1165 Tasting Notes
Sipdown no. 71 of the year 2014. A sample. Wow, my first sipdown of the day? I’m obviously losing my momentum…
But finally a Samovar herbal that is still available to buy! Whew.
I was reading about this being the equivalent of their chai but without caffeine, which got me wondering about how to prepare it. Samovar recommends their chai be prepared using a stovetop method on the sample packet (I still have a chai sample, too), but the directions on the sample packet for this don’t make that recommendation. I’ll steep as directed, since I’ve had excellent results for the most part when I follow Samovar’s instructions exactly.
(I feel slightly intimidated by this blend, which was made for the Dalai Lama…)
The sample didn’t have much of a smell in the packet, just a sort of generic spiciness. This, along with the licorice-as-ingredient, along with the last tisane experience, Nocturnal Bliss, had me slightly worried as I waited for the steeping to take its course. I wasn’t getting a lot of aroma from the steeped tisane either.
But why, oh why did I doubt the blending power of the Samovar? The flavor pulls all the loose ends together so nicely. I know the clove is there, but it doesn’t push the other flavors out of the cup as it can sometimes do. I know the cinnamon is there, but it isn’t heavy, or woody, or powdery. I know the ginger is there, but it isn’t bitter or pungent. I know the licorice is there, but it doesn’t attack me.
I don’t know so much that either the rooibos or honeybush are there, though I can definitely pick them out if I try. There’s a hint of something vanilla-like coming through from the rooibos and honey-like from the honeybush, and I can even get to something woody/reedy if I try hard enough, but I really do have to try pretty hard.
Each of the flavors can be identified, but each melds into the others to create something completely different that isn’t any of them separately and is more then all of them together. It’s as though each ingredient adds depth to the flavor.
If I’m honest with myself, I like the Berry Rooibos and the Orange Ginger slightly better, mostly because I find berry an easier flavor to consume late at night than a chai-like combination, and because the Orange Ginger did some rather marvelous voodoo on my stomach and by extension my entire nervous system. Given this is a non-caffeinated blend, I’d be drinking this at night.
But this has one thing those don’t have. It’s available. If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.
Everyone in my house is distracted by something tonight, and they’re all distracted by different things. Consequently, I could not get anyone to pay attention to my attempt to rally around a dessert tea we could all enjoy.
No one was interested in trying this but me and the BF. I was very interested though, especially after I stuck my nose in the packet. There’s a gingerbready smell to the dry mixture that you can just tell from smelling it is going to take on a pastry note when you steep it. Mmmm.
The liquor is orange. Deep orange, very pumpkin themed. The aroma is of clove, mostly, but also cinnamon and also, very faintly, that promise of pastry.
When it’s very hot, it’s a spice tea. Clove, cinnamon, ginger, all represented, pretty much in that order, along with something else from the pumpkin pie spice experience. Allspice? Nutmeg? It’s not listed among the ingredients, but there’s something else that’s evoked, as in the pumpkin pie spice you can buy premixed.
But when it cools some, a subtle pastry-like note creeps in that makes it more than just spice and really evokes the pumpkin aspect of the pie filling along with a bit of crust. I can’t help but think that milk might make this come out even more, though it’s enough for me without.
I haven’t had any other tisane that claims the name pumpkin pie but I would guess it would be hard to evoke the pie and not just the spice and to do it well. I don’t love pumpkin pie so much that this would necessarily become a staple for me and the BF said he wouldn’t order it again, but I give this one high marks for living up to its name.
Oh! And I can’t taste the honeybush. So points.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Cloves
Did I mention I love oolong? Did I mention I have a ton of it? I’ve decided I really ought to start drinking it more, so I’ll be trying to make sure that happens.
I decided to try this one in the gaiwan. In the sample tin it has the same sort of heavy smell as the almond oolong though not quite as play-doh-y and obviously vanilla. The leaves are short and extremely dark brown.
They yield an amber liquor that smells slightly of vanilla.
Steep 1, 30 sec The flavor is definitely vanilla, with a sort of stonefruity oolong underneath. I have to really focus to taste the tea behind the vanilla, though.
Steep 2, 45 sec There is still vanilla, though it is a little weaker. I know there’s an oolong underneath but the vanilla flavor really melds with the tea in such a way that I can’t taste it independently. The aroma has a slight suggestion of coffee with cream now.
Steep 3, 1 minute There’s more nutty oolong in the aroma, but still a predominantly vanilla flavor. I am not sure whether it is the flavoring agent itself or the way it goes with the tea, but it’s neither something I’d call a creamy vanilla, nor a beany one. It leans more toward cream than bean, but it has something that strikes me as a false note about it. I have been finding that I have a harder time with teas, other than black and sometimes green ones, that have been flavored. Flavored whites and oolongs often don’t hit me just right. This one isn’t hitting me just right.
Steep 4, 1 min 15 sec The vanilla is hanging in. I’m noticing a silky mouthfeel, but I’m still not really tasting the underlying tea so much as I am the vanilla flavoring combined with the tea.
I may go a few more steeps, but I’m thinking this is about on a par with the almond oolong though perhaps less interesting. With the almond I got a definite fresh nutty-almond taste. This one does live up to its name on the vanilla side, but not so much on the oolong side. I may try the almond in the gaiwan and this one steeped western style and see what happens when I reverse the methods, but for now I like the almond better and I didn’t really view that one as a keeper.
Another discontinued Teavana offering that I found in my stash and believe dates to my tea of the month club membership.
My experience of this is very similar to that recounted by Ninavampi in her note. I too had balls of sticky fluff in my packet and I too erred on the side of overleafing. The dry mixture has a really interesting scent. I can smell the lychee, and something else that is tart and must be the goji. But it also smells a little like a forest—earthy but also weirdly fresh.
