514 Tasting Notes
Ricky’s relatively recent note on this made me remember I had a sample of it, and I thought that since I can’t risk any more caffeine tonight I might as well go for purple water.
The little purple buds looked like seeds to me. Tiny and oblong shaped. The smell of the dry flowers is terrific. It’s like any other lavender thing you’ve ever smelled. Yardley’s English Lavender comes to mind, but think soap, lotion, anything else — without the soapiness or lotioniness.
I steeped this and poured it into a glass cup. WHERE’S MY PURPLE WATER?!?!?!? In glass it was pretty much light grey, with a blue-violet tinge. I put the cup on white paper. Same. I poured the remaining tisane into a white cup. Same! Boo hoo. I am relegated to imagining my purple water. It’s like a cruel joke of some kind. I’m spinning in a time vortex back to junior high school where my school’s colors were purple and grey, and they gave me the grey pompom and forgot the purple. Purple fail!
But onward. The tisane smells floral, a lot less lavender-specific in its floralness… florality… whatever. It has a hint of that flowery polleny thing I didn’t like about the chrysanthemum tea. That makes me nervous.
Fortunately, the flavor is far from scary. It’s sweet. It tastes like lavender without being soapy. It has a minty sort of volatility that’s almost menthol-like, and a smooth, silky feel.
I love what lavender can do in teas when it’s part of a well-executed blend. It’s terrific in, for example, Earl Grey. On it’s own, it’s interesting, and it’s not unpleasant. But I have determined that plain lavender is not how I’ll choose to spend my tea, or even tisane, drinking time. I’m torn on how to rate this because it smelled great and didn’t taste bad to me at all. It’s just not my thing.
I was curious to see what the flowers looked like after steeping and whether they’d open up. They didn’t. But if anything they smelled even more intensely of lavender. It’s a beautiful smell.
So sometimes I do things that make me wonder about myself. Like buying decaf chai, and then realizing I have no plain black decaf to mix it with to do the Samovar stovetop method. Grumble. How hard would it have been to add some decaf black tea to the order? Grumble grumble. If I’d only thought about it then. Grumble, grumble, grumble. It’s not like they didn’t have one, it’s the Korakundah. Pout. I attribute it to stress and lack of sleep. And age. Specifically that thing that starts to happen to women when they hit my age. [sigh]
I mixed with the Darjeeling Goomtee since the chai had a darjeeling base. I am hoping I will be able to sleep tonight. I’m enchanted by the idea of a decaf chai I can make on the stovetop. I was getting some mileage out of the Tazo teabags, but it’s just not the same degree of comfort as I get from the stewy, milky stovetop version. Imagining that, late at night, and sleep afterwards, gets me all warm and fuzzy.
This is the first decaf chai not in a bag I’ve tried and it’s a good one. It’s hard to know what it would be like as a fully decaf version. I must try again and compare when I have some decaf black loose leaf in the house.
No single spice predominates. It’s not overly gingery, nor is it overly cinnamony. Just a very balanced flavor. The spice is fairly gentle, more along the lines of the Golden Moon spice than the Rishi Masala Chai. There are red peppercorns in the mix, but while they may add flavor they don’t add bite.
I’m thinking chai is a good choice for decaf in general. It seems less likely to have that washed out, something’s missing thing going on because of the distraction of the spices.
I’ll enjoy having this one when I’m worried about being overly caffeinated but need a filling, coma-inducing, tasty warm milk snack.
This was an afterthought while I was preparing my TeaGschwendner order. Though I wouldn’t have known had I not been moved to read the ingredients, it seemed something I ought to try as part of the perfect lemon search.
The dry leaves have an interesting, savory spice smell. I’m reminded of my experience with the Harney & Sons French Verveine. It looks like dried savory spices as well, except for the fairly large dried flower buds.
The liquor is a dark golden yellow. It has a savory aroma as well. Not smelling a lot of lemon here. In fact, I’m hard pressed to smell any at all.
