353 Tasting Notes
What a pleasant smelling tea! The aroma is a wonderful mix of earthy and malty with a slight note of nuttiness. It is a very clean, pure tea smell which I think would be great to drink on its own but also a perfect base for blends.
Again the sweetness, I think I have found the source of that intoxicating sweet aroma in the other teas. The aroma is a wonderful mix of malt, marshmallows, cocoa nibs, and delicate earthiness. I almost feel the aroma of this tea can be a dessert all on its own.
My favorite of the three! I love this tea, it is a perfect blend of maltiness, richness, earthiness and sweetness. I am not sure why this black tea is so sweet but it is, it is not sugary sweet I should say, but very sweet for a tea. I stand by my original assumption that this tea would be great in blends. I feel like this tea has the best aspect of Assam, Keemun, and Kenyan blacks and blended it into a magical happy taste. I am certainly going to be getting more of the Kenyan Black for my collection.
Woo! That Earl packs a punch! Very strong bergamot and what seems like a mild note of lemons hiding under the bergamot. Not an unpleasant potency, it would be perfect as a wake up aroma. I often amuse myself by comparing a good Earl Grey to Victorian smelling salts, it would make a better fainting remedy I think! The aroma is very tart with little whispers of malt from the base tea.
Sweetness, that was something I was not expecting! After the initial surprise of the sweet aroma I get lots of citrus: lemons, oranges, bergamot, it is a veritable citrus melange. There is also a very pleasant underlying maltiness to the aroma that I am thoroughly enjoying.
I did not like this tea, and I feel really awful for saying it. I thought perhaps it was a fault on my end so I brewed a new cup with a lower temperature and I still did not enjoy it. The taste was unpleasantly bitter, the bitterness you get when eating a citrus fruit and you make the mistake of accidentally eating the rind. After the initial (almost medicinal tasting) bitterness fades you are left with the taste of sweetness and bergamot. As the tea cools the bitterness fades some but it is replaced with tartness, it is better but still not my…umm…cup of tea
Very sweet and very spicy are the first things I notice when appreciating this tea. The leaves and spices are a beautiful combination of colors…pardon me while I ogle this tea for a moment. The aroma blends earthiness, floral (mostly rose), pepper, and fennel notes with little hints of licorice and coriander for a powerful yet subtle aroma. It reminds me of the spice bushes I had in my yard when I was a little girl.
The spiciness has increased! Very peppery, which I like, also very earthy, which I also like. For all that is smells very spicy it is also very mild. Nothing really over powers your senses so you can just inhale the aroma and enjoy it. This chai smells mouthwatering.
My first impression on this tea is ‘what an unusual chai’ the spices blend together but no one flavor sticks out. This is just a personal preference, but when I drink chai I like one flavor to be king while the other flavors play as courtier to it. The fennel gives a wonderful mouth tingle (always a favorite) and mix that with the pepper, sweetness, and spice warmth and you almost get a chai that feels like a palate cleanser. I do feel like there may be too many spices or just too much going on because the flavors become muddied. Just as a contrast, Ben had a taste and really enjoyed it, so I do not think this is any fault of the tea just a preference thing. The chai becomes sweeter as it cools and gains a level of richness. I am curious to try this as an iced chai at some point.
Let it be known to everyone who doesn’t know, I love Alice in Wonderland and all things Lewis Carroll, and I have since as long as I can remember. I fancy myself a bit of a Mad Hatter (tons of hats, a little crazy, no mercury poisoning though) and also have a serious love of Disney. Though I have no shame in admitting that the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland was never really ‘big’ with me, I still was super excite to try a Mad Tea Party!
So if that introduction didn’t do it, allow me to properly introduce today’s tea: Mad Tea Party Blend by Disney Wonderland. A blend of Indian Black Teas, Safflowers, Calendula Petals, Ginger Bits, Apricot Bits, Peach and Apricot flavors. I just love it when ingredients include the word ‘bits’ it just makes me smile. Anyway, this tea is very pretty with the different flower petals mixed in with the tea leaves, I love pretty teas.
