94

I missed my workout today and desperately need to go do it, but it’s been a long week and I’m not exactly perky at the moment. So I’m going to start a little adventure called a tale of three vanillas in the hopes that by the end I’ll be energized enough to work out.

This is the first in the saga, to be followed by a rerun of The Jade Teapot’s Starry Night and my sample of the Samovar Vanilla Dian Hong.

Gee, this tea smells terrific! No, really, it is a tantalizing smell coming out of the tin, a sultry vanilla smell. It’s incredible, you can actually smell the beany grain of the vanilla which gives it a slight resemblence to the smell of coffee. It’s like being inside a vanilla bean, or rather, swimming in a vat of vanilla beans like toddlers do in those ball pit things. There’s a dark roasty smell as well, which is certainly the tea, which is dark brown and luscious. You can see pieces of vanilla bean among the leaves.

The aroma during steeping is equally delicious. I think vanilla may be a hard flavoring to get exactly right and it seems as though its success is highly dependent on the quality of the vanilla used to flavor as well as the thing being flavored. My experience with the Numi Vanilla Decaf was pretty bad, and though I thought it unlikely this experience would be similar I was relieved to be right. The vanilla aroma rises gently and organically out of the cup, along with a malty, sugary tea smell that is quite enticing.

The liquor is lighter in color than I’d expected from the darkness of the leaves, a sort of burnt orangish brown.

Yum. It tastes smoother and more delicate than I expected. It’s not a shot over the bow so much as a gentle rumble. The vanilla is sweet and delicious, and it melds with the tea’s own sweetness to create something that, astonishingly, is just the right amount of sweet. The flavors lean on each other nicely. A wonderful cup.

I’m not sure exactly what the right steeping time for this one will turn out to be. It was fine at 3 minutes but a bit better at 4. I might try 5 next time, just for laughs.

And as a postscript — the empty cup smells nommy!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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Bio

I’ve updated this bio as it’s been a couple of years since I “started getting into” tea. It’s now more accurate to say that I was obsessed with tea for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it, and I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I’ve recently started writing fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I much prefer to drink tea without additives such as milk and sugar. If a tea needs additives to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’m going to rate it high. The exception is chai, which I make on the stove top using a recipe I found here on Steepster. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs into the harder stuff, but once I learned how to make a decent cup of tea they became far less appealing to me. That said, I’m not entirely a purist, and I enjoy a good flavored tea, particularly flavored blacks.

I like all kinds of tea depending on time of day, mood, and the amount of time I have to pay attention to preparation.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. I’m revising them slightly to make them less granular as I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas against other similar versions. So I rate Earl Greys, for example, against other Earl Greys, rather than against all teas. If something rates very high with me, though, it probably means it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is; will keep this stocked until the cows come home

90-94 First rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Excellent; likely to become a favorite, will likely buy more

70-79 Very good; would enjoy again, might buy again if in the mood for this particular one or a better, similar version not available

60-69 Good; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but probably wouldn’t buy again unless craving this particular flavor

50-59 Okay or run of the mill

Below 50 So-so, iffy, would definitely pass
or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

Location

Bay Area, California

Website

http://www.jjroth.net

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