Nothing But Tea
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Recent Tasting Notes
Lapacho huh? That’s a new one on me. According to Wikipedia it’s a herb that comes from the inner bark of a Pau D’Arco tree which are indigenous to South and Central America. Sounds very interesting!
It looks dry and rather…well like bark actually. This blend smells strongly of cinnamon and baked apple, like a pie. Heavy on the cinnamon too which is the way I like it, though also a bit dry.
Once steeped it smells strongly and sweetly of cinnamon bark, I used to eat it as a child and have fond memories of it. This is the closest thing I have smelled to that, though considering it’s a type of bark and has been flavoured with cinnamon it’s of no real surprise. Oh also, the drinks liquid is burnt yellow in colour.
With no idea of what to expect in flavour I have no means of comparison. Wow! First sip was heavenly! It tastes of pure cinnamon sticks with toasted apple, it’s pure tasting and so light but sweet and with a lingering after taste that is refreshing. It is a little dry but not necessarily in a bad way.
It’s simple yet very tasty, the bark has minimum flavour but has absorbed some of the cinnamon so all I can taste is cinnamon bark/stick and some sort of baked/toasted apple. There is nothing else to it but it’s simplicity is what makes this blend for me, it’s what I want in terms of a cinnamon or apple tea, and I adore both.
On my list with a real possibility of ordering more of this. For a herbal tea I am very impressed.
Flavors: Apple, Cinnamon, Drying
“Ewwwww, that sounds disgusting… I must try it!”
That was pretty much my reaction when I first saw this and subsequently added it to my wishlist. Some of you may wonder why I find the idea of toffee popcorn so icky. It’s because in this country popcorn comes with salt on them. That’s it. Salt. Only salt and nothing but salt. Not butter, not food colourings, not sugar, not jam, not chocolate, not taco sauce, not mayonnaise, not chili, not beans, not nothing. And certainly no caramel or toffee of any sort. Salt. That’s it. Just. Salt. With salt on is coincidentally also the only way in which I am and will ever be prepared to eat popcorn. Anything else… I can’t imagine anything more icky.
So. I really don’t know what possessed me to get this. Probably the word ‘toffee’ overruled the rest of the name.
Anyway, it smells sweet and caramel-y while also smelling fairly salty. Can’t really smell popcorn apart from the salt, so I’m telling myself it’s salted caramel flavoured instead. That sounds far more appealing to me and in this context it smells rather nice indeed.
Flavourwise, I can detect a whiff of something that could possibly be popcorn, but it isn’t convincingly so. I can’t really find much in the way of toffee at all. It’s actually more like a nutty tea than anything else and it does also contain both almond and macademia nuts. This is also because the base is a blend of black tea and oolong, and oolong can be quite nutty in flavour sometimes all on its own.
It’s actually a pretty okay tea, although it seems I’m enjoying it mostly because it doesn’t taste like what it’s called at all. Peculiar thing, that.
In other news, happy new year Steepsterites. I hope you were all careful with your fireworks if you had any, minded your fingers and wore your safety glasses. We had a fair bit of it here as the neighbours put on a good show. We don’t usually buy it ourselves. Of course nothing can beat the view of fireworks we had from the balcony of the flat where I lived before we moved in together. That was in the middle of a large town and from the balcony we had views of nearby hills, so ideal watching conditions. The cats took proceedings relatively well. There was some cowering under the bed around midnight when the fireworks were at peak intensity but other than that they made a minimum of fuss.
More Christmas present tea. I have to say that I put this one on the list pretty much only for the benefit of Husband, who is a whisky enthusiast. A few days later (when it was too late to do anything about it) he mentioned that while he liked whisky, he wasn’t generally very interested in whisky-flavoured things. Oh. Well, plock.
Anyway, here it is. I have to say that I wasn’t expecting much from it myself. I don’t like whisky. I don’t like most kinds of alcohol really. I don’t like the way spirits feel in the throat and I can’t even smell a beer without making a face. I can drink wine, but usually only a glass or so. Seldomly two, and very very seldomly more than that. So a whisky flavoured tea? Naaaaaaaah.