The aroma of the leaves is very fruity and tart! You mostly get the aroma of apricots, so much apricot that it drowns out all the other things at first, but if you keep sniffing around you get to experience a mild floral scent and just a touch of spice. It is a very potent aroma, almost a little too strong and makes me feel a bit topsy turvy.
After brewing the aroma just kicks up the intensity, the smell reminds me of an apricot liqueur with heavy citrus notes. Where the citrus is coming from is beyond me, but oranges are definitely there and poking me in the face. I am slightly worried I am going to get sloshed from this tea. The brewed liquid has more of the ginger aroma to it but it also has an artificial ‘perfume’ smell.
The taste is intensely tart, like eating unripe cherries tart. I should point out that it is not bitter, just intensely tart. I need to add some sugar to this tea (much like I need sugar with store grade strawberries, their tartness is not enjoyable to me either) to make it a little more tolerable so I can actually see what flavors are there under the tart. Well, it actually does taste a but like liqueur or maybe the flavoring has alcohol in it, but it also tastes like peaches and apricots. I decided after seeing a lot of other people on Steepster say that this tea is great iced to turn it into an iced tea, and you know what, it works that way. It still has that ‘fake’ taste that a lot of flavored bottled teas have but it is no longer tart and I can taste the earthiness of the tea mixed with peaches and apricots, and at the end a zing of spice from the ginger. Sadly I am not overwhelmed and doubt I will be seeking out more of this tea, it is just too tart for a hot tea and too artificial for an iced.
If anyone is curious, Tie Guan Yin Oolong is by far my favorite tea. I first discovered it my freshman year of high school when I worked at a coffee and tea shop, but at that time it was sold as Iron Goddess of Mercy Oolong and it took me a year or two to realize they were the same tea. Tie Guan Yin has the amazing properties to soothe my spirits and body whenever they are off, which is perfect because today I am certainly not on top of my game.
When I find a new tea store the first thing I do is look at its Oolongs ‘does it have Tie Guan Yin…does it have Tie Guan Yin I can afford?’ are the questions I ask. Alas I am but a poor tea lover and Tie Guan Yin is the most expensive tea in the world. Today we are exploring the ins and outs of Upton Tea Import’s Tie Guan Yin First Grade (not to be mistaken for their second grade, special grade, seasonal, and black) from China (and I am assuming Fujian). One of my biggest complaints with a lot of tea companies (Upton is sadly included in this one) is lack of information, what time of year was this picked? What region? Traditional or Green? It is the little things that my information obsessed mind craves and without these facts I have to try to solve the puzzle on my own.
The aroma is wonderful, a mix of orchids and chestnuts mixed with a gentle warmth and spice. The spice is not strong and is more of a memory of an aroma after the others have faded. The chestnut aroma gives the tea a sweet and roasted quality that is intoxicating when mixed with the floral notes. Overall the aroma is heady and lulls me into a relaxed state.
Once brewed the aroma just fills up the area…and I was sitting outside when I brewed this tea! In all seriousness I popped inside for a moment and when I came back the whole porch smelled of roasting chestnuts, orchids, honeysuckles, sweetness, and a hint of almonds. The roasted notes gave it an almost Hojicha quality. The liquid smelled much the same with more floral and less chestnut, and the liquid is beautiful.
The taste is ever so slightly honey sweet with a gentle floral touch. There is also a very vegetal taste to the teas as well, especially as it cools, similar to the way green bean water tastes. Only very mildly roasted tasting which was a tiny bit disappointing since I prefer my Tie Guan Yins to be roasty more than green, but the teas is still very good! It is also noticeably mild and relaxing, which is perfect for me at the moment. I think my biggest over all opinion is it reminds me of late spring time with blooming flowers and the air is warm, giving everything that sun kissed taste. I certainly recommend and look forward to trying all the other Tie Guan Yin Oolongs from Upton Teas.
