514 Tasting Notes
Today’s at-work sample tea bag experiment.
The Kusmi bag is like nothing I’ve ever seen. It’s fabric (looks like some variation of muslin?) and looks like a gauze square that was folded over some tea leaves and sewed up on three sides, then had a length of braided thread attached to it with a tag at the end.
They weren’t kidding about the flowers. The fragrance of the bag is terrifically floral, overlayed over some citrus. It’s a very deep floral, a musky floral, a perfumy floral. Doesn’t smell a lot like Earl Grey, but perhaps it will after steeping.
I don’t know how hot my water was because I forgot to bring my thermometer to work yet again, but it seemed hotter than yesterday for some reason. The aroma is very similar to the smell of the dry leaves, but more open, with some tea shining through. Still not getting an Earl Grey feel, though.
It brewed up nicely, certainly strong enough compared to my Lupicia bag experiments of yesterday. It has a very solid, sweet, black tea taste, with a sweet floral accent. The more I sip it, the more Earl Grey I get.
I like it, but it is heavy and hearty, like a heavy perfume or a hearty stew, and the sort of thing I’m likely to drink occasionally rather than frequently. Fortunately I’ll have an opportunity to get to know it better as I have a small tin of the loose leaf at home.
The ordering of my first run of TeaFrog samples coincided with a pretty stressful period at work, so I added this to the samples order. Of course, then I didn’t get to it until things were much less stressful. But so it goes.
The mixture of herbs in this one is pretty eclectic, and I’m sure I haven’t knowingly had a tisane with any of these ingredients except lemongrass before. I took St. John’s Wort in capsule form for a while a long time ago, but never had it in a drink. Makes me wonder what this is going to taste like. I fear it will be unbearably medicinal.
The smell of the herbs, though, is pleasing enough. It’s savory and sweet at the same time, which is interesting. Herbal mixtures don’t usually come down on the sweet side for me unless they contain fruit or mint, but neither is present here to explain the sweet note to the fragrance.
It makes a light yellow liquor that smells mostly of lemon, but has a savory (thyme? sage?) aroma underneath. And it tastes…. not bad! Not medicinal, mostly a very light lemon flavor with some cooking spice flavor around the sides. Not as strongly savory as either verbena or the Sleep Tight from TeaGschwendner. In fact, there are some sweet, non-lemon flavors that pop every now and then on the tongue.
In general, this is a class of tisane that I’m finding I’m not strongly attracted to flavor wise. I like the idea of them, how they sound in theory. But in practice I’m almost always left scratching my head and wondering why I didn’t have something with a chamomile base instead if I want to be calmed or made sleepy. As these go, though, this one gets points for being reasonably tasty and non-medicinal.
Another sample pyramid bag from Lupicia, consumed at work under less than optimal conditions.
I forgot to give the bag a sniff before I added water, but afterward it’s a sweet green tea with toasty rice smell. I would have thought since my water here appears to be on the not too hot side, that would have brought out more flavor in a green than my previous attempt, a black (English Caramel). Not sure that really happened, though, even though I am pretty sure I left the bag in for at least 2 minutes. On the other hand, I steeped for longer than I usually steep greens and there was no bitterness.
It’s a nice genmaicha, but I’m not sure it’s an improvement over the Numi bagged genmaicha. The flavor isn’t as strong as the Numi’s is, either as far as the tea goes or as far as the rice goes, and I generally prefer my teas (even green ones) fairly strong.
I got this in a pyramid bag as a sample with my Lupicia order and I brought it to work, on the theory that I might actually get to have some decent tea this way before I figure out how best to support a loose leaf habit at work.
This is the first time I’ve tasted anything by Lupicia, and I’m going to try to keep an open mind in case this is disappointing, given the lack of control over water quality and temperature at work.
The bag smells terrific. Very caramelly, not bitter despite its description. The tea smells toasty, but caramel is the main scent.
My steeping here is going to be full of unknowns because I don’t have a thermometer to measure water temperature with me, but here goes.
I steeped for approximately 4 minutes (I think), maybe more like 3. The aroma is mostly of caramel, and it isn’t bitter smelling at all.
My sense is that the water I used wasn’t good quality and hot enough to bring out the true flavor of this tea. It’s ok. I can taste caramel, and it’s not bitter. It’s not sweet either as best I can tell, but mostly the flavor isn’t very strong at all. I can taste the tea in the aftertaste, and it’s smooth and sweet. I just wish there was more of it. A lot more.
I wish I had more of this so I could give it another shot under more controlled conditions. Then again, these days I’m mostly drinking tea bags at work, so these conditions are more representative for how a bagged tea would taste to me than controlled ones at home would be.
