514 Tasting Notes
Though I have never purchased tea based on the label (see Steepster book club H2G2 thread week 1), I must confess that I bought this one based solely on the name.
After the first two hints in my Gabriel Knight game, I started to worry that perhaps I was too obscure in choosing that game’s name as the answer to my mystery. Back in the day when GK2 was being played, the universe of computer gamers was significantly smaller than it is now and it’s not like GK2 was a household name. I worried that four clues wouldn’t be enough and I’d have to find some way to provide an additional hint.
So I thought about some of the major elements of the game that were less obvious than the main character’s last name, but though I consider myself something of a power googler, I couldn’t find a tea with the word “Grace” in it. Or “Wagner” or “madonna” or “Gabriel” (or even “angel”) or any of the other things I tried. That’s when I gave up and plugged in “Knight.” And this is what I got.
In the can there’s a very strong bergamot scent. Eyewateringly strong. Despite its strength, it actually doesn’t smell bad. It’s a little on the perfumey side, but it smells pretty fresh. Let’s see how my stomach feels about it. (Did I mention there were cornflowers in this? I lervs me some cornflowers. I guess that’s what makes it the blue knight special).
The tea smells quite good. The bergamot has mellowed significantly, but is still enough to be an identifiable component of the aroma. The underlying tea smells malty and sweet. Though the teas aren’t identified, I’m thinking Ceylon and Yunnan?
Whoa. Maybe some Assam, too? This does taste strong, as Atacdad mentioned. I’m definitely getting the bergamot, but it is more citrusy and tarter than what I’m used to. Thankfully, though, it doesn’t have that clunky perfumy thing that tortures my tummy. The tea isn’t bitter. It has some sweetness to it, particularly in the aftertaste. But it isn’t smooth. It’s got some bite to it. On every other swallow it’s letting my uvula know it means business.
I’ve never seriously considered milk in Earl Grey, but this may be the one that makes me try it.
Still, it’s not bad. I’ll make my way through the tin and see whether it grows on me. I probably wouldn’t order it again unless I needed the name for another game, though.
I can’t believe I didn’t realize this sample was decaf until I came here to write a note about it. I must have known it a couple of months ago when I placed the order, but the packet doesn’t say decaf so I’d totally forgotten.
The fact that it is decaf is really good news. I’ve been looking for some good decafs to have on hand when my bagged starter stash runs out (which is looking like it will be pretty soon) for those times when I feel like having tea instead of a tisane.
In the packet, the leaves smell uber peachy. It’s a nice smell. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it fresh smelling, but it isn’t overly candified, it isn’t medicinified, and it doesn’t resemble cleaning solution. All of this is good.
The tea smells extremely peachy too, though the tea comes through as well. I’m liking this decaf! It’s not entirely without that “something is missing and it can’t be just caffeine” thing, but it is so much better tasting that the only other black decaf I’ve had. The peach flavor is sweet and strong without being overpowering, and the tea, though it isn’t a strong taste at all, isn’t bad. It’s fairly mild with some astringency.
I’m going to have to get some of this to start out my new black decaf category. Though I don’t think decaf will ever taste as good as the real thing, this one is pretty good.
This rating is not a comparison to caffeinated teas. It’s where I think this belongs on a decaf scale.
And now… I REALLY NEED SOME CAFFEINE!
After drinking my way through a box of this, I’m going to have to reduce the rating. In my first note I mentioned I could taste the tea because I’d been primed by drinking another Numi white immediately before. Having now experienced this tea a number of different ways (on a tabula rasa palate, after various types of other teas besides white, etc.) I can say that I have a fair amount of trouble tasting the tea in this unless I have the taste of white tea already on my tongue from another source.
This blend is really about the spices, and in my view they overpower the tea and that makes this blend uninteresting to me. If I didn’t care about tasting the tea I’m sure I could find an herbal version of this general flavor profile (or make my own as my mom did for my dad when he had a cold).
This sample is from the era I will call B.B.G.B.M., or before black/green blends moratorium.
In the sample packet it has an intense, fruit smell. I thought it was pineapple until I read the ingredients again. Now I’m fairly sure it’s guava. There’s a high sweet note that I’m thinking is the strawberry, and an undercurrent of hibiscus. I’m not smelling coconut, or much tea, for that matter.
The tea’s liquor is that sort of in between color that these sorts of blends tend toward. Not a deep black tea color, not a light green tea color, but somewhere between the two.
The aroma is primarily guava and strawberry, though I can smell black tea through it.
