1184 Tasting Notes
Sipdown no. 21 for the year 2014. I see I am averaging about a sipdown a day. I have another scheduled for the afternoon between conference calls so I’ll be at 22 on January 22nd. Heh. This sipdown thing is a little dangerous. I can already hear the little voice in my head saying: “hey, you know when you get to, say, 500 sipdowns for the year, maybe you should reward yourself and BUY TEA from someplace you’ve never tried, and maybe that’s also worth buying out your shopping list at Harney & Sons… no wait, maybe you need to get to 750 for that…” Ugh. I mean it’s not like 500 is on the horizon, so I’m playing a game with myself there, setting the number that high. On the other hand, at this rate I’ll soon be doubling up my average…
In any case, I decided to drink this one because there’s a big jar of honey sitting on the kitchen counter at the moment from the neighbors’ bee hive and it was a free association sort of thing. (There’s a lot of “urban farming” going on on my block, though I suppose it’s really more “suburban farming”-several people raising chickens, bees, etc.)
In looking at the notes on this I am wondering why I didn’t get a sample of Tower of London? It sounds like something I’d do, but I don’t see it among my list of notes or among my stash. I’m putting it on the shopping list.
I feel oddly comforted when my notes from my original tasting capture what I’m thinking on a subsequent tasting much much later. There is enough uncertainty in the world without wondering what’s going on with your senses. Basically, I have the same reaction as before: “gentle, smooth, honeyed. It’s medium to light bodied, and somewhat brisk, a really nice perker upper after a weekend nap. I wish I could unravel the flavors to say what the Kenyan tastes like, but I can’t. The black tea blend is pretty seamless.”
I’d add it to the shopping list but I see it’s already on there.
This is, essentially, the ATR Earl Grey Lavender without the lavender. It’s the same yummy Yunnan base and the same relatively light touch on the bergamot. When I say light touch, understand that I’ve had Earl Greys where I felt afterwards as though bergamot oil was being excreted from my pores. It’s not that the bergamot isn’t present here, it’s that it isn’t taking over the entire experience.
I would never have expected a light touch on the bergamot when I sniffed the sample packet. The scent from the packet is very citrusy and a little floral, though there are no petals to add color to this pretty, dark-leaved tea. Once the tea is steeped, the Yunnan base really comes to the fore of the aroma. I love this smell-brown sugary, leaning almost toward chocolate. It’s the same general idea as the Samovar Earls, which I adore.
The tea color is a gorgeous reddish brown. They call it garnet. It’s not quite that red, but it’s still lovely.
The flavor is what I like most. It’s that brown sugary base that cuts the bergamot and keeps it from veering into perfumed oil territory. It isn’t quite as smooth as I recall the Samovar (with a similar flavor profile) being-it has just a bit of briskness to it. But it’s still right up my personal Earl Grey alley.
My sample doesn’t say it’s organic, but my guess is it’s just a prior version of the current one which can now be certified as organic. It does identify the tea base as a Ceylon. The base looks and tastes like the base to the Apricot and the Passion Fruit, which I had suspected were Ceylons but felt too rusty to make a call on-I’m glad to know I haven’t completely lost all my knowledge of black tea varieties during my hiatus.
The smell of the dry leaf from the packet is wonderful. It’s reminiscent of the juiciness of the apricot, though this time it’s juicy peach. I once had a wonderful peach pie in which the peach flavor of the peaches was incredible-it was like a heightened version of fresh peach. More peach than actual peaches. That’s what this smells like.
The aroma is a gentler peach plus the Ceylon, and the liquor is that gorgeous reddish color I associate with Ceylons.
The peach flavor tastes just like it smells. The BF, being a fruity tea fan and a peach fan in particular (he loves everything from the fruit off the tree to the ice cream and everything in between), said this was “right up at the top” and asked for more before I’d even finished my cup.
I agree. It’s a great black peach.
I’m bumping the ratings of all the ATR fruits because I’m still feeling my way back into my rating system. They’re all really excellent examples of single fruit blacks so I’m rating accordingly.
