107 Tasting Notes
Used this to make Cream of Wheat this morning. I have no complaints whatsoever about the maple-and-blueberry taste I ended up with, but I have to note something odd…which is that my CoW did not thicken. At all. Not even slightly. Not even after having the crap boiled out of it.
I was so confused that I tripled-checked the amounts of everything I had used, and they were correct. Hell, I even used the deep-bowled TEA spoon to scoop out the CoW from the box, rather than the flatter kitchen teaspoon which spills it everywhere, so it should have been even more accurate than usual. It’s not that the CoW is old, because it’s a relatively new box…but I’ve made it from this box before with no trouble. And I’ve made it with Oh Canada before with no trouble. The only new thing is Teavana’s tea. Surely there’s no ingredient in it that would cause the CoW to fail to thicken? I will have to experiment.
This is weird, though. It’s cooked and everything, but 10 minutes after I made it…still soup.
Matcha + raspberry agave + chocolate milk…
= RASPBERRY CHOCOLATE MATCHA LATTES, y’all.
I know, I know. I’m a genius. No need to thank me.
(Celebrating my first cast iron sale – I honestly do think my customer will be happy with his pot too, and I came as close to falling into his budget as I could – and being sort of caught up to the other new guy who has already sold some. Now I just need to get on the daily top 40 list a few times, and we’ll be even. Also, everyone at work is going to praise my obvious geniuosity when I tell them to try making matcha lattes with chocolate milk, so life is grand.)
So I tried this iced a while back, and really wasn’t impressed at all. I’m not sure if that’s because I accidentally watered it down too much, or what – I’ve got a bit of a routine down for flash-chilled tea, but I haven’t exactly got it down to a science or anything.
But I haven’t tried it since. I think mostly just out of subconscious fear that it would end up being a real disappointment, hot or cold. I mean, I did have to buy 50g of this stuff, what if it sucked?
Well, I finally gave it another go tonight, hot. It doesn’t suck. It’s not the best fruity white I’ve ever had, but it’s quite nice. The dry smell is lovely and peachy, and while the taste doesn’t exactly punch you in the face with peaches…it’s still satisfyingly peachy in a lighter and subtler way. A peach-flavoured white was one of the few things that excited me about Teavana coming to Canada, because I’ve never had a peach white before, and I think I’ve made up my mind to be quite pleased with this one for the time being. Although I’m also thinking I want to try blending it with the Imperial Acai Blueberry (blueberry whites, one of my other fruity white obsessions) or a strawberry white (the number one fruity white obsession right before blueberries).
OOH. Actually, hell, I think I’m going to go try a Strawberry Fields/Precious White Peach combo RIGHT. NOW.
Although I might have to backlog that one, because it’s getting super late here, and I need to work at 11 tomorrow. Which is early for a non-morning person like me.
I give up. I give in. I am drinking matcha now.
My wallet weeps.
Not rating this for now, because my previous experience with matcha straight was something that tasted like grass drenched in dog urine, so I’m not sure I can handle this straight. But it’s nice added to other teas, and it makes an amazing vanilla green tea latte. Actually, we were so low on milk this morning that I made a latte with this and cream instead, and that was stunning.
I passed on picking up a whisk for this, and that was such a mistake. Basically nothing I tried at home works as well as a proper whisk, so I will have to get one after all. Even though I got no foam out of this before I added the cream, that didn’t seem to hurt the tea any.
It’s clumpy, so make sure you sift it first. I was looking for something to sift it through that I wasn’t too concerned about getting stained bright green, and realized my old tea ball from Teaopia would work. I basically haven’t used the thing in, oh, two years! So I grabbed it and twisted on the middle catch until the two halves came apart, and then re-purposed one half as a strainer to sift the powder through with the back of a spoon. It’s a bit small, but it worked!
This one’s great! My new favourite mate, besides Chocolate Rocket, but who knows…I haven’t tried the other new chocolate-y one yet.
Hot, this basically tastes like orange juice, although it lacks something very particular to orange juice…some of the acidity, maybe? I think the other fruits sweeten it a bit. Underneath that you can taste the mate, but it blends well; although a bit of a bitter roasted flavour comes out as it cools to room temperature, so definitely drink it hotter.
Or maybe colder? I only got 10g of this, which makes about three gourds, so I haven’t iced it yet; but I imagine it’s going to be amazing iced. I’m definitely going back for a tin of this to have in the mornings with toast and eggs!
