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Recent Tasting Notes

97

I thought I’d update on the experimentation we’re going through with this blend and the triniTEA.

I’m using about 6 tsp of English Breakfast and 2 (heaping) tsp of Lemon Youkou. It’s on the hotter setting of the triniTEA (II) and brewing for 2 minutes.

We’ll get about 32 oz of tea, which will then have sugar added to it (about 1/3 cup) and the pitcher will be topped off with ice (it’s a 1 L pitcher).

The bitterness seems to be gone (good, because I can’t brew it for any less time on the triniTEA!). I’m still playing with the amount of lemon because the last one I thought was not enough but the husband said it was too much. I’m making it more to his taste becuase he tends to drink it more than I do.

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97

More a review of the triniTEA than this particular tea blend…

The bitterness from the last brew totally covered up the taste of PLASTIC! Yuck! I wrote to Adagio to see what they would say, but it’s totally undrinkable (IMO).

Angrboda

Yuck, that’s always the problem with plastic.

denisend

Must be the type of plastic used because we didn’t have a problem with the Zarafina, and it’s plastic, too. sigh

S

Just wondering, is there a reason you switched from the Zarafina to the triniTEA? I was considering doing that, until I realized that it only has two temperature settings (whereas the Zarafina has multiple, I think…)

denisend

Shanti, we wanted a second tea maker and so we picked up the triniTEA for things like this SSB that we make in quantity. Also, so when my husband and I BOTH want tea we don’t have to wait for the other one, or dump out the other one’s leaves (which might still be okay for resteeping). So, we’re still using the Zarafina!

denisend

Er, that should be SST, for Southern Sweet Tea. sigh

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97

So… we bought Adagio’s triniTEA (automatic tea brewer) to supplement the Zarafina. It was getting crazy with waiting for the other person’s tea to finish brewing and for resteeps, what do you do with the leaves, and so on. We thought that the increased capacity of the triniTEA would be nice for making large pitchers of iced tea, as well.

The first batch didn’t go so well. We’ll ignore the machine’s faults and just talk about the tea… Nathaniel followed the instructions that came with the machine and not the instructions that came with the tea, so he put the timing knob on 5 minutes (Teavana says to brew the English Breakfast for 2-3 minutes and the Lemon Youkou for 5-6 minutes, but we usually just brew it as a black tea). The result was BITTER and had no lemon taste. UGH. It was totally overbrewed.

Not the tea’s fault, or the machine, really. We have to do another run with a shorter time.
(I’m leaving the rating where it is because when brewed right this tea is really good)

LENA

i received a zarafina for christmas and i love it (mostly). just wish it held more than 2 cups. do you like the triniTEA better?

denisend

We’ve only used it the once so far (and that was a bust because of the wrong brew time). There are advantages and disadvantages to both machines, so I think having both is okay.

There are only 2 temperature settings on the triniTEA, but I believe there are more on the Zarafina. The Zarafina is kinda black box, though (I don’t know what the various setting correspond to in time and temperature). The greater capacity of the triniTEA is nice if the hubby and I want to drink the same thing (not often), or we’re making a pitcher to stick in the fridge (often).

They both limit the volume that the leaves can expand into (unlike the gravity pots), and that’s annoying.

Also, somehow my husband put too much water into the triniTEA and it overfilled the brew basket, making a big mess. I’m not sure how that happened, but it’s not foolproof.

He also complained that the carafe doesn’t pour easily and spills.

I think it’ll be worth it once we get used to its quirks (especially since having only one teamaker was getting ANNOYING!).

LENA

There are 5 different setting with the Zarafina…which is pretty cool. I wish I knew the minutes that mild, medium, and strong correlated to. Also, no warmer with the Z. We also have an electric kettle, so I make my husband use that a lot of the time for his basic Earl Gray and such. :)

denisend

Well, there are 5 different tea type settings, but I’m not sure if they correspond to temperatures… there may only be 2 or 3 temperatures and then a few brew times. That’s what I mean about it being black box… there’s no real explaination about what the settings correspond to!

Also, I’ve always thought that you should vary the strength by changing the amount of leaves, not the brew time, so the “mild, medium, and strong” settings totally baffle me. I leave it on medium all of the time, but Nathaniel switches it to strong for his sweet tea. IDK.

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97

backlogging from the weekend…

I’m thinking that perhaps I need to ask the hubby to cut back on the sugar a touch (gasp!). I know we’re from South Carolina, but it was just Too Sweet. I think I’ve been living in Maryland too long.

