564 Tasting Notes

51

1 pyramid sachet to 250mL water.

Competent blends, but nothing special. The Organge Spice cloys. All need an exceptionally long steep to bring out any flavour. Really, really, overpackaged; each pytamid is wrapped in cardboard (like Tea Forte) and then slotted in its own plastic compartment. Saving the cardboard (!) pyramid sleeves for my daughter to organize Legos in. Makes a pretty-looking gift, but there are better rooiboses and rooibos blends out there, with far less packaging.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more

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95

1 full-leaf pouch for 400mL water, bare.

Okay, here’s a new low for MBH the Tea-Fiend. While looking in Winners last night for a can opener — a freakin can opener, people — I bought tea. Fancy schmancy over-packaged tea, left over from the ‘Desperate for a Gift?’ display. I bought a mug I most certainly do NOT need just to get the two pouches of Mighty Leaf Orange Dulce within. (Actually, a covered mug as packaging for teabags is pretty cool. Unlike the insane platic divided tray Tea of Life is using for a collection of rooibos pyramid sachets.) But I digress. The point is, I bought a mug just to get the tea. Cause Mighty Leaf isn’t available by retail here in NL.

Opening the foil packet, I could swear heat escapes. Or am I running a fever? (My household is rotten with a cold virus.) Smells smooth, not all biting harsh like Bigelow’s Constant Comment or Stash’s Orange Spice. Impressive ingredient list.

Oh, my. Gentle orange, gentle tea, but neither one is faint. Oooh, I could really get to like this. I’ve been cionsidering an order from Mighty Leaf on the description of Beatles Blend alone (major Beatles geek here). Creaminess, too — ooh, real vanilla! Not girly-shop-and-perfume vanilla. And jasmine scent. Oh. Excuse me. Orange Dulce and I need to be alone.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Michelle Butler Hallett

Second steep: very little black tea taste left, which is fine; now the jasmine and orange can play.

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70

2-3 TB for a gourd, 1 packet stevia (equals 2 tsp sugar)

New batch — ai! David, what happened?? This is all bitter and harsh, and even extra stevia ain’t helping. My darling Jumpy Monkey has jumped away? Oooohh, it pains me, but I gotta haul the rating wayyyy down here.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 30 sec
heatherwassing

No good! Jumpy Monkey is so tasty!
Demand an exchange.

Batrachoid

Oh, that was one of the ones I wanted to order. I hope they reblend it nicely by the time I order.

Michelle Butler Hallett

I think it’s the coffee beans. The first infusion is quite bitter and acidic. Second, third and fourth much, much better. But holy face, that first infusion is nasty. Never used to be.

Michelle Butler Hallett

I should mention that I reported this problem to David’sTea, and they quickly offered to send me a replacement. We’re talking a 250g bag here. Great customer service.

Michelle Butler Hallett

When I hauled the rating down on this batch, it was doen to 34.

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89

1 heaping TB for 450mL water, 1 packet stevia (equivalent of two tsp sugar)

The sweetener mellows the sharp edge of the cinnamon, which, when you smell the tisane in the packet, is almost aggressive. I keep forgetting how much I like this blend — and how good it makes me feel. Offspring are home today with rotten colds. I haave the same cold, but much milder symptoms. Hmm, could it possibly be all the rooibos I’m drinking these past few days since I heard the first sniffle?

Sweetened, Cinnamon Rooibos Chai develops a creamier mouth-feel and heavier body. I may yet try some soy milk in this one. It warms the body slowly, similarly to a ginger tisane, and just makes me feel GOOD. Healthy good. Fortified good. David’sTea claims this blend — or at least the cinnamon in it — helps concentration and focus. I find that happens, to, but tht might be a placebo effect. Either way, a really good rooibos blend to have on hand when you’re feeling ill or need to fight off a cold. And best of all: the red rooibos is neither woody nor minty. Score!

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more
Michelle Butler Hallett

Brew it a little bit stronger — add to a small bit of soy milk — YUM. Creamy spicy goodness. Wow. Can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a milky tisane.

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30

1 TB for 450mL water, bare.

First, I want to get the word out for The Tea Brewery: independent tea blenders and merchants. And they’re in Nova Scotia, a sister province to my own Newfoundland and Labrador. So yay!

They carry a very full line of teas and tisanes (http://www.teabrewery.com/priceList.pdf), and I really want to try some more.

I received the Decadence White Chocolate Rooibos as a gift. It’s another one I really wanted to like. The red rooibos base is woody and a bit minty, occasional and unpreditcable features of red rooibos that I don’t care for but many others like or love. The white chocolate comes from white chocolate chips, the kind you bake with. They melt evenly with the tea, but, as the tea cools, blobs of fat from the white chocolate chips rise to the surface, like blobs of fat from a bone rise up in a soup stock. Most people will have the hot tisane drunk long before this happens, but it is an unappetizing sight. I would not recommend this tisane be brewed for cold/iced drinking. The white chocolate adds some sweetness to the overall tisane, which cuts and smooths out the woodiness of the rooibos. I couldn’t finish mine, but that’s a matter of taste in the drinker, not necessarily competenence in the tea blender … though I do wonder if baking chips are the way to go.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more
Uniquity

Sorry, I had to comment – Yay The Tea Brewery!! I recently established that they sell their tea at the halifax farmers market, well on sundays at least. I didn’t realize anyone on Steepster had added them yet : ) I’ve got their NS Blueberry and a few little samplers.

