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Recent Tasting Notes
I received a sample of this in my last order, and there was enough to do about four steeps with it. I think the tea itself is good quality, but this particular sample was jinxed. The first cup was delicious, but I wasn’t paying enough attention to how I made it or the particular flavor notes of the tea, I was too deep in Terry Pratchett’s Equal Rites. Overall it seemed like a good full-bodied ceylon with a few interesting side notes – maybe something a little eucalyptusy, but I can’t be sure at this point – and a teensy bit of astringency, but nothing unpleasant.
The other cups all got contaminated or oversteeped. I made a really strong herbal in my steeper, and even though I washed it out, I could still taste its influence when I made my next cup of ceylon. I tried it again a few days later and got called away as soon as I poured the water, so the poor tea sat there for 20 minutes. To top everything off, a BUG flew into the last cup, so that was the end of that.
I’m going to have to get another sample before I’m really sure about this one, and then I guess I’ll have to do some kind of voodoo on it to protect it from whatever is lurking out there trying to spoil perfectly good tea.
Something about this time of year gets me in the mood to drink as much earl grey as I can, it truly is one of my favorite types of tea. This tea is one of New Mexico Tea Company’s bestsellers so I was eager to try it. I was just so unimpressed with this blend. There’s no cream in this as far as I could tell, it’s floral and tastes mainly of cornflowers. Give it a go, you might like it.
I was in the mood to try a plain, black breakfast tea, straight up pure. This tea isn’t bad, but it’s nothing to write home about. It tasted just like any other cheap breakfast tea except without nuances of flavors. For the price, $3.00/ounce, you can do better. For my money, I prefer Upton Tea’s River Shannon Breakfast Blend, Yorkshire Gold or even the old standard PG Tips. This tea is average and I will finish what I got, but it’s not a repurchase.
I picked out this tea because the combined flavor notes sounded delicious — papaya, mango, & ginger — but somehow nothing in this cup is coming together properly. It’s a bit on the astringent side. It has an odd sour note, not the kind of sourness I associate with fruit. I taste the ginger, but it’s just not working well with the other flavors. Experimenting with the steeping parameters might help, but right now this tea is just so-so.
This tea falls right in the middle of the black tea spectrum. It’s not at the gut-punch strength of a breakfast tea, but it’s a lot more flavorful than the ‘light’ afternoon teas. I think I like it better than the Crimson Ceylon that was my go-to whole-leaf black tea before I tried this one — but unfortunately I don’t have any of that in the house right now so I can’t do a steep-off. Anyway, this is nicely balanced and has a smooth finish. I think I could actually serve this to anyone because it has such a ‘classic tea’ profile — good quality, but nothing fancy or weird that would scare off a novice tea drinker.
I oversteeped this by a few minutes and it was incredibly bitter. A little sugar fixed it though, and now it’s amazing. This would make a great breakfast tea. It’s very hearty and rich. This is one of those teas that’s designed to be taken with milk, but I didn’t add any and it’s still great. Will definitely get more of this one.
A very soothing tisane. Somehow this reminds me of Sleepy Time tea — not in flavor exactly, but in concept. It tastes like something you would drink right before you go to bed. The balance between the lavender and lemongrass is about equal. The promised mango flavor is M.I.A., though. Still a pleasant cup.
I had received a sample of this a while back, but I decided that it’s due time to drink some samples down. I must admit that I was pretty happy with the way that this tea turned out. It had a nice nutty bite, with a slight dry plum note in the aftertaste. I didn’t care for the flavoring, but the base of the Wuyi makes this tea quite nice to drink. Overall, I had liked this brew, but I may not restock on it again.
I had received a sample of this a while ago, but just rediscovered it this morning. I’ve been trying to get used to the 4:30 a.m. wake up time, but it has been difficult. Therefore, making tea during the week can be a chore.
I must say that this was okay. The base was overly bitter/astringent. I had to add a good amount of sugar to kill that astringency/bitterness. As much as the blend had sounded nice, I couldn’t get myself to finish the cup.
I brewed this western style in my 16 oz Ingenuitea tea maker. I steeped it for 2-3 minutes.
Sipdown. By the time I finished my 1 oz package, I warmed to this tea slightly. I don’t know if my brain learned to sort out the flavors or if I subconsciously just got a little better at making it (because I can’t really think of anything I changed in the steeping routine). But still, this is not going to become a favorite. The fact that this is the last tea in my NMTC spring order to be finished — even though many of the other pouches were much larger — is the final proof of how I feel about it. Not terrible, but definitely not one of NMTC’s best. Despite the fact that it smelled amazing.
Not bad, but very mundane, especially coming after the strawberry notes in NMTC’s Lady Londonderry. Why don’t these two flavors taste more alike when, ingredients-wise, they have so much in common? As others have noted, the strawberry flavor tastes natural enough, but it is very muted here, and mostly what I get is just the rather muddled taste of the black base. Not one of NMTC’s finest.
As a vaguely fruity tea, this is pleasant enough, but as the mango with a side of lime tea that it’s supposed to be, this is rather a disappointment. The mango flavor is weak — even Adagio gives stronger mango than this — and the lime is non-existent. I’ve also tried it iced, and it doesn’t make any of the flavors more prominent. The base is fine, but overall I wouldn’t say this is NMTC’s best effort.
This is my last cup of Metropolitan’s Monk’s Blend, so it’s my last chance to do a steep off between these two versions.
First off, these teas have a lot in common with each other. To the point where, if I was choosing between them, I would probably just buy whichever was most convenient at the time.
They both have a vanilla cream note and a vaguely fruity note. I don’t feel that either one nails the grenadine flavor. Yes, the fruity note might kind of sort of be cherry / pomegranate, but if no one had told me that, I don’t think I would have guessed it. They also both need quite a bit of sugar (a heaping teaspoon) before the fruity taste comes out at all. And letting them both cool slightly also helps. The base tea is not particularly distinctive in either — probably a good choice, as anything strong would overwhelm the added flavors.
The main difference in these teas is just where the balance of powers lies between the flavors. Metropolitan’s version has a lot more of the cream vanilla flavor, and this gives it a smoother feel overall, while NMTC’s has a sour-tart note from the fruit. Somehow Metropolitan’s doesn’t taste tart at all.
In the end, I can’t really say I have a preference, though I might choose one over the other depending on whether I’m in the mood for creamy or tart.
All this thinking about tea though did spur me to re-work some of my teacup designs. I always loved the silhouettes of the designs, but the colors of the different cups weren’t meshing, so I tried them out in a soft watercolor palette and also in all black: