Kusmi TeaEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
I had received this from a friend through a tea swap. I took a bunch of samples to work that I thought would work for western brewing. I don’t have much equipment nor space to gongfu at work, so the best option seems to throw tea in an infuser and make a cup.
I’ve also burnt the roof of my mouth on food the other day; which has swollen quite a bit. I’ve yet to go to the doctor, but I’m at the point where it hurts too much to eat, sleep, or drink anything above room temperature. So, these notes are all based on room temperature tea sessions. I’m going to give it until Monday, but more than likely, I might have to schedule an appointment.
Notes (very minimal): The flavors within the brew made me think what it’d taste like if you threw a flower, cinnamon, & cardamom into a cup and decided to drink the liquor. There seemed to be an unexplainable flavor that lingered on the palate—neither good or bad.
I’ve found the quality of this tea varies quite a bit. One time, I ordered tea bags online and it was kind of bland and stale. More recently, I ordered the loose leaf version and it’s been excellent. So, I wouldn’t write this tea off to quickly.
This tea has a very rich almond flavor, a bit like almond cake, which I very much enjoy. Overstepped, it develops more of a vegetal or even grassy note, which doesn’t fit it as well.
Today, it came out a little bit weak. I’ll fiddle with it more in the future.
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Flavors: Bergamot, Cinnamon, Citrusy, Cloves, Lemon, Spicy
It seems like I have been working on this one forever. I bought a tin of this tea on Amazon back in late April and received it in early-mid May. I was on a big Kusmi kick at the time and was going through their Russian blends like a fiend. I know I cracked this tin open sometime before the end of May-this blend seemed so unique that I just had to try it. At first, I was not impressed. I found the green tea base to be weak and the spice notes to be overpowering. As I have worked my way through this tin, however, my opinion of this tea has mellowed a bit. It’s sort of strange (okay, really strange), but it is not without its charms.
I prepared this tea Western style. I normally do at least two infusions for green teas and green tea blends, but opted for one infusion here. I have gotten a second infusion out of this tea in the past, but I feel that I got the most out of this tea performing a single extended infusion. For this review session, I steeped approximately 1 teaspoon of the loose blended material in 8 ounces of 175 F water for 5 minutes.
Prior to infusion, a sniff of the dry blended material reveals a slightly grassy scent that is quickly overpowered by orange, vanilla, cinnamon, and licorice. After infusion, I noted powerful aromas of cinnamon, licorice, and vanilla underscored by orange, grass, straw, and a slightly oily marine scent from the sea buckthorn berries. In the mouth, I immediately picked up on orange peel, though this note quickly took a backseat to powerful notes of vanilla, licorice, and cinnamon. I could also detect underpinnings of straw, grass, hay, and buckthorn. The finish was heavy on vanilla, though the buckthorn, orange, licorice, and cinnamon continued to linger in the background.
Overall, I rather liked this blend. That kind of surprised me too because I absolutely loathe licorice. Here, it did not bother me all that much because there were other aromas and flavors on which I could focus. It was easy to tell that the green tea used for this blend was not all that great, but considering the focus was placed so squarely on the interaction of the other ingredients, it hardly mattered to me. It was there to provide a subtle backdrop for them and it fulfilled that role admirably. Though this is the sort of blend I would not want to have every day, I do feel that it does what it does very well. Moreover, it has aged gracefully and there are perhaps few blends that replicate its formula. I think adventurous drinkers and fans of spicy blends may enjoy this one.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Fruity, Grass, Hay, Licorice, Marine, Orange, Straw, Vanilla
Really nice mix of flavours. Grapefruit flavour is very authentic-tasting and pairs well with the green tea. The green tea is very mild but still detectable with a slight vegetal edge. The grapefruit flavour blooms at the end of the sip and lingers for a sweet and fruity finish.
Vegetal medicinal savoury notes which reminds me of a nettle tisane. Very unique flavour. I feel this brew is asking for more spices to be added or to have stronger notes of the anis seeds, peppermint, or verbena. There is the lightest hint of peppermint at the end of the sip which lingers on the tongue.