So for today we have Verdant Tea’s Eight Treasures Yabao. First a little history, Eight Treasures Tea (or Ba Bao Cha) is an herbal tea in the Traditional Chinese Medicine arsenal that is reputed to replenish Chi, stimulate the blood, and tonify the liver (among other things) but unlike most of the TCM teas I have tried this one actually tastes good. Take Verdant Tea’s spectacular blending skills and you have a unique version of a traditional tea.
Made from Yunnan Green Jasmine, Silver Buds Yabao, Organic Goji Berries, Organic Marigold Petals, Organic Whole Vanilla Bean, Organic Honeysuckle, Organic Rose Petals, Organic Elderberries, this tea is a thing of beauty. Certainly one of the most colorful teas I have seen, and I am a fan of the blooming teas! The aroma of this lovely tea is a mixture of fruits and flowers (as to be expected) the first thing you notice is this mix of tartness and fruity, similar to the way dried blueberries smell, following that you get a rich floral scent bringing both the jasmine and rose petals together and mixing them with an aster or strawflower like scent. Lastly it is followed with notes of pine resin, earthiness, and rain water. Yes, rain water, or at the very least the smell the air gets right before it rains during the spring. If this tea was available as a perfume or soap you can bet I would wear it, it smells that good.
After a good steeping the leaves are not as pretty, but it happens to flowers that way sadly. The aroma becomes very sweet and heady, like a mixture of pears, jasmine, and berries. It is what I imagine eating dessert in an exotic garden would smell like, it is very intoxicating. The liquid itself brings in more of the pine resin aroma mixed with fresh spring water and a touch of the floral.
Ah, the tasting! Do I detect dates? No, I think that might be the richness of vanilla beans, but is certainly has a slightly date like quality to it. This tea tastes very clean, or at the very least very cleansing. It is like drinking something pure and revitalizing, similar to drinking spring water that has been accented with pine and honeysuckles. It maintains its floral notes without being too heady which can be a problem with teas that have jasmine or honeysuckle in them. As the tea chills it takes on a sweeter quality with a slight citrus note from the goji berries. This tea could be enjoyed hot or iced and would be great for every season, but especially Spring or early Summer. I think it would be an excellent after dinner refresher, especially after a heavy meal.
So this evening while waiting for my dinner to finish baking I am reviewing a tea that has one of my favorite fruits ever in it, the glorious fig. As a child I was lucky enough to have grandparents that had a fig tree so my summer visits usually consisted of me eating a lot of them, I still get giddy when I see the local stores with them in stock and usually eat my purchase in one sitting.
Tupelo Honey Fig is a blend of Lemon Myrtle, Peppermint Leaves, Fennel, White Tea, Basil, Licorice Root, Blackberry Leaves, Honey Flavor, and Fig Pieces (all organic.) The first thing I notice while examining the leaves is the aroma, I notice no fig or honey at all. The most potent aroma is that of dried leaves, not tea or a specific spice, just dried leaves. The same aroma you get from a tree branch whose leaves dried out due to drought or being knocked off the tree, it is slightly sweet and earthy mixed with an unmistakable scent of something that was once green that is no longer. After the initial leaf smell you start to get little hints of the fennel and maybe an idea of the basil. It is not at all a bad aroma, just certainly not what I was expecting from a tea that is fig and honey themed.
After brewing the aroma becomes significantly sweeter and you get to really smell the honey! The leaf aroma is still very strong but it is accompanied by basil and more fennel. I do not really smell the mint and I am assuming the leafy smell is from the Lemon Myrtle, but I am not sure since it is a plant I am unfamiliar with. The aroma of the liquid smells very mild and herbal with notes of honey.
