911 Tasting Notes
Ah, one of the delightful teas from my Lupicia Herbal Happy Bag! I was really pleased to get this one as I had been eying it for a bit. Seems I’m becoming addicted to lemongrass, especially as my sinuses have decided to state their displeasure with winter. Stupid cold weather season. Lupicia was also the reason I discovered that not all rooibos are created equal (nasty). Green rooibos is actually my friend. So yay for herbals that include both lemongrass and rooibos!
Previous, I had had a grapefruit flavored teabag from Lupicia and I was a bit disappointed because it wasn’t as obnoxious tasting as the smell and, for once, I wanted an obnoxious flavored tea. Well, this one isn’t obnoxious either, but, coupled with the lemongrass (or perhaps because the base is green rooibos instead of a black tea), the grapefruit seems to really pack more of a punch. It’s very citrus-y. The two flavors pair well to give this not-tea a great whooshy feeling that feels refreshing, makes my sinuses happy but still manages to be mild and smooth.
I couldn’t really pick out the rooibos (which is fine since it is a fairly mild taste anyway) but I think it managed to show up a bit at the end, adding a hint of extra sweetness to the citrus whoosh-iness that kept the tea from having a sharp citrus edge. I could have dealt with the flavors being a bit more intense, but at the same time, if the flavors were stronger this tea might become a one-cup-and-done type tea. As it is, I enjoyed it so much I felt the need for an almost instant resteep.
Which, speaking of resteeping, this one handled it rather handsomely. The first steep had the grapefruit flavor being a tad stronger than the lemongrass. In the second, the lemongrass perked up to stand out a bit more. The grapefruit wasn’t weak and was still noticeable but in this steep the balance was tilted ever so slightly in favor of the lemongrass. In other words – still great whooshy citrus with no unhappy or sharp edges and something I could totally get behind having more of.
Hello Steepsterites! Yes, it has been a while since I’ve been on. Honestly, Steepster loads so slowly for me that it just takes too long for me to get on here and play, so I haven’t been. But I figured I needed to bite the bullet and do some clean up to my cupboard as well as check in with folks so I’m doing that today. Hopefully slow load times won’t tick me off too much and I’ll even be able to get some backlogs in.
But enough hoping about backlogs – I’m here to log a tea that’s actually in my cup right now! This one was a teabag included in with my Lupicia Happy Bag that I bought. I can’t help it – I love their surprise grab bags! I certainly don’t need more tea, much less surprise tea, but I still buy it anyway. I’m trying to be good though, and not break open too many of the new packages of tea before I do away with some older teas. So this one, being a single teabag, is a nice burst of new that doubles as a decupboard. So win all around!
First off, the smell. Holy mother of goodness does this teabag smell apple-y. It’s like a just bit into a fresh, crispy, juicy Gala or Pinata apple. I can almost feel the crunch in my teeth! As I kept smelling the teabag wrapper while my tea was brewing (everyone does this, right?) a little note of apple-flavored hard candy started to come out on the edges of the smell which took away a bit of the I-am-eating-a-fresh-apple feeling, but it still smells delicious. Post-brewing, the actual liquid tea smells almost bake-y but not quite. Maybe like an unsweetened version of a chocolate graham cracker topped with a large dollop of tart green apple preserves. I say tart mostly because it doesn’t smell super sugared and cinnamon-y like most apple flavored things seem to. I will admit, while unusual, it is nice to have something apple that isn’t apple cinnamon.
The taste is mild compared to the smell, but that’s pretty typical with Lupicia. I taste a tea base but I can’t really identify it – Ceylon probably. The apple taste is a bit more green apple than anything but I think that has to do mostly with the end note. The initial taste of the sip seems to be fairly evenly split between tea and sweet red apple. It’s very mild but summer-time pleasant. Then the swallow which edges a bit towards the tea side – making me think a bit of a Nilgiri but without the feeling that I’m eating rose bush leaves (the texture/flavor I always seem to associate with Nilgiri teas) – with only a hint of apple sweetness. Then post-swallow, the green apple flavor expands to fill my mouth, making me feel a bit like I just took a lick of an apple Jolly Rancher, but without the sticky, icky aftertaste a lot of candies can leave. It’s not a tart green apple flavor though. There’s no sourness or pucker to it. It’s just not as sweet as the red apple portion of the program.
As almost always seems to be the case with Lupicia, the flavor is very true to the name. This is an apple tea. Quite honestly, it’s a really good apple tea. I can’t say for sure if I’d ever buy this – I rarely find myself craving apple flavored things unless they are an actual apple and even that doesn’t happen too often – but the flavor is so tasty and makes me feel like I’m walking through an apple orchard so I really can’t dislike this tea. I’d say anyone that tends to crave apple things (or just wants to experience the novelty of something apple-flavored without also being cinnamon-flavored or sour/tart) would greatly enjoy having this tea around. Honestly, I wish I had more than one bag so I could see if this made me start craving apple things. I think it might. Because now my cup is empty and I think I want more.
I was a bit scared to try this one since I can be iffy with flavored greens and I had such a not fun experience with the other “Bouquet” tea Kusmi has, the Bouquet No. 18 or something. But this actually isn’t bad. It’s not great or anything, but the bergamot flavor is mild and blends well with the heavier type of whatever green tea Kusmi uses. There’s a bitterness that seems to build as I keep sipping but I attribute that more to the tea base than the flavoring and it isn’t entirely unpleasant. It’s not really bitter and not really salty. It reminds me of the taste of sea salt, which I find nice, especially when compared to the regular Morton’s table salt. Most Chinese greens give me table salt salty – this gives me a flavorful sea salt taste, softly kissed with a hint of slightly floral bergamot.
