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20 Tasting Notes
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I recently received my 2 free samples from Design a Tea and have been eager to brew them up. Custom tea is a pretty cool concept in itself, you pick a base, add your flavours, and then have your own monster creation to deal with, good or bad.
I decided to keep things simple, I like vanilla, so I opted for a black tea base with vanilla flavouring added. Doing so could potentially allow me to comment more accurately on the grade of the tea base, which is an added benefit to my choice.
Anyway, today was a long day of being tired so I decided it was a perfect opportunity to give this tea a shot. After opening the package I was immediately greeted with a kind of jungly smelling vanilla mixed with something reminiscent of black cherry. I brewed up the tea satchel in a warmed cup with boiling water, an amber maple colour immediately began to dance out.
Once the tea was brewed I picked up a more smooth vanilla scent from my cup, reminding me of rice crispy squares (yum). So I lifted the cup to my lips, expecting to taste delicious vanilla, instead receiving a root-like flavour. A few sips later and I could finally pick out a very light taste of vanilla. I kept tasting a familiar flavour that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, later realizing that it was the taste of pistachios. As I got further through the tea it seemed to become progressively more bitter, which eventually had me clenching my face, dissapointing me more.
This tea brings forth the image of a quirky friend who enjoys dressing up in fun outfits/costumes. They can be kind of bitter as they wear out but they are fun to talk to.
Overall I was dissapointed with the lack of vanilla, the quality of the black tea, and the increasing bitterness. This may have been masked if I had combined more flavours, but in my case I was not pleased. I enjoyed the process of designing my own tea, and hey it was free. I would reccommend you be more risky with the flavours than me if you are going custom and enjoy the process and anticipation of trying your “Cthulhu’s blood” or what have you.
First off I did in fact typo this tea’s name, but should be able to fix it soon.. This review will be short and sweet as the tea itself was surprisingly straightforward.
I picked up this tea at a local farmer’s market during the summer, as the seller swayed me with a pre-brewed sample to taste. Smelling the leaves I instantly am presented with a minty smell and a feeling of summer, a few herbal undertones wafting up underneath.
Due to a lack of supplies, I am forced to make do by placing a nice heaping teaspoon in a mug, gently pouring over the hot water, and then after the allotted time, strining the tea through some cheesecloth. The fresh tea presents a minty, summer style scent, as before, with herbal undertones. Only now I am envisioning a pleasant summer morning where the fresh dew is dancing across fields of green.
I then taste the tea. I am brought to a small farm, family owned, surrounded by fresh fields of green. The dew is trickling from the plants, and the family just rising to go about their daily routine. This tea tastes just as expected from the scent, with soothing mint being the prominent player in this tea, bringing forth a sense of homeliness and relaxation.
I quite enjoy this tea, though it does not bring anything particularly amazing or exciting to the table. This tea is very consistent, from scent to taste, and is a very soothing experience overall.
Have been drinking this tea off and on for a while now, as it is one of the few teas in the cupboard. Now seems like a perfect time to sit down, relax, and write something up.
Removing this tea from its tin resting place I am immediately struck with the scent of loving, caressing, vanilla. Underneath, a slight smell of cinnamon comes forth, surrounding the smell of rooibos, bringing forth an almost marshmallow smell. At this point I am feeling relaxed, I almost want to just sit and continue smelling this tea, simply because it is so pleasant.
Snapping myself out of the daze, I prepare the tea. Boiling water for 5 minutes as instructed. As the water gently begins to embrace the tea leaves, the lovely scent of vanilla begins to dance up from my cup to greet me. That same marshmallowy-vanilla scent with cinnamon spice undertones is now fully steaming from the light creamy liquid resting in front of me.
I raise the mug to my lips and take a sip. Vanilla, sweetness, light cinnamon, and mint. The vanilla flavour is the first to hit, though not quite as strong as strong as the scent it gives off, which is somewhat underwhelming, though that could simply be personal preference. There are some light cinnamon undertones at the sides of my tongue and a sweetness that is left behind on my lips. After this has passed I feel a light almost minty aftertaste on my tongue, which I assume to be the rooibos as that has been a singature of my experience with it.
Now my mug is empty, still wafting that lovely vanilla scent, I am fully relaxed. My throat feels a little dry, which I have been told is common with lower grade teas, and my lips and tongue are coated in a pleasant, sweet aftertaste.
