Design a Tea
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Recent Tasting Notes
I tried my hand at creating my own tea blend over at Design a Tea, and this is one of the packs I created (the other was hazelnut and peppermint; Design a Tea also threw in a sample of marzipan tea which I’m dying to try). There was nothing overly special about this tea; when sweetened and splashed with cream, this tastes like a creamsicle with a faint eggnog-y flavor. All in all, a good dessert tea.
This is my 2nd Design a Tea free sample. It’s alright. I tasted it without any sweetener and it had real soapiness to it that I think comes from the vanilla. After adding some agave nectar, the soapiness is reduced and the raspberry comes forward. The raspberry flavor is like a candy raspberry. The rooibos is barely noticable. Once I sweetened it, I liked it quite a bit. But, I did like 52teas Raspberry Cream Cheese Danish better.
I got two free samples in the mail today from Design a Tea. This is sample 1. It is a rooibos with maple and pecan flavoring. The rooibos has that woody flavor to it, but it is not overpowering. The flavoring is strong. If you like a ‘pow’ kind of flavoring then you might like this. The pecan seems to be the more predominant flavor. The maple is kind of a background sweetness. The maple is more of an Aunt Jemima “maple” rather than a Vermont maple. I am also picking up on a coffee-like flavor and some burned sugar flavor. I like the burned sugar aspect, but I don’t like the coffee flavor so much. I think that is coming from the pecan. The smell is distinctly coffee. All in all, I’d say give this one a try.
Note – you probably don’t need any sweetener at all in this (coming from someone who sweetens everything).
I had a nice, peaceful, bit of time before me so I decided to try the other sample of tea I had designed from Design A Tea. This one was definitely a success.
The liquor was a bright honey-gold with a bit of a peach tone to it. The first sip was strongly plum, then peach. The second I tasted the oolong as well. A little further along and there was a hint of pear also. The flavor lingered pleasantly at the back of my mouth after each sip. About halfway through the pot I found myself thinking “Is this tea…or nectar?” It was so good and I am very happy that I had been given the time to appreciate it properly.
When I order again from this company this blend is DEFINITELY on the list!
I decided to give this one another try today. I measured out two heaping teaspoons, double what I had used before, and as I was doing so I realized that only about a third of the mix was tea leaves. The other two thirds were chocolate nibs and rose petals respectively. Perhaps that was the cause of the weak taste last time.
After steeping the liquor was a murky red-brown. Very murky, I could hardly make out where the spoon touched the bottom of the tea cup and I use a small cup.
First sip…WOW! Now THAT is CHOCOLATE! Milky smooth but with a slight dark coco bitterness. It actually tastes a lot like the jasmine-infused chocolates that I have. I’ll have to try blending this with some jasmine tea at some point.
When my package from Design a Tea arrived last week I could smell this before I even opened the package. Not the bag with the tea, the PACKAGE that all of the teas came IN. Ever since I have been smelling it whenever I open my tea cabinet. Today was the day, I vowed
So, after steeping this tea is a very dark, murky amber. The murkiness being from sediment due to the chocolate chips. I tried without sugar first and was saddened to find that the liquor did not taste nearly as chocolaty as the dry leaf had smelled. With sugar there was definitely an improvement on the level of chocolate on my tastebuds. So I tried adding milk. The chocolate level was the same but there was a smoother finish and the liquor felt almost silky.
I think next time I drink this I will try doubling the leaf amount. Definitely better than the Chocolate Raspberry blend though.
Design a Tea was offering free samples—perhaps they still are. Today I got mine only a few days after I had requested them. One of my picks was Zabaglione because I love the flavor mixes. It’s difficult to make a good zabaglione and because the dessert requires so much intensive, last-minute cooking and detailed attention, few restaurants seem to offer it. Sometimes it’s called a “Sabayon”.
The ingredients for the Zabaglione are “Koslanda-Dimbulla blend from Sri Lanka” and “All natural flavoring”. My tea revealed a complex unfolding of flavors. As you might expect, the eggnog flavor predominated but there were little rushes of true marzipan, almond, and a general sweet creaminess. The only tea I’ve tried which is similar is, not surprisingly, an eggnog tea by David’s Teas. This one, of course, offers more than the generic eggnog—not that that is not delicious alone.
I drank most of it straight up and then added a soupçon of sugar and milk which enhanced the creamy sweetness.
I’m impressed with Design a Tea. They have a similar concept to Adagio’s, but seem to be smaller and perhaps offer a purer, more organic, and focused product. I plan to order from them after the fantastic tea prOn experience of spending time on their site.
