1180 Tasting Notes

89

Yesterday I started with Harney’s Earl Grey Supreme so today I’m giving the A&D a whirl.

Wow. I really like this. Figures, right? Limited edition and all.

The bergamot smells fairly strong in the dry leaf, but in an appetizing way; not oily, not perfumy, not stomach-wrenchingly acidic. When steeped isn’t too strong at all, just a little stronger than the Harney’s (which means pretty much exactly the right strength for me). And not only that, it has a very interesting quality to it. It isn’t oily, and it isn’t tart, but it has a sweetness to it, and it’s almost as though it has a floral note to it without being perfumey. In any case, it’s got a depth of character that I haven’t experienced in a bergamot flavoring before except maybe in the Samovar Earl Lavender.

The tea is mild, smooth and medium-to-light bodied. It’s a good foundation for the bergamot flavoring to show off on, and frankly I find the bergamot flavor so interwoven with the tea as to make an attempt at describing the tea separate from the bergamot futile. It has an unobtrusive, slightly sweet finish.

I’m sad that I’m going to have to distance myself from this one so as not to fall in love, it being limited edition and all.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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79

I wasn’t able to get the kiwi to do a solo using the rest of the sample, but I have the feeling that even though my view of it is somewhat obscured, it’s in the back of the room raising its hand. There’s definitely something going on other than strawberry and apple, and it isn’t rose hips or hibiscus. It’s a nice drink.

I’m noticing that unless they’re too tart (unless you like tart, in which case substitute the word “sweet”), fruit blends can basically be described as “nice drinks.” The heat of them is calming in the evening which makes them more comforting to drink than juice, and without the calories. They’re also generally less in-your-face-fruit than juices are. It’s hard to say one is terrifically better than another apart from which side of the sweet/tart dichotomy you happen to fall on, and which fruit flavors you generally prefer. I suppose one could give extra points for a particularly satisfying blend, too. But that’s about all I can see to distinguish one from another. Anything I’m missing?

Rabs

I think that ya nailed it! :)

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76
drank Wild Orange Blossom by Teavana
1180 tasting notes

This was a tea of the month for April on the Classic plan. You can probably tell from the fact that it’s halfway through May and I’m just now getting to this one that I wasn’t overly excited by the sound of it. First three ingredients: Apple bits, hibiscus, rose hips. I’m puckering just reading it. This is already sounding like a job for the two bags of Tazo honeybush.

Then it goes on: beetroot, citrus peels & slices (in case you missed the orange slice the size of Alaska), flavoring, orange petals, sunflower petals, orange juice bits (um, er… I guess this means they freeze dried it? does that mean there is Tang in my Teavana?) pomegranate blossoms, rose petals.

It’s beautiful in its chunkiness as I’ve found all Teavana fruit blends to be and dry, it smells wildly of orange, so in that respect it lives up to its name. The tisane itself smells much more well rounded, almost like a fruit punch but without strong berry or cherry representation.

Now here’s the really interesting part. This cup, at least, IS NOT TOO TART! How can that be? Maybe it’s the “orange juice bits.” Or maybe the “flavoring” is sugar. It tastes like orange, but not in an orange juice or orange drink way, and it has a sweetness to it that is all the more welcome for being unexpected.

I don’t think this is something I’d buy again, but I’ll enjoy drinking my way through it. The reason I wouldn’t buy it again is, apart from lemon and apple, I’m not really in the market for a single note tisane. I may have to eat (or drink) those words at some point, though.

Side note: I got the Breville! We got it at Williams Sonoma tonight, a late mom’s day present. I can’t say I made this with it, though, as after getting the kids new shoes, going out to dinner, coming home and putting them to bed, we were too tired to get it out of the car. Tomorrow. ;-)

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Rabs

Hooray on the Breville!!!!! I look forward to finding out what you think of it :D

__Morgana__

Thanks! I am psyched!!!

AmazonV

CONGRATS!

SoccerMom

Congrats! Yay!! :)

whitney.

Whaaaattt. I love orange blossom :( i thought it was delicious.

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78
drank Rooibos Peach Bloom by Teavana
1180 tasting notes

This is a tea of the month for May on the Classic plan. What they actually sent, though, is called Rooibos Peach (sans Bloom) and seems to have a slightly different ingredient mix. Ingredients listed are: green rooibos tea, peach pieces (peach, rice flour), flavoring, marigold petals, safflower petals.

It looks like very fine confetti in a mostly neutral color palette (muted green, hay color, brown, some flashes of red which appear to be flower petals). In the package it smells strongly of peach. There’s a little bit of a grassy/hay smell also that is the green rooibos. There’s no red in here that I can see. I am wondering whether Teavana has stopped using red rooibos in some of its fruit blends? If so, it seems to be working well. To me, green rooibos has even less flavor of its own than red, so it is an even more malleable base for fruit flavors.

