24 Tasting Notes
Several months ago my husband and I rented a garage downstairs from our apartment for the extra space. “Think of all the room we’ll have!” we kept saying. For months all that was in this garage was…….a bike. The garage had been empty for a while and badly needed de-spidering. My husband and I are both not fans of spiders. Why we chose to do it on a hot sunny day I can’t imagine. It was disgusting and dusty and spidery but its done now and we sprayed the corners with spider spray and then I sprayed everything generously with peppermint oil and water just to make sure the spiders get the hint. Now everything that is down there is staying forever because we can’t trust it not to have spiders on it. It’s the Goodwill waiting room.
Point is, it was hot and hot weather calls for BEVERAGES. I love BEVERAGES. I’m a huge fan of BEVERAGES. I like water, I like tea, I like coffee, I like hot chocolate, I like iced ones of those things, lemonades, limades, I try to stay away from soda unless there’s rum in it but you get the point, I’m well hydrated.
I love hibiscus tea. I’ve been drinking it for a long time and I’ve been drinking Passion tea for a long time. At Starbucks you could get it mixed it with lemonade, and eventually I started drinking it without lemonade, and then eventually I was drinking “real” tea and I didn’t have it much anymore.
Then we went to Mexico and the ubiquitous iced beverage of choice was Te Jamaica (“ha-MY-cah”), which is just hibiscus tea. At ElNicho restaurant in Puerto Morelos it was served with a mound of hibiscus and sliced cranberries in the bottom which was extra tasty and tasted just like Cranapple juice to me. So I kind of got a taste for it and I wanted some more.
I started a bad habit. A Starbucks opened near my house and it’s pretty quiet at about the time I leave for work in the mornings. My husband makes me drip coffee that I drink in the car in my Las Vegas tumbler, but I’ve started starting also stopping for a venti iced half-sweet Passion tea that I drink when I get to work.
Let’s be straight about hibiscus tea for a second. It’s pretty much Kool-Aid. If you throw a little sweetener in it and give it to a kid who is familiar with Kool-Aid, they will confirm for you that it is tasty Kool-Aid.
This Tazo stuff is also tasty Kool-Aid but it’s got a couple frills that make it taste a little bit sophisticated. The rose hips are tart and put a kibosh on the cranberry sweetness hibiscus has. The orange brightens it up. There’s a teensy bit of cinnamon that gives it a little depth and spice. It’s still Kool-Aid but it’s grown-up Kool-Aid.
My husband and I have been keeping a pitcher of it in the fridge since we got back from Mexico. I don’t make it very sweet, I boil up a cup of water and pour it over two bags with a little sugar and then leave it in there until its good and dark and then I pour it into the pitcher and fill it up. The pitcher has an infuser so I leave the bags in there overnight for some extra flavor. If you leave it unsweet it will be a little tart and dry but still good. A little sugar, refreshing with a little zing. Lots of sugar, grown-up Kool-Aid.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Hibiscus, Licorice, Orange Zest, Rosehips
The way I see it, there are three reasons to drink this tea:
1) You’ve got a serious cold and you’ve reached that point where you’re drinking directly out of the Nyquil bottle at noon,
2) You’re about to have some kind of Gilmore-level authentic Chinese food extravaganza,
3) You are some kind of ginger fetishist.
All valid reasons in their own way, of course.
Basically, this is crazy ginger and the lemon, while there, just makes the ginger poppier. It’s not bad but you’ve really really really got to like ginger. I like ginger a liiiitttle bit so this was too much for me but I’m keeping it for reason (1) which I’m sure will come around at some point and then I’ll be glad I have it. It’s yellow so I recommend treating it like green and being careful with the temperature and steep time.
Flavors: Ginger, Lemon, Lemongrass
Got home from work and my Universal Yums box had arrived! My husband got me a subscription as a surprise a few months ago. It’s basically my favorite thing ever. I love snacking and traveling and trying new foods. The box is snack foods from a different country every month. It’s usually a 2 or 3 bags of snack size chips or whatnot salty snack, and then a variety of sweets and baked goods that are traditional or popular in the country. It’s curated for the Western palate so everything is different and fun but not extreme. So for example in my Philippines box I got a bag of Sweet Corn Poofs. Like Cheetos, but Sweet Corn instead of cheese. They smelled just like corn on the cob with butter. The first one made me kind of grossed out but they were addictive and ultimately delicious. I have fond memories. My first box was France, the best box so far was Philippines, and this month is Greece, with Oregano potato chips and hazelnut chocolates and rose candies. This tea was a bonus item in the box and obviously I had to get right on it.
I couldn’t find any brewing instructions on the packaging or online so I guesstimated at 203F for 3 minutes in 8oz. That seemed okay.
It reminds me of Valerian tea in the smell and a bit in the taste, it could just be a sort of musty herbal quality. It’s kind of savory? If you put some oregano and noodles in it I would totally buy it as a soup (okay maybe a disappointing vegetable soup), but after all it does have saffron and sage and those are both great in soup. It’s certainly not sweet or floral. It’s very rustic. It leaves a brothy aftertaste. I’m not getting any of the Lemon Verbena.
Trying to expand my repertoire. I picked this one because it has chamomile and I could definitely de-stress but also because I haven’t really developed the taste for chamomile. I was hoping the silver needle and rose would save me. I really need to include more types and ingredients with my general tea consumption but overall I stick with whites because let’s not forget why I got into this business.
