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Recent Tasting Notes
When I started seeing all the positive reviews for Design a Tea, I decided I had to check it out. The variety of flavors really appealed to me since I can drink so few teas right now due to pregnancy heartburn. I’m not actually a huge fan of Red Rooibos, but it was the only tea without caffeine available as a sample, so I decided to go ahead and give it a shot. This one was alright. The rooibos is smokey, but not too bad. The flavor doesn’t really stand out, but it adds a pleasant faintly apple-flavored sweetness that helps balance the smokiness of the rooibos. I want to try a few more of my samples before I decide for sure, but I’ll probably try some of their Green Rooibos or Honeybush at some point.
Flavors: Apple, Smoke, Sweet, Wood
And this is the last Design A Tea blend! It’s been really cool making my own blends and trying them all out – if you’ve yet to do it, I really recommend trying it! Besides, with all five blends I chose they did an excellent job with making the flavours I picked not only stand out but actually very accurate to the flavour.
And of course this is no exception; in fact I think the only time I’ve come across a better Pecan flavour in a tea is with Butiki’s Maple Pecan Oolong. But this was just exemplary, there was a super, super rich pecan flavour with all the sweetness of maple and brown sugar; kinda like the innards of a Maple Pecan Pie. Just honestly so indulgent and dessert-like – and also really filling.
And then there’s the plum; it wasn’t as strong as the pecan (especially as the tea cooled; the pecan sorta took over at that point) but it was present and really accurate; and the two mixed together really well. The plum tasted very natural and ripe; not candy like but sweet and that married quite nicely with the rich dessert-like Pecan.
So yeah, this was definitely another success.
And here’s what I learned overall from the 5 blends I made: I really like the black base they’re using, and I would probably want to explore more combinations with Cranberries/Pecan if I were to do this again. Also, usually one of the two flavours is more dominant – but in every blend I made both were still present.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Maple, Pecan, Plums
Woot! Look at those numbers drop! Hooray!
But anyway; breakfast tea! And when I say breakfast, I mean that for once I actually drank a tea and consumed a meal at a normal time accurate for meal it’s named for. Shocking, really.
Anyway; I’m almost through my Design A Tea samples. This is the second last one; but I’m gonna finish them off today. This is the only one I picked with an oolong base; and I just went with something safe for it: Pineapple and Coconut which is pretty much just my favourite flavour combination of all time. So it’s kinda 50/50 between having high expectations for the blend, but also knowing without much of a doubt that I’ll enjoy it regardless.
Dry, the pineapple in this smells so strong and intoxicating. You can smell the coconut, but the lush fruit does a pretty damn good job of masking it. Om nom nom, pineapples! And steeped up, this was actually really impressive. The pineapple was really vibrant, juicy and lush and reminded me a lot of the pineapple flavouring in Red Leaf Tea’s Pineapple Matcha (which I find to be very distinct from other pineapple flavourings – such as Butiki’s which has sorta the natural acidic tang to it or DAVIDsTEA’s which is more subtle and candy-like). The coconut was very buttery and tropical and it really complimented the buttery, greener oolong base.
I drank most of this hot, but I let the last few sips go cold and it was probably just as good cold as it was hot; though I thought the coconut and oolong base were more noticeable in the cold tea.
So while this wasn’t exactly a unique or out of the box flavour combination, I think it was a successful one! Definitely quite enjoyable!
Look at all the sipdown progress! Which is good, because Camellia Sinensis finally restock Le Tropicale so I put in the order I’ve been wanting to make for the last two months! And it’s a small enough order too; three teas. But it feels good to have an actual order in coming, even if all the teas are new to me and in 50g quantities. I know that if I dislike anything there are plenty of people here to share with.
As for this blend (which is the last one in my queue btdubbs) it was really interesting! I honestly anticipated not liking but I was intrigued by the idea of a grapefruit tea (I don’t think I’ve had one or, at the very least not a memorable one) and I remembered 52Tea’s Brown Sugar Grapefruit Shou Mei so I tried pairing something relatively similar. Sorry Frank; I ripped off your brain child on this one.
