55 Tasting Notes
“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. . .
I decided to try this on Christmas day. It tastes. . .well. . . it tastes like. . . Rooibos. . .sigh. And maybe it should but I’m growing bored with rooibos blends. Regardless of how they are made, they all seem to be tasting more or less the same to me lately. I think the roibos tends to overpower every ingredient added.
This has vanilla, almond, and walnut added, but all I seem to notice is rooibos. So I tried it with coconut milk and sweetener and it’s a lovely dessert tea . . . Just like all the other rooibos combinations.
I want to say this tastes like cookies but it doesn’t. It tastes like rooibos and vanilla. I’m not catching any of the almond or walnut at all. It’s nice as a dessert tea and amiable enough if you like rooibos and don’t mind pouring it through a coffee filter to get all the tiny bits out of it. As far as cookies, though, I think they missed the mark.
I used to do a lot of whole grain baking. The flour I used featured a recipe on the label for orange cardamom cookies. It’s one of those recipes I always intended to try and never got around to but it sounded good. I always imagined it would taste like . . . Well . . . Like this tea.
This is good. Nice mild orange flavor with no nasty acidity, pleasant cardamom, and a hint of vanilla. My only complaint is I am strongly tempted to add cream and sweetener, cause I know they’d be awesome.I guess I’m just a sucker for a good dessert tea.
A postscript to my previous review: This tea is good cold brewed as well. I had only a rounded teaspoon left, so I put it in a quart jar of water and let it sit in the fridge overnight. Yum! Sadly though, now it’s all gone. One of these days I’ll have to visit my sis in Saint Louis and have a shopping spree at the London Tea Room. That was some good stuff, Maynard!
This is another one of the samples Harplady sent me. I love roses so much I named my own daughter Rosie and white roses are on my coat of arms in the medieval re-enactment groups in which I play, so of course, rose blends are of special interest to me.
The tea had green leaves and pretty pink petals, not quite so pretty tan ones, and little purple bits that looked like lavender. The scent of the dry tea was lovely, and it was no less so once I had added hot water. The smell was so good and I found it hard to be patient while it was cooling.
One aspect of the scent really tugged at my memory until I pulled it’s identity from my memory—Orange blossom. I used to cook with orange flower water. It seemed odd to find that flavor in a rose tea, but the two do harmonize well together. Of course, I would have named it Orange Blossom Melange, but that’s just me…
When I finally could taste it without scalding my tongue, this tea was pretty much what the scent indicated. I rather like it, and yes, it is a melange. I can pick out the rose, the lavender, and the orange blossom which makes the topnote. They do blend well though and there’s probably more. It’s a good harmonious mix. I’ll bet it’s good with sugar, but it is fine straight, which puts this among the sorts of teas I particularly like. I also was able to brew a good strong cup from one teaspoon, which speaks well for the quality.
I was a little sad when it was gone. This tea is nice and I’ll be happy when it’s time to have it again.