57 Tasting Notes
A few weeks ago I made up a short list of teas I wanted for autumn. This tea was on it. The fact that I wanted it is pretty remarkable considering my history with various chais. I try them pretty regular but hardly any merit a second purchase.
I ran out of this some time back and didn’t replenish it, probably because I was up to my eyebrows in lesser teas and was making myself drink them first. Then near the end of summer as I became open to new purchases, the local stores were running out of all the good teas including this one, so I had to make due without. Now they’re stocking up for fall and it’s available once more.
I opened my box this morning. The first whiff of those spices reminded me why I had bought it and made me chide myself for waiting so long to replace the last box. Cinnamon, of course, but with warm undertones of far more. Ginger, cardamom, a hint of something buttery. I read the label and smiled at the mention of carob—I’m allergic to chocolate so carob blends have a special place in my heart.
I drank it hot, a departure from my usual cold brewing method, and found that I like it both ways. No cream or sugar were added, though I’m sure they’d be good in it too. But like any good tea that makes my second purchase list, it could stand alone. Too often, they get so heavy handed with the cinnamon you can’t taste anything else. Not the case here. Yeah, it tasted like cinnamon, but there was far more going on in my cup. Plenty of other flavors balanced it into a wonderful autumn spice blend. It was a pleasantly spicy way to start my day.
The spell failed and not just once. I’m on my third or fourth round of this and it doesn’t matter whether I diffuse it cold in the refrigerator or brew it up hot. It tastes like mint and that’s all. No chicory, no orange, no cinnamon. Magic? What magic? All I can taste is mint.
Worse, it isn’t even really good mint. Here in the Ozarks, we get a kind of wild relative of mint on our lawns in early Spring. That’s what this smells like. Though it has a nice strong wild scent when you bruise it underfoot or cut it with the lawnmower, it’s a bit obnoxious and isn’t really the quality I would expect in a boxed tea.
That’s not to say this tea is nasty or anything. It’s OK. But it’s just mint. No magic to it at all and really quite unremarkable. So unremarkable according to my husband that I forgot that we tried this some years ago.
Funny,I was quite certain upon seeing and reading the label that I had never tasted this but my husband insists we have bought it before. Maybe he’s immune to its power but I’m not. So some day I will likely walk into the store and, hypnotized by the picture of Merlin and false promises of chicory, orange peel, and cinnamon, buy another box.
Cause that’s where the magic comes in. Ah, now I see….
About a week ago, I went to Savoy Tea Company to renew my supply of their Paris Morning and pick out some new teas. The nice lady behind the counter asked if I was looking for anything in particular and I said I was interested in seasonal blends for autumn and the holidays. She pulled out a tin of this tea. One whiff and I had to have it.
In the package it smells deliciously minty with hints of butter and vanilla. Brewed up hot, it smells like some kind of fabulous.
At this point, I’d like to state that I am something of an uncultured barbarian where black tea is concerned. I’ve sampled lots of bitter, rancid, seriously nasty, and probably inferior examples of it. Most of the blends on my shelf are either simple herbals or blends of green tea and other stuff. It’s only in the past few years that my husband, a native Ozark hillbilly, brought me around to an appreciation of the syrup-y goodness of southern sweet tea. There followed a gradual appreciation for some of the better black teas in small and very occasional doses, but none of the obsession shown by any of the true connoisseurs on this site. Indeed, I’ve found myself scratching my head and puzzling over a few of their reviews. “What’s with all the nuance and esoterica? It’s just black tea!”
This was not JUST black tea. Despite the label making no claims of anything exotic, I’m pretty darn sure the base black tea used is quite a few levels above any black tea I’ve ever tasted. The scent coming from my cup was less minty than the dry mix, and it was complex and wonderful, as was the taste.
Yeah, I know, there was also mint in there and “natural candy cane flavor” you know, from the sugar plum forest where candy canes grow on trees. I drink a lot of mint blends and this was a very nice one, it’s minty-ness pleasant but not distracting. This is, in my opinion, a very well put together blend, and the whole combination works harmoniously.
But wow, that black tea! Complex, smooth, even having (I can’t believe I’m saying this) a little of that malty-ness I keep hearing people make reference to. Yet it’s so well fitted to the blend I wouldn’t have noticed all this except that usually I don’t find black tea remarkable at all.
All you black tea enthusiasts can now have a hearty laugh at my expense. I’ve just been assimilated.
Anyway, I had this blend without cream or sugar and found it interesting enough to stand alone. Just for yuks and grins I added a bit of sugar towards the end and found it makes a fabulously complex sweet tea as well. No cream for me though…the idea seems strangely sacrilegious to me, though I couldn’t say why.
