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. :-)
119 Tasting Notes
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.
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.
The flavor of this nice tea is light and buoyant. Although I like my tea strong, there is plenty of flavor in this blend to keep my tastebuds stimulated. Even after five minutes of steeping, it does not cross over into bitterness. This tea would be equally enjoyable at breakfast or mid-day.
This tea is not bold in flavor but there is enough green tea taste to make me yearn for another stronger, more brazen cup of tea later on. The flavor is even and consistent. However, I was overcome with an urge to inject it with sugar, honey, or anything, to wake it up.
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.
The flavor of most of the English Breakfast varieties I have tried and reviewed are nice and pleasant but normally nothing to get over-excited about. English Breakfast tea figures prominently in my morning lineup as the first cup of the day. This is my “business cup” because it provides a high caffeine shock to my metabolism that gets me charged up and motivated to start my daily task list. My “pleasure cup” of tea is always reserved for the second cup of the morning. That is the more delightful, fruity, and bold cup that I anxiously anticipate to chase down the usually standard tea taste of English Breakfast. However, all of that changed this morning when I sampled Wissotzky English Breakfast Tea for the first time. I knew something different was afoot when I saw the bright amber color that this tea possessed. With my first curious sip, I immediately noticed a purity to the flavor that I hadn’t experienced with other English Breakfast formulas. Its bright robust quality sends the essence of great tea taste straight to your tastebuds. It is definitely English Breakfast tea flavor, but amplified to astounding heights. The best illustration I could make would be to compare this tea to the appearance of the Tin Man in The Wizard Of Oz after he was buffed, polished, and shined to meet the Wizard. He was still the Tin Man but he was now one cool and buff dude. After I finish all of the other English Breakfast teas in my stash, this Wissotzky tea will be my Numero Uno of this variety.
By now, you are beginning to surmise one thing about me based on my tea tasting notes: I am willing to try just about anything. I neither fear nor discriminate against any tea. This selection was another one of the flavors that came in my Wissotzky Tea gift box that was a surprise gift from me to me (I did try to act surprised but I saw through me immediately). The Nana Tea was another title that I greeted with skepticism. I wondered if this flavor was designed for sweet little grandmothers to sip from their rockers while knitting scarves and sweaters for the grandchildren. However, once again my first thoughts were far from the truth. This tea has a very light and refreshing spearmint flavor. For Southern teetotalers, it would be the perfect replacement for the mint julep. The Nana Tea is a tad too light and easy for my morning rotation. My first cups of the day need to jump-start me like a defibrillator. I will gladly call on this tea again in the afternoon or early evening, though, when I’m just looking for a nice refreshing break from my day.
This morning I was introduced to Wissotzky tea. I received eight flavors in a gift box that was a gift from me to me. For my first voyage, I chose the Cherry Tea. It is exactly as advertised, a bright rich flavor with the taste of fresh red cherries. This tea would also be great iced. There is no hint of bitterness whatsover. This selection would be enjoyable morning, noon, and night, hot or cold.
I received this tea as one of the flavors included in a Twinings variety pack. I like my tea as bold as possible. I was not excited about trying this flavor as I thought the title implied that it was a much tamer version of the macho Earl Grey tea. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Yes, the flavor is lighter than Earl Grey but not in a weak way. There is nothing “sissified” about this tea at all. The flavor is mellow and fruity and strong enough after five minutes of steeping to push aside my first cup of English Breakfast tea. I am keeping this tea in my morning rotation.
I’ve been trying a lot of English Breakfast teas as I strive to find the one that will give me the biggest jolt in the morning for my first cup of the day. The Stash English Breakfast tea has a solid, strong flavor after five minutes of steeping. There is nothing in the flavor to set it apart from some of the other popular brands that I’ve tried, but I do like its higher intensity.
Of the several Earl Grey teas that I have sampled so far, the Stash Earl Grey has the most prominent Bergamot flavor. It has a bright taste that I enjoy as my second cup of the morning, after my first cup of a stronger and more awakening breakfast tea. Although the Bergamot presence will not be denied in this tea, it is not strong enough to mask the very pleasant tea flavor beneath it. Believe it or not, Stash also offers a DOUBLE Bergamot tea formula! I am curious to try it to see if you have to be a Bergamot addict to enjoy it.
When it’s early in the morning and you’re not quite ready for loud noises or shocks to your system, this tea is a nice quiet selection. It’s a very mild breakfast tea, even after a full five minutes of steeping. There is a twinge of malt to the flavor and a slight non-offensive aftertaste. I find it to be a good choice on those sensitive mornings to rev up my metabolism for my next, more daring, cup of tea.
Right now, this is my absolute favorite tea in the world. As it steeps, an intoxicating fragrance reminiscent of fine chocolate cherry cordials or cherry pipe tobacco fills the room. The flavor is equally impressive. The light cherry and chocolate essence lingers on your tongue for minutes after your final sip. The color of the steeped tea has an elegant light reddish hue. My only complaint about this tea is that it is a limited World Market exclusive offering. It is only available In World Market stores from about January through Valentine’s Day. Next January I intend to buy as many containers of this tea as possible so I can enjoy it throughout the year.
When I returned to the land of hot tea drinkers about two years ago, I began by drinking the free Flavia teas provided in the office machine at my workplace. It had been so long since I imbibed hot tea (being a Southerner, I primarily drank my tea ice cold), that I actually thought this tea was great stuff. I guess I was then naive and tea-ignorant. After branching out considerably since those young and foolish days, and drinking several of the finer teas in life, I now find this Flavia tea to be bitter, muddy, and unenjoyable. If it weren’t free for me to drink, I might even use the word, “nasty”.
When my wonderful girlfriend brought this tea home to me, I was a little skeptical. To me, Earl Grey and black tea were synonymous. The thought of adding bergamot to green tea was like adding fudge sauce to asparagus. However, I was very pleasantly surprised by this little gem. The light tasting bergamot and green tea complement each other perfectly. The taste is enjoyably fascinating. Neither the Earl Grey nor green tea flavor overpower each other but both are definitely present and accounted for. I like to use this tea to chase down my first cup of English Breakfast tea in the morning. I find that steeping this tea for five minutes produces just the right balance of flavor. I drink this and all of my teas straight up. Like all of Bigelow’s tea formulas, there is only a slight (and not unpleasant) aftertaste at the end of the cup.
I’ve tried several English Breakfast teas lately and this one by Bigelow is a very pleasant tasting formula. I tend to steep all of my cups of tea for five minutes and prefer to drink them straight up. Using this method, the Bigelow English Breakfast tea has a steady enjoyable flavor, but not overbearing in any way. Only a nice light aftertaste exists when I finish the cup. The price is very reasonable. I will definitely keep this tea in the rotation of my morning lineup.