Anyway; it was good – at first. It was strongly and specifically grapefruit but without a lot of bitterness or tartness to it. I think that’s what the maple really contributed: it sweetened the whole thing up and kept things upbeat. On the whole I was reminded of breakfast? Well, not my take on breakfast because for me that’s usually microwaved pizza hastily eaten before running out the door for work. But like, rich people/movie breakfast where someone brings you a platter of fresh squeezed grapefruit juice in bed with a fat stack of maple waffles and sausage links accompanying it. Not my kind of breakfast; but kinda idealistic and nice.
Except then the cup cooled and it started to taste really funky. The grapefruit just kind of built up in my mouth and tasted spoiled – like someone had left out that “perfect breakfast” for a couple of days and I was picking at the leftovers. Ew.
So I don’t know if this is a success or not. It was very on point at first, but then it turned bad. I guess on the whole it was better than I thought it’d be, though. I suppose I just have to say to drink this one hot? Anyway, I’m rating a little conservatively because of the latter half of the mug. But seriously; when this was good, it was good.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Citrus, Grapefruit, Maple, Maple Syrup
You can never have too much pear tea; and caramel pear? Hot damn I’m all up for that! So of course I had to include this as one of my five blends, and because I actually like rooibos that’s the base I chose because I thought it’d compliment the caramel and I’ve had other successful pear rooibos blends before.
This one was sweet but not over the top. Both the pear and caramel flavours were really present, but I think the pear just slightly more so. It came off as a just slightly overripe pear in flavour the same way the RiverTea’s Sweet Helen did but I think this worked a little better for me because it had the caramel to sweeten it and the rooibos to act as a little more of an “anchor” and add another layer to the flavour so it wasn’t just overripe pears.
This is another one that I’m going to call a success, though I’m confidant that there are much better caramel/pear blends out there. Still it was enjoyable and struck all the right cords while I was drinking it!
So this was an extra sample added in to the set of teas I made for myself! That’s really cool that they added in something extra and, just based on what it was, I feel like they really took a look at the flavours I had used in my samples and tried to pick something I’d like.
Steeped up, this had the same smooth but in the background black base as my Cranberry Rum blend did, but differently the Rum in this blend was much stronger and in your face as was the coconut which equaled the rum in intensity. That made for a very flavourful and aromatic cup enriched by sweet, supple fruit notes. Whether they were strongly apricot is a little harder to pinpoint. I’d say I was reminded of a cross between Tim Horton’s Peach Juice and Apricot Jam. It worked though, and kept things fun and tasty.
However I have to say that if and when I need an Apricot fix I am likely going to turn to Tea Desire’s White Angel which, like this blend, has a lot of rich creamy coconut in addition to a more flavourful apricot – just TD’s kinda showcases the coconut and apricot flavours more equally. Which is a good thing.
Still this was an enjoyable extra sample! Definitely worth trying.
So my Design a Tea samples (plus extra sample) arrived on Thursday when I was home sick. Of course I was very excited to try them all but I patiently waited until late in the day when I was feeling much better before I steeped a few up. Since this was the first I “designed” it was the one I started with.
There was probably more “specific” thought behind this one than all the others if I’m being honest, and that was that I’d already tried a Design A Tea blend with Cranberry in it and I had really enjoyed that aspect of the tea so I thought I’d do another as a “safer” gamble. I don’t know why I picked Rum to pair with it – I just thought the two would work. And really, it definitely did.
The black base was very smooth and hid in the background well enough to let the flavours I had chosen really shine; and I appreciate that. While I did choose the black base, I am ultimately most interested in seeing how my selected flavours combine.
The cranberry was definitely a much more dominant flavour than the rum and it stood out loudly as very ripe, sweet and juicy. That’s not to say that the rum wasn’t present though; I think it just came off as lighter overall because it was sweetening up the cranberry and keeping it from getting to be very tart.
On the whole; this was really enjoyable and for whatever reason brought forth strong connections to Christmas and “Christmas Dinner”. I am going to proclaim this first combination as a delightful success!