The aroma after steeping is also strongly of peach, with a hint of vanilla (which must be coming from the rooibos? or maybe it’s the rice flour?) as is the taste. It’s quite nice. The rooibos isn’t noticeable really except as a vanilla note and as a sort of green aftertaste among the fruit/vanilla. To be clear, this isn’t a “peaches and cream” flavor, despite the vanilla note. It’s like peach with a vanilla outline.

It meets my criteria for good rooibos, as the rooibos isn’t loud at all. But it is sort of a one trick pony without a lot of depth or surprises. If you’re a peach lover, you’ll probably enjoy it. I have to give it a high mark for being a good rooibos, but it’s not as interesting flavor wise as some others I’ve rated higher.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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85

Apparently I’m on a bit of a Harney & Sons sampling kick. I’d like to say I’m going to be methodical about it and stick mostly to these for a while but that would probably be misleading. I have just as much of an urge to go on an Earl Grey, Breakfast Blend, or oolong or pu erh or chai comparison kick, or to do a methodical French tea sampling. I can see myself doing a lot of H&S for a while, but I doubt we’ll be in an exclusive relationship. ;-)

100% Keemun. Hmm. Not sure I’ve had that before? In the sample packet the dry leaves have a dark and sultry smell. Not sweet, more earthy or planty, at least to me. There’s also an interesting sharp note that seems like …. vinegar and salt? Seriously I’m having a flash to potato chip seasoning. I’m getting that note in the steeped aroma as well. Pretty interesting and not something I’ve experienced before. I’m intrigued.

With that aroma I’d expected a sharpness to the taste, but that’s nowhere to be found. It’s incredibly smooth! There’s a sugary sweetness in the finish that follows a woody flavor. No salt or vinegar in the taste. There’s a fullness to the mouth feel, though I wouldn’t describe it as quite full-bodied. Closer to medium. There’s an interesting, almost smoky note in the aftertaste. The tea is a little drying, but I kind of like that so it doesn’t bother me.

Hmm. Not sure exactly how I feel about this. It’s good, but I think I need more Keemun experience before I pass judgment. I’m not sure I’d pick it over a richer, fuller breakfast blend. But you never know.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Auggy

So your last two tasting notes have pretty much guaranteed I’m going to have to place a H&S order soon!

JonTea

I love your tea notes.
A great tea company which I love is David’s tea. Some really interesting great teas from there. I agree with Auggy, your tasting notes are really making me think I have to try myself some H&S !

__Morgana__

Haha, well, I’m having fun trying them — I’ve had my order of samples since around the beginning of April and I’m just now getting to them. [sigh] Too much tea!

JonTea

Too much tea? No such thing for me :P

Auggy

Gotta agree with JonTea there – no such thing! Okay, so sometimes I tend to look at my pantry and have an OMG moment but I get over it. :)

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83

The dry leaf smells promising as the bergamot isn’t too strong, oily or perfumey. Once steeped, the bergamot’s aroma takes a back seat to the malty, sweet black tea. The liquor color is a light brown-orange.

The flavor is quite nice. It’s like the GM Tippy Earl Grey would be without that bakey weird thing that bothered me about the GM.

I never thought I’d say this about an Earl Grey, but if anything, the bergamot could be a little stronger. Still, it’s quite enjoyable because the underlying tea is very tastey. It’s medium-to-light bodied, no bitterness, a little astringency. There’s a citrus and sugary tea aftertaste.

I have a lot more Earl Greys to try, but this is a strong contender.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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54
drank Lemon Mate by Tazo
1180 tasting notes

Celebrating bidding farewell to this today as I polished off the last of the bags in the home stash (never mind that I still have about half a box left at work).

I became used to it, and the lemon flavor was ok, but it never wowed me. It didn’t do much as a representative of mate either as it didn’t have enough of a positive effect on my tastebuds to make me want to try more or better mate.

Not a purchase I will repeat.

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82
drank Chocolate Mint by Harney & Sons
1180 tasting notes

I’m obviously in something of a minority here, as this tea was pretty much exactly what I expected it to be and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Let me say first, though, that I put about 1.5 tsp in for about 8 oz of water. I didn’t find it to be weak, the chocolate and the mint were both present and accounted for and not overly subtle in my experience. I didn’t get a lot of the tea, but frankly, that’s become a secondary consideration for me with flavored teas — if I wanted a strong tea taste I’d drink it unflavored, or I’d drink something I knew to have a strong tea base presence. It doesn’t bother me that much anymore, as I have added more and more members to my pantheon of great teas, that some flavored ones are more about the flavor than the tea. Next time I might go to two tsp and see what happens. Maybe that would bring the tea out a bit more.

