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58 Tasting Notes

(Disclaimer—I’m kind of uneducated when it comes to black tea. I’m more a fan of flavored teas. This isn’t going to be a true connoisseur’s assessment, merely that of one who knows what she likes. What’s more, Republic of Tea is a company I have something of a love/hate relationship with. )

First steeping: One bag, boiling water, three minutes.
Well, it’s nice and dark, a good indication that maybe they used enough tea in their sachets for once. I’m not catching much of a scent from it, maybe because I’m spoiled from drinking so many strongly flavored brews.
It tastes . . . (cue suspense music as I lift the cup to my lips) . . . like tea. I know, bravo Captain obvious.
It’s ok tea, mild and pleasant with no rancidity or bitterness. It actually reminds me of the cheap stuff I sometimes buy for my own blends for a dollar a box. The trouble is there ought to be worlds of difference between the taste of a tea that costs a dollar and another that retails at $10.50. The fact that my taste buds aren’t noticing any amazing nuances in the pricier stuff is a sure indication that either I’m an uncultured oaf or this stuff is overpriced.
I drank it plain in my oafish way and found it OK—Less perfume-y than some but quite acceptable. It grew a tad astringent in the last few sips.
I don’t see this as a morning grog to blast me into wakefulness nor an exotic tea to wax poetic over. To my uncultured palate Three Gardens Breakfast Black is mild, unassertive, inoffensive, ordinary, and quite forgettable. Yawn.

Terri HarpLady

Ha! As I recall, I bought that tin of tea in Springfield at the natural food store we went to during the family reunion. I had to use 2 – 3 teabags to make a decent cup of it. :) Glad to see you posting!

MsWhatsit

I’m not getting on as often as I used to. Currently I’m up to my eyebrows in Camp NanoWriMo but sometimes you just have to call it quits for the day and do something different.

Terri HarpLady

That’s right!

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I approached this tea with the usual amount of cynicism I reserve for this company. I have a love/hate relationship with Republic of Tea. This smelled really good, though, in the bag AND in the hot water. It had a lovely sweet cherry scent. When I took the tea bag out after a three minute steep it smelled really good—like cherries and tea. Impressed, I immediately set up a second tea bag in a quart jar as a cold brew for iced tea.

I like it hot. It’s a mild, pleasant green tea with a nice sweet cherry scent. Not at all koolaid-ish, it actually reminds me of dried cherries and it isn’t one of those tart fruit flavors that leaves me craving sweeteners either. It’s more of a scent than a flavor but it’s a pleasant one that mingles well with the tea. It is actually rather elegant for a snowy winter day and I kind of wish I had it in a fancier tea cup. Ah well, it is still lovely. Thanks to my big sis who sent it to me. Too bad it’s only a sample but I should be able to find more locally. I’ll probably pick some up this time next year—It seems really appropriate for February.

Postscript: Cold brewed the flavor was good at first but seemed a bit harsh soon afterwards and bothered my tummy. I like it better hot. Your mileage may vary.

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I found this locally produced loose leaf medicinal in Fayetteville, Arkansas. There were actually several jars of medicinal teas on display in big, clear glass jars. This one appeared to be a mix of lavender buds, pale silvery leaves and a variety of light and dark green leafy herbs with some pale brown grassy looking bits and some striped seeds as well. It smelled good, very sweet and floral with a nice lavender topnote. I’m quite fond of lavender and suffer from insomnia, so I bought a few ounces.

The flyer I picked up was very serious about the use of these teas for medicinal purposes, but I’m a skeptic at heart and decided to try it first as a regular tea, employing my usual methods. So I put one teaspoon in my tea strainer and brewed it in a cup of water for three minutes. The result was less assertive than the scent of the dry herbs but still quite pleasant. This blend, I decided, was the real deal, not some manufactured, extract filled concoction. I was detecting a hint of spearmint in the bouquet which was subtle but pleasant. Very old school, like a relaxing herbal bath in a cup. Whether psychological or physiological, I got an immediate relaxation response. Just the thing to help me relax before bed.

