864 Tasting Notes
Another from the Doulton-organized Dammann Freres shopping spree.
Wow. The dry leaves smell like fresh figs! Fresh juicy figs, not the drying and overly sweetened stuff that goes into Newtons (although I have to admit I have a weakness for that as well). It’s amazing.
The tea’s aroma, if anything, makes the figgy smell sweeter. It’s warmth makes the figs seem baked, but doesn’t change the fundamental character of freshness that I’m getting. Fresh baked is still pretty fresh. The tea has a really nice biscuity quality, with some floral notes as well.
The figs aren’t as present in the taste as they are in the aroma, but they’re still there, and they have a fresh, fruity aspect to them. It’s a deeper, rounder fig flavor than I expected, again much more reminiscent of the fruit itself than of anything made with it.
I haven’t had figs in tea before (at least knowingly) and it’s a pretty unique taste. But one I can totally get behind.
I could tell as soon as I sniffed the dry mixture that it would be much less tart than the Hawaii Cocktail. The berries provide a lot of natural sweetness, which is evident in the fragrance of the dry mixture.
It makes a bright red liquor after steeping, and indeed, it is much less tart than the Hawaii Cocktail and not at all bitter. I mostly taste strawberry, and behind it apple. It doesn’t require sweetening primarily because of the strawberry, though it isn’t particularly sweet-tasting.
A much happier second encounter with my TeaFrog samples, though I’m not presently in the market for a primarily strawberry flavored tisane.
In honor of the recently expired Steepster Select in which I didn’t participate this time around, I’m breaking out one of my samples from the last TeaFrog Steepster Select (which explains why I didn’t participate this time, I still had all the samples from last time intact until a few minutes ago).
I wish that I had tried a different sample for my first TeaFrog venture as this one and I didn’t get along very well.
Initially, I thought it was going to be similar to Tazo Passion, Teavana Caribbean Breeze and The O Dor Je M’appelle Dorothee. It’s a pretty, chunky, blend with a lot of dark red and brown tones, and some lighter neutral colors that appear to be the tropical fruit. I could smell the hibiscus in the dry blend, but the main fragrance I got was currants, followed by the tropical fruit, primarily pineapple. So far so good.
On steeping it turned that beautiful dark red color that these other three tisanes share, but after that things took a different turn. Toward the extremely tart. I could smell the tartness in the aroma of the blend after steeping, and on tasting it was confirmed. Very tart, and slightly bitter around the edges (it stays with in the aftertaste and I’m thinking it is at least partially from the orange peel). Not what I generally prefer in a fruit blend as I like ’em sweet.
I put a bit of sweetener in to see how that would change things, and while it did sweeten up and bring out the fruit flavors more, it didn’t do much to turn around the bitter note.
So sadly, my first try was not a success. I have a lot of other samples, though, so I’m hopeful!
Made on the stovetop per the Samovar extra black tea recipe with Teavana Assam Gold Rain as the extra black tea.
The dry mixture smells mostly of cinnamon with a touch of ginger.
Not as spicy as the Rishi and not as rich as the Samovar, but a tasty, mild blend. It reminds me of the Golden Moon Kashmiri Chai in terms of flavor, but I prefer the GM. On the continuum of very spicy to less spicy, this is less spicy than the Golden Moon, which I already found to be pretty mild. There is pepper listed among the ingredients, but I wasn’t at all aware of its presence.
I’d probably choose another blend over this one for my staple milder chai, but I wouldn’t at all mind drinking this if it were offered to me.
This one called to me today, along with the Caramel-Toffee, another from the marvelous Dammann Freres buying group Doulton organized.
The chocolate in the dry mixture has a somewhat less intense nose than does Florence, which is what this seems to be asking to be compared to out of my recent tasting experience. They’re both chocolate and nut mixes, though different nuts and Charlotte has some flowers added as well. While the chocolate in Florence has a deep, dark smell, this one has a lighter, more milky smell to it. I can smell the almond, too. It is also a less intense fragrance than the hazelnut of Florence.