It’s not stellar or anything, but it’s respectable and I don’t hate it. I don’t love it either, but it’s not near as bad as I was fearing so thumbs up.
I’m sick and feel awful. But my experience with this the other day was so tasty, I’ve been wanting it again. This time, I’ll man up and do the full four minute suggested steep.
Looking at and smelling the wet leaf I’m convinced there must be Darjeeling in there. Which must be what attributes to the brightness of the tea. But based on my first experience with this tea, I’m also pretty sure there is some Yunnan in there, which perhaps keeps the Darjeeling from taking on a sharp endnote.
This time I can taste Darjeeling – I’m guessing the longer steep time let it pop out over the other tea in the blend – but there’s still some other note that’s balancing the brightness of the Darjeeling. At three minutes that note seemed easily identifiable as Yunnan but at four minutes it is less so. It’s just a slight textured presence that adds a little sweetness and a bit heavier taste.
At three minutes this seemed like a milder Tiger. At four minutes, it’s like a whole ’nother tea. Both teas are pretty good. I probably prefer the Yunnan-dominated three minute steep but I tend to gravitate towards more of a Chinese black taste profile. I do like the fact that this tea is so changeable.
I was worried about the “bright” in the description of this tea, concerned it would be Darjeeling which, don’t get me wrong, can be good and sometimes really hits the spot, but can quite often lead to a bit too much of a shock at the end of the sip for me. And I just couldn’t handle that this morning. Thankfully, if there is Darjeeling in this, I can’t tell.
There’s no bitterness or tartness – just sweetness and a little cuddle factor, perhaps the suggestion of spices. Not spicy but just something that gives me the idea that this would pair with sugar cookies or snickerdoodles perfectly. The taste is smooth but with a little texture. And yes, it is bright. How it does that without delving into iffy tartness or astringency territory I’ll never know but I like it.
If I had to call what was in it, all I could pick out would be Yunnan. It reminds me a lot of the Tiger, though perhaps the Tiger was stouter? Or perhaps I just brewed the Tiger longer. Either way, tasty tea, I am happy I have it!
I don’t know what a longan fruit smells or tastes like, but I’m guessing it’s very similar to lychee because the dry leaf smells like lychee with an undernote of spicy, whooshy citrus. Post-brewing the top note of the smell is still sweetly lychee with a stronger undercurrent of bergamot.
The taste is not quite lychee, almost muscat and with a smooth note of bergamot underneath. Sometimes there’s a hint of bitterness at the end of the sip. Other times it feels smooth and silky. There’s a little spicy tingle in the aftertaste – I’m not sure if it is from the tea or the bergamot. The description says ‘smokey’ but I don’t really get much of that (unless you count the spicy bit). It’s more of a hint of darkness/richness that would pair well with a smoky tea but, in this, pairs with almost-lychee.
Ultimately, probably a little too fruity/unique for it to be a regular sipper but enjoyable.
Hrm. Thin mouthfeel. Woody. Green-ish. Hard to describe because there just doesn’t seem to be much there. Slurping doesn’t do much but a nice sweet, slightly floral note did show up in the aftertaste. Overall this is disappointingly bland. Not even normal. Bland. Maybe I’m just missing something. Meh.
The dry leaf smells like hay, very sweet hay. And plums? Something fruity, sweet yet tart. Once put in a heated pot, the leaves smell dark and heavy, almost (but not quite) musky. After brewing, the tea smells sweet and tangy. The taste is slightly astringent and peppery. Yes, peppery. How strange.
Slurping brings out a sweet, fresh cut sweet grass taste and the aftertaste has a fresh floral note. There is a bitterness to it but not an unpleasant bitterness – more like the bitterness that comes with dark, leafy greens (collards, kale, that sort of thing). The mouthfeel is thin with a little of that peppery taste coming through on the texture – little dashes of roughness.
This isn’t as sweet as I am normally go for but I’m finding it very attractive. Will wait on the rating to see how this romance develops.
Kusmi says that this goes well with spearmint and I’d have to agree since it seems like this is slightly contaminated with minty from the green assortment tube it came in. But it’s okay because it’s not too overpowering and it adds a nice little note to what seems to be an otherwise overly average tea. There’s nothing really too exciting about this one but at the same time, the fact that I don’t have any issues with something that is a Chinese green says a fair amount of good about this tea. There’s no salty/mineral taste (though perhaps the tinge of mint is covering it?) and it actually feels very smooth and silky while drinking, something I can’t recall from a Chinese green before.
Taste-wise, it’s pretty average. It’s green, it’s tea, it’s there. There’s not too much more to say about it. The feel is the neatest part – and that is pretty neat.
So ultimately, I’m a bit mixed about this tea. It’s good for a Chinese green – I like it – but it doesn’t seem that special other than the fact that I don’t find it offensive. Totally drinkable and even enjoyable, I just don’t know if it will stick in my mind enough for me to remember to drink it.
ETA: Second Steep (2:00) is a little rougher with some slight astringency and I can taste some smoke now, though it is more cigarette than pipe or campfire.