1120 Tasting Notes
Tasting note no. 600. Time does fly when you’re having fun. ;-)
Feeling rather more virtuous than I have in a while because I exercised today. The last time I exercised was before I got the awful virus a couple of weeks ago, so it felt good to get my lungs full of fresh air and my pores full of sweat.
I wanted something green and simple, not busy with flavors other than the tea. I also thought I should apply myself to the project of drinking up the rest of the open greens before too much more time passes.
I haven’t had a straight up Chinese green tea in a while and this was just fine for the purpose. I see by my original note I found it rather on the high average side, nothing spectacular but tasty enough. After sipping on this, I agree with my original assessment.
It has a pleasant, buttery vegetable taste—maybe a little hint of broccoli, maybe a little hint of spinach. No bitterness and a pleasant finish. A good after workout tea.
It appears I’m the first to taste this, and sadly, it appears I may be the last.
I went to look for this tea on The American Tea Room site, and I can no longer find “Berry Noir” available for purchase. There are other berry teas available from ATR now, but not a single-flavor blackberry.
Which is a shame, because the first thing I noticed when I opened the sample packet was the big honking dried blackberries among the tea leaves and a singularly amazing blackberry smell.
Alas, the poor blackberry. It seems to get short shrift in the berry world, taking a second seat to its more popular cousins, the blueberry, the raspberry and the strawberry. I will admit to putting it in my grocery basket as an afterthought when I’ve been berry shopping. And yet, I’m always very happy when I eat a really juicy blackberry. Though I can’t conjure the taste of blackberry in my mind in the same way I can with its little friends. Perhaps that explains the fate of this tea.
Would that it were not so. The tea’s steeped aroma is a deep, luscious blackberry peacefully co-existing with a mild tea base that I suspect is Ceylon. The liquor, in any case, is very similar in color to the other single fruit blends I’ve tried from ATR.
The taste is remarkable. Really, truly, like having a mouthful of sweet berries with each sip. And since they’re not blue, rasp, straw, or any lesser known berries I’ve tasted, I’m comfortable with the idea that they’re blackberries.
This would definitely go on the shopping list if only it still existed.
I was going to continue with the next tea in line as planned, but then I got some unexpected good news. So I thought I’d find something with “that French thing” going on to drink as a celebration. (The good news: my first (and so far only) novella was accepted by a speculative fiction publication. As there are a very limited number of places that accept stories this length, I thought perhaps I might end up having to retire this piece without it finding a home.)
I’ll be more detailed and think about ratings in a later note. For now, I just want to enjoy this lovely fruity melange. Is it chocolate? Is it vanilla? What fruit is it?
Right now, I don’t care. It’s yum.
Sipdown no. 33 of 2014. I don’t expect this will be the last I’ll see of this tea, though.
I still think my “likes” are screwing up. I click them but then when I refresh the page or the next time I go to it, unless the note I liked showed up on the first screen (not after clicking more) it appears the likes are gone and I can click them again. But the don’t stick the second time either.
Anyone know if there’s a workaround for this or a particular browser this doesn’t happen with? I hope it isn’t user error. I’ll feel really dumb.
Mmmm. The sweet, brown sugar/molasses thing going on is just right for this morning. It’s almost like having coffee cake, but without the calories.
A sad goodbye, but only for now.
Sipdown no. 32 of 2014 is the single serving sample of this one. (Wow, that was a lot of s’s in one sentence.)
I didn’t read the ingredients before I sniffed the packet just for fun. My first thought was “strawberry?” Then just as I was about to nod my head, I thought “blueberry?” So at that point I checked the packet and yes, both of those flavors are represented. As is (shudder) hibiscus.
The good news: after steeping I smelled mostly berry, almost no rooibos (yay) and just a little upswing of tart around the edges that is the hibiscus.
I was worried at first that the flavor would be too tart for me, but it isn’t. It’s actually sweeter than I expected. The berry flavor is pronounced, but not individuated. It’s rather like eating a slice of one of those pies that has several berry flavors in it.
And the rooibos? Excellent news for me. I barely taste it, except for a fleeting pass after the sip. As rooibos goes, Samovar’s is among the best I’ve tasted plain so even what I taste of it is fine.
Samovar’s descriptions are often a cornucopia of aromas and flavors that make me feel like a total novice. This is no exception. I get a mulled wine, natural punch but in the flavor rather than the aroma, and I can’t say I can identify the orange, apricot etc. Though I do taste a bit of something lemon like in the finish and there is an interesting little peppery kick in the aftertaste.
I would buy this. Yes, I would.
Sadly, it appears I am too late as I no longer see it available on the Samovar web site. It may still be part of the rooibos sampler, but it’s not clear that’s offered anymore either as the page I found that lists it says “out of stock.”
