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Recent Tasting Notes
Final tea from the 12 Teas of Christmas 2014 box.
I was hoping to end the box on a high note, but sadly that was not the case. I’m not loving Frank’s green tea base (and green isn’t my favourite in any case) and ginger is one of my most hated flavours. So really, this tea was never going to be for me.
My first cup was surprisingly alright. Toasty rice flavour pairs quite nicely with the ginger to turn it more into a ‘gingerbread’ kind of flavour, it turns out, but the base went bitter quickly. I had another cup today to refresh my memory prior to writing up the note, and oddly I got a super strong cola smell from it. It was more ‘cola bottle sweet’ than actual cola drink, but it was unmistakably cola nonetheless. The cola translates into the flavour, too. This time around, all I could taste was cheap cola bottle, and didn’t get any gingerbread at all. There was a hint of popped rice in the background, and the base was just as bitter as before even though I was extremely gentle with it.
I’m starting to wonder if there’s something off with Frank’s ginger flavouring or ginger pieces as I’ve noticed this misplaced cola note with several of his teas now, and ginger seems to be the connecting thread – this, ginger pumpkin cheesecake, and witches’ brew chai. Odd. Has anyone else experienced this?
I was really excited about this blend. A cookie dough flavored iced tea? YUM! I was just a wee bit unsure of how well those flavors would translate to iced tea though, but I had faith in Frank’s ability to make it work.
Really tasty! Really, really tasty! It takes a few sips for the flavors to adjust my palate to the idea of tasting cookie dough in an iced tea. But once those flavors developed, I couldn’t stop sipping. This pitcher of iced tea disappeared in record time.
Sweet, notes of buttery cookie dough. Hints of brown sugar and chocolate. And I really like the black tea base Frank has been using with his iced teas.
This is quite sweet on its own so if you’re one who sweetens the pitcher … you might want to taste this one first. It’s good unsweetened!
Please check out Frank’s Indiegogo campaign: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/southern-boy-teas-organic-flavored-iced-teas/x/4481332
Definitely spicier than the average chai! I really liked this. A strong ginger note that is accented with black pepper and red pepper flake that provide a really nice kick to this. A nice cinnamon note, I love the anise in there. The cardamom and clove round out the spice flavor.
The black tea base is strong enough to be tasted – I don’t get a lot of the nuances of the black tea but I don’t think that’s what a chai is all about anyway. Chai is usually about the spice and this blend really showcases the spices nicely.
Don’t forget about my ‘bid’ to take over 52Teas! Here’s my kickstarter campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/497705217/the-great-52teas-take-over
Thank you for the sale a while back, CHAroma! There is plenty grape here, if you’re thinking the artificial candy grape. Do grapes even really taste like this? I steeped a teaspoon of this hot, rather than iced, so I’m not really judging it fairly. But there is actually a lot of the grape flavor. Almost too much! It might be tolerable to me if it didn’t remind me of those older jelly dark purple fishing lures. I say “jelly” and “purple” and those fishing lures probably remind me of grape flavoring. I don’t really like the idea of drinking fishing lures though! It really infused my infuser too… the next couple of steeps were grapey. Not having this one again…
Steep #1 // few minutes after boiling // less than a minute steep
You know, being a creature of the internet (now you know the real reason I panicked when my computer died, I am literally made of internet) means that I tend to follow the various silly trends. #TBT (or Throw Back Thursday for those not hashtag savvy) is pretty much what it says on the tin, usually you post a selfie/photo of yourself taken a long time ago, and I thought, I should apply that to my blog. Basically it is my plan to make Thursday the day that I visit one of the neglected teas languishing in my stack of tea notebooks. I had originally planned on this being a Friday thing, but it didn’t feel right, so clearly I just needed the right meme. Also, I leveled up, tonight is game night and I can turn into animals (as long as they don’t fly, swim, or are too powerful) now, go Wild Shape!
