703 Tasting Notes
Holy Hannah, these are huge. I expected pearls, not marbles – and I am in love. Taste and smell aside, these things are beautiful. I requested a sample of these a few months back and Teavivre graciously obliged…then they somehow ended up in a strange place and never got used. My bad. Teavivre, thanks again for the sample – I’m so in love with the look that as long as they taste halfway decent, I’ll be ordering more (and some Bailin Gongfu!).
I used 4 marbles and steeped them in nearly boiling water for 3 minutes (my standard black tea steep setup). The liquor is amber, but lighter than many black teas. The aroma is bold, reminds me of cigarettes/cigars. Typically that would be unpleasant, but this isn’t. It’s like the sweetness of tobacco mixed with something musty and rich. Old leather? There’s a hint of “ashtray” which I don’t like, but hopefully that’s just a smell.
First sips are rich, very rich. Like very dark chocolate, sans sweetness. There is a smokiness in the taste which probably explains the “ashtray” aroma I was getting earlier. It is mild, but very there. Reminiscent of a campfire with dark chocolate smores. Now, typically I don’t enjoy smoke or dark chocolate, but this is working for me. It’s very smooth, there is no bitterness, nothing with bite. It is very different from other black teas I’ve tried, but I think this is something I want in my cupboard. I don’t think of it as an every day tea, but I could totally get a hankering for this.
I’ll need to try it a few more times (and get the beau’s opinion too) but I think this is definitely something I should order. I’m running low on good plain black tea, so I should stock up. Right?! : )
Wow. Iced, this is different beast all together. I threw the other half of my sample in a pitcher to cold brew for a day or so and I am NOT disappointed. It is crazy in your face strawberry kiwi flavour with no tartness at all (though it is red from the hibby!) It’s like a delicious and sweet strawberry kiwi juice, sans calories! Holy Hannah. Iced, this gets a 95 from me. Possibly 100, as I can’t think of a way to improve it. If/when I do a Della Terra order, I will be getting this one solely for the purposes of icing it. Seriously, y’all: ICE THIS!
Updated rating to reflect versatility: not great hot but amazing iced!
Quick one: Received this in the second wave of samples from Della Terra Teas in their new packaging (thicker plastic, better smell blocking!) This one reminds me of David’s Tea’s Oh Canada, but the aroma is a little different. I accidentally steeped it for 8 minutes, an I used 1.5 heaping teaspoons to get serious flavour.
I get maple in the taste with a hint of rooibos behind it, like the syrup is coming straight from the tree. There is a hint of roastiness at the end that makes me think of melting marshmallows – I’m loving this! Thanks again, DTT!
I received this one as a surprise second batch of samples from Della Terra Teas in their snazzy new packaging. The new pouches are a thicker black plastic which eliminate the smell contamination I experienced with the old ones. Thumbs up!
Unfortunately, one of my picky tea tastes is that I don’t like pumpkin. Actually, i don’t like pumpkin ever. I will carve it for jack o lanterns, but that’s about it. No pie, no seeds, nadda! So, I got the beau to drink it, and the following is his review:
“The tea was good, it is much better then the David’s tea pumpkin chai! The cinnamon was subtle so it did not overpower and it actually tasted like pumpkin pie. I only steeped it for like four mins for fear of over powering cinnamon so it was a little weak in flavour but the next time I think I will steep it a little longer to see if the taste is stronger and/or better. I would give it a 88 out of 100 and I boiled the water for it since it is black.”
There you have it, folks!
The aroma of this matcha is unbelievable. I am not a huge fan of matcha plain – I tend to doctor it up with my grapefruit agave or some honey. It’s not necessarily the sweetness I’m after, but the flavouring. So, when Red Leaf Tea’s Caramel Matcha was promoted endlessly on Steepster (you guys are the worst influences!) I couldn’t resist. With true teas, I started with flavoured and came to love the pure teas – it seems my matcha journey is destined to follow the same lines. If you too would like to enjoy some primo caramel matcha, see here: http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/caramel-matcha.html.
I sifted two scoops of the amazingly authentic smelling caramel matcha into my chawan and added some 80 degree water. The matcha is a bit more brown than others I have seen, I’m guessing this is from the added flavouring. My whisking leaves something to be desired, but I did manage to make some serious foam. I’m not sure how much water I added, but I tend to make my matcha a bit thin for my own preferences.
The aroma now reminds me of baked goods, which is unexpected. I am thinking some sort of cookie, but no cookie comes to mind that has caramel. There is an aroma underneath that which I associate with coconut and vanilla, but it isn’t dominant so I don’t mind. If it’s possible, the smell is very rich and warm, I continue to have associates with baking.
First sips are a big shock. I get an immediate sweetness and flavour – but not of caramel. Nope, this tastes exactly like cotton candy to me. What?! I’m going to go ahead and guess that I’ve somehow got the parameters wrong on this somewhere along the line – not enough matcha, too much water, too low temp, who knows. I don’t get any grassiness or bitterness, I seem to have completely drowned out the matcha with my robust flavouring. In fact, I would consider adding a bit of my unflavoured matcha to this if I wanted to tone down the sweet, delicious flavouring. Sometimes. On a side note, this gets the kitty seal of approval – while I didn’t let her drink the matcha, she gave it a serious sniff.