I designed this one for one of my free samples from Design A Tea. I opened up the baggie and was treated to the aroma of chocolate. Delicious delicious chocolate. The same aroma was blasted back at me with the steam when I poured the water over the leaves in my pot. And again when I poured the bright amber liquor into the cup.
The first sip I tried without sugar. Whoa raspberry! Not tart, juicy raspberry, but definitely raspberry. Now where did the chocolate go? So I put my usual sugar in and tried again. Still raspberry…and something undefinable, slightly bitter. I could smell the chocolate in the steam coming off the cup but my taste buds couldn’t find a trace of it. I was being teased. Ok, try adding milk. The raspberry retreated, as if to sulk, and what was left was a weak, milky coco flavor.
Determined to have chocolate one way or another I used a teaspoon of hot chocolate mix instead of sugar for my second cup. The result was a tad bitter so I added a tiny bit of sugar…Perfection! At least if what you wanted was raspberry hot chocolate.
My last cup I took another try with the sugar, putting enough in for a full 6oz of liquid and forgetting the pot doesn’t hold enough for three cups full. There! A tantalizing wisp of chocolate on the back of my tongue.
So, chocolate is off the list of flavorings I’ll be picking with my next order. The raspberry has some potential though.
I kept slightly better track of how long I steeped this time. I also used more leaf and there was a lump in there that I’m pretty sure was a dried grape though it was a little difficult to tell with all the tea leaves embedded in it.
I definitely used too little leaf last time, it was much better this time around. Sweet and black tea and wine. I couldn’t say what sort of wine (since I’ve been either pregnant or breastfeeding for the past year or so and haven’t had much alcohol) other than some variety of white, which just feels odd since the tea is a dark red.
Still need to try this one iced.
I lost track of how long I steeped this, having a three year old and a five month old can do that to a person. You turn around and suddenly it’s later than you thought and you’ve got to leave NOW but the kids still aren’t ready and neither are you and – and – well, that’s another story. Anyway, steeping time was somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes.
The dry leaf definitely smelled winey and…chocolate? I think that was just due to the other tea it was shipped with though. The smell of the steeped liquor reminded me of an old country or antique shop redolent with potpourri. It was dark amber in color, lovely and clear.
Even without sugar I could taste the wine note. With sugar it was more pronounced and smoother though I think it might have been a bit thin (will definitely try with more leaf next time). After swallowing there was a slight dryness in my mouth, nearly imperceptible until I breathed in.
I tried my second cup with honey and nearly poured the stuff down the drain. Do NOT drink this with honey! Ick! I am curious as to what it would taste like with agave nectar though, too bad I haven’t been able to find any more in the area since I finished the last bottle.
My last cup full ended up cooling due to having to deal with fussy kids and it actually tasted better lukewarm than hot which makes me wonder how it would work as an iced tea.
Overall a very nice blend.
Amount: 1 teabag, 3.3g including paper teabag and plastic wrapper and paper tag.
Water: 6 ounces filtered boiling
Steep Time: a little over 3 minutes
Dry Leaf Smell: Amaretto
Steeped Tea Smell: tea
Flavor: black tea
Aftertaste: Very bitter
Liquor: nice translucent brown
This was one of two samples I ordered from design a tea. The tea was lackluster and smelled much stronger and interesting and delicious than it tasted. It tasted weak and plain with a lingering bitter aftertaste. I didn’t even steep it as long as the packaging suggested.
Post-Steep Additives: none
Amount: 1 teabag, 3.7g including paper teabag and plastic wrapper and paper tag.
Water: boiling filtered
Steep Time: a little over 5 minutes
Leaf Smell: nutty amaretto (contamination from other sample) vanilla with a slight caramel undertone
Tea Smell: rooibos, vanilla, woody
Liquor: nice dark brown, fairly transparent
This was one of two samples I ordered from design a tea. The tea was lackluster and smelled much stronger and interesting and delicious than it tasted. It tasted weak and plain.
At this point I am not very enthusiastic about the second sample I got, but we’ll see.
Post-Steep Additives: none
Resteep: very weak and watery, plain rooibos, hints of vanilla in the smell and aftertaste
Design a Tea’s Pumpkin Chestnut was so awful I ended up throwing it out. I figured that I might as well try the other sample I ordered from them and get it over with.
When I opened the package, the bright smell of pear hit me… hmm, this one might be better than the last. It’s rooibos, so I’m not sure what I was thinking mixing rooibos with apple and pear. Oh well, let’s see how it tastes.
The aroma is very sweet and fruity. The taste is also fruity, but not obviously pear or apple. Just sorta sweet.
It’s a middle of the road tea. Not bad, but not really good either.
Edited: It’s developing a strange aroma as it’s cooling. I think I’m headed for the kitchen sink with this one, too. Bleh.