I’m forcing myself to try “new” old teas today, and it helps that I haven’t actually got much at work with me at the moment so it’s try things or have no tea. It doesn’t help that they’re mostly green teas in my untried pile, because they’re never my favourite. I say that, but I think it’s really a historical hangover from when I thought all green tea was bitter and horrible. I know for a fact now that that’s not the case, but somehow I still have a bit of a prejudice about green tea, even though some of my best friends are green tea…I never said I wasn’t odd.
So. This one. The reviews seem a bit mixed, and I’m not much liking the sound of soap as a descriptor. Otherwise? Orange, cinnamon and vanilla sounds okay (I probably wouldn’t have put it with green tea, though…) Sea buckthorn I’ve never tried. What even is it? I’m okay with sencha, although it’s not my favourite green. I’d happily say that no green is my favourite, but that’s a lie. I actually really do like Bi Luo Chun.
I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees. The leaf is pretty, lots of yellow and green. It smells spicier than I expected, a little bit like chai. But also a little bit like a Lush soap I had once. Sea Vegetable? Not encouraging.
To taste, it’s thankfully not too much like soap. There’s a strong initial creaminess that’s really nice and almost thick tasting. I’m assuming that’s due in large part to the vanilla, and it has a lovely heavy dairy cream vibe that’s just perfect on a cold day. The orange comes through second, mostly pith and zest to begin with but followed by a sharp, clean, bright splash of orange that’s more reminiscent of freshly squeezed juice. The cinnamon rounds things off, adding a warming spiciness that’s actually makes me think of Christmas – just right for December! My only complaint about this one is the liquorice, because it’s horribly over-sweet and cloying, and it coats the back of my throat with its artificial sweetener-like stickiness. Otherwise, I get along just fine with this blend. I can’t taste the sea buckthorn, and I still don’t know what that actually is. I can’t taste the green tea base, either, which is fine with me. It’s smooth and unobtrusive, just how I like it. I’ll probably drink a fair bit more of this one before Christmas – it’s a surprise win. If it wasn’t for the liquorice, we could be the best of friends.
Nice, balanced mixture of bergamot, vanilla, cloves, citrus zest and an impression of slight smokiness in aroma.
The taste is also smoky and quite woody, dry, with all the spices and adjuncts in the background.
Good, solid tea not overdone with adjuncts.
Flavors: Bergamot, Citrus Zest, Cloves, Smoke, Vanilla, Wood
A lot is going on in this brew. And the ingredients are easily recognizable, they do not blend with each other. I can smell apple, licorice, anise, mint. The overall aroma is both refreshing and warming.
So is the taste. There is a minty coolness, licorice-y sweetness, and solid contributions from the rest.
Nice brew in itself, but I need to steep it along with some clean black tea.
Flavors: Anise, Apple, Herbs, Licorice, Mint, Peppermint, Red Apple
Sadly, none of the teas that I’ve tried from Kusmi are teas that I’d want to get again, (Though this one, oddly enough, comes close. Oddly because there are not many green teas that I really like.) Or maybe it’s just as well considering the way out of my budget prices they have on their products. I wouldn’t be disappointed with this as a gift, however.
As the first/signature tea by Kusmi, S insisted on getting a small tin of BoF. But yours truly (J) was the first to try it (2 tsp / 8 oz / 3 min).
Since it is black tea + bergamot, I was expecting an earl grey flavor. But the bergamot was quite light, resulting in potpourri and violet flavors being equally strong. So this is not close to an earl grey, and seeking out the bergamot sets the wrong expectations. Later in the cup, the taste of dehydrated berry came out. It probably wouldn’t make for a great iced tea because the flavors are relatively light.
The roof and sides of my mouth were dried out pretty quickly by its moderate astringency, while my tongue was relatively unscathed.