So, before I get into today’s #TBT I want to point out an awesome Kickstarter that is currently in the works, Frank, the original creator of 52Teas is handing over the reigns to mother-daughter team Anne and Amethyst, you might know Anne as the cofounder of SororiTea Sisters, a very prolific tea blog, so you know that she knows her teas! I have been very hit or miss with 52teas flavors (very much so the nature of the beast when you come up with some of those wacky blends, once a week) but I am super excited to see how things go. Good luck you two, and to Frank with Southern Boys Iced Tea! So on to today’s tea, it was part of the sampler I ordered during the Indiegogo campaign and I won’t lie, it was the one I was most excited for because it has my much loved marshmallow root! Yes, I am talking about none other than Marshmallow Treat Genmaicha, as a person who has made and then subsequently eaten entire batches of rice crispy treats, you can see why I was excited. The aroma is sweet and slightly nutty with toasted rice, and a distinct note of grass. It reminds me a bit of laying in the grass while sniffing a rice crispy treat, the green notes are odd but not at all off putting, just like eating dessert in nature.
Steeping the tea is quite a treat, the aroma is rather delightful and intense. Notes of richly roasted rice and sweet marshmallow drift up from the soggy leaves (Genmai Cha always looks so sad once it is soggy) there is also a hint of grass and a bit of a savory note from both the rice and the green tea. The liquid without its soggy friends is all rice crispy treat all the time, no green tea to be found, just warm gooey marshmallows and toasted rice.
It is an odd mingling of flavors, this tea. Starting out with slightly kelp and slightly nutty umami tones along with a hint of grass, then the roasted rice builds and then boom, marshmallow explosion! It is really quite sweet and very evocative of rice crispy treats, but with a green tea twist. Something about the umami tones and the sweetness from the marshmallow mixes really well, the umami keeps the marshmallow from being too sweet and the marshmallow keeps the tea from being too savory, it is a balancing act. The finish is one of marshmallow, it lingers for quite a while making for a happy me. So yeah, of all the 52teas blends I have tried, this one might be my favorite, its other competition being the other marshmallow root teas, can you tell I have a fixation on that root?
For blog and (kinda awful) photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/01/52teas-marshmallow-treat-genmaicha-tea.html
I had high hopes for this sample from Kittenna but I am just getting so much honeybush flavor that I can barely pick up on the strawberry notes that I so desperately have been trying to taste :(. I have a bit more left so hopefully I can figure out how to coax out the flavors. Nonetheless, thank you Kittenna for sharing.
This is one of the older 52Teas blends in my cupboard. It’s not alone, so I’m going to start working on drinking up some of these next. It’s immediately obvious upon opening the pouch, so I’m going to have to say it. The dry leaf smells amazing. Very strongly lime-y, and really quite alcoholic. So far, it’s a pretty good representation of a cocktail in tea form. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees.
The resulting liquor is a medium yellow-green, and smells like a milder version of the dry leaf. Very citrussy; predominantly lime, but I’m also picking up a hint of orange now. Less alcoholic, too, but that’s a hard thing to replicate in a tea.
This is such a summery cup to taste. It reminds me a little of Della Terra’s Sunshine, which I loved. Sipping this is almost like drinking a cup of freshly squeezed orange juice that’s had a twist of lime squeezed in. Only hot, obviously. The green tea base is fairly unobtrusive, although I can taste little flashes. It’s smooth, fairly sweet, and a little vegetal in the way of sugar snap peas. It fits the flavouring well, so no complaints here. Part of me is actually a little disappointed that I can’t taste more of the base – I would think the trio of greens here would make a good blend alone, although that’s clearly not the point of a flavoured tea. The flavoured tea lover in me is delighted that this one is so flavour accurate, anyway. It’s definitely a win-win.
I’m enjoying this one a lot more than I thought I would. It’s really good hot, especially on a cold, sleety day like today when summer seems so far away. This tea clearly exists in a little bubble of sunshine. I’ll probably enjoy a few cups like this, and then keep the rest for cold-brewing when it’s actually summer. I reckon it’s going to taste sensational like that, too!
