514 Tasting Notes
This is a tea of the month for August on the Classic Plan. I am so behind in my tea drinking that I still haven’t tried all the July ones. Ugh. Things continue to be crazy around here. Getting the house painted on top of the usual work trauma and the start of the school year. What I wouldn’t give for some quiet time to catch up on my tea drinking.
In any case, these dry leaves smell very earthy (a bit like soil, actually) and a tiny bit leathery. They look like their picture, so I won’t dwell on that. Steeped, it’s a deep reddish brown. Very pretty. Not the russet of many Ceylons, but more of a cherry wood color. There’s a fruity aroma. Berry-like, really.
The flavor is strong and malty. What I think of as stout. It’s pretty close to some of the Scottish Breakfasts I’ve tried, more that than English to me. It’s not overly sweet, as some malty teas are. And I’ve had smoother teas than this. It has a little grab at the back of the throat on some sips.
It’s better than average, but it doesn’t send me over the top. I have a whole slew of black blends that I quite like, and I don’t think this one is different or special enough to require a place in the finals, or even the semi-finals. I would not pass it up if offered, but I don’t feel compelled to put it on my must order list.
Finishing and decupboarding this one. I still taste raw potato emanating from the mineral and metal notes. It makes me think of factories and smelters. Interesting at first, but not what I’m looking for in an Earl Grey or indeed any daily breakfast tea, and it didn’t grow on me over time. I’ve only tasted a couple of Tavalon teas so far, but I’m wondering if in general they try to go for a sort of a stark taste. They say their aim is to bring tea to the American palate. Perhaps the belief is our palates are too coated in trans fats and high fructose corn syrup to be able to appreciate subtlety and they need industrial strength purging?
Backlogging from pre-vacation. I think. I can no longer find the sample tin of this and I have a vague recollection that I finished it up, but I had been trying to establish a pattern of saying both hello and goodbye to my sample tins in tasting notes so I could log whether I changed my opinion. Alas, I find no tasting note for the goodbye. It’s entirely possible I forgot to write one.
Maybe I dreamed it, but I think I steeped longer after reading Ricky’s comment the second time around and did find that this had more flavor, but it didn’t make a significant enough impression on me to bump the rating… and now, since my memory is so far removed it seems hardly fair to mess with the rating at all. Mostly I just wanted to record that I finished this for completeness’ sake.
Made on the stovetop with Teavana English Breakfast (High Grown) as the extra black tea, just because it was close at hand having arrived as part of the tea of the month club for August while I was on vacation.
I haven’t made chai in forever, it seems. I forgot how much I like it. To me, it’s really a comfort food instead of a drink. I’m wondering how this one will turn out.
This mix says it has six spices in it, but declines to be more specific. Let’s guess, shall we? A few are easy to discern. There are big honking whole cloves in this mix, as well as green cardamom pods, and a light brown bark-like substance that is probabably cinnamon though it could also be ginger, I suppose. There are also some broken, crispy green leaves that look suspiciously like bay leaves though I somehow doubt that’s what they are. And there is an aroma of anise or fennel though I don’t see anything that looks like anise seeds in here.
Then I cheated and looked it up on Amazon, where the full product description is far less coy than it is even on the Kusmi web site: cardamom, ginger, laurel, cinnamon, anis seed, and cloves. The green must be laurel. Guess what? I looked up laurel and one form of it is the source of bay leaves!
Am I good or what? ;-) This is a different mix than any I’ve had before and also missing pepper, which completes me if I am a chai. I’m skeptical about how I’ll feel about the taste, given the lack of pepper. I am prepared for this to be a rather mild chai, based on past experience with Kusmi flavors.
The flavor has more of a black tea flavor than I’d expected, but I’m going to attribute this to the Teavana addition and move on. There’s just a hint of the anise, not enough to make it taste like licorice, which I’m thankful for. I get a fair amount of cardamom, a bit of ginger, not a lot of cinnamon. Whatever function the bay leaves are serving is not immediately apparent to me. It isn’t converting the gingerbready effect of chai into something savory in any case. If I really concentrate, I can make out a bit of bay leaf like flavor around the edges. But for the most part it is probably there to boost the flavor of something else in a way that isn’t obvious.