While I definitely need to work on my process to get this back to the caramel I expect from the aroma, this is the best bowl of matcha I’ve ever had. Now, that is admittedly a small number but this is just good stuff. For those of you that were afraid to try flavoured matcha because you didn’t know if you’d like it, I suggest you jump in. With this stuff. (Found here: http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/caramel-matcha.html). It may seem daunting, but really it’s just delicious! In the meantime, I’ll keep enjoying my caramel candy matcha. Oh man.
As an afterthought for my Canadian friends, the shipping on this was really quite quick. It was 8 business days from the order to my receiving it, and I live in an outlying province (Nova Scotia). There was a holiday in there, but it was still less than two weeks which is relatively unheard of in terms of shipping times. I think I paid around $3 for the shipping as well, so it’s certainly affordable.
Tried this one again today with the rest of my sample. This time it was approximately two full teaspoons of tea and 1/3 teaspoon of sugar to cut the bitterness I tasted last time. I get more depth of flavour this way, but it is unfortunately too sweet for me now. I accidentally put a bit more sugar than I meant to, so it’s my own darn fault, but I’m annoyed nonetheless.
On a different note, I received two surprise samples from Della Terra Teas today in a completely new packaging – the new bags are a thick black plastic with absolutely no smell contamination whatsoever! Big thumbs up for improved packaging – it is more plastic, but keeping tea seperate is essential. One of a pumpkin tea which will be drank by the beau (I’m a rare pumpkin hater) but the other has maple in it which I’m excited to try. Thanks Della Terra!
Finished up this one today. Steeped approximately 3 minutes at 80 degrees (because I remembered there is green tea!) it was quite nice. This is one of those ones that I enjoy, but get annoyed about because DT recommends boiling water on the label, but that makes it bitter and gross because of the green. It is lightly fruity and flowery, with decent black and green teas behind it. If I ever get my tea stash pared down to 1/4 of it’s size, I would consider keeping this as permanent stock. There is nothing else in my collection that is similar. Glad to have a sipdown though!
This is my third sample from The Tea Merchant, one of the two I selected for myself – Thank you TTM! The aroma of this one after opening the bag was powerfully blueberry. I was sold by the scent right away. Underneath the blueberry there is a hint of white tea – crisp and fresh but a supporting aroma. Steeped approximately 3 minutes, I have a surprisingly bold yellow liquor which maintains strong berry aroma, but the white tea is in competition. The steeped aroma isn’t blueberry, per se, but it does remind me of them. Sort of like a (mild) blueberry candle or candy.
The leaves on this one were broken up a bit more than I would like to see (much like the darjeeling) but it doesn’t seem to be enough that I think it would impact the taste. The leaves are still at least 1/2 an inch to an inch long but they have clearly been broken. This could be due to shipping or it could have started that way, I’m not sure.
The taste of this one is impresssively bold. The pomegranate/blueberry flavour hits you right off the bat and then subtly transforms into the white tea. There is a bit of sweet hay at the end which is supported by the berry flavours which don’t ever fully disappear. I am impressed at the strength of flavour in this one, I tend to find whites a bit of a let-down. This is what I want from David’s Tea’s White Tiger. As the cup cools I lose a bit of the berry, I think it is best drank quickly but that’s okay. I feel that way about whites and greens in general, before the tea has time to take over the flavouring. This one is very impressing, I must say!
Wow, that’s some vanilla! I received this sample from The Tea Merchant and am steeping it up while at switchboard. Thanks to The Tea Merchant! The dry aroma is in your face vanilla, it reminds me of vanilla pudding in a way. THere is something hiding behind the vanilla that I can’t quite place. Steeped for three minutes, the liquor is a pale yellow and the immediate aroma is of corn. Wait, what? Yep, corn and vanilla. I gotta say, this makes me worry. I don’t like green tea or really green oolongs. We’ll see!
The flavour isn’t as aggressive (yay!) but I do get a bit of that corn I was smelling, and then it’s a smooth vanilla right after that. I enjoy vanilla, but I’m very specific about it. This is yummy, but getting dangerously close to too much vanilla (when it starts reminding me of coconut, which I loathe). I also am getting a weird hint of mint which I want to blame on my mug, but I haven’t had mint in it in ages. Very strange.
As I progress through the cup (and it cools) the flavours are coming together more and a hint of the oolong is peeking through. It’s a bit green for my preferences, BUT it works. Very light and refreshing though there is a creamy aspect from the vanilla. I think the beau might really like this one, I’ll have to get him to try it. Overall, this is a yummy tea but a bit overdone on the vanilla. I might like to see a bit more oolong in the taste OR change the name to Vanilla Explosion or something, hah! : )