Still loving this blend, though. It’s awesome.

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97

We’ve been drinking this particular blend a lot, so I thought I would just add it as a custom blend.

Preparation Details:
Zarafina Tea Maker: Black, Loose, Strong, 2 cups water, 2 scoop English Breakfast, 1 scoop Lemon Youkou (Teavana)
Sweetened with 1/2 cup sugar, then iced and water added to make 1qt tea.

I love it. It’s a perfect blend of black tea with just a hint of lemon/fruitiness.

rabbysmom

This sounds very good. Thanks for sharing!

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91
drank Vanilla Caramel by Custom
1270 tasting notes

And another gone and another gone, another one bites the dust. This time Adagio’s vanilla that got the last act of mercy. I didn’t even have a full teaspoon left of this. Nearly but not quite, so I decided to mix it with the caramel from Luka, my local shop, which is a mix I know to be awesome. Since I usually do it half and half and couldn’t do that this time, I tried adding little vanilla sugar to the mix. I tell you, it feels utterly weird to stand there and stir a teapot!

I have no clue how that last additive will influence the flavour. I figure the worst that can happen is it’s a little sweeter than usual. I need to try the vanilla tea from my local shop and see if it’s better than Adagio’s. I liked Adagio’s to begin with but have found myself using it primarily to mix into other stuff.

Probably shouldn’t have added the vanilla sugar. It’s quite vanilla heavy now and the caramel is a bit overpowered. Now whether this is because I used too much vanilla sugar or if it was because adding just doesn’t work, I can’t really know.

It’s still delicious, though.

For those of you who own Adagio’s vanilla and find it a bit lacking in the vanilla department, perhaps a little bit of vanilla sugar can bring it out a bit more?

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91
drank Vanilla Caramel by Custom
1270 tasting notes

Because this was such a success the other day, I’ve tried to reconstruct it today. I needs it. I need something that is so good that it can take away the sneaking girl-stomach issues and the general pouting that the fact that my presence has been requested at work on wednesday, which because I work part-time is normally my day off, has brought on. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I hate, abhor and just generally dislike meetings. Especially those I can’t get out of.

So something sweet and distracting, yes please.

When I tried this the other day, it was the second steep of the caramel, and this is the first steep all round, so it’s intersting to see if it’ll turn out the same success or if I’m in for a bit of a disappointment.

Nope. Still good. Still sweet. What girl-stomach? What meeting?

Carolyn

I bring teas into meetings and fiddle with my strainer. It keeps me from saying things I will regret.

Angrboda

I don’t really have that opportunity. Luckily our meetings aren’t usually that long, just boring. Boring boring boring.

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91
drank Vanilla Caramel by Custom
1270 tasting notes

Okay, I’ve got some tea in me now and some other cool stuff has happened and I’ve listened to a cool song, so I’m feeling a bit more optimistic about the rest of the day now.

Still, I do have domestic chores to ignore, and what better way to do it than having another cup of tea.

This is a Sudden Inspiration blend. Kind of brave actually because it consists of my Caramel tea from Luka with half a teaspoon of Vanilla from Adagio in it. The brave thing about it is that the Caramel is a resteep of the cup I had a couple of hours ago, and I haven’t got the foggiest clue as to how well that tea handles resteeps… I may have just made myself something that will be rather weak and taste slighly of vanilla.

The aroma is quite nice. There are definite vanilla and caramel notes in it. A bit fleeting which I imagine must have something to do with most of it being a resteep.

Oh my GOD! This is… I can’t even… I just…!!! The caramel SO didn’t get hurt in the resteep and the vanilla is really bringing out the sweetness in it. Like a bit of sugar can bring out the sweetness more, but this is just without that side-flavour of sugar. I will totally have to try this again except without the caramel being a resteep. The whole thing is rounded off by the astringency of the tea, so it doesn’t get cloying.

I had expected it would be nice, but I’m surprised that it was THIS nice. It reminds me a bit of the Elephant Vanilla Chai that I had yesterday. Only sad thing is that I’m running very low on the vanilla sample from Adagio. I should be able to get a vanilla black from my local shop, though, so I just hope that it’s as good as Adagio’s.

Luthien

Sounds fabulous! I’ve been on the hunt for a really good sweet vanilla type tea for ages, and it sounds like you’ve found it.

