Samovar

Recent Tasting Notes

56
drank Kuki Yerba Mate by Samovar
953 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 119 of the year 2014. Not sorry to see it go. Now I just have the peppermint left, and as I like it best of all I hope it won’t be too onerous of a sipdown.

Ah well, at least I gave yerba mate a try. But I feel pretty safe in saying it’s never going to be my cup of tea.

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56
drank Kuki Yerba Mate by Samovar
953 tasting notes

It’s a lot more mate than kuki today, and that makes me want to bump it down (so I dropped it a few points). Also a lot of dusty residue in the bottom of the cup, which I’d had more with the plain mate and less with the kuki until today. Maybe I just hit a few scoops that had more mate in them. Who knows.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, though, as I’ve passed the halfway point on this tin.

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56
drank Kuki Yerba Mate by Samovar
953 tasting notes

Second time having this, and it remains an improvement, at least in the view of my palate, over the plain yerba mate.

It also remains not enough to push me into mate fandom.

But it’s a nice greenish tea flavor for the after lunch caffeine boost (though matcha or a black tea would probably do a better job).

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56
drank Kuki Yerba Mate by Samovar
953 tasting notes

I still have one serving of the plain Yerba Mate before sipdown, but I thought I’d crack this open today anyway and see what’s what.

It was definitely the right choice to try to plain first. This is much easier to drink than the plain version. It is much mellower—tastes more grassy and less dirty-grassy. Steeping a shorter time may make the difference, but it could also be the addition of the kukicha. In general it is less bitter and closer to sweet, though I wouldn’t go far enough to call it sweet as the description does. Interestingly, I’m not really getting a mineral or metallic note, but then I didn’t get a passion fruit aroma from the leaves, either.

Definitely more to my liking than the plain version. I’m not going to rush out and buy mate blends, though. Mate remains not really my thing.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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50
drank Yerba Mate by Samovar
953 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 104 of the year 2014.

Not a lot to add to previous notes, other than it is now gone and I’ve recycled the lovely black tin for another tea.

I am glad I like the Kuki version better, since I have a lot of it left. Something tells me I’m going to like the peppermint even better though I haven’t tried it yet.

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50
drank Yerba Mate by Samovar
953 tasting notes

File under stupid tea tricks.

I had two Finum baskets on my desk at work, both with measured portions of this in it. The first was to consume, the second was to attempt to ascertain how many servings were left in the tin. (My guess is there were about 3-4.)

I say were because after I steeped the first basket, I grabbed a basket to toss out what I thought was the spent yerba mate and dumped the dry mix into the garbage.

There are now about 2-3 servings left and I feel like an utter dolt. If this had been something I love, I would have been heartbroken, too.

Fortunately, I’m sure it is more than apparent from my previous notes on this how I feel about yerba mate. On the bright side, I’m one serving more away from being able to recycle the awesome black matte Samovar tin. I already know what I want to put in it.

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50
drank Yerba Mate by Samovar
953 tasting notes

Not quite so bitter as the last time and a little less like grassy dirt but still not my favorite.

I have two other types of Samovar Yerba Mate that came in the gift box—Peppermint and Kuki. I wanted to get a feel for the plain version before I branched out into those, though. It will be interesting to see how they compare.

Still have a few servings of this one left. Stay tuned.

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50
drank Yerba Mate by Samovar
953 tasting notes

This is my third try of straight yerba mate, the try by which I’m supposed to become used to the taste.

However, today, I am drinking this on the heels of eating a turkey wrap for lunch and perhaps because of the influence of the food, I’m getting a much more of a bitterness in the initial sip than I got the first couple of times. This quickly smooths out into the usual grassy, earthy, sweet dirt flavor, which is what I was expecting.

I do see that one could get used to this flavor, however, I don’t think it’s something I’m ever going to find appealing. I’ve seen mate described as having a flavor similar to green tea. I haven’t tasted a green tea with a flavor like this. I’ve also seen that this one is described as having a licorice flavor (in the product description). I really don’t taste licorice, though I’m not sure it would improve the flavor to my tastebuds. Perhaps it is what is keeping this from being overly bitter though.

On the upside, I’m now about halfway through the tin…

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50
drank Yerba Mate by Samovar
953 tasting notes

I read somewhere that it takes three separate occasions of drinking yerba mate to get used to the taste. I’m counting this as my second occasion, because it’s my second time trying it straight.