To me, the mint was very fresh tasting. It didn’t have a candy aspect to it, but it naturally sweetened up the tea and the chocolate so that the tea didn’t whisper to me that it wanted to be sweetened or to have milk added. This in contrast to the Herbal Infusions Chocolate Mint, which seemed to want sweetening.

The aroma of the steeped tea is heavier on the mint than the chocolate for some reason, but it’s still a nice smell. Sniffed in the sample packet, the mint is eyewateringly strong, which seems to me a good confirmation that it is v. fresh and its volatile oils haven’t dried up. It’s got that pretty black/green mix thing going on in the dry leaves. I’m biased though because black and emerald green is my favorite color combo.

This is going on the list for if/when I ever come out of lockdown and place a full order with H&S.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
JonTea

Interesting, I had a chocolate tea today as well.
It was called Super Chocolate ( david’s tea )
I left a note about it, I found it a little bitter on the chocolate and not sweet enough. Also it was mixed with rooibos and Cinnemon which was okay but I would have liked it better with mint. Judging by what you said about the color, I’m assuming it was black tea and mint but thats a guess.
It sounds pretty solid nonetheless.
May I add that your an excellent writer and I enjoyed this review.

__Morgana__

Thanks JonTea! Glad you enjoyed the note. Yes, this is a black tea with chocolate and mint. The black tea base isn’t a big part of the experience of this one though, and the mint is a little stronger than the chocolate, which I think is why some people here were disappointed in it.

JonTea

I think I might like this tea as I am a fan of morrocan mint tea, which is basically a green tea leaf and a mint tea leaf. Very simple but a classic.
Replacing the green tea with black tea and adding chocolate sounds very good. Did you have it as a desert tea or breakfast tea? I could see it doing both, wierdly…

__Morgana__

Neither, I had it at around 5 p.m. A little later than I would ordinarily drink black tea, but I was on a roll with the H&S samples and decided to press on with this one. I think it would make a better dessert, though. :-)

JonTea

OOH they would send out samples?

__Morgana__

Yes, you have to buy the samples, but they’re only $2 (at least that’s true for most of them) and enough for a few cups worth so you can check them out.

JonTea

Sounds great!
Thanks a lot.

Tea for Me Please - Nicole Martin

That does sound yummy :)

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97
drank Florence by Harney & Sons
1180 tasting notes

I have been wanting to try this for freakin’ ever and I decided today is The Day.

I expected to smell Frangelico when I opened the sample packet. OMG. It’s not a syrupy “essence o’ nuts” I’m smelling, it’s the nuts themselves. Down to their planty innards! I can almost feel their little round bodies cracking between my teeth. And the slightly bitter smell of baking chocolate. I can see why people are invoking Ferraro Roche (drool), but the thing that makes this different is it isn’t sugary like those little balls of trouble are.

And this is just the smell of the dry leaves, which, by the way, are dark dark dark and look almost soft and beautiful. I’m coming to recognize this as the signature of an awesome flavored black tea.

The liquor brews lighter than I’d expected for some reason. It is, interestingly, a sort of hazel nut color. The “true nut” aroma of the hazel nut seems to have mellowed some with steeping, and blended into the chocolate. Mmmmm.

And the taste is a lot like the smell. It’s quite wonderful plain, but the lack of sweetness in the chocolate seems to beg for milk and something to sweeten it. I was happy to accomodate it. With just a small amount of sweetening, the flavor becomes downright lush. The chocolate moves from the unsweetened taste of baking chocolate to the bittersweet of dark chocolate. With more milk, it would probably move further, all the way to milk chocolate. Three, three, three drinks in one! The hazelnut is an accent; a strong, Italian one, that provides a middle note during the sipping and a reminder on the back end.

I was only in Florence for a few days many years ago, but I loved it. It was unseasonably cool when I was there in the summertime, a welcome contrast to the heat of Rome. My memories are, primarily, of clear blue skies and flowers in window boxes everywhere I turned. I remember going for a run along the Arno, the Uffizi (of course), and the adorable little bed and breakfast we stayed in with its old fashioned cage of a lift and its roof garden where we ate in the morning. I still have the pocketbooks and coat I bought while I was there. Mostly I remember being young and in love, the future stretching ahead like the clean pages of a new journal, waiting to be written.

I’m not sure how much it is the name of this tea that makes me want to buy a pound of it immediately, and how much is how it actually tastes.

Ah youth.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Stephanie

Lovely memory! I know that feeling well.