This tea spins an image into my imagition of a younger, gentle female. She is very kind and loyal. She looks out for those who are close to her. Whoever chooses to love her she will love back consistently for as long as she is able. She tends to avoid excitement, preferring to settle down with a nice book. She grew up in a wealthy family so she does tend to spend more money than the average individual, in some ways making her more of a “gold digger” as she likely will only be introduced to those of a higher social standing.
This tea is kind of pricey for the product that you get. It is a nice relaxation tea that produces many lovely aromas. As with most Tazo brand teas, this tea seems to be designed with Starbucks signature drinks in mind rather than straight consumption. Sweetening this tea will really accentuate the vanilla flavour and make for a more creamy style drink if that is what you are interested. I would recommend this tea to those who are interested in recreating Starbucks style drinks at home to save some change.
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Before I begin my review I would like to mention that I did not have any particularly high expectations for this tea, though I somewhat assumed I would be presented with a richer, somewhat dark, passion fruit flavour. I have tried this tea in other forms previously, such as the ever popular passion tea lemonade which may have biased my assumption somewhat. Regardless my intention with this tasting was to simply pickup and drink this tea in its most raw and unbiased format to get a feel for the quality of the product and to find out what story the leaves can tell me if any.
Unbrewed: The packaged concauction has a nice deep, sweet, almost candy like scent to it. I was immediately seduced by varying tendrils of citrus, with a sort of darker, more crimson, fruity scent lingering underneath. I feel like I was almost picking up the slightest waft of cinnamon, though cinnamon is no where to be found within this tea so it is likely a combination of that which is involved. Looking at the assortment I immediately visualized autumn, with fresh fallen leaves and the comfort of a nice warm home, surrounded by family. The mix itself reminds me of the pot-pourri that my mother used to have placed in key locations around the house. I spotted random golden cubes within the tea, which I could only assume were the mango/papaya that was hinted at by the tin in which it was packaged. It is a pleasing tea to look at, and just as pleasing a tea to smell.
Brewed: I brought my water to a boil, and gently drizzled the water about the leaves, letting the satchel steep for the designated 5 minutes. I was greeted by a chalice of dark crimson-purple liquid. Lifting the cup I was immediately comforted by the scent of deep, rich passion fruit. Intrigued and at ease I lifted to the cup to my lips and sipped at the warm liquid. I felt rigid, almost as if a jolt of electricity had struck my tongue. My tongue was hammered with a very powerful shot of a tangy citrus type flavour. This sensation was very overpowering, which was interesting as I generally take comfort in the flavour of citrus. At this point I could scarcely pick out any other flavours amid the intoxicating brew. I feel like I could ever so slightly taste a hint of lemongrass attempting to peek through, but aside from that all I could get was the overpowering hodge podge of liquid. What happened to the deep seductive passion fruit, after which the tea is named? It has somehow become almost non-existent! Sure a minute note of passion fruit could be assumed at the initial bite of the flavour, but this is in no way reminiscent of the passion fruit flavours I have previously been involved with.
I attempted a second brew, decreasing steep time, thinking that maybe the reduced time would bring out less of the citrusy-doom and allow me to catch some of the other flavours, but doing so creates a liquid that has a subtle hint of watered down passion fruit, followed briefly after by light citrus. However, near the end of the cup I had a few nicer sips in which I could almost taste the passion fruit for which I longed, meaning that it is hiding in there somewhere, it just needs to be brought out by something else.
I feel as though this tea, although the rare individual may enjoy, is designed simply to be sweetened or used to produced the signature passion tea lemonade. This tea is just them taking an ingredient that they use for one of their popular drinks, packaging it in a pleasing fashion, in order to obtain more money from the customer (was even priced on the high side).
Outside of this you just get some sort of swamp water concoction. The story that this tea has to tell is one reminiscent of an old mystery/detective flick. A seductive young mistress coated in her signature perfume, easy on the eyes, slinks into your life. She wants to make you the happiest man in the world. Over time she seems perfect, and so you decide to marry her. One day she is no where to be found, you search the house from top to bottom, and she just is not there. You head out back, maybe she is working in the garden, still no sight of her so you turn around to retrace your steps only to be met with a blunt object to the face. Wanted: PT Lemmon for the murder of her husband by blunt trauma to the skull.
Verdict/tl;dr: Only purchase if you are planning to save some change by brewing your own passion tea lemonade/sweetened tea, or if you are a big fan of overly tart (not tangy or sour) flavours.