160 Tasting Notes
Yesterday I found myself back at the mall and once again I was drawn to the Teavana store “just to look”. I don’t know if the sales people are very good or I’m just an easy sell. In any event, this time I purchased the Slimful Chocolate Decadence blend. All you have to do is mention chocolate and my wallet seems to pop out of my pocket. This is my first experience with oolong tea. Following Teavana’s instructions, I brewed it at 195 degrees for three minutes. The flavor is an agreeable combination of chocolate and ginger. As Tamm commented, I did not see or taste the presence of rose petals in my selection. Maybe it’s because I’m not used to oolong yet, but the flavor power of this tea is weaker than my preference, particularly early in the morning when I’m trying to slap awake my brain and tastebuds. Am I sorry I purchased it? No. Do I like it? Yes. Will I drink it again? Yes. Next time, though, I will experiment with brewing it a little longer or adding more tea.
UPDATE: I blended Azteca Fire with Matevana yesterday morning. I used 1.5 teaspoonsful of each variety per cup. Wow! After my first sip, I heard music playing, birds singing, and sweet voices! Then, I turned off my radio. Seriously, though, the two varieties go together better than Abbott & Costello. It was like drinking a rich and sweet cup of hot chocolate with a fine tea chaser. The multiple flavors complement each other perfectly! So, I’m raising my rating for Azteca Fire because it is a great friend for other blends.
I’ll make this Tasting Note short and sweet because that is how I feel about this herbal tea blend. The chocolate taste is sweet but the rest of the flavor falls short. It is similar to hot chocolate, with either four times the apppropriate amount of water, or only one-fourth the amount of recommended hot chocolate mix. Take your pick. It smelled so misleadingly wonderful in its unbrewed state in the cannister. I’m disappointed with this one on its own. However, I have a feeling that it will be a great complement to another blend. Next time, I will mix this selection with Teavana’s Matevana blend. Hopefully Azteca Fire will then sigh, turn to Matevana, and whisper seductively, “You complete me.”
I was extremely psyched this weekend when I discovered that the mom and pop peach stand down the road sells Charleston Tea Plantation teas! Now I know how Columbus felt in 1492! I had just learned about these teas during my trip to Charleston last week and I figured I’d have to wait until my next trek to that great city before I could buy more. What made my discovery even sweeter was when I found that I can buy the teas locally for about 25% less than what they cost me in Charleston! So, needless to say, I picked up an additional variety of this wonderful tea.
The Governor Gray tea, like the other selections from this company that I’ve tried so far, has a very smooth and full flavor. The bergamot presence is light, but you know it is there by the citrus undertones that exist in every sip. Perhaps it only seems light to me because I am accustomed to the supercharged double bergamot tea blend produced by Stash. In any case, this is a very nice and tasty tea. I steeped it for four minutes at 212 degrees. This seemed to result in a hint of bitterness, but nothing to detract from my pleasure in drinking this tea. Next time I will lighten up and cut a minute off of the steeping time.
UPDATE: I did diminish the steeping time to three minutes to see if the slight bitterness that I experienced at four minutes would disappear. The results are in. To quote Goldilocks, “This one is just right!”
I said I was going to just enjoy the loose leaf teas I have now and not buy more until I finish what I have. But…I was at the local mall last night and passed a store that I hadn’t noticed before…TEAVANA!!!
TEAVANA became NIRVANA for me! The incredible aromas that filled the store, as well as the many free tea tasting samples, were just too much for me to resist. I didn’t want to go crazy (yet) so I only bought two types during this stop. I know I will be back…soon.
I was very excited to try the purchased MateVana tea this morning. The odor that arose from the cannister contained the only thing that I like about coffee, its great aroma. I hate the taste of coffee and have always wished that coffee tasted like it smelled. This tea does just that and more!
