Janet's Special Teas
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Recent Tasting Notes
Backlog. The last of the three samples I picked up from Janet. The scent of the dry leaf makes you think that it should automatically earn a gold star, but I’m not really a fan of the taste? Probably because I’m not a huge fan of citrus + spice teas. I mean, they’re ok, but they all seem to taste almost the same. The taste was kind of… convoluted, muddled, confused-faced. But no loss since I love her Dolce Orange anyway. This is also a sip down because I drank the whole sample in one day.
A mock orange tea latte sounded like a good idea just now, so I went for it without giving it any further thought. I say mock because I just pour a bunch of half and half into my mug, and voila, latte.
This tea is lusciously fragrant. Heaps and heaps of orange peel, with a subtle creaminess in the background.
As soon as I poured the water and let it start steeping, it triggered thoughts of sipping on Fauchon’s Un Soir de France. Must be the orange peel. And that it is! The first sip is all about the same orange flavour profile that Un Soir has going on. This is just missing the roses and barely-there apricot.
And the half and half enhances that smooth creaminess. I wouldn’t call it an orange creamsicle. Maybe more like a white chocolate orange truffle.
Then after a few more sips I grabbed my bottle of organic vanilla extract and let some dribble into the tea. Excellence.
This week has been really stressful and rough on me, and what I’ve needed most is support and comfort. This tea certainly fulfills the latter requirement. This tea is like drinking a coconut cream pie with a chocolate crust, and just a hint of spice.
Once again, the base tea here is smooth and mellow, with little to no hint of bitterness or astringency. The predominant flavour here is chocolate, with coconut coming close in second. They’re almost even. The chai spices are present, but they take the background and just add a nice comforting bit of warmth to it all.
This tea was made with both milk and sugar on both steeps that I did. I think that it will be awesome as a latte, as well as steeped chai style in the milk directly. I think this one deserves getting more. So far, all three of the four teas I have gotten from Janet’s are good and I would repurchase. I have not had the Canadian Maple yet, but three out of four is good regardless of how that one will be.
Flavors: Chocolate, Coconut
Definitely a fruity tea…oversteeped so I will probably adjust the rating on a later steep. There is a more prominent citrus note, I think, with the spice in the background. It sort of reminds me of orange spice. I find the black base to be smooth with this one, as I did with the dolce orange, so that was nice. Even the oversteeping didn’t make it too bitter or astringent. I think this one may turn out to be a nice tea to cold steep or have iced, but it is quite nice as is hot. The owner of the shop said it was one of the top selling teas. It is quite nice.
Thanks to Ceylon Star who drove both Amariel and me to Sidney the other day, I was finally able to visit Janet’s to see what she has in store. I grabbed this one as an afterthought because I’ve been on the quest for a good cherry tea. The funny part is I’m not even a fan of Black Forest cake, since chocolate cake has always been underwhelmingly meh to me.
The dry leaf smells promising. A prominent cherry with a milk chocolate lingering behind.
I’m not really getting the cherry in the taste, though. And the chocolate is extremely subtle. Luckily I have a little more to experiment with, and at least the base isn’t astringent.
I added some half and half and it reminded me of drinking a plain chocolate tea. It’s good but I was hoping for more cherry.
As always, a visit to Janet’s left me with a grin on my face and a slightly lighter wallet. If you’re in Victoria and haven’t stopped in to Janet’s Special Teas in Sidney (on Beacon Ave), you don’t know what you’re missing! Janet, the owner, is a total hoot, and treats everyone like family. She’s truly passionate about the tea she sells and offers generous sample pouches for $1 (with enough leaf for at LEAST 3 cups). She’s even been known to bring in teas that she wouldn’t normally carry for customers who request it, so don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t see what you’re looking for.
But on to the tea itself. I LOVE orange teas, and orange juice. Which is funny because I can’t stand oranges (but I’ll happily eat a whole grapefruit) or creamsicles. But I do make my own “creamsicles” every summer, using tea and condensed milk. And that’s actually the main reason I picked up 50g of this tea.
