514 Tasting Notes
Buh-bye! I’m decupboarding you, you candy corn herbal doo dah you. You had little time to grow on me since it took so much of you to create taste in a cup that I went through you in a mere three (big) cupfuls, but that’s ok. I just don’t think it was in the cards for us. I’m sure there’s someone out there who can appreciate you, perhaps with a bit of peppermint. ;-)
But it ain’t me, babe.
Now. Am I too tired to try the ChocoNut tonight? I have to confess, chocolate green tea scares me a little.
Moving right along in my deep wade through my “everything with the word chocolate in it” buying spree of yestermonth, we come to this Teavana offering. I’m most excited by the fact that this has neither rooibos nor honeybush in it. I am trying to recall whether I’ve had an herbal chocolate blend that didn’t have rooibos or honeybush. Yeah, I think there was a TeaFrog sample of a tisane with chicory in it, but that’s all I can recall.
It’s got fruit in it (apple and strawberry) but the fruit morsels are surprisingly tiny in their chunkiness compared to the usual Teavana fruit blend. The smell of the dry mix reminds me of what I’ve smelled when I’ve stuck my nose into a Halloween bag after trick or treating. A lot of different sweet smells all mixed together, with chocolate and fruit among them. Oh, and there’s spice, too. A pretty strong spicy note, which fits right in with the Halloween theme as it takes up the banner of red hots and their ilk. Spicy sweet, but not cinnamony.
The infusion is the color of apple juice, the dark, no sugar added kind, and cloudy. It has a less intense version of that generic candy aroma from the dry mixture.
Now here’s the really weird part. As I started to sip this, I realized why I made the association with Halloween. Candy corn! Yeah, strangely, that’s what I taste. More of a corn syrup flavor than anything else. Maybe a tiny bit of cocoa, and some sweetness from the strawberry, but put it all together and I get candy corn.
The first time I made this it was pretty weak. I was able to strong it up a bit, but it didn’t change the candy corn note. The spice isn’t enough to make an impression.
Candy corn is ok, but I don’t really care for it in my tea. Fortunately it takes so much of this to make an infusion that is strong enough to have flavor, I only have about a cup’s worth left.
In the container, this has a recognizable and pronounced smell of bergamot, and something else that is… odd. It’s a sort of minerally, metallic smell that I haven’t noticed in tea before. I see a few cornflowers dotting the dark brown leaves.
The web site says the tea is from Sri Lanka, which is the only clue as to the type of tea base this is. It doesn’t have the color I’ve seen in most Ceylons, though. That reddish, russet color is only barely there. It brews lighter than other Ceylons I’ve had. The tea’s aroma strikes me as bakey on first sniff, like too much baking powder in the muffins. Not a good sign. As I sniff longer, I’m getting something else. Potato? At first I thought it was sweet potato, but it really isn’t. It’s the sharpish, earthy smell of raw potato. Oh, and some bergamot, too.
The flavor is strange as well. It’s got a mentholly feel to the after sip, which must be from the bergamot oil, and it tastes a little potato-y, with a tad of starchy sweetness at the finish. The feel of the tea is soft to the mouth. The metallic, minerally smell is consistent with the potato-y taste, at least for me. Raw potatoes smell like that to me. There is a citrus note, but it’s not strong.
It’s more Earl Grey-like than the Kusmi, but it’s such a strange flavor that I’m not sure what to make of it. From the fragrance of the dry leaves I wasn’t expecting to like this, and I’m not sure I do. I don’t have an active dislike for it, though. I’m going to give it a slightly higher rating than the Kusmi for being truer to the Earl Grey genre, but this is not likely to become a favorite.
I’ve been drinking this every morning for the last week and I’m still not sure why it thinks it is an Earl Grey. It’s a peppery black tea with a bit of citrus, but it doesn’ t have the classic Earl Grey bergamot laden taste. Note to self: tomorrow morning try this against one or two other Earl Greys just to make sure you’re not losing your mind. Which is entirely possible, seeing as you bought a full size tin of this before tasting the sample. Which you would not have done had you actually TASTED the sample first. See, this is what I mean by having so much tea I just can’t keep track of it. Sigh.
This is the first in my Adagio honeybush sampler. [Looks around for Rabs…]
I am somewhat bewildered by my decision to buy the honeybush sampler, but at least I had the foresight not to buy more rooibos. I have been gradually consuming my rooibos stash to bring it down to reasonable levels. What is reasonable has changed since I bought the oversupply of rooibos. Now I think a couple or three really good ones is reasonable for me since I’m not loving it these days.