Although I feared that steeping might dilute these more delicate fragrances too much, the tea’s aroma is quite nommy. The fragrance of the tea has filled in any gaps that might have needed filling. It’s a deeper aroma now, chocolate and tea, with a very high floral note and a slightly less high almond note.
I don’t think this is as chocolately as Florence, or as nutty. But that’s ok. This has what, for lack of a better phrase, I keep referring to as that “black tea French blend thing.” It’s very obviously tea, a smooth, deep, tasty black tea, with a sweet, chocolatey taste at the tail of the sip and an almond overlay that sits over the taste from beginning to end. The fact that the chocolate is a less intense part of the flavor profile makes it possible to enjoy this without evening thinking about adding milk.
It’s definitely yum, but it’s not so much a Florence alternative as it is something that can peacefully coexist in a chocolate/nut/tea lover’s cupboard along with Florence.
Tomorrow is my son’s birthday and I although I took the day off of work, I was scurrying around pretty much all day making preparations and it was every bit as stressful as going into the office. I considered taking a nap when I got home, but instead, it appears I will be drinking tea.
I got some cool little tea storage cans, and I decided that ritually transferring my Dammann Freres teas that Doulton so lovingly packed up after our buying fandango into these little tins would give me a great opportunity to sniff all of them and decide what one to taste next. I had to peel her labels off and stick them onto the tins (this one has a lion on it, my totem animal or at least one of them) because they’re so adorable. Anyway, this one called to me. It has an amazing, amazing smell coming out of the dry leaves. It’s a thick, rich, caramel that you can almost see melted and dripping over ice cream. Yum!
The aroma of the tea has a milder caramel smell, and the tea’s own rich, dreamy aroma comes out as well. Rich is a word I think I’ll be using a lot here. Just a warning.
I love the way this tastes. It’s… rich. It’s sweet, but not too sweet. It’s deep. It’s a seamless blend with the tea. It’s smooth. It has that French black tea blend thing going on that makes you want to take a spoon to the leaves. They seem as though they’d melt on your tongue like mousse. (Though I wouldn’t try this at home, or anywhere for that matter.)
A good, comforting choice to punctuate a hectic day before the hectic evening picking up kids, getting them fed, getting homework done, etc. starts.
This is a tea of the month for April on the Classic plan. Unlike the other April TOMs, I have been drinking this one. I’ve had it plain, I’ve had it as the black tea added to stovetop chai. I just haven’t written a note about it.
I like the way it looks — it’s a salt (or maybe light cinnamon) and pepper kind of look with the tippy tan highlighting the dark brown. Distinguished. A touch of not really grey. Grateful Dead stuck in your head now, anyone? Guilty.
The dry leaves have a woody smell with a little damp canvas mixed in, that reminds me of waking up early at a camp site. I get a fair amount of the same from the tea’s aroma, though there’s a mysterious fruity undercurrent.
The difficulty I’m having with this (and other Assams, though I’ve only had them in blends) is there’s an aspect to them that I don’t find easy to love. It’s hard for me to describe, though I suspect the aspect that grates on me is what you’re supposed to love if you love Assams. I’ve read about it being described as malty, but it isn’t what I think of as maltiness. Malty to me is sweet, like the flavor inside malted milk balls. This isn’t sweet. I guess I’d call it more yeasty than malty, there’s something vaguely bready about it. It’s very bold, and to me it often comes across as pretty harsh.
Today I’m having this for breakfast with milk and some sweetener and that makes a huge difference. Perhaps, coming from India, this was a style of tea that was developed for the British milk and sugar palate? It certainly stands up to both. The yeasty flavor is still there, but it doesn’t grab the back of my throat with the additives.
I’m just not sure solo Assam is for me, but as I said, this is really my first attempt. I’ve had it in blends, but not straight up before. So I’m trying to keep an open mind.
I’m trying this side by side with Tazo Passion just for fun. I’m trying them without sweetening first.
For starters, the colors of the steeped tisanes are nearly identical. They might even be identical, but I didn’t attempt to assure that they were exactly the same in terms of dry mix to water ratio. I made the Caribbean Breeze in the Breville, the Passion is in a sachet so I just poured boiling water over it and steeped 5 minutes.