The blend was lovely hot and I am looking forward to trying it cold brewed sometime to see how it fares by that method.
I’ve enjoyed this tea iced many times. Today, for a change, I brewed a cup of it hot. What a lovely way to brighten up a gray rainy morning! It was a warm deep red orange, smelled of cloves and spice and tasted bright and orang-y. Very orang-y, but the spice keeps it from becoming obnoxiously so and balances the flavor enough that I don’t crave sugar to round out the fruitiness or cream to cut the astringency.
A tea that can stand alone is a good thing, particularly for one like me who must watch her waistline. One reason this tea is a staple in my cupboard is because it’s great all by itself. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be fun trying it with tea and sugar (I probably will some day) but the fact that I have drank this tea many times with no urge to make this addition speaks well for it.
The fact that I haven’t had it hot before is my own loss. I’m going to have to do this more often
Every time I’ve considered getting something from The Republic of Tea I’ve looked at the price then recoiled from sticker shock. The only reason this tea made it into my cupboard at all was that I saw it while on vacation and shopping with my sister. For some reason, my usual penny pinching instincts went out the window and I started spending like a sailor.
This variety is only so so when served hot but I love it cold brewed. I like it straight with nothing added to sully it’s clean, refreshing, summery goodness.
I drink the majority of my tea cold brewed. Method: pretend you’re making sun tea, but instead of placing the jar in the sun, place it in the refrigerator instead. It diffuses nicely over the next hour or ten (depending on how strong you like it) and doesn’t get that nasty rancid taste that so often happens when the sun tea sits out in the heat.
I love Blackberry sage brewed this way. I like the scent, the way the sage keeps the blackberry from becoming too cloying or koolaid-y. I especially like that it’s an unusual combination and different from anything else in my cupboard, so it’s a great change of pace.
There’s a jar in my fridge and I’ve looked forward to it all morning. I finally poured myself some just before writing this. Ah, good things come to those who wait…
Stash is one of my favorite tea companies and I like many of their blends a lot. Their chais, not so much. I WANTED to like them, but just didn’t and it took me forever to break myself of the habit of buying more, hoping they’d get the next batch right.
So when I saw this blend, I had a few misgivings and suspected I might be making a mistake, but the white tea blend was one I hadn’t tried, so I took the chance.
For once, I was glad that I did.
A really strong chai can stand alone. This one was more subtle, so I added the obligatory coconut milk and sweetener. That was good and I suddenly realized what the blend of spices reminded me of.
Now it happened that I had in my refrigerator some pasteurized egg whites that I often use as a protein source for smoothies. I’d been considering all morning what to do with them. Now I brought out a stainless steel bowl, poured the tea and coconut milk into it, added the egg whites, and whisked the whole thing until it was frothy. Voila, a nice warm homemade eggnog.
Yep, that’s what the tea reminds me of. And it makes a wonderful base for eggnog. Didn’t need vanilla or anything. Seriously good.
I don’t know how much of it I’ll be drinking straight, but I’ve certainly found my mulling spice and eggnog base for this year.
When I was shopping for Autumn teas, the scent of this one grabbed my attention. You know the aroma that wafts towards you from a candied almond stand? Yeah, just like that, with a hint of apples as well. I didn’t so much want to brew the stuff as eat it, but I curbed my enthusiasm and put the package in my tea cupboard.
Lately, I’ve been cold brewing my teas but this one called for a nice hot steep instead. Disregarding the directions (which I later learned call for 10-12 minute steep…who knew?) I gave it the customary three minutes and sampled it. It seemed weak, so I added some coconut milk (I don’t use dairy much) and a bit of sweetener, then on a whim, put the little tea cage spoon thingy (Ok, so I’m a greenhorn at this) back in to steep some more, and sat down to watch Dr Who until the tea cooled a bit. The flavors intensified and between the extra steeping, the richness of the coconut milk, and the sweetener, it became a lovely warm cup of autumn comfort. I’m going to have to get some more of this as the nights get colder. Yum.
My disappointment at seeing the bottom of the cup was modified a bit when I noticed all those re-hydrated apples among the source material, gave them an experimental nibble, and realized there really wasn’t anything in this tea that wasn’t safe to eat. So I did follow through with my original impulse to munch on some of the tea. And it wasn’t bad, though munching on leftover steepings may not be everybody’s cup…well, you know…
In conclusion, I rather liked this tea, but don’t disregard the directions-It needs a good long steeping to bring out the flavors. And a little added sweetening and richness don’t hurt either.