Oh yes, and I also got the little ceramic gourd and teeny bombilla DAVIDsTEA is selling right now. I’ve seen traditional ones for sale before, and never got them; mainly because I didn’t trust myself to care for them properly, and because the bombillas were severely marked up.
Then I saw this guy in DT: http://www.davidstea.com/ceramic-mate-gourd
And I thought, naw, I totally have to do this cutesy-wutesy easy version. I love it! The only complaint I have is about how the ceramic gives off heat, which makes it very hard to hold until it cools down. But it’s very easy to clean, and the teal silicone attachment holds the bombilla perfectly in place so it doesn’t go all over the place. The bombilla works fine, too; I left the mate to swirl around in the gourd, and the bombilla sucks up all the liquid without getting clogged.
Since I am internally six years old, I delight in now being able to drink tea through a straw. So naturally, I started experimenting with said straw. (Which I’m also going to have to buy replacements for, because I just know I will use this thing until it breaks.)
Back when all the stuff at my local Teaopia was 75% off, I picked up this thing which looks like a plastic coffee cup to-go lid with a removable infuser attached to the bottom. The infuser isn’t large, and is mostly kind of useless, but I discovered yesterday that the lid part fits PERFECTLY on (what else?) a Perfect Mug. And the bombilla? Fits neatly through the little drinking hole in the lid.
So I’ve now discovered a way to drink hot tea in a cup with a lid and a straw. I don’t think it gets more Westernized/Western bastardized than that.
Thank HEAVEN, this goddamn awful tea is finally de-cupboarded. God, I thought I’d never drink it all.
I swear that I tried damn near everything to save this tea. Drank it hot, drank it cold, cold-steeped it, really short steeps…all around, it tasted gross. I finally used this up by making a vanilla green tea latte with it (using vanilla flavoured agave). Oh hey, THE VERY LAST CUP WAS DRINKABLE. Yeah, that was money well-spent! At least it’s done now…
Also, a Teavana update for anyone who was curious (stop reading now if you’re not!): Had three shifts now. Things seem to be going quite well…maybe.
My sales last weekday shift were a bit under 100/hr, which is around what my managers told me they aim for, so I think that’s good. That’s without having the faintest idea what’s on the wall, so I think when I know the product better 100/hr will be simple to aim for most days. I haven’t reviewed all the teas I’ve tried in the store – I prefer to only review things I’ve taken home and made a few times under conditions I can totally control – but I’ve liked most of what I’ve tried and so now have things to recommend to people.
I had the scale almost entirely figured out my second shift, so that’s not a problem anymore. Also, I finally got a glimpse of the training manual, which is hilariously stupid in a really corporate way which is hard to explain to someone unless they’ve seen it for themselves… But I can laugh that off, as I’m used to corporate stupidity. (Oh, the stories I could tell you about the other job I have!) Other than the cast iron (which I’ve never been disposed to really like that much anyway, although I kinda like the hobnail and the elephant ones from a design perspective), I like a lot of the merch in the store, and I now have a neat little milk frother which helps me make awesome lattes at home (including the one I’m having right now).
I’ve worked with one other new guy who seems very personable but is otherwise hopeless so far, which is somewhat funny because we had the same training shift. Just a slow learner? He seemed to defer to me as though I was his superior, which was odd and funny.
The only thing which still feels really awkward is sampling. But I think that’s because it’s just a plainly awkward thing to do. It’s a lot like the pushy “greeter” position at my other job, which has never stopped feeling awkward in the two years I’ve worked there…although my managers tell me I’m fantastic at it. I guess I shouldn’t hope for sampling to become less awkward; it’s just something you have to suck up and do.
Overall, I just like Teavana so much better than my other job right now. I was originally going to work three days there and three days at Teavana with one day off…the plan being that way because of all the horror stories I’ve heard about Teavana. I was planning to see if Teavana was a company I’d need to bail on before my probation was up, see. But I am so tired and depressed and frustrated with the other job, and so much happier talking to people about tea all day. So I asked my manager what she could give me in terms of hours if I could give her 6-7 day availability. Her response was, “You’re awesome. You can have whatever you want! Want to move up to full time? I’d love to have you on full time.” Great! Well, Teavana pays even crappier than my other job…but I haven’t gotten much more than 20hrs a week over there in 9 months with no sign of that changing any time soon, so it’s a moot point. More hours on shitty pay still works out better than practically no hours on slightly-less-shitty pay, and it also looks like I might have a better chance of climbing the ladder at Teavana…something I always keep an eye out for.
