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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 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.
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.
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 wasn’t expecting much with the campy name, but this is competing with Gyokuro Yamashiro for the best green tea I’ve had. It’s buttery and even almost kind of sweet. I’ve never had a matcha/full leaf mix before. Too bad I only had a sample package of this! I’ve only got enough left for maybe one small cup. It’s expensive but I may have to get a tin of this…
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!
Augh this tea smells soooooo gooooood. I don’t even know how to describe it except to say that it smells like berries and white tea, but that’s pretty obvious. But trust me it smells awesome. This is actually similar to my other Octavia white tea experience where it smells amazing but tastes weak as hell. What little flavour there is is actually very nice though. The white tea isn’t overwhelmed by the flavouring which often happens with whites, and it mixes really well with the berries. I did my usual short steeping time for flavoured white teas and used quite a bit of tea, but maybe next time I’ll try a longer steep.
Side note, I totally broke my clear David’s mug today. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO
At least I got a lot of use out of it. And I still have its infuser and the lid so… it’s still a nice infuser. And this will give me an excuse to buy the new watercolour print one… but I really like clear mugs so maybe I’ll look for a cheap clear mug too.
Love of teaware + small apartment = bad.
Love of teaware + small apartment + clumsiness = good. Except for the whole spending money thing.
I finished my sample of this today. With a 2-minute steep I actually did get the caramel coming through a little. I still like this and I LOVE the smell of it but there’s that bitterness there that I can’t seem to shake. Not sure if it’s worth it to get a whole tin! I wish Octavia offered a size in between sample and tin. :/
I drank this last night after a day full of (unsweetened) black tea: English breakfast, Irish breakfast, then French breakfast. So drinking this was like going to a rose garden after a day of something bold and brisk like uh… chainsaw shopping. I brewed it for 3 minutes and it came out just a little bitter, so I’ll try maybe 2 minutes next time. The dry leaves smelled like a bottle of vanilla extract to me, which I love. It showed up a great dark red colour and I got black tea + vanilla but without any creaminess. I think the rose petals are mostly there for show. I didn’t get any caramel, but maybe next time with a shorter brew? I only have a sample size but I think I might order a tin of this. It did make me picture some twee Parisian ivy-covered balcony.
I wasn’t expecting to like this one because I thought the dry leaves smelled weird and kind of alcohol-y. But it was actually amazing! The only chocolate teas I had tried before this one were from David’s, with the little tiny dark chocolate chips. This one had chunks of a lighter, milky chocolate and it made a huge difference in the taste. At first I thought the creaminess was caused by the vanilla, but I even tried a chocolate chip from a David’s tea and then a piece of chocolate from this tea to compare and it’s definitely the chocolate itself. I really like the milk chocolate, it makes it seem like more of a wintery tea. I didn’t taste the mint that much, I think I got it more in the feel than the taste. The second ingredient after rooibos is apple pieces! What?? I tried to taste the apple in this and didn’t get it at all. I wonder what they’re doing there? Despite the apple pieces and the melty nature of chocolate, this was good for a second steep too!
I got a sample of this as part of a Christmas present and tried it last night. I should probably say that I have a cold so my senses may be dulled!
This is one of the darker white teas that I’ve seen, both the dry leaves and the steeped tea. It smells amazing and light and extremely blueberry-y, but it didn’t really taste that way. It was a very light and mild taste, the blueberry was there, and a little of the white tea, but it was a little mehh for me. The second steep was basically the same, maybe a bit lighter still. But I’m looking forward to trying this one without having a cold!
Backlogging I got this tea sample from TeaEqualsBliss thank you so much! This mainly smells like peach. The taste is a good medium strength sort of juicy natural tasting peach with abit of ginger thats not over the top and a light plesant white tea. I think this is a great peach white tea the perfect amount of peach taste for me. Thank you so much for letting me try this I am very thankful.
Backlogging. I got this in a swap from TeaEqualsBliss with a nice assortment of tea. Thank you very much. This tastes like passionfruit with abit of tartness and a little bit of mango and peach with the honeybush/roobios mix. This is pretty good even though I am not sure about red roobios its tolerable in here with the fruit being stronger. I drunk this lukewarm but I think this would be great cold.
Many thanks to Jaime for this tea!!!
Ooooooh purty. I’m a sucker for rose petals in tea :) Oooooooh vanilla! I can see the cut up pods – always a good sign for me!
The flavor does not disappoint! I taste lovely medium bodied tea with a great earthy vanilla and vanilla pod taste. The smallest tinge of caramel. I am enjoying it plain today, but I think it would also be lovely with milk and sugar for a gentle accompaniment to holiday cookies. We are having Cookie Day here at the University on Monday, and I am going to save my remaining teaspoon of leaves and bring in a little milk and sugar for that very special day!!!!
Once again, thank you thank you thank you Jaime!!!
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.