518 Tasting Notes

93

500mL mug

1 part chai concentrate, 1 part 2% milk. Gently heat in microwave til steaming. Then add two Stash Ginger Breakfast teabags and a splash of boiling water. Cover and steep on a desktop mug warmer for 5 minutes. Allow milk to carry sweet hot spicy gingery bliss throughout body. Sigh. Smile.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Gets hotter and more gingery with each sip! Booya, sweetest burrrrnnnn …

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88
drank Joy by Tazo
518 tasting notes

1 big bag for 500mL water (medium take-out cup from Starbucks), no milk or sweetener.

Ai yi yi. Be careful if you get Joy to go. Traffic and other delays meant mine steeped wayyyy too long. The oolong is lost. Astringent and spicy Darjeelings, intoxicated with new power, have bullied this cup. Some stronger black tea is grunting in the background. Something else— oolong?— tastes scalded. I love a good strong tea, but Tazo’s Joy is delicate and complex. Steep carefully!

Michelle Butler Hallett

Last few sips remind me of, um, rocks. Clean rocks. Iron ore, maybe. I don’t go around licking rocks, so I really don’t know why I’m thinking this … hard to explain. Is there an official term for this taste?

gmathis

Mineral taste is a valid description!

Michelle Butler Hallett

‘Mineral.’ Okay, I can go with that. Once again, Steepster proves I am not crazy. ;)

gmathis

But I really like “licking a rock” better. Much more vivid.

Michelle Butler Hallett

Meh — it’s a hobby. :)

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93

1 TB for 500mL water, no milk or sweetener.

I find Kenya Black Dryer Mouth — so named for the malty pucker it can cause — tastes and feels like a cousin of Assam. It’s brighter in scent and liquor than an Assam, more like a Ceylon that way, but it’s got maltiness, baby. Smooth finish, no bitterness.

Dry leaves look black; steeped leaves turn a beautiful dark rust with some dark green.

Light to medium mouthfeel. Not as creamy or chewy as a good Assam (can ya tell I’m out of Assam and dying to have some this morning?) but very, very good. Bright and feisty.

Many Irish Breakfast blends use Kenya teas.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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89

2 bags for 500 mL water, no milk or sweetener.

Decaf black tea is dicey. I often find it tastes stale or hollow.

Stash decaf English Breakfast is not the best black tea from Stash, and it’s not the most flavourful English Breakfast blend. I blame the decaffing for this, not the tea itself.

BUT … and this is a major saving ‘but’ … when I wake up feeling sick at 2 in the morning and sleep seems as far away as a Darjeeling estate, Stash’s decaf English Breakfast is lovely. I brew it strong, of course, try to steep it past the decaf hollowness; it quickly slides then into a comforting, if astringent, puckery maltiness. I love it. And even if it doesn’t help me get back to sleep, at least it won’t keep me awake.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more

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89

2 bags for 500mL water, no sweetener or milk.

I generally don’t care for flavoured black teas. Too often the black tea base is of a low quality, and the added flavour seems to mask, rather than accentuate, the tea. Stash, however, do a consistently good job with flavoured black teas, especially for bagged tea.

There’s Indian black tea in this blend, perhaps Assam, or maybe it’s Kenyan … something’s got a kiss of malt to it. The maltiness then emphasizes the peach flavour, which is heavy but not fake. After 5 minutes, the brew gets astringent, but not, surprisingly, bitter.

The peach flavour is better than that ubiquitous radioactive peach flavour/stench that seemed to infest everything in the late 1980s; there’s depth to the peachiness here, which then emphasizes the slight maltiness of the black tea, and so back and forth, back and forth …

Medium to heavy body. Silky mouthfeel. Not an everyday tea for me, but one I cherish when I’m in the mood for it. I don’t care for everything Stash offers, not by a long shot, but when they get it right, like this Peach tea, they seriously get it right.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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85

1 TB for 500mL water, 1 packet stevia, no milk

Well now, this is more like it.

I’ve pouted before about the relative not-spiciness of anything labelled ‘chai’ from David’s Tea. I’d found two exceptions — Chai Guarana and Cinnamon Rooibos Chai. I’d forgotten about Saigon Chai, which I’d ordered and quickly finished several months ago. I just brewed up a sample received in my last order.

