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Recent Tasting Notes
Doulton’s Shakespeare: A Tasting Note in 5 Acts
Act I scene 4
“Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and
some have greatness thrust upon ’em.”
Twelfth Night, Act II, scene 5
Meet Malvolio in tea form. If you don’t know him from the play Twelfth Night, then you should know that he’s a pretentious prig. Back in the day my college did a version of Twelfth Night where it was set on an alien planet and Malvolio was portrayed as a Vulcan. It was a brilliant concept and should help you picture how I view this tea.
The tea packet gave no hint as to what it contained beyond black tea. I sniffed the packet and was confused. I had absolutely no idea what I was smelling. Something kind of fruity? But not really fruity. The blend was quite striking to look at: different sorts of leaves, little seeds(?), and pretty violet and orange petals. I steeped it.
I got the scent of Assam (Woohoo! My Keemun/Assam/Ceylon trilogy did seem to help me figure out black teas better), and the fruity smell was still there, only it seemed deeper. I realized that this tea contains some green tea as well when I looked at the steeped leaves. I sipped. What on earth was this tea?!?!? It’s somewhat fruity (I couldn’t identify the fruit, but it seemed familiar), on the verge of being bitter, and I was at a loss. This tea was utterly alien to me. So I hopped on the webs and looked this puppy up. Wow. Culinary Teas really breaks down its tea with loads of info!
Assam! I was right! ::does happy dance:: Oh, but there’s Ceylon too. D’oh! Gunpowder and Lucky Dragon Hyson. Hmm…I haven’t enjoyed Gunpowders so far and I haven’t the foggiest on Lucky Dragon Hyson. But that might explain the bitterishness. Oh – the fruit! ::facepalm:: Black currants! I can only think of one time I’ve had black currants in my life: it was this bizarre candy my dad brought me after he returned from a business trip. I forgave myself for not knowing that one.
So why Malvolio? This tea is so full of it. It seems pretentious. But you know what? I absolutely adore the character of Malvolio. He gets some of the best laughs. I actually enjoyed the complexity of this tea and knowing that there’s green tea in there I lowered the temp to 190 on my second steep. The flavors were much much better/smoother. I’m actually thinking that this would be an amazing cold brewed iced tea. I can’t say that I love this tea, but I think it has the potential for greatness. It just needs to be put in its place first. NE
The dry tea smells just like a Peppermint Patty. This tea is a tasty confection that leaves my mouth feeling fresh and satisfied. It’s more subtle on the mouth, but as Culinary Teas notes in their description: "It should be noted that natural flavors tend to be somewhat ‘soft ‘ and the flavors slightly muted, but for many this is a refreshing change and one of the desired attributes of our naturally flavored teas. "
Keeping that in mind, I appreciate the tea more. There is no hint of anything synthetic or unnaturally brassy. It’s a very nice marriage which, like the delightful York’s Peppermint Patty, tends to draw out the peppermint with the chocolate as a supporting player. So far the best peppermint/chocolate I have had.
Hey, who took the tea out of my tea? I think that my tastes have become more pronounced. I don’t like weak teas. I like teas to slap me around with smoke; to bang me in the face with a ton of spinach; to throttle me with riches; to have a body like one of those WWW guys and the education of a Rhodes scholar. I like a tea with an upbringing like Prince Charles including all of the eccentricities and the bite of his Rottweiler.
A few months of consideration and serious drinking has led me to reject the timid. I think that Cardamon tea on its own is a timid little lassie, unschooled in the ways of the world. I could envision serving this to children at a little tea party (note to self: I’m glad my children are now officially elderly and don’t need service, whatever they might want).
I think I’ll say that if you like Cardamon, the taste is there. I think I’ll save this tea and add it to a really rich full-bodied tea and see if I can make my own blend of Chai. Must pursue JacquelineM’s recipes for home blends.
Trixie Belden and the Missing Tea
A Steepster Mystery
The first morning sip was fine, light, and winey. But within twenty short minutes of pouring it into a travel mug, the flavor was flat and tasteless as dishwater. Did a nefarious and sinister villain switch the mugs in transit? Who wishes the poor tea taster to suffer a poor morning cuppa? Can the missing flavor be recovered? Only Trixie and her new tea-sniffing Labrador named Tippy can crack this case!
Opened this to compare to my ace-in-the-hole health food store cheapie oolong. It’s a little sweeter, a little more golden, and I’d almost swear to some raisiny stuff happening in the background. Makes me feel a little upscale on a decidedly NOT upscale morning.
It’s been a long, somewhat difficult day. So I pulled out this decaf to try tonight in hopes of a calming effect without the caffeine. It has a strong artificial flavor and taste. I guess I don’t really remember what grenadine tastes like. Somehow, in my mind, I thought grenadine tasted like maraschino cherries. I’m probably wrong about that. On the good side, there is very little bitterness to this tea. Every other possible taste is covered up by the strong strange taste that I am assuming is grenadine. Meh.
Is one especially patriotic if one drinks 1776 tea in the morning? Or would it have to be drunk on July 4 to get the patriotic points? It is a silly name for a tea.
The ingredients don’t seem to match what I think of when I think of revolutionary history either: strawberry, maple, Assam, Ceylon, and Kenyan teas.
None of them are even the teas tossed into Boston Harbor, which consisted of 240 chests of Bohea, 15 of Congou, 10 of Souchong (all black teas), 60 of Singlo, and 15 of Hyson (both green teas). Green tea accounted for about 22% of the shipments’ total volume, and 30% of the value. Now if someone wanted to create a Boston Tea Party blend in honor of the event in 1773, those are the teas to blend.
But I’m delaying telling you about this tea. Either I brewed it too long or it is naturally this bitter. There is a strong strawberry taste similar to Marco Polo. I don’t taste the maple. In truth, I’m not anxious to taste anything more from this tea.
Off to brew something else.
This tastes remarkably like a cherry cordial. Or at least it tastes like a cherry cordial if it were coupled with very dark intense chocolate. In the end, I added honey to the tea to take down the slight bitterness of the tea. Just a smidgeon brought out the decadent tastes of chocolate and cherry and satisfied my cravings for the afternoon. Much thanks to Janefan for steering me toward Culinary Teas. If this is indicative of their quality, I think I will be extremely pleased with their teas.
This is the first Pumpkin tea I have tasted, so I don’t really have any points of comparison. I’m the kind of person who chases after things like “Pumpkin Pie Martinis” and “Pumpkin Ravioli” so I write from the perspective of a pumpkin lover.
This tea pleased me very much. Most importantly, the pumpkin flavor seems true and not at all synthetic. The mix between the black tea, the spices, and the pumpkin was exquisitely done. If you like flavored teas as I do and if you are a fan of the Pumpkin as Food or Flavor source, you owe it to yourself to give this a try. Very well done, Culinary Teas!