59 Tasting Notes
I have a kind of fascination with the idea of matching rooibos up with different flavors. It’s as if I’m watching a favorite bachelor dating various women and laying bets as to which one he’ll marry. This combination looked interesting so I decided to give it a try.
It smelled good during it’s five minute steep, though my big sis’s observation that rooibos tends to crumble into tiny fragments and find it’s way out of the tea strainer and into the cup was sadly evident. I really ought to pour this stuff through a coffee filter but I’m too lazy. Oh well, ce la vie…
This blend is rather nice, actually. The lavender goes well with the rooibos and the additional coconut flavor rounds it out and gives it a little something. There’s a hint of caramelized flavor as well, as if the coconut were toasted. I’m pretty sure this one would be lovely with cream or coconut milk and sugar, but it stands alone quite nicely. I’ll look forward to more of this in the future.
But next time I brew this, I’ll be using a darn coffee filter.
I was very curious about this tea as it is the favorite of my sister’s main squeeze. He seems like an intelligent fellow, so I imagined it would be pretty good. I was not disappointed when I smelled the raw product. My nose informed me immediately that this was the good stuff.
It smelled less wonderful after a three minute steep, less perfume-y and more…I don’t know…tea-ey? A vague hint of lemon or bergamot. That should have made it MORE perfume-y but somehow didn’t . Somewhere between the package and the hot water it seemed to have lost it’s feminine qualities and taken on a more masculine note. There was something in the way of an underlying scent, a kind of smokiness, that gave it a more manly quality. This made its appeal to the other gender understandable.
I found myself not really disliking the tea. I was just a little disappointed though, as the topnote left me expecting something more floral and perfume-y. The same thing happened when I tried Lapsang Saochang. These smoky teas, they sneak up on you.
Of course, that’s what I get when I’m trying unknown samples. When you have no labels from which to read ingredients and descriptions and are too lazy to go online and look them up for yourself, you’re bound to run into a few surprises.
This is from a sample box from my big sis, Terri Harplady. Our tastes are not always the same, but appear to coincide concerning this one. Like her, I’ll drink this when I’m in the mood and probably share it with my man. I suspect he will like it better. It’s ok, just not my favorite cup of tea.
Drinking this today, cold brewed from the fridge with nothing added. It is just awesome this way. I liked it well enough warm, but cold…well, it looks like I’ve found a new favorite. No temptation to add anything. It is pleasant, refreshing, just wonderful.
Unless you hate cardamom. Not a problem for me. I love cardamom, oranges, spices, everything in it. MMMMMM.
My big sis, Terri Harp Lady sent this to me. I was quite curious about it as she is a huge fan.
Dry it was made up of little black curly pieces with occasional light brown strands. It smelled good, kind of generic perfumey, perhaps due to being stored with so many other teas. When water was applied it unfurled into long dark strands and smelled…toasty. I like my toast a little well done and so found this rather appealing.
Harplady often refers to this brew as “chocolaty,” a description I find unsettling and intriguing at the same time. I’m sensitive to the stimulant in chocolate. Since it’s become the trendy health food, it keeps turning up everywhere including teas, so when I see a reference to chocolate or cocoa in a tea review, I’m immediately on guard, wary that I might have to avoid the stuff.
On the other hand, I miss the taste of chocolate and anything that might safely approximate it’s flavor is certainly interesting. Once assured there was no actual chocolate in this tea, I was quite curious to try it.I didn’t detect a bit of “chocolate” in this. Nor coffee for that matter, but rather the very element coffee and chocolate have in common, a roasted flavor. It reminds me of Celestial Seasonings Roasterama, the barley and roasted herb coffee substitute we both grew up with, which my sis has admitted a fondness for.
There’s something so homey about roasted flavors. Who doesn’t love a roasted turkey for Thanksgiving, roasted veggies on a winters night, roasted marshmallows at a campout. One of my fondest holiday memories is singing with my big sis about chestnuts roasting on an open fire. So I can understand why she is so fond of this particular brew.
I rather like it too. No chocolaty flavor I can detect, but it is a lovely and comforting cup on a cold day. (MMMMM Toasty!!!)
“What shall I sample today?” I went through the collection of labeled baggies in my tea cupboard and brought out one that was filled with little round pieces the size and shape of blueberries. It emanated the scent of jasmine. “Hmmm, this looks promising,” I said.
I put a teaspoon of the little chunks in my tea strainer, heated the water, submerged it, and set the timer. Too late, it occurred to me that I ought to have simply measured them directly into the glass measuring cup, where I could have watched them unfold and strained them afterwards. “Ah well, there’s enough left to try that next time,” I said.
I like jasmine tea. I was introduced to it while dating the man I am now married to. In the winter, whenever he took me out for Chinese food, he would order hot tea to go with his meals and I sometimes followed suit. They served a lovely jasmine tea and I became very fond of it.
These days, I don’t get out much, having moved to an area where good Chinese food is something of a rarity, so if I want jasmine tea, usually I have to buy it myself. Happily, this one came to me, courtesy of Terri Harplady, my big sis.
I chose this sample because it was an icky wintery day. I was missing the sun and feeling the need for a bit of self indulgence. Once upon a time, I would have asked my husband to bring me flowers, but we have a cat who eats them, so it’s not really a viable option. Maybe that’s why I like cooking with rosewater, dried marigolds, lavender, and saffron. I guess if you really like flowers, you get them in whatever form you can.
