618 Tasting Notes
I am so sleepy! I have been awake since 8 o’clock last night, yep, my sleep schedule is doing that funky flip from nocturnal to diurnal that it does ever so often. Usually it happens to me the most during winter and summer, probably because I am less likely to leave my house, I am a giant weenie when it comes to temperature extremes. I am finding myself debating going to sleep after I get done with today’s tea or waiting until Ben gets home from work at midnight, though I seriously doubt I will make it that long without the help of tea!
And speaking of tea, how about we jump right into Buddha Teas’ Organic Crown Chakra Tea, a blend of Lavender, Rose, and Nutmeg while also being infused with the essence of amethyst. Ah amethyst, such a beautiful form of quartz, beloved by the ancient Greeks because they believed it would keep you from getting sloshed! I could go into detail about how these herbs were selected for assisting meditation and awakening the Crown Chakra, but I will admit that I am very much so not an expert on Chakras, having only dabbled in the past. I do know that the aroma of this tea is intense, I could smell the lavender from outside of the box it was shipped in, so that was a first! After I waft through what feels like a cloud of purple and give the teabag a sniff, I do notice a hint of rose and a delicate hint of warm nutmeg, the little bit of spice goes nicely with the headiness of the flowers. Man is that lavender some intense stuff, I currently have it sitting on my desk as an air freshener, and feel a little fear storing it with my other teas.
Brewing the tea seems to mellow the lavender out and makes the nutmeg and rose stand out more. The rose is reminiscent of a summer rose garden, heady but not overpowering, the nutmeg adds a slightly sweet warmth to the brew. I do wish I would have reacted a little quicker, because the moment I poured the water onto the teabag it turned the water vibrantly purple, this faded to the color I actually snapped with my camera, but still the purple was cool.
The taste is pretty intense, but I am drinking a tea made out of lavender and roses, it being anything other than a heady flower explosion would just be sad. I will say that this is not for the faint of heart, the rose is a heady perfume and the lavender borders on soapy, at the finish there is the warmth and subtle sweetness of nutmeg. There is a little bit of bitterness, in a floral way, if you have ever indulged in teas made from certain flowers you will know this bitterness, of course adding a little raw honey gets rid of that almost herbaceous bitterness immediately and turns the tea into a floral sweet treat with a spicy finish. So, I liked this tea, but I like really strong flowery teas, I could very easily see it being something that is very hit or miss with people.
Another tea I was a bit apprehensive about, I love lemongrass in food and I can kinda tolerate it in tea blends when I feel it belongs (no idea, but for a while it seemed that lemongrass was in everything, drove me crazy) but just straight lemongrass as a tea, never had it! Giving the bag a sniff I was pleased, I love the way it smells, I used to wear lemongrass oil as my signature ‘smell’ in high school. It blends crisp lemons with a touch of savory, it makes my mouth water the same way that savory citrus dishes (and salted lemons) do, it is the slightly green undertones that really make lemongrass work for me. Brewing the tea does not really change the aroma, it is still richly lemony and green.
Ok, here is the big moment, and…ok, I was not expecting that! It is sweet, lemongrass is actually sweet! I was expecting it to be herbaceous and savory, but nope, it is like mildly sweet warm lemonade, I almost always find lemonade too sweet, so this is pretty delicious. Expectations man, subverting them can be awesome or it can be gross, this time it was awesome! I like you lemongrass, I am sorry I shunned you in tea before, from now on, you and me are bros.
So, I opened the little plastic bag expecting the usual blast in the face of peppermint, but there was none, cautiously I stuck my nose close to the bag and still there was pretty much nothing. Only a hint of mintiness and a tiny bit of herbaceous notes, like sage, it does not smell like any mint that I am familiar with. Brewing the mint brings out just a tiny bit more of the mint smells and more of this odd green herbaceous tone. It is like someone took a mint plant and removed all of the mint and just left the herb.