It’s actually surprisingly tasty, and I’d probably drink it again if I was offered it. But in truth, I drink guava flavored juice maybe once every year or three and I don’t think this tea, nice as it is, is enough to turn me into a regular guava consumer. That’s the primary flavor as well, though I can also taste strawberry, hibiscus, and a mixed black/green tea taste that is hard to explain. It’s fresh green but toasty, paradoxical as it sounds. It gets points for being well done and unusual, though.
When I see names like “Masala Chai II” I always wonder what happened to Masala Chai I. Masala Chai is dead, long live Masala Chai? Just to be sure I double checked the TeaFrog site and couldn’t find Masala Chai I.
TeaFrog gives nice big samples. This one is big enough to make a couple of cups worth on the stovetop. Using TeaFrog Assam Banaspaty as the extra black tea since the mix contains Assam to begin with.
In the packet I smell mostly cinnamon, and then coriander, and then an anise/fennel licorice scent. In addition to cinnamon, cardamom and pepper, this has some pretty interesting ingredients that haven’t been in other chais I’ve tried. I also noticed that ginger isn’t listed, and I think it’s been in all the other chais I’ve had thus far.
True to its description, this is a mellow chai. The cardamom, cinnamon and coriander seem to me to be acting as an ensemble rather than calling attention to themselves individually, which is, I think, a good thing. There’s an interesting, cooling feeling on the tongue after sipping. I’m wondering if this is the anise or fennel? Other than that effect, the anise and fennel is detectable but extremely gentle. There’s no strong licorice flavor, which in my view is a good thing. I’m not tasting the pepper. There’s no kick at the end.
I can’t comment on the authenticity having never been to India. This is a tasty chai, but I think I prefer a little more spice, even in my mellower chais. Though I didn’t taste them back to back, this seems to me less spicy than the TeaGschwendner Indian Chai which was pretty far down on the spicy continuum already.
Since I have Teas Etc. on the brain today I thought I’d try something else of theirs.
In the tin, this tea has a deep, strong, currant smell. It’s a lot like raisins, or pre-raisins (i.e. grapes). It has a slight sharpness to it that reminds me of red wine. There are whole currants in here, about the size of blueberries and looking far less shrivelled than I think of when I think of currants. Cool. And it has those blue cornflowers that I love looking at so much.
The aroma is also very curranty. It does remind me of some sort of baked goods. I wouldn’t have picked hot cross buns, but I might have said currant scones. Yum.
This is a sneaky little tea. At first it didn’t really taste all that remarkable. But the more I drank, the more I liked it. It’s interesting. It has a thicker mouth feel than most black teas, and the flavor of the currants is nicely balanced with the flavor of the tea. It’s almost like drinking a red wine without having to worry about getting tipsy. I’m for that, especially during a workday! It’s very comforting while hot. As it cools, the flavor becomes more raisiny/grapey, still quite nice but not as comforting. I think it would lose it’s charm iced, but I’m not much of an iced tea maven.
I’m glad I ordered this with my last Teas Etc. order. I’ll likely keep this one around for when I feel like a glass of wine but without the alcohol. ;-)
Though I continue to protest that I can’t add tea swaps to my already horrendous schedule, that I’m trying to simplify my life rather than complicate it more, etc., Rabs prevailed upon me to accept her generous offer of a sample of this. The sample came in a lovely heat sealed ziplock, gold on one side and clear on the other, with a charming label indicating the name of the tea, the company, and steeping temperature and time, in a quaint old-timey font that looks like what my old Smith Corona used to produce. Really well done, looks more professional in its packaging than some samples I’ve received from companies!
I didn’t know until now that this was another of those mixed green and black teas that tend to drive me nuts. But fortunately I don’t have to guess at the steeping time and temp because Rabs has taken the guess work out for me.
This is a visually pretty tea, a lot of rose petals adding color to the mix. In the packet it smells really flowery and I totally get the adjective “frou-frou” to describe this. The mixture of rose and jasmine is a really nice one, with the components of each scent blending together to create some third scent with aspects of both but something unto itself as well. There’s a green tea aromatic aura more than an actual smell. I’m made aware of the green tea’s presence but it’s not obvious. And there is a black tea strength around the edges. I don’t get Earl Grey but I’ve discovered sometimes it comes out in the steeping even if I can’t smell it in the dry leaves. Really, this smell is mostly flowers.
My first attempt at making this, in the Breville, didn’t come out right. I am gradually learning that the measuring spoon provided with the Breville is not at all to be trusted with mixtures that include things other than relatively small tea leaves. Even though I clearly made it weaker than it ought to be, it had a really lovely jasmine/rose aroma and a pleasant, mild taste. There’s even a hint of Earl Grey.