The taste is a little surprising. I expected it to be heavy and brothy, but it isn’t. It isn’t light bodied, either. It’s medium bodied and had a somewhat silky mouthfeel. The flavor is intriguing. There’s a suggestion of lemon in there, but it’s not strong. Oddly, the flavor mostly makes me think of chamomile, though there is no chamomile in it. There is also the definite and predominant taste of a savory spice of some sort. Sage? Thyme? It’s the same general suggestion that I found in the Verveine, but not strong enough to suggest herbed roasted lemon chicken.
In any case, it’s not at all bitter or pungent, and it’s neither tart nor sweet. I’m not sure it would be my first choice for anything other than medicinal purposes, but if it works as a soporific I’ll be all over it.
Enjoyed the last of this sample tonight, and it was just as tasty as it was the last time. I’m tasting more mango tonight. Maybe it’s the power of suggestion. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m dead tired and going to try to sleep despite the accumulated caffeine in my body as soon as I finish this, and then have a cup of the (hopefully appropriately named) Sleep Tight by TeaGschwendner.
The next chapter in the perfect lemon search.
As you can see from the photo, this tisane is very… geometric. Pretty much every ingredient in it is rectangular, of varying lengths, widths and colors. It doesn’t have a lot of fragrance on its own, and even if it did I wouldn’t be able to tell what it is as I put it in the same tin I’d used for The Tea Table’s Lemon Mango, and I neglected to do a de-scenting so that’s pretty much all I can smell now. (Nice smell though, I liked that one.)
It makes a dark yellow liquor, almost the color of apple juice. It smells promising: there is a sweet smell to it, and there’s definitely lemon.
Wow. I had really expected to be disappointed by this one. Despite its attractive geometry, I expected it to taste a lot like the Luscious Lemon from Simpson & Vail. And failing that I just didn’t expect to like it. It has lemon myrtle in it after all.
But the lemon myrtle is playing nice here. It must be the influence of the vanilla. It’s neither tart nor bitter, so it doesn’t require doctoring. Except it might be better brewed a little stronger. I used 2.5g for a standard size mug.
It does have a green, grassy, herbally quality in addition to the lemon. It’s more reminiscent of a lemon plant than a lemon fruit, which is the one downside as lemon fruit appropriately de-soured is what I’d like to be reminded of.
It’s not as high on the rotation list as the Harney & Sons or the Teavana, but I think now that I’ve tried this I’m no longer motivated to try to get the Simpson & Vail to work. That had a stronger lemon flavor, but also a tart and bitter edge that needed working out to be rotation worthy.
This, on the other hand, needs some time testing and a little bit of thought.
Doulton provided this as a lagniappe when she sent me the Dammann Freres I’d ordered through her organized buying efforts. How nice to have something unexpected show up, and something I hadn’t yet tasted to boot!
It’s also something of a mystery as I can’t find a list of ingredients for it. Clearly there is black tea. There are also red and blue flowers and a slight rose scent to the dry tea. So I’m going with Alicia on this — rose and cornflower. Apart from that, mild spiciness, like a spicy perfume. Lovely fragrance.
I steeped this for a full 5 minutes, as suggested on Doulton’s label (with a giraffe on it, how cute!) I get a light floral note and some gentle spice as well as smooth tea in the aroma.
The flavor has this, too, plus a suggestion of citrus. I cheated and read the notes others had posted and it seems the consensus is this is bergamot and that this is in fact something of an Earl Grey variation. Hmm. I don’t think I would have got that at all had I not read it. If it is supposed to be an Earl Grey variation, it isn’t succeeding, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I liked the Earl Grey Special from Teafrog even though it didn’t seem much like an Earl Grey to me.
I like this, but it isn’t my favorite Mariage Freres, and it wouldn’t rank among Earl Greys for me.
I think next time I’ll try it steeped for less time and see what that’s like. I rarely steep anything for 5 minutes anymore except herbals and very late oolong and pu erh steeps.