A hit with both peanuts! No. 2 more than no. 1, but both said they’d drink it again. No. 2 is the strawberry fan in the house, and as the strawberry is very much the main event here, I’m not surprised.
Delighted to see that this is still for sale at The NecessiTeas site in case we find ourselves needing more!
In an effort to find non-caffeinated alternatives for the kids to enjoy, I steeped a cup of this tonight and gave them each a taste.
We have discovered that neither peanut is a chamomile fan.
After having quite a bit of the Independence Coffee Co. Chamomile/Peppermint Plus over the last couple of weeks to put out the five alarm fire in my virus ravaged throat, this was perhaps not the best choice for me this evening. I need a little distance from the flavor so I can stop associating it with pain.
The mint in this one is milder than in the Independence, and the flavor is more subtle and complex. Bumping it a few points higher than the Independence for subtlety and complexity.
Sipdown no. 20 of 2014. I had a single sachet of this in my work stash.
I know I’ve had flavored black tea with strawberry among the flavors before-Marco Polo comes to mind-and of course I’ve had black tea flavored with vanilla. I’m not sure I’ve had a black tea flavored just with strawberry and vanilla, though.
Strawberry is one of those flavors that I don’t ordinarily seek out because I’ve experienced so many examples of it done badly, starting with Kool Aid when I was a tot. Carol was a pleasant surprise.
The sachet had the same feel and the tea base the same somewhat bakey smell as the Sweet Potato Pie of last week, but with the addition of a very lovely, sweet strawberry note. Once steeped, the bakeyness mellowed and was absent from the taste altogether.
The strawberry flavor is sweet and mild. I thought it was really well done. I can imagine a lot of ways it could have gone wrong. Fakey, medicinal, etc. My impression, though, was of something between fresh and dried strawberry made creamy and mellow by the vanilla.
I’d like to drink it again. It’s going on the shopping list.
A rating of 95 you say? I can explain.
When I first started my tea journey, I started with some bags of this and I really loved it. Today I had to take my car into the shop and on the way in I was thinking-should I buy another box and see whether I really like it as much as I did then? Then, as fate would have it, at the dealership I had to sit in the lobby waiting to talk to the service guy and guess what they had among the refreshments? So of course, I made a cup.
And yes, I still really love this.
I know. It’s something you get in the grocery store. It comes in bags. It’s cheap. And I still love it, in the way I love In-N-Out burger for being the best fast food burger in my area. It’s really good at what it does.
First, it’s VERY lemony. Moreso than probably any other tisane I’ve tasted while trying to find something that was a bit more sophisticated. To me, anyway, there is nothing I can find wrong with this lemon. It’s not soapy, it’s not chemical-y. It reminds me of the lemon in the lemonade at Orange Julius (which I happen to like), that very lemony lemon flavor.
Second, it’s the right mix of tart and sweet, and needs no sweetener to my tongue. So many more expensive tisanes have needed a lot of sweetener or have even been bitter. Not here. If it’s coming out too tart, my guess is it’s too dilute. With the right amount of water, it isn’t.
Third, the hibiscus is not scary. It makes the drink a nice, red color but I can’t taste it. If I could, I would not like this.
Fourth, yes, there’s mint, but I’m not really sure what it does other than to add a sort of heightening of the other flavors. A freshness, if you will.
I still heart I Love Lemon. :-)
Sipdown no. 19 of the year 2014 (a tiny one as there’s almost nothing left in my sample)!
Steepster is angry with me this morning, I think. I can’t “like” anything, get my notices, etc. and when I tried posting this before it disappeared. I hope that’s not an omen for the rest of the day.
I put this one on my shopping list. My problem with Harney & Sons is I have a hard time disliking anything they make. I did honestly want to try to whittle things down, try to make some fine distinctions among their black blends, but I think I have to admit that I’m at the point where I just throw up my hands and say you can never have too many Earl Greys and you can never have too many delicious black blends.
And be grateful that tea takes up less space than shoes.