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Recent Tasting Notes
Manyous Thanks to Tegan Again for this tea-bag-alicious sample!
Redemption! After the last review which was blech-y, I rushed to find the next tea to review in my “TO BE REVIEWED” box, next to another “NEW TEAS” also to be reviewed box and so on. Never ends does it?! Well, Tegan had saved the evening with this tea bag sample…this Organic exotic (which I myself also am) spiced Chai! Horray! Besides black tea the ingredients say ginger, cardamom, pepper, lemon-grass, cloves. I like those things. So, I steeped the bag 5 minutes, added milk and agave which worked perfectly with the brew. Here’s what I liked about this Chai compared to others I’ve had. This Chai doesn’t make you feel like you’re in a spice market in India ready to dance as a Bollywood extra (and I LOVE to dance to Bollywood music myself and I love to bellydance too…but that’s another story…) because this Chai is subtle. There is more of a peppery feel on the tongue and a lite spiciness. The cardamom, ginger and clove is restrained so that you can’t pick out the individual flavors. That’s not easy to do with such aggressive spices. Many people avoid Chai because they are so pronounced and assertive. This one is relaxing which would particularly be nice when the weather is hot. I can see why the reviews have been so positive.
This tea has possibly one of the most well-described packages I have ever seen. The single teabag package reads: “Hamstead Tea, London. Organic Fairtrade Earl Grey with aromatic bergamot. 1 staple-free teabag.”
Wow, that is quite a mouthful. I personally do not know anyone who buys teabags who is also concerned about saving some metal, but by the look of the string attached to the teabag, it makes me wonder why more teabag-producers do not follow this. It seems that Hamstead has implemented an easy way to do away with stables entirely. But how about the tea itself?!
The packaging recommends 3-5 minutes for steeping. The last earl grey that I tried oversteeped even with low steep times, so I boil some water and decide to go for the lower end here with 3 minutes of infusion. While I will admit that I am not big on bagged tea, this tea smells quite good, dry in the bag. A hint of orange provides a nice aroma. The steeping tea gives off a pleasant bergamot aroma. The first sip confirms that 3 minutes was a perfect amount of steeping, unless you prefer your tea stronger. For a bagged tea, this is pretty smooth, but it lacks a bit in the flavor profile and strength. This is definitely a quality bagged tea. On my personal enjoyment scale, I would give it a 65/100.
My usual response to a bagged tea is “ugh” … and generally, I procrastinate trying it because of that automatic response. But, this is really a very pleasing green tea … surprisingly good, especially considering it’s a bagged tea.
It has a strong green flavor – that is, strongly vegetative, with grassy undertones and an overtone that resembles mild steamed vegetables that have been lightly buttered. A hint or two of kelp in there too, but, only a hint, nothing that I find to be overpowering or off-putting.
I’m actually quite enjoying this, it has a smooth, relaxing kind of flavor that gently restores as I sip it. Then again, I’ve been quite impressed thus far with the tea offerings from Hampstead Tea, this tea just reaffirms that opinion.
Second tea of the morning along with a spot of Downton Abbey…….
Downton Abbey on PBS is my television indulgence of the moment. I am always late to the parade for most great shows, so I am still stuck in Season 1 while most fans are eagerly awaiting Season 3. However, I thought a lovely pot of Earl Grey would be the perfect accompaniment to this fun show. A friend of mine actually noted that she could spend hours just watching the upholstery on the show, and I quite agree.
This tea was perfect. It seems to have a base of at least some Darjeeling. Definitely a bright Earl Grey kind of like Harney’s Viennese Earl Grey. This one was included in my Foodzie Box from LiberTEAs. Luckily, I requested Earl Grey teas be included, so I am set to have a different EG for every episode. Bliss!
Usual pot method, and it was gone very fast!
I may have mentioned this before, but one of my ever increasing number of hobbies* is researching and recreating Medieval cooking. Much like today, medieval people were very into conspicious consumption. They liked using expensive pricy ingredients to show off to their guests – “See! Look how much money I can spend – just on dinner!” Spices were always one of the most popular ways to show off wealth. They were very expensive and very highly valued, and saffron was one of the more popular spices.
