77 Tasting Notes
My favorite vanilla black, finally back in my cupboard. A friend of mine was going to Paris and asked if she could bring back any tea for me. I kind of felt bad, but, as long as she was asking, I said, “Sure!” and proceeded to extoll the virtues of this tea. I said to her what I always say when describing it: “It’s so vanilla, it’s practically chocolate!” And so it is – you just have to taste it and then you’ll understand what I mean. Anyway, I just opened the package today to have some for the first time in way too long. It’s still the same, excellent vanilla black I remember. Luscious, not-too-sweet vanilla flavor along with a subtle smoky, woody aspect. Very satisfying, especially when it’s what I expect and remember.
Could I have ordered this myself instead of getting my friend to bring it back for me? Of course. But I always seem to have an excuse not to do that (“I already have too much tea!” or “I need to try new ones!”). So glad I relented, it’s like having an old friend back for a visit.
Flavors: Vanilla, Wood
Such a strange experience with this tea. The dry leaf aroma is pure vanilla pudding, which smelled so enticing in the shop, I just had to buy it. Although it’s a flavored black, I went against my instincts and followed the vendor’s instructions: brew temp of 195 (kind of like an oolong), 2 minute steep. Not what I would usually do. According to the instructions, you can do 2 infusions, which is what I did.
At first, I detected a smoky, very faint vanilla. VERY subtle. I detected some leather in there. Then the malty, almost cocoa notes – could it be from the bourbon vanilla pieces? And then – so weird – a bright note that reminded me of bergamot. There is NO bergamot flavoring in this tea so I was very surprised, and seeing as how I don’t like bergamot anymore, I was not too happy (I overdid it on some Harrod’s Earl Grey years ago, and haven’t been the same toward bergamot ever since). And finally, again, strangely, it finished with an almost artichoke flavor – very subtle as well. None of the flavors overpowered the tea itself, so that was good.
So, not at all what I was expecting. I tried it both with and without milk, which didn’t make much of a difference in taste, but just added a creamy texture, of course. Did the second steep, which held up pretty well, only slightly muted the flavors. And since the liquor for both steeps was a nice, rich red and not overpowering, but not too weak, either, I’m inclined to agree with the steeping instructions provided.
I’m just really hung up on the bergamot thing. It’s not supposed to be there, but it’s all I can focus on, which is really too bad. I was expecting a warm, smooth, comforting vanilla, so I’m a little disappointed, but on the plus side, it’s a very complex brew.
Flavors: Artichoke, Cocoa, Leather, Malt, Smoke, Vanilla
…sigh…I don’t know. I tried this first unsweetened and iced. And it was just so tart. So very citrusy. Overpoweringly so, really. I like citrus and was hoping to find it refreshing, but it was just too much. So, the next time I tried it I added sugar, in an effort to curb that grapefuit flavor that made my whole face pucker. I rarely sweeten my teas (or tisanes), either hot or cold, but this helped. I added three generous teaspoons for the entire liter. Not enough to make it taste really sweet, just to tone down the tartness. I’d like to try to reduce the amount of sugar, but will have to experiment a bit. I now can taste more of a fresh orange flavor with strong grapefruit notes that don’t overwhelm. Not sure if I’d ever try it hot, maybe if I was sick and wanted to add honey to it, but honestly, I’ll just finish this off and probably not get it again. It is bracing, refreshing, and great if you love grapefruit (which I don’t).
Flavors: Biting, Citrus, Grapefruit, Orange, Tart
While visiting my friends in Berlin recently, they introduced me to a tiny tea vendor in their old neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg. Tee & Ton sells all kinds of tea and accessories like teapots and teasets (the “ton” is German for “clay”). There was so much to choose from, I almost couldn’t make a decision! But when my friends pointed out the marzipan tea, and I took a sniff, I knew I had to have it.
Fast forward to today’s morning cup of tea. Dry leaf aroma is one thing, but I was still not sure of the brewed flavor. I put in some milk, took a sip, and, well, this is awesome! Beautiful almond flavor for days! I’ve been looking for a decent almond-flavored black, and this delivered. Perfect balance of sweet almond that doesn’t overpower the taste of the black tea. It’s dessert-y enough without being cloying. I find that it doesn’t have that artificial flavor that’s so common with this kind of scented tea. I’m so happy with it I just might have to pester my friends to ship some more over to me when I run out of it!
