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Recent Tasting Notes
We had a fabulous day yesterday in Carmel and Monterey. We decided we would escape the heat and drive down to the coast for the day! It was so cool, like 64 degrees, which was a huge change from our previous day in Davis, where it was like walking through a furnace at 104 degrees. Anyway, we had a blast shopping around Carmel, and eating at some amazing places. We found our new favorite Italian restaurant in Carmel, called Little Napoli…food was amazing! I had a gnocchi dish and they were like little pillows with Gorgonzola cheese melted on top! Yum!!! I also picked up a cute new hat, kind of 1920s inspired!
I was also excited to stop by the Tea Rose shop, which was closed the last time we were in Carmel. I had read she carried Harney & Sons teas, and I knew she had some cute teaware, but she said she recently went to a tea expo, and picked up a bunch of stuff, and I found the Octavia Tea Company teas in her shop as well. Never heard of them before. Of course I had to try them out. I picked up a tin of this tea, since it sounded unique. I mean, I’ve seen English breakfast, and Irish breakfast, and even Scottish breakfast, but not French breakfast. Plus, I like the idea of a vanilla, caramel, rose black tea. The tins are a little funny though. Remind me of a deodorant stick in shape! Haha! It was a little pricey for 3oz., but I figured I was in Carmel (instant rate hike) and the tea is organic, so I went for it. I looked up the company online, and yes, she had hiked the price up by $2.50, but I suppose she needs to make some profit! It does seem like a lot though…like a 17% hike. I made a comment about checking them out online, and I don’t think she appreciated it…ha! You do save on shipping though, by getting it at her shop.
Of course I had to have a cup this morning. This tea did not disappoint! I was happy to see the tea was sealed up fresh in a foil pouch within the tin. When I opened it, the dry leaf smelled like vanilla and rose. Brewed up, it tastes like vanilla, caramel, and rose black tea! Perfect! I steeped it at 195 degrees for 3 minutes, since the instructions said something about letting boiling water cool a bit. This turned out to be a great cup, with no astringency…of course, I added soy milk and sugar too! So I’m super satisfied, and will probably be ordering sample sizes online to try more of this company!! ;)
Thanks to Lynne-tea for a sample of this one! Your box of stuff totally got lost in my room, and I found it when I moved :) Happy day!
Anyhow, this one seemed promising, but ended up being fairly boring. Woody rooibos with creamy vanilla. I imagine that age and poor storage are to some extent to blame, but I also don’t think I’m a fan of rooibos that’s not heavily flavoured, and vanilla typically isn’t a strong enough flavour for me. It’s reasonable enough to finish, though!
SEE EDITED NOTE BELOW
Not the most outstanding cup of green tea I’ve made however I’m hoping it will taste better the next time I try it.
Upon opening it, the leaves appeared smushed from the packaging so I placed it in a ziplock bag and put it back in the container for more movement and longer shelf life. The smell was earthy and salty, almost like seaweed, and could not catch that orchid smell or taste. I used a thermometer to measure the temperature to 175 degrees and steeped it for 2 minutes before pulling the strainer out of the cup. The liquid was a faint yellow-green color and the aroma contained a similar scent to the taste.
I definitely caught the salty taste in the cup, something I was not expecting since I’m used to a sweet or grassy flavor from my teas. It was hard to distinguish whether I was tasting the water or the tea due to the dull flavor it emitted. I want to try steeping for longer or add more tea to be sure to do justice for the tea. If it turns out well, resteeping will be the next step.
Previous rating (40), previous temp (175 degrees), previous steep time (2 min)
- Updated ratings applied to this note.
As I said earlier, I wanted to test out this tea again to be sure I was getting the full experience with this tea.
Equipment: a new tea kettle that records the temperature over the stove before it boils and a second thermometer to check the time after pouring it out. Also used a loose tea infuser basket from rishi tea to steep in my mug.
Method: After checking the temperature, it initially read 175 degrees so I poured a little bit of cold filtered water til it read 165 degrees. I added 1.5 tsp of tea in the tea basket and poured some cold filtered water on top of the leaves first before steeping, bringing the temperature down to 160 degrees. For the remaining 20 seconds, I flash steeped it and then dripped it for a few seconds following 2 min of steeping.