Also…Finally clued in why your name was so familiar to me. : ) I worked at Frog Hollow until it closed, and am pretty certain I have a signed copy of Double Blind on my bookshelf…

Michelle Butler Hallett

I can’t wait to try some of their other teas.

Yep, that’s me.

I was so sorry to hear Frog Hollow had closed. Damn, we need more indie bookstores.

Uniquity

I love the little rack of $2 sample packs they stick up at the market. I tried a couple apple ones I was interested in that way. I have a tendency to buy 100 g of everything then see if I like it, so those little pouches really work to get me hooked on truly awesome tea. And how could I not love anything so wonderfully Maritimes? : )

Michelle Butler Hallett

I hear that. Call it cultural chauvinism, but I always want to support Atlantic Canadian businesses — provided they’re any good, of course.

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75

1 TB tea for 450mL water plus 1 packet of stevia, leaves and filter sac left in.

Siiiiggghhhh … my beloved Super Chocolate is still unavailable for online order. There is no retail David’sTea in my province, let alone city, so I rely on the heartless internet for my supply of this one.

Unless a good friend travels to a city housing a bricks-and-mortar David’sTea.

This batch, bought from the Halifax-Dartmouth store, is noticeably different from my last two batches bought online. Much smoother, almost creamy. Lovely subtle chocolate and very faint cinnamon aftertaste. Far more chocolate bits, and more long green tea leaves (they look like Dragonwell). Less apple-y green rooibos taste but stil plenty of green rooibos, which has a freshness no other tisane can match. This particular variation on Super Chocolate is my fave and tastes most like the very first batch I ever ordered. I love all the variations, but I do wish David’sTea would hurry up and get the recipe standardized — and more importantly, back online.

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5

1 teabag for 400mL water, bare, two-minute steep.

Got a box of 50 foil-sealed bags for Christmas, as a loving gift, so I feel a bit guilty giving this tea an honest review, but here goes …

The Royal Albert crowd put out some lively china. I own a Royal ALbert “Regency” tea cup and saucer (http://www.amazon.com/Royal-Albert-1900-Regency-Tea-Saucer/dp/B001RIYRW6) and several Royal Albert mugs. Beautiful pieces.

But when the Royal Albert people urge me to “enjoy this superior [green] tea at its best” by steeping the green tea in freshly boiled water for 3-5 minutes, and then gently squeezing the teabag, I, uh, get suspicious. And I did no such thing when brewing a cuppa of Royal Albert Green.

The bags are thick and cloudy gauze with about 1.5 tsp of teeny weeny leaves — almost crumbs — imprisoned within. The tea smells stale. Or is that the gauze, which is almost thick enough to dress a wound? Steeped two minutes at off-the-boil water, the leaves release an attractively pale green liquour. However, this tea tastes about as good as it smells: stale. Stale lawn clippings. A very grassy green tea, and tending towards bitterness. Last year’s grass that dried and fell off the mower blades onto the basement floor. (Yes, there’s an unpleasant metallic tinge, too — faint, but undeniable.

Maybe it would taste better if made according to directions, but I doubt it.

I can’t even finish the cup.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Angrboda

That cup is lovely!

Michelle Butler Hallett

Isn’t it? Not too floral and girly. It came with a matching dessert plate.

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95

BLEND: 2/3 Damn FIne Holiday Blend, 1/3 Damn Fine Captain Assam

1 heaping TB tea for 500mL water, bare.

The Captain mellows the Holiday Blend’s sharpness without overpowering it, resulting in a heavier, creamier cuppa. And quite the dose of caffeine, I might add. Will experiment later with different ratios. I also want to introduce the Captain to some Keemun, but I gotta find some Keemun first.

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 0 sec
Beckara

I ordered myself a tin of Holiday Blend yesterday!!!

Michelle Butler Hallett

Let me know what you think of it.

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99

1TB for 500mL water, bare.

An old favourite that never disappoints. Chewy and creamy and smoky this morning — and an excellent foil for the hit and spicy peanuts that just made up part of my breakfast.

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95

1TB for 500mL water, bare.

Dry, like a dry white wine. Floral, but a welcome change from jasmine (which I love). Dry again. A bit sweet, a bit ‘green,’ but not grassy-green. Clean. Lighter all round than many oolongs I’ve tried. Relaxing. Helps me focus.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 6 min, 0 sec
Michelle Butler Hallett

Beautiful leaves, bioth dry and steeped.

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Profile

Bio

Writer and tea fiend. Author of THIS MARLOWE, DELUDED YOUR SAILORS, SKY WAVES, DOUBLE-BLIND, and THE SHADOW SIDE OF GRACE.

I prefer straight teas but will try almost anything … so long as it’s not tainted with hibiscus. I loathe hibiscus.

Floral oolong and complex black teas are my favourites.

Location

St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

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