57 Tasting Notes
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.
Ah, more goodies from my big sis.
If a good tea is a marriage of fine ingredients, rooibos is like a favorite bachelor friend. I hope he finds a worthy mate someday, but regardless of who he hooks up with, no matter how good an idea it seems, it’s never quite a match. This one looked promising, though. I like apricots, I like rooibos, and it sounds like a good idea to put them together. How nice too, that somebody came up with a blend with something other than vanilla. Don’t get me wrong, I like that combo in moderation, but have been steadily collecting vanilla-rooibos blends and getting a little frustrated with their similarities. It was nice to encounter something different for a change.
Following my sisters advice, I used a whole tablespoon of tea in my strainer, added hot water and set the timer for a full five minutes. Then I got busy with the housework and forgot completely for another 5 minutes or so. Rooibos is generally pretty forgiving of long steeps, so no big deal, and I figured it would give the flavors a chance to develop.
It was … ok. I wanted to like it. I even added a little sweetener to “bring out” the apricot flavor. Sadly, it just didn’t float my boat. I could taste the apricot and the rooibos, but they were just not getting on. It wasn’t BAD, but there was no chemistry, no spark. I was very disappointed.
“It’s better iced,” said my big sis. I resolved to try again, but wasn’t expecting much the second time around. Fortunately, a day came in which I looked at the snow falling outside and out of pure contrariness decided to make some into iced tea. Surprise, Surprise! Cold brewed, the apricot was refreshing in more than one sense and managed to harmonize with and not be overpowered by the rooibos. I didn’t need to add anything this time. Good stuff.
In conclusion, Apricot Escape is aptly named. It certainly is an escape from my other rooibos combos, which were all starting to taste the same to me. And it’s really good cold. Just not hot. I think I’ll label the rest of this sample “Iced only.”
I am familiar with how stingy this company is with the content of their tea bags, so I put three of them in my mason jar to cold brew and gave them several hours to steep. The result was both unusual and pleasant. Can’t say I taste the ginger, but there’s a pleasantly fragrant bite reminiscent of orange peel that goes well with the sweetness of the anise. The mint is a bit wild and weedy but works well with the other flavors.
This came to me free in a sample box from my big sis, HarpLady. I probably won’t take out a second mortgage to buy another tin of this variety but it’s an unusual blend and a surprising change of pace.
Eat an almond, then go try something flavored with almond extract. They’re both nice, but they aren’t the same. The scent of this tea is kind of a parallel to this phenomenon. I like pistachio nuts and I like this extract but it’s a different animal, more like someone’s fantasy of what pistachio ought to taste like than the real deal.
This tea has a lovely scent, but no real flavor. It would make a lovely bubble bath or extract for cookies (where all that sugar would no doubt “bring out” the flavor), but I take my tea without cream or sugar most of the time and expect it to stand on it’s own. It does not. As a stand alone tea, it lacks something and doesn’t really meet my standards. I love the fragrance that comes out of the bag when I open it, but this tea always disappoints me.
Oh well, you can’t win ‘em all.
Now if you like a dessert tea with cream and sugar, you’re in luck. These “bring out” the flavor. Indeed, I’ll likely be finishing this batch that way, and will no doubt enjoy every drop. However, I probably won’t be buying it again because I cannot afford the calories necessary to make this tea worth my time.
Your mileage may vary. J
Like Bengal Spice, the box for Madagascar Vanilla Red has a big cat on the front. This one is a more fanciful picture of a lion taking a break from pursuing zebras to enjoy a cup of tea.
Madagascar Vanilla Red contains Rooibos, which is what prompted me to buy it. Though I didn’t want to admit it, I was curious about the stuff. Being out here in the sticks, I tend to make fun of the latest thing from the coasts. It‘s kind of a pre-emptive move since those who live there get to try anything trendy (which is usually available there first). Then, when they prattle on about it and people from the middle of the country don’t know what they’re talking about, they sneer at the ignorant hillbillies and our backward ways. Pardon us if we get a little defensive.
So I’d been rolling my eyes for a month while my Facebook friends in CA posted about all the rooibos blends they were sampling. “Well hoity toity,” I muttered. “How do you pronounce it anyway?”
It’s Roy boss, but by the time I had the box with it’s pronunciation guide, I was already mangling it my own way. This is a common form of entertainment in my family. I called it Rue ee booze. Then I was told that my nephew in St Louis was pronouncing it like the half giant’s name in Harry Potter, Rubeus. I have since adopted this practice. Yeah, I know how it’s SUPPOSED to be pronounced, but being an Arkansan and doomed to be perceived as a backward hillbilly no matter how edjumacated I become, I might as well have a little fun mispronouncing it.