Flavors: Cranberry, Rum, Vanilla
Thank you Dexter for the thoughtful add in that you sent to me a while back. Dex passed it along to me because I like cranberry tea, which was definitely very thoughtful or her. I’ll be honest though, I put it off because of the sage. I wasn’t sure whether I’d like it. In fact, you can thank my roommate Tre for getting me to make it; I was trying to pick a tea to cold brew last night and was reading out the names of things in my sipdown/sample drawer – and this is the one that stood out to him. He said it sounded like it’d be good as iced tea.
I’ve been drinking it while browsing online, and it really isn’t so bad. I’m not really sure what I was so scared of. The cranberry is present but not overtly tart, which is something I’ve noticed to be true with the majority of cranberry tea I’ve had. It’s odd; I don’t like the actual fruit – I wont eat straight up cranberries, but in tea? Mmm!
As for the sage, which is what I was most worried about anyway, it is definitely noticeable and it’s kinda weird but overall a good weird that compliments the cranberry and adds more depth, and an earthiness. Lastly, the chestnut. I had to really think about it; and I don’t think I’ve ever had chestnut anything before – so I don’t know what exactly I’m looking for. Google tells me a chestnut is a dry, potato like tasting nut; I’m not so much getting that from this…
On the whole; a very drinkable and enjoyable cold brew. Do I feel a need to get more of it? No, but I’m really glad I tried it and didn’t let myself get so weirded out by the sage or other unfamiliar things in this.
Also I want to share more links with you all! These ones are at least a little tea related though! You all should check out this super neat ceramic artist!
I really wish I could pronounce her name! But yeah, her jewelry is cool, but the slip casted tea ware is where it’s REALLY at! As an artist specializing in sculpture/clay work I am especially fascinated by the process she takes to get to a finish pieced. I’m so proud of myself right now because of my great understanding of her process; well, the physical “doing” part of her process. Every artist has their own process in other regards. I’ve done slip casting before (but I did a series of Rubber Ducks) and it’s an incredibly neat thing, and it takes a lot of time and patience to make your own slip moulds. I just… Wow.
I don’t think her work is usable (like, you couldn’t actually drink from them) but I don’t know for sure; I don’t see a FAQ on either site. I guess ultimately it’d depend on what glaze she used and if it’s food safe glaze. Either way you probably wouldn’t want to dishwash them; it’d be gently handwashing, all the way.
I really want to buy a teacup/saucer set – but I don’t know if she ships to Canada. I don’t see anything saying she doesn’t, but the price/shipping seem too low for that to be a thing.
Oh, for reference, her are some picks of my slip mould rubber ducks!
Flavors: Berries, Cranberry, Earth, Herbs, Sage
I was intrigued by the name of this tea. Ice wine? I am not sure I have the actual wine drink. This smelled a little odd. The taste, not too bad. I can’t put my fingure on the flavors. I was thinking rose? If I think about it a bit I get a redish wine. I am enjoying this cup. Odd and a little different, but enjoyable.
I’ve had this one a few times, and I think the more I drink it, the less enamored I become with it. The flavors are nice, but they aren’t particularly distinct. Actually I searched for ‘Tropical Green’ because I couldn’t remember the name of this tea. I wish that Mango came through more cleanly. It’s mango season and I’m just craving a good mango, if only I could figure out where to buy the Philippine ones!! It IS a nice tea, and one that I don’t mind coming back to, but when dry or brewed it doesn’t particularly scream MANGO or VANILLA to me. You kind of have to know what to look for, and even then… I think this is a tea I’ll have to sit down and have a serious brewing session with, it’s not living up to what is claiming to be, but I think that might mostly be me and how many times this ends up being a thermos tea from living in the kitchen cupboard and not with the other sit-down teas.
Thank you Dexter3657 for this sample.
It is weird. I’m eating a cookie with it and I’m not getting much tea flavour. A bit of bitterness, a bit of weird mentholishness that must be from the sarsaparilla root, I smell but can’t taste a general fruitiness.
So. Weird and interesting. Not something I’ll pick up in the future (Unless it’s amazing cold brewed. I should try cold brewing this!), but really neat to try!
Edit: I missed it! This was post 1234! AHHH!!!
A wee sample from MissB.
It’s lavender. And smells like soap.
Let’s see how this steeps up, shall we? Ahh, there’s the chamomile. Why am I having problems smelling dry chamomile?
