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Recent Tasting Notes
I haven’t actually ever had a pumpkin spice latte from the coffee shop, mostly because I can’t drink coffee because a few hours after drinking coffee, I have a terrible tummy ache. I’m not sure exactly why it affects me that way but it does and it’s actually one of the things that turned me from coffee to tea. I always enjoyed tea but I really got into it after I couldn’t drink coffee because I still needed a caffeine buzz and after I got to understand how to properly brew the different types of tea and such – I found that my enjoyment expounded.
This is the tea of the week this week – and it’s so good. As I eluded to above, I’ve not ever had a coffee shop Pumpkin Spice Latte – but I have had other pumpkin spice flavored things (because they’re everywhere!) and I decided that I should create my own interpretation of the phenomenon that is Pumpkin Spice Latte.
I love the genmaicha base – it’s sweet and nutty and it melds wonderfully well with the pumpkin notes. There is a warm set of spices to this but it’s not aggressively spiced. The marshmallow root and vanilla bean add a nice creaminess to create the “latte” flavor so you don’t need to add dairy to go latte with this!
Just really YUMMY!
Flavors: Creamy, Pumpkin, Spices, Toasty
Last 52Teas blend to try out from the last order…
So, first time trying this one is cold brewed which I knew was maybe not the BEST approach given the Houjicha base; but I really like cold brewed/iced melon teas so I took the gamble.
To be perfectly honest; I didn’t like it. Cold brewing this one really brought out the base; and teas that a super intensely roasty like this one just don’t go over the best cold. A flavour profile like that is really just meant to be warm and comforting; like a giant hug or spooning on the couch while you watch your favourite guilty pleasure TV show. However, that wasn’t the thing that really made me go “Yeah, this doesn’t work for me” ’cause that issue of the roasty notes not translating well to the prep type could easily be fixed just by making this hot next time.
What really through me off was that the watermelon notes in the blend were quite strong too; but they didn’t suit the base at all. It kind of tasted like someone had just burned a watermelon really badly. All of the juicyness of the fruit just felt… spoiled. I have to wholeheartedly agree with Anne’s own statement that “the … Houjicha may not seem like a natural pairing with the … watermelon”. It doesn’t work for me; and that’s sad ’cause I LOVE Houjicha, and 52Teas flavoured ones in particular.
Can’t love ’em all though.
Today’s work SBT, prepared the usual way. I’ve pretty much always enjoyed 52Teas cola blends, and this one’s no exception. I can taste cola (off-brand, reminiscent of cola bottles), and I can taste cherry (sweet, fruity, not at all medicinal). It’s not effervescent (obviously), but there is something about it that’s coming across as “carbonation”, and it’s not just my imagination. Trust me. I don’t actually have that much of an imagination. The standard black tea base is there in the background, but it’s not too intrusive, and it doesn’t overpower the flavourings. It’s smooth, lightly malty, not at all bitter or astringent. I’ll go with LiberTeas and say it’s like someone poured flat cherry cola into a mug that already contained tea dregs, because that’s pretty much what it’s like. Doesn’t sound too appealing, but actually, it’s really pleasant on a sticky late-summer day.
I’m sad that there’s no more SBT in the world.
But there’s plenty still in my cupboard, so I’m still smiling for now.
Although this week is coming to a close (and already has for some of you!) I wanted to post something abou this week’s tea of the week. I cold-brewed some last night and that is the way to brew this tea! It’s good hot brewed, certainly, and that’s the way I prepared it for my taste testing but cold-brewed, the cheesecake notes pop and there’s a lovely note of cinnamon and just a hint of zesty ginger to enhance the sweet peach-y notes.
I might have to share some of this with hubby!
Flavors: Cheesecake, Cinnamon, Ginger, Peach
So, I broke some rules at work yesterday. But, it didn’t really hurt anyone so it doesn’t count, right?
Basically – I go in to work every Saturday to work in my department because I get Tuesday’s off for classes. Normally, my department works 7:30-4:00 weekdays and then gets weekends off. I’m literally the ONLY exception to this rule, so when I come in on Saturdays I’m literally the only person in the back warehouse/production area when there’s usually 35+ of us. It’s very lonely/boring having no one to talk to for eight hours, and in the case of yesterday it was actually ten hours since I was putting in some overtime. So the rules I broke were that one I brought something other than water into the back to drink on shift (tea, obviously). And two, I was listening to music on my iPod when we’re not allowed to have them with us on shift. But a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, no?