I have, though, recently become keen on smelling his whisky when he has some. I can pick up some of the same sorts of nuances as in tea, although it requires a fair bit of concentration to sort of smell ‘through’ the alcohol. Over Christmas he and my father had one that smelled distinctly orange to me (as in the colour orange, rather than the fruit.) and another one which I thought smelled a bit like almonds.
This one smells really very nice, actually. It has cocoa kernels in it and carob, so there’s a strong cocoa-y note to it, but I’m also picking up a scent of whisky from it. Primarily because I know it’s supposed to be there, but it very clearly resembles some of the whisky that Husband prefers. Also vanilla, a bit, so the whisky this flavour is supposed to imitate was obviously stored in bourbon casks. THE THINGS YOU DISCOVER YOU KNOW SOMETIMES!!!!
From the flavour I’m getting a fair bit of cocoa again and a fairly oaky sort of note as well. Those are the two strongest notes for me. Underneath that a bit of vanilla and permeating everything is something which I imagine must come together as something whisky-ish.
However, Husband just came into my room and said that he didn’t think it smelled or tasted like whisky at all… The theory I’m working under now is that I can imagine whisky a lot easier in this because I’ve only got the smell of it to work with. I can’t believe he didn’t find it whisky-y, though! I really think it is!
Rather better than I was expecting, though. I find I quite like this. Probably wouldn’t buy it again, though, since Husband was a little luke-warm on it.
Here is some Christmas present tea. I put this on the list because, pear. Because, marzipan. Because, tartlet. Need I say more?
It smells jolly nice, although not particularly pear-y, marzipan-y or tartlet-y. At least not right at first. But jolly nice. If I concentrate and breathe the scent for a while, I can smell it all coming together in marzipan-y tartlet-y niceness and with some fruit that I can easily imagine could be pear. The more I’m breathing the scent, the closer I feel it comes to the target. Gosh, I want to bake a pear tart now! Those are so good with a bit of creme fraiche…
In the flavour, though… Not really. No amount of concentration really manages to bring it together for me. It’s jolly nice, it just doesn’t taste like I thought. Perhaps this is due to the mysterious addition of mango. The ingredients says it’s got mango in it. Why??? The only thing thing of the title that I feel I can taste with certainty is the marzipan of the title, although it feels more generically nutty than marzipan. Luckily I’m very keen on nut teas lately. Jolly nice.
From the EU TTB – Round 3
I’m still a relative beginner with Pu Erh, so I figured trying this one couldn’t hurt my education. I’ll admit to being wary of it still, but I find myself less scared with every cup I drink. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 2 minutes in boiling water.
The resulting liquor is red-brown, and smells quite strongly of…manure. I’m coming to accept that about pu erh, although I can’t say that it makes for the most appealing introduction. Fortunately, the taste is milder than the smell. This one comes across as rich and earthy (compost, almost), with a hint of orange lurking in the aftertaste. The orange is natural and sweet tasting, and offers a juicy, refreshing counterpoint to the base pu erh. I’d even go so far as to say it’s a combination that works well.
I had hoped the orange flavour would be stronger, but I’m glad for what’s there. As I sipped away, I started to really enjoy the flavour, and to wonder what I’d felt such trepidation about. I believe I will get there with pu erh one day, and this was another positive step on the road.
Good lord, this tea is the real deal and one of my favourites, not because it is one of the best, but because it is a very flexible tea. I’ve steeped it on almost boiling water, and at 70C too… long and short steeps, this tea can take it all and give you great albeit very different cups of great tea.
It is a bit woody, a bit citrusy , and very aromatic, reminiscing of some Chinese black teas… I love that you can get playful with it, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys oolongs and the occasional black, and would also dare anyone who has tasted this one and brews it the usual way, to do one 3 min steep at a lower temp and re-evaluate this tea.
Flavors: Citrus, Flowers, Wood
Definate Winter tea, quite enjoyable. although you need to like chilli!
Have had chocolate flavoured teas before and find them quite sickly, but this one is cleaner and with the white tea content isn’t sicky at all.
One for a cold night in :-)
Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa, Spices
This has some huuuuuuge pieces of star fruit in, perfect star shapes that smell so juicy and sweet. On top of that the apple is dominant scent wise, again being juicy and fresh. So far it’s a very nice fruit tea scent, one of the better fruit teas I have sniffed. As for the black base there is no real note in the raw scent.
