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Recent Tasting Notes
Have any of you tried pineapple mint? It’s the prettiest one growing by the back door; ruffly green leaves with creamy white edges. But I still can’t decide what it really tastes like. Stuffed a jar full in the fridge with one decaf Red Rose bag to make it tea-y, left it overnight. It’s gentle and satisfying, but I can’t determine if it’s “pineapple” or “unclassified somewhat citrusy” mint. Ah well, it was lovely to come home to a gentle, quiet cup of anything after a mind-blowingly plate-juggling workday.
Too many cookies and student helpers that sneak me chocolate when I can’t leave my little charges. (I pick ‘em well!) Plus, hubby taking advantages of my afternoons off for ice cream dates. Who am I to refuse? But I’m starting to feel the effects of sugar bloat, so I’ve made myself a little calendula-orange mint after-dinner steep. Orange mint is pretty mild, but does add a little freshness to the calendula. This would probably be more refreshing chilled.
The first and only 100-degree afternoon we’ve had would be the one when we’re decorating for third grade VBS and poor, panting sweaty hubby nearly herniated himself lugging in our “small” floor vault for our Evidence Room. But the lasers (orange yarn) have been activated, the file boxes are stacked and stenciled, the badges and lanyards are ready, the aloe-vera gel fingerprint sensor is in place, and it’s time to rest up for tomorrow’s adventures.
And in doing so, something gentle and minty and COLD is perfect. One bag Celestial Seasonings Sweet Apple Chamomile, a healthy wad of applemint and two snips of catnip. Yep, we’ve had so much horticultural fun this summer, we got one. Tazo thinks it smells good. Other ingredients in this mish-mash are strong enough, I can’t detect a specific smell or taste.
SO TIRED! Stayed out a bit later than usual last night to play card games with some friends. We started the night with Gloom. It’s so much fun… kinda morbid by fun, and ended the night with a HEATED Dutch Blitz game. We played until we were exhausted. And now I’m even more tired… lots of strong teas today…
Anyways, today it’s not much of a combo, but I do want to record it. It’s Star of India with a vanilla-flavoured white sugar by the company Novaroma. I picked this pack up at Artwalk a few weeks back and thought I’d bring it to work to try as I’m drinking the most tea here these days.
The vanilla flavour is very subtle, but I can make it out. It’s making my tea a bit smoother than normal and I really like it! I only used half a pack as again, don’t want to make it too sweet, but the smoothness of the vanilla is coming through and it’s great. I’d get the flavoured sugar again no problem.
I am a worry wart… to the extreme… And I hate it.
I’m working at a temp place right now and the location they have me is at a place that does metal testing. They work with chemicals and all sorts of stuff… Yesterday I was asked to laminate something and I woke myself up at 1:30 AM worried that I forgot to turn the laminator off. I was up for like 30mins worrying that it was going to cause a chain reaction that would set the storage closet on fire, thus causing it to spread through the whole building and explosions would be going off all night as the chemicals combust and explode everywhere. The fire department would be called and they would trace it all back to the simple and lowly laminator that would be all charged and melted. And they would know it was me as I was the one who last used the laminator.
Being an imaginative person is great. But it can also cause some really messed up ideas that cause a person to worry!! Now I feel like a moron for worrying about it. And for making up such a ridiculous story in my head. lol And the worst part? I was positive I remember turning it off.
ANYWAY: Onto the combination. I used Saigon Chai by Davidstea and their cinnamon honey sticks. I used the whole stick. Shouldn’t have done that. It made it a lot sweeter than I would normally make my teas. I didn’t make the tea nearly strong enough, but the honey stick did make up for it a bit. I’m glad to have gotten them to try. I have found that if the honey is flavoured I don’t hate it in my teas ‘cause the flavouring masks the normal taste of the honey, which is something I don’t care for.
Long story short. Life is too short to worry. But if you can’t stop yourself from doing so, than at least treat yourself to special teas the next morning so you feel better. Saigon is a favourite. Now I’m already onto my second cup of tea.. I think today will be a HUGE tea day.
Of all the plants in our back porch mint-speriment, the chocolate mint has flourished the most. It’s put out more tentacles than a kraken, so we’re trying a (Little Shop of )Horror-ticultural mutation: Set a pot next to it, anchored a couple of tentacles under an inch or so of soil, and are waiting for it to take root before cutting it loose and separating the pots. We’ll see…
Also, of the varieties of mint we’ve cultivated, this one makes the best stand-alone tisane—the chocolate flavor is truly and noticeably present, and though it’s mild, it does taste like mint tea instead of minty water. Come on over and I’ll cut you some sprigs.
