1118 Tasting Notes
I like the name of this one so I cracked open the sample.
The tea in the packet smells like fruity trail mix. Really. It would sort of look like it as well if not for the dark tea leaves in among the mix.
The aroma of the steeped tea is a malty Yunnan tea smell with a tart hibiscus streak and berries around the edges. It’s a clear, brown, tea-colored tea.
The first thing I taste is hibiscus, but it’s not pucker-worthy hibiscus. Whether because of the fruit or because of the underlying tea, there is a sweetness that makes it not only tolerable, but tasty. I can taste the berries as well. Blueberry more than strawberry, but both are distinguishable. The tea itself isn’t easy to detect, but there’s a subtle, cocoa-like note that I think comes from the tea.
I keep thinking to myself how this would be different if a French company did it. It would be like this, but with a few hard edges filed off. This is a bolder flavor than most French flavored black teas I’ve had, but it is still quite enjoyable for a change of pace in the flavored black tea department.
Flavors: Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Cocoa, Hibiscus, Strawberry
Sipdown no. 211. A sample.
I have three sets of samples from Sanctuary T and I have absolutely no memory of how I got them. I found them when I was doing the quasi-inventory of my stash. This is from something called the Sanctuary Sampler, which contains four other items: a fruit blend, a black flavored tea, and two tea mixes (one black and green with peach flavoring and one white and green with passionfruit flavoring). Should be interesting.
I had planned to have this one a bit earlier, but I settled in to watch Star Wars IV with the kids and didn’t feel like making it. Now I find myself with a touch of insomnia, and thought I’d make some of this and see if the combination of drinking it and reading will make me serene enough to go to sleep.
Its a visually attractive blend, with more color to it than the picture indicates. Yes, there is a fair amount of lemongrass creating a boxy geometry, but there are also some flowers. Chamomile, which I can smell. And I would have thought rose, except rose isn’t on the list of ingredients. It smells rosy to me, though, and there’s something pink in the mix. Perhaps it is the lavender? In any case, I like the gentle floral smell mixed with the lemongrass scent.
It makes an amber colored liquor that smells mostly of chamomile. The flavor is a fairly sweet, fairly unobtrusive mix of chamomile and other floral. Mostly lavender. There’s a fresh note that is probably the peppermint.
It’s very nice. The chamomile isn’t at all straw-like, and none of the flavors overpower the others. I’m not sure whether I’d pick this over Harney’s Yellow and Blue. The main difference is the peppermint, but I remember the Yellow and Blue being a bit creamier in its chamomile, too. It’s hard to say given that it has been a while since I had the Yellow and Blue.
Flavors: Floral, Peppermint
Well, I pulled this out of the stash to have today and then decided to finish the Truffles from Todd & Holland since it wasn’t a favorite. I’m just now getting around to this, and then it will be go directly to non-caffeine for me.
There are hunks of what look liked dried apple in among the very dark leaves. Perhaps that is the orange zest. The tea has a nice smell in the tin, like so many French teas. The French tea houses really seem to pay attention to how their blends smell as well as taste, which I suppose isn’t surprising given the perfume connection. I can detect the orange and vanilla in the dry tea, though I get more of a cinnamon, apple and clove smell in the steeped aroma. The tea is a clear reddish mahogany color.
It has a mild and pleasant orange spice tea flavor. It makes me think of Constant Comment, but the flavor in this one is far less heavy handed and the tea is obviously better quality than what one gets in the Constant Comment bags. The tea base is lovely and smooth. It’s a nice blend.
I read in a description of the tea at the Mariage Freres site that it includes almond, but the most I get of the almond is just a little in the aftertaste. Then again, blends like this tend to differ from steep to steep depending on the mix that shows up in your teaspoon each time, so maybe next time I’ll get more almond. And then again, there is no indication that this contains apple, and yet I get an apple-like aroma and flavor from it, so go figure.
Flavors: Apple, Cinnamon, Clove, Orange, Vanilla
Sipdown no. 209. It appears there was a recent reblend of this. But that’s not what I’m sipping down. I’m sipping down the original.
That said, if the reblend is like the original, and you’re in the market for a tasty tropical honeybush, you might want to give this a try. It was among my favorites of the 52Teas herbals I have had. A nice balance of pineapple and coconut, with just a hint of rum and a honeybush that provides the canvas for this tisane to paint on without taking a hold of the brush.
Sipdown no. 208. I dumped what was left of this sample in the dark oolong yixing.
I’m steeping it at the same intervals starting with 15 seconds and moving up 5 each time, but with a bit hotter water than I’ve been using, 208F.
This is definitely a better temp for this tea than what I used the first time. Even after steeping in the hardly used yixing, which I expected to leach pretty much all of the flavor out of anything I drink in it for the near term, the tea is far more interesting than it was when I tried it at a lower temp.