I think I’m going to need a third. Even if I do get used to the flavor, I’m thinking I’ll never really like it.

Today I think I used more leaf and less water, or perhaps the yerba mate absorbed a ridiculous amount of water so it just looked less? It came out looking like an opaque liquid about the color of caramel hard candies, with maybe a bit more of a greenish tinge than the candies.

I’ll keep trying but it’s really not my thing. Lowering the rating some. Note that the rating isn’t a commentary on whether this is good mate. I don’t know what the objective standards are for measuring whether a mate is good.

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50
drank Yerba Mate by Samovar
953 tasting notes

One year I spent a lot of money at Samovar and they added me to their Christmas list. A package appeared at my door that contained three tins of different types of yerba mate (including this one) and the Four Hour Workweek book. I never got around to trying the yerba mate until now.

I was avoiding it, to tell the truth. I had had some in blends and didn’t really love it, plus some of the things I read about carcinogenic effects bugged me.

But here it is in my work drawer, so I thought I’d give it a try.

It isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I doubt I’ll ever become a yerba mate fan, but it’s tolerable to drink from time to time. (And because you use a lot of leaf to the cup it should go reasonably fast.)

It smells and tastes a little like dirty grass, but believe it or not, that’s not as bad as it sounds. It’s also a little like eating a mixture of raw potato and raw yellow squash.

I doubt it will grow on me, but we’ll see. Not sure how to rate this because I can’t say how good a yerba mate it is. I’ll have to rate it non-comparatively and base the rating on taste, I guess.

Flavors: Earth, Grass, Loam, Potato

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 4 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
Kirkoneill1988

i remember yerba mate! the Peruvians drank it out of some shell thing. i tried it once (i mean by yerba mate, in general. not a specific kind)

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86
drank Ocean of Wisdom by Samovar
953 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 71 of the year 2014. A sample. Wow, my first sipdown of the day? I’m obviously losing my momentum…

But finally a Samovar herbal that is still available to buy! Whew.

I was reading about this being the equivalent of their chai but without caffeine, which got me wondering about how to prepare it. Samovar recommends their chai be prepared using a stovetop method on the sample packet (I still have a chai sample, too), but the directions on the sample packet for this don’t make that recommendation. I’ll steep as directed, since I’ve had excellent results for the most part when I follow Samovar’s instructions exactly.

(I feel slightly intimidated by this blend, which was made for the Dalai Lama…)

The sample didn’t have much of a smell in the packet, just a sort of generic spiciness. This, along with the licorice-as-ingredient, along with the last tisane experience, Nocturnal Bliss, had me slightly worried as I waited for the steeping to take its course. I wasn’t getting a lot of aroma from the steeped tisane either.

But why, oh why did I doubt the blending power of the Samovar? The flavor pulls all the loose ends together so nicely. I know the clove is there, but it doesn’t push the other flavors out of the cup as it can sometimes do. I know the cinnamon is there, but it isn’t heavy, or woody, or powdery. I know the ginger is there, but it isn’t bitter or pungent. I know the licorice is there, but it doesn’t attack me.

I don’t know so much that either the rooibos or honeybush are there, though I can definitely pick them out if I try. There’s a hint of something vanilla-like coming through from the rooibos and honey-like from the honeybush, and I can even get to something woody/reedy if I try hard enough, but I really do have to try pretty hard.

Each of the flavors can be identified, but each melds into the others to create something completely different that isn’t any of them separately and is more then all of them together. It’s as though each ingredient adds depth to the flavor.

If I’m honest with myself, I like the Berry Rooibos and the Orange Ginger slightly better, mostly because I find berry an easier flavor to consume late at night than a chai-like combination, and because the Orange Ginger did some rather marvelous voodoo on my stomach and by extension my entire nervous system. Given this is a non-caffeinated blend, I’d be drinking this at night.

But this has one thing those don’t have. It’s available. If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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56
drank Nocturnal Bliss by Samovar
953 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 64 of the year 2014. A sample of yet another no-longer-offered Samovar tisane.

I think I bought this one because of the name. I wouldn’t have bought it because of the ingredients as a main one is lemon myrtle, which for a while during my search for the perfect lemon tisane almost ruined lemon flavor for me. The lemon myrtle and some sweetness which may be the stevia is the main smell of the dry leaf and the steeped aroma is also heavy on the myrtle.