The Giant Peach Taste-off!!
I’ve seen that I have four peach teas, so now I should do a taste-off. Which of the peach teas will win? Let’s find out!
The contenders are: Peaches and Cream by Steeped tea; White Peach by Adagio; Peaches and Cream by Davidstea; and Just Peachy by Davidstea.
Two are white, two are herbals
So, comparing the white teas…
Peaches and Cream by Steeped: This one is peachy but it also has the taste of the other fruits (pineapple, mango, papaya). It’s not too bad… I’m torn about how I feel about this one.
White Peach by Adagio: a light peachy tea… This one doesn’t have anything extra in it. It’s strictly white peach tea.
Out of the white teas… I really have no idea which one I prefer… I’ve never been so stumped in my life! They are so similar and really only have the tiniest amount of difference. The Steeped tea one is a bit sweeter and the white peach isn’t as sweet… I don’t know but they are both really good. I think the steeped one is the winner… I think…
Peaches and Cream by Davidstea: This tea is amazing. It’s so sweet and creamy. It’s a very smooth peach tea. It’s a strong peach tea. It’s amazing how sweet it is, but it’s not bad. It’s just like a nature sweet tea. It’s such a treat to have! And the vanilla pieces in it is making it just amazing.
Just Peachy by Davidstea: This one is also amazing. It’s sweet as well and I’m definitely getting the apple taste from it.
Out of the herbals, I prefer the Peaches and Cream as it feels like a more true peach taste. But honestly, I’ll drink both quite happily.
This taste off was much harder!! I feel like my taste buds are overwhelmed by Peach! haha Now I need breakfast.
And happy 300th note to me!
Working on using up scraps and exercising a little tea budget discipline till fall (couple of unexpected doctor runs with pricey prescriptions is—ha—making that a lot easier). Half-and-halved some Metropolitan Tea Monk’s blend with some Irish breakfast pekoe this morning. Good way to add some perk to plain black tea; good way to tone down a strong fruity flavor if you’re not that perky.
Half Pure Chai, half Glitter and gold.
After being disappointed with Pure Chai from Davids, I thought I would spruce it up a bit with some glitter and gold. I’m trying to use up this Pure Chai I was given, but it’s just hard to when you don’t care for it… Sorry friend that gave it to me.
Anyways, combining these two is weird. They are having a power struggle to decide which one is the predominate one. I can make out the cinnamon from the glitter and I can make out some of the chai, but they seem to be such strong teas on their own, that they clash.
Don’t recommend this combo. You’d think that the combo would be dynamite, but it’s really not… Oh well… such is life.
Originally I had planned to make a latte out of the pure chai, but I still haven’t done that. Maybe at this point I’ll just give the rest of this away…
2tsp Cool Cucumber mixed with 2tsp Pom Tango
1.5tbs of rock sugar
Brewed hot and then chilled.
My friend recommended Cool Cucumber/Pom Tango as an iced tea and, since I’m trying to clear out my cupboard, I made some this weekend. I think I used too much of the cool cucumber, though, because the mint from that tea overpowers everything else. Pom Tango adds a nice – if subtle – sweetness though.
Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the great blueberry taste off!!
This year I have received or purchased upwards of 5, yes 5 blueberries teas! So the time has finally come to pit these teas against the rest and see which one of them takes home the prize as favourite blueberry tea in my house!
The five teas are: Wild Blue by Flavours of Nova Scotia, Bluest blueberry by Steeped Tea, Wild Blueberry by Steeped Tea, White blueberry by Adagio, and Heisenberg by Adagio tea.
Three are black teas, two are white. Let’s see how they fair, shall we?
First off, the colours are devine of all of them. My favourite of the colours is Heisenberg for being a great pink or light peach colour, followed by the white blueberry, and the three black teas are pretty close the same colour for all of them…
Starting with the black teas:
All being enjoyed at first without anything added.
Wild blue is definitely taking the lead as the nicest of the blueberry flavour. Makes me want to eat a blueberry.
Bluest blueberry: I’m noticing the blackberry touch, and although it’s nice in its own right, it’s not my thing.
Wild Blueberry: I’m just not liking this one at all really. The hibiscus is making it weird and combined with the raisins, I just don’t feel that this one is for me at all. This one is really baffling to me. It’s not as bad once it cools down quite a bit, but I’m more of the type to drink my black teas HOT. I don’t usually wait until they are cooled down a bit.
