Art of Tea
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Recent Tasting Notes
Everyone in my house is distracted by something tonight, and they’re all distracted by different things. Consequently, I could not get anyone to pay attention to my attempt to rally around a dessert tea we could all enjoy.
No one was interested in trying this but me and the BF. I was very interested though, especially after I stuck my nose in the packet. There’s a gingerbready smell to the dry mixture that you can just tell from smelling it is going to take on a pastry note when you steep it. Mmmm.
The liquor is orange. Deep orange, very pumpkin themed. The aroma is of clove, mostly, but also cinnamon and also, very faintly, that promise of pastry.
When it’s very hot, it’s a spice tea. Clove, cinnamon, ginger, all represented, pretty much in that order, along with something else from the pumpkin pie spice experience. Allspice? Nutmeg? It’s not listed among the ingredients, but there’s something else that’s evoked, as in the pumpkin pie spice you can buy premixed.
But when it cools some, a subtle pastry-like note creeps in that makes it more than just spice and really evokes the pumpkin aspect of the pie filling along with a bit of crust. I can’t help but think that milk might make this come out even more, though it’s enough for me without.
I haven’t had any other tisane that claims the name pumpkin pie but I would guess it would be hard to evoke the pie and not just the spice and to do it well. I don’t love pumpkin pie so much that this would necessarily become a staple for me and the BF said he wouldn’t order it again, but I give this one high marks for living up to its name.
Oh! And I can’t taste the honeybush. So points.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Cloves
I have teabags of this that I really enjoy traveling with because the tin was full of individually wrapped bags. The flavor is super mild, sweet, and floral. I steeped this for 2 minutes for the first 3 infusions, and 3 minutes for the next 2, 4 minutes for the third. Definitely a soft flavor, but very tasty.
Flavors: Flowers, Honey
I think I finally have Fiance’s full buy in on the tea station upstairs. Which is good because after my laptop migrated up here last night, I don’t really have the motivation to go downstairs before I need to. Besides, his buttons will get reattached to his shirts this way.
This is a really creative blend. Hojicha and oolong pair together to create a wannabe coffee. It brews up darker than a lot of black teas, and is a rich chocolately brown with just a fliker of amber in the light. It smells pungent and roasted, and a lot like coffee really.
I went with a conservative steeping temperature, and as a result there was no bitterness, but still full-bodied and potent. There’s a definite amount of nuttiness and it feels just slightly creamier than a normal brew (I’m attributing this to the white chocolate). I didn’t get any oilyness or film from the chocolate, but I didn’t really taste it either.
This definitely captures a coffee, but it’s like coffee for when you don’t want coffee. It’s weaker than coffee and not as bold as what I’m used to drinking, but because of the differences in flavor and potency it’s easy to disassociate this from coffee as well, and just picture it as a roasty warming cup of love.
Flavors: Nuts, Roasted Barley
Tea #4 from Another Traveling Tea Box?!?!?!
I’ve been wanting to try this brand for a while, and this tea was definitely brisk enough to kick start my morning! The cinnamon tastes very light – about half the strength of MF’s Cannelle – and I can’t taste the fig at all.
A resteep. This is still delicious the second time around, but I’m getting more of a balance between the guava and ginger. This is a really subtle ginger tea but I actually like that because it doesn’t take over. I’m also getting more of the actual tea flavor this time around. Definitely worth the resteep!
My box from Beorhthraefn also came today! This was a surprise sample and after smelling it I couldn’t pass up a cup of it. It’s so fruity it’s almost floral. I’m starting to think I should move somewhere tropical since I can’t get enough of these tropical fruits.
The guava in this is lovely—it reminds me of guava juice but without all the sugar. It’s absolutely true to the fruit. The ginger in this is almost floral, not spicy or herbal like I expected at all. The aftertaste is subtly sweet. I’m really liking this!
ETA: As it cools the ginger is more obvious. It’s still floral and fruity and delicious, but I prefer it hot for the strong guava taste.
I didn’t realize until I opened this that it has vanilla (or any flavoring for that matter); at first that worried me but the vanilla’s not crazy powerful, just adds a softness and warmth that’s welcome given the black tea’s slightly rough/tannic with a hint of bitterness as it cools. The overall effect is a creamy, warming, relaxing, and pretty pot of tea to look at (it begs resteeps to let the white tea stars open up, but doesn’t taste quite as good after the first steep alas…a little bit gimmicky but hey, it is appealing). I don’t know that I’d restock, gonna have to see what the cost is. If it’s affordable maybe…it is a nice after dinner tea despite the caffeine.
I really thought I had more of this, but this was a sipdown this morning.
With the green rooibos in there, it’s really easy to forget it’s rooibos based at all. It’s so much more mild and less medicinal than it’s red counterpart. This was a welcome cider-y today — warming and calming. It’s very cinnamon-y with a touch of apple and ginger.
I still think it’s named all wrong.
I wish it had crossed my mind to put a bit of vanilla bean in here to get an apple cider a la mode thing going on.