I’d say this tastes almost exactly as I expected. It isn’t at all spicy, there’s no kick to it. I like it better than some of the other milder chais just because I find the flavor a bit more interesting. It’s been a long time since I had the GM Kashmiri Chai. I really should have some of that soon to compare. I’m not sure whether I like this better or not, primarily because I can’t remember the GM well enough.
BTW, my Brita pitcher recently began to insist on growing something that looks like algae. I washed it well, changed filters. Algae again. I washed it really, really, really well and am waiting to see if it grows more algae. Anyone else had this happen? Is there a solution or should I buy a new one?
Sorry I’m still rather scarce. I’m such a creature of habit and it doesn’t take long for me to break habits. Which is a pretty good thing, actually. As long as I go cold turkey I can pretty much kick anything whether I want to or not. This probably says more about my attention span than I ought to admit in public, but there you have it. I haven’t gotten back into the habit of logging onto Steepster, mostly because it is the first week of school and there’s a ton of additional paperwork, plus back to school night, etc., but also because it’s so hot here and I’ve been too busy to work on an iced tea method.
But I am working on reestablishing my habit. I need to, or I’ll have cartons of tea tins all over my office for the rest of my life.
In any case, though it’s a weird time of day for me to drink this, I noticed that there was just a smidgen left in the tin and I wanted to free up the tin for further use. So I’m having it in the morning and herewith, I am decupboarding. Good thing I had two cups of coffee this morning and a cup of Earl Grey (Tavalon, I’m almost ready to decupboard that one as well).
I just reread what I wrote about this the first time, and I don’t have much to add. I’m pretty sure that if I wanted a lime flavored tisane around, this would be it rather than the Numi Desert Lime, simply because this is mellower and doesn’t require extensive mental preparation to prepare for the tartness on the tongue with each sip, or taking the easy way out and adding sweetener. The apple sweetens it up just enough to avoid having to do either.
However, I don’t feel the need to keep a lime tisane around, at least for now. So it’s bye bye until I’m possessed by an uncontrollable need for something lime flavored. I am not holding my breath.
Hiya folks. I’m baaaaackkk! I missed you. Please forgive me if I start where I left off and don’t go back to read two weeks worth of notes. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that time is still a little scarce and I’d rather spend the time with careful reading going forward than with skimming going backward.
We had lots of fun at Disneyland and No. 1 is now safely ensconced in his first grade routine. I must admit I have been drinking very little tea. It was blisteringly hot in D-land, and it’s been hitting over 100 degrees since we got back, which may have something to do with it. I have noticed, though, that when I do drink tea after not drinking it for a while, I enjoy it that much more. It’s almost as though I’d desensitized myself by drinking 20 or so cups a day, and until I stopped doing that I didn’t realize I had. Anyone else ever had that experience?
I took this tin with me to D-land and made some every morning in the little pot in the room before we went down to breakfast. I tried to use bottled water, but if I didn’t have enough I supplemented with tap water.
Anaheim water is weird. I thought the Pirates of the Caribbean ride smelled funny because the water was recycled, but then I noticed that the water coming out of the shower smelled similar, though hot instead of cold. It’s got a sort of marine/minerally smell to it, so the brewing conditions weren’t great. Since this wasn’t much of a favorite to begin with, I wasn’t too concerned about ruining it with bad water. And I’m glad I took it with me because I can now decupboard! Another to cross of the list and not to repeat, I’m afraid, but at least it contributes to the goal of getting the quantity of tea I have in the house under control. I will say that it grew on me a bit. I just got really used to it. But not enough to give it a point bump.
Hope everyone had a great end of summer!
This tea makes you go “yum.”