For the second round, I actually followed the recommended brewing instructions on the pamphlet that came with these medicinal teas. It called for one Tablespoon of the herbs in 8 oz water, steeped for 5-10 minutes. I opted for ten minutes to get a full strength dose.

It was medicinal all right. I was reminded of an episode of “Gunsmoke” in which a character named Dirty Sally made the comment that would become popular in my family to this day. “It’s gotta taste bad to be good.” It wasn’t really nasty per se I like most of the herbs in it but it was REALLY STRONG. The spearmint came to the fore, the lavender either disappeared or harshened from a delicate perfume into medicinal evil. I could taste something camphor-y and all the sweet delicate herbs seemed to morph from a metaphorical cradle into a stone hammer. Either one would rock me to sleep, but the second would be considerably less subtle about it.

In conclusion, I like this stuff, but will probably be saving it for times when I REALLY need sedation, and I think the normal strength will work just fine in most cases.

Terri HarpLady

So does the stone hammer smack you in the forhead & knock you out?
;)
Funny you should mention that saying, as I actually said that to my grandson the other night, as I was coercing him to drink one of my concoctions (he was sick). It really didn’t taste bad to me, but he doesn’t care much for ginger.

My go-to for sleeping is Valerian. I love my valerian, added to any tisane in the form of a tincture. :)

MsWhatsit

Yeah, pretty much. My husband’s family likes to joke about rocking people to sleep with an actual rock.

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Although Autumns chill is beginning to manifest, I’m still cold brewing my teas. I picked up this one up a month or so ago. Savoy Tea Company is a local supplier for my addiction and when I last fell off the wagon, this was one of their summer offerings. It smelled good and had a fun name, so I brought some home, then let it rest while I went through a series of sip downs. The theory is I bring interesting new teas home but can only open them as I finish others. The end result is I’m drinking summer teas in Autumn. Oh well…

A view of the dehydrated bits in the package made me suspect that this is another of those teas whose remains are edible. Sure enough, like the apple tea by the same company, it does appear to be the case. They’re mostly fruit bits. And yes, you can eat these steepings if you’re so inclined. I tried mine—They aren’t quite as good as Savoy’s Caramel Apple Almond, and in all honesty, I’m getting a little bored with that sort of thing, but it was kind of fun to try.

But enough of such silliness, how was the tea itself? Pretty good actually. I hate to use predictable words like “refreshing,” but this is. It’s good, watermelony—smells and tastes like the real deal only not sweet, just fruity. There are plenty of other elements at work in my cup, but they got the watermelon dead on and I liked this far more than I expected to.

I COULD sweeten it but have no really pressing urge to do so. It’s a nice, stand alone summer brew, one that resembles the fruit waters I make in the summer but in a compact form.

It’s also one of those brews I suspect would NOT be good hot. I could be wrong but doubt I am. As I consider academically the idea of trying a hot cupful, part of me is horrified at the notion.

Still, I’ll keep this handy for cold brews for mild autumn days. It’s very pleasant, and I like the whimsical aspect of the name. Watermelon Slide. It sounds like an unusual piece of playground equipment or a bizarre summer activity. It makes me want to break out in puns. “See that Mango? He’s berry good. We make quite a pear.”

“If you’re melon-collie cause you cantaloupe, take the banana boat and meet jungle Jim by the watermelon slide. You’ll have a grape time.”

gmathis

When we were there, we tasted one that had “autumn” or “harvest” in the name…can’t remember…it was also very melony, which I don’t usually associate with fall.

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I’m a gaming geek. Every Friday night, I’m seated at a table along with my motley bunch of nerds rolling dice, playing an axe wielding barbarian, a creepy necromancer, or an exuberant bard. Dungeons and Dragons, (well, they call it Pathfinder now) is a fun but sedentary game with the unfortunate side effect of the gaming table attracting all sorts of junk food. So besides doing battle with imaginary monsters, each week I find myself at war with my own lack of willpower.