See previous note, the one on Art of Tea’s Velvet Tea. I was really enjoying the flavors here—I get juicy blueberry that isn’t too tart (yay) as well as the tanginess of cheesecake (no small feat apparently—I’ve tried so many teas with cream cheese, sour cream, or other tangy dairy mentioned in the name or description and usually find myself disappointed when I can’t taste any tang), so I was a very happy camper. But the rooibos gets distracting the longer it sits. If I ever get over my rooibos no phase I’m in right now, I’d consider this again. That’s the only thing here I don’t like.
Confession: I’ve fallen out with flavored rooibos blends. Honeybush tends to be so much better, and when I started all this rooibos didn’t bug me but lately it kind of does. Or maybe I’m just drinking stuff where it isn’t tamped down enough. Even when I like the flavors I’m tasting, the rooibos is always there on stage too, in front of the flavor I’m trying to pay attention to, waving its arms about and going “LALA NO LOOK AT MEEE!!!!” I have a feeling this is a phase I go in and out of though, and eventually I’ll go back to not minding it (and when it’s gentle enough I actually can find myself sort of liking it, that sawdust woodiness when it fits the overall flavor profile, has been incorporated artfully). But right now, alas.
I say all this because I was feeling that way last night—I liked Art of Tea’s Blueberry Cheesecake but was definitely having that problem with the rooibos—but this one was sweet enough in a good way, not a pinpointy saccharine one but a smooth deep-reaching way, that I mostly forgot about my rooibos issues. As red velvet blends go this is the best one I’ve had, I think. It’s subtler than the others I’ve tried (from Fusion and Della Terra and David’s IIRC), but rounder, more warming and balanced. I would drink it again.
Drank oodles of tea last night but didn’t get around to logging ‘cause I was too busy being all WTF DAWN I LOVE THIS SHOW SO OFF THE WALL, ha. None blew me away and none were terrible, so I’m just gonna do brief “I drank this!” backlogs pretty much.
This was ok, but there was that plasticky aftertaste vanilla flavored teas often get, and combined with the floral of the pouchong, ehh. I think I prefer the vanilla teas I’ve tried from The Tea Merchant slightly. But it wasn’t terrible.
I believe it would be a bit of a mistake to only try this tea solo…sort of like certain Scotch selections. I strongly recommend trying this purple (or not really purple) oolong with some decent chocolate…something above 70%, OR a mild cigar (yes, I said a cigar…get over it if you don’t like it). Chocolate will bring out the cinnamon and floral in the tea much better (at least the stuff I was eating with it did), and a Cigar or some decent straight pipe tobacco in a pipe actually sweetens the tea quit a bit since you’re not noticing the smoky/tobacco/musky flavors that are in there as much.
Secondary note. I find it useful with teas like this to run a brief rinse, or actually if I’m feeling in an interested mood on this one I’ve cold brewed it for a while on the first steep and then used “standard” temperatures.
I’ve been too lazy to write up tasting notes, but it’s too cold to go outside today, so I’ll write some notes.
This is a sample I bought on BF. I’m a big fan of Keemun, so was looking forward to this tea, but this tastes more like a Yunnan to me. It is a cross between a leafy, forest floor taste and chocolate, with only a bit of smoke hiding under the other flavors. The tea is well-made, but I’d prefer more smoke.
As the tea cooled, it became somewhat bitter. Overall, a bit of a disappointment. However, the last time I drank this tea I saw enjoyed it more. My rating is an average of the two scores
Probably one of my favorite go-to teas. It has a light, refreshing taste, very palate cleansing and fruity. The first time I sampled it, I expected a little more spice courtesy of the ginger. However, I was – and remain – fairly pleased with the flavor profile overall. I’m a bit of a lazy brewer, but fortunately this tea works just as well iced as it does hot. I’ve found it also has potential when it comes to resteeping, despite being a white tea.
True to its name, this is an archetypal brisk black with that hint of tannin-y bitterness and lingering dry woody mouthfeel. Yet something about it sets it apart slightly, makes it familiar but better: the bitterness to me for some reason manifests a bit like the bitterness of the 80% cacao bars my husband likes to nibble on, that sort of brick-y, chocolate-y minerality. It may well be because I just finished prepping chicken wraps for afternoon tea and the “glue” binding everything was a lot of honey, mustard, and mascarpone, and I licked the bowl before washing up. Makes me think this would be good with sweet breakfast or dessert treats, things like honey poundcake or iced cinnamon rolls. It can definitely take the place of bold coffee any place where usually that’s what a sweet snack is screaming for. Despite the classic “some bitterness and astringency, feel those tannins” profile, there’s a smoothness, a creamy silkiness that lasts in the mouth too. Quite nice. I’m curious how this would taste mixed with something like Harney’s Rose Scented, might try that soon…
A sample from KittyLovesTea. This is another one I had high hopes for, because I like blueberries, and I like cheesecake. It’s also a rooibos, and I’m usually on the look out for some kind of evening caffiene free option. Unfortunately, this is another miss for me. I can’t actually taste anything other than rooibos, and certainly no blueberry or cheesecake. Woody, sweet rooibos is front and centre, and dominates the whole cup. As it cools, a very slight fruitiness does start to come out, but not nearly soon enough for me to say I enjoyed the whole experience. I’ll fiddle with the brew time, temp and leaf a little, but I fear based on other notes that I’m not going to have much joy here. Another one to chalk up to experience!