I am a bit apprehensive, I love mint, I drink it a lot for nausea, headaches, and clearing my sinuses, it is one of my favorite teas to drink in the summer and I love having different mints in herbal blends. This tea does not look or smell like peppermint, it does not taste like peppermint, in fact I would go as far as to say this might be the worst mint tea I have ever had. But I am also intrigued by it because it does not taste like mint, I honestly feel as though someone is trolling me! It tastes like a blend of very old mint, sage, pepper, and spinach. I did not like this tea, but I think it might be because it does not taste or smell like what I expect it to, if I was given this blind I might like it, if anything this tea is a lesson in never go into a tasting expecting something to taste or smell a certain way, it can color your opinion of things.
Next up on the tasting adventure is Earl of Bengal, a blend of Bergamot and Black Tea, I made this when resident Earl aficionado was home, so he got to help me taste, and by help I mean he split the cup with me. The aroma of the teabag is pretty much all citrus all the time, the sharp slightly lemony aroma of the Bergamot is so potent, I only detect the tiniest hint of malt. After steeping, the tea is a perfect split between Bergamot and malt, one does not overpower the other, and at the finish there is a tiny hint of cocoa.
The taste is distinctly malty with a mild Bergamot taste. There is a hint of tannins and it is quite brisk, the Bergamot, even though it is fairly mild is present throughout the entire sipping experience, it is lemony and goes well with the malty black tea. I did find myself wishing it was stronger in the Bergamot department, and of course Ben wanted lots of Bergamot, but his love of that citrus goes into insane levels, so maybe take his opinion with a grain of salt.
In this little teabag we have a blend of Tulsi (Holy Basil) and Black Tea, a simple blend that has one of my favorite ingredients in it, I absolutely love Tulsi! The aroma is a blend of the herbaceous bordering on savory with notes of pepper and basil and a nice sweet blend of malt and honey. Black tea and Tulsi mix really well in my mind, it has a balancing act. Brewing the tea brings out the briskness of the black tea and more of the peppery notes from the Tulsi, it smells quite good.
The taste is also quite good, it blends the peppery and herbaceous notes of the tulsi and gives it a savory tone, after the initial Tulsi burst it transitions into briskness from the Black tea. The finish is malty and a touch of honey, the aftertaste leaves the mouth a little tingly and tasting like basil.
Last stop on the oxidation train is the black tea, hopefully drinking these teas one right after the other will give me the caffeine boost that I need, if not I am going back to bed. So, the aroma of this tea is brisk with a blend of honey, woodiness, malt, and a touch of berries at the finish. It smells like an iconic black tea, at least to me it does. Brewing up the bag I get notes of malt and honey, it is both rich and sweet.
This tea is rich and brisk, just what I expect from a cup of a tea that smells so iconically like a black tea. There are notes of malt and woodiness with a distinct sweet blend of honey and berries at the finish. The briskness just starts to sneak over to the astringent side but stops before it gets mouth drying, which is a plus in my book. I could see this being a really good breakfast tea, and might be pretty tasty with cream and sugar.
Ah oolong, my possible favorite tea, it is hard to tell, it is certainly the tea I drink the most of. The aroma of the curly and rather dark leaves is pretty sweet, a blend of stewed cherries, honey, and distant orchids. There is also a hint of smoke and spice, though they are faint, only little whiffs. The brewed tea now is a powerhouse of raisins and cocoa with a hint of spicebush and smoke.
The taste is brisk for an oolong, reminding me more of a brisk black but instead of malt there are notes of raisins, sweet caramelized sugar, and a rich note of honey. This is definitely one of those times that it is an oolong that tastes like a mix between a green and a black, erring more on the black side. The aftertaste is slightly smoky, though it does not linger for very long.
Next up is the green, I decided to go in oxidation order, it just seemed appropriate. The aroma of the broken green leaves in the teabag is, well, rather green! It is like a blend of fresh spinach, buttered greens (specifically buttered cauliflower) and a little like fresh collards. Brewing the tea I found it surprisingly brisk, almost like a black tea with its briskness, there are also notes of honey and hay along with grass and a touch of spinach.
