847 Tasting Notes
A while back after I read someone else’s note about a designed tea (can’t now remember whose), I decided to go design a couple of samples. This is one of them. I think if I had to do it over again I would have been much more adventurous in my choice of flavors. There are probably hundreds of versions of this Mounds combo available. I’ve even bought a few myself. Oh well.
It came in a cute little bag, which I suppose could have been used for steeping, but instead, I poured it out and weighed it. It came to 1.5g so I will be making about half a cup with it. The dry leaves are dark, and there was a fair amount of dust in the mix. They smelled exactly as would have been expected: like chocolate and coconut. The coconut is probably the slightly stronger fragrance of the two.
Steeping brings out the coconut even more, and I have to say that this combo is smelling extremely good. It really does smell like a Mounds tastes. Yum.
In taste, the tea is just ok. It’s a little harsh at the back of the throat, and though the tea has a nice, chewy mouth feel that goes with the candy bar theme, it doesn’t have the depth of flavor I was expecting from the aroma. It’s chewy in texture but it’s thin in flavor at the same time. I can’t taste the tea under the flavorings, which probably explains part of this. I feel a little like I’m drinking a too dilute hot chocolate with coconut flavor.
Fortunately I don’t have much of an interest in tea blending as if this is any indication, I should leave it to the experts.
Another of the second set of TeaFrog samples. It’s taken me until the afternoon to be able to have a cup of decent caffeine as I had to run to the last T-ball game of the season this morning and then had to go grocery shopping. Oh, and I need to brag for a second. My kindergartener is now a first grader! Last day of school was last Thursday. He had a stellar report card. (I’m still a little weirded out by the fact that you’re expected to be able to read, write and do math in kindergarten these days.) They don’t get letter grades, but the highest is a + and he straight plusses in the “academic” subjects. Of course, then there were the behavior grades…
I am not able to get a strong smell from the dry leaves even if I stick my nose down in the sample packet. What I smell is a sort of fruitiness which I’m not sure is the tea. I actually think what I’m smelling is the plastic of the packet itself. But I don’t know for sure. Brewed, though, it does have a rich, somewhat sweet, somewhat biscuity aroma.
In taste, the word “stout” comes to mind. It isn’t the strongest breakfast blend I’ve had, but it is strong, and hearty. Though I’m drinking it alone, I do think it would be good with a big, meaty breakfast. Certainly with eggs. There’s something about the flavor and the body that feels like it would cut through bacon grease and neutralize the saltiness of cured meats. It’s got some astringency to it, and though there’s a suggestion of bitterness around the edges, it isn’t truly bitter. I’m thinking 3:30 though instead of 4 minutes steeping time.
From the second set of TeaFrog samples. It has cornflowers! Two in a row with the cornflowers and caffeine today.
This smells very creamy in the packet. I can also smell the bergamot. Just for curiosity’s sake, I smelled this one next to the Upton Earl Grey Creme Vanilla. There is a difference, and it’s pretty much consistent with the names. The Teafrog’s cream smell is sweeter and creamier. The Upton’s is creamy, but it also has a vanilla contribution to the fragrance separate from the cream. It’s got a concentrated, beany vanilla note to it. Which is interesting because looking back on my note on that one, I found it creamier than the other vanilla flavored teas I’d had recently. So by comparison to vanilla, it was creamy. And the TeaFrog, by comparison to vanilla cream, is still creamier. If you’re still getting my drift, you need to go have a cocktail right now.
The tea’s aroma is also very creamy. It’s not a cream soda or ice cream creamy so much as, I’d say, almost a whipped cream creamy. There’s a small amount of citrus sniffable in the cup.
Flavor wise, it’s very similar to how it smells. It’s strong on the cream, not strong on the tea, not strong on the bergamot, though both the tea and the bergamot are present. The not strong on the bergamot is exactly how it describes itself.
Points for being a self-aware tea.
I prefer the more vanilla-y cream of the Upton, but this would be a tasty alternative if I find myself just needing the comfort of cream. It’s fitting that one of my other TeaFrog favorites so far is the Chocolate and Cream.
Though I have never purchased tea based on the label (see Steepster book club H2G2 thread week 1), I must confess that I bought this one based solely on the name.
After the first two hints in my Gabriel Knight game, I started to worry that perhaps I was too obscure in choosing that game’s name as the answer to my mystery. Back in the day when GK2 was being played, the universe of computer gamers was significantly smaller than it is now and it’s not like GK2 was a household name. I worried that four clues wouldn’t be enough and I’d have to find some way to provide an additional hint.
