. I enjoyed each and every cup I drank, and the fond memory still remains with me. I will have to get this one again someday, although my priority is for teas that are organic, whenever possible, so we’ll see.
This is a very unique and delicious tisane! It’s tart, yet has some sweetness to it too. I usually don’t add anything to my tea, but this tastes really nice with honey. Just don’t over brew it. In my experience, anything longer than 5 minutes and it tastes horribly bitter.