515 Tasting Notes
Like other posters I have an emotional attachment to this tea, and it is hard to separate the memories from the experience of the tea itself. The ingredients are black tea, orange rind and “sweet spice” which to me is heavy on the clove and cinnamon. This combination is iconic in my olfactory memory. In college I had an apartment mate who was a tea drinker and she introduced me to this tea. So the smell reminds me of my youth and my first taste of independence, and it’s hard to avoid pleasant associations with that time of my life.
The taste, too, brings pleasant associations. If I try to be objective and drill down into the flavors, the tea itself is unremarkable either way, the orange is a little sour and doesn’t sweeten up as it lingers, and the spices are what one would expect from clove and cinnamon. It’s not fabulous, but it doesn’t approach horrible in my view, and the thumb on the scale is the Proustian value of transporting oneself on a rainy day present, to another rainy day when life was opening up like an oyster and anything was possible.
I’d been hankering for an apple flavored herbal and so I ordered a couple of alternatives. (Thanks Steepsters, for the suggestions.) This was the first to arrive.
The apple bits are chunky and pretty in color, ranging from brownish red, which I take it are the parts of the apple with the skin, to a yellow, almost neutral color, which I take it are the parts of the apple sans skin. They look sort of like chopped walnuts, but more colorful. I chewed on a piece just for laughs, and it’s basically… dried apple. And yummy. Who would have thunk it? ;-)
The aroma prior to steeping is very apply and a little on the tart side. Once infused, it’s a pretty, light golden-yellow color, reminiscent of the skin of golden delicious apples, and slightly dusty-looking. Some browner fruit residue sifts to the bottom of the cup.
I didn’t find the infusion itself to be overly tart. I was steeled for tartness, and pleasantly surprised to find it more neutrally apple-tasting than I expected. If anything, it leans more toward sweet for me though not as sweet as baked apple. I’d describe it as ripe apple sweet. It’s not an incredibly strong flavor, which is part of its charm. It’s very obviously apple, though — you can’t miss it.
The thought crossed my mind that it could even be something kids might be convinced to try, and might even like, as an alternative to the sugar-laden apple juices they tend to favor if it could be made strong enough to withstand icing. The thought of iced tea today is incredibly unappealing given the cold and rain outside. Note to self: try an iced version when the weather turns hot.
But until then, enjoy the apply warmness.
I received this as a sample when I bought a Finum Teeli filter from an Amazon vendor who turned out to be Lana’s The Little House. It’s my first experience with a dessert-like flavored tea, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. As it turned out, I quite enjoyed it. The aroma of coconut and almond is delicious and not overpowering. The coconut and almond flavors were sweet and delicate, and the tea was a nice backdrop to them. It stood up well to multiple steepings. I can see making teas into no-guilt desserts. I had this while my kids were having ice cream and I didn’t feel at all deprived!
This is the second in the Introduction to Oolongs sampler and an interesting comparison to the Formosa Fine Grade. The dry leaves are very different in color and texture. Much bigger and formed into curls, whereas the Fine Grade ones are much smaller and less formed. They smell less toasty than the Fine Grade; actually the smell reminds me of champagne. The liquor, too is reminiscent of champagne; a lighter, yellowy-amber than that of the Fine Grade with a more delicate aroma that is warm and slightly fruity. The taste is more delicate, too, and I have a feeling there is a lot more to be discovered here on subsequent tastings. The flavor is pleasant and mild, and as noted by others, nutty. The leaves uncurl during steeping until they are surprisingly long and pretty. I can see myself spending quite a bit of time with this one.
I prefer this to the Tazo version. As others have said, the bergamot scent is palpable but not overpowering; it doesn’t greet you with an almost eye-watering blast of perfume when you open the packet. The bergamot taste is present in the drinking, but in a much milder, even, more balanced way. On a side note, am I the only one who has trouble with Numi’s bags? Seems like they break, or the string comes off, or the tag falls off, far more often than those of other brands but perhaps that’s just bad luck on my part.
A mellow, sweet, and smooth spearmint flavor for times when you feel like mint but without the intensity of peppermint. Though I prefer peppermint in general, this is a gentle, before-bed flavor.
This is the first loose tea I’ve tried since I started my tea adventure, and I’m thoroughly amazed at how much of a difference I’m seeing between this and just about anything else I’ve been drinking these past weeks, even the whole leaf bagged teas. And I realize it’s pretty basic as oolongs go, so I can only imagine what’s in store when I graduate to higher grades.
This is the first in the Introduction to Oolong (Oolongs 101?) sampler and I’ve been enjoying it yesterday and today. I would not have thought it could add so much to the experience to examine dry leaves prior to steeping, but it does. These are a dark, chocolatey brown, with flecks of lighter brown. They have a warm, toasty aroma. The liquor is a rich, dark amber/burnt orange. It smells very similar to the dry leaves, and the flavor is in turn very true to the aroma, warm and toasty, with a very subtle note I can’t put my finger on — very slightly floral, perhaps? The aftertaste is slightly sweet and pleasant. I used two teaspoons rather than one after the first try and preferred it stronger. I did not notice much change over multiple steepings (I lengthened the steeping time from 3 minutes to 4 after the first, and to five on the last).
I was surprised — this one actually made me smile. It’s the first darjeeling I’ve tasted since I started my tea adventure and I suspect there is much better to be had, but it’s enough to make me really look forward to venturing further into finer darjeeling offerings. The liquor is not light as darjeeling’s is usually described; but it’s pretty, a medium to dark brownish-red. It smells woody, almost coffee-like, with a hint of mossy greenness. Foresty. There’s a richness and complexity to the taste that I wasn’t expecting, especially in the finish where I taste butter, sweet cream, nuts (almonds, I think, maybe a little hazelnut?). I tried it at the recommended 5 minutes steep time, but found it a tad bitter. Much better at 3 minutes.
The perfumey note of the aroma hit me immediately, so much so that I was tempted to dab a bit on my wrists. :-) After a minute or two it settled down to a gentler citrus. Initially, I steeped for 5 minutes but the second time around after reading the comments here I limited it to 3. Three is definitely better, and I’m wondering if I should take it down from there a bit.
My experience with Earl Grey in the past has been limited to Twinings and Bigelow, and this one doesn’t seem significantly better than I remember those being. I’m detecting a twinge of the bitterness others have mentioned in the drinking, but for me it is mellowing to a pleasant, lingering citrusy finish where the underlying tea taste predominates. There’s even a bit of sweetness, right at the tip of my tongue. I’m looking forward to comparing it to other Earl Greys.
I am far from a chai expert, but this seems to have a well-blended flavor if you’re in the mood for something spicy. I can smell the ginger, cinnamon and cloves primarily, but none of these predominates in the taste. There’s a peppery afterburn, but the pepper flavor in this whole leaf bag version isn’t as strong as that in the decaf bagged version I tried (not whole leaf), which borders on harsh. I started my morning with this one today, and I’m moved to try another cup and see what else I can get out of this one on a second tasting.
And here’s an update after the second tasting (different bags, not a resteep)… with the after effect of the original cup still on my tongue, the new cup is very different. Even more balanced, and I can taste the mildness of the tea. The spices are more around the edges this time. Very interesting contrast to the first spicy attack and worth an additional couple of rating points.