Starting with the tea – I’m actually floored at how much this really did taste like peanut butter and jelly, especially since it doesn’t have peanuts in it. I can’t remember who’s review I saw – but someone said this was better cold brewed so that’s what I made it as and I have to say that any hesitation I had about the flavours not delivering was quashed. The first flavour to really hit me with each sip was the raspberry. And, I think it’s important to note that there really is a strong flavour difference between raspberry jam/jelly and fresh from the garden raspberries. It’s something about how the sweetness hits you, and the acidity/tang. This was 100% raspberry jam and not just a more generic raspberry flavour.
It transitioned really nicely with the peanut butter notes which made up more of the mid sip and the super, super nutty finish and aftertaste. This was the element I was most skeptical about because peanuts are a hard flavour to emulate; but I totally got it. I really, 100% felt like I could have been nomming on a PB&J while I was working – even though that would be FAR from advisable givent he amount of dirty/unwashed donations I handle in a day on shift. Yuck.
Now, here comes the criticism…
Does this tea nail the flavour? In my opinion, absolutely. Is it a flavour that translates well to a beverage? I’m not nearly so convinced about that. I mean, it wasn’t bad in any way but it was really, really weird and I don’t know that it’s something I’d want to drink on a really common/casual basis. I’m probably just so used to eating PB&J in that one specific format: on bread. I’ll have to see if I can break out of that preconceived notion a bit the more I drink this.
This is a ‘new to me’ band that I’m liking a lot so far – and I had my iPod filled with their music to just sort of get used to it/learn it and figure out what I do and don’t like. Stumbled upon this song which I barely knew/had only heard once while drinking this tea and was like “Damn, fucking nailed it!”. I’m sure if you take a listen it’s very obvious why these two go together. Like, in your face obvious – but obvious pairings can be good pairings.
I will say, I saw the music video for it for the first time while looking for a link to post in this tasting note though – and while the video is fitting for the song in it’s own way, it IS a weird ass fucking video though…
My first cup of this was plain, straight up and unsweetened. I know, I know, this is not the way this tea was designed to be drunk. Still, it was nice and spicy with ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon notes although both chocolate and marshmallow tastes were missing. I did indeed see the chocolate chips in the dry leaf, but the taste didn’t translate steeped.
Now I have begun to tamper with the tea a bit. My daily coconut oil quota is not always that easy to include in food. I tend to favour Mediterranean flavours and coconut taste doesn’t tend to work well in combination.
Enter chai tea. Coconut works beautifully here. Somehow the oil slick of the dollop gets gobbled up or, at least, is not even slightly apparent in the sipping, especially compared with other teas that I’ve added the oil to. Here, the coconut sweetness of the oil makes the spice flavours pop and the lovely brisk black tea base nicely holds it all up. The chocolate and marshmallow are still not coming through for me.
Recently, I’ve discovered a gluten-free bakery in town, so I am enjoying this tea with a breakfast cookie filled to the brim with nuts and seeds. A lovely combination.
Nice blend, truly. I imagine it would be beautiful with milk and honey.
52teas does a stellar job with chai teas. This one is no exception.
Flavors: Cardamon, Cinnamon, Ginger
This one, unfortunately, was a bust for me. I guess I just don’t like blackcurrant teas – the smell of blackcurrant just reminds me too much of cough syrup and lozenges for me to enjoy it on its own merits. I took the entire half-ounce package, brewed it with hot water, diluted the brew with cold water…. and then just couldn’t drink it. I let it sit in my fridge for too long that it eventually went bad, so I just poured the remainder down the drain. Sorry, 52Teas!
The strongest smell I noticed upon opening the package was mint. Which is obvious, but this was a baseball bat of mint to the nose, with a soft hint of lime playing underneath. Alongside the mint and lime was a candied sort of sweetness that reminded me of marshmallow, making the overall aroma similar to that of Graveyard Mist, another 52Teas blend.
The dried leaf was a varied mix of green bits of all shapes and sizes. Along with the small flakes of mint were different varieties of green tea – some leaves looked short and stubby, while others looked long and flat. The mix was studded with small, puckered blueberries, as well as the occasional wedge of dried lime.
I took the entire half-ounce package and brewed it with 1 L of 80C water for 3-4 minutes. Before I poured the water in I made sure to add a splort of agave nectar to the pitcher to sweeten things up. After that, I took out the leaves and topped the extra-strong brew with cold water, then let it cool down in the fridge overnight. The resulting brew was somewhat cloudy and had an amber-green-orange colour to it that reminded me of Hoegaarden or other types of witbier.
Like the aroma, the strongest taste is of mint, with a hint of lime at the back of the mouth. However, that sweet, marshmallow-like note morphs into something a bit deeper and more distinctive. I had a hard time putting my finger on it, but then I figured it out: it reminded me of sarsaparilla, one of the key flavours in root beer.
