Herbaty Świata Akso
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Recent Tasting Notes
Sipdown, 145. I could never bear to swap this tea away or throw it out because it was the one tea I brought back from Poland with me. But I really don’t like vanilla and jasmine together (for some reason) so it was hard to drink it up. Eventually I decided to go ahead and cold steep it, because maybe I could take it better that way. It was ok, but still not great. Still, I drank it all, and now it’s gone.
Third and last Monk’s Blend tea of the morning. This one again smells just like the other two (Thé des Moines from Le Palais des Thés and Thé au Tibet by Mariage Freres), but it’s smoother even than the MF blend. Actually I think this has to do with some general weakness that seems to be in the brew. It’s not super powerfully flavored on any account, which works for me since I’m not in a rush to find the jasmine and vanilla flavors together. For me, this is the most pleasant of the three because it is more lightly flavored. I get a slight sweetness from the vanilla, I get a citrusy note from the bergamot, and a kind of herby jasmine but the notes are strong enough to conflict as much as with the other blends.
I brewed this tea at a cooler temp this time since now I know it’s a black green blend. The brewed tea smells vanilla-y, but with a fair dose of bergamot and some robust black tea. I don’t remember getting much of that the last time I tried this, but there it is. I’m not getting much jasmine in the taste this time, and it’s actually a tad bitter, which is surprising. I guess this is another finicky tea that’s going to require some messing around with time and temp to get the steep just right.
This is the only tea I brought back from Poland. By the time I got to Warsaw, I was experiencing some tea-buying fatigue (believe it or not!), so I said I wouldn’t buy any tea there. But I had passed a tea shop a couple of times, and an adorable tin in the window with a European Robin on it drew me in. I could get the small tin filled with effectively a sample size of any tea, and I immediately chose Mnichów (the pronunciation of which I completely butchered when ordering it… I’m lucky he understood me enough!).
I had a pot of Mnichów (Polish for “monks”, i.e., Monk’s Blend) at a tea place in Warsaw earlier, which I liked and was generally intrigued by, but the tea house didn’t sell their teas dry. This one I have no description for, but the smell of the dry leaves indicate it’s probably a fairly traditional Monk’s Blend. What that means… well, the descriptions for the Polish tea Mnichów that I’ve found online indicate a bergamot, jasmine and vanilla flavor is standard. Sometimes no vanilla, but this one definitely includes it. This is not quite the same it seems as most Monk’s Blends in the states, which seem to be primarily vanilla and grenadine (exception: Upton’s, which is more like the Polish blend). Oh yeah, and this one is actually a black/green blend (again, I found out after steeping when the difference is more obvious). All of this makes me feel pretty dense because quite obviously this tea is very similar to the last tea I reviewed, Thé au Tibet by Mariage Freres. Perhaps that one is really more properly Thé au Tibetan Monks.
As I mentioned, the dry tea leaves definitely have notes of vanilla, bergamot and jasmine to their aroma. There is also a distinct chocolate aroma, which is surprising. (spoiler: this doesn’t show up in the taste). The aroma of the brewed tea is very vanilla, though I do detect the bergamot adding a high, citrusy note. Sometimes I think jasmine florals can almost smell a bit earthy when in a blend with other flavors, and I’m getting that here as well.
This is another one I’ll have to steep at a lower temperature to really get a feel for (darn hiding green tea leaves!), but it the vanilla flavor isn’t as omnipresent as I expected. It’s light, especially as the tea cools, but definitely detectable in the background. It’s overall fairly floral, the bergamot lingering at the tail of the sip. The jasmine is floral but on the earthier side and not honeysuckle-sweet. It’s a good blend, and I can’t complain about the flavor combination. I think I prefer the blend of these flavors in Thé au Tibet, but I also think I need to try both again at a lower temperature to really know.