Fortunately, there are other tea enthusiasts among my gaming companions. Upon learning this, I purchased a new tea cup, loaded a small tin with my best assortment, and tucked them into my gaming bag alongside my notebooks, gaming guides, and accumulated dice.

I have declared 9pm on game nights as “Tea time.” A nice hot cup of tea is a fine thing. Once I have that before me, all those chips and cheese doodles seem ridiculously unrefined by comparison. They seem beneath my sophisticated palate and I don‘t want them so much anymore. It’s a welcome respite and distraction.

This week, I tried a new flavor—Breakfast in Paris by Stash. I had been craving Savoy’s Paris Morning, the tea I waxed poetic about last winter and while I had a delightful experience with Parisian Breakfast Black from The London Tea Room, it was different enough from my old favorite to leave me reminiscing. So when I saw that Stash had a version of the same concept, I grabbed it. After all, I consider Stash to be pretty good at their art. Many of their blends have a permanent place in my cupboard, so I was eager to try their take on Paris.

This blend clearly represents morning in a different part of Paris than I am used to. Savoy’s version depicts Paris right next to the vanilla bean vender’s market stall. It would appear Stash represents Paris downwind of the lavender and bergamot fields or else in the professional laundry district.

I like lavender. I like it a lot. I’ve been known to make lavender bread, lavender lemonade, lavender apple crisp, lavender fruit salad, and lavender-vanilla coffee drinks. But I’m also aware that too much of the stuff can make your food and drink taste like laundry detergent. This tea is definitely too much of a good thing.

Maybe it’s an unbalanced batch. I can’t detect any vanilla at all and the levels of lavender and bergamot are intense enough to be harsh and slightly irritating to my mouth. There’s nothing particularly attractive about the underlying tea either. To add insult to injury, the strings are not firmly attached to the tea bags and come off when I’m attempting to use them. I’m not enchanted at all by this. Hell, I could make a better version of it myself, and I’m no master blender by any stretch of the imagination.

It smells nice though. Maybe I’ll try a very dilute cold brew and dump in some vanilla extract. Or if that doesn’t work, use it to make a nice lavender scented rinse for my hair.

gmathis

Chips, cheese doodles, and Breakfast in Paris—-love the combo!
(A Savoy visit is on the calendar soon…wonder if I should email them to stock up on Paris Morning :)

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Ok, I can smell the valerian in this one. It’s gonna put me in a coma for sure. I’ve heard Valerian described as smelling like old socks and various other horrible things but have never really found it objectionable. It has good associations for me, probably because I’m the kind of angst-y person who can always appreciate a bit of calming influence.

Some years ago, I devised a calming herbal blend of the same name—Two, actually. One I named sereni-tea to sooth my nerves. The second I named Mister T—to knock me out. The second one had valerian as I was dealing with insomnia. It was pretty effective. So now I’m a little concerned that this blend, which smells like valerian, will put me in a coma and disrupt my work today. Oh well, we’ll see.

It tastes…ok. Not particularly objectionable. Sort of a pleasant, generic herbal blend. Some mild mint in there somewhere and other good weedy stuff, enough that I can taste more than valerian. Yeah it’s there, but there’s enough other stuff to “sweeten” the blend and give it a sort of overall pleasant taste reminiscent of the old fashioned hippy tea blends of the seventies. Back when it was all about bucking the evil caffeine establishment and using healthy herbs. I get a little nostalgic with medicinal brews because they are more like the ones back then—A bit less about extracts and flavorings and more about getting certain health effects.

This one seems to be working. I’m starting to rub my eyes and yawn a bit. I probably ought to save it for individual cups in the evening rather than cold brewing it in the middle of the day. I’m becoming a bit mellower than I ought to for this time of day.

I’ll have to remember this stuff for times of stress though. It’s relaxing me very nicely, which helps my aches and pains too.

Terri HarpLady

I love Valerian. It’s on my list of favorite herbs.

Terri HarpLady

In fact, I should have drank some last night!

gmathis

Do you steep your valerian straight up? I’ve never had much luck with it in herbal blends.