In preparation, I was already using a chamomile hair mask from Lush (the “Marilyn” for us blonde types), and a Klorane eye mask with cornflower, so it was a theme. There was also pound cake and a Netflix marathon of The Vicar of Dibley which wasn’t on theme I think but there’s your stage set anyway. FUN STORY Peter Capaldi just showed up in the second episode and he looks like he could play young Tom Baker. The episode is from 1994.
This pot (30oz) was made from both a sample and a regular bag. Interestingly, the sample was all fuzzy silver needle with what I think was a fragment of a chamomile whereas the bag was a good mix with a lot of large buds.
I used about 1.5 teaspoons per 8 oz, the bag says 1-2 so I tried to be midrange. 194F, 2 minutes.
It’s a light color and smells strongly of honeysuckle. In taste, a delicate white with lots of sweet rose. I like rose so I like this a lot. There’s a slight, very slightly tart or sour aftertaste that I bet is the chamomile.
I know tiny cute teacup is the standard for the fancy loose leaf but I used a big Pinocchio mug. The flavor stays standard even as it cools, which I like. It’s very sweet and floral. I do feel less stressed but it is a holiday weekend, after all. Perhaps I should install this as my official post-work tea.
Ashmanra gave me one of these because we’re on a cardamom kick.
These are teabags and I like that because I’m lazy. I enjoy being smugly superior to people with my loose leaf but sometimes you need the bag. It’s simple and I feel like I get more uniform results over loose leaf. Plus you can keep it in your bag. I have a lot of tea in my purse. It’s super handy in airports, hotels, waiting for your car at the shop, work meetings…
First impressions taking the bag out of the wrapper, is a cardamom sucker punch. I got worried because I like cardamom but I dunno if I like it quite that much. It was so strong it was nearly anise.
I boiled up some water and steeped the bag for four minutes. It is an incredibly dark steep.
Second impression, it smells extremely puerh-y, which is to say like a horse stable. More worried.
Fortunately the actual steep tastes strongly of neither, it’s quite balanced and enjoyable. I can see this being a handy bag to keep around especially if traveling. Will be buying a box of my own.
This tea is inventive and different. I enjoy it very much. It’s a delicate white peony with lots of coconut that gives it some milkiness, and also cardamom pods. Cardamom, in my opinion, is a great spice that is drastically underutilized. It is spicy like cinnamon but refreshing like mint. I’m a fan.
We tried this tea on a night we had a huge spread on the balcony from City Barbeque. Pulled pork, brisket, green beans, cornbread, the works. This tea is great with food. I might go so far as to say it might be best with food. It is great as a complement to desserts as well. The cardamom accents so many flavors perfectly.
We found it to be good for three resteeps. At first I steeped at 176F because I like my whites steeped at low temperature, but I’ve found the cardamom really comes through a little higher, maybe 195F.
EDIT: Just had this one again. Drink it cold. 100%. Or iced. All the flavors are out and balanced when it’s cold. Really excellent. Cold and with food, seriously.
Flavors: Cardamon, Milk
83! That little slider is hell to use on mobile. Close enough!
As you see from mom’s (ashmanra’s) review, I cleverly ordered this tea so as to be waiting for me when I got home from Mexico. It was a fun vacation but not a relaxing one. It’s the kind where you come home sunburned and mosquito bitten after climbing Mayan pyramids and riding bikes in the jungle.
And waiting for me it was! T-We is on top of their shipping, let me tell you. They even noted it was my third order since April. Lol. Uh oh.
Now we should know by now that I’m a huge fan of minty teas so putting two mints together on me wasn’t really fair. Coming off the airplane I was, in fact, a very grumpy dinosaur myself (memo: never fly through Cancun, if you can help it). It’s a nice tea, the sweet spearmint fills out the peppermint but I didn’t really get much vanilla. Maybe I can tweak my steep and pull it out more.
Overall recommended for us minty types. If you want something more serious try their Madame Morocco.
I used boiling water, 2 tsp per 6oz, 5 minutes steep. Sliders. Mobile.
But seriously don’t fly through Cancun. It’s a zoo. I haven’t seen that many people teeming for customs since Hong Kong.
Flavors: Peppermint, Spearmint
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I’m a sucker for Christmas and teas called White Christmas. Whatever. Fight me.
Mom aka ashmanra had been holding out on me for this one because I don’t really care for artificial almond flavored stuff or amaretto and this has almond flavor, both natural and artificial, but eventually she gave in and showed up with it one day near Christmas.
You may notice that the flavors on the rating for this tea are allll over the place. Yeah. You have to make it exactly right. If you do, it’s great. It’s warm and smooth and cozy and there’s vanilla and something a little nutty. It tastes like twinkly Christmas tree lights, the pretend fireplace on, my favorite ugly blanket, and Bing Crosby music. Until it gets cold or if you didn’t make it right.
So don’t touch it once it gets cold and make sure you make it right. Think of it like a mogwai. Totally worth it.
Flavors: Almond, Vanilla
Thank goodness for white matcha! I love green matcha but it’s too hard on my stomach. The white matcha doesn’t have that bright green flavor, rather that very delicate white tea flavor, but also doesn’t make me throw up, which is even better. I’ve been adding a few shakes of it to my favorite white teas and it blends right in.