So I gave my notice at my other mall job on Sunday. I then went downstairs to deliver the news at Teavana, only to find out some disturbing news about staff change-overs. The kind of thing that inevitably makes you wonder if you’ve made a terrible mistake.
Dark cloud? Just a blip? Time will tell.
Other Job will probably beg me to stay at least one day a week (they’d be idiots not to), and if they do, I think I will suck up continuing to work there on one weekday. Just in case.
Okay, so I had NO idea how to prepare this one. And the instructions I found, uh, a bit on the baffling side:
Steep one teabag in 16oz boiling water for 3 minutes, strain tea into 2-qt pitcher, fill with cool water, serve over ice.
Okay, from reading Frank’s comments about these bags making “two quarts” of iced tea, I figured the “2-qt” thing was two quarts, but that still leaves me with the following questions:
-If it makes two quarts, why not make that amount hot and then chill it? Why prepare 16oz first and then water it down? Is this basically instructions to make a concentrate with the idea that the added cool water will make it instantly ready-to-serve?
-If it’s in a teabag in the first place, why would I need to “strain” it?
-Dear goofy Americans and your goofy measurements, WHAT ON THIS GREEN-BUT-OZONE-DEPRIVED EARTH IS A QUART?!?
I had to consult several cookbooks (the internet machine was being used by my sister, unfortunately) to determine that this “quart” thingie is apparently a [baffling!] measurement of 1.89271 litres. (Okay, I actually figured out that it’s a bit under two litres, and the internet machine gave me the exact number just now. Shush.)
Which, I’m sorry to say, reminded me quite a bit of this: http://i49.tinypic.com/14v63rn.jpg
I’m sorry America, but why. WHY AMERICA.
Anyway. Unfortunately, I do not even own a “2 quart” pitcher. I have a 1.6L pitcher (that’s 1.6907 quarts, for those of you following along at home), and that’s the biggest pitcher that will still fit in my fridge. Okay, I figured, that’s okay – the tea will end up a bit concentrated, but it’s RAINBOW SHERBET flavoured, so how could that be a bad thing?!
In the end, I decided to follow the instructions as exactly as possible, Just. In. Case. I put some rock sugar at the bottom of my pitcher, filled my 16oz Tea Master up with just-boiled water to get the measurement right, dispensed it into my pitcher and dropped the tea bag in.
Then I was left with the problem of how to fish the bag OUT again. Since it doesn’t have a string attached to it. Or, I guess, a rope, really, since it’s a big tea bag. I guess maybe that’s why the directions say to strain it?
Well, no worries! I figured, I’ll just use kitchen tongs! …But then I discovered (as my timer ticked down) that I can’t get the handle of the tongs past the opening. Whoops. I finally ended up just rolling up my sleeve, reaching delicately into the pitcher and fishing the bag out by one corner. Good thing I have pathetic skinny chicken arms; if I had hammy man-arms, my poor tea would have been screwed. Although I guess I could have tried pouring it back into the Tea Master.
I didn’t add cold water right away, since those darn rock crystals, awesome-tasting though they are, really don’t like to dissolve well. I added some more hot water and stirred until they did…then I added cold to fill, and stuck the whole thing in the fridge to chill for several hours. Whew! A more involved process for a pitcher of iced tea than I’ve bothered with before, but I guess I’ve got the details hammered out now.
So, the tea:
Dry smell is AMAZING. It made my entire kitchen smell exactly like rainbow sherbet from the moment I opened the bag! The wet smell is pretty much precisely the same, so I excitedly let my mother sniff the already-steeped bag, and she said it smelled like department-store perfume. (Sigh. I need to stop letting my mother smell my tea, because she always smells something strange in the leaves. No matter how bang-on the scent actually is, she always comes out with something like, “perfume,” or “paint chips.” Seriously, Mum?!)