The Tea itself: The color was a pale yellowish-green liquid. The smell still had a subtle salty smell with a more encompassing earthy/grassy scent. The salty taste integrated better with the mellow earthy/grassy flavor. It seemed to have that buttery taste as well which continued through its aftertaste. It was pleasant without any sweetness, commonly found with flavored green teas. If you like straight-out green tea, brew this right and it will be a light tea to have any time of the day.
Many thanks to Allie who was kind enough to swap for a generous sample of this tea!
I have to say, I quite enjoyed it. It’s not the best chai I’ve ever tasted, but the chocolate flavour and the hints of vanilla that came through were very enjoyable. It smells wonderful and fills the house with a spicy aroma. I added some sweetener to this, as I always prefer my chais sweetened, and it ended up being a very nice cuppa. Comforting, complex, and overall an interesting blend. Maybe not something I’d keep on hand in bulk, but definitely in small quantities when I get a craving for something like this.
Thanks again, Allie, you rock! :)
Meta: Added this tea just now and accidentally hit the “enter” key which saved the tea in the database before I had a chance to add all the info. Since I joined here less than a month ago, I can’t edit this to include all the right info. Grrrr.
Anyways, I reallly wanted this tea to be a nice bedtime tea for me (it’s rooibos, so caffeine free), and it just didn’t deliver. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by all the amazing loose leaf teas I have right now, but this just tastes really bland. It smells a lot better than it tastes. The smell is sweet and cinnamon-y and like apple pie. The taste is faintly of apples but it just leaves a lot to be desired.
I have other teas from Octavia (that I have yet to review) which I enjoy a lot, so I expected this to be good and it was a disappointment. I (thankfully) had only gotten one of the sample pouches, and not a full tin.
As an aside, one beef I have with Octavia is they don’t include very specific brewing instructions with their teas. If anyone has temperature/steep time recommendations for rooibos (red tea), please post. I never drink it and without guidance from Octavia I was just guessing. I used the generic 3.5 minutes at boiling water that they recommend, and had put 2 tsp in my cup.
Just a quick note cause I’m about to go to bed…
This tea, in my experience, works best with a long steep time— I did 5 minutes for the first steep and 6:30 for the second. Then it is deliciously fruity and berry-y. The white tea comes through in a big but not overpowering way, which is awesome because in most flavoured white teas that I’ve tried the tea flavour is totally overwhelmed by everything else going on. I drank it next to the windowsill reading A Walk in the Woods!
This used to be called Winter Mint. The dry leaf smells like after eights. Yum! You can see chock full of white chips and apple bits which I though was strange. The first sip was underwhelming, I was expecting a chocolate mint explosion but each sip thereafter proved to be a pleasant tea experience. The flavor is well balanced, chocolate and mint do not overpower each other. They are well blended due in part to the vanilla and the apple gives it another layer of complexity. The vanilla lends a smooth creaminess which tames the chocolate and mint notes. A demure chocolate mint tea.
Thanks for the sample, darby!
I started my day off with a lot of champagne things hahaha. I had this with breakfast and then a mimosa before Skyfall. That would have been a mimosa with Skyfall but those previews take forever. I love Cinebistro. I love James Bond.
I actually liked this a lot better cold. When it was hot I only tasted raspberry, but at least I could taste the hay-like notes of the white tea too, so it wasn’t too bad. And I do like raspberry, but it is raspberry champagne.
Cold, the champagne flavor comes out as well as the raspberry and also notes of honey. The raspberry tastes more tart and juicy, with a nice bubbly flavor to match.
The only thing I wish is I could find how exactly to steep it. I went with just 2 minutes because it’s not on their website at all. I guess they just assume everyone drinking their teas got it in original packaging and don’t swap for them. Then again from what I remember on the tin for French Breakfast, the instructions are very poor to begin with so in the end, it all worked out I guess.
I find it funny how many teas there are called French Breakfast, and they are all different.
And none of them remind me of the tea I drank in France!
I had this in my shopping list on here, and found it at Whole Foods Buckhead. They had a few others but none were other ones I wanted to try. They were even $1 less than online from Octavia, score!
I followed the directions on the tin: water off boiling, 3 1/2 minutes is a good average start. Kind of annoyed they don’t put anything exact, but it seems they just use the same one tin for all black teas they carry.
I’m not getting any caramel, just some vanilla. And like last night, this just isn’t that good of vanilla. Vanille des Îles is my benchmark vanilla, though it’s more of a bourbon vanilla taste, it still has all the nuances I expect from vanilla. And this is definitely missing that. It’s like comparing a homemade vanilla bean extract to imitation vanilla extract.
