187 Tasting Notes
Three years! Its been three years since I last had any Steepster activity. Time flies when you aren’t drinking tea very much (that’s the saying, right?). Much has changed in the four years since I’ve been here. Well, maybe not at Steepster, but definitely in my life. Two different jobs, five new dogs, two new cats….its hella crazy at casa de Camiah. As I was drinking a sample of tea that I received from a fellow Steepster friend all those years ago, I decided it would be nice to take up the tealogging again. So here I am. First out of the gate is David’s Tea Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble.
The scent of the tea is somewhat muted and diminished over how I expect it was when this sample first came into my life, but that should be expected after four years. That it had any scent or flavor at all was actually quite amazing. As before, my flavor tasting sense is not very great, but I was still able to pick up a fruity scent and flavor to the tea. The instructions on the baggie said to steep for only 30 seconds, but since I wasn’t sure the amount of tea I had would cover how much water I had to put in my Breville, I quadrupled the steep time, and the tea was none the worse for the wear. I think if I would have steeped it for only 30 seconds, I would have ended up with barely troubled water. It was a rainy afternoon here, and the tea hit that warm, lazy spot that demands tea on an afternoon such as this. Anyway, I have a cupboard full of tea that I really need to drink. Despite my not drinking a lot of tea, I had an occasional tea buy that kept my cupboard overflowling. My aim is to drink only from my stash until it is a manageable amount (by which I mean it fits in one cupboard). This is tougher than it seems, since I’ve switched back to coffee in the mornings, which means I need to resurrect my after-work tea to make any progress.
Oh my goodness. I’m definitely ordering this one before it goes away. I’m ordering LOTS. The smell, my god, the smell was divine. Banana bread, spot on. Both the dry tisane and the brew were luscious. This was yesterday’s after work tea, my relax and decompress tea. I needed it, mainly because I wore new shoes which on the walk from my car to my work building rubbed blisters on my toes. And then I had to wear them whenever I got up to go anywhere from my desk. And then I had to walk back to the car at the end of the day. I needed all the TLC I could get when six p.m. rolled around. This tea delivered.
I’m finding that between the Toasted Marshmallow tea and this tea, I might be relaxing my stance against sweeteners in tea. This one had raisins in it, which gave the tea a bit of sweetness, but wasn’t bad, as it (and I really hate to admit this) did bring out the flavor a bit. It was harmonious, like banana nut bread. It made the flavor truer. I’m finding, on consideration of the issue, that my stance on sweeteners may need some revising. Maybe I won’t automatically write off a tea because it has a touch of sugar, or stevia, or raisins, or marshmallows (when I think about what these flavoring elements actually mean to the sweetness and taste of the tea). What an earth shattering realization. Few things have been more constant in my life than my revulsion for sweetened tea.
Prepared 3 t in 750 ml water, at boiling, for 7 minutes.
You know how sometimes you just KNOW you are going to like a tea. It’s toasted marshmallow? How can it be anything but delicious. I love toasted marshmallows. I may or may not have been seen toasting marshmallows over my stove coils, I love them that much. I was so prepared to love this tea.
And then I tasted it. It was not bad. But I forgot that when something has marshmallow in the name, and has mini marshmallows in the dry mix, it is going to be the dreaded “s” word—sweet. I just am not down with sweet in my tea. I despise sweet tea with a passion. Chai, I will grudgingly admit, is robust enough to stand up to a little sweetness. But otherwise, sweeteners can stay away from my tea, thankyouverymuch.
I have to admit, it wasn’t bad, so much as just not tea-like for me. I’m not going to get rid of it, I didn’t dislike it as much as I expected to when I realized it was sweetened (there was a vague moment of confusion when I looked at my Breville and noticed the tea was opaque, which led to that “uh oh” moment). I think if I were more used to sweetener in my tea, I would have really liked it, instead of finding it “not bad”.
Prepared with 750 ml of water with 3 t of dry mix in my Breville.
This sample came way back when from Bigelow (Aisling of Tea) way back when. I think it had gone past its prime—I didn’t taste much in the way of pumpkin, more deliciously sweet and milky chai goodness.
I followed the preparation directions from a post on the forums. I think next time I make this I’ll use less water (maybe 1/4 cup). I have some on the way in the DT order I recently made, so I will have lots of opportunities to perfect this. Also, I really want this to be super pumpkin-y, so that way I can actually taste the pumpkin. It isn’t too much to ask, right?
This is my third tea of the day from the 12 Teas of Christmas (I keep wanting to type “Days”. Every single post I’ve typed “Days”). Pancake Breakfast was the tea that began my slightly deluded, brief love of 52 Teas. The smell, my god, the smell of the dry leaf was incredible. It still gets me, with that delicious, maple syrup and buttery smell. I want desperately to like it. Also, I want desperately to taste better. I can only imagine what the flavors must taste like.
But I can’t, which is sad. Also, which is sad, is the fact that I’m still not a fan of the black tea base. I think a bit of time has mellowed the tea, or else I’ve matured and am not as bitterly disappointed as I was when I first realized I didn’t like the flavor of the black tea base, and therefore not quite as hard on it. It wasn’t as harsh as I remember them being. That may also have to do with remembering not to brew the black tea base at boiling (which, lets face it, is probably the most accurate reason I don’t find it quite as disappointing as before). I can see how adding milk might change the taste of the tea for the better, but I’m just not a milk-adder. Chai is one thing, but it just seems wrong to add milk to my cup of tea. Your cup of tea, on the other hand? Add away. I don’t really care what other people do.