So go on, Samovar. Do your magic and make something amazing out of lemon myrtle! The thing that, standing alone, got one of the lowest scores I’ve ever awarded on Steepster for tartness, soapiness and all manner of unpleasantness…

And it’s pretty darn close, but it’s a lesson to me that lemon myrtle and I will likely never get along. If Samovar can’t do it for me, it’s unlikely anyone can. This isn’t tart, and it doesn’t cross over to soapy, but it has a savory quality that makes it a bit lemon brothy with too much of a bitter edge and aftertaste for my palate.

I have to give it points for making lemon myrtle at least tolerable to me, but alas, this is one I would not have reordered had it still been available (which it appears not to be on the Samovar web site). Perhaps a first in my Samovar experience, but somehow heartening as it proves that those behind their blends aren’t infallible.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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73
drank Peppermint Yerba Mate by Samovar
1520 tasting notes

I’m not sure what to think about the new Steepster look… I’m typing in italics right now, first of all. ANYWAY… this is a sample I had from Rachel’s sale a while back! Thank you! I’ve got a headache so that means peppermint teas are the choice. I made a handy list of my peppermint teas yesterday, for that reason. After cooling the water for a half hour and brewing for a few minutes, there isn’t much of a mint flavor here, but the yerba mate is nice as usual, sweet and earthy. Hopefully yerba mate isn’t one of the things that likes to give me headaches. I had some of my Zen Chocolate mint rooibos yesterday (also headache) and even though the tea is kind of older, it still tastes as fresh as when I bought it!

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87
drank Orange Ginger by Samovar
953 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 37 of 2014 is my sample of this.

I’m sad about sipping down my Samovar samples. I was just on their web site and it looks like they’ve cut back a lot on what they offer. It seems like there used to be more of everything—more tisanes, more white tea, more black tea. Perhaps they’ve decided to focus on just a few things and do those really well. And at least they are still around, unlike some companies. But I have so much love for their tea and for the amazing variety they used to have that I can’t help but feel sad. I never met a Samovar product I didn’t find anywhere from incredibly drinkable to off the charts amazing.

This, alas, appears to be on offer no longer. I really wish I’d had the foresight to drink my samples and order up everything I liked back when I got them. That’s what I get for saving the best while drinking my way through others I didn’t like as much. Their stuff is so good, it never occurred to me that it wouldn’t always be around.

When I first opened up the packet, I thought perhaps this might at last be a Samovar product that wasn’t for me. I mostly smelled the bitter tang of orange peel and not much else. And I’ve had hit or miss experiences with ginger in tea.

The steeped tea allowed the ginger to come through in the aroma, though it remained in the background, which I appreciated. The liquor looked like lemonade.

The flavor, however, wasn’t at all bitter. It’s not exactly sweet either. I guess the word is refreshing? The ginger gives the flavor a little spicy kick and I can taste it, but it isn’t overpowering. The orange remains the main flavor given a little extra citrusy boost by the lemon myrtle (which, thank heavens, is otherwise innocuous in the blend). And fortunately, I don’t taste licorice.

I like the Berry Rooibos (also no longer around) somewhat better, but if the Orange Ginger was still around and I was placing and order, I’d include it. As I’m sitting here, I’m noticing that something about this is really wonderfully calming. It must be the ginger; I have been under much work related stress lately and the stress goes to my stomach. I feel as though my stomach has been permanently clenched for months, and right now I feel as though it has finally relaxed.

So yeah. This and the Berry Rooibos. Bring ’em back?

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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89
drank Berry Rooibos by Samovar
953 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 32 of 2014 is the single serving sample of this one. (Wow, that was a lot of s’s in one sentence.)

I didn’t read the ingredients before I sniffed the packet just for fun. My first thought was “strawberry?” Then just as I was about to nod my head, I thought “blueberry?” So at that point I checked the packet and yes, both of those flavors are represented. As is (shudder) hibiscus.

The good news: after steeping I smelled mostly berry, almost no rooibos (yay) and just a little upswing of tart around the edges that is the hibiscus.

I was worried at first that the flavor would be too tart for me, but it isn’t. It’s actually sweeter than I expected. The berry flavor is pronounced, but not individuated. It’s rather like eating a slice of one of those pies that has several berry flavors in it.

And the rooibos? Excellent news for me. I barely taste it, except for a fleeting pass after the sip. As rooibos goes, Samovar’s is among the best I’ve tasted plain so even what I taste of it is fine.