The taste is odd. You first get a tingly mouthfeel from the mint and a sweet aftertaste with the anise taste of fennel, but other than that the flavor seems muddied. I can detect hints of the basil and white tea, but no fig and no honey. The more I drink this tea though the more it grows on me, it is like a puzzle in my mouth that I am trying to figure out…or maybe a treasure hunt for fig? I am a little disappointed by the lack of fig taste, but due to the combination of mint and fennel I think this tea would be an amazing digestion aid after a heavy meal. Plus it acts as a wonderful palette cleanser, because that is what fennel is amazing for (also making your mouth smell good, woohoo!)
It is miserably hot (not as hot as last summer, just frustrating since I thought I escaped to Pennsylvania to miss the terrible heat, 101 is still too hot!!) blazing sunshine, and the air quality is like breathing in a cloud of funk. When I saw the description of DAVIDsTea Bamboozled as ‘a light and refreshing drink for summer’ you can guess that I was all over it. I need something to revitalize my spirit after making the mistake of going outside for more than five minutes. I got a sample of this tea (my first experience with the very popular in tea circles, DAVIDsTEA) from a friend on Steepster so I went into this a little blind. Here was my thought process: ‘ooh a tea called Bamboozled, I bet that is going to be exciting, and probably loaded with caffeine!’ Looks at the leaves ‘ok, so it is an herbal tea, but what is that…wait, I know those leaves, this is bamboo!! AWESOME!!!’ What can I say, Amanda Panda loves Bamboo.
With a blend of Bamboo leaves, Pineapple, Peach, Apple, Rose Buds, and Peony Petals, the best way to describe the dry leaves is beautiful. This is one of the prettiest herbal teas I have seen in a while. The aroma is heady and tropical, very sweet, and just a touch green from the bamboo. The green of the bamboo is not vegetal but more grass like with just a hint of (and I mean a tiny, tiny hint) of citrus. The aroma is very refreshing!
Once brewed the aroma is still very sweet and tropical, but loses some of the headiness and gains a bit of a tangy quality. At this point you can smell more of the fruits, especially the peach, and even a hint of the floral. The scent is now more of a refreshing garden than a tropical paradise, which is a delightful transition. The bamboo leaves, once brewed, gain a slightly spicy aroma which is wonderful, it is very evocative of spice bush.
And now on to the drinking! The liquid is beautiful, a pale amber, honestly I was expecting a bit of green from the leaves, but this late summer sunshine color is fine too. Also because it means summer is almost over!!! Anyway, the first thing I notice is the citrus taste, not what I was expecting because it is not the acidic taste of pineapple, but actual lemon (but without the acid burn.) Have you ever been really thirsty and drank water with lemon in it expecting it to be sour but instead found it to be pleasantly sweet? That is what this tea is like, unexpected sweetness. I feel I am not explaining this correctly, it is not sweet from the fruit or from sugar, but almost like my taste buds are confused. I know that sounds kinda odd, but it is delicious! After the initial citrus sweetness you can taste the tropical loveliness of the pineapples and the sunshine flavor of the peaches. There are slight notes of floral as well which add to the tangy quality of the tea.
This tea is delicious and really does refresh my slightly melted spirit. It is like drinking a little bit of summer with out the bad qualities of the season.
Ever seen the name of a tea and been instantly sold on it? You just find the name either so whimsical or evocative that not trying this tea would be a crime, well that is how I felt when I saw Graveyard Mist. I love graveyards, they are fascinating places to explore. So much history and usually beautifully designed architecture, you can learn a lot about people from their burial practices. Well that sounded more grim than I intended it to! Anyway, when I lived in the mountains almost a decade ago the house was right next to an old church and an equally old graveyard (I think the oldest grave site was from 1790). At the time I was working night shift so a lot of mornings I would come home to a misty graveyard to wander around. And now to the actual tea review!