I feel almost like writing reviews is rather pointless, as they mostly fit a standard “It smells lovely, tastes okay, no nuances” format. But I enjoy the writing, and it is something I don’t get to do very often in real life. So I write away.
Brewed with 500 ml of water in my Breville for three minutes.
Rainbow Sherbet is my second tea of the day, also from the 12 Teas of Christmas. The dry leaf was mildly aromatic, definitely a fruity black, but kind of generically fruity black. I didn’t get the smack-you-in-the-face aromatic hit that other Steepsterites have from this tea. I never would have guessed without the insert that this was supposed to be Rainbow Sherbet (my nose, it seems, is almost as bad as my palate).
After brewing, it was a whole different story. The smell was so strong, and so spot on to what I remembered sherbet to smell like, it was almost like there was a container of sherbet in front of me. You know when it is just a little bit melty, and the scent intensifies? Like that. In case anyone wonders why I keep drinking flavored teas, even though I don’t really taste the nuances (or even necessarily the top notes), this would be why. I can still smell it, and so I get at least some sensory satisfaction from the tea drinking experience.
I tasted mostly black tea, with that generic fruitiness. The black tea base for 52 Teas isn’t exactly my favorite. It always seems a bit harsh and flat, especially now that I’ve gotten into some other black teas from the likes of Harney and Sons and Teavivre. The difference in taste is tangible, even to me.
Brewed with 500 ml of water at 95C in my Breville for three minutes.
This was today’s tea of the morning. I am, I’m embarrassed to say, still in possession of almost all of tea from last years 12 Teas of Christmas. I’m working my way through the box, having rediscovered it (I have a David’s Tea order on the way, and for some odd reason, it felt really important to drink these teas before the DT order arrives).
Dry, this smells like sweet, sweet lemon. I get a bit of berry, but mostly sweet lemon. I think the Bai Mu Dan naturally has a bit of a sweet smell (I haven’t had a lot of Bai Mu Dan teas, so I could be wrong). The smell definitely made me think of summer, and I bet this would have been wonderful iced.
Brewed, the liquor was a lovely golden yellow and smelled more like strawberry lemonade. The tea was smooth, I could pick up hints of lemon along with the Bai Mu Dan. I do find it rather sad, the Bai Mu Dan from Teavivre was delicious, and it just seems wrong to doctor that with flavoring. So I suppose it is a good thing I’m not much of a taster.
Prepared with 500 ml of water at the white tea temp setting on my Breville, for three minutes.
Today is probably not the best day to write about tea, but given that I find comfort in both writing and tea, here goes. I got this Milk Oolong on a recent order from Teavivre. I’d like to just reiterate how much I love Teavivre. Fast, relatively low shipping threshold, and I’m not sure if they sell a bad tea (everything I’ve tried has been delicious). My only other experience with a milk oolong was from David’s Tea. I loved every single thing about that tea. The milk flavor was strong enough that even I could taste the creamy, delicious goodness. So I had a high bar set that I was hoping Teavivre could surpass.
My first pot of tea I made according to Teavivre’s directions—2 t per 8 oz of water steeped at boiling for two minutes. What I got was overwhelmingly oolong and short on milk. Green oolongs aren’t my favorite in the first place, so that was a bit of a disappointment. I valiantly brewed a couple more resteeped pots. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what I was hoping for—a milk miracle, I suppose. It was a miracle that never occurred.
I decided to give it another try this morning, in the hopes that different brew parameters would help. Also, I ordered a lot of this tea. So I have quite a bit to work my way through. I brewed 1 t per 8 oz at 90 C, and low and behold. Milk! I was so happy! The smaller amount of leaves and lower temperature seems to have allowed the milk flavor to come through. I’m definitely a happier camper (tea-wise) this morning.
And if you don’t want to read about my crappy news, please stop reading now. I totally get it, since it isn’t exactly about tea. But it is weighing heavily on my mind. I found out from my vet yesterday that my dog has a very aggressive pancreatic cancer. Animals with this condition seem to only live a couple of weeks after diagnosis. She is my baby, gotten from a rescue. She was terrified of everything when we got her, and she’s come so far. She’s only seven—young for cancer. She is my tail. She follows me everywhere, and prefers me to all other company. The thought of losing my Bella is tearing me up.
Oh dear. I wanted to like this tea. Fruity and a bit tart, but not too overwhelmingly fruity or tart. It sounded lovely. I prepared it with 1 t per 8 oz, after checking the Teavana website. I was skeptical, since my last brush with oolong tea (Teavivre, thankyouverymuch) called for two to three times as much. But press on I did, and what did I get as a result?
Troubled water. Yes, what resulted at that preparation and a two minute steep could only nicely be called troubled water. Not worth drinking. A vague bit of oolong flavor (unfortunately, greener oolongs are not my favorite), but not enough to be called a tea. I gave it one more shot, hoping for at least a stronger oolong flavor with a second steep at four minutes. The tea was stronger, but no fruit to be found (not surprising on a second steep).
I got this tea on sale at Teavana’s end of the year sale, and I’m glad I didn’t pay full price for it. I’ll give it another shot iced, maybe that will improve it.