Second try: Stronger, more flavorful, as expected. Very nice flavor. Nice enough that I want to spend more time with it as I ended up having to get on a phone call for work and didn’t get to savor my second try as much as I would have liked. I’m not sure I’m getting as much Earl Grey as I’d like even now, but that’s what experimentation is for — and besides, there are some teas styled as Earl Greys that don’t taste like them and that I like just fine.
Believe it or not, this one is enough to make me break with my decision not to order black/green mixes.
Rating is provisional for now. I can see it going up with more experience, though.
Cue Rabs: You can’t a have-a the Mango. slap (There, I did it for you this time. ;-))
This is my first taste of a more recent TeaFrog sample purchase (which accompanied a full order of the Chocolate and Cream and the Assam Banaspaty… yum!)
I was expecting to smell mango when I opened the sample packet but I smelled something that was more like chocolate, or maybe vanilla. You know how those notes can actually be reminiscent of each other depending on concentration. At first I thought I’d picked up the wrong packet by mistake, then it dawned on me that was the yogurt I was smelling. Duh.
Now that I think about it I’m not even really sure what moved me to get this one as I am not a yogurt fan in the least. It has that sour milk, baby puke thing going on for me. Curiosity, I guess.
Having just come off of another fruit tisane experience where I didn’t use enough fruit the first time, I’m using the whole sample packet in my steep. It’s a chunky fruit mix in a palette of browns, burgundies, tans. My second of the evening.
I think I probably was right to use the full packet because the liquor is that deep red color you get from hibiscus in blends, but only if you use enough of the mix. It smells fruity and creamy. I can smell the hibiscus, too.
And it tastes pretty much as it smells, with one small modification. There is more fruit and less cream in the flavor than in the aroma. I’m not tasting mango so much as a generic fruit flavor that seems to have a lot of apple and a lot of strawberry to it. There’s a slight tartness, which I am guessing is from the rose hips.
I don’t know for sure, but I think increasing the yogurt/cream aspect so that it is more of the balance could really make a positive difference in how I perceive this tisane. I wanted it to taste more like it smelled. I can taste the yogurt (as cream and sweet, not sour milk) particularly in the aftertaste and it’s a good combination of flavors, but the fruit and herbs overpower it to some extent and relegate it to showing up primarily in the aftertaste. The idea of a creamy, fruit tisane is very appealing to me, but this one doesn’t lean far enough toward the cream for me. I wonder whether if the mango taste had been more prevalent the cream would have tasted as though it was more present as well. It seems to me it might have, as I got the sense the yogurt was spending most of its creaminess taming the tarter aspects of the flavor.
A tremendous dried peach fragrance wafted out of the sample packet as soon as I opened it. The mix is another chunky dried fruit trail-mixy sort, but it looks more like trail mix than some of the others I’ve had because it’s all neutral colors: tans, browns, burgundies, off whites.
It yields a really interesting colored liquor. The first time I tried it, I don’t think I used enough fruit and it made a dark peach, red melon sort of color that was gorgeous and gave off a light peach fragrance. The second time, I doubled the fruit to water ratio and got a dark red, hibiscus inspired color, just as gorgeous in its own way.
This isn’t unique among fruit mixes in that I find that I had to use a lot more of the fruit to achieve the flavor I was hoping for than one might expect to based on spoon measurements or even weights. The first time, I used two cups worth of fruit for two cups of tea, and it was tasty but a little watery and though I could taste the sweetness lurking, it was a little tart because the lurking sweetness was diluted. I pretty much doubled the weight one would expect to use for one cup the second time and got a much less watery, much more flavorful drink. It’s a sweet, peachy flavor with an earthy hibiscus base, but fortunately the presence of rose hips and hibiscus don’t render it puckeringly tart or bitter.
This is tasty, but I think the real thumb on the scale as to whether I’d order more will be if the boyfriend likes it. He’s a huge peach fan (he just had peach ice cream for dessert tonight) whereas I am a more moderate fan except in those occasional instances where the peach is ripe, juicy, and has a superconcentrated flavor.
My second at-work tea bag experiment of the day. This one also came as a sample with a Kusmi order.
In the bag, the tea smells pretty yummy. I can smell the caramel, but it isn’t overwhelming, and there is also a fruit smell, so that the main impression is of caramel apple, or caramel dipped berries.
The tea smells delightful. I can smell the vanilla as well as the caramel as well as the fruit.
The taste is smooth, and really interesting. There’s a lot going on, but it manages not to be confusingly busy. The flavors blend nicely. In fact, it’s not so easy to pick out individual flavors once you’ve progressed to the tasting point. Though if I concentrate, I get all the same things I smelled. I got vanilla, then caramel, then fruit. The aftertaste is a mild, sweet tea with berries.
I have a tin of this in loose leaf form, and I expect it can only taste better. Something to look forward to!