In flavour this is very bitter, I think it’s because the black tea is rather finely cut and is much too strong compared to the delicate fruit. I only steeped it for one minute as well so it was certainly not over the time. It’s not terrible but it’s just bitter and ear wax like…..rather sour too. There are light apple tones amidst the over powering base.
I decided to re-steep my tea to see if it would be less bitter and strong but alas it was all for nought. This tea is just not for me, it remains bitter and sour with very little fruit taste. Very different compared to what it smelt like, so disappointing.
Queued post, written June 21st 2014
Finally getting around to this one. I’ve had the sample since forever, from the last time I made a (successful) NBT order. I don’t know what it is with me and that site. I’ve done this thing twice now where I make an order and wait for it to show up and then when nothing happens I discover that I have no order confirmation or any sort and no money has gone out of my account or anything. The order was never actually placed. I don’t know what I’ve done wrong. I must have somehow managed to miss a step in the process or something, but seriously, how hard can it be to place an order on a website??? I think I’m losing my marbles… The sad thing is it’s turning me away from ordering from NBT in spite of the fact that I’ve otherwise always been very happy with them. It’s not their fault that I’m apparently incapable of using the internet.
Anyway, last time I actually managed it, I got a sample of this. Mostly because at the time I had never seen elderberries or elderflowers represented in tea at all. The forgotten berry! I love elderflower cordial, though, so I was very pleased to see it at last. I’ve had a couple of things since then with elderflowers in them. That’s how old this sample is.
Last night I finally got around to it. I need to empty this box of untried things! I wasn’t certain if I wanted to try it more as a hot beverage or as a cold one, but it’s a big sample, so I did both. I’ve got a good helping in a jug cold brewing in the fridge and I put another spoonful in a filter bag last night for the before-bed-beverage.
Hot, it was just lovely. Sweet and elderflower-y. That’s really the only way I can describe it and it’s spot on too because this isn’t blended with anything else. It’s only elderflowers. I’m used to elderflowers being in a chilled drink, though (see: cordial) so I’m rather looking forward to the cold brew. I don’t think it’s quite ready yet, though. This is where I’m really expecting it to be fabulous.
Having now tasted the cold brew, I have to say it was rather more bland this way. It’s like drinking mildly flavoured water, which is also very nice, but not really what I was going for. Maybe it needs a longer time, but at this point it was a little disappointing. I suspect mixing it with a little apple juice would be very lovely indeed, or perhaps adding a slice or two of fresh lemon to the jug.
I could also easily see myself experiementing with combining it with other things. A spoonful of elderflowers in with an Assam for example strikes me as something that might be really nice.
As mentioned, it’s a big sample. 10 grams of elderflowers is a LOT of elderflowers, so I have an ample sufficiency to work with.Additional, August 27th 2014
I have since discovered, I think, why elderberries are few and far between in tea and indeed other fruity things that aren’t cordial. Turns out raw elderberries are mildly poisonous. They contain cyanohydrins, but this is broken down when the berries are cooked, preferably for around 15-20 minutes. I didn’t know this. I was looking up what to do with elderberries as there are a some in the hedge between our drive and the neighbour’s, and they’re ripening now. I’m not sure if I’ll do anything with them now though. There aren’t enough to do much of anything at all, really, to make the detoxification process even remotely worth it. I can’t really be bothered to ‘save up’ berries in the freezer for years just for one batch of cordial or marmalade or what have you.
I have seen that some of you liked at one point to use dried elderberries as an addition to your tea. Please, if you can, make sure that your berries have been COOKED BEFORE DRYING. I’m sure they have, though, but even so. If they haven’t, remember to cook them first. Some varieties are more toxic than others and none of them will actually kill you, but they might make you ill.
Possibly the need for cooking isn’t as urgent as all that and the warnings I have read somewhat exaggerated, but better to be on the safe side and cook them first, I feel. People saying, “I have eaten raw elderberries for 50+ years and never been ill from it, therefore they can’t possibly contain toxins!” don’t really sway me much on this point. One does not automatically follow from the other. It’s like saying “I’ve been smoking 40 cigarettes a day for 50 years and have never had cancer, therefore smoking must be good for you,” which as we all know (or bloody well should know) is wildly untrue!
From what I’ve been able to gather, the flowers don’t appear to have toxins in them, though. Just about every other part of the plant.