Ah well. Lesson learned.
Sipdown no. 31 for the year 2014.
I’m sorry to say this tea and I were not meant to be. I hope others have better luck coaxing out the pear (Dexter3657, I’m looking at you). ;-)
Dropping the rating some on this and the tangerine. I’ve had too many better teas lately for these to stay in the good category.
Afternoon is time for oolong.
It appears I have only written a note on one of the Adagio flavored oolongs in the sampler, the grapefruit. Time to try another.
I’m going to try something I haven’t tried before: steeping oolong in the Breville. This should be interesting.
I’m not excited by the smell coming out of the sample tin. It is suggestive of almond, but in a sort of Almond Joy way. There’s what smells to me like some sort of artificial sweetener along with the almond.
Actually, it smells like Play Doh. Unfortunate.
The dry leaves are dark green to brown and I see some twigs in the mix as well as the slices of almond.
I got a dark yellow liquor with a peachy-brown tinge. The tea’s aroma is definitely almond-y, with something that smells like vanilla to me, too. I’m not smelling the toasty Formosa oolong scent I’d expect. If it’s there, the flavoring is keeping it well under wraps.
But here’s the surprise—as with the grapefruit, despite early indications to the contrary, I’m finding it a pleasing drink. Though not, I think as pleasing as the grapefruit. I remember that well, and the citrus gave that tea a brightness that worked well with the concept of oolong. The almond, though, is a little on the heavy side for an oolong flavoring and seems rather more glommed on to the tea base than having a synergistic effect with it.
During the sip, the almond flavor is almost like vanilla, but in the finish, the nuttiness comes through and the aftertaste is definitely almond: that greenish, woody, somewhat sweet nutty flavor that almonds leave in your mouth after you’ve eaten them.
It’s hard to know how to rate this because the oolong aspect is secondary to the almond flavor. I’d definitely drink it again were I in the mood for this flavor, but I wouldn’t necessarily pick it if I was in an oolong frame of mind. I should probably try it other than using the Breville before I finally commit, so the rating here is provisional.
I did try a second steep, but the almond flavor was much more subdued and there wasn’t a lot that came to the fore to replace it.
I don’t think this will end up on the shopping list, though I do think almond oolong would be a nice addition to my cupboard. If I can’t find one I like better than this, I may rethink it.
Tried this again today when I could pay a bit more attention. No. 1 wanted to try it so I gave him some. He quite likes it. The BF does as well, though he’s not much of a sophisticate when it comes to tea and his compliment was a bit backhanded (“tastes like Chinese restaurant tea-it’s nice”).
I like it as well. The jasmine has a freshness to it and a wonderful aroma. The floral notes are predominant in the taste as well. It’s not at all bitter. There’s nothing off-putting about it.
If I have one main complaint about this tea, it’s that I don’t really taste the tea while the tea is hot. Usually with Chinese jasmine greens, I get a sweet, buttery green tea taste along with the jasmine. I feel as though the tea flavor just starts to peek out as the tea cools.
I honestly don’t have a clear memory of other jasmine greens I’ve had in the past that I would say are that much more awesome than this, but I know I’ve had some that had a different balance between the floral scent and the tea itself. I’m going to give this a provisional rating that may change as I refresh my memory. The number reflects the really wonderful jasmine but lack of green tea taste.
Sipdown no. 30 of the year 2014.
Revisiting the delights of tea after some time away feels in some ways like being a tea virgin all over again. I remember the first time I encountered smoky tea and was blown away that tea could taste like that.
I’m getting flashbacks to that experience drinking this. This is an easy smoky tea to drink. It’s mild in its smokiness and not resiny or piney, but still enough to make you think of walking through the neighborhood while folks have wood fires burning in their fireplaces. I tend to drink smoky teas when its overcast and rainy for this reason, but I’m enjoying this one just fine on a sunny, warm-ish day.
We stopped at Starbucks today to get breakfast before the kids’ Kung Fu classes so I decided to try one of these. I got mine with nonfat milk.
I haven’t had chai in what seems like forever and I forgot how enjoyable it can be. This went surprisingly well with my spinach wrap, and after I’d eaten I continued sipping on this contentedly.
I’d only ever had the regular Starbucks chai before, not the chocolate. The chocolate is quite nice. The spices still come through nicely. I got mostly cardamom and some cinnamon, some clove and ginger, not much pepper all, and no anise. That was all fine with me as it’s the cardamom that I really love the most. I wouldn’t have liked this if it had been heavy on the anise. Licorice is a really tricky flavor for me and it has to hit me just right. Most of the time it doesn’t.
If I don’t get coffee at Starbucks next time, I’ll be getting this. I’m also now primed to break out my own chai stash and start cooking.
But this gets extra points because I didn’t have to slave over a hot stove. ;-)