The sweet, almost chocolaty, aroma that wafted from the tea maker while brewing, again screamed out the qualities that I always envied in coffee. This divine smell was not even slightly diminished in the cup that followed. And, the bold, sweet, and polished flavor of the tea is beyond adequate accolades. It TASTES exactly like fine coffee SMELLS without the harsh and often bitter flavor of coffee. It is tremendously rich, vibrant, and smooth. I drank three cups of this wonderful nectar this morning. I can’t wait to pop open the cannister again soon, just to sniff it, if I don’t have time to brew it.
Now I know why they give you so many free tasting samples at Teavana. It’s to get you hooked on the fine stuff! In my case, stay tuned. I’ll let you know how things go at my TA (Te-a-holics Anonymous) meetings.
This is another one of the Charleston Tea Plantation loose leaf teas that I picked up while I was in Charleston, South Carolina, last week. Although I like several strong cups of potent black tea in the morning to get my remaining brain cells chugging, I decided to give this green tea a try today. I am so glad I did! I set the Breville One-Touch Tea Maker for medium-strength green tea, with a brewing time of three minutes at 175 degrees. The flavor of this tea is smooth as silk. The taste of mint is cool and refreshing without overpowering the light but steady essence of the tea. Bitterness is not part of this tea’s vocabulary, even 40 minutes after brewing. I drank three cups this morning and still yearned for more!
I was in Charleston, South Carolina, last week and just couldn’t resist picking up some loose leaf tea grown on the Charleston Tea Plantation, the only tea plantation in the United States. The Charleston Breakfast Tea variety brewed for four minutes, resulting in a vibrant amber color. The flavor is pleasant, although not multi-dimensional or particularly bold. The taste is slightly nutty but lacks sweetness that my worn tastebuds are able to detect. All-in-all, this is a kind and gentle breakfast tea that will softly stir you from your slumber.
I was going to wait until next year to evolve from tea bags to loose leaf. However, thanks to my wonderful girlfriend, who bought me the Breville One-Touch Tea Maker for my birthday yesterday, I’m ahead of schedule. I’m a gadget kind of guy and I would love this very cool machine even if all it did was boil water. Of course, though, I need loose leaf tea to properly play with my new toy. I ran out to the store last night and chose Rishi Earl Grey for my inaugural launch. As the tea was steeping for four minutes at 212 degrees, I immediately noticed a richer aroma than I had ever experienced with bagged tea and 192-degree water. The color of the tea was also more vibrant than I had encountered with bagged Earl Grey teas. As I excitedly took my first sip, I tasted a cornucopia of tea, bergamot, malt, and spice. The experience reminded me of when I first emerged from black-and-white to color television. I love this tea, I love my new tea maker, I love loose leaf, I love my girlfriend, I love life, and I love you. All is well with the world today. :-)
To tea…or not to tea…that was the question last night. Once again, I weakened, but wisely chose another caffeine free variety. This time, I selected Wissotzky’s Wild Berries tea. While steeping, there was a sweet aroma that reminded me of a fruit stand. The red-ish color was a cross between grape juice and red Hawaiian Punch. My first sip filled my tastebuds with a fruity sensation similar to a grape juice/Kool-Aid hybrid. There also was a rather pronounced bitterness left on my tongue. However, I was in this for the long haul, so I sipped again and again and again. The bitterness magically disappeared after about the third sip. (Maybe that is what the “Magic Garden” on the package means.) After that, I found the tea to be a very pleasant fruity drink for late at night. I believe this blend would be much more enjoyable for the whole family as an iced selection. The folks at Wissotzky must believe that too. The package points out that this beverage is “great for iced tea”.
I wonder if it is possible to become a te-a-holic. If so, I am rapidly becoming one. This evening, I once again couldn’t resist reaching for another (caffeine-free) tea to accompany my dessert. I was very fortunate to flip a coin in favor of the Bushmen’s Brew Honeybush selection. I couldn’t have picked a more appropriate time to take this delicious number for a spin. It is easy to see how Honeybush got its name. This tea has a wonderful natural sweetness that happily walked hand-in-hand with my butterscotch pudding. The sweet Honeybush is delightful, with a light and easy flavor. There was no bitterness, even after six minutes of steeping. As of now, this scrumptious tea is the leading candidate for my night cup.