Angrboda

I wouldn’t say it’s really sweet-sweet. It’s not something you get in your mouth and think ‘oh, this is sweet’. I could have wished for a bit more of that actually. The aroma of it is sweet but the flavour is more sort of rough. Like a proper vanilla pod as opposed to that powdered vanilla sugar stuff. Kind of hard to explain. But it underlines the sweetness of the caramel. I don’t really think I’ve been drinking this vanilla on it’s own as much as I’ve used it in blending experiments.

takgoti

“Oh my GOD! This is… I can’t even… I just…!!!”

Hehe, I think we just saw your head asplode. Love it.

Angrboda

I know, I was SHOCKED at how good it was. :)

Marie

This might be out of the norm. But if you’re having a hard time finding a good vanilla tea. You might just want to purchase some vanilla pods, and then while the water is coming to a boil, scrap the vanilla from one pod into a pot with your favorite black tea and see how the oils from both blend once you pour the boiling water over it. You can’t go wrong with pure vanilla. Let me know how it goes because I haven’t tried something like that. It was just a thought I had while reading your comments.

gmathis

I like the vanilla pod idea … a lot of the flavored vanilla teas I’ve tried taste a little chemically to me.

Angrboda

Amy, I’ll try my local shop for a vanilla tea first. I know they’ve got one (I looked). Adagio’s is the only vanilla tea I’ve ever tried, so I don’t have anything to compare it with. I like it as it is, but I have no clue how it holds up to other brands.

I’ve tried sweetening with that vanilla sugar powder stuff, though, and it didn’t really work like I had imagined.

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100
drank Yerba Mate Mix by Custom
6 tasting notes

Overnight Fridge Tea at it’s best!!!

My Overnight Coca Tea technique is what I use for Maté. In Seattle there isn’t much sun, outside of the summer, to make sun porch tea, so I came up with a overnight fridge tech.

Just fill a Gallon or more jug with cold water, immerse stainless steel ball with 4 (four) Tablespoons of Maté, (used two roasted, two raw), place in fridge and try to sleep with the anticipation of tomorrow mornings brew.

This process also is amazing with coffee.

~paganbuddha

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more

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75
drank Mint Mate by Custom
1587 tasting notes

I wanted the gentle energy boost yerba mate provides but I felt like I wanted something a bit more interesting than the normal nutty/vegetal flavours of the drink. All it took was a few crumbled leaves of dried mint and this cuppa has a nice refreshing kick to it. :)

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 30 sec

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54
drank Hedgerow Special by Custom
1270 tasting notes

Oh dear, this is bravery and courage of the worst kind. Another adventure into the Big Tins of Mystery. It started with the question, “what tea should we have? Something plain or something with something in it?” and the reply was, “something out there.” Now we’ll see if my mention of the BToM might have been a dreadful mistake. And alternative name for it might have been ‘Bracken Water Blend’, but this sounded nicer and more like something you might actually want to try and put in your mouth.

I had lemon grass, red rosebuds and honeysuckle flowers. I have no clue what the latter might possibly taste like, but it does smell kind dusty and kind of smokey. Certainly doesn’t smell like honey. We mixed all these with Ceylon Pekoe for the base.

It has a light brownish yellow colour, which is probably just due to the Ceylon and it smells really a lot of honeysuckle. That’s not a smell that’s easily mistaken. I can pick up something sweetish too which I think must be the rosebuds.

We tried a sip which was followed by silence. And the remark that it was odd that no side effects had been encountered. Yet. (Now I’m having my grammar corrected in a really sort of demonstrative way with looks and everything!) Anyway, I can taste a heck of a lot of honeysuckle and underneath it I think I can find some lemon grass. The rosebuds seem to be only there for show and the tea is um well camouflaged. To make a short story long it’s a rather flowery concoction.

This all sounds very off-putting, but it’s not really quite as it may sound (or smell). The word ‘refreshing’ has been spoken. I think we can say that we’re leaning more towards Care of Magical Creature than we are towards Defence Against the Dark Arts here.

(And another plus, it seems to make the drinker kind of silly. Wait, are we sure that’s really a plus?)

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91
drank Vanilla Almond by Custom
1270 tasting notes

Goodmorning Steepster.

Continuing on the almond pandemic we’ve had around the site lately, after I went to bed last night and just on the verge of sleeping, this combination popped into my head.

Usually I have noticed a trend of preferring green and white in my travel mug in the morning, but today I wanted to try this, so black it was.

I took half and half (just about) of Adagio’s Vanilla black tea and the black almond tea from my local shop, Den Lille Tebutik (they’ve changed their name since, though, due to having been sold, so now I’m debating whether or not to edit the teas I’ve logged from there).