Ultimately, it’s not quite as sherbet-y tasting as I was expecting. I was a bit surprised by this (given the strength of the tea’s scent), but there is definitely a smooth black tea coming through first, with sherbet more towards the back of the sip. But it’s definitely there, orange and lime and raspberry and something else that makes it specifically sherbet-like (and not like ice cream). The more I drink it, the more I feel like it grows on me, and indeed, the more I can actually taste the sherbet, too! This, like DAVIDsTEA’s Tropicalia and Root Beer Float is one that I decided to add milk to, because the cream (or something like it) implied by the flavour is so enhanced with a bit of milk. It didn’t exactly knock me over, but it’s still delicious, and I am going to go cold-steep the bag now for another pitcher to see what I can get out of it.
Finishing this one up – I have enough leaf left for one more cup. I think I can finish this one and maybe one or two more before Thursday, which excites me. The more teas I finish, after all, the more room I have for new ones! I have been good after all, and not bought any new teas in a few weeks now.
This one is not my favourite in any way, but that does not mean it is a bad tea – only that it is not so much to my taste. It’s actually a very well-flavoured tea indeed, which delivers precisely what it promises on the tin. The front of the sip is sweet, the middle of the sip is creamy and rich, and the end of the sip has a salty finish to it which is perfectly balanced with the sweet. None of the notes interfere with each other; they work together harmoniously. Really, I think this is one of DAVIDsTEA’s best blends of the year.
If only I liked the whole taste combination more in the first place, I would be all over this one. As it is, I’m weirded out by salty tastes in tea, and will probably not get this again. The rating is less for my personal taste, and more an acknowledgement of how well this tea delivers on its name.
I am home from work for two days, so I thought that I would use these days to compare a few straight oolongs. I decided to start with this one, the free tea I got a few weeks back when DAVIDs had a promo…buy…whatever it was, get 50g of any tea for free. (Unless you were ordering online, and then you got saddled with 50g of backstock of their hibiscus nightmare, Paradise Found. Sorry, online-only people! My condolences.)
I decided to go for this one – because it’s pricey as hell, of course. I don’t know what to make of it…maybe I should have just stocked up on something I know I like.
The dry smell in the bag is very milky, with a fresh green smell underneath.
Steeped, it tastes like…well, so far it tastes like warm milk heavily watered down with hot water. I’ve gone through 3 infusions now – one at 30 seconds, one at a minute and one at two minutes. The first infusion tasted like sweet milky water. The second infusion tasted like…water dipped in tea. This infusion finally seems to be showing promise of something, with a heavy, creamy mouthfeel and a distinctly milky taste. I do like it the best, so although I usually get bored enough to stop at three, I think I will try at least one more infusion to see what happens. I won’t rate it for now.
I still don’t think I’m quite seeing why people are so excited about this one, though. Am I doing something wrong?
Edit: ALSO, has anyone tried the 52teas Southern Boy Teas hot vs. cold steeped? I’m debating between cold steeping, or hot steeping and then cold-steeping the leaves again. Any opinions?
Edit II: Well, now I’m on the fourth infusion, and there is a thick richness to it that there wasn’t before. I won’t give it more than a 70 though, for how long I had to steep it to get any real flavour.
This tea continues to be one of my favourite blacks. Not because I haven’t had better by now – I have. This is just a comforting, don’t-think-too-hard about it tea that I like to have on mornings when I don’t need to go anywhere. It’s light and sweet.
On my last few trips to DAVIDs, I also bought a bunch of their flavoured honey sticks – peach, coconut and lemon – because I am a complete sucker for gimmicky shit like that. I sweetened this with one of the peach sticks, hoping it might come out something like a lighter version of Southern Belle.
It…didn’t, really. I could barely taste peach. I think it might need two sticks, although that tweaks that uneasy part of my brain which is aware of how much sugar there already is in my diet.
And speaking of sugar…I also have a can of Coke in the fridge. You know how they say that once you’re addicted to something, the addiction is forever? I have discovered that my soda pop limit is now something like ONE every few days, and it’s best to keep it to one a week and only sip it a bit at a time. If I do that, I enjoy it. If I drink it more often, the normally-tamed beast of my Coke addiction wakes up and says, “Go get more of that. RIGHT NOW.”
Which I did, the last time I drank too much Coke, too fast. But I have resisted drinking the can I then bought, so now it’s just sitting in the fridge. I’m trying to decide when to drink it, because its presence kind of makes me nervous and I want it gone. And I’m not truly committed enough to clean my toilet with it.