247 Tasting Notes

93
drank Caramel by Kusmi Tea
247 tasting notes

This tea comes to me this morning courtesy of… Angrboda. Thank you, my sweet overseas tea friend.

I don’t even know where to begin with this tea. I want to start out by screaming, “THIS IS AMAZING STUFF!” However, I think I’ll restrain myself and begin at the beginning…

The scent: The scent of this tea is just like caramel. It’s such a rich, toffee-like aroma that I have an urge to lick the tea. (It’s difficult to quell.) I digress.

The taste of this tea is out of this world. It’s so good. The black tea is thankfully not at all bitter, but instead smooth and perfect for the caramel “essences” as Kusmi calls them. These “essences” are the caramel of my childhood. The rich, toasted (not overly sweetened) caramel that my mom used to make for us once a year during the holidays, but which we pined for and whined for all year long. It’s not a very sweet tea, and it’s not at all a sugary tea. Instead, it’s a dessert tea that I would be proud to serve at a formal event. I can see this tea not only in my lime green mug, but also in a delicate teacup of bone china.

Wow, Kusmi, you’re amazing, yet so far away hanging out there in Europe. Add another stop to my European trip… Denmark and now France (comment tu me manques…)

Thank you, Angrboda!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Dinosara

Kusmi actually has a US online store, and shipping seems pretty reasonable (only $5 for me). They also have a storefront in NYC, which I’ve been meaning to go to but haven’t gotten around to yet…

Jenn

I’m defiantly going to have to place an order! $5 shipping is incredibly reasonable and I love anything caramel flavored.

Angrboda

I’m so glad you liked this! It’s my perfect caramel flavoured tea in the world ever. :D

Angrboda

Oh, and by the way, I tried cold-brewing it as well. That way its… exactly the same, really, only chilly.
Hot or cold, I also like it in a mix with a vanilla black, usually 50/50. It adds a little more candy to it.

QuiltGuppy

I need to check it out then. I have no problem with $5 shipping! :D

@Ang – I’m glad it’s not super sweet. That’s what I love about it!

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94

I received this tea as a sample with an order I placed a few months ago. I stumbled across it this morning as I’ve begun to reduce the amount of tea in my home. (Whew!) I realized (with chagrin) that I hadn’t stored this one properly and worried about how my neglect may have affected the flavor.

My first real concern set in when I tried to smell it and couldn’t detect the scent. I steeped this one at a lower than recommended temperature, for the maximum amount of time recommended.

Now I can smell the tea. It’s slightly… floral? Yes, floral. I can detect the scent of honeysuckle. It’s a sweet scent, with a delicate floral note.

The taste is amazing, quelling any concerns I had about flavor. It’s not bitter at all, which was one thought I had when I saw the recommended steeping time. Instead, it is gently floral, but so sweet, too. It’s a beautiful green, tempered with the very slight vegetal taste a traditional green brings to the cup. It’s one of the best green teas I think I’ve ever tried.

Now, Chi of Tea, where are you hiding this gem? I hope this is something that will be considered to offer as a purchase because it is amazing!

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 5 min, 0 sec
Kashyap

I’m a fan of gua pian or ‘melon slices’ and while its aesthetic is similar to ‘dragon well’ lung ching, I think the flavor is brigher and more dynamic….

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90

This was a truly special treat for me this morning, especially because until yesterday afternoon I didn’t even know I would possess it! Many thanks to SimplyJenW for a lovely surprise packet of tea to sample. :) I couldn’t choose, so I turned the packets face down, shuffled them and chose one at random. This is the lucky winner today. Well, actually I am because this tea is really wonderful.

First, when I sniffed the tea in the packet, I picked up on a very roasted scent, much like a roasted Dong Ding. So, in my mind, I imagined I’d be tasting something similar. The taste, however, is not anything like that, other than that there is a definite smoky note to the tea. What I do taste is something unique. There’s a hint of cocoa, kind of like hot chocolate before the milk is added, but it has a sweetness and a nuttiness to it that keep the taste on the lighter side instead of being bitter. It’s unlike any tea I’ve tasted before.