And it works OK with the tea cookies I made (I used my own GF flour blend and didn’t frost them because they are SO SWEET. Seriously, next time I’m using 1/2 the sugar.) so that’s good. http://cookiesandcups.com/southern-tea-cakes/
There’s just too much lavender. Boo.
This is more of a clove and nutmeg tea with a black base.
Two of my favorite spices.
The pumpkin is not really recognizable it is so light, but oh I love the clove!
Reminds me of the clove gum, but the flavor is a bit more complex than the gum.
I really like this.
Flavors: Cloves, Nutmeg
’Here’s Hoping’ traveling teabox Round #2 // Tea #10
Steep #1 // just boiled // 3 min
Oh my gosh, the pear is very accurate! Design a Tea, I’m not doubting you, if I was before! I’ve had a few pear teas in the past and they are usually way off, gross, or there is a drying effect to the mouth. This tastes exactly like juicy, sweet pear! It doesn’t have hints of artificial at all. It wins the pear flavored tea contest! The spices are nice with it as well, I think it’s mostly cinnamon, but the pear is definitely front and center. The black tea is perfect with the flavor too. Not too heavy, not too light.
Steep #2 // a few minutes after boiling // 3 min
Sadly, this steep lost the pear flavor, but I probably didn’t steep it as I should have. I like the slightly stronger spice flavor this time around anyway. I’m tried a couple from Design A Tea, and now I’m impressed. I want to steal this one from the teabox, but I will leave the few remaining teaspoons there for others to taste the magic!
Sipdown!! (176, because I found some teas that I forgot to remove from my cupboard so YAY!)
This is actually a very nice tea. The vanilla flavor is amazing and sweet and delicious while the pomegranate is more subtle but still great. Honestly, if you have not already checked out Design a Tea I recommend you do so as their flavors have all been great and you can create 5 samples for free (though you have to pay shipping): http://www.designatea.com/freesamples.php.
This is a nice tea. The black base is a little strong for my liking but once I get passed that, I really enjoy the fresh apricot flavor which has been drizzled with a nice bit of honey for sweetness. Good, but not amazing so I don’t think I would be ordering more. I am happy I tried it though.
And this one is finished. I really like the pear flavor mixed with the spices. The spice flavors have mellowed so much from when I first purchased it, but I find that to be a good thing because it really lets the pear flavor stand out. It’s a great fall tea, so I’m a little bummed that it’s all gone, but this is definitely a tasty last cup. I added cream and sugar and am enjoying.
This is something I might repurchase at some point in the future, but there are so many tea/flavor possibilities at Design a Tea that I think my next custom creation will be something new to me.
September Sipdowns: 31 (I didn’t log a lot of my sipdowns because Steepster has been so derpy.)
Now that I’m almost out of this one I’m starting to like it a lot. Go figure. Tonight’s cup had a very good balance between the pear and the spice. The pear was the main flavor with the cinnamon and nutmeg acting as highlighters to the fruit. Delicious.
I’m still planning on ordering straight pear tea with my next DAT order, but I’m upping my rating on this one because this is a cup of yum.
(previous rating: 74)
This was a custom blend from Design a Tea. I love pear flavored teas, and I thought the spice might lend a poached pear flavor. The tea I received had a lot of spice. So much so that I set the tea aside for several moths hoping the flavors would mellow a bit. It worked! I’ve found with a shorter steep (3 minutes or so) I get a nice pear flavor and the cinnamon and nutmeg from the spice in a much more balanced cup than I had when I first ordered the tea.
The next time I order from DAT I’m going to get pear tea with no additional flavors. I think the company has a wonderful pear flavor – very juicy and sweet – and Id rather have that than pear plus whatever else.
Tbh, I was not expecting this to be as good as it is. I am not sure why, but I just didn’t have high expectations. Sipping on it now, I am actually blown away at how good this is. Initially, the taste is of rooibos, though a pleasant rooibos that is neither woodsy or medicinal. Then, a delicious sweet creaminess takes over, just as one would expect from a zabaglione. Finally, the mango sneaks in right at the end of the sip and just pops. I would definitely have this again and the success with this tea has made me excited to try the others I have.