Very light yellow liquor. The lychee comes through in the aroma. It has a sort of weirdness that may signal bitterness in the taste.
Fortunately, it isn’t bitter, except for a tiny bit in the aftertaste. I wonder whether it really requires 5 minutes of steeping and I may try a shorter steep time later.
Since I have no idea what goji berries taste like, I can’t really say how this lives up to its name. It has a light lycheefied taste, which is good because lychee can be too heavy for my taste sometimes. It isn’t overly sweet, but it isn’t overly tart either, and there’s none of the dreaded plantiness from the white tea. I don’t get much rose at all, which is unfortunate. Maybe next time.
I put it between Youthberry and Shanghai Orchid on my preference continuum. I doubt I’d reorder it even if it wasn’t discontinued but I won’t approach sipping it down with dread.
Departing from my day of only drinking things I’ve already opened to try this.
I’m so confused, though. There are two Youthberry entries for what looks like the same thing (they’re both white teas with a bunch of other stuff in them including acai berries, mango, pineapple, currants, etc.) and then there are a bunch of other Youthberry combos. I picked this one for my Youthberry note. Mine’s a white tea with all the foregoing stuff plus more in it.
I’m pretty sure I got it as part of the tea of the month club. I was holding the open packet in my hand when the BF walked in and announced he could smell it across the room and he really wanted some of whatever it was.
It’s another of those visually attractive Teavana fruit blends with pieces so big I’m really sort of shooting in the dark on the measurements and leaning toward severe overleafing. In the packet it smells very floral to me, a sort of mostly hibiscus with some rose fragrance.
The liquor is a very light rosy pink. There aroma of the steeped tea smells very hibiscusy, sort of tart-bitter. Rather medicinal and not at all promising.
Fortunately, it doesn’t taste as scary as it smells. In fact, it might be that the tartness really cuts the plantiness that white tea can have—which may explain why I like white grapefruit blends.
Sacrilege, I know, but this is one hibiscus and rose hip blend that doesn’t make me pucker like a fishface and run for the sugar. There’s actually a sugary, dewy sweetness to it at the end of the sip and in the aftertaste. I wouldn’t know an acai berry if it hit me in the face, but perhaps that’s what I’m tasting? With an undercurrent of currant, pardon the expression, that pulls the flavor a little deeper and keeps it from just skidding along the surface.What I’m not tasting or smelling is the mango, pineapple, etc. except in a very general sense, which enables this blend to completely avoid any association with Adagio’s White Tropics. I really like it more than the Shanghai Orchid of yesterday and will jigger the ratings accordingly. Time will tell if it is a restock, but at least it’s one Teavana blend I have that hasn’t been discontinued.
ETA: The BF loves it.
In keeping with the theme of drinking already opened things today, I decided to make this my after lunch tea. Among my green teas this is one of the ones that has been open the longest, so I feel the need to give it special attention.
It continues to be workmanlike Chinese green tea. Pleasant enough but not much of a stand out in a crowd. I like its buttery spinach-like quality and its sweet aftertaste. It’s good after linguine with mushrooms and grilled chicken (my lunch finally showed up).
This was supposed to be my designated commuting tea for as long as it lasts. Today I didn’t commute. No. 1 woke up with a sore throat and stayed home from school so I’m working from home, but I decided to have some of this anyway.
Why? Because hungry. It’s 1:30 and haven’t had lunch yet—I’m waiting for the BF to get back from his run to get soup for the kidlet and some pasta for me—and I’m starving enough that if someone put a jar of peanut butter cups in front of me I’d eat them hand over fist. By this tea, I am trying to fool myself into not being hungry.
I can’t say that part of it is going well, but the tea is good today. Not making my empty tummy hurt, providing a bit of a blood sugar raise through some melting of the chocolate and peanut butter bits into the tea, and otherwise providing an illusion of food. I’m still hungry though…
As part of the project to sip down open sample packets (which is frankly not going all that well because I keep opening more), I’m turning to this one which has been sitting in the “to be drunk soon” sample box since my original note. At least it’s an older open sample, so it fulfills the primary goal of the project better than sipping down something I opened yesterday. Not that this is in a position to be sipped down… yet.
I have a lot of breakfast blends but I haven’t had any in a while? Seems like my order in the morning has gone: Earl Grey, flavored black, another flavored black or an unflavored single tea black. I’m reminded of how much I enjoy good breakfast blends.
This one has the heft of a cup of coffee without an unpleasant throat bite and indeed, rather a smoothness to it. The Darjeeling addition really makes it interesting as it adds both a softness and what I called before a “perkiness” to the flavor.
Very enjoyable morning eye-opener.
Tasting note no. 666. Cue Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.
(The spooky Omen music starts at about 1:48 but you can knock yourself out and listen to the whole thing if you have an hour LOL.)
I had nothing with devil, diablo, diable, satan, lucifer, or such in the name so I decided to go the opposite direction, literally up rather than down. Hence the Temple of Heaven.
After I sampled this in my 31 flavor Golden Moon sampler I gave it a rating of 73 and added it to my order. It’s weird, though. Now I don’t think I’d order something unless I gave it a 75 or higher, and I’d probably only order a few teas ranked in the 70s as there are so many I’ve given more than 80 to.
But that’s easily solved on this one by bumping the rating a few points. I don’t have a lot to compare it to in the gunpowder sphere, but as a green tea, it’s a nice change from the lighter, more vegetal green teas I’ve been having lately. The smokiness, though light by Lapsang and even Keemun standards, is quite enjoyable on a rainy February evening.
I may regret drinking this at 9 p.m., but I was up against the 666 number and I didn’t see this as a first thing in the morning tea. Heh.
Night night all.