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4 Tasting Notes

19

I got this as part of a stackable set of three tea canisters as a gift. The canisters are lovely. Rich colors, foil-like shine… beautiful. Comfort and Joy was the first tea I tried in the trio.

When I opened the container, the first thing I got was a very strong aroma of a spice I couldn’t recognize. Licorice root is listed as an ingredient, but I’ve had licorice root before and this was not it. Maybe it was one of the other “natural flavors” the RoT uses. Just because I didn’t recognize it didn’t make it off-putting, however, and so I brewed it up following the instructions on the container. As it brews, it smells marvelous. I could hardly wait for it to be done, it smelled so good and produced such an attractive clear amber liquor. When it was time, I sipped. But wait, had I missed the cup? ? I sipped again. Oh, oh… wait a minute, no, there was definitely something like a hot tea in my mouth, but it had no flavor. I held it in my mouth for a minute, and began to taste a… little… bit… of… apple—not much, but a little bit, then I got a little bite from one of the spices in there, but not much else. It was very weak, very watery, and as it sat, increasingly bitter even though the bag had been removed long before. RoT says on the canister for this product that “black tea leaves create a substantial base for this holiday infusion,” but I don’t see it that way. If there is black tea in there, it’s such inferior tea that it can’t stand up to brewing. The other ingredients, actual as well as “natural” don’t seem to survive brewing either. It’s not bad, it’s just blehhh. Yeah, okay, that’s bad. Anyway. Each of the canisters in this holiday sampler boasts, “Steeping is easy,” and it is. Getting a good infusion out of it with this product, however, seems to be difficult.

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2

Here is another one of those BEAUTIFUL Republic of Tea holiday canisters, the kind that is all shiny and alluring with rich stimulating colors, full of promises about the wonder of what’s inside… What’s inside is a wonder, all right.

The first thing any of us does (or should be doing) when we open a container of tea is inhale deeply. And so as soon as I broke the lovely red seal on this lovely gleaming red and gold canister and lifted the top was breathe deep. Well. The last time I smelled anything like this was in the procedure room in an emergency room I used to work in. The aroma was a cross between disinfectant and cast material. No kidding, it was really unpleasant and almost funny. What must this stuff taste like, I asked myself, knowing that only brewing a cup of this tea was going to satisfy my curiosity. I followed brewing instructions as given on the container, and throughout the brew I was assailed by that same medicinal smell. The liquor comes up a lovely amber, though, and crystal clear. But that smell… I fished out the bag, gave it a moment or two to cool down an eence, and took a sip. There was the smell, but I couldn’t taste anything except a very unpleasant foreground bitterness. I didn’t taste vanilla, I didn’t taste cinnamon, I didn’t even taste that smell. All I got from it was bitterness, with no other flavors or even body to back it up. The directions advise adding a “splash” of milk, so I did. The tea held its beautiful color without greying out, but the flavor did not improve. As a last resort, I dropped in about a half spoonful of sugar, but it didn’t do anything to improve it, either. I nursed the tea until the cup was half gone, and by that time it was down to room temperature. By then, I thought maybe I could pick out some cinnamon from the otherwise bitter emptiness of this concoction, but nothing could redeem it by that time and I poured what was left of it down the sink. Now I have to figure out what to do with the rest of the canister (it was a gift from a very good and well-meaning friend). Maybe some hospital wants it?

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2
drank Spiced Chai by Bigelow
4 tasting notes

If you think mud is an exotic flavor, you’re going to love this. Otherwise, you might want to think twice. This tea smelled wonderful while brewing, but in the cup the taste is muted and muddled. There is some kind of spice there—I know because 1) it says so on the package and 2) I can feel the bite of something on my tongue, but I can’t place what the spice is and it’s aroma is barely discernible during drinking. It’s like a mouthful of flat, flavorless… I don’t know what. It was unbearable without sugar, and it didn’t improve with it. I didn’t add milk because I didn’t want to waste milk. Take a pass on this one.

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1

This tea came in an absolutely gorgeous envelope, the color of which alone was enough to set the mouth watering and ramp up expectations for a really luscious brew. Unfortunately, the container lied. So did the description of the tea. The “ruby-hued” liquid this tea produces is a faint purple. There was no red to be found, and that was the first clue that this was going to be a disappointment. It smelled like fruit while brewing, but it wasn’t a good, clear, identifiable fruit aroma. In the cup it had little flavor and no body. I followed steeping instructions to the letter and still ended up with an insipid brew that had a watered-down artificial fruit juice motif and a very unpleasant dusty aftertaste. I got it as a free sample, but this is awful stuff at any price.

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