This tea had a wonderful aroma of blackberries, which reminded me of summertime. I enjoyed its mild and fruity flavor. I oversteeped it in my French press cup so it ended up being somewhat bitter towards the end, but this was through no fault of the blender. I definitely plan to relish the rest of my stash.
Flavors: Blackberry, Cream, Fruity
First, I’m very sad to hear that Frank won’t be making the hot teas anymore, but I’m happy to see LiberTEAS and her daughter taking over! Hopefully good things will happen!
Thank you for this one, QueenofTarts! I had to buy it to travel along with the Bluebird split order. The pouch was brand new and unopened but I have no idea if this is a reblend or older. I wish I had one of these donuts right now – custard filled! Maple frosting! I tried this one a while back at boiling and the flavor was non-existent other than the honeybush. The dry leaves really don’t have much of a scent other than a sweetness anyway. Then I thought to try it again, at a very low temperature. I waited around 20 minutes after boiling, but there still wasn’t a flavor that would scream maple custard donuts. Again, just a little bit of sweetness. Both steep sessions I only steeped for around 45 seconds because that usually gives me the best flavor with 52Teas blends. I don’t think a longer steep time would help, but I’ll try that eventually. Too bad this one wasn’t better, as it’s a really nice idea for a blend! Low rating for not delivering on the flavor promise!
First steep session: 1 tsp. // just boiled // 45 seconds
Second steep session: 1 tsp // 20 minutes after boiling // 45 seconds
Thank you Kittenna for sharing this with me. It was one I was interested in picking up and so it is nice to see if I made a mistake by passing on it. I was a little hesitant because not all the reviews were so positive so when I took a sip and could vaguely pick up notes of buttercream, I was pleasantly surprised. I found no toffee in this and I definitely would have been happier with a bit more flavoring but at the end of the day, it was pretty good so I was certainly pleased with my sample.
OK, I want to start this tasting note by saying that if you haven’t already, please check out this note about my ‘take over’ of 52Teas (don’t worry, it’s a friendly take over!) – http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/01/23/the-great-52teas-take-over/ – and I hope that you’ll consider helping me with my kickstarter campaign!
Anyway … I enjoyed this tea. 52Teas offered a lot of apple-y teas this past autumn/winter season and while I think that my favorite was the Apple Oatmeal one with the Darjeeling Oolong because that was seriously yum, this was still pretty tasty.
It’s pleasantly sweet without additives, it has a nice apple note and a zesty note of cinnamon that doesn’t overwhelm the cup. I like the light nutty tones of the honeybush and the hint of honeyed taste from the honeybush in this – it’s a really nice complement to the flavors.
When I drank it warm, it reminded me of apple cider. I didn’t like this as much as it cooled though. It’s much better hot.
Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/12/26/cinnamon-apple-honeybush-from-52teas/
I’ve tried dozens of 52Teas blend, but this is actually my first tea from the Southern Boy line. I’ve never purchased a SBT blend for a couple reasons; I’d never want two quarts of the same tea around especially if I’m the only one drinking it, overall I like hot tea better, and I just prefer cold brewing over making iced tea.
But, I recieved this one from, presumably, VariaTEA and since she was nice enough to send it I’ll certainly give it a fair chance. I waited to make it until my trip though; between me, my two siblings, and my Mom that’s definitely enough people to drink it – and my brother HATES hot tea but likes iced or cold brewed tea. Frank; he’s totally your target audience; doesn’t drink hot tea, has lots of disposable income since he’s 16 and working, and the conveniance of using a teabag totally appeals to him. We actually made this one together; it was fun getting him involved in the process.
I don’t know how I feel about this one; the jug of tea itself looks pretty unappetizing; it’s like a really, really murky/cloudy dark, dark brown or black colour and it’s leaving a black rim of scummy stuff around the top of the pitcher. Very unattractive looking.