Graveyard Mist by 52Teas is a blend of Spearmint, Marshmallow Root, Chinese Sencha, Yun Wu, and a hint of Malt. Everything about this tea seems ethereal, from the cloud white roots to the delicate green leaves. The aroma of the leaves is wonderful! Very sweet from the Marshmallow Root, which if you have ever had Marshmallows made from real Marshmallow, you know it is a treat. There is also a very slight vegetal aroma and also very mild mint aroma. Both are more of an afterthought as the Marshmallow steals the show.
After brewing the leaves, ah, there is that promised spearmint! The Marshmallow sweetness becomes light and is replaced with the aroma of of light, vegetal, green. Very evocative of clean mist over a green field (or in this case green graveyard) and it is very pleasant. The most remarkable feature of the aroma is how refreshing it is, in retrospect I wish I would have brewed this in the morning.
The flavor is mild and refreshing. The sweetness is subtle and yes, it tastes like marshmallows. The spearmint is also mild and feels like a palate cleanser with each sip. The green teas taste mildly vegetal with absolutely no bitterness to speak of. Everything about this tea is mild, subtle, and refreshing. The name Graveyard Mist captures it perfectly. Sadly the other tea drinker in the house, Ben, did not like it. I handed the cup for him to taste and his response was ‘too minty.’ I had hoped that the mint taste was subtle enough to sneak under his radar, but alas. So avoid if you have a strong loathing of mint.
Today I am reviewing a tea by Wegmans, one of my grocery stores that sadly is not in the Midwest, so I have to get my friends to send me the teas I love so much. This tea is a new one to me, Apple Pie Chai Rooibos Herb Tea. It is made from Rooibos, Apple Pieces, Hibiscus Flowers, Rosehips, Orange Peel, Orange Lemongrass, Cinnamon Chips, Alfalfa Leaves, and Natural flavors of some sort. I have to admit other than the Rooibos, Apple, and Cinnamon those ingredients do not immediately bring pie to mind, and why do people insist on putting Lemongrass with Rooibos? I never enjoy that combination, but I am always willing to try a new tea!
The aroma of the dried leaves is pretty potent! One of those teas that on first sniff it feels similar to a smack in the face (I swear that is not a bad thing) The first thing you notice is the earthy and slightly alien aroma of the Rooibos. I say slightly alien because I have never run into anything that I can compare it to, Rooibos smells like Rooibos! I love it too, I find myself frequently just sniffing the Rooibos for a while before I get around to drinking it. The next thing you notice is the green, tartness of the Lemongrass. I almost want to use this tea as an air freshener or some sort of Victorian fainting remedy, it is very refreshing.
The aroma of the tea is much more mellow, the Lemongrass and Rooibos calm down and you get to smell some of the other ingredients. Rosehips, oranges, and cinnamon are the main smells that accompany the Rooibos/Lemongrass blend. The aroma is very tart and earthy.
The flavor took a little getting used to! I was expecting apples and spice with earthy notes from the name, but the taste is nothing like apples, spice, or chai. Instead it is very tart, slightly bitter, and not exactly pleasant. It was at this moment my mom (who got the 2nd brew of this tea) came in the room announcing how much she loves it. I gave her a look and tasted her cup and was amazed. It is a completely different tasting tea!! Now don’t get me wrong, I have had plenty of teas that taste different on the 2nd or 3rd brewing (greens taste more vegetal or oolongs taste more floral) but never have I had a tea taste like a completely different tea.
So let’s go for take two on the flavor of this tea! So there is where the apples and cinnamon were hiding!! On the second brew the flavor is much more mellow and quite delicious. First you get the subtle earthiness and sweetness of the Rooibos, then the flavor of apples and cinnamon, and lastly the tartness of the rosehips and green of the lemongrass.
I am not really sure I can recommend this tea. On the one hand the second and third brews are delicious, but the first brew is probably only good if you like really tart teas. So I leave that up to your discretion. I personally wish that it had less lemongrass, but I really don’t like lemongrass (or lemons for that matter) in my tea. Will I be drinking this again, sure…though I might just dump the first brew down the drain.