In the cooking I do saffron is mostly a coloring agent, as it turns the food a lovely golden color, and not used for flavor. I find the flavor very light and subtle. So I was very curious about what affect it would have on the tea.
The teabag smelled like generic tea. Pouring water over the bag, it did turn bright yellow for a moment – then turned into a normal tea color. The brewed aroma again smelled like a normal tea. In drinking, I’m getting a bitter high note – like I over-brewed the tea, but it didn’t have the tannic drying effect that normally goes along with the bitterness. I prefer my tea sweetened, so after a few sips of the tea unsweetened, I added my favorite sweetening agent. It toned down the bitterness, and turned it into a very bright flavor.
Either way, I don’t think I like the addition of the saffron. The tea behind the saffron tastes quite nice, and would have likely been a very nice cuppa on it’s own. But as it is, it’s not really for me.
*My craft room is crying from from too much stuff and too many projects. You can almost hear it crying from the street, “no more stuff, take the yarn away! I don’t need any more embroidery floss!”
Enjoying a latte tonight, and it is quite yummy. Here is my full-length review of this chai: http://sororiteasisters.com/2011/08/26/biochai-from-hampstead-tea/
Backlog: I had this chai this morning for my wake-up. It was delicious. I liked the lemongrass in this, it added a nice citrus-y backnote. The pepper and ginger were the strongest components, and I really noticed the clove in this chai. Perhaps that is because there is no cinnamon in this blend, so the cloves had the opportunity to really shine.
Either way, it was a very enjoyable chai.
Thank you to TeaEqualsBliss for sending me some of this. I had tried this in teabag form, but, I am very happy to be trying it loose leaf. Thanks!
A lovely English Breakfast blend – I still stand by what I said about this being one of the best that I’ve tried. It has a full-bodied, robust flavor and a lot of gusto. Here is my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2011/06/02/english-breakfast-from-hampstead-tea/
OK, I think I have nailed this one this time. It is important not to over-steep or to steep it too strong. Before, in a larger mug, I used 2 teabags instead of one (because with most teas, it ends up just right that way with this mug), but not with this tea… I used a regular sized mug (8 oz) and 1 teabag and pulled the kettle just before boiling. Steep it for just 2 1/2 minutes.
While this is probably one of the most temperamental teas I’ve encountered, it is worth the effort to get it right, because I am loving what is in my teacup right now. The saffron flavor is strong in its delivery from start to finish. The black tea is brisk and bold and delicious. A very nice cup, indeed!
Having a cup of this… I could smell hints of the saffron before I infused, but they were very faint. Flavor wise, the saffron doesn’t present itself until the near the end of the sip. This does have a bitter tone to it, I think I over-steeped… still want to play around with this one a bit and see if I can do better next time. Overall, it’s a bold, strong black tea with hints of sweetness and a bitterness that hits at mid-sip with the saffron coming through at the tail.
Tea bag one:
First sip: dirt, was that dirt I tasted? second sip, no not dirt, mint? Really?
As I empty my cup, definitely mint of some sort. Not what I expected from an EB tea.
Tea bag two:
My second cup of this tea was better than my first. I still taste the mint, but I do see what others are saying about this tasting like a Darjeeling.
Drinkable, just not my cuppa.
This is a really good Assam. I am especially impressed by it as it is a bagged tea. It is very strong, lovely amount of malt. So very good and rich and just what I needed to help me shake off the residual sleepeeeeee feeling that I have. Yes, I know it’s 12:40 in the afternoon, but, I am a night owl, so this is still quite early for me.
Fortunately, this helps!
Fennel in tea scares me. Licorice in tea scares me…together it would normally give me the hee-bee-gee-bees! There’s something that works about this tisane! It’s light on the scary stuff and just right on the minty-goodness for a nice combo of flavors that create a taste of its own. Pretty surprising! Pretty good!