I’m finishing up my mistake purchase tonight and decupboarding this one. Hasn’t grown on me since the first note, and if anything as I’ve become more accustomed to the flavor it has become somewhat more rooibos-y. But on the upside, I’ve freed up one of those cute, small Teas Etc. tins, which I plan to put to good use!
The idea of a mango flavored black tea intrigued me, so I got a sample of this with my first H&S order. Mango is a flavor I usually see as part of a larger cornucopia of fruit flavors in a tisane or with a green tea base. It seems a fairly delicate flavor, and I wondered how it would stand up to black tea.
In the packet it does smell amazingly of a single fruit flavor, mango. The first time I made some of this I accidentally made it too strong. My boyfriend loves mango so he wanted some, and so I meant to make twice the amount I normally make in the Breville. I measured out the right amount of tea but then got distracted with something else and ended up only putting in half the amount of water I was supposed to. The result was very strong, but tasty. However, not how I expect this was meant to be. So I tried again, this time with the right amount of water.
The aroma is very mango-y, with a floral bent. The tea is very nice as well. There’s nothing artificial tasting about the flavor, which is sometimes an issue with fruit flavoring. It’s a substantial flavor, but the tea is still present underneath, and its a flavorful, smooth, sweet black, particularly in the aftertaste.
Although I’m not a big iced tea maker, I think this one would make a really nice iced tea as well.
This is another H&S sample I’d been meaning to try for a while. It smells really delicious in the sample packet. “Heady” is the word that comes to mind. It’s a rich, malty, earthy, slightly sweet smell with some fruity notes as well.
The liquor is brandy colored and the tea’s aroma is mouth wateringly malty. I’m getting some lovely, unexpected notes in the taste. Mostly cocoa, but also a bit of mocha java and berries. It has a substantial mouth feel and an aftertaste that leans toward sweet.
Very nice. I’d definitely drink this one again.
It’s official. I’m at the point in tea over-acquisition where I no longer know what I even have. Scary. Very scary. I forgot I had a sample of this, or I would have tried it before trying the TeaFrog Chocolate and Cream flavored black as a baseline.
In any case, the dry leaves smells exactly like Florence minus the hazelnuts. Really tremendous, deep unsweetened chocolate fragrance that borders on syrupy and is really smelling awesome to me as an after lunch tea right about now.
It diffuses some after steeping and becomes about equal parts tea and chocolate. The tea has an aromatic sweetness to it, a slight sugariness.
It tastes about equal parts tea and chocolate, too, which is a nice balance. The sweetness of the tea is not enough to sweeten the chocolate significantly, but the chocolate is not bitter (it just isn’t really sweet). I’m thinking some milk might make this even more tasty.
I’m thinking this is a reorder and that it isn’t an either/or choice between this and the TeaFrog. They’re very different. The TeaFrog is more tea-as-base-for-flavor, this is more tea-as-part-of-flavor. Which I’d have at any given time would depend on mood, I think.
I do wonder as I start to narrow down the universe of teas whether I’ll start to gravitate toward some teas more than others even within my narrowed universe, but I’m hardly to that point yet.
This was another present from Doulton tucked into the box she sent me with my Dammann Freres order. Thanks, again, Doulton, for your generosity!
There is really one major fragrance to the dry leaves: smoke. There may be a tiny bit of citrus underneath but you really have to search for it. I’m wondering how this will work, given the overpowering nature of lapsang smoke. It seems ambitious to try to combine it with any other flavor.
The main ingredient in the tea’s aroma is also smoke. And in the taste, too. It’s got a lighter smoke than a full blown lapsang, more along the lines of a Russian smoky tea, but I am constrained to find any Earl Grey flavor under the smoke.
Trying a second time at 205 instead to see if that brings the bergamot out. It doesn’t so much in the aroma, but it helps in the flavor. There’s a definite citrus note combining with the smoke, and a mild tea flavor as well. It’s still balanced a little more toward the smoke than the citrus than I would choose, but it is flavorful and has depth. It’s the kind of thing I probably wouldn’t have on a daily basis but would be happy to enjoy every so often.
I can’t seem to get the link to the little picture of the bottle on the Ito En site to work. Oh well.
Today, my four year old and I went to Whole Foods to shop and decided to have lunch there. I picked this as the drink to have with my salad for lunch, mostly because unlike a lot of the other things on the shelf this didn’t have any flavorings.
As I have mentioned before I don’t have a lot of iced tea experience and most of what I have had has been on a scale on which the highested end point is unremarkable, and the lowest is retch-inducing. This is certainly better than anything on that scale, and it was a good accompaniment to lunch.
It has a vegetal, mild, sweet taste, with no bitterness and no artificial or chemical odd flavors or aftertaste. It’s only real downside is that it is a little on the ordinary/plain side. I didn’t really have a lot of time to spend with it but that’s my initial impression. I’d drink it again (but in the near term I’d probably pick something different just to gain more experience in RTD teas).