My tin was full to the brim as well, and the top of the tin is very tight — which is good for the tea, but not so good for my newly cleaned countertop. At least it was the countertop, not the floor, so I could salvage…
It’s very tippy, giving it that (brown) salt and pepper look that I find so appealing. The dry leaves have the soil-like smell of some Assams, but with something stronger, sweeter and vaguely bready (as opposed to yeasty) about it. Bready good. Yeasty (unless winey or beery or bready) bad.
It makes a medium-dark amber liquor with a bready aroma. I totally get what Stephanie mentioned in her note — warm, sweet bread. It leans toward, but doesn’t completely reach maltiness of the type I recall from the Numi Chinese Breakfast. It isn’t the sugary, yam-like orgy of complexity that was the Samovar Yunnan Golden Buds. But it is quite nice.
It has a thick, substantial mouthfeel which adds to the perception of breadiness. I would not have identified the pepper note without reading about it here, but now that I do, yes, that makes sense. It’s not a spicy pepper though. It’s like the flavor of pepper without the spiciness.
A nice, all-purpose, Yunnan black tea.
Made on the stovetop using the Samovar extra black tea method. Extra black tea today was LeafSpa Yunan Gold. I love those sorts of names for teas. Makes me think of action movies involving drug cartels.
The Yunan Gold has a very thick mouthfeel, which I thought would make it a particularly good candidate to add to chai to help along the chewiness.
Yum. I can definitely taste the chocolate in this. It’s like someone mixed brownie and gingerbread batter together and liquified it. Or put another way, it’s like the Mayan Chocolate Chai but more chocolatey and less spicy (the ingredients are the same except for the cayenne pepper). It’s still nicely spiced, though. Although I do miss my black pepper. I wonder what adding a bit of black pepper would have done to it?
Definitely yum for a sleepy Wednesday afternoon pick me up.
This is embarrassing, but I bought this by mistake. Am I the only one who has ever done that? I meant to buy the Mandarin Orange green tea from Teas Etc. But this is what showed up. I’m sure it was because of user error, i.e. mine, and it seemed like a hassle to send it back so I just kept it and decided to give it a shot.
There’s an intense, juicy orange smell upon opening the tin. The rooibos is noticeable, mostly as a sort of woody back-note, but not strong.
The aroma from the rooibos after steeping is — get this — very much like Fanta orange soda without the addition of the carbonated quality. There is also an appley smell underneath from the rooibos.
The taste is not bad. It’s not exactly sweet orange, but it’s not bitter either. I wish the orange flavor was stronger. It’s almost enough to make me unaware I’m drinking red rooibos, but not quite.
It started out a mistake, and it’s not something I’d order again, mostly because I just don’t think I’d ever really want to drink orange rooibos (unless I’d ordered it by mistake, in which case I’d happily drink it to have an additional option at night when I don’t want to take in too much caffeine). But it’s decent, by the standard I apply which is unobtrusiveness in the rooibos flavor.
In the sample packet, the smell is to die for. Chocolate. Nom. Chocolate. Nom nom. Chocolate. Nom nom nom. Not really much else, just sweet, creamy smelling chocolate.
You can’t really see it in the picture, but the red rooibos is interspersed with long yellow dried petals. They’re pretty. They look sort of like fragments of crepe paper.
I had very high hopes that this would be some sort of caffeine free chocolate dream concoction that I could drink at night while watching The Biggest Loser. Just the illusion of calories.
Unfortunately, it was not to be. In the cup, the aroma is rooibos first, chocolate illusion after. As is the flavor. The chocolate isn’t bad as far as it goes. The rooibos isn’t a bad rooibos. It’s the balance that’s the issue for me. As with some other recent rooibos trials, the problem here is that the rooibos won’t shut up.
For me, if a rooibos is good, it’s a lot like a good waiter. You barely notice they’re there, you just notice that you’re not left wanting anything. They don’t barge in, they don’t totally ignore you. They’re just a very quiet presence that miraculously gets the job done.
This one isn’t quite there. Dang. Now what can I have while watching The Biggest Loser. Quick, before I head for the cookies!