Thank you again, SimplyJenW, for a lovely tea this morning. I can’t wait to try the next ones. :)

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec
SimplyJenW

So glad you liked this one…it is my favorite!

Kashyap

does it have any dark plum notes? sometimes Keemuns are known for this…just curious?

QuiltGuppy

I’m on the second steeping of this right now, and I let it steep for four minutes this time, but I’m not able to taste dark plums. There is a sweetness there, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. It’s not like a sugary sweet taste, but it’s definitely present. I need more practice with describing black teas.

ashmanra

I got an unexpected package today, too! RIght on time, as I am having some tea guests tomorrow! :). Thanks, Jen!

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83
drank Florence by Harney & Sons
247 tasting notes

This was my first taste of Florence and I’m so happy to have finally tried it. I ordered it as a sample package and upon opening, my inner Nutella detector went off. Ooh, it’s so scented of chocolate and nuttiness that I can’t wait to try it.

I didn’t steep it too long, and I think this is one of the few that may have been better if steeped longer. But, no matter, even this way it’s really good.

The taste is a warm chocolate with a definite accompaniment of hazelnut. The tea itself has a slightly thinner mouthfeel and doesn’t coat my mouth as I would expect hot chocolate to do. (And, I know this isn’t hot chocolate, but the richness of the flavor is so true to it, that I can’t help but expect the hot chocolate experience.) Even with all of this flavoring going on, it’s still fairly easy to detect the black tea. It’s not bitter, or even astringent, which would work against the flavor. It’s really nicely paired with it. In fact, it’s so good that I’d like to try it without the flavors. One of the first times I’ve said that about a black tea!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec
CHAroma

All you had to say was Nutella. I’m sold!

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Oh! It is so good! That’s about the only thing I can think right now. This is, hands down, the best raspberry flavored anything I have tasted! And, considering it’s paired with a phenomenal oolong, it’s even better.

Normally, when raspberry is in a tea, the result is a bitter-tasting brew. Not so with this tea. It’s extraordinary. The raspberry is so sweet and delicious, but not at all syrupy. The oolong is probably the best part. It’s a roasty, delicious oolong that pairs wonderfully with the raspberry, keeping it from going off the sweet-o-meter. The result is a fabulous raspberry oolong that I would seriously be willing to either pay the shipping to have sent to me from Denmark, or, preferably, just fly to Denmark myself to pick up.

It’s lovely! Thank you so very much to Angrboda for sending me this tea sample.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Jenn

I’m jealous! This oolong sounds like perfection.

Indigobloom

yummmmm! Raspberry and oolong sounds delish.

Angrboda

It is Teh Awesum! And if you decide to fly to Denmark to pick it up, stop in here as well. :)

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drank Temi Sikkim by Harney & Sons
247 tasting notes

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89

We’re back from our vacation to Key West and while there I stumbled across this little tea shop called the Key West Tea & Spice Company. It’s a small shop near the heart of Old Town just off the end of Duval Street. Like all little shops in that area, it has its fair share of souvenirs and other stuff for tourists, but in the back is the tea selection. The teas are stored in glass jars on the wall. It didn’t seem as though they saw much business, either, so I was beginning to wonder how the teas fared in that environment.

This is my first time trying Icewine. I’ve read some of the other reviews of Icewine from other companies and it seemed as though others were pleased with it, so, inspired to try it, I bought some.

The tea smells sweetly of apple blossoms. The taste, however, isn’t floral, it’s sweet and fruity. It has a gentle taste of grapes, but with a raisiny depth to it that. There’s a lot going on. The tea is slightly drying in my mouth, but it’s not unpleasant and helps to tone down the sweet taste. Overall, it’s really pleasing.

