856 Tasting Notes
I’ve tasted a lot of chamomile in various guises lately, some good, some not so good. This blend isn’t doing a lot for me.
The chamomile smells sweet in the packet. The rest of the ingredients make for a very rich smelling blend, with more than floral notes—there’s something almost like cocoa to its depth. It’s also lovely to look at (like its picture).
Once it is steeped, though, the chamomile becomes more of a sharp, pungent note in the aroma, and the rest of the ingredients don’t pull together as a team to balance it out. It steeps to a pretty, clear yellow color.
The flavor is much like the aroma. It’s not as sweet as the dry mixture’s aroma promised. There’s a little tartness from the rose hips. The lavender and rose are very faint, and I don’t taste the peppercorn. I don’t get much spice to this. On balance, I’d rather have sweetness than spice, though.
I’m wondering whether more leaf would make a difference. It seems to me that if the chamomile has a sweet, fresh smell in the packet, that should be indicative of how it will taste after steeping. That it doesn’t here makes me wonder if I need to perfect my preparation methods. It’s almost sweet, but not quite. On the other hand, it could be that the tartness of the rose hips is the culprit. I think it’s the hibiscus in Tazo’s Calm that makes the chamomile in that one problematic for me. I like this better than Calm, but not as well as Harney’s Yellow and Blue.
Sipdown no. 87 of the year 2014. Terri HarpLady is kicking my butt at sipdowns. ;-) I noticed she’s surpassed the 90 mark today and she is only counting from the last week or so, I think, not from the first of the year as I am. What an inspiration!
This part is me thinking out loud about sipdowns so you can skip this paragraph if you want to read my thoughts on the tisane, most of which are contained in my previous note on this. Part of my slowdown is because I am running short of single serving samples and one-off teabag samples so I now mostly have sample sizes that generate at least two tastings worth and more frequently 3-5 and/or full size tins. This is certainly the case for herbal blends and greens and to some extent blacks and whites. I have a fair number of single serving oolong and pu-erh samples still, but I find myself saving them because pu-erhs in particular intimidate me just a bit and oolongs require savoring. I’m still trying to arrange things so that I have at least one and (if things go well) I hope more than one sipdown a day for the foreseeable future.
The Shanti samples seem to be two-serving samples. Or more accurately, four serving samples. But since the Breville makes a minimum of two servings a go, I get two tastings out of this size of sample.
It seems, if anything, much more savory tonight. Almost brothy, as though there’s some salt in there somewhere. It doesn’t taste like bouillon but it reminds me of it.
Not a wishlist item for me, but interesting to try.
I seem to be having a run at savory flavored herbal blends these days. I didn’t realize I had so many in my stash. It’s particularly puzzling because, as I’m discovering having had them three nights in a row, I have a threshold for savory herbal blends and three nights in a row is well beyond that threshold. I’ve discovered that for me they are much more of a sometime thing. I’m not sure I’d think to have one all that often if I wasn’t reacclimatizing myself to my stash and finding that I have a number of them.
My original note on this indicated that is has a savory taste, and it does. And reading that note I’ve figured out why I think I find the savory flavor a sometime thing. It has a medicinal association for me. Not logical, but there you have it. Fortunately, the savory flavor isn’t as intense as it has been in some other tisanes I’ve had recently, like the Shanti Kapha Balance and of course the plain Holy Basil from Upton.
My previous note said this reminded me of chamomile, though there’s no chamomile in it. This time I’m not really tasting chamomile. Probably because I’ve had some really good (as chamomile goes) chamomile recently and I know how sweet it can taste. This tisane isn’t sweet.
I am noticing a sort of a minty cooling feel, though, which is also interesting because there’s no mint in this. I find it fascinating that I taste flavors in this that don’t originate in its ingredients.
It’s the kind of thing I’d drink if I had it around (as I’m doing now) but now that I know what it’s like, I’d likely choose another decaf option next time I order.
I switched over to decaf fairly early this evening because when I woke up this morning I felt as though my back was a rubber band that had been twisted and twisted until it curled up on itself about 10 times.
I bought a lot of this way back when, and I can see why. It does have a very creamy lemon flavor.
Tonight, though, I’m tasting rooibos in a way that I don’t usually in this mix, and more than I tend to like in a blend.
Ah well, we all have our off days.
This is the fourth of six in the Adagio chai sampler. I made this on the stovetop with 1% milk, Splenda and the SpecialTeas Cream with Cocoa Pieces as the extra black tea.
I think using the SpecialTeas was the right choice, as this came out incredibly chocolaty and reading the notes here, one of the biggest complaints about this is that it isn’t chocolaty enough. It has been my practice in the past to add chocolate flavored black tea to chocolate chai for an extra flavor boost so I kept it up here.