I’d be interested to hear what experienced yixing users have to say about the effect of the yixing on their tea. For me, it is pretty much consistently adding a mellowness and roundness to the flavor that I think will be excellent once the initial leaching part is over. For the nonce, I’m trying to correct in my mind for some degree of flavor-sapping.
How would you describe how your yixing affects your tea?
I just opened a sample of this I’ve had for a while. (This is no longer available at the Todd & Holland web site).
In the packet it smells like some sort of confection. Not candy really. Not cookies… well, maybe cookies? Or a flourless cake?
Steeped, it smells more like candy truffles. Or chocolate covered cherries, which is sort of strange because there’s not anything that would ordinarily be expected to generate a cherry aroma in this. And yet, there it is. A dark, candy sort of cherry. There’s a slight cocoa note as well. The tea is a cherry red-brown and is surprisingly clear given the chocolate chips as ingredients.
The tea tastes pretty much like it smells, except that it has a strange bitter note to it on the back end. Not so much a bitter tea note as a bitter other note, like baking chocolate bitter perhaps.
It’s not horrible, but it’s not as good as some of the other Todd and Holland flavored black teas. Which may explain why it is no longer available.
But the important thing about today is — I have news!
I accepted a job offer, so I will be employed again as of the end of January! It seems like a great group of people, and a fun company, and it is about a 10 minute commute from my house (I am planning to time a bike commute and see if that would make sense since it is so close).
Flavors: Cherry, Cocoa
Sipdown no. 207. A sample, and a mystery.
Apparently, I tasted this sample of this a while back but did not write about it under Indian Spice. It also appears no one else on Steepster has ever written about it under Indian Spice, which I find hard to believe, but I did search on several terms and nothing came up.
So I went and created this entry. Then I did yet another internet search and discovered that Steepster refers to the Harney Chai as “previously known as” this. Well crap. I am now guilty of creating a duplicate entry. Sigh.
The Harney Chai is described on their site as similar to this but spicier and with a hint of vanilla. It seems I did taste and write about Harney’s Chai. I described that as not very spicy. So if that is a spicier version of this…
In any case, I decided to drink it without making a chai production out of it, which it appears I did the first time around. Though I can’t be 100 percent sure that what I drank then was Indian Spice rather than Chai and was just smarter about where I put the entry than I was today. Here’s where that note is, just for completeness.
Note that to complicate things, the entry is called Chai, but the picture is of Indian Spice.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect here — whether this is in fact the same tea as described in the previous note, but I suspect it is. It’s a pretty mild spiced black tea. Milk and sweetener brings out the spices a bit more. Unfortunately, mine today is still wearing some of the lapsang I made in the Breville yesterday (that’s the other thing about lapsang, it clings on for dear life to tea making implements and so tends to flavor the next thing made with the implement), which I am trying to ignore. Even if this isn’t the same tea, my assessment from the initial note remains the same.
Sipdown no. 206. The rest of the sample.
Stovetop method, using Teafrog Chocolate and Cream as the extra black tea.
It’s pretty much a hot cocoa substitute. :-) A good choice for right now. Bumping the rating a bit because it’s so pleasant at the moment.
And with that, I am at the end of all the Adagio chai samples. Remaining Adagio sample tins: 7, the majority of which are oolongs.
In going through my recent tea inventory/cupboarding project, I made a discovery.
I have way too much lapsang souchong.
I seem to have made a habit of dropping in a lapsang sample or tin in pretty much every order I ever made. This despite the fact that while I do enjoy lapsang from time to time, it is very much a sometime thing for me. I can’t see myself drinking it daily, and I have enough to be able to do that for a number of months.
One of the reasons it is so much a sometime thing for me is that I’ve had widely varying experiences of it. Some versions have been so incredibly smoky, I felt I was going to die of smoke inhalation, and I continued to smell the tea in my nostrils for hours afterwards (or until my next shower). I’m always a little worried before trying a new lapsang that it is going to be like that, so I have some apprehension of them as well, which leads to a lower rate of consumption than I might perhaps otherwise have.
When I smelled the dry leaf of this, I thought I was going to get a mouth full of ashes, but as it turns out, this one is one of the good guys. Smoky, but not ash try tasting, and not stomach turning.
There’s a sweetness to it as well, in both the aroma and the flavor. The smoke isn’t so much that it completely obliterates all other flavors in the tea. It’s not particularly resiny either, but it does have a suggestion of pine, particularly in the aroma.
It’s nice on a cool day that started out rainy and is still overcast. It’s like sitting by a fireplace. Come to think of it, it would be really nice to drink by a fireplace.
Flavors: Malt, Pine, Smoke, Sweet, Wood