My one point of contention with this company is their lack of attention to detail. First, the tea in glass storage in a store that has no front wall to it. (I think they just pull down a metal door to cover it at night.) Also, the tea is spelled Ice Wine on the package, but Icewine on the website. I realize this is a minor detail, but it shows a lack of professionalism on their part.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Indigobloom

It sounds loads better than the one I tried not long ago!!
Florida does make some good teas… that’s where I got the coconut oolong! :)

ashmanra

I agree it seems odd for the tea to be in glass! There was a thread a long time ago discussing a company that makes a special coated glass that shields the tea from UV rays. Maybe they were using that? And there is a big debate on whether light AND air, or just air, should be prevented getting to the tea. I prefer protection against both, and if there is a question of how often stock turns over I would rather it was in a pouch inside a tin! I didn’t even buy tea at our little local tea shop because I felt there was no way it could be fresh.

Angrboda

I hope you had a wonderful time! Sad to say, but I still haven’t managed to get that package in the mail. I will definitely do so on wednesday, though, because I’m going to the post office then anyway.

QuiltGuppy

@ashmanra – No, they weren’t the ultra cool glass ones, just extra large Mason jars with the rubber ring on them. The woman was more concerned with her souvenirs getting disorganized by my two young pirates than with selling me tea. (Kind of grumpy, actually…) We were there on Friday afternoon, with a huge cruise ship docked and offloaded, and it was still pretty empty. Someone did come in as we were leaving, but they were looking at postcards.

@Angrboda – It was a wonderful vacation! One that my family desperately needed to get away from things. We were really sad to leave.

@Indigobloom – Apparently they have some talent with teas, because even with the crappy storage, the tea was still really great! Maybe I should move to Florida.

Indigobloom

Ah good idea, I’ll meet ya there! :P

Kashyap

glass storage jars are often to attract the eye, but if the tea vendors turn around is on the tea is rapid and there is no direct sunlight falling on the tea, the flavor shouldnt be too compromised by storage, particularly if the tea is flavored. I really liked how you wove a story into your experience though, so often they buyers experience is lost to the tea description and tea is such a rounded experience, with the vendor, environment, culture, tea, and teaware all playing a part. I was in Boston, MA to do a 270 mile cycling event for ALSTDI and have a tradition of going to this really great Thai restaurant that is right around the corner from the hotel. I had brought my portable Taiwanese gawain and a 2006 sheng pu erh (that I thought would compliment the meal and help with the probiotics that I was going to need over the next 3 days of odd meals and riding) and the server refused to bring me hot water when he realized I had brought my own tea! He eventually conceeded, but that experience nearly ruined the pleasure of the tea, food, envrionment pairing. So again, thanks for rounding your experience out with more than the cupping.

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90

This tea should get a 100 just for the name alone. I wish I were able to name some teas.

The Mermaid’s Kiss is a delightful magnolia oolong from start to finish. (And what a lovely finish it is!)

The aroma of the dry leaves is gentle, like jasmine. They’re a pretty deep emerald green in the tin.

After steeping, they release the most glorious magnolia fragrance from the golden liquor. It’s so beautiful in so many ways. The taste is wonderful. On the forefront is the magnolia, which is quite strong for those who enjoy teas scented with flowers. However, the oolong itself is very present, with a hint of a roasted flavor that couples nicely with the oolong. This tea, like so many wonderful oolongs, sweetens as it cools, which I find so pleasant as I rarely drink an entire cup of tea hot.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 30 sec
Kashyap

cute name…makes me think of Misissippi John Hurts’ song “Let the mermaids flirt with me”…

ashmanra

I may have to place an order with this company! I need the Star Wars themed tin anyway, (my son has two sets of Stormtrooper armor because he is a member of the 501st Garrison, a charitable Star Wars costuming group), and now I am thinking I may need a tin of this as well, but for the tea!

QuiltGuppy

Would you like a sample? :D

ashmanra

Sure! You should be getting some Da Hong Pao any day now. Let me know how the packaging traveled!

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81

Christmas in July? White Christmas, nonetheless. Ah, well. It was there when I was looking for a less-caffeinated tea to drink this morning.

