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Recent Tasting Notes
Doulton’s Shakespeare: A Tasting Note in 5 Acts
Act II scene 7
If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
Twelfth Night, Act I scene 1
Last night I was going through my Shakespeare box trying to decide what I’d have this morning. I settled on the Vinegar Black and then I had my choice narrowed down to two Culinary Teas. As I looked back and forth between the two a realization dawned on me: I had been seeing the name of this tea as “Grand Mariner” which I felt fit into the British theme of this box quite well. Oh. It’s actually “Grand Marnier” like the liqueur. ::facepalm:: I laughed and decided that this would follow the Vinegar — sort of a sweet and sour experience.
I have never had Grand Marnier on its own, and as far as I know I haven’t had it as part of a meal or mixed drink. So I am unable to judge whether or not this lives up to its namesake. When I opened the packet it was like an orange creamsicle. Yum. The cup maintains that orange creamsicle smell but gains the fragrance of Ceylon. The taste is more Ceylon, but the aroma is all about the creamsicle. I’d imagine that this would be crazy-good with cream or sugar. This also would be perfect with the right sort of dessert. I may have to try this iced. If this is great iced, then this may be added to the reorder list from Culinary Teas.
I dub this tea the play Twelfth Night. Partially since it kicks off with a shipwreck (a tip of the hat to my misreading of the tea’s name), and also because Twelfth Night (The Feast of Epiphany) kicks off the New Orleans’ Mardi Gras season and this tea would fit right into all the revelry — from the parties on Bourbon to the elaborate balls. This tea is a light fun sort of dessert tea and I’m having a good time with it. NE
This smelled so strong in the pouch, I was afraid I was going to have to push the slider clear down to Mr. Yuk. Don’t have to go that far, but I’m not gettin’ much o’nothin’ … Maybe a little piney or cedary hint in the background, which would be more appropriate if I were in the porch swing of an Ozarks cabin on this soggy day, instead of stuck at a desk. Bottom line—diluted Mr. Clean.
Doulton’s Shakespeare: A Tasting Note in 5 Acts
Act II scene 2
O, no! the apprehension of the good
Gives but the greater feeling to the worse:
Fell sorrow’s tooth doth never rankle more,
Than when it bites, but lanceth not the sore.
Richard II, Act I scene 3
Aha! Finally, a tea from the Shakespeare box that’s got me a bit rankled. There’s no information about the tea itself on he packet (which the Culinary Teas website more than makes up for), so it’s a mystery tea. I opened it and looked inside. Ah crap: chamomile. Does this mean that it’s a decaf? There’s a ton of smaller dark leaves and some chamomile sprinkled throughout. I sniffed and couldn’t tell what black tea(s) were in it beyond Assam. I followed the packet’s preparation instructions.
The steeped tea confused me as well. I could definitely taste the chamomile and Assam, but there’s a whole lotta other tea goin’ on as well as quite an astringent bite. Three sips in and I had to find out what comprised this tea. No wonder I was confused: Ceylon, Assam, Darjeeling, Tinderet (which is new to me), and then chamomile. I kept sipping and thinking that I disliked this tea, but then I kept getting little hints of sweet that got me to go “um”: a thoughtful and unsure “yum”. I did the second steep the exact same way as the first and this time around the Ceylon reached through with its sweetness. I wished that the first steep had been a bit more like the second. I’m rather enjoying the second steep except for the dryness that’s happening at the back of my throat. It’s quite noticable. Okay, the back of my throat hates this tea.
Therefore, I dub this tea Richard II. Not one of Shakespeare’s greatest, but not one of his worst. It’s a very “talky” play, so you get some great speeches but the action is lacking. This tea has got a lot to say and sometimes it succeeds in being eloquent. Unfortunately it also sometimes tastes like an argument. M
ETA: Third steep is water with a hint of tea.
Okay…I fully expect comments on this one…but…seriously…post-infusion – this is FIRST what I thought of based on SMELL…
Baked or Deep Fried Mushrooms! (but in a good way!)
Seriously…that’s what it smells like! And it smells yummy. You might think that sounds weird…but it smells bready or breading-like…
It’s a nice medium brown color and a very satisfying taste. I would say it’s a medium strength type.
I always wondered about the story behind Margaret’s Hope and I am glad I found it (it’s posted in the description)…I will be fully reading it here shortly…I wanted to post my findings before hand.
I can totally see why they would suggest pairing this with a croissant or danish or scone! I think it would also be wonderful with roasted veggies, baked or fried bready stuff, or veggie or hummus wraps!
Can you tell I am HUNGRY????
Regardless…I like this. It’s yummy.
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.