I wonder if it was added to give the brew the depth of rum. Whatever it is, it certainly adds an interesting flavour. However, I didn’t get a whole lot of blueberry here.
This has an awesome blueberry flavor. So sweet and light and definitely reminiscent of the blueberry flavor you get in pastries. I’m also not usually a fan of greens but 52 teas has a way of either completely covering the vegetal notes of the base or somehow incorporating them into the flavor. Here I get the tiniest bit of base that lends just a touch of earthiness to help sell a more natural blueberry flavor. I don’t know if scone immediately comes to mind though, however to me that is a hard thing to emulate as I don’t know how distinctive scones themselves taste since usually I have had them glazed or with jams or some other element that overpowers their flavor. With that said, this is more than just a blueberry tea as pastry notes are definitely present so when the title scone is given to this, I can accept this as a scone tea.
I was a huge fan of the original Strawberry Zabaglione so you really didn’t have to twist my arm that hard to convince me to try this tea. I found the raspberry flavour to be nice and strong and natural-tasting – and not hibiscus pretending to be raspberry. However this doesn’t really have the creamy, custardy flavour that I loved about the original strawberry zabaglione blend.
Today’s work SBT, prepared the usual way. I was wondering how well mango would pair with what usually comes across as quite a malty black base, but the answer is pretty well. The mango is strong; fruity, juicy, and peppery in the best way, so the black tea is only really present in the background. I feel like sometimes there’s a bit of a battle between the base and the flavouring with SBTs, but it’s not the case here.
This one is supposed to be mango sherbet, and it’s only at this point that it really falls down. There’s a wonderful creaminess (again, strong), but it’s really not reminiscent of sherbet, at least to me. Mango and cream, though, yes, and that’s more than good enough for me.
I enjoyed this one. Strong, accurate flavours, deliciously fruity and creamy, smooth, unobtrusive base. It makes me sad to think that I haven’t got anymore of this one, and that once it’s gone this time, it really is gone forever. Sad times.
Backlog. 180F, 3min, 10oz
Ginger plum, plum/apricot in aftertaste. Spicy but not overpowering and all up front. This probably changes depending on how many pieces of pluot/ginger end up in the steeper. I had 2 pieces of ginger and one of pluot.
I like this one and got 3 solid steeps. 84
Flavors: Ginger, Plums, Spicy
Backlog. Pretty sure I got this tea from the sampler I won. As this is everything I never wanted in a tea. I was willing to give it a shot, hoping it was at least palatable.
Dry smell reminds me of banana laffy taffys and a sugar bomb. 180F, 2min, westren style.
Tastes of banana, toasted rice, odd taste. Marshmellow comes through in texture and aftertaste.
This tea does not work for me at all. Banana does not belong in tea or beer. I’m not going to rate it. It tastes as it’s named, I just don’t like it.
Flavors: banana, Marshmallow, Toasted Rice
I’ve been making an effort to try all the teas that we’ve been blending lately as cold-brewed as well as hot brewed. I recently acquired a cold-brew system that makes it easy to cold brew and since it’s a fairly popular method of brewing these days, I thought it would be a good idea to try out my teas cold-brewed too.
And so last night I prepared this tea to cold-brew and am finally taking a moment to sit down and enjoy it. This is really good cold-brewed. Not gonna lie, I think it’s better hot, maybe it’s just me but I just happen to prefer my chocolate teas hot (especially when there’s Assam tea involved, I love that maltiness!)
The cold-brew has a lighter texture and color than the hot brewed tea and the flavor – I wouldn’t describe it as lighter as there is plenty of flavor here – but it’s not as rich as what I’ve experienced with this tea as a hot cuppa.
That said, I find that the vanilla seems to pop more with the cold-brew. With the hot tea, there is a underlying note of wonderful creaminess but with the cold-brew I can taste distinct notes of vanilla. The chocolate is not as rich and ‘dark’ tasting but there’s a really nice, smooth element to it with the cold-brew.
I do like this better hot but it’s quite tasty cold-brewed too.
A post about what a daquiri is, how this tea tastes, a good music soundtrack, and EVERY SINGLE THING I HAVE TO SAY ABOUT 1995’s BATMAN FOREVER is here:
Do I like oolongs? I wasn’t sure when I ordered this. I just threw it in my cart for the name. And the idea of a tea that sparkled.
So let’s get this out of the way first: it doesn’t sparkle much, which 52teas had actually mentioned in one of her reviews. Apparently the glitter is a pain in the you-know and doesn’t have a lot of payoff. So I wasn’t expecting much sparkle. The sparkle is (or should be) secondary anyway.