It worked really well. The two flavours suited each other and the vanilla countered some of the enormous sweetness of the almond and making it less of a dessert tea. I really liked this combination and will have to see if aforementioned local shop have a vanilla tea so I can try to recreate it.

Angrboda

The thing about Adagio is that their European store has a very limited selection compared to the american store. And since I’m in Denmark… shopping from Adagio is just WAY too expensive when I have to pay a third to a half of the price of the tea just in shipping fees and VAT and customs. I’ve shopped there once and I liked it a lot. But it’s just too expensive to do again. I can’t do any better than try to imitate.

Jillian

What is this now? Pimp My Tea?! LOL XD

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65
drank White Fruit Salad by Custom
1270 tasting notes

Backlogged. I had this this morning. It’s what you get when you don’t really have enough of the white tea with kiwi and strawberry and you got inspired by a fellow Steeper the other day just add something else to it. So this is half white tea with kiwi and strawberry and half white tea with pomegranate.

The former was once quite nice but has faded a little. The latter have never been more than a bit better than mediocre and has never actually really tasted like pomegranate all that much. Obviously, what could I call this other than ‘fruit salad’?

It was nice enough, but heavily dominated by the strawberry/kiwi half. It’s not something that I’m heartbroken over not being able to make more of, but it was quite nice for the travel mug on the train.

Jillian

Your resourcefulness is inspiring. ;)

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39

To cut the sourness of the Very Berry I recently reviewed I thought I would pair with a black tea. It helps a lot but is still not very good…oh well…at least I tried. Looks like I will be throwing away the Very Berry from Teavana…

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95

My blend so I have to rate it high but with a little room for improvement. I suggest you give it a try.

gmathis

Two of my favorites—-equal proportions?

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81
drank Mormon Tea by Custom
8 tasting notes

I harvested some E. sinica from Arches National park (I know I’m bad) one year ago. You don’t normally need to let the tea dry that long (in fact the fresh tips taste just fine) but I wanted to see if there was a difference. In fact it still had it’s same potency.
I ground up the tips in a coffee grinder and put in about a golf-balls size worth of it into a ceramic straining cup. After steeping I enjoyed my tea while reading stuff online.
In about 5 minutes I felt an intense rush (this isn’t going to sound like an erowid post, promise) of mind-numbing energy. Not the kind of energy where you want to do things but rather when you want to just relax and try and focus. In about 30 minutes my little high was over and I started being able to focus on the current article on my screen.
Oh, and the tea tasted pretty good.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Jillian

Just be careful, ephedrine can be dangerous stuff.

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40
drank Strawberry and Lemon by Custom
1270 tasting notes

Both the strawberry and the lemon tea used were from Whittard of Chelsea. Their strawberry tea is like my ideal strawberry tea. It’s JUST right. I’ve been toying with the idea of this combination for a while. The sweet of the strawberry and the tart of the lemon.
I used 1 part strawberry tea and 1 part lemon tea, and unfortunately the result wasn’t nearly as yummy as I had expected. Oh it was definitely still good and still drinkable, but it was like the two kinds of fruit equalled each other out instead of complementing each other. I haven’t given up though. I believe it’s a question of working out the right ratio. Next time I’ll try 2 parts strawberry to 1 part lemon and see how that works.

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75
drank Moroccan Mint Tea by Custom
6 tasting notes

I still need to perfect the mixture, but it’s close.

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75
drank Wu Yi Fujian Oolong by Custom
15 tasting notes

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75
drank Wu Yi Fujian Oolong by Custom
15 tasting notes

This is also from China. I got 5+ steeps out of one batch.

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75

I personally prefer a longer steeper time than what many ‘gurus’ advocate. Like most Oolongs this is a refreshing drink after being rinsed and steeped for a few minutes but a 10 minute steeping time brings out more of the tannins and polyphenols and I like the very slight bitter taste this produces.

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75

The lemon grass dominated the mint and other ingredients, which was fine because it was bedtime. When I need to wake up tomorrow and get my tea fast, it’ll be nice to compare to a commercial blend with more mint kicker.

Pamela Dean

Tea-son, what a lovely picture your blend makes, spread out on your kitchen counter. It reminds me of fun teatimes at your house!

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75
drank Kumquat Spice Bush by Custom
211 tasting notes

The citrus and cinnamon make first impressions, while the fresh bush tastes linger. Not very sweet, so I added agave nectar.

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