161 Tasting Notes
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.
I usually try to end my daily tea consumption before 7:00 PM. At that time I’m ready to unwind for the evening and come down from the energizing doses of caffeine supplied by my morning cups. However, tonight I had a craving for tea to accompany my pasta supper. Remembering that my Wissotzky gift chest contained some fruity caffeine-free varieties, I reached in and pulled out a bag of Blood Orange & Mandarin Scent. After steeping, the tea had a clean translucent orange/cherry color. I also enjoyed the tantalizing fruity aroma that emerged from my cup. This tea has an exquisite yet mellow citrus flavor. I don’t seek out flowery tasting teas, but the hint of rosehips in this blend greatly enhances the flavor. I thoroughly enjoyed it with my meal. If you dim the lights in your dining room and use crystal goblets, this tea can be an integral component of any gourmet occasion.
I was already a big fan of Stash’s SINGLE Bergamot Earl Grey tea so I wondered if doubling the Bergamot content was really necessary. The consistency of Bergamot seemed perfect to me. But, when I noticed that the Double Bergamot Earl Grey selection was on sale for a very low price at our fine local French boutique, Tarzhay (spelled T-a-r-g-e-t), my curiosity was too strong to be denied. While steeping the turbo Bergamot blend, I immediately noticed the fortified aroma escaping from my cup. After five minutes, I fastened my seat belt and raised the cup cautiously to my lips. The powerful Bergamot scent slapped me in the nostrils all the way up. As the potent tea swished around my palate, my taste buds were instantly washed in the bright and sunny fruity flavor of the supercharged Bergamot. Although the aspect of tea is definitely relegated to the back seat of this variety, enough is present to create the total sensation of a divine and effervescent compound. After finishing the cup, a zesty aftertaste was left behind that reminded of this great experience. I am captivated by this compelling blend. I fear that there may no longer be sufficient chills and thrills in standard Bergamot tea for my newly enhanced sense of adventure.
For my second journey into the land of The Republic of Tea, I chose their Vanilla Almond blend. I anxiously waited for this tea to finish steeping as the sweet vanilla aroma filled my nostrils. Finally, after five minutes (that seemed like five days), the tea was ready to taste. With my first sip, the full, sweet, vanilla, and nutty properties danced on my tongue. The robust quality of the vanilla joins expertly with the almond presence and the supporting tea flavor to create a delightful taste sensation. This tea instantly became one of my favorite selections. The Republic of Tea continues to create incredible blends that coddle my insatiable sweet tooth.
It is interesting that one of the most reasonably priced teas is also one of the most consistently best. I haven’t found a Twinings tea that I didn’t like…a lot…yet. The Twinings English Breakfast tea continues this tradition with a very robust and flavorful blend. The flavor bursts with a zesty and gallant zing. Visually, even the beaming amber color seems to shout out great taste. As always, I steeped this tea for a full five minutes. This is perfect for my tastebuds but it may be a little strong for some.
In my opinion, this tea is not quite as advertised. I did not find this tea to have a very strong or full bodied flavor. The taste is pleasant but subdued. It reminded me of a watered down English Breakfast tea. This blend is also said to have a high caffeine content. Maybe I am being greedy, but I would like the high-octane caffeine to be accompanied by super-charged flavor. Several years ago, some companies produced and tested a silent vacuum cleaner. The machine did not do well in consumer testing because people associated great suction and cleaning power with a loud noise. This is how I feel about the Wissotzky Classic Tea. I want my high caffeine morning cup to be accompanied by a loud noise.
I think bergamot is one of the best things that ever happened to tea. Unfortunately, not all of the tea manufacturers have figured out the best ratio between the bergamot and the tea to create a great tasting partnership. Twinings, however, has this relationship down to a science! Their Earl Grey uses bergamot to formulate a bright citrus flavor that is perfectly complemented by a bold, yet unobtrusive tea taste. Even after five minutes of steeping, the flavor is strong and steady without bitterness.
I’m a big fan of Earl Grey tea. The fruity bergamot flavor is a terrific complement to both black and green teas. This particular Earl Grey black tea by Wissotzky seems to be hiding both the tea and bergamot flavors under a bushel. I am doubtful that I would have pinpointed the presence of bergamot if I hadn’t first read the list of ingredients on the package. It isn’t just the low level of bergamot that is disappointing here. I also struggled to cull any identifiable tea flavor at all. The flavor that is present is not bad, there just isn’t enough of it.