1388 Tasting Notes
From the EU TTB – Round 3
So the EU Travelling Tea Box was waiting for me when I got home from work yesterday. It certainly cheered up an otherwise gloomy day! I opened it to have a peek straight away, and then found that I couldn’t actually fit all of the teas back in. I’m not sure how they ever fitted to start with, but there you go. A box of wonders!
This was the first one I pulled out to try. I wanted something a little familiar, but also something new. I didn’t get the chance to try Tea Horse before they closed, and I absolutely adore Assam, so this one fit the bill perfectly. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor was quite dark, so I added a splash of milk.
This is exactly the kind of Assam that I enjoy. It’s strong, bold, and sweetly malty, with a wonderfully smooth caramel flavour underlying. It’s not as distinctive as some Assams I’ve tried, but it makes a lovely straightforward tea for drinking after a difficult day. It’s flavoursome without being complex, good for times when what I want is a tea I can relax with and not have to think too much about. I imagine it would also make a good “wake-up” morning cup.
I’m really glad to have had the chance to try this one. It might be a keeper.
A sample from VariaTEA. I was curious to try this one, as I’ve not come across many peanut butter teas before. I used 1 tsp of leaf, in 170 degree water for 2.5 minutes.
To taste, this is initially a pretty standard genmaicha blend. Smooth, relatively sweet/grassy green tea, accompanied by a deep toasty flavour. There’s a touch of creamy marshmallow towards the end of the sip, but it really is only a touch. There might be a slight nuttiness in the aftertaste, but I’m not 100% certain on that. The toasted rice/green tea combination also comes across as slightly nutty-tasting, so I may just be confusing one with the other. There’s certainly nothing that makes me think of peanuts, or peanut butter, per se.
While this is a tasty blend if you like genmaicha, and the marshmallow flavour is pleasing, I’m inevitably a little disappointed by the lack of “peanut butter”. I suppose it’s not possible to like everything, but I think it’s fair to say that my love of 52 Teas is starting to wane. The last few I’ve tried just haven’t remotely lived up to the promise of their names, and that’s disappointing.
This was last night’s pre-bedtime cup. I figured something calming wouldn’t go amiss given the stress of work at the moment! First things first, and the dry leaf is absolutely lovely — whole hibiscus flowers, whole hops, whole marigold flowers…it’s a difficult one to measure! I did the best I could with the recommendation for 2-3 tsp, and left it for 4 minutes in boiling water. Apparently it can be left for between 3 and 10 minutes, but I erred on the side of caution for my first cup.
I was pleased with the result. The liquor is a pale pink, and smells very herbal. It’s a hard tea to pinpoint in terms of flavour; the initial sip is mostly hibiscus, tart and a little sour. This gives way to a floral flavour…I’m thinking maybe the hops? Again, there’s a touch of sourness in the background. The end note is a sweet, fairly delicate mint. It’s an interesting flavour progression, and one I did find conducive to relaxation. I certainly slept well! It’s not the most tastebud tingling tea, but it’s obviously of quality, and I feel it lived up to its calming promise. I’m happy for it to occupy a place in my cupboard.
Well, it’s certainly blue! I’ve never tried a bluechai blend before, but I guess I was expecting something paler. This is seriously blue, and so pretty to look at! I used 2 tsp of leaf and gave it 5 minutes in boiling water. The scent while brewing is almost malty (like you’d smell in a working maltings, or a brewery), and it immediately made me think that this might make a good bedtime drink. Underneath the malt is a heavy floral – lavender and rose, primarily, which adds to the relaxing vibe of this tea.
In terms of taste, this one comes out very close to its scent. The initial taste is maltiness, followed by the floral – lavender first, then rose. This then fades and gives way to lemongrass, which rounds off the sip on a soothing herbal note. I’m guessing its the bluechai or the pandan that are adding the malty scent and flavour, but I have no experience with either so I don’t know for certain.
This is a pleasant cup to drink. Personally, I find the main ingredients here, and the flavour profile, far more suggestive of a calming, relaxing bedtime blend. I probably wouldn’t think of it as an energy giving tea, but that’s just my personal impression. It’s such an unusual blend, and such an unusual colour, that it’s certainly a unique novelty in my cupboard. Another good introduction to Teatoxy – so far, I like what I’ve seen.
This was my morning tea today, and a good choice for a relaxed start. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it around 5 minutes in boiling water. Based on the ingredients list (hibiscus and rosehip) I was expecting a deep red brew, and so I was surprised when I removed my infuser to find a pale pinkish liquor. The main flavour is lemongrass, with its distinctive herbal/hay-like scent and its citrussy top note. Afterwards, I can taste a hint of apple (soft, mushy, sweet apple, rather than crisp, sharp or sour). The hibiscus is fairly prominent in the mid sip, and lingers a little into the aftertaste, but on the whole it’s a fruity, very “herbal” blend. I can’t see any rooibos or mate among the dry leaf, and I can’t taste them either, but maybe my bag just needs a good shake! I found this quite a gentle tea, considering it’s called “morning”, so it’s probably one I’d choose for a late weekend start, rather than a busy work morning when I generally need more of a boot to the rear.
A pleasant blend, all the same, and a good introduction to Textoxy.
