951 Tasting Notes
Cofftea and Angrboda’s notes about this one made me really eager to break open my box and give it a try. And man, am I glad I did. This one is a delightful sensuous experience on so many levels.
The bags do have an amazing smell. It starts as gingerbready, and not the vaguely spicy smell of ginger snaps or even the bready smell of gingerbread men (or women :-)), but a really deep, rich smell, like a fresh gingerbread loaf right out of the oven. Then it moves to something more chocolatey, with a dab of vanilla dropped in; the best I can come up with to describe it is that it’s the smell of how chocolate mousse tastes.
The tea is about as dark brown as it gets and I can’t see the bottom of the cup. The aroma is not quite as striking as it was dry, but still very pleasing. The taste is unique and complex. I taste mainly the chocolate and the spices, but there’s also an almost coffee-like note that sits on the tongue.
One of the things I find most enjoyable about it is its texture. The package uses the adjective velvety. I’m not sure what part of the experience that is supposed to apply to but for me it is how it feels in my mouth — soft, a little slick, and with substance to it, almost like a broth, and quite comforting.
Overall, a very satisfying experience and one I expect I’ll go back to again and again.
Yum. Just… yum. I could stop there, but I’m much too verbose. ;-)
As wombatgirl said, the dry rooibos mixture does smell amazing. Sugary, lemony, creamy. Like a bowl full of icing. It’s amazing to me that that smell even exists in a context other than icing and makes me that much more awestruck by the artisanry involved in creating something like this. Also amazing is that this smell comes from something this color since it really seems like it should come from something colored pale yellow. The dry rooibos mixture is a pretty, almost chestnut color as is the liquor. I find the color/flavor thing pretty interesting and sneaky, like the chocolately flavor in red velvet cake.
The taste is similar to the smell, though the lemon isn’t quite as strong to me. The “chiffon” part, the sugar/cream duo, is more pronounced, whereas both were equally present with the lemon in the the aroma triumvirate. I haven’t tasted “plain” rooibos and only one other flavored version so I don’t really know what part of this taste could be attributable to the rooibos itself. But whatever it is, it works.
This is not the substitute I was looking for in my search for the perfect lemon herbal, but it’s enjoyable in its own right. I love it when I’m looking for something and have something particular in mind, and in the process surprise myself by discovering something else that is an unexpected delight. So while this isn’t the perfect lemon, it’s a stand up lemon chiffon. I can see it going into rotation as dessert, for evenings when something fruity and on the lighter side than, oh say, chocolate or caramel, is warranted.
I’m giving this another try with the last of the sample so that I can write about it as I’m tasting it. I marginally oversteeped this time around because I was in the other room when the timer went off, and it is also possible I may have used too much myrtle in this brew, which I strongly advise against. The tartness is there, but on a second go it isn’t quite as I initially described. It’s sort of a sour mixed with a slight bitter, and there’s something else I’m tasting that I can only describe as a soapy flavor. In any case, it is pretty unpleasant. In this case, stronger definitely is not better.
I’ve had this several times now and it has grown on me each time. It’s a lovely golden color and a very gentle flavor, though not “light” as in light weight. Each of the individual flavors is there and the tea is sweet and predominates in the finish. The cucumber is pretty interesting; it adds a freshness to the taste that makes me feel clean while I’m drinking it, as though I’ve just had a spa treatment. The lime is just a dab around the edge. Barely there, but adds some texture. The overall impression it left me with is one of coolness, even though I drank it hot, which I think means it could be a good one to reach for after a stressful day like I’ve had today…
In the search for an I Love Lemon successor, I ordered a sample of this. The dry leaves are dark yellow and have a lemony smell that is quite pleasant. It brews to a pretty light yellow color that also has a nice lemony fragrance.
My guess is that this would be far better as an ingredient in other blends than it is by itself. It’s not that it wouldn’t do in a pinch if you needed a lemon fix in a hurry and were willing to put some sugar in it. But I don’t use condiments in my tea or tea-like drinks as a rule (I don’t like the taste that much but mostly I don’t like the additional calories) and by itself, this drink is pretty darn tart. I drank it last night so it’s possible I’m exaggerating it in my memory, but my memory of it is that it was bumping up against sour if not over the line. Though it wasn’t as sour as drinking diluted lemon juice, it wasn’t that far from it either.
