515 Tasting Notes
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.
I’m almost ready to decupboard this. Either tonight or tomorrow.
I got the weirdest olfactory flash from this tonight. Are you ready? Bologna! It smelled like bologna! (Thank you, Oscar Meyer song, for teaching me how to spell this.)
Fortunately I didn’t get that in the taste. This is not a favorite and not a restock, though it’s been slightly more even over the course of a few tastings. There’s still a weird vacancy in the middle of the sip, but the chocolate has been more concentrated the last few times. I wonder whether the chips sifted down to the bottom of the tin. In any case, I had some on the bedside table last night and the BF sniffed the air and said “Chocolate?” So there’s an objective verification of its chocolateness.
I think if I want a spicy chocolate flavor, I’m going with Melange de Chamonix from Upton. I realize it’s not caffeine free, but them’s the breaks. It’s just so much nicer in flavor that the chocolate tisanes.
Finishing up this tin of sachets and decupboarding. I am likely to buy this again at some point. Not any time really soon, because it’s not a “can’t live without” thing, but I can imagine myself craving it at some point. Another reason I won’t buy this any time soon is that I found myself craving Teavana’s Caribbean Breeze, so I bought some of that and it’s very very similar to this.
I also want to try the Passion Lemonade at Starbucks sometime between now and the end of the summer. Just have to do it after I’ve been really good so I can justify the calories. ;-)
Anyway, I know this isn’t goodbye forever, so I’m enjoying this last cup.
This is the last of the Adagio herbal sampler. I see that I was also possessed to buy the honeybush sampler, so I’m not quite tisaned out. At least I skipped the rooibos. I must have been past the rooibos infatuation but didn’t yet know what to make of honeybush when I ordered it.
In any case, this is straight lemongrass, which I don’t think I have had before. It looks like fine, greenish straw, and it smells lemony, planty and vaguely spicy.
It has a pretty, light, lemon smell, and though it’s surprising to me, I’m finding I like it more than the Luscious Lemon from Simpson & Vail, which was an attempt at blending about a gazillion lemon things and which sounded terrific on paper, but which had a bitterness to it that I didn’t find pleasing.
Though this is definitely a single note, it has a mild, almost sweet endpoint to the sip rather than turning bitter. Inexplicably, it is lemonier to me than the Luscious Lemon was, probably because I don’t associate lemon with bitter (tart yes, bitter no).
It’s really not bad by itself. Way better than I’d expected. I should mention that I used quite a bit of “leaf” which may have helped. Fortunately, even if I overdid the leaf this didn’t turn soapy on me like the lemon myrtle did. In fact, overdoing is the way to go, I’m convinced.
It’s not the perfect lemon, but it’s surprisingly within striking distance.
The second in the flavored oolong sampler and sadly, it’s no grapefruit oolong.
The fragrance in the tin is supposed to be peach, I guess, but it smells more generically like a sweet, slightly vanilla, flavoring agent with perhaps a cocoa note. The tea looks pretty much like the base of the grapefruit oolong and I’m guessing they are the same Formosa oolong.
This steeps to a tawny, golden-brownish color and the aroma is like a spread out version of the aroma in the tin.
I should mention that I seem to get peach and apricot flavorings in tea confused sometimes. Often when I’m supposed to taste peach I taste apricot and vice versa. On the way home from work, I was having some of the Vanilla Apricot White from Tazo in a tumbler, and when I had my first sip of this, I honestly thought it tasted exactly like the Tazo. Which is odd, because not only is the flavor supposed to be peach, and not supposed to have vanilla, but the teas are of different types.
I asked the BF who is a big peach fan to taste it and he said it was definitely peach, but weak. I had to explain to him that it was oolong, as I think he was thinking it was black tea. He doesn’t know from oolong.
But it is… I don’t know if I’d say weak, but it doesn’t have a very robust flavor. The grapefruit seemed to bring out the flavor of the tea in a way that this isn’t doing. It’s just sort of a flat, shade of oolong taste with a sweet peachy/apricot flavor on top.
It doesn’t taste bad, it just doesn’t have much of a raison d’etre in my view. I went through three steeps and it was pretty much the same each time.