So I thought about some of the major elements of the game that were less obvious than the main character’s last name, but though I consider myself something of a power googler, I couldn’t find a tea with the word “Grace” in it. Or “Wagner” or “madonna” or “Gabriel” (or even “angel”) or any of the other things I tried. That’s when I gave up and plugged in “Knight.” And this is what I got.
In the can there’s a very strong bergamot scent. Eyewateringly strong. Despite its strength, it actually doesn’t smell bad. It’s a little on the perfumey side, but it smells pretty fresh. Let’s see how my stomach feels about it. (Did I mention there were cornflowers in this? I lervs me some cornflowers. I guess that’s what makes it the blue knight special).
The tea smells quite good. The bergamot has mellowed significantly, but is still enough to be an identifiable component of the aroma. The underlying tea smells malty and sweet. Though the teas aren’t identified, I’m thinking Ceylon and Yunnan?
Whoa. Maybe some Assam, too? This does taste strong, as Atacdad mentioned. I’m definitely getting the bergamot, but it is more citrusy and tarter than what I’m used to. Thankfully, though, it doesn’t have that clunky perfumy thing that tortures my tummy. The tea isn’t bitter. It has some sweetness to it, particularly in the aftertaste. But it isn’t smooth. It’s got some bite to it. On every other swallow it’s letting my uvula know it means business.
I’ve never seriously considered milk in Earl Grey, but this may be the one that makes me try it.
Still, it’s not bad. I’ll make my way through the tin and see whether it grows on me. I probably wouldn’t order it again unless I needed the name for another game, though.
I can’t believe I didn’t realize this sample was decaf until I came here to write a note about it. I must have known it a couple of months ago when I placed the order, but the packet doesn’t say decaf so I’d totally forgotten.
The fact that it is decaf is really good news. I’ve been looking for some good decafs to have on hand when my bagged starter stash runs out (which is looking like it will be pretty soon) for those times when I feel like having tea instead of a tisane.
In the packet, the leaves smell uber peachy. It’s a nice smell. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it fresh smelling, but it isn’t overly candified, it isn’t medicinified, and it doesn’t resemble cleaning solution. All of this is good.
The tea smells extremely peachy too, though the tea comes through as well. I’m liking this decaf! It’s not entirely without that “something is missing and it can’t be just caffeine” thing, but it is so much better tasting that the only other black decaf I’ve had. The peach flavor is sweet and strong without being overpowering, and the tea, though it isn’t a strong taste at all, isn’t bad. It’s fairly mild with some astringency.
I’m going to have to get some of this to start out my new black decaf category. Though I don’t think decaf will ever taste as good as the real thing, this one is pretty good.
This rating is not a comparison to caffeinated teas. It’s where I think this belongs on a decaf scale.
And now… I REALLY NEED SOME CAFFEINE!
After drinking my way through a box of this, I’m going to have to reduce the rating. In my first note I mentioned I could taste the tea because I’d been primed by drinking another Numi white immediately before. Having now experienced this tea a number of different ways (on a tabula rasa palate, after various types of other teas besides white, etc.) I can say that I have a fair amount of trouble tasting the tea in this unless I have the taste of white tea already on my tongue from another source.
This blend is really about the spices, and in my view they overpower the tea and that makes this blend uninteresting to me. If I didn’t care about tasting the tea I’m sure I could find an herbal version of this general flavor profile (or make my own as my mom did for my dad when he had a cold).
This sample is from the era I will call B.B.G.B.M., or before black/green blends moratorium.
In the sample packet it has an intense, fruit smell. I thought it was pineapple until I read the ingredients again. Now I’m fairly sure it’s guava. There’s a high sweet note that I’m thinking is the strawberry, and an undercurrent of hibiscus. I’m not smelling coconut, or much tea, for that matter.
The tea’s liquor is that sort of in between color that these sorts of blends tend toward. Not a deep black tea color, not a light green tea color, but somewhere between the two.
The aroma is primarily guava and strawberry, though I can smell black tea through it.
It’s actually surprisingly tasty, and I’d probably drink it again if I was offered it. But in truth, I drink guava flavored juice maybe once every year or three and I don’t think this tea, nice as it is, is enough to turn me into a regular guava consumer. That’s the primary flavor as well, though I can also taste strawberry, hibiscus, and a mixed black/green tea taste that is hard to explain. It’s fresh green but toasty, paradoxical as it sounds. It gets points for being well done and unusual, though.
When I see names like “Masala Chai II” I always wonder what happened to Masala Chai I. Masala Chai is dead, long live Masala Chai? Just to be sure I double checked the TeaFrog site and couldn’t find Masala Chai I.
