852 Tasting Notes
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.
Cue Rabs: You can’t a have-a the Mango. slap (There, I did it for you this time. ;-))
This is my first taste of a more recent TeaFrog sample purchase (which accompanied a full order of the Chocolate and Cream and the Assam Banaspaty… yum!)
I was expecting to smell mango when I opened the sample packet but I smelled something that was more like chocolate, or maybe vanilla. You know how those notes can actually be reminiscent of each other depending on concentration. At first I thought I’d picked up the wrong packet by mistake, then it dawned on me that was the yogurt I was smelling. Duh.
Now that I think about it I’m not even really sure what moved me to get this one as I am not a yogurt fan in the least. It has that sour milk, baby puke thing going on for me. Curiosity, I guess.
Having just come off of another fruit tisane experience where I didn’t use enough fruit the first time, I’m using the whole sample packet in my steep. It’s a chunky fruit mix in a palette of browns, burgundies, tans. My second of the evening.
I think I probably was right to use the full packet because the liquor is that deep red color you get from hibiscus in blends, but only if you use enough of the mix. It smells fruity and creamy. I can smell the hibiscus, too.
And it tastes pretty much as it smells, with one small modification. There is more fruit and less cream in the flavor than in the aroma. I’m not tasting mango so much as a generic fruit flavor that seems to have a lot of apple and a lot of strawberry to it. There’s a slight tartness, which I am guessing is from the rose hips.
I don’t know for sure, but I think increasing the yogurt/cream aspect so that it is more of the balance could really make a positive difference in how I perceive this tisane. I wanted it to taste more like it smelled. I can taste the yogurt (as cream and sweet, not sour milk) particularly in the aftertaste and it’s a good combination of flavors, but the fruit and herbs overpower it to some extent and relegate it to showing up primarily in the aftertaste. The idea of a creamy, fruit tisane is very appealing to me, but this one doesn’t lean far enough toward the cream for me. I wonder whether if the mango taste had been more prevalent the cream would have tasted as though it was more present as well. It seems to me it might have, as I got the sense the yogurt was spending most of its creaminess taming the tarter aspects of the flavor.
A tremendous dried peach fragrance wafted out of the sample packet as soon as I opened it. The mix is another chunky dried fruit trail-mixy sort, but it looks more like trail mix than some of the others I’ve had because it’s all neutral colors: tans, browns, burgundies, off whites.
It yields a really interesting colored liquor. The first time I tried it, I don’t think I used enough fruit and it made a dark peach, red melon sort of color that was gorgeous and gave off a light peach fragrance. The second time, I doubled the fruit to water ratio and got a dark red, hibiscus inspired color, just as gorgeous in its own way.
This isn’t unique among fruit mixes in that I find that I had to use a lot more of the fruit to achieve the flavor I was hoping for than one might expect to based on spoon measurements or even weights. The first time, I used two cups worth of fruit for two cups of tea, and it was tasty but a little watery and though I could taste the sweetness lurking, it was a little tart because the lurking sweetness was diluted. I pretty much doubled the weight one would expect to use for one cup the second time and got a much less watery, much more flavorful drink. It’s a sweet, peachy flavor with an earthy hibiscus base, but fortunately the presence of rose hips and hibiscus don’t render it puckeringly tart or bitter.
This is tasty, but I think the real thumb on the scale as to whether I’d order more will be if the boyfriend likes it. He’s a huge peach fan (he just had peach ice cream for dessert tonight) whereas I am a more moderate fan except in those occasional instances where the peach is ripe, juicy, and has a superconcentrated flavor.
My second at-work tea bag experiment of the day. This one also came as a sample with a Kusmi order.
In the bag, the tea smells pretty yummy. I can smell the caramel, but it isn’t overwhelming, and there is also a fruit smell, so that the main impression is of caramel apple, or caramel dipped berries.
The tea smells delightful. I can smell the vanilla as well as the caramel as well as the fruit.
The taste is smooth, and really interesting. There’s a lot going on, but it manages not to be confusingly busy. The flavors blend nicely. In fact, it’s not so easy to pick out individual flavors once you’ve progressed to the tasting point. Though if I concentrate, I get all the same things I smelled. I got vanilla, then caramel, then fruit. The aftertaste is a mild, sweet tea with berries.
I have a tin of this in loose leaf form, and I expect it can only taste better. Something to look forward to!
Today’s at-work sample tea bag experiment.
The Kusmi bag is like nothing I’ve ever seen. It’s fabric (looks like some variation of muslin?) and looks like a gauze square that was folded over some tea leaves and sewed up on three sides, then had a length of braided thread attached to it with a tag at the end.
They weren’t kidding about the flowers. The fragrance of the bag is terrifically floral, overlayed over some citrus. It’s a very deep floral, a musky floral, a perfumy floral. Doesn’t smell a lot like Earl Grey, but perhaps it will after steeping.
I don’t know how hot my water was because I forgot to bring my thermometer to work yet again, but it seemed hotter than yesterday for some reason. The aroma is very similar to the smell of the dry leaves, but more open, with some tea shining through. Still not getting an Earl Grey feel, though.
It brewed up nicely, certainly strong enough compared to my Lupicia bag experiments of yesterday. It has a very solid, sweet, black tea taste, with a sweet floral accent. The more I sip it, the more Earl Grey I get.
I like it, but it is heavy and hearty, like a heavy perfume or a hearty stew, and the sort of thing I’m likely to drink occasionally rather than frequently. Fortunately I’ll have an opportunity to get to know it better as I have a small tin of the loose leaf at home.
The ordering of my first run of TeaFrog samples coincided with a pretty stressful period at work, so I added this to the samples order. Of course, then I didn’t get to it until things were much less stressful. But so it goes.
The mixture of herbs in this one is pretty eclectic, and I’m sure I haven’t knowingly had a tisane with any of these ingredients except lemongrass before. I took St. John’s Wort in capsule form for a while a long time ago, but never had it in a drink. Makes me wonder what this is going to taste like. I fear it will be unbearably medicinal.
The smell of the herbs, though, is pleasing enough. It’s savory and sweet at the same time, which is interesting. Herbal mixtures don’t usually come down on the sweet side for me unless they contain fruit or mint, but neither is present here to explain the sweet note to the fragrance.
It makes a light yellow liquor that smells mostly of lemon, but has a savory (thyme? sage?) aroma underneath. And it tastes…. not bad! Not medicinal, mostly a very light lemon flavor with some cooking spice flavor around the sides. Not as strongly savory as either verbena or the Sleep Tight from TeaGschwendner. In fact, there are some sweet, non-lemon flavors that pop every now and then on the tongue.
In general, this is a class of tisane that I’m finding I’m not strongly attracted to flavor wise. I like the idea of them, how they sound in theory. But in practice I’m almost always left scratching my head and wondering why I didn’t have something with a chamomile base instead if I want to be calmed or made sleepy. As these go, though, this one gets points for being reasonably tasty and non-medicinal.