Terri HarpLady

If it’s in a blend, I don’t mind it. I don’t keep the herb around, but will add a eyedropper or 2 of the tincture to teas.

MsWhatsit

I’m still cold brewing most of my teas lately…the cold weather has not really settled in and I’m lazy. It seemed to work fine anyway. Your mileage may vary.

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Original Title: Why is the Tea Always Gone?

Top o’ the morning to ye. It’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day. I be awake with the other salty dogs and sea witches staggerin about the deck and wishin I had two eye patches so as not to be so aggravated by the big shiny thing in the sky. Where’s me morning grog? Confound it all, me pocket flask has gone missin! It’s off to the galley for some tea instead.

So many varieties to choose from. Which one shall it be today? Here’s a sample some mermaid with a harp gifted to me. Let’s see how it smells…Ah, I’m detectin essence of old timbers with a hint of dead bodies and seaweed. . . Nar, I be jestin with ye.

This sample actually has a fine smell indeed. I have looked forward to trying it, expectin a flavor similar to my beloved Paris Morning (by Savoy Tea Co) but it’s turning out to be a completely different animal. It tastes like a very fine black tea with something pleasant but elusive. I be sniffin and tastin and puzzling but not sure what it is. It’s like something on the edge of my perception.

I do notice the tea base in this very much. It reminds me of the one I found so delightful in Savoy’s Christmas Tea. Whatever it is merits further investigation. I drank the first cup cold brewed but plan to brew up the second cup hot. We‘ll see if I can find out what treasure is buried in this fine tea.
. . . . . . . . .

There’s nothing like drinkin a tea hot ter distinguish its’ more subtle perfumes. I can smell the barest hints of vanilla n Arr-enge. Tis only a hint though, just enough ter give this very fine tea a bit of exotic mystery. Methinks I brewed it a mite hot the first time though. It had a touch of astringency. The resteep was done with care at a lower temperature and came out better. For a lark, I tried one cup with coconut milk and sweetener. It tasted good, exactly like coconut milk and sweetener taste good. I could have left the tea out and not missed it. . . Methinks the flavor of this tea is too delicate for that sort of thing.

This tea is the sort that can stand alone and is best served warm so one can breath in its exotic mystery. I couldn’t tell ye much of that fru fru talk of what makes it so fascinatin, but I know what I like. Time to brew one more cuppa….Shiver me timbers! The entire sample’s gone already?

That‘s it, I‘m off to sack Paris. .

Terri HarpLady

Aye! To the sackin’ o’ Paris!

Bonnie

Aye! Me needs doubloons(well it’s spelled that way) sack Paris!

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I’m having this cold brewed as it seems to be the most appropriate way to make these fruity teas. Besides, the weather is hot and I’m lazy. Dropping a teabag into a quart jar of water and putting it in the fridge is the lazy woman’s way to make iced tea and believe me, this Ozark summer weather is making me feel quite lazy indeed.

I confess to having no idea what elderflowers taste like, despite having sampled elderflower wine and used many elderflower products on my skin. The cranberry and raspberry, however, taste like Koolaid-y goodness. My inner child approves and is complaining that I left out the sugar. I’ll probably indulge her with some sweetener before long. It really isn’t bad alone, however. It has a nice fruityness without being so tart as to DEMAND sweetening. Maybe the Elderflower helps in that regard. I rather like this one and find it better balanced than the other teas in this series.

When I was a kid, one of my first exposures to tea was the Pelican Punch advertisement in magazines. This featured a little girl having tea with a pelican. I convinced my mom to get the tea and was very disappointed by it’s subtle herbal flavors. I had rather expected it to taste more like this stuff.

Some decades later, here I am happily guzzling my own idea of what it should be. Perhaps I’ll bring out the sugar bowl and split the rest with my daughter at teatime..

. . .