And when I stuck my nose into the post-steeping leaves, it smelled like… wet leaves. I’m not sure what else I was expecting. But it was definitely like a forest after a rain.
Steeping #2 (8 oz / 5 min) had less tea flavor, less bergamot, but the floral flavor was still strong. My mouth also felt like it was coated in something that I think could be interpreted as ‘soapy’.
Overall, it’s quite pleasant. Just don’t go in expecting earl grey, or a strong kick-you-in-the-face wake-me-up tea.
Flavors: Astringent, Bergamot, Berry, Flowers, Rose, Violet
I remember once drinking a vodka from Ukraine that was flavored with a combination of buffalo grass and St. John’s wort. I can’t remember what it was called, but I seem to recall it having a label with blue and silver lettering and an illustration of a dancing woman in peasant attire. I also remember buying it because it was dirt cheap-I was in graduate school and working an unpaid internship-and it was all I could afford to get drunk on at the time. Oddly enough, it was very good, especially for the price. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find it since.
Now that I am no longer drinking, I wanted something that reminded me of the freedom of my mid-twenties. Since a search for an obscure vodka was not in order, I settled on a tin of this black tea blend from Kusmi. The label clearly stated that this is a blend of Chinese black teas flavored with the essence of buffalo grass. I’m not entirely certain which kinds of black tea are used, but judging from the shape and color of the dry leaves, I am willing to bet that Keemun may be one of them.
I prepared this tea using a one step Western infusion. I steeped 1 teaspoon of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 4 minutes. Obviously, I did not attempt additional infusions. I should also note that Kusmi recommends a much lower brewing temperature for this tea. I used 212 F because the label gave the recommended temperature range in degrees Celsius and I did not feel like doing the conversion at the time. After finishing two cups, however, I got curious and used my phone to convert the temperature range from Celsius to Fahrenheit. I then realized that the water I had used was much hotter than the merchant recommends. Fortunately, I found this blend to be very forgiving. The next time I fix a cup of this tea, I will try a temperature in the merchant’s recommended range to see how it compares to my initial preparation documented here.
Prior to infusion, I noted that the dry leaves gave off the unmistakable scent of buffalo grass. The smell immediately transported me back to my mid-twenties binge drinking days, only without the threats of impending nausea, inebriated (poor) decision making, and mule kick hangovers. After infusion, the dark amber tea liquor gave off lovely aromas of cream, toast, malt, and buffalo grass with a hint of spice. Do Kusmi teas ever smell bad? In the mouth, the buffalo grass is placed squarely front and center, lingering throughout from the entry to the finish. I noted pleasant flavors of toast, cocoa, malt, cream, smoke, and spices (coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg) balancing the buffalo grass. It was simpler than expected, and the blend was decidedly slight in the mouth, but it was nice. The shift from creamy and toasty to smoky and spicy beneath the prevalent note of buffalo grass was unique and appealing.
Though I tend to be something of a Kusmi Tea fanboy, I am also willing to admit that the previous reviewer who opined that the smell of their teas can be nicer and more unique than the taste may have a point with regard to a number of Kusmi products. I, however, do not necessarily agree with that assertion being applied to this particular blend. I found it to be flavorful, unique, approachable, and above all, extremely easy to drink. I would have no problem recommending it to open-minded tea drinkers looking for something a little out of the ordinary.
Flavors: Cardamon, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Coriander, Cream, Grass, Malt, Nutmeg, Smoke, Spicy, Toast
S made a 1st steeping with 2 tsp in 8 oz, iced. Not good.
But then J had a 1st steeping with 1 tsp in 8 oz hot. Found a strong cardamom note, with other spices pushed aside. Tried adding a little extra cinnamon, but it didn’t blend well. Added milk and it rounds out the flavors – much more satisfying.
J combined the 3 tsp for the 2nd-6th steepings (5 min, add milk). Still had strong flavor for the 6th. Other spices besides cardamom were more pronounced in later steepings, with clove leading the way.
Flavors: Cardamon, Cinnamon, Clove, Spices