There is something about yunnan that makes Earl Grey Lavender work really well. I think this is the secret to Samovar’s Earl Lavender success, too.
In the sample packet there’s a pretty strong smell of lavender and that’s about it. But in the cup, that yummy sweet malty yunnan aroma comes out, like syrup or molasses. The lavender mellows a bit, too. There’s a slightly citrus note, but it’s not the main event.
The flavor seems to be stronger on the lavender than the bergamot, but it still gives the impression of an Earl Grey and it is delicious. I don’t think it quite matches the Samovar, but it makes me curious enough about the differences to try a back to back tasting at some point. There are a lot of similarities between the two. I think the Samovar wins for overall smoothness, depth of flavor and complexity, but this has a lot going on, too. The floral aspect is wonderfully aromatic, and the black tea base lends it a bit of seriousness. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I wish the bergamot was just a tad stronger.
Still. Om nom nom nom nom….
I’ve had this in my cupboard for a while along with a number of other teas from my initial Tavalon order and I’m just now getting to them. (Yes, I am on serious lockdown. I am considering not coming out until I actually need tea, which could be a year from now.)
I am a sucker for names sometimes, and I spend a lot of time homesick for my old Upper West Side neighborhood. So of course, I had to try this.
The dry leaves look sort of twiggy, like Ceylon leaves sometimes do, but they also seem a bit heftier than Ceylon leaves. They smell like Assam to me. I’m guessing both of those are represented in this blend.
The liquor is medium amber with a twinge of red. Not quite the russet beauty that some other Ceylons produce in my cup, but its an intriguing color. The aroma is fruity, and somewhat malty-sweet.
This tea has a lot of substance to it, though exactly what makes that up isn’t readily apparent. I guess that’s what makes it NYC breakfast; it’s very much like most of my New Yorker friends. This is not a shallow tea, though it’s not overly complex. It’s pretty smooth, and slightly stout. Not really sweet, but not bitter. It doesn’t make you go “yum” but it has something sophisticated about it. It’s not as brash as some stronger breakfast blends. It’s just enough to get your eyes open while you wait for the subway to show up. Or to give you an edge while you’re sitting on the steps of the Met in the autumn chill, before you go in to get lost in an exhibit for a while. It makes me think of Central Park, undoubtedly because of the name. I may be gullible, but I get it.
And now I’m homesick.
Finished up this sample tonight. I have to say that I enjoy this more when it’s not tasted on the heels of other teas. I had this with dinner tonight (nothing special, just a bunch of odds and ends thrown together) and it was really nice with Italian bread. That said, though I’m willing to try more Dragonwell, I’m not a convert quite yet.
There’s a chance I may be scarcer than usual for the next couple of weeks. First, vacation (the Magic Kingdom next week) and then getting No. 1 ready for his first day of first grade. I’m planning to pack some teas to take with me, probably mostly samples. So I probably won’t disappear completely, but I’ll have to sort of play it by ear as vacations with 2 little kids tend to be the very definition of hectic.
Having had a less than great experience with flavored green teas, and never having tried a chocolate green tea before, I was a little wary of this one. And I was pleasantly surprised. It’s pretty good.
The tea is pretty, with whole chamomile flowers in it, as well as nuts and little bits of chocolate, etc. adding texture and color to the green of the leaves. It smells nutty and chocolatey, sort of liquer-like.
The liquor is pale yellow, like many green tea liquors, but cloudy from the dissolution of various other ingredients. It has a chocolatey sweet smell.
The taste was surpising to me. I didn’t find the tea bitter. It wasn’t the main event, but it could have turned the experience into a bad one had it been an unimpressive or bitter green tea. Mostly, the flavor is a somewhat delicate, chocolatey, nutty, spicy combination that hit the spot after a really long day.
BTW, I am now the proud owner of a Bodybugg! I got it for my birthday and it is sooo cool. It’s giving me a much needed boost of motivation to lose those last 10 lbs I’ve been working on for a while now. Love it, love it, love it!