So the search continues….
I had the full leaf bag version and I brewed it in my huge Wedgwood Shakespeare/Stratford-on-Avon 1964 anniversary commemorative mug so I used two bags. Mine didn’t come out bitter, luckily.
To me, it’s similar in aroma and taste to Twining’s English Breakfast, but stronger, maltier and with some bite to it that hit me right in the back of the tongue and at the throat. The taste notes are somewhat easier to taste individually than in the Twinings, which may mean the Twinings blend is more successful as a blend, though no single taste seems to me to predominate in Awake. I do taste the caramel, and like the Twinings, the finish is tasty — malty and sweet.
Like other posters I have an emotional attachment to this tea, and it is hard to separate the memories from the experience of the tea itself. The ingredients are black tea, orange rind and “sweet spice” which to me is heavy on the clove and cinnamon. This combination is iconic in my olfactory memory. In college I had an apartment mate who was a tea drinker and she introduced me to this tea. So the smell reminds me of my youth and my first taste of independence, and it’s hard to avoid pleasant associations with that time of my life.
The taste, too, brings pleasant associations. If I try to be objective and drill down into the flavors, the tea itself is unremarkable either way, the orange is a little sour and doesn’t sweeten up as it lingers, and the spices are what one would expect from clove and cinnamon. It’s not fabulous, but it doesn’t approach horrible in my view, and the thumb on the scale is the Proustian value of transporting oneself on a rainy day present, to another rainy day when life was opening up like an oyster and anything was possible.
I’d been hankering for an apple flavored herbal and so I ordered a couple of alternatives. (Thanks Steepsters, for the suggestions.) This was the first to arrive.
The apple bits are chunky and pretty in color, ranging from brownish red, which I take it are the parts of the apple with the skin, to a yellow, almost neutral color, which I take it are the parts of the apple sans skin. They look sort of like chopped walnuts, but more colorful. I chewed on a piece just for laughs, and it’s basically… dried apple. And yummy. Who would have thunk it? ;-)
The aroma prior to steeping is very apply and a little on the tart side. Once infused, it’s a pretty, light golden-yellow color, reminiscent of the skin of golden delicious apples, and slightly dusty-looking. Some browner fruit residue sifts to the bottom of the cup.
I didn’t find the infusion itself to be overly tart. I was steeled for tartness, and pleasantly surprised to find it more neutrally apple-tasting than I expected. If anything, it leans more toward sweet for me though not as sweet as baked apple. I’d describe it as ripe apple sweet. It’s not an incredibly strong flavor, which is part of its charm. It’s very obviously apple, though — you can’t miss it.
The thought crossed my mind that it could even be something kids might be convinced to try, and might even like, as an alternative to the sugar-laden apple juices they tend to favor if it could be made strong enough to withstand icing. The thought of iced tea today is incredibly unappealing given the cold and rain outside. Note to self: try an iced version when the weather turns hot.
But until then, enjoy the apply warmness.
I received this as a sample when I bought a Finum Teeli filter from an Amazon vendor who turned out to be Lana’s The Little House. It’s my first experience with a dessert-like flavored tea, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. As it turned out, I quite enjoyed it. The aroma of coconut and almond is delicious and not overpowering. The coconut and almond flavors were sweet and delicate, and the tea was a nice backdrop to them. It stood up well to multiple steepings. I can see making teas into no-guilt desserts. I had this while my kids were having ice cream and I didn’t feel at all deprived!
This is the second in the Introduction to Oolongs sampler and an interesting comparison to the Formosa Fine Grade. The dry leaves are very different in color and texture. Much bigger and formed into curls, whereas the Fine Grade ones are much smaller and less formed. They smell less toasty than the Fine Grade; actually the smell reminds me of champagne. The liquor, too is reminiscent of champagne; a lighter, yellowy-amber than that of the Fine Grade with a more delicate aroma that is warm and slightly fruity. The taste is more delicate, too, and I have a feeling there is a lot more to be discovered here on subsequent tastings. The flavor is pleasant and mild, and as noted by others, nutty. The leaves uncurl during steeping until they are surprisingly long and pretty. I can see myself spending quite a bit of time with this one.