The aroma of the Caribbean Breeze is sweeter and more berry like. The Passion is more hibiscusy in aroma.
The Passion has that unsweetened black cherry juice taste, for sure. The Caribbean Breeze is in fact quite similar tasting. It is sweeter, though, with a strawberry leaning taste. To put this in synesthetic terms, the Passion tastes lower than the Caribbean Breeze. If Caribbean Breeze starts at middle C, Passion starts at bass C.
With sweetening the strawberry-leaning note in the Caribbean Breeze becomes more pronounced. But I’m finding it hard to argue with my initial impression, that apart from that strawberry in the mix, the two are very similar. I think Passion may have a slightly more interesting taste than Caribbean Breeze, but not enough to quibble over.
This was a tea of the month selection for April on the Classic plan. I was afraid of it, which is why it has taken me until halfway through May to get around to trying it.
I fear this tea for three reasons. First, it is a flavored green. My track record with those is well nigh abysmal. Second, has red rooibos in it, which I hope doesn’t mean it actually shows up in the taste (why would one add rooibos to a flavored green tea? filler?). Third, it is both a green tea and a rooibos, which means it falls between steep times and temps, which always makes the experience dicey.
At least it doesn’t appear they’ve changed the blend. The ingredients are the same. (Carrot bits? Huh?) I’m treating it as a green tea for steeping purposes at least for the first try.
Looking at the dry mix it is hard to tell what kind of green tea this is because its interspersed with a humongous amount of other stuff. It might be sencha, as it has a long and spear-like look. I can’t see any rooibos at all, which worries me. It makes me wonder whether as the smallest and finest ingredient, it has migrated to the bottom of the tin and the last few cups of this will be nothing but rooibos. It’s pretty: lots of big, long, colorful flower petals that look a little like ribbon, and chunks of dried fruit. It smells like dried fruit and raisins. (Yes, I realize raisins are dried fruit. My point is that the raisins are providing their own aspect of the smell separate from the rest of the dried fruit.)
The tea is a light yellow color and smells like white wine. Seriously. Like a chardonnay, only fruitier.
And it rather tastes like wine, too. Or at least, about a third of its taste is wine. Another third or so is a sweeter tropical fruit taste (mostly peach/papaya) that is apparent mainly in the finish and aftertaste. And the last third is the green tea, which is mild and fairly sweet. Not bitter. And I can’t really taste rooibos except maybe as part of the fruity after effect.
This is a weird little tea. It really isn’t bad as flavored greens go, in fact it’s surprisingly ok in that regard. It has a lot of different things going on. I just can’t imagine it being something I’d find myself thinking, “you know, I really want some of that” about.
If Florence had me tap dancing down memory lane, you don’t want to get me started on Paris. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. But the worst of times part was hardly the city’s fault. I think I’ve been to Paris about four times in my life. Two of those times it was fairly late spring, and both times it snowed. Something I think about every now and then as I really don’t associate Paris with snow. But I digress.
Whatever I’m smelling in the sample packet, fortunately, it isn’t reminding me of cough syrup. From the dry leaves I am getting the following, though I have no idea whether it is what I’m supposed to get: vanilla, citrus, other fruit, something spicy. The vanilla is hanging tough in the steeped aroma, along with the fruit.
I’d expected something Earl Greyish, as bergamot is an ingredient, but this isn’t Earl Greyish in the least. In fact, if I didn’t know it was there, I wouldn’t recognize the bergamot.
There’s a high lemony note, but the rest is just a really interesting blend of fruit flavors in which nothing jumps out to me on a first try. I can get a berry note if I try hard, but it’s not at all overt.
I haven’t fallen head over heels for this one, at least not yet. I like it, but I find it a little too confusing at the moment. It could surprise me, though. It could be like that guy you thought for the longest time was just ok, and then one day you wake up and realize he’s more than just ok and the world is going to end right that minute if he doesn’t love you back.
ETA: The berry is really starting to come out as the tea cools. Like I said, this one might just sneak up on me…