The tea sample smelled awesome. “Oh yeah,” I said as I sampled the first cup. “That’s the stuff. I am totally resteeping after this is done.” And yes, I did heat up a second cup of water and gave the leaves another bath. They yielded a second cup that was a tiny bit astringent but still very good.
Good stuff, this. It cold brews well too. Thanks, Harplady, for an awesome sample.
Maharaja Chai Oolong —Teavana
This was my son’s pick when he went to the Teavana store in Little Rock, Arkansas. He brought a large tin along when he came to visit me over the holidays and allowed me to bag a generous sample for my own collection. Dry, it is fragrant with lots of nice chunky bits and pieces, cardamom pods, cloves, and stuff.
After brewing some of this up hot, I must admit my son’s tastes are similar to my own. I love a chai that has lots of variety and isn’t overly heavy on the cinnamon. This one has a lot of parallels with my all time favorite, Numi’s Golden Chai. I’m enjoying the nice balance of flavors, good enough that it doesn’t need any “help” from cream or sugar, though I’m sure they would be fine additions.
As my kids go out in the world to make lives of their own, I find myself occasionally reflecting sadly upon the vacancies of my nest. It’s nice to be reminded that they are discovering a whole new world out there and can introduce me to some of their new experiences. Having my son come home to visit is awesome. Getting a sample of a new tea just makes it that much better. I liked this one. Thanks dude, ya done good.
I cold brewed my first batch. I could taste the strawberry and the vanilla. There is something similar in the rooibos and strawberry flavors, a kinship of sorts. They stack well.
The combination makes me think of bubblegum, which I don’t much care for. This ought to be a reason for me to dislike this blend, but I don’t. Strangely enough, I really like it. It’s good to see a combination in which the rooibos actually works.
My sister in law gifted me with two portions of this tea, so I tried the second one hot. Bad idea. It just wasn’t as good. I tried adding sweetener, which usually helps. Much to my surprise, it did not improve things. Hot, this just isn’t my cup of tea. (Wow, I never thought I’d be using that expression quite so literally!) This is one of those teas that’s at it’s best when cold brewed and served straight out of the refrigerator.
I may have to get some more of this for summer though. It’s an interesting variation on Rooibos, and I’m always on the lookout for something different in my Rooibos collection.
Savoy Pomegranate Grape Green
One thing I’ll say for this tea, it does smell grape-y. Like green grapes, very distinctively. Yeah, I know, the first ingredient in the name is Pomegranate, but that’s not really the flavor I get from it. To me, it
tastes a little like green tea and a lot like grapes.
A better tea snob than I might be able to distinguish the various dried fruits and elements. I’m nowhere near that discerning, but can say it’s a pleasant tea to start my day, mild and amiable. With pomegranates, red currents and raspberries on the ingredient list, I would expect this to be a bit tart. Instead, they blend together to give the whole thing an underlying sweetness.
It’s an unusual tea, not one I would choose to have every day. It isn’t that I OBJECT to it’s grape-y goodness. The flavor is amiable enough, but grapes don’t readily come to mind when I’m thinking of tea. There are times when this flavor is just not something I’m craving at teatime.I line my tea boxes and packets up in the cupboard and when it’s time to have a cup, they each get their turn. (It’s my method of making sure nothing gets forgotten and pines away for the next twenty years.) Admittedly, there are days when this particular blend gets banished to the back of the cue because I’m just not in the mood for it. Some teas are very assertive in their flavors, like a friend with a big personality that can be great fun on some occasions and terribly annoying on others. There have been days when I’ve greeted this tea with great enthusiasm and others when my response was “not that one again!”
But by golly, if I’m in the mood for something grape-y, this is definitely my go to. It’s good hot or cold and stands alone just fine without any sweeter, an unusual quality in a fruity tea like this one.
I chatted with one of the owners at the Savoy Tea Co store about cold brewing and this came highly recommended. “It gets better the longer it brews,” he said. Since I like my teas cold brewed and am apt to leave the jar steeping in the fridge till I get around to drinking it, (which can sometimes be as long as a few days) this sounded like my kind of tea. I put a generous measure in a quart jar of water and tried it after a few hours. It smelled great, very tropical and fruity. Since I’m allergic to pineapple, it’s nice to have a tropical blend without this ingredient for a change.
This tea is very mango-ey. Enough to stand alone as a good, solid, fruity tea. I’m sure it would be great with coconut milk and sweetener (I doubt a splash of rum would hurt it any either), but it’s a tea that doesn’t need “help” to be good, which is the sort I’m most inclined to drink. All by itself this is pleasantly fruity and just the thing if you like mangoes (If you hate mangoes, maybe not so much.) Since the weather here is a bit wintry, I’ve taken a few cups of this cold brew out of the fridge and heated it in the microwave, and can say it’s quite good warm too.
There’s supposed to be rooibos in this one, but I’m not tasting it. I’m not sure I mind, though. The fact that a blend contains rooibos and I can taste ANYTHING ELSE seems a tentative step in the right direction… :)
Good stuff, especially for those of us in the middle of the country experiencing winter and beginning to tire of cold weather. It’s making me dream of tropical vacations.
I think Jamaica in the moonlight. . .