The taste of this one was similar to the aroma, brisk and green, and a little on the bitter side. Bitter like eating fresh kale, in fact the taste reminds me of kale at the beginning of the sip and then it transitions pretty intensely to mown grass and honey. Sadly this tea did not wow me over much, though I cannot be expected to like every tea I drink, just most of them.
Starting off with the tea with the least amount of processing and oxidation, good old fuzzy white tea. It is totally random if I will take a tea out of its bag if presented with a teabag, but I was feeling a bit lazy today and decided since teabags were made for convenience, I am going to use that ease of access. So, sniffing the teabag I get notes of wildflowers, fresh hay, a bit of lettuce, and a tiny bit of fruitiness at the finish. This is one of the more delicate white teas I have sniffed, giving it a steeping brings out more of the honey and wildflower notes, it reminds me of a summer field in full bloom.
The tea is surprisingly dark for a silver needle tea, it has the coloring of a shou mei, which excites me something fierce because that tea is fun. Ok, tasting the tea, it is similar to a shou mei, with rich honey and fruit notes with a bit of earthy loam. However there is also similarities to silver needle with delicate floral notes and vegetal (I almost always pick out this specific vegetal note as lettuce) and a touch of sage. I have no qualms saying that I chugged this cup really quickly, and not just because I had just woken up and desperately needed some caffeine.
You know, being a creature of the internet (now you know the real reason I panicked when my computer died, I am literally made of internet) means that I tend to follow the various silly trends. #TBT (or Throw Back Thursday for those not hashtag savvy) is pretty much what it says on the tin, usually you post a selfie/photo of yourself taken a long time ago, and I thought, I should apply that to my blog. Basically it is my plan to make Thursday the day that I visit one of the neglected teas languishing in my stack of tea notebooks. I had originally planned on this being a Friday thing, but it didn’t feel right, so clearly I just needed the right meme. Also, I leveled up, tonight is game night and I can turn into animals (as long as they don’t fly, swim, or are too powerful) now, go Wild Shape!
So, before I get into today’s #TBT I want to point out an awesome Kickstarter that is currently in the works, Frank, the original creator of 52Teas is handing over the reigns to mother-daughter team Anne and Amethyst, you might know Anne as the cofounder of SororiTea Sisters, a very prolific tea blog, so you know that she knows her teas! I have been very hit or miss with 52teas flavors (very much so the nature of the beast when you come up with some of those wacky blends, once a week) but I am super excited to see how things go. Good luck you two, and to Frank with Southern Boys Iced Tea! So on to today’s tea, it was part of the sampler I ordered during the Indiegogo campaign and I won’t lie, it was the one I was most excited for because it has my much loved marshmallow root! Yes, I am talking about none other than Marshmallow Treat Genmaicha, as a person who has made and then subsequently eaten entire batches of rice crispy treats, you can see why I was excited. The aroma is sweet and slightly nutty with toasted rice, and a distinct note of grass. It reminds me a bit of laying in the grass while sniffing a rice crispy treat, the green notes are odd but not at all off putting, just like eating dessert in nature.
Steeping the tea is quite a treat, the aroma is rather delightful and intense. Notes of richly roasted rice and sweet marshmallow drift up from the soggy leaves (Genmai Cha always looks so sad once it is soggy) there is also a hint of grass and a bit of a savory note from both the rice and the green tea. The liquid without its soggy friends is all rice crispy treat all the time, no green tea to be found, just warm gooey marshmallows and toasted rice.
It is an odd mingling of flavors, this tea. Starting out with slightly kelp and slightly nutty umami tones along with a hint of grass, then the roasted rice builds and then boom, marshmallow explosion! It is really quite sweet and very evocative of rice crispy treats, but with a green tea twist. Something about the umami tones and the sweetness from the marshmallow mixes really well, the umami keeps the marshmallow from being too sweet and the marshmallow keeps the tea from being too savory, it is a balancing act. The finish is one of marshmallow, it lingers for quite a while making for a happy me. So yeah, of all the 52teas blends I have tried, this one might be my favorite, its other competition being the other marshmallow root teas, can you tell I have a fixation on that root?
For blog and (kinda awful) photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/01/52teas-marshmallow-treat-genmaicha-tea.html