But it doesn’t taste too bad; it’s got a thick mouthfeel and a very candy-like pear flavour to it. A little artificial, but not so bad. I taste a lot of the black tea; but I’m not so into it; I don’t like the black tea 52Teas uses very much; it has a really distinct taste to me that I’ve talked about in the past. It’s really quite starchy tasting today; and with so much of it? Nah; there’s no way I could go through a whole pitcher of this. The two smalls cups I had? Yeah, that was passible, but anymore and I think I’d be headed for Nope Mountain.
I hope the pretty overwhelming complaints about the SBT/52Teas black tea base is something that LiberTEAS will take seriously. It’s stopped me from enjoying several 52Teas blends that I’m sure I’d like otherwise.
But getting back to this one; I just overall feel a little torn. I like pear, a lot, and other than a subtle artificialness the pear in this is spot on. Candy like, but good. The rest? Well, let’s just see I don’t pity my Mom having to clean out the pitcher once they finish this one off. I just feel very “meh” towards this sweet starchy pear sludge.
Maybe if I were gonna try another SBT I’d pick one of the newer ones with a honeybush base. I don’t mind Frank’s honeybush that much, other than the occaisonal pepper flavour that pops up.
Day 11 in the 2014 12 Teas of Christmas sampler.
I had a second cup of this this afternoon to refresh my memory, as it’s been a couple of weeks since the last time I drank it. Inexplicably, something rather drastic has changed in those two weeks. It’s a good job I remember really enjoying this tea the first time round, or I would be rating it pretty low. I thought I had steeped it the same both times, so I’m not really sure what has caused the difference…
So the first time around, this tea was delicious. Even my little brother loved it. It was fresh strawberries, with vanilla and cakey flavours. It reminded me more of cake and ice cream than custard, but who’s going to complain about that? I was expecting more of the same when I brewed it up today. The scent of the dry leaf was how I remembered, but when I added the water I recoiled a bit. Almost straight away, there was a strong smoky odour which became more powerful than the strawberry smell. First sip confirmed that the smoke was also in the taste. Yuck. Who wants smoky strawberry? The creamy cakey flavours has disappeared, too, so I was left with a very disappointing cup. I still don’t understand why. At first I assumed the sample must have been contaminated, but that’s not possible – it’s in a sealed pouch, and was stored with the rest of the twelve teas sampler, none of which have been contaminated. I read through a few of the tasting notes from other steepsterites before writing up the note, and noticed that Kittena has noted a similar smokiness, which leads me to think it’s just a feature of the tea which I managed to avoid with my first cup. I will definitely have to experiment with steep times, amount of leaf and water temperature to try and coax out the deliciousness that I got first time around.
My weekend hasn’t quite gone as planned, so it looks like this will be my only sipdown. Hey, incremental progress is still progress.
I always break open the SB teabag and divide the leaf so I can make multiple cups over time instead of one big pitcher, trying the tea both hot and cold.
The dry leaf smells precisely like you would expect it to – chocolate and malty. Hot, the front of the sip is sweet chocolate. It quickly transitions into a nutty maltiness that reminds me of a lager. Not bad.
Cold, the nutty maltiness is even more prominent. The chocolate flavor seems to have almost evaporated. As with the marshmallow treat genmaicha, I find this one more pleasing hot than cold.
I got the silly idea to try this one carbonated. I would not recommend doing that. It ends up tasting way too malty, like chocolatey root beer, and not in a good way.
Flavors: Chocolate, Malt, Nutty
This is a festive-looking blend with candy corn mixed in. It’s probably more appropriate to drink it around Halloween, but there are no rules about when to try a tea! The aroma of both the dry blend and brewed tea has that caramel-like sweetness that does remind me of candy corn. The tea base is quite good, and comes through as clean and a little malty. Actually, thinking back on it, I tasted the tea base first, and then the other flavors as it cooled more. These include a strong mellow sweetness that is distinctly honey-like, as well as marshmallow root, which I think I’ve finally tasted enough times to be able to identify. I’m not a big fan of honey-flavored teas in general, but that’s just me. I can see that it’s quite the authentic candy corn experience! Thanks to beelicious for the sample :)