The tea is very astringent too, which surprises me for such a short steep. Granted, I have no idea what exactly the black tea in here is supposed to be so it makes it hard to figure out how long to steep it.
As it cools it just kind of loses any flavor whatsoever. It’s just a smooth cup of a boring, brisk black tea…with that hint of imitation vanilla. While it was hot there was a bit of a floral note from the rose petals.
I figured French breakfast goes well with watching a race here in Atlanta named for the infamous Le Mans! Except it nearly isn’t as fun to watch without the big teams…I don’t even feel upset about not being there now.
I’ll give it a try with a shorter steep…maybe I’ll even take a minute off instead of just 30 seconds, and see if that helps keep the black tea from taking over the cup.
I haven’t really had time for anything but study cards (so here I am?)…
I have had this for a couple of months and just recently decided to try it iced. It’s a bit creamy with some apple flavour hanging about and vanilla just being mellow and not trying to take the stage (as per usual I find with vanilla teas).
This is not too bad. I don’t really find a very strong rooibos base, which is really exciting because I do not really like red rooibos (too woody for me sometimes). Green however is a totally different story.
The more I drink this as I write, the sweeter of an aftertaste I get. Vanilla puddingish with some apple bits skattered throughout. YUM.
Thank heavens for iced tea. It takes less time to make then multiple hot infusions (plus, summer finally arrived. And I’m stuck inside. FREEDOM TOMORROW!)
The flavours just keep getting stronger and stronger. I’m enjoying this a lot. Method was 4 tsp for 4 cups, boiling water, stuck in fridge overnight.
sorry if this note is a little skattered. I think I have cabin fever. Check on me if I don’t post in a few days – it would mean I have drowned in the 1000+ study cards that have surrounded me.
Backlogging from last week.
I think this was another sample I had received with my order, I can’t recall for certain though. Anyways, I like white teas and I like peach, however me and ginger have a weird relationship. Fresh ginger I can handle and do enjoy in small amounts, dried powered ginger I don’t really care for. This tea tastes like it contains the dried powdered form. I can taste the white tea base and some peach notes and feels like it has potential to be a nice flavored white tea, but the ginger in this makes it impossible for me to truly enjoy it unfortunately.
Backlogged from last week.
This is a sample I received with my order. I was pleasantly surprised by this tea. I love blueberries, but I’m not typically a fan of them added to my tea. For whatever reason I find that blueberry added to tea just ends up tasting like blueberries and no tea. This was a decent balance. I could taste the green tea base, which usually doesn’t happen with blueberry added. The blueberries were nice, tasted almost like a nice preserves, and didn’t overwhelm the tea. They looked like the little dried blueberries you can by in bags at the supermarket next to the cranberries. If I order from this company again I’ll probably get more of this tea.
Invader Zim was kind enough to send me the rest of his sample packet of this. Octavia’s teas are all VERY expensive so I was curious to see whether or not they are worth the price tag. Judging by this tea alone, I would say that that doesn’t seem to be the case. This was a pretty plain tea, I found it to be slightly smokey in the way that a mild gunpowder tea would be, and I have to agree with Zim on the tobacco flavor. There was also a bit of general earthiness. This one was just okay, but that’s not acceptable when a company’s teas are SICKENINGLY expensive. Go check out their website if you want to see what I’m talking about. But price tag aside, this tea still gave me my green tea fix for the moment and I’m grateful to Invader Zim for sending it to me, thanks again.
Bright green matcha powder covering flat, dark green leaves. The leaves are broken, badly. It almost looks as if I opened a tea bag and dumped the contents. Dry is smells very sweet and grassy, same with the wet leaves and infusion. The leaves, even badly broken, did open fully on the first steep. The liquior was a very bright and vibrant green. Taste was very sweet from the matcha, grassy from the sencha and had an astringent/bitter aftertaste on the tip of my tongue. I know that sounds weird, but that’s what I was getting and I’m assuming that the bitterness was from the leaves being so broken. Even though it was bitter the smoothness of the matcha balanced it out and made it pleasant. The second steep though had lost most of the smooth sweetness, I guess since the matcha went out into the first infusion. Unfortunately because there was no more sweetness the bitterness was much stronger almost making it undrinkable. I know I didn’t oversteep it, temp was 160-165 and the first brew was 10-15 seconds, the second was 15-20 seconds. Maybe i should’ve added more matcha from my stash, but I wanted to try it without doing anything to it first. Maybe I’ll buy my own sencha and add matcha too it since the first steep was really good.