And that’s all the paranoid rambling from me today.
This was a free sample I received a while ago as part of my Tea Buffs subscription. Having a break from cleaning and sorting, been at it all day and I’m knackered.
The loose blend consists of large leaf pieces and small mixed pieces, it had a sweet pear and almond scent. It was amazing, pear is hard to capture scent wise but this is fab.
Once steeped the tea is amber in colour and is very sweet and almond rich. In flavour it is more mild in comparison to it’s strong scent but it is just as pleasing. After my husbands first sip he said “Yummm that’s nice” and it takes a lot for him to say that. I can’t taste the Rooibos other than it’s sweetness but that matches well against both the pear and the almond/marzipan. It’s not tart like ie crusty or bready in any way so that is just a play on words I suppose, make it sound more appealing. The pear is pure tasting though it’s stronger than it would be to actually eat a pear so I think it may have some artificial flavour present, or something to aid it anyway.
The strongest element is by far the almond, if you like almond tea then this is worth a try. It’s nice to have an almond tea that doesn’t make me think purely of marzipan (despite this blends name).
Right, I’m going to finish my tea and then I need to carry on, such is life.
Flavors: Almond, Pear
I love the name of this tea despite not being crazy about walnuts. Actually, I take that back.. I like walnuts when they’re in baked things – chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, oatmeal cookies. On their own, I’m not crazy about ’em. Anyway, back to the tea! The scent of this is of a rather tame green tea – smooth, only a tiny bit grassy – and walnuts. When I say walnuts, I mean the whole darn thing including the shell. I can smell the bitter skin and starchy inside. Wow!
Sipping… hm, not as bitter as I was expecting. The green tea is light, very smooth and actually the sweetest part of this cup. The rest of the sip is pure walnut which is overwhelming, but quite impressive. I actually don’t mind this tea, but I wish that there were something layer cakey about it. To me, it’s a walnut and sencha blend, with no other flavors. If someone adores walnut, I can see this being a top choice. Thank you, KittyLovesTea, for this one. I’m quite glad I got to try it and will finish the cup!
A sample from KittyLovesTea, and another one I left for fear of messing it up. I’m still not entirely sure how to treat it, “it” being a white tea left to oxidise. I plumped for treating it like a while for my first go, and I think that was probably right. It tastes smooth, anyway, so it certainly didn’t do it any harm.
Hot, I’m not sure whether I like it all that much. As it cools, however, it’s a lot more pleasant. More of the flavour seems to come out, and it takes on more of the natural sweetness white tea can sometimes have. It tastes very honeyed, and slightly hay-like, but there’s a deeper edge to this that I suspect is caused by the oxidisation. It’s pretty unique, I think. The dry leaves are pretty unique, too, retaining some of their white downiness, but largely being very fine, needle-like, and almost black in colour. The liquor is a deep honey colour.
It’s not a strong flavour, and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what I’m tasting. A stouter, sturdier version of a white tea, with a slightly fruity edge. When I say fruity in this case, I’m thinking of orange fruits like peach and apricot.
I think this is one that will grow on me, and I can actually imagine it tasting really wonderful iced. It’s certainly one I’ll continue drinking at a lower temperature. It’s an odd creature hot.
A sample from KittyLovesTea. I was intrigued by this one, but completely clueless about how best to treat it. For this reason, I went with the steeping parameters indicated in the description on this page – 5 mins at about 180. I like Darjeeling, on the whole, but green tea and jasmine flavouring have always been borderline flavours for me. That’s probably why I wasn’t expecting to like this a whole lot, and so I took myself completely by surprise when it turned out that I did. Like it a lot, that it.
It’s sweet, for starters, and I wasn’t expecting anything like that. It is a little bitter at the end of the sip, but the initial sweetness is just phenomenal. It smells delicious, too. Sweet, again, and slightly floral. Juicy, somehow. It’s quite perfumey to taste, but somehow this isn’t a bad thing. Usually, heavy jasmine scents or flavours aren’t my thing at all, but this is something else. Although the jasmine is both strong and heavy, I actually don’t mind it. It works really well with the base Darjeeling, perhaps because it’s a “green” Darjeeling. In addition to the jasmine, there’s a strong grassy flavour. Again, sweet, but it cuts through the floral a little in the middle of the sip, and reminds me of some of the more delicate green teas I’ve tried recently.