I generally make my creamsicles out of DAVIDs Orange Blossom rooibos, but after experimenting last year, I found that rooibos just doesn’t make the nicest popsicles, it’s just not strong enough. So when my lovely hostages, I mean tea companions, asked to sniff the Dolce Orange, I couldn’t resist grabbing some to play around with. I brewed up some double strength when I got home, then split it into two parts. I added 2 TBSP of condensed milk to one part, and 2 TBSP of vanilla simple syrup to the other (when making popsicles you really do need to add sweetener. The extreme cold of freezing the tea cuts a lot of the flavour, and the sweetener helps to highlight the flavour of the tea and make it pop despite the coldness, without being overwhelmingly sweet). Poured into popsicle molds and put them in the deep freeze overnight. Wehn I finally crawled out of bed at 2pm, and despite the below freezing temperatures outside, I grabbed one of each pops and tested them. The creaminess of the vanilla in the tea, mixed with the smoothness of the black base, the pops really didn’t need the condensed milk! I prefer them with just the vanilla syrup, actually. In fact, next time I’ll cut the syrup in half and do just 1 TBSP.
Of course, after testing the popsicles, I had to warm up, so I made a cup of this hot. And by cup I mean my 750ml teapot-sized-mug, haha! 2 heaping tsp (so close to 1 TBSP I guess?) to 750ml of water, steeped for 2.5minutes at 175F. Beautiful orange liquor with a sweet and creamy scent very much like melted creamsicles. First sip was pure orange goodness with a bit of vanilla left on my breath at the end of the sip. As it cooled I got more vanilla notes, and a slightly malty black note as well. Janet mentioned Sri Lanka, but I don’t remember if she was referring to this or to the back based Sidney Sunrise (which I also picked up even though I have a bit of the rooibos base left. The black base just smells nicer, though I’ll keep the roobios based blend on hand for the sake of having a tasty caffeine free option. but I digress.), but I almost wonder if the base to this one is an assam?
I’ll definitely be popping over to the shop on Friday on my way to see the pony (since he’s boarded literally across the highway from Janet’s shop, so when he’s going good and steady in the cart I want to attempt to drive him over and tie him to a post outside her shop, haha) to get more, both for drinking and for popsicle making. This may be my favourite non-spiced orange tea, very slightly beating out the blood orange pu’erh I keep on hand.
Flavors: Cream, Malt, Orange Zest, Vanilla
I got this tea yesterday, on a pilgrimage to Janet’s out in Sidney…I got four little $1 sample pouches, and this was one. Her words were like it is orange creamsicle flavoured….so orange and vanilla. It did, indeed, smell like a creamsicle, and very much like DAVIDs Orange Blossom tea, minus the rooibos base and currants.
I did a full boil steep, but only for a few minutes. This tea, to me, is fine on it’s own with a little sweetener and no milk, though I may try it with milk one day to see how the creaminess plays in.
I did not find the base bitter or astringent at all, with this steeping, and the follow up steep I did later. I’ll see how the rest of my pouch goes, but I think that this is something I could keep regularly, or semi-regularly. Curious to see how it cold steeps with the warmer weather. I think it could be good.
First off, this is not the tea to drink when you have even a hint of the flu! I had this last weekend while I was sick and took one wiff of the anaise and thought I was going to die! Licorice NOT tasty and does NOT smell delicious when one is ill.
Also why are all the teas with Anaise or licorice of some sort so… so… UNappealing?! BLECK!
Still a medicinal scent to the leaves that is almost a turn off, but once steeped…. SO GOOD! I am packing cream with me today because when I go back to my site to get it ready for Summer I will be brewing a HUGE pot of this for me!!! hahaha It will keep me from going crazy while I re-paper bulitin boards and clean tables and all that other fun stuff involved in getting my site Summer Camp ready.
Only half of the leaves are fully open, and the flowers that are wrapped inside the leaves are starting to float around and changing the flavour of the tea slightly. Athough the colour is not as intense the flavour still is. I can’t describe it other than to say it is becoming more of a creamy green tea in flavour.
This is my first jump into oolongs that are not flavoured with fruit or chocolate or vanilla beans and… WOW!
When I walked into Janet’s Special Teas, I noticed that she only had 4 oolongs on her tea list. I explained that I was new to loose tea and wanted to know which oolong was best to try; she instantly without hesitation told me that she had just opened a fresh bag of Osmanthus and that I should try this first. She was also very careful to explain how long to steep it and how hot the water should be. She was so careful with her instructions that I will be going back when I want to try burgamonts or straight black or the like!
First Steep was for only 1 minute, and at only 87C and I found the tea had a slight peppery taste, and the original “mouldy grass” smell to the leaves was tough to over look but once steeped all I can smell is the Osmanthus flower that give this tea it’s name.
I think that I might try a touch of milk for the second steeping.
This tea was a successful first leap into the world of Oolongs, and I am not looking back!