It smells minty and sweet. The taste is pure white chocolate. With mint. It’s surprisingly refreshing and makes my mouth tingle. More surprising is the fact that there is NO chocolate in this tea. It certainly smells and tastes just so. I don’t think it was smart marketing to label this one a holiday tea as it’s clearly one that can be enjoyed year-round.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec
Kashyap

i have a dark chocolate, mint, peppercorns, and black tea that I think you would like. I love to steep it into heavy cream and make traditional English tea creams from it..it translates the flavor so much better and makes captures the essence of the aroma

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32

I received this in my package from Harney & Sons in the Big-Harney-Mixup-of-2011. It was one of the few without duplication.

The tea doesn’t stand out as the usual, high-quality tea that Harney’s usually has. It’s pretty to look at, dark with lighter color tea leaves interspersed in the tea. It smells rich and kind of nutty. The scent doesn’t translate to the flavor, though. The tea is extremely drying. I felt like I had been sucking on the vacuum the dentist uses to keep my mouth dry at appointments. It’s really uncomfortable. The flavor isn’t outstanding. I don’t see much complexity to it and it reminds me of a regular black. Granted, it’s a step above bagged teas, but not by much. As it cools, it becomes very, very bitter.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 30 sec
Uniquity

Big-Harney-Mixup-of-2011?

QuiltGuppy

They accidentally sent half of my order as a duplication. When I called and told them what I received, the lady said to keep it and share. :) I’ve been doing just that! (Would you like some? I still have lots of Royal Wedding and a few others.)

ashmanra

I must say I bought a Mangalam Superb at Southern Season from the fine tea wall no less, and it was AWFUL. I guess I just don’t like that kind of tea…

Uniquity

Oh wow, THAT is the sort of Harney fiasco I would love to get into! Sadly, I am not a coconut fan, so Royal Wedding is out of my ‘tea comfort zone.’ Thank you so much for the offer though!

Indigobloom

eek. it sounds like one of those things I’m almost curious to try just because it’s so terrible. Like one of those movies nominated for a Razzie! Snakes on a Plane anyone?

Kashyap

how did you brew it? Assam Mangalam is a wonderful estate and usually produces a depth of nuance not usually seen in Assam’s, including flavors of peach, malt, spice, and carob…granted each flush (and Assam has flushes just like Darjeeling, but they are not often advertised as such and are often blended with other flushes) and each season is different…but try using 3g per 8oz in 195-200 degree water and steep 2-3 minutes and I bet you will get a cup that lacks the astrigent tannnic bitterness and is wonderfully complex

ashmanra

I have never cared much for coconut, but I love Royal Wedding tea! Since drinking it, I found some frozen fruit pops with coconut and pineapple that are very good, so I guess my tastes are changing! I have always liked homemade ice box coconut cake, though!

Kitty

I noticed that I brewed it for 5 minutes and your note says 1 min 30 seconds. I could understand it not having much flavor at 1 min 30 seconds, but really really surprised it was bitter as there is no bitterness for me at 5 minutes!! Harney recommends 5 minutes for all their assams, although that is pretty strong. But as Kashyap said, you might want to try brewing it longer! I use 2 tsp/ cup instead of the usual 1 because I like my tea strong!

Ryan Burress

I agree with Kitty. Try steeping again for five minutes. I was blown away by how delicious this tea is, and I also do not like overly dry, astringent teas. This tea does have a brisk quality but it’s a refreshing, not puckery briskness. Black teas should almost never be steeped for less than at least four minutes to get the full flavor so do try again and let us know what you think.

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Profile

Bio

I’m a middle school teacher of French, Spanish, ESL and reading intervention. I’m also a mom to two young children.

I’ve always been a tea lover. When I lived in France during college, I really loved the tisanes. Over the past couple of years, I’ve branched off into loose teas. I’m not very knowledgeable about teas, but I’m really loving the learning process!

Location

Michigan

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