Rabs

Absolutely lovely note! Thank you for sharing your memories :)

Ewa

Oh wow, I can’t wait until my shipment comes in! This sounds great! And what a lovely note to go with it!

ashmanra

I’ve been craving this one lately. I agree, it is heavenly with milk and sugar and I almost never use milk and usually only a little sugar with other teas, but this one….ah, this one becomes a decadent treat and you could swear you were drinking a hot chocolate when you sip!

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79

I can’t believe I even ordered this, since the thought of bread pudding makes me make a yucky face. I don’t like puddings in general on consistency grounds, but the idea of bread pudding is just gross to me. Of all the things one would make a pudding out of, why bread? When I was in college I lived in a co-op and one night a week I was the main dinner cook for something like 140 people. Bread pudding was pretty regularly something the menu planner had decided I should make and during the whole process of preparing the bread I kept asking myself why?

So it was only for the sake of completeness that I ordered a sample of this. And I say for the second time today, it works surprisingly well. Who would have thunk it? Probably the main reason it works, for me anyway, is it doesn’t really taste like bread pudding. It tastes like the ingredient profile that goes into bread pudding, but without the main objectionable ingredient: bread.

In the packet, the blend smells mostly of raisins and rum. Steeping makes the custard come out to join the other two flavors in the aroma and I’m glad that I can also smell a sort of full bodied sweetness that is the black tea. Liquor color is black tea against my white cup; looks a lot like the Coco La Ven sample’s liquor.

It’s nice. It’s not as interesting as the Coco La Ven, but it is well blended and flavorful. There are no sore thumbs sticking out here, none of the bitter rum flavor that plagued some of the Necessiteas greens that contained rum flavoring. It’s a raisin, cream and rum flavor with a solid base that supports it well.

As I close in on the last of my Necessiteas samples, I’m drawing the following conclusion: they’re best at rooibos, followed by black tea, followed by white tea, followed by oolong, followed by green tea. There are clunkers in each of the categories except rooibos, but for the most part, their black tea blends are worth trying.

ETA: I am at the end after all. I do have a weird mystery tea sample in my possession, but I can’t identify it. It came without a label, and it appears to be black tea. It isn’t Cafe Latte, because I ordered that and they refunded my money because they said they didn’t have any. All of my other ordered samples have been accounted for. At first I thought it might be Cinnamon Bear, but it can’t be — the cinnamon isn’t nearly as strong as the tasting notes here describe. So it will remain a mystery. Which is too bad. It isn’t as good as the Coco La Ven or this, but it was ok.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
Ewa

Oh man, I love bread pudding. Gonna have to put this on my list.

Stephanie

I’m so curious about this blend! Great review!

Jillian

You’re making my mouth water just reading this. :D

__Morgana__

Wow, so many bread pudding fans! Amazing. The mere thought of it makes me shudder. Lol.

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Bio

I got obsessed with tea in 2010 for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it. I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I write fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I drink tea without additives. If a tea needs milk or sugar to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’ll rate it high. The exception is chai, which I drink with milk/sugar or substitute. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs, but as my tea skills and tastes developed they became far less appealing to me. I do not mix well with tulsi or yerba mate, and savory teas are more often a miss than a hit with me. That said, I’m not entirely a purist, and I enjoy a good flavored tea, particularly flavored blacks.

I like all kinds of tea depending on time of day, mood, and the amount of time I have to pay attention to preparation.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. But I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas in relation to others of the same type, for example, Earl Greys against other Earl Greys. But if a tea rates very high with me, it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is

90-94 First rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Excellent; will likely buy more

70-79 Very good; would enjoy again, might buy again

60-69 Good; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but likely won’t buy again

Below 60 Meh, so-so, iffy, or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

People have sent me tea on occasion, and I was once persuaded to send some Tazo Om to AmazonV. I’ve also done at least one group buy here on Steepster, the famous Doulton-led Dammann Freres experiment years ago. But mostly, I don’t swap. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I have way more tea than any one person needs and am not lacking for new things to try. Also, I have way too much going on already in daily life and the additional commitment to get packages to people adds to my already high stress level. (Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.)

That said, I enjoy reading folks’ notes, talking about what I drink, and getting to “know” people virtually here on Steepster so I can get ideas of other things I might want to try if I can ever again justify buying more tea. I also like keeping track of what I drink and what I thought about it, though I don’t put samples in my cupboard and not everything I have at any given time is showing in my cupboard. I do try to remember to remove things from my cupboard once I no longer have them.

I was an early internet adopter and have been online in various environments since around 1990. Steepster is one of the nicest online environments I’ve ever been privileged to participate in and that is saying something. :-)

Location

Bay Area, California

Website

http://www.jjroth.net

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