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Recent Tasting Notes
Chai day: Blend 4 of 6:
After the disappointment that was the Thai chai, I decided to drink something with coconut and no lemongrass. I’m getting the scent of vanilla, coconut, and cinnamon from the scent of the dry leaves, so perhaps it’s safe to drink without any more unpleasant surprises.
Another note to make is the physiological effects of drinking too much chai in the span of a couple of hours. I am sneezy, runny-nosed, and getting a little warm. I could, of course, stop drinking chai teas, but I think instead I am going to turn down the air conditioning and continue drinking. Of course I might not ever want to drink chai again after this evening is through.
There’s something about the aroma of the brew that is stirring something from long ago, but I can’t place my mind on exactly what it is. My brain keeps sending the word “wax” to the forefront, but this tea doesn’t smell like wax. Am I veering into territory that is better left to the psychologists again?
The base of this is a bit stronger than the last. There’s no astringency, but it’s rather bitter and tannic. The spices in the chai blend barely come out at all. I’m getting the cinnamon as usual, but I cannot taste the cardamom that is clearly visible in the dry leaf. There’s also vanilla and coconut, but the black tea base pretty much drowns out most of the flavor.
I wouldn’t call this a chai either. There’s nothing spicy about it. It’s more like cinnamon coconut black tea. Examining the leaf after brewing I see that it is much greener than the other chais I have had. Perhaps a lower temperature would make this tea better.
Flavors: Bitter, Cinnamon, Coconut, Tannic, Vanilla
This is another tea that was a Stephen choice. I’m glad he picked this one out, because it was pleasant and not something I would have ever chosen for myself.
The flavors that hit the mouth are oddly timed. The predominant flavor is grassy kind of hay, not unlike some white teas I’ve tried. Then there’s a roasted flavor that fills the middle part of the tongue and the roof of the mouth.
Unfortunately, then the back of the mouth is hit with that envelope glue taste that I have come to associate with mate. Still, it’s a mild flavor, and not so much that I won’t drink the whole pot. There’s also a little sweetness that hits the front of the tongue after swallowing.
Flavors: Grass, Hay, Roasted, Sweet
Of the two Churchill’s Earl Greys I have tried today, I have to say that I prefer the 2nd to the Creamy.
There’s something dirty tasting about this tea. It’s more than earthy; it tastes like soil a bit. The base is nice with that slight punch of black bitterness and astringency, but it’s not too much. There’s also a nice tangyness going up the middle of the tongue.
I’m not getting much of a floral overtone, but it’s there. There’s a kind of hint of flowery vanilla, which I guess is supposed to be the creamy part.
It’s complex and pleasant, but really not the flavor for me.
Flavors: Dirt, Flowers, Orange Zest, Vanilla
I’m not sure why I get Earl Grey teas. Usually, the strong smell of citrus puts me off. I think during this trip to Churchill’s, however, I was in the middle of Star Trek, and I wanted to fully experience Picard’s contemplative musings. But I need to get through all my Cincinnati samples before we go back, so here we are.
I’m still getting used to the idea of not liking the smell of a tea and loving the flavor. The leaves smelled strongly of musty oranges in a way that reminded me of Florida, and not in a good way. That smell all but disappeared upon brewing, and the citrus morphed into a very light lemony taste with a floral overtone (lavender?). I’m swearing I’m tasting a little olive oil in here, but maybe I’ve just lost my mind.
Unlike most blends I’ve been drinking lately, the tea shines through nicely. It’s a light, only slightly bitter black tea with very little astringency. It’s almost as delicate as a darjeeling, but it brews darker and has a bit of an extra punch.
It will never be my favorite, but it’s worth keeping a bit around for guests.
Flavors: Bergamot, Lavender, Lemon, Olive Oil
My dear husband isn’t really into tea. He’ll sip on a few of my tiny cups because they aren’t a commitment, but he starts to get stressed when I hand him a full mug. “What if I can’t drink all this?!” He feels a little less guilty now that he can give the rest to our tea pets Bessie and Fred.
So when he shows enough interest to pick a tea out, I’m going to get it. Even if it smells like berry lipstick.
It’s actually pretty good. It has a kind of hibiscus flavor with rosy hints, and every once in a while, I get a toasted green flavor from the tea base. There’s a hint of dryness on the back of the palate, but not much, and a zingy tang on the sides of the tongue as you drink it. The smell is thankfully subdued upon brewing, but make no mistake that the berry flavor is strong.
I think it’s another one of those teas that would be nice iced. Maybe one of these days I’ll get around to actually making iced tea.
I also got to break in my double-walled glass cups, which were great. They kept our fingers cool and really romanticized the color of the liquid. https://www.instagram.com/p/BGkP21DvTaP/?taken-by=hoalatha
Flavors: Hibiscus, Raspberry, Rose, Strawberry
This tea makes me want to put on a kilt! Or maybe that’s because of how strong I brewed it. Very malty, very bitter, very black, and very strong. It’s the way I like my black teas. I think it would stand up well to a bit of sugar and milk, which is how I usually take my breakfast teas. It might even beat out Brodie’s for my go-to in the morning!
Flavors: Bitter, Malt, Peat, Pleasantly Sour
This is a nice “middle of the road” tea in that the black used for the base is nothing particularly special. However, the peach flavoring is not too light and not too heavy. It’s fake enough to know that there’s no way you could get this flavor from a tea naturally, but not so fake that you feel as though you’re drinking flavoring.
Like any tea, it can be a bit bitter and dry tasting if you let it steep too long, which I happened to do this time. It’s still one of my favorites though.
Flavors: Bitter, Peach, Tea
I like this tea. I really do. The only reason I gave it such a low rating is because of how finicky it is to prepare. It has hibiscus in it, and something I’ve noticed with hibiscus is that you absolutely cannot over-steep it, or the tea has a very strong metallic quality to it. So you have to be careful with that. But of course don’t under-steep either! When done right it’s a nice, sharp blend. I find I like to drink it in the evenings or when I’m feeling slightly under the weather.
Flavors: Floral, Hibiscus, Tart
This tea has a nice, comforting aroma that smells just like the walnuts and maple bits mixed in the tea. The taste is most definitely “grassy” like all green teas, and the walnut is definitely obvious too. I’m a little sad that the maple doesn’t come out as much, but it is still a smooth, comforting tea. Good for studying or just trying to calm down.
Flavors: Grass, Maple, Walnut
More of an amazing fragrance than an enjoyable taste. The cardamom, florals plus hints of spice and heavy black tea base would fill a high-dollar niche market perfume bottle, but the actual flavor is surprisingly bitter, slightly soapy, and lacking any enjoyable classic chai qualities. In particular – the cinnamon is muted, practically missing, and the black peppercorn might as well not even be there.
Flavors: Bitter, Cinnamon, Floral
Of the two keemuns for sale at Churchill this is the cheaper one and thus the one that needed a snappier name, thus “Panda”. Its not bad, it has almost clove and cinnamon aftertaste, a nice holiday keemun, not much smokiness though and no chocolate taste. Not bad but I’m looking forward to trying the fancier one.
Zhen Mei or Chun Mee, whatever spelling they would like to use, is never my favorite Chinese green, I much prefer Dragonwell but it is interesting. It has a lot more bite then most green teas and an almost dry dusty earthiness, which is a paradox I know. Might need some honey for it.