The result is that my BF and no. 2 exclaimed that the entire house smells like chocolate. ;-)
Chocolate is indeed the dominant flavor, as it should be in my view given the name of this chai. I also get some spice against the chocolate, mostly ginger, but the cardamom, clove and cinnamon flavors as a blend are also there in the flavor.
It has been so long since I had any other chocolate chai (except at Starbucks) that I can’t remember them well enough to compare this to them, but it’s at least as good a representative of its genre as the Adagio masala chai is of its, so I’m rating it the same.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cloves
Enjoying this more today than I have in the past. The first and third steeps in particular were tasty today, the first having a very true to the nut flavor of almond and the third having a more generic pleasant almond flavor. The second went a bit too long and resulted in some bitterness. The fourth was similar to the second.
More leaf and shorter steeps are definitely the way to go with this one. The almond flavor seems best to me at steeping times of no longer than a minute and the first steep I did, at 30 seconds, was probably the best of the bunch for the almond flavor today.
Now within sipdown range, and I don’t expect to buy it again mostly because I can’t taste the oolong much at all under the flavoring. I’d be open to an almond oolong that had a better balance, though.
I drank this today while at the kids’ kung fu lessons and I now have very little left, maybe two or three pots away from sipdown.
But I keep feeling the need to bump up the rating each time I drink it. It’s really grown on me. While there’s nothing particularly exciting about it, it’s extremely consistent—sweet, no bitterness, a nice vegetal flavor that isn’t too heavy and isn’t too light. I give it points for that consistency and for retention of its flavor long after it reasonably should have.
Another sample I received when I ordered from Shanti a while back.
I love the look of dry silver needle. The leaves look like they’ve been frosted. Dry, they have an interesting spicy scent.
Steeped, the tea smells very lightly sweet and still has a slight spicy note. It produces a very pale yellow clear liquor.
The flavor is extremely delicate. It’s like the freshest water you can imagine, but fresher, with a subtle almost black-tea undercurrent and a finish that carries through that hint of spice in the aroma. The aftertaste is sweet and something else. Floral? But very subtle.
I’m never a hundred percent sure I’m making white teas correctly. Silver needle in particular sometimes seems so lightly flavored I wonder whether I should be tasting more. I went with cooler water and a shorter steep time on this one and I wonder whether I should go a bit longer next time and see what happens.
I should probably just go some place like David’s Tea and ask them to make me a silver needle so I can be sure I’m tasting it the way it was meant to be. Each time I steep a silver needle I have a different reaction to it. It’s hard to come up with a standard to measure against. This rating is somewhat in a vacuum because I think it’s more pleasant than I remember the Adagio being but I haven’t had another silver needle recently enough to do a fair comparison. It’s nice enough, but it’s not something I’d rush to buy.
Another sample that came with my Shanti order of a while back.
In the sample packet the dry leaf doesn’t smell at all like what I expect a Darjeeling to smell like. There’s a chocolaty smell and not much of the expected muscatel. This opens up after steeping to give more of the characteristic grapey fragrance. The liquor is a dark golden yellow.
It has nice, full mouth feel with a fruity-winey flavor and something creamy and mellow about it, sort of like the flavor of water chestnuts.
I didn’t get to enjoy this as I’d planned because I had to leave to take our cats to the vet. I had a bit of it while it was hot, then had to leave the rest in the car in a tumbler. It’s not bad cold, but it’s better hot. I need more time to sit with this. The rating is provisional for now.
So I have a bit more time now and I thought I’d give this another shot to taste properly after my failed attempt yesterday.
I am going to follow the package directions for time and temp for this go round.
I described the dry leaf’s caramel smell yesterday as syrupy, and that seems right again today. After steeping, the tea smell is primary, with caramel around the edges. There’s a briskness to the tea’s scent. It has a chestnut colored liquor.
The flavor is a more toasty caramel than the American Tea Room’s (which was more milky) and I generally prefer toasty. It’s not a strong flavor, though, and strangely, not very sweet. I wonder whether this is because my steep this time didn’t have many caramel pieces, and I’ll have to watch out for that as I work through the sample.
It tastes less like a surface flavor when drunk hot. It’s more integrated, but I don’t think the balance is quite right. It needs a bit more oomph on the caramel side to balance out the tea, and a bit more sweetness. As it is, there’s a tiny bit of bitterness around the edges that I’m not crazy about especially with a confectionary tea.
I like it better than the ATR version, but it’s not breaking my heart that it’s no longer available. I would choose both the Kusmi Caramel and the Dammann Freres Caramel-Toffee over this. But I’ll enjoy experimenting with it and trying to get the best flavor out of it while I still have it.