Well, my daughter didn’t care for it so maybe it wouldn’t have done for me back then either. Oh well, I like it now. Mmmm…Koolaid-y goodness. I added sweetener and my kid self is singing the happy happy joy joy song. The fruitiness of this is fun and I may go ahead and add sweetener to my last cup too. Normally I wax skeptical where fruity teas are concerned, but I’m kind of getting a kick out of this one. I may have to pick up a package of it sometime.

This was a Christmas present from my niece: Foolofatook, and a nice one it was. Makes me feel like a kid again.

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drank Cucumber White by Tazo
58 tasting notes

I’m a fan of flavored teas. While my big sister Terri Harplady appreciates the variety and subtleties of fine teas, the blacks, greens, and whites, the oolongs, assams, puers and golden fleeces, I take a more ham handed approach. Though it’s beginning to occur to me that those teas in the background often have their own kind of charm, I’m mostly interested in the spices, herbs, and extracts with which they are mixed. My cupboard abounds with warm cozy fragrances of chais, berries and flowers.

There are cool flavors as well. Lavender for instance, which I love in teas though I’ll be the first to admit it smells exactly like the laundry detergent aisle at the store. Earl Grey, whose bergamot and black tea fragrances always evoke the idea of clean crisp linens, is also a favorite. I have a huge sweet tooth but sometimes it’s nice to give it a break and have something to cleanse my palate.

This tea falls in that category. Crisp and clean with no need for sweetness, it reminds me of the cucumber-lime water I sometimes make in the summer. This is really good. I’ve sampled most of Tazo’s brews in the past and only one has found a regular place in my cupboard, but it looks like it’s about to be joined by a second variety.

I’m having this cold brewed with no urge to try it hot, but have certainly decided to add this to my summer favorites. It was a gift from my sister in law and an awesome one at that. I’ll no doubt pick up some more when it runs out.

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drank Sichuan Caravan by Verdant Tea
58 tasting notes

I prepared this as a cold brew and liked the spices. There’s a nice earthiness, a depth you often don’t get with Chais, which are frequently cinnamon heavy—maybe because cinnamon is cheap and other spices are pricier. This had a nice balance, seeming so homogenous that nothing really stood out at first. I found it amiable enough though and had happily guzzled through half the supply my big sis had sent me when she called.

When the conversation came around to teas, I mentioned that I was sampling this one, which is a favorite of hers. She asked how I liked it, learned I was drinking it cold brewed, and took me to task. It seems this stuff is meant to warm body and spirit in the dead of winter. Fortunately, I had some left and promptly followed her suggestion to try it hot.

Warming this tea up really brought out it’s character. Normally, I favor cardamom as the topnote in my spicy chais but when I drank this brew, I could taste a sweetness at the back of my throat whenever I swallowed. That’s a characteristic of licorice root. I love a good licorice (not the same as anise) and found it to be a very pleasant variation to the usual cinnamon or cardamom topnote of most other chais..

The heat brought other flavors to the fore and I was introduced to it‘s warming aspect. Intrigued, I tried it hot and added coconut milk and sugar. It would appear there was a LOT of spice that was lost in translation when I cold brewed this. I’m picking up hints of ginger and cayenne and feeling all warm and tingly on this rainy morning. MMMMM MMMM.

I need to pay better attention to my samples and give them the full workup as some blends are significantly different hot or cold. I nearly missed out on the best part of this. Warming it up brought it from just ok to spectacular. Next time, I’ll remember to drink this one hot.

Terri HarpLady

Nice review, Sis! I’m still hoarding a small stash of this one!

Sil

i’m glad she made you brew this hot! This is a fantastic blend..i’m still hoarding the small bit terri was awesome enough to send me after i used all mine up!

Terri HarpLady

I think David will eventually re-release it, with a different shu. I noticed it’s not on the ‘archived’ list, it’s on the ‘out of stock list’. Keeping fingers crossed!

Sil

that should be FAAAAAANTASSTIC! otherwise i task YOU with the job of making it.

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Bio

I write stories, entertain kids with various clown skills and play the harp.

Oh, and I drink tea. Well of course I do. Why else would I be hanging around here?

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Rogers, AR

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