Adding milk and sugar to the black teas to see if it changes my mind about them at all. The wild blueberry is softened and not quite as odd, but still…
The winner between the black teas is: Wild Blue by Flavours of Nova Scotia! Their blend of real blueberries and black tea is the one that seems to have the very best flavour! It shouldn’t be too surprising as the other don’t have any real blueberries in them, only flavouring.
Onto the white teas: (They both have cooled a bit now since I was focusing on the black teas. I think they taste quite good still.)
First up, White Blueberry from Adagio.
Lovely white tea base. Not bitter at all (yaaay steeping right!). The blueberries aren’t overpowering, but they are quite delicious. A subtle taste, but very, very good. The base of this one is very lovely too.
Heisenberg: SO delicious! It’s got so much going on in it, but it is just absolutely divine! I’m getting the raspberry and apple with the blueberry and it’s making it an almost sweet treat! I didn’t realize there was black tea in this one at all. The pairing of everything is just SO out-of-this-world amazing, and nothing is overpower. it’s just all seems to work together in harmony so well.
The verdict for the white teas is: A two-way tie. I know, I didn’t want to do it, but I can’t chose. They are both out of this world! They both have their own greatness in different ways. The White blueberry is great for being simple, but still delicious, while Heisenberg has a great combo of a bunch of things going on and it seems to make it almost like a great dessert blueberry tea.
Anyways, to those that made it to the end of this tasting note with me, I wish to thank you for reading all the way through and hopefully laughing with me over this fun tasting event here at TheKesser’s house. I’m not too sure if there are other teas I have that are close together flavour-wise that I can do this with, but if not, then at least there will always be… the blueberry!
OK, this is the last of the homegrowns I had not yet tried—pineapple mint. It’s interesting: leaves are thick and a little fuzzy, long olive-green ovals with cream-colored edges.
Again, using a bag of Red Rose decaf as the backdrop—I think it’s a winner because there are no strong tea flavors to compete with the mint so I can get a fair impression of the flavor profile. I’m not entirely sure I’m getting pineapple out of it, but there is a fruity-something happening along with the mint.
Wish y’all were here to share with. The applemint has gone bananas; almost growing faster than I can prune. I have several large clumps drying upside down in the garage. It’s beginning to look like a tobacco barn.
Whoops, forgot this category existed, and with all our recent homegrown experiments, I could be filling it up. We bought two chocolate mint plants from local nursery; one for a bed in front, the other in a back porch pot. Now that they are flourishing, it is clear there are two varieties. One has long, pointed leaves; the other has leaves that are more spade shaped.
We’re drinking long and pointy tonight, with a bag of Red Rose decaf tossed in to give the cup a little density. If you’ve never tried chocolate mint, it is well worth the $3.49 experiment—steeped straight up, you can detect the essence of chocolate. With some tea to give it a little heft, you can almost taste an Andes mint.
I cheffed! I cheffed! Not cooked…cheffed ! Dredged and orange zested and hubby tried roasting garlic and we put it all together to make a variation of Chicken Balsamico with a little orange juice thrown into the liquid (http://carinosathome.blogspot.com/2012/07/chicken-balsamico.html). And we didn’t ruin it! (Again, this is one of those statements that will make some of you laugh heartily at my expense.)
Anyway, with some orange zest left, it seemed sensible to toss it into a tea strainer with some dried lemon verbena. Smells citrusy-sensuous, tastes pleasantly orange zesty, and is a perfect aperitif after one more helping of pasta than I really needed…
Junkyard Tea in a Mason jar after a long, humid day opening up a stuffy, stinky farmhouse to welcome 84-year-old dad home after a long absence. Still continuing to discover all kinds of unexpected treasures Mom had stashed away in the oddest places. Today, lodged between two afghans in the cedar chest, a handmade, never-worn vintage 50’s era shirtdress made of funky, swirly cotton fabric—and it just might fit. My sister thinks it was intended for my grandma, who was born in 1892.
I mixed up some of the 52Teas Eggnog Honeybush and Cornelia Bean’s Sweet Temptation Rooibos. It’s a good combo, as Sweet temptation is sweet, and the eggnog honeybush is kind of lacking.
Then I added maple syrup and cream.
Oh goodness. I added too much maple syrup, but it’s SO GOOD. Sweet, mapley, nougaty, not too rooibosy. :)
It sounded tasty: 3 parts pu-erh, 1 part cacao nibs, about 8 orange mint leaves. Cold brewed overnight in the fridge. Fully executed, not so much: too much pu, not enough mint. Oh, well…you can’t tell me master tea blenders don’t bumble a few while they’re practicing.