Samovar’s descriptions are often a cornucopia of aromas and flavors that make me feel like a total novice. This is no exception. I get a mulled wine, natural punch but in the flavor rather than the aroma, and I can’t say I can identify the orange, apricot etc. Though I do taste a bit of something lemon like in the finish and there is an interesting little peppery kick in the aftertaste.

I would buy this. Yes, I would.

Sadly, it appears I am too late as I no longer see it available on the Samovar web site. It may still be part of the rooibos sampler, but it’s not clear that’s offered anymore either as the page I found that lists it says “out of stock.”

Ah well. Lesson learned.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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70
drank Chamomile Blossoms by Samovar
953 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 27 for the year 2014 is my one serving sample of this.

At the risk of sounding all fan girly, is there ANYTHING Samovar can’t do? Though I don’t see myself buying a case of this, for the same reason I wouldn’t buy their plain rooibos or honeybush (also amazing as such things go) it’s pretty awesome for chamomile.

I have a love/not so much love (I can’t say hate because that’s such a strong word) relationship with chamomile.

I love the idea of chamomile. I think of it as the perfect, soothing drink for a stressed and uncomfortable soul. Okay, I admit that this idea comes from Beatrix Potter and I’ve had it since I was three. When Peter Rabbit’s mother gives him chamomile tea after he barely makes it away from Mr. McGregor, that’s love.

However, with some exceptions I usually don’t love the taste so much. Chamomile can taste like paper treated with some odd floral chemical to me, or like musty old hay smells.

In the sample packet this smells, astonishingly, like fresh baked bread with a touch of lemon. After steeping, there is more identifiable chamomile aroma, which is frankly the biggest downside of this herbal. They weren’t kidding about the liquor—it’s a fairly clear, slightly golden yellow.

The taste. There’s no sharpness like chamomile can sometimes have, no sourness that can sometimes sit heavily in my stomach after drinking chamomile based tisanes. There’s a lightness to it, and a sweetness to the finish that hangs around for the aftertaste. I don’t get apple notes in the sip, but in the aftertaste I taste what I think the Samovar description is referring to when it says Red Delicious. It’s a sort of crispness that’s reminiscent of the mouthfeel of Red Delicious apples along with a middle note of sweetness. The mouthfeel of the tisane itself is slick and soft, and just short of creamy. Not heavy like some chamomile blends.

If I was going to drink straight chamomile, this would be it. I’d never say never about ordering this, but it’s not a high priority as I sit here. Still, if your baby bunny has a rough day, this could taste like love.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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76
drank Yerba Mate by Samovar
1520 tasting notes

Not much to say on this one but a decent yerba mate. Very earthy! The flavor seems to change with every sip. I’m not sure why there are white twigs in the leaves though… I’m not sure if that is part of the yerba mate but I thought yerba mate was just the green leaves. I waited a half hour to cool after boiling for this to steep for 3-4 minutes. It always seems like I’m sleepy after drinking yerba mate though! It doesn’t energize me like black tea. The second cup went for 4-5 minutes and was a bit astringent but nothing I can’t handle.. still good.

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33
drank Tart Peach by Samovar
30 tasting notes

I got this on my way back to Boston from San Francisco, and frankly wasn’t impressed. It’s wayyyyyy too tart. Almost undrinkable. And no peach flavor that I could detect whatsoever.

A couple of teaspoons of sugar added to the pot helped a bit – at least made it palatable enough to swallow. :/

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drank Ocean of Wisdom by Samovar
132 tasting notes

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80

Try steeping the first infusion (1 tablespoon) for 30 seconds @ 190 degrees with the lid on. Then throw this infusion away – it can be a bit funky.

At this point the leaves should have unfurled and it should smell quite rank (I mean that in a good way!)

The next infusion go for 30 seconds more and it will taste pretty good.

The second infusion for 45 seconds gets much more complex, a hint of sweetness but very malty and smooth. If you like dark teas I think you will tend to like this more than others.

Very complex tea – you could experiment with brew times and the amount of leaves and spend a good few hours coming up with new flavor profiles. I come back to this one a lot.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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85
drank Russian Blend by Samovar
19 tasting notes

I usually order the bottomless Russian Blend at Samovar tea houses in SF. They serve it out of a large samovar and I have it with milk and sugar. Smoky, strong and sweet. Great tea.

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drank Moorish Mint by Samovar
132 tasting notes

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89
drank Moorish Mint by Samovar
76 tasting notes

I love the combination of pepper and mint.

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