Sad that after such a nice experience with the grapefruit, this was rather a let down.
This is the second in the Adagio white sampler. I cracked it open a long time ago when I needed some white peony to make up a full cup when I ran short on another sample, but this is the first time I’m tasting it on its own.
In the sample tin, there’s a grassy, hay-like smell with notes that are both earthy and sweet. The leaves and buds are large, silvery green, and fuzzy. There are some twiggy stems in the sample as well.
I’m not following the Adagio steeping instructions as they seem to be too hot and too long, and with the time and temp I’m using I get a pale yellow, clear liquor and a dewy aroma. It’s like nectar, slightly floral, and slightly rain-like. Very pretty.
And that’s pretty much what I get in the taste, too. A very very subtle, nectar-like, rain-like flavor. It’s nice, but it’s not what I expected at all. I expected a lot more flavor. I’m wondering if I really am meant to cook this one some.
Trying again with the Adagio suggested time of 7 minutes and temperature of 180F. The liquor is a little darker yellow, but apart from that the difference in steeping seems to have made very little difference. The flavor is a little less nectary and little more earthy, but apart from that I don’t taste a lot of difference.
It’s quite a subtle flavor as I’d expect from a white tea. I’d hoped for a bit more complexity but it’s nice enough and I’m enjoying it more than my memory of my Silver Needle experience. I am not rushing to reorder, though, as I have a lot more White Peony samples to try and this one didn’t bowl me over out of the gate.
Revisiting this sample. This time I took it through four steeps, starting at two minutes and ending at 5. By the last it was starting to get a bit thin, but until then it held up pretty well. It seemed less grapefruity today, but was still enjoyable and refreshing.
I don’t find this a particularly complex oolong. It didn’t seem to evolve from steep to steep; it was pretty much the same in flavor from first to last. My experience of the tea base is of a fairly typical Formosa Oolong in flavor, at least superficially, but without the depth of some I’ve had. That said, the grapefruit flavor is really the reason to drink this as it goes very nicely with the base. The lack of complexity in the base is probably a plus in that respect.
The multiple steeps I put this through straddled my dinner, and the food brought out the grapefruit flavor a bit more.
I’m mildly surprised that I like this as much as I do. I’m adding it to the list for a restock when I finally come out of lockdown.
Trying this today using the Samovar stovetop method with Kusmi Chocolate as the extra black tea.
This is a creamy, chocolatey, spicy, comforting drink. The spice is just enough to make it known this is chai, and I’m getting a lot of chocolate taste (the use of the Kusmi as the extra black tea with chocolate chais has been extremely successful, and I heartily recommend using a chocolate flavored black tea for the extra black if you’re following the Samovar method with a chocolate chai).
Cheesecake, not so much, and I would have thought perhaps that was because I’d added the Kusmi, but then I read the notes here and it seems to be a common observation about this tea. There is a sort of creaminess to the flavor that accentuates the normal milky creaminess with chais prepared this way, and I’m taking that to be the cheesecake flavor. There’s not a piquancy to it that actual cheesecake has. It’s more creamy than cheesy.
I have one more 52 teas chocolate chai in my stash and I’ll be interested to see what the difference is in flavor between that one and this. I can say now that I prefer the spicy yet not blisteringly spiciness of this mixture to the Mayan Chocolate Chai for most purposes, though there are times when the Mayan seems like it would be the only thing that would hit the spot.
Finishing up the last of this sample. I liked it less this time, or maybe I’m not feeling very charitable today. I made a big pot to accomodate the last of the sample tin and I could taste the tea more this time. It was better with emphasis on the cinnamon rather than the tea; with the tea more front and center, the cinnamon took on a woody, almost bitter character. Knocking it down a few points.
Finished up my sample of this last night but was too comfy in bed reading to get up to write about it. The orange, such that it is, is tasty, but this last experience confirms that it isn’t enough for my taste.
The Teavana Wild Orange Blossom is far orangier than this, and if I were looking for an orange fruit blend I’d probably pick that over this, unless I decided to experiment further and find a still better one. But I’m not really looking for an orange fruit blend.