This started out like a typical run-of-the-mill green tea, mellow, vegetal, nothing special about it. Dry smell: mellow vegetal. Wet leaves smell: strong vegetal. After brewing it and taking a sip: mellow and vegetal. I didn’t pick up any of the orchid notes. But when I swallowed I got this interesting taste, seaweed. It was mellow and light, but it was there. I sniffed the cup and I can smell something slightly salty. I take another sip, vegetal, and slightly salty. Interesting. There more I drank and kept looking for the seaweed notes the more I tasted it and liked it. It never did become strong but it was there and i liked it. It was like finding a toy in the cereal box when you’re not expecting one.
I’m not a big fan of roasted oolongs but this was a free sample with my package and I’m in the sampling mood today if no one’s been able to tell :) The dry leaves of this are very dark, typical of roasted oolongs and it contains what looks like dried apricot shavings. Its dry smell is slightly smokey and earthy with apricot. I’m picking up what smells like wet stones, that fresh cold stream moving over a bunch of stones and rocks without moss or algae smell, it’s quite nice. Wet, the leaves lose the apricot smell but everything else stays there, only more pronounced. The infusion is a medium brown color and tastes like grilled apricot, the wet stones, and definitely roasty. The apricot flavors are much lighter than what I was expecting, the oolong takes center stage here, the apricot being a supporting role. As I said, I don’t care for roasted oolongs, but this is a good flavored one, especially if you like to taste more of the tea base than the flavors.
I should’ve known better when I read that it’s from Darjeeling area. I don’t care for tea from that area or from Ceylon. But I decided to give it a try regardless. The dry leaves are mostly dark green, there are some lighter green and some brown leaves in there. The smell reminds me of when I worked on a farm, of not quite dried out hay, like a blend of green and black teas. The wet leaves smells like tobacco to me. My dad used to roll his own cigarettes and that’s what I was getting with this tea. The infusion color was a light brown and smelled vegetal, earthy, malty and a hint of a floral note in there. I don’t care for black tea, but I’ve had enough to know that this green tea is from the Darjeeling area. Again, I don’t know why I got this tea, good thing it was only a sample, but I don’t care for this at all and I’m not rating it because I should’ve known better. Perhaps I was thinking of expanding my tastes or something, but I will be sticking with Chinese greens with a Japanese green thrown in there for fun.
I’m surprised that there are quite a few Octavia Teas not in the database here. So, I’m going to keep adding them as I try out my samples.
The dry leaves are small, dark green, curled and smells like grass that is slightly earthy and slightly sweet. The wet leaves are grassy and very vegetal smelling. The infusion is the typically light color of green teas, and again smells grassy but this time I’m picking up the flower notes…just barely. The taste at first seems like an unremarkable grassy green tea. I swish it in my mouth and I can start to taste the flower notes and I get a vegetal aftertaste, it’s slowly gaining character. As the tea is cooling the notes are becoming more pronounced: grassy, vegetal, with a hint of flowers. Pretty good green tea, I like it.
I’m surprised this one wasn’t in the Steepster database. The leaves are a mix of loosely curled and twisted darker green leaves and fuzzy white leaves. There are some broken pieces, not many and this is only a little sample size inside of a packet, so it’s probably in a bit better shape in the full size tin. Dry it has floral and chestnut notes. The floral notes aren’t like a jasmine, it’s obviously not added to the tea. It’s nice and light and not perfumey in any aspect. It’s reminds me a lot of Rishi’s Ancient Emerald Lily. The wet leaves smell more chestnut and slightly vegetal. The infusion in both smell and taste is a wonderful blend of the floral, chestnut, and vegetal notes, no one note overpowers the other(s). Delicious green tea I wouldn’t mind having everyday. Unfortunately one tin (1.41oz or 40g) costs $15. Rishi’s Ancient Emerald Lily is so similar to this and you get more tea for lower cost, I’m going to stick with Rishi.
Silly me, I did the same thing as the only other person who logged this tea. I read the description and believed it…haha….hahahahaha! Figs? nope. Raisins? not even close. Honeysuckle? maybe, no, not really. This is a green oolong that I found similar to Ti Quan Yin. Floral and slightly buttery with large dark green leaves. It’s good, but don’t believe the description.