The only honeybush I’ve had until now has been in bags, the Numi and the Tazo. I still have some of each of those, though I’ve used up a fair bit of the Tazo sweetening too-tart fruit blends.
I’m sniffing this in the tin and thinking it smells a bit woodier than I remember honeybush being; kind of disappointingly rooibos-like. That’s the main smell I get, with mango behind it. Which sort of worries me.
Fortunately, the addition of water works a sort of transformation, whereby the mango aroma becomes pretty much the main event. Wow! There’s just a little bit of a honey fragrance as well, but the wood has vamoosed. The liquor is a reddish color with a bit of orange and brown as well.
The flavor seems to be right in between the dry smell and the steeped smell. Mango, but some reedy flavor as well. I just read Rabs’ note about steeping longer and I will try that next time. Losing the reedy flavor would make this much nicer. As it is, it’s a little like sucking on mango-flavored bamboo. Which, surprisingly, isn’t as bad as it sounds, but I’d prefer to be able to focus on the mango flavor to the exclusion of the earthy cellulose.
Finishing up the last of this sample tonight, and it appears that the Ricola really didn’t matter that much. Somewhat tart, somewhat sweet but not as sweet as the Fruit Medley, not much of a wine flavor from the currants. All true, even without the Ricola effect. A mixed berry flavor with raspberry in the front. No change to the rating here. And darn, I had to put off my birthday dinner because the 4 year old didn’t get down for a nap until late and decided he had to sleep through until tomorrow. Oh well, at least he got some rest.
Delayed in my ritual decupboarding by my dalliance with Dionysus last night, but tonight I’m saying goodbye to this one. A weird experience, what with the lunch meat aroma and all, and one I’m not hopping up and down to repeat.
I am moving on to sampling Teavana’s Azteca Fire next. Seems the Mayans haven’t cornered the market on spicy chocolate, there’s another ancient American civilization that also has a claim. I can’t believe I also bought (during my chocolate fanatical purchasing rampage of a month or two ago) ChocoNut, which is a green tea blend. (What was I thinking?)
Heya. Not drinkin’ tea tonight, oh no. It’s my birthday and I’m a celebratin’ with da vino!
Happy birthday to moi…. happy birthday to moi….
Gosh, wish I wasn’t so old. But the alternative…. much much worse.
In the sample tin, there’s a strong spicy smell to the dry leaves which are dark with bits of what looks like citrus peel among them. This says it has three kinds of citrus in it, lemon, bergamot and grapefruit, but I am not smelling any of those. Instead I smell the spices, clove in the lead by a wide margin.
It mellows some after steeping but there’s still a good bit of clove, a vanilla note, and a bit of citrus. It’s a dark reddish amber.
The minute I took a sip, I knew I’d tasted something similar before. And then it hit me. This is v. much like Constant Comment in terms of its spice profile. It isn’t as orangey, but that’s what it reminds me of. The main difference is that in the Prince V., it’s a more subtle flavor and the tea shines through.
It’s quite nice for when you’re feeling that such a flavor profile would hit the spot, but you’re not in the mood for heavy spice. The tea base is smooth and tasty, and the spice is just enough to flavor the tea without masking it in any sense of the world.
If there’s darjeeling in here, as the Kusmi site appears to suggest, it’s a very dark one. The dry leaves in the sample tin have no green-ness to them. If I try really hard, I can get a bit of a darjeeling sharpness in the smell of the dry leaf, but it isn’t overly obvious. Mostly it smells like a peppery black tea. Hmm. I got pepper in the Earl Grey too.
The aroma is mild with a tiny bit of the pepper I smelled in the dry leaf. Otherwise it has a generic black tea smell. It’s a medium-dark amber with a little red in it.
The flavor has a cleanness and a perkiness to it that could well be from darjeeling. It’s a little brisk, and fairly smooth except for a small, barely noticeable peppery kick. I can see why this is billed as an evening tea. It isn’t thick or malty or hearty or eye-openingly strong, or any of the other qualities I’ve come to associate with breakfast blends.
It’s sort of like the Earl Grey, except without the pretext of being Earl Grey and so lacking a little bitterness injected by the bergamot, and though it has a peppery reminder, it’s not nearly as peppery as the Earl Grey is to my palate. Which makes it, actually, more pleasant to my mind than the Earl Grey. There’s a mild, slightly sweet aftertaste.
Though I like some of the other Kusmis better, this isn’t bad. It’s probably on the low end of the good black tea huddle I have going that I’m going to have to pare down eventually, but only because it doesn’t have the depth and character I enjoy in really fine black teas.