TeaFrog gives nice big samples. This one is big enough to make a couple of cups worth on the stovetop. Using TeaFrog Assam Banaspaty as the extra black tea since the mix contains Assam to begin with.
In the packet I smell mostly cinnamon, and then coriander, and then an anise/fennel licorice scent. In addition to cinnamon, cardamom and pepper, this has some pretty interesting ingredients that haven’t been in other chais I’ve tried. I also noticed that ginger isn’t listed, and I think it’s been in all the other chais I’ve had thus far.
True to its description, this is a mellow chai. The cardamom, cinnamon and coriander seem to me to be acting as an ensemble rather than calling attention to themselves individually, which is, I think, a good thing. There’s an interesting, cooling feeling on the tongue after sipping. I’m wondering if this is the anise or fennel? Other than that effect, the anise and fennel is detectable but extremely gentle. There’s no strong licorice flavor, which in my view is a good thing. I’m not tasting the pepper. There’s no kick at the end.
I can’t comment on the authenticity having never been to India. This is a tasty chai, but I think I prefer a little more spice, even in my mellower chais. Though I didn’t taste them back to back, this seems to me less spicy than the TeaGschwendner Indian Chai which was pretty far down on the spicy continuum already.
Since I have Teas Etc. on the brain today I thought I’d try something else of theirs.
In the tin, this tea has a deep, strong, currant smell. It’s a lot like raisins, or pre-raisins (i.e. grapes). It has a slight sharpness to it that reminds me of red wine. There are whole currants in here, about the size of blueberries and looking far less shrivelled than I think of when I think of currants. Cool. And it has those blue cornflowers that I love looking at so much.
The aroma is also very curranty. It does remind me of some sort of baked goods. I wouldn’t have picked hot cross buns, but I might have said currant scones. Yum.
This is a sneaky little tea. At first it didn’t really taste all that remarkable. But the more I drank, the more I liked it. It’s interesting. It has a thicker mouth feel than most black teas, and the flavor of the currants is nicely balanced with the flavor of the tea. It’s almost like drinking a red wine without having to worry about getting tipsy. I’m for that, especially during a workday! It’s very comforting while hot. As it cools, the flavor becomes more raisiny/grapey, still quite nice but not as comforting. I think it would lose it’s charm iced, but I’m not much of an iced tea maven.
I’m glad I ordered this with my last Teas Etc. order. I’ll likely keep this one around for when I feel like a glass of wine but without the alcohol. ;-)
Though I continue to protest that I can’t add tea swaps to my already horrendous schedule, that I’m trying to simplify my life rather than complicate it more, etc., Rabs prevailed upon me to accept her generous offer of a sample of this. The sample came in a lovely heat sealed ziplock, gold on one side and clear on the other, with a charming label indicating the name of the tea, the company, and steeping temperature and time, in a quaint old-timey font that looks like what my old Smith Corona used to produce. Really well done, looks more professional in its packaging than some samples I’ve received from companies!
I didn’t know until now that this was another of those mixed green and black teas that tend to drive me nuts. But fortunately I don’t have to guess at the steeping time and temp because Rabs has taken the guess work out for me.
This is a visually pretty tea, a lot of rose petals adding color to the mix. In the packet it smells really flowery and I totally get the adjective “frou-frou” to describe this. The mixture of rose and jasmine is a really nice one, with the components of each scent blending together to create some third scent with aspects of both but something unto itself as well. There’s a green tea aromatic aura more than an actual smell. I’m made aware of the green tea’s presence but it’s not obvious. And there is a black tea strength around the edges. I don’t get Earl Grey but I’ve discovered sometimes it comes out in the steeping even if I can’t smell it in the dry leaves. Really, this smell is mostly flowers.
My first attempt at making this, in the Breville, didn’t come out right. I am gradually learning that the measuring spoon provided with the Breville is not at all to be trusted with mixtures that include things other than relatively small tea leaves. Even though I clearly made it weaker than it ought to be, it had a really lovely jasmine/rose aroma and a pleasant, mild taste. There’s even a hint of Earl Grey.
Second try: Stronger, more flavorful, as expected. Very nice flavor. Nice enough that I want to spend more time with it as I ended up having to get on a phone call for work and didn’t get to savor my second try as much as I would have liked. I’m not sure I’m getting as much Earl Grey as I’d like even now, but that’s what experimentation is for — and besides, there are some teas styled as Earl Greys that don’t taste like them and that I like just fine.
Believe it or not, this one is enough to make me break with my decision not to order black/green mixes.
Rating is provisional for now. I can see it going up with more experience, though.