Other than the sparkle, the appearance is really striking. It’s got SUPER LONG leaves. There’s a certain DRAMA to the look of this tea. The leaf length makes it kind of hard to figure out how to portion it, since it doesn’t fit neatly into my Perfect Tea Spoon thing. I just eyeballed it. (Do other people have a solution to this?)
Anyway, this tastes great. I don’t know if I like oolongs or not (gotta keep trying around), but I definitely like THIS. It’s got a rich, throaty sweetness. I would have described it as “plum-like.”
When I looked at the ingredients, there are “pluots” in there. What’s a pluot? It’s a plum-apricot hybrid. I didn’t even know that was possible! This tea isn’t just a tea — it’s an EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE.
So fruit, a little bit of sweetness, some slightly vegetal tea, and a deep booming bass note.
I am super-bummed I only got a sampler of this tea. I should have purchased a vat of it.
Flavors: Apricot, Plums, Sweet, Vegetal
Here is another blend that reminds me of a Butiki tea: Smoked Banana Maple. I loved that one. Replace the maple for butterscotch and banana for peach. I could swear the black tea base is very very similar. Sadly, the smokiness takes over. Even though I like smokey teas, it shouldn’t take over the blend when it’s such a unique and tasty sounding idea. Despite the big peach in the infuser, I wasn’t getting any peach flavor or any butterscotch flavor either. At least I like the base!
Steep #1 // 1 heaping teaspoon for a full mug // few minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // 3 minutes after boiling // 5 minute steep
I just read the list of ingredients and was surprised to read all of these were in the base: Yunnan, Nilgiri, Assam, Ceylon, Lapsang Souchong. I feel like I would have been able to notice some of those in there, but I really could only taste the Lapsang.
This is SERIOUSLY YUMMY if I do say so myself. One of my customers has written a review of it on the 52Teas website saying it’s the “Best Chocolate Tea Ever” unfortunately she wrote it under the Large size Chocolate Eclair tea which is now sold out so you can’t see it on the website anymore but we did share it on our Facebook page so you can read it there: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=585958871592077&id=387005081487458 (PS: while you’re there, please like us!)
So I’m sipping on a cup of this tonight mostly because I felt the need for some caffeine. Why I felt the need for some caffeine at 12:51 am – I don’t know and why I decided to fulfill that need at this hour when I should instead be preparing to relax and get some sleep – yeah that’s a mystery too.
This is good. I started with a base of Fujian black tea which has a natural chocolate-y tone to it already and then added some malty Assam for fullness. Then I added cacao shells and nibs and vanilla beans.
My inspiration was obviously the Eclair. This isn’t quite as creamy as an Eclair would be (but if you go latte, it can be!) But it’s really nice and chocolate-y. I wanted a dark chocolate type of taste to it because my local bakery uses a really dark chocolate ganache to top their eclairs and I like the way the bitterness from the chocolate cuts through the sweet, creamy custard filling.
If you like chocolate, I think you’ll really like this.
Sparkle pony! This one reminds me of that Butiki plum oolong blend. I haven’t tried a pluot before, but in this tea they seem to taste more like plum but look like apricot. The base of dark phoenix oolong itself seems like it tastes like plum on its own. The brew color is very pale! The ginger leaves a nice balance to tone down the pure fruit and isn’t overdone. I didn’t see any sparkle though. Hmm. I used two teaspoons because of some big fruit pieces and it seemed to brew perfectly. It’s even tastier when it gets colder. I love this blend! It’s basically another perfect blend but needed more sparkle.
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for a full mug // 20 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 5 minutes after boiling // 2 1/2 minute steep
Steep #3 // just boiled // 3-4 minute steep
From last night!
This is one I’ll definitely need to revisit before rating because I drank it in a hurry last night since I was (poorly) multi tasking. I definitely didn’t give it the same care and attention that I like to give teas the first time I try them…
I will say, the dry leaf aroma gave me a mixed impression. The pineapple smelled really sweet, juicy and fresh but the coconut gave off quite a lotion-y aroma so that was sort of a mixed boat for me. I forgot I was steeping this, due to the aforementioned poor multitasking, so it got a steep time of well over ten minutes and because I was brewing in a smaller teacup that I’ve been using recently for first tastings it was already cold by the time I pulled out the strainer. Boo!
I very quickly drank it, and I will say that I do remember it being rather pleasant overall albeit quite strong and sweet. Much more of the “Pinita Colada” from my brief tasting than anything resembling carrots or carrot cake. Don’t recall it tasting specifically lotion like either, which is good. But like I said – proper care and attention wasn’t given. So definitely revisiting this one sooner rather than later. But as far as first impressions go, I think there’s something here.