Alice's Tea Cup
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Recent Tasting Notes
October 3, 2014 – Yom Kippur
What’s in a Monk’s blend? Surely a blend by any other name would taste as sweet?
Bad paraphrasing aside, this ’Monk’s Blend’ by Alice’s Tea Cup – a wonderfully tragic consortium of myth and whimsy sheathed within the monolith that is New York City – just doesn’t do it for me. It doesn’t taste like the Monk’s Blends I’ve had before: those that were infused with the supernatural energy of the earth, wind, and well you get the rest.
Can an object truly be labeled as such if it does not wholly understand and represent the very attributes that make it said object? An example only appropriate for the holiest of days, does the crying girl lamenting about the current state of high school in Mean Girls truly understand the sentiments of the high school and thus represents a student thereof? The fact that she doesn’t even go there probably doesn’t help.
O.K. bad example – wrong holiday. Instead, let us look to the wandering Jew who is doomed to walk the earth until the second coming of Jesus. The story goes that when Jesus was resting on a Jerusalem man’s doorstep, a man drove him away, and so Jesus replied, “I go but you will walk until I come again!” The legend posits that the Jew’s rudeness towards Jesus as a traveller is the reason for his punishment of endless walking.
However, the imperative of hospitality and the opening of one’s home to those in need is so deeply rooted in Judaism that it seems questionable to really call this man from Jerusalem a true Jew. We see this most prominently in Abraham and Sarah welcoming the three visitors into their camp. Can he be honestly labeled as a Jew if he ignores the very fundamentals and tenets that comprise Judaism? Tying such false labeling back into this tea review for Monk’s Blend from Alice’s Tea Cup, we must look back to Matthew Gregory Lewis’ 1796 gothic novel The Monk.
My boy, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, once commented that The Monk was “the offspring of no common genius”. He went on to remark that he had not seen a bolder or more happy conception than that of the burning cross on the forehead of the wandering Jew. However, Coleridge had his concerns of his own! Coleridge criticizes the plight of Ambrosio, the devout monk, in that he was destroyed by spiritual beings. He says, “no earthly being can sufficiently oppose the power and cunning of supernatural beings.”
Perhaps the same holds true with this earth-bound cup of Monk’s Blend next to us now. How could we mere mortals begin to comprehend the sensation that is the true Monk’s Blend, imbued with the deepest vibrations of truths hidden in the Universe a thousand times over?
Basically, what I’m really trying to say here is that this Monk’s Blend from Alice’s Tea Cup is: Just O.K
A verifiable source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monk
Flavors: Bergamot, Butterscotch, Creamy
Another tea from Nicole! Jeez, I think half of my stash is from her… ;) The black tea leaves almost look like they’re rolled, which is interesting. It smells very honey-sweet, with some vanilla and caramel in there too. Yummy! I steeped for 3 minutes. When I saw the wet leaves, I immediately thought that I was wrong about the base tea. They look very similar to oolong leaves to me. So I double-checked the description and it says Indian black tea. Hrm…
It’s odd, I feel like I taste oolong, too! There’s that slight autumn leaf thing going on, which is something I would attribute to roasted or oxidized oolong (or houjicha). Strange! I guess I just don’t know what Indian black teas taste like! That being said, I like this tea very much! It has a very strong honey flavor (yum) along with some vanilla and caramel goodness playing around. I get a definite fruitiness, especially in the aftertaste – it reminds me of tart apricots and plums. Delicious! And overall, it’s very creamy, and the base tea itself is quite light in flavor.
Nicole, I may have to buy the rest of this from you! We shall see…
Flavors: Apricot, Autumn Leaf Pile, Caramel, Cream, Honey, Malt, Plums, Vanilla
I’ve now had this 5 times. I’ve tried varying temperature, steep time and prepared it like chai with milk and sugar. I just find it unimpressive. I don’t get any caramel at all. Just a nondescript sweetness, possibly a sweetness that wants to be chocolate but isn’t. Oh, well. It was really, really inexpensive so I can’t complain too much. If anyone wants to try this, it’s going in the rehoming box so just let me know! :)
Need to try this again, or maybe try shaking up the package. It looks like nothing but mint leaves! I get no vanilla, no chocolate but TONS of mint! Maybe I used too high a temperature water. Tasty and good to have on hand for upset tummies but nothing I’d order to have on hand. I think this will last me awhile, though. :)
I didn’t buy any of this to take home but this is the pot I had with lunch. It was well steeped and the leaves were not left in the pot, which is probably a good thing as this seemed like it could get very bitter. It was a nice light golden color and was slightly astringent with a sharp taste. It was a good Ceylon, and for me, that’s saying something unusual. :)
Very refreshing, even served hot. A blend of Pai Mu Tan, Jasmine Silver Needles, and red Rooibos. I really liked the blending of white tea and rooibos. I find rooibos to be a bit earthy and almost tobacco like at times, so the white tea offset that quality nicely. It had a hint of a floral note to it due to the incorporation of Silver Needles.
Flavors: Earth, Flowers
This tea was AWESOME. It is the kind of black tea I can really get down with. Mint chocolate AND vanilla? It just spoke to me. The waitress recommended it to me, and I’m glad I took her up on the suggestion. One of the best I’ve had from them so far. I can easily replicate the flavour with teas I currently have, so I don’t think I’d ever invest unless someone got it for me. Definitely one I’ll get again in store or passing.