Looking at the leaves, the majority are a medium green colour, with some darker leaves (approaching black) among the mix. They’re quite small, and some are broken, but the majority actually unfurl to a reasonable size once steeped. The liquor is a bright yellow, very sunny looking. I needed things to cheer me up today, and this has done the trick admirably.
Overall, a huge success! I’m going to resteep the leaves, as recommended, to try and lose some of the bitterness. I might also try my next fresh infusion with a slightly shorter brew time. I’d put off trying this one because I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but I’m glad I finally took the plunge. A reward if ever there was one!
2nd steep isn’t so great. The bitterness is still there, only this time there is significantly less flavour. The jasmine is more subtle, but in this case I don’t think that’s an advantage. I much prefer this at full strength.
I had no idea how to brew this, so I checked the other (two) reviews for pointersand went with 3 minutes at 80C. I barely ever read individual tasting notes right before trying a new tea, though, and I have Dag Wedin’s ‘powerfully fruity’ comment with me as I sip this. Heh. Let me just say it’s pretty obvious which one of us drinks flavoured Japanese fruit teas on a regular basis.
In the bag, this smells so sweet; there’s a special sweetness to it – a new, hay-like sweetness I haven’t encountered before. I don’t know if it’s even possible to get this to come through in the steeped tea, but I did not succeed. As has already been pointed out, this doesn’t look like the average white tea, and, in my opinion, nor does it taste like it. It’s light, but it has a bit more depth than I’ve come to expect from whites. Flavoured or unflavoured, they often come off very light and fluffy to me – much like drinking a cloud.
The contents of my cup went down smoothly, but there is not enough personality or character for me to be intrigued or excited. I won’t remember this tea. My rating reflects this, rather than the quality of the tea – I’m sure this leaf would be very pleasing to someone who enjoys a clean, fresh, uncomplicated white.
[Sample from the second round of the EU Travelling Box, spring 2014.]
From KittyLovesTea´s european travelling box, and this is a really intriguing tea. Whole, but small, copper leaves, full of unfurled tiny leaves. (you bet it will be high on polyphenol and a bunch of other goodies).
I did not make it too strong, made it european style and I am glad I didso, this was just right for my taste – I have no idea how many grams I used because the leaves are whole and large and difficult to estimate and my scales just are not precise enough for this).
It is quite a strange tea to describe, though undoubtedly a lovely one. It is quite astringent (am glad I did not make it any stronger though will resteep a few times more). It has natural fruity notes, like raisins and, like another reviewer mentioned, ripe peaches. The wet leaves smell like berries with peaches. A really interesting tea.
PS – just to add, going by my reaction to it, I think it packs quite a caffeine punch.
This one was an easy swap pick – I wanted to try some more flavoured pu’erhs, and this had that good old, bad old pu’erh smell. I didn’t get much orange then and still don’t, but it’s clear that some kind of flavouring is at play, rather than this being a straight-up pu’erh.
It brews up murky and a little filmy, with surprisingly little presence in the cup. While I understand why people frequently seem to characterize pu’erh as fishy (that is, smelling of fish, rather than being shifty and unreliable) I don’t really agree, but I guess it’s more fit for polite conversation than my own scent analogy that ties in with summers spent next door to a big farm in the country. While there are certainly hints of that organic, earthy, sun-warmed farm animal urine scent, this, overall, mostly comes off a little flat, with no traces of orange.
This might just be one of those flavourings that fail to register for me, but I enjoyed trying it out – if nothing else, it has inspired me to keep looking for flavoured pu’erhs to enjoy.
[Sample from the EU Travelling Box, autumn 2013.]
I brewed the last of this tea in a pot to serve with brunch. Since my husband is working at home today so I did a ‘fry up’ (soy burger, fried eggs, baked beans and toast) which will keep us going until dinner time.
Last time I didn’t think an awful lot to this tea, while it was nice and smoky it was not quite at my desired strength for a breakfast tea. Today I steeped it for longer and received much better results.
The tea is served with a drop of milk. The longer steep has created a much stronger and more robust tea than previously. It remains malty and smoky but so much so now that it is definitely more like a breakfast tea. My husband said he really likes this one, I may have to get some more for him.