Won’t repeat those proportions, but it makes plausible backyard sippin’…currently the tidiest place in my little patch of earth, and I had to mow to make it bearable; the rest of the house looks like the leavings of a yard sale. Who are these wretches that keep sneaking into my house and discom-rupting it?
I received this in my tea swap with Nattie. I won’t feel too bad about being harsh on this tea since she admitted she didn’t like it and she custom-blended it!
The garlic in this is very strong and in the front of the sip. It stays all through and continues into the next sip. I get a little bit of chili at the beginning, but it’s overpowered by the garlic in the end. Honestly, it tastes like eating garlic bread, which, if you’re in the mood for, might be good. I could see this as being sipped as a savory tea if you had a stomach ache, similar to broth but lighter.
Flavors: Chicken Soup, Leeks
Feet finally up after a busy, crazy, and scary weekend (all three, sometimes simultaneously). The cold front that blew the ugly storms through this time yesterday is keeping a little chill in the air, so I made me a big mug of straight honeybush leaves plus a splash of Pappy’s Sassafras concentrate. Rooty-beery and rich. You could do this at home, too, easy.
I was going to do a side by side taste test of the Yunnans and Yunnan-like teas in my cupboard today. I got out my little demi-tasse cups, little steeping bowls, heated filtered water, got my note paper ready and put 1 teaspoon of tea in each bowl. In retrospect, and something I should have known at the time, far too much tea for the 1 ounce of water I was steeping with! In my defense, even if I had realized in time to adjust the amount of leaf, it would have been hard to determine how much to use with the larger leaves. I don’t have a scale, either.
Here’s a pic of the set up: http://tinyurl.com/ls6mo4p
Horrible lighting and a reflection made it look like there was a tea bag or something in the upper row cup.
I steeped, from left to right, bottom to top: Golden Strand from Mandala (not in picture, alas), Royal Yunnan from New Mexico Tea Co., Yunnan Imperial from Single Origin Teas, Pure Bud from Mandala, Yun Nan Dian Hong Black Tea Full Leaf from Teavivre, Superfine Tan Yang Gong Fu from Teavivre, Yunnan Gold Tips from A&D & Morning Sun from Mandala.
I steeped at 200F for all and for 3 minutes, give or take about 15 seconds. And yikes was that too long for that much tea in that little water! Without exception, all of the teas were bitter. I probably should also not have tried the same temp for all of them. After realizing my mistake I used the rest of the filtered water and tried resteeping in the full 8 ounces. I didn’t have enough filtered water to do all of them, though.
On a second steep, here’s what I figured out: Golden Strand was the cleanest and sharpest tasting. Tan Yang comes out slightly ahead of the Dian Hong Full Leaf, Morning Sun was the smokiest. Yunnan Gold Tips didn’t resteep very well. I didn’t have enough water to try the others.
So, all I managed to really find out is that 1) to do a proper side by side with variables controlled, I really need more than just me doing the prep or I need to not do all of them at once 2) follow steeping directions: all teas are not the same! and 3) even allowing for way improper steeping the most undrinkable were the Royal Yunnan and the Yunnan Imperial. The Imperial is the least expensive of the bunch, but the Dian Hong Full Leaf was the second least expensive so I don’t think that necessarily reflects quality in all cases.
Next I need to try a better comparison and do only the Mandala and then only the Teavivre so I can figure out better what I like about each one and if I really feel a need to keep every single one in my cupboard. Right now I think I do, but I’ve not had them side by side so every one has been The Most Awesome Ever. :)
Oh and after steeping each full cup, I didn’t drink the whole thing right then, I poured them all together and have been sipping on the combined mixture all day. I get almost none of the awesome aspects of any of them but it’s pretty drinkable so I don’t feel like I wasted all those leaves. :)
3/4 straight-up unflavored honeybush; 1/4 orange spice black tea for a little zing and something to accompany the cranberry orange bread cooling in the kitchen and a little cat comedy: Tazo is rug surfing.
Rug surfing…you know, where you hunker down in the living room with your rear in the air pretending you’re a Puma, then you sprint as fast as your four legs will go until you hit the throw rug in the kitchen and slide all the way across the kitchen on it. Dare you to try it.
Feeling tropical today, so I mixed some of my Hula Girl Mango Chai mix with some Red Leaf Tea Coconut Matcha. I dissolved the chai mix with a bit of boiling water, chilled it down with lots of ice and topped it off with milk. I then added the matcha and shook the whole concoction to combine.
Annoyingly, the Chai mix took over and I don’t really taste the coconut matcha. Oh well, I tried.