Flavors: Chocolate, Vanilla
I’ve been drinking this tea for a few years, after my sister introduced me to it. It was my favorite black for a while, until I switched over to Assam blends without flowers or spice. I’ve never really tasted the green tea component, and I usually drink at least 70 oz of sencha a day.
The rose flavor is relatively light, and mutes a little with a splash of milk.
I brew 1.5 tsp with 12 oz (17 oz porcelain teapot, tea loose), basically 150% of the steep directions on the bag.
Catching up on my logs from yesterday so that i can continue trying to kick terri’s butt in our sipoff :) This was a sample sent to me courtesy of Kaylee! This was an interesting tea. It calls for boiling, but given the green tea in this, i opted for a slightly cooler water temp. Now i have to say, that i didn’t expect to like this one because i am not a fan of most teas with florals in them. But i wanted to try it and kaylee was awesome enough to send it my way.
This is a pretty decent cup of tea. It’s not really up my alley but i wouldn’t turn down a cup. It has a great vanilla, rose scent and the taste is similar. Luckily the rose doesn’t overpower the brew and the vanilla complements it very nicely. This was a lovely cup to try! Thank you Kaylee
I decided to treat myself to tea and scones at the Upper West Side location. Pricey, but lovely.
One warning – they automatically make this with milk unless you specifically request otherwise. They readily brewed up a new pot for me, though. Without milk, the color of the tea is a tad darker than clover honey. It smells like gingerbread. Perfectly autumnal.
Upon first sip, the immediate taste is spicy. I thought it was cloves, but there aren’t any in this tea so I guess it’s the ginger. The cinnamon kicks in mid-sip and blends quite nicely with the spiciness. It’s a strong flavor, but I love it. I can’t make out anything about the base tea other than that it is quite smooth and acts as a lovely palette for the ginger and cinnamon. There’s no astringency. The aftertaste is primarily ginger with a touch of cinnamon.
I only drank two cups of a three-cup pot, so I took the rest to go. I added some rice milk when I got home and nuked it for a minute (heresy, I know). Quite good. I think it would have been even better with some brown sugar, but I don’t have any. The rice milk did add some creaminess and a touch of sweetness that really complimented the spiciness nicely.
This is really interesting as a chai because it uses a green tea base rather than black. I quite enjoyed it. Still, not so much so that I feel an obsessive need to keep it in stock (unlike the Alice’s Blend and Casablanca).
Sad sad sipdown. I still really like the rose-candy aspect of this tea. But it’s quite finicky. A 3-min steep at 190f today came out astringent. It was still good, but when I get a cup of this tea right it can be great. It’s really hard to get right though. So probably not a restock despite its tastiness.
Alas, I both underleafed and oversteeped this morning. Not by much, but enough to be noticeable. It’s a bit weak and a bit astringent. I usually go for just under boiling temp, but tried 180° F today. It really brought out the rose flavor wonderfully. So not a total loss, just not perfect. Still one of my favorite teas!
Oh boo. I wasn’t paying attention this morning and ended up overbrewing. The result was still drinkable, but the magic was gone :-( It was just kind of generically green and black. Smooth and not at all astringent, but…meh. Which I suppose doesn’t matter much, because I ended up losing my travel mug. My awesome, spill-proof, keep-tea-warm-for-ages travel mug.
Go a few days without constant easy access to high quality tea? Whatever shall I do? ::promptly orders a new travel mug::
Oh. My. Goodness. This tea has just been an oasis for me at work. I’ve been brewing it up in the morning and bringing it to work in my handy dandy spill-proof travel mug, which has the added benefit of keeping my tea warm for hours. This is a particularly important feature because work has been extremely hectic. It actually has taken hours to finish a mug. And this stuff is good to the last drop.
I brewed some up at home today so I could write up a proper tasting note. I like to brew it longer than the recommended 3 minutes, and easily get at least two steeps out of it. The smell is just perfectly rosy. The color is the same golden tone as clover honey. The taste is like rose candy with a hint of vanilla. Perfection.
I just noticed that I described Alice’s Casablanca blend as actively making a bad day at work better. So I guess these two teas complement each other as work accessories! This sounds like an excellent excuse to keep both teas on hand at all times and get a little temp. kettle for the office.
I’ve always enjoyed this hot in my travel mug. Since the weather’s gotten warmer, I decided to try it iced. I brewed the tea hot and refrigerated it for about 24 hours. Made this way, the bergamot really pops. The brew is smooth throughout with a gently minty finish. Very refreshing and light. I can definitely see this as a good summer tea when the weather really heats up.
Flavors: Bergamot, Mint
Work on a Saturday, you say? Oh gee look at that I haven’t made a tasting note in absolutely forever I better catch up on my Steepster activity! Procrastination FTW.
This one’s a little bit of a backlog. I made some and took it to work on Thursday. You know those days that are just bad? When everything that could wrong does? When it rains and you end up late on the one day you really truly can’t be late and it shakes your confidence and you end up making a fool of yourself? When all you want to do is close the door to your office and curl up and hide from the world? Yeah, it was one of those days.
And you know what? This tea actively made it better. There’s something about having your favorite mint tea on hand that just makes the world more tolerable. As always, the perfect blend of mint and citrus to bring a little sunshine into my day. A lovely bit of comfort right when I needed it.