Rooibos is to me a sort of African answer to sassafras. I’m not saying it tastes like sassafras, but it has a kind of unique sweetness that parallels it in my mind. It is fun to try different blends to see what goes with it, now that it’s available here.
I was kind of ho hum about this tea at first because it has no caffeine and seemed a bit boring, but it has grown on me. I like the vanilla and enjoy this hot or cold, plain or as a dessert tea with sweetener and coconut milk. Madagascar Vanilla Red has become like a dear friend. I‘ve developed fond regards for this tea, very much like those I have for the character I like to pretend this tea’s ingredient is named for. It may not be the most exciting thing in my cupboard, but it has a welcome place there. Sometimes the warm and familiar are just what I need.
This was another gift from HarpLady, my big sis. I love the name. It conjures up images of a well guarded by dragons or some such. Just the thing for the imagination of an aspiring fantasy writer like me. My thoughts overflowed with images of water guarding, fire breathing reptiles as I measured a teaspoon of this variety into the tea strainer. When dry, it smelled grassy.
In the water, it gave off a green scent—Like. . .oh, I don’t know, maybe GREEN tea ? Yeah, that would be it. Seriously, though, it did smell very green and tea-y and also very plain. Not sure how happy I was about that. I’m partial to flavored teas. Still, it seemed only fair to give it a try.
It tasted…green. Very green-The essence of green tea, I suppose. A little astringent but just a touch, and not at all bitter to me. To my surprise, I rather liked it. I guess even an uncultured barbarian such as myself can learn to appreciate the subtler teas.
Actually, it did get a little bitter and a bit more astringent as it cooled, but not unpleasantly so. I’ve been told in retrospect that you have to watch the temperatures in some of these green teas as they can do that. My general approach is pretty basic— Boil the water, stick the tea in it, and set the timer for three minutes, so I may have to experiment with a subtler approach. But even with my course methods, this tea was not bad. I found it a nice change of pace.
P.S. My husband- the man who dumps tons of sugar in his tea, found this too bitter. It’s interesting how people’s tastes can differ.
My big sis called and asked me what was up. As always, she’d been harping, I’d been writing and we both were drinking tea. Actually, I was poking through my cupboard deciding what to have next. She asked if I’d tried the samples she’d sent and recommended The Naughty Vicar. “You’ll like it,” she assured me.
Boy, does she know me. The minute the water hit this tea, I knew she was right. That fruity,
vanilla-y scent was just the thing after my morning of Chi obsession. I’d been sampling all sorts of chais with coconut milk and sweetener and this was just what I needed to cleanse my palate.
The Naughty Vicar reminded me a bit of Paris Morning (insert love sonnets here) but with a different sort of fruity twist. It was a little astringent but not excessively so, a touch tart but still quite good. Since I was feeling naughty, I added coconut milk and a bit of sweetening, which brought out the fruitiness a bit more. I like my fruit flavors a little more assertive, but over all it was a delightful change of pace. It was good, very good, and the name conjured up all manner of amusing ideas.
Thank you Harplady for this wonderful sample. I’m looking forward to indulging in more naughtiness soon.
Coconut Oolong- The London Tea Room
I couldn’t find a proper teaspoon so I probably used more of this than the standard measure. The dark little snaky pieces unfurled into lovely green leaves. Following the three minute brewing period, I strained them out and found myself studying the leaves with great interest. They actually looked very fresh and an experimental nibble confirmed this. They were like cooked green veggies I could much down with a bit of butter, salt, and pepper. I don’t often do this, but hey, those steepings looked and smelled so good, I actually did exactly that. They were a tad bitter but mostly delicious. Hopefully nutritious too.
After finishing my little mess of boiled tea greens, I turned to the tea itself. The scent from the cup was pleasant, perfum-y and coconutty. I didn’t have much experience with oolong but found it quite nice. Fragrant seems such a mundane word for it—I do a lot of flower cookery and rather enjoy a flowery scent in my mouth and it was a little like that. The coconut scent tops it beautifully, harmonizing with the rest as if it belongs there, as maybe in this case it does.
I liked it. A lovely tea I look forward to having again.
PS Since I liked this A LOT, when my husband came into the room, I urged him to sample it. “Kind of bland…” he commented and proceeded to brew up some mainstream variety and dump a ton of sugar into it. I guess there’s no accounting for taste.
It’s my Birthday and, as promised, I had Paris Morning dessert style (with sweetener and coconut milk) for the first time. It was as awesome as I imagined it would be and a great tea to have on my birthday.
Since I was in doing so depleting my tea supply a little, I just had to stop by Savoy Tea Company to replenish my supply and see what was new. While there, I couldn’t resist having one of their bacon cupcakes. OMG Om nom nom…