The dry leaves look intriguing, especially with the peppercorns and caradamom. The aroma carries a very deep cinnamon, not at all the festive and playful cinnamon of Christmas cookies or chewing gum. Assam is the base, which is as it should be, harumph. ;) The Assam does not dominate, but neither does it get lost like China black teas can under chai spices.

I find a bit of sweetening brings out the spices and their heat a bit more. Still not a hot chai — lags behind David’s Cinnamon Rooibos Chai for heat — but at least it’s not cold and damp chai.

Ginger. Caradmon is good, but I am finding that I always want tons of ginger in chai. No ginger in this one. But the cinnamon is wonderful. Extra points for the bliss-me-out Vietnamese cinnamon.

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 15 sec
Michelle Butler Hallett

Ooops — the ingredients do list ginger. My mistake. But more, more!

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75

4 TB for a 6-cup Brown Betty teapot, 2 packs of stevia (for the whole pot), no milk.

I don’t often make tea by the pot for myself. I like my teas and tisanes mad hot, so even a cozied pot tends to cool off long before I can finish it. And microwaved tea — I dunno, it never stays hot very long, and I figure I’m probably wrecking anything beneficial in the brew. (I have no evidence for that feeling; it’s just a personal hunch thing.)

But today I thought I’d play with my beloved Super Chocolate. Measurements above. I put the stevia in the pot with the loose leaves. No infuser. (I can often taste something papery from those handy disposable tea-sacks, and something tinny from cheaper metal infusers.) A good 15-minute steep to get things started …

If my kidneys can handle it, I might have this pot gone before it gets too cold.

That said, room temp or even chilled Super Chocolate is quite delicious, too.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more

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99

1.5 TB for 500mL water, no milk or sweetener.

I file this one under ‘Cup of Tea That Could Save Your Life.’

Dry leaves smell like sunshine and malt and a very faint whiff of smoke. Long leaves, like Yunnan black needles, that unfurl beautifully.

A slight pinch more tea prevents bitterness after a longer steep and makes for a heavier body, too. Malty, slightly astringent but never murky.

Deliciously strong without tearing the skin off your mouth or the enamel off your teeth. Not bitter. Quite fortifying. Verging on Orwell territory again: a cup of tea that can make me feel braver, wiser and more optmistic.

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 30 sec

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84

2 TB in a gourd, 125 mL water, no sweetener or milk, drunk through a bombilla.

Okay, I think I’ve found the balance. Not so much banana-ness this way. And it kicks with caffeine, or mateine, or whatever’s in yerba mate. Not my go-to mate, but an intense and lovely treat. Quite sweet on its own. Delicious scents of malt, chocolate and pipe smoke. Weird, but I like it.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more

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84

1.5 TB for 500mL water, no milk or sweetener.

So I followed guidelines this time. A mere six-minute steep. Much less apple-peel flavour and scent, a but more nuttiness. Mostly almond, though … not marzipanish sweet, but definitely sweet.

I really don’t like the colour, though I’m happy it comes from beetroot and not from the dreaded hibiscus.

Much better steeped cautiously. Not sure if I’ll order this one again, but it’s a tasty alternative to my must-be-rationed Super Chocolate.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 6 min, 0 sec
heatherwassing

I love the colour, because it doesn’t at all match the taste. You’d expect berries or hibiscus (which I’m getting the feeling you don’t care for? Neither do I. Gross.) I really need to buy this one again. I’ve been out for over a month.
But every time I go for Forever Nuts, it turns into a “Oh, well, okay. Let’s try Love Tea…”

Michelle Butler Hallett

Hibiscus is so potent that it’s a bully. Add a touch of hibiscus for colour and suddenly the entire brew is tart and astringent. (I’m glaring at you, Celestial Seasonings.)

I was grumpy last night. Maybe if I watch FN steep next time, I’ll feel differently about the colour.

gmathis

I will glare at CS along with you. If they feel the heat of enough stares, think they’ll reformulate?

Michelle Butler Hallett

hahahahaha

CS have a lot going for them. And I freely admit, I’m always enticed by the boxes. But the teas and tisanes themselves … if they aren’t swimming in hibiscus, they seem weak somehow, or even stale. And I’m convinced I can taste the teabag material.

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Profile

Bio

Writer and tea fiend. Author of 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.

Oolongs and blacks are my favourites.

Location

St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

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