Flavors: Almond, Cake, Sweet
Well, we are finally at the end, Bamboozled. I tried my best to convince David’s Tea not to discontinue you, to no avail. Bought a ton while I could and made it last longer than I expected. And now that summer is starting to wind down, I’ll drink the last of you, and raise my glass in honor of your unfailingly refreshing pineapple-y goodness. Bye-bye, Bamboozled! It was nice knowin’ ya!
Flavors: Fruity, Pineapple
Wow – I just love this stuff! I picked some up at the Tea and Coffee Festival earlier this year and finally got around to trying it. I’ve been drinking it all week and it is soooooo good. The honey notes are very strong, making this tea smell and taste almost sweet. Excellent plain or with milk, it’s so versatile. This is my first foray into Yunnan blacks and I’m sure it won’t be my last.
Flavors: Floral, Honey
One of my weekend guests so generously shared her nasty cold with me, so I’m binge drinking the teas in my house in an attempt to feel better. In all fairness, I’ve had this tea before but just never managed to write a review. Now that I’m laid up with this horrible illness, I’ve got plenty of time! First time I had this tea was at the H&S tea room in Soho, and I ordered a pot of it on a whim. Such delicious fruitiness! I was happily surprised. I’m not really getting any apricot – just plums and cherries, but that’s just fine – it’s delightful. Kind of my idea of a perfect fruity black – almost sweet with lots of beautiful aroma. No need for sweetener nor milk, it’s just perfect on it’s own. And not at all medicinal, which is amazing considering how often flavors like this end up. Would I try this iced? Maybe, but it’s so good hot that I don’t feel compelled to change a thing. Maybe when the weather gets really warm. For now, it’s doing me a lot of good just as it is!
Flavors: Cherry, Plums
I’ve been cold brewing this for iced tea (the weather’s been really hot lately), and I think I have it down. Do not start with water that is already very cold, otherwise your brew will be very weak (the husband really likes it this way, but I want a little bit of a stronger brew). I would say to start with room temp filtered water, let it sit for an hour or two, and THEN stick it in the fridge. Overnight is OK, 24 hours is better. Best thing is, you absolutely will NOT have bitterness at all. Just a lovely, sweet, refreshing black iced tea that’s really enjoyable. I ended up using 5 tsps of the tea to make one liter. So good.
OK – second attempt with this tea and I did a couple of things differently: I slightly underleafed, and I promptly stopped the brewing process after 3 minutes exactly. It made quite the difference! This is still a strong, solid black tea that can handle (really is best with) full fat milks, but brewed this way there is not a trace of bitterness. There is still a slight tannic quality, but much less than when I tried it the first time. I still want to try this iced, and am very glad I could salvage it – I was afraid I had to ditch it since it’s so far past the “best by” date.
I was looking for a basic, hearty black tea this morning, and decided to tear this open. I know it’s not the fanciest tea in the world, but that’s fine with me, as long as it tastes good. I respected the brewing instructions and was glad I did because this is STRONG! Very tannic. I very rarely drink Irish Breakfasts, and this was (literally) an eye-opener. So. Awake. Now. Bordering on just starting to get bitter, so maybe slightly underleafing/less brew time for next time. I felt that the 1% milk I had would not stand up to it, so I used a drop of heavy cream (I know, so evil), and this tea can certainly stand up to it.
I was disappointed (in myself and the store I bought this from) to see that the “best by” date was long gone (June, 2014! Eep!), and the sad truth is that I bought it in August of 2014. Too distracted being a tourist on vacation to look at the date, which is so unlike me. Perhaps that is what is contributing to the very slight bitterness. I did drink this tea in the restaurant affiliated with this store, so I know it’s a strong tea, and I liked it then. Here’s the final kicker: I discovered a few months later that one of my local grocery stores carries this, so it’s not a big deal to get it.
Still, all that said, I enjoyed it and will continue to drink it. I will, of course, have to try it iced. I’ve got a good feeling about that. We’ll see!