This came as a sample with one of my Della Terra orders from a while back. I’m not sure why it languished, but it did. As with many languishing teas, I brought it to work knowing that my limited desk selection would end my procrastination. I’m not having a great time at work at the moment, and yesterday I finally made up my mind to leave. I’m going to use the weekend to take stock and apply for some jobs (I also have a PhD application in the works), so hopefully things will start looking up soon. In the meantime, I have tea to cheer me up.
Dry, this one smells gorgeous. Honey, fruit, and grain. It reminds me of some of the breakfast cereals I used to eat when I was younger. Sugar puffs, maybe? I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but it also reminds me of Special K cereal/breakfast bars.
I gave 1 tsp of leaf about 5 minutes in boiling water, and the resulting liquor is a golden brown. The base here is blend of green honeybush and green rooibos – I’ve tried both plain previously, and I definitely prefer them flavoured! They do lack some of the woodiness of the red versions, though, so that’s a definite point in their favour.
The main flavour here is apple. It’s the baked apple flavour that Della Terra do so well, rather than their odder floral-apple. After the initial fruitiness, there’s an almost toasted nuttiness. I can accept it as Hazelnut, as per the ingredients, but it’s a little generic tasting if I’m honest. The final flavour is honey, and it adds a smooth, rich sweetness that rounds out the sip perfectly and brings the apple and nut flavours together. If I’m looking for a cereal bar in a cup, this is the tea I’ll turn to! My only complaint is that it’s quite a strong flavour, and by the end of the cup it’s almost a bit much for me. A smaller cup would no doubt help with that, and that’s how I’ll approach it in the future. A unique blend among the teas I own.
Tried this one with a little crystal sugar this morning, and I believe it did enhance the creaminess. I think on the whole I prefer it plain, but I’d have to try another plain cup to be totally sure. Either way, it was deliciously creamy, vanilla wonderfulness. Everything I said in my previous note stands.
This will be my second go with this tea. I wasn’t at all sure of it the first time I tried it, but my tastebuds may have been off as I got the flu fairly soon afterward. That’s the reason I haven’t been around here much lately. It just seemed to linger and linger, and I didn’t feel up to drinking anything but “plain” (read: Twining’s English Breakfast) tea for a long time. Anyway, I’m back now.
This one got a rinse in boiling water, prior to the first steep proper. The dry leaves were fairly dark, long and wiry. There were some silvery buds evident. Once rinsed and steeped, the leaves are a lot greener in colour, and a lot larger across now that they’ve unfurled. No wiriness here any more! The main scent I’m picking up is mushroom, and a little fresh-turned earth.
First steep: I went with the sachet parameters again, and gave the whole sample 5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is an orangey-amber, and smells brothy, like mushroom soup. It also tastes like mushroom soup, and is heavily astringent. Nigh on undrinkable, actually. I really do feel like I’m doing completely the wrong thing with this one, so I’m going to try something different for successive steeps. A much lower steep time, at least.
Second steep: Right, so. I let the water cool a little this time, to around 180 degrees, and I used a much shorter steep time (40 seconds). I at least feel like I’m not abusing the tea this way, and I get a cup that I can actually drink.
The liquor this time is a medium yellow-gold. The mushroom scent still remains, and mushroom is still the main flavour I can pick out. There’s a slight earthiness, too, like freshly dug compost. There’s a flavour in the background that I can’t quite put my finger on, but it’s almost sweetish. I’d like to say vanilla, but I don’t think that’s quite right. I’m not horrified, though, and this one at least is a cup I’ll be able to finish.
Third steep: Again, 40 seconds in water cooled to around 180 degrees. The liquor is yellow-gold again, and lighter in flavour than the previous steeps. Mushroom is still the most prominent flavour, although it’s more subdued now. I can also pick out apricot in the background (I think that’s the sweetness I could detect before, but it’s clearer now that the mushroom has faded a little).
I still think this one is an odd duck, and I’m going to stop my steeps here once again. Life’s too short to drink tea that doesn’t make you happy, and while this one doesn’t make me unhappy, exactly, it doesn’t make me smile much either. I’ll stick to mushroom soup for my funghi fix in the future! Rating unchanged.
The last of the neglected tea I brought to work with me today. I think in all honesty I’d just forgotten about these during the summer…they’re not exactly summery teas, after all. Now that the weather is cooler again, they’ve come back into their own.
I followed the recommended parameters and gave 1.5 tsp of leaf four minutes in water cooled to around 180 degrees. It smells gorgeous. Fruity, cinnamon sugary, with a hint of eggy vanilla cream. There’s a light floral in the background, which I suspect is from the oolong base. I’ve not much experience with Nilgiri Frost, although judging from the colour of the liquor it looks to be a roasted oolong.
To taste, it’s quite mild. I can taste plum, but I have to concentrate. I can also taste a touch of orange zest, a pinch of cinnamon, and a soft background creaminess. The base is pleasantly complementary; smooth, a tiny bit buttery. I put the leaves back in about half way through just to try and amplify the flavour a little, but it got a little astringent. On the plus side, there’s a little more tart plumminess in the initial sip now. Judging from others’ notes, though, this one is a mild tea in general, so I’ll be content with that.
Successive sips show me that it’s a flavour that builds a little. The fruity plum notes fade quite quickly, but I can taste the creaminess at the back of my throat for a while after each sip. It’s not a knockout tea, but it is quietly brilliant. Another pleasing cup for a cold winter morning!