55 Tasting Notes
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.”
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.
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.
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. .
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.
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.
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.
I’ve finally gotten a clue. When cold brewing a quart of anything Rooibos, I don’t waste any time with a regular tea sieve. Nope, I pour the whole thing through a paper coffee filter to get all the little bits out. It’s the surest way to avoid them.
This tea came in a sample box from my big sister. It sure has a mouth watering name, doesn’t it? Brandied Apricot Upside Down Cake. MMMMMM. I’m a sucker for a good name and always willing to try a new rooibos blend.
It’s August and there’s nothing like a cold drink on a hot day. I guzzled through half the first batch before remembering that “Oh yeah, I meant to write a review for this one!” It took some time before I was ready to settle down to the business of taking notes.
My first impression was that while I could tell there was something more here than mere rooibos, the apricot and brandy in this were kind of subtle. I’m not much for subtle. I like assertive, in your face flavors that don’t need cream and sugar to “bring them out.” Once in awhile, though, I’m strongly tempted to indulge. In this case, I wanted to sample it hot with cream and sugar and was pretty sure it would be awesome. Unfortunately, I had already finished the quart.
What with the heat and my own distractions, it seemed I really had only barely gotten to sample it, so I made a new batch. (You know a tea is good when it merits further investigation.) Then I got side tracked and it had a good long time to brew in the fridge while I was involved in other pursuits. Fortunately, the nice thing about Rooibos blends is they usually get better the longer they brew. This one continued to mellow, even after I had poured it through a coffee filter and discarded the herbs. The first cup of the second batch I drank cold and without any additions, yet I was already getting a pleasant underlying perfume that I hadn’t noticed before and realized I was starting to really dig this combination. I warmed and added sugar to the second cup, and it was quite good, with the apricot, vanilla, and brandy flavors coming forward a bit more, but that last cup, which I had cold with nothing added was the very best. Either the flavors had peaked or I had learned what to look for and how to appreciate it. It seemed to me very mellow and satisfying, even with nothing added.
In conclusion, this is a good cold brew if given a nice long steeping, but probably would be even better as a hot tea to keep me warm in the wintertime. I could get used to this stuff. Unfortunately, the sample is all used up. Ah well, the joys of life are ever ephemeral. Thank you, Terri Harpwriter, for this lovely sample.
Are you kidding me? Rose petals, Chamomile, Spearmint, Lavender flowers…and you’re gonna call it Lemonade?
Well, the first ingredient is Lemon myrtle and it does taste kind of lemony. The pleasant flowery herbal flavors have been overlaid by the first ingredient, something I’ve never tried before. I don’t see any artificial flavors listed so it must be the lemon myrtle—I swear it tastes exactly like cheap powdered lemonade mix. Part of me is a little insulted and outraged (who dumped the Countrytime lemonade mix in my herbal tea?) but another part of me is kind of fascinated. (Does Lemon myrtle really tastes like Wyler’s? Who knew?!!
The kid in me thinks this is great. The adult in me grumbles that this is ridiculous. I actually make rose lemonade in the summertime and this is not the same animal. It does have rose and lemon flavors, however, so I can’t gripe too much about the name, and drinking stuff that reminds me of my Kool-Aid days can be fun. I cold brewed it and found that unlike the drink mixes I grew up with, this stuff is fine without sugar.
This whimsical bit of herbal amusement came in a sample box from my big sis, Terri Harplady. It’s probably not something I would go out of my way to buy but was a fun change of pace. Thanks Sis, for sending this airy fairy sample my way.
I like a good Peach Tea and so at my last trip to Savoy Tea Co, I caught a whiff of this and added it to my purchases. It smells very nice in the package. To me, that is often a good sign. This being the hottest part of summer, I am mostly making cold brewed teas, so when I finally opened this recently, I measured a tablespoon into a quart jar of water and left it in the refrigerator for a few hours.
Cold brew can take a variable amount of time. Some of them are fine in a few hours. Others are best left to steep overnight. I let this one sit, oh, maybe two to four hours and found it disappointingly weak, so I left it to rest in the fridge for a day or so. I would like to imply here that there was method to my madness, but the truth was, I just didn’t want to drink it after finding it so watery and unassertive, so I avoided it.
When finally the hour came in which I could think of no other excuse, I poured myself a cup and found it had turned to ambrosia. Seriously, it was very very good. No need for cream or sugar or anything. I really liked it.
I don’t know how this will be hot, and I will definitely plan for a LONG brewing next time. It’s possible too that this is one of those teas that brew up better if you exceed the recommended quantity. I will say, though, that when this has a good 24 hours or more to cold brew, it’s really lovely.