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Recent Tasting Notes
Chai tends to vary widely in methods of preparation as well as ingredients, but every chai I’ve sampled in the past has one thing in common: it’s made with black tea. The fact that this particular chai is made with a rooibos base didn’t escape my notice, in fact, i’m rather intrigued by the idea. As you know I’ve been drinking a lot of rooibos lately to help with the swelling in my hands. While the flavor of rooibos has slowly grown on me I still find the rather medicinal taste unappealing and prefer heavily flavored blends. In other-words this tea should be right up my alley.
My first sampling of this blend was not prepared in the traditional method (with milk and sugar) as you can see from my photo. I had just opened the package and taken a huge sniff when two things happened. First of all, I caught a good noseful of black peppercorn which caused a huge sneezing fit. Secondly, I discovered that my son had finished off the last of the milk while I wasn’t looking and all we had left was a really old carton of coconut milk. Not to be deterred, I decided to prepare this like I would any rooibos blend and was greeted with a huge burst of flavor on my first sip. The cardamom and black peppercorn were the flavors that were the most prominent and I was happy to find that the cinnamon wasn’t as noticeable, but rather something hidden in the background amongst the other spices. I find that many spice teas on the market this time of year are laden down with cinnamon, so this was a welcome change.
You can read the rest of the review on my blog:
A strong orange aroma in the dry leaf, but the flavor isn’t as strong as the fragrance would suggest. That’s not to say that the orange is absent in the flavor, it isn’t, it just isn’t as strong as the scent led me to believe it would be.
And I’m glad it’s not as strong, because it would have overpowered the Shou Mei white tea. The white tea and the orange flavors meld well together. Sweet, juicy, flavorful, and refreshing! This makes a stunning iced tea!
Sipdown (97)! And a backlog. I just noticed in my previous tasting note that I didn’t think that this breakfast blend was all that special. I still agree that it is a pretty straightforward breakfast tea, but this time around, I got some subtle smokiness in there that I didn’t taste before. That smidgen of smoke actually intrigued me a bit and is the reason I’m gonna bump up the rating a bit on this tea. Like I said in my previous tasting note, I do have quite a selection of breakfast blends, so I probably will not be reordering this one any time soon. I did very much enjoy it while it lasted, though!
Now that I’m completely moved in to my new place and I’ve unpacked my teas, I start my sipdown quest once more. I think my new goal is to get to under 75 before Black Friday. That way, I’ll have enough wiggle room to buy new teas and still be under 100 teas. We will see how this one goes…
Anyway, on to the tea review. I got this in a Simple Loose Leaf box a while ago, but didn’t get around to it til just now. I chose it as a sample from the next month, so I only have a little of this one. I brewed it up hot this morning and it was definitely a nice start to my day. It was bold with that hint of astringency and bitterness yet also somehow a bit sweet as well. When my mom tasted this tea, she said that she tasted frutiness. I’m not sure that I myself picked up on any fruity notes, but the overall message was that she enjoyed it. I don’t think it was a standout breakfast tea, but it was good for this morning. I’m not sure if I would reorder just because I have so many other breakfast teas and this one wasn’t really all that special in any way, but I will enjoy the rest of what I have left!
This assam is nice and bold with oaky, malty richness and a fruity flavor that is kinda tart and citrusy – like unripe plums or apricots. With a strong brisk dry finish at the end, this assam would be great with cream/sugar in the morning or afternoon tea.
I found this one a little too dry for me, but was overall pretty decent of an assam.
Full review on my blog, The Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/september-simple-loose-leaf-selection-club-tea-review/
September Simple Loose Leaf box!
I love how delicate this tea is – the colour is light, the flavor is gentle amounts of tender sweet artichokes and baby spinach. The sweetness is like a drop of honey in my tea cup. A nice green tea for someone how wants a subtle, peaceful tea to enjoy on its own.
Full review on my blog, The Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/september-simple-loose-leaf-selection-club-tea-review/
Brewed grandpa-style in a glass tumblr.
The dry leaf consists of short, twisty dark green leaves interspersed with a few jasmine flowers and little tan stalks (reminds me of kukicha), and smells lightly of jasmine. In the tea itself, the jasmine takes over the base tea and tastes much stronger. It feels a little heavy. Leaves a nice aftertaste, though my mouth feels a little dry. Still, this is a nice jasmine green tea.
For a while, the various white teas in the boxes have been Shou Mei based blends, so it is really fun to taste the tea on its own, I do love a good Shou Mei, there is something so endearing about the large, fluffy, sun dried leaves from Fujian. The aroma is a blend of a dried leaf pile with a touch of muscatel, earthiness, and a hint of spiciness at the finish. Once the leaf pile has been steeped, it still has notes of dried leaves, some muscatel notes, a bit of sourness and earthiness at the finish. The liquid is like sweet wine and honey with a nice leafy finish at the end, I love Shou Mei, the aroma always reminds me of the end of summer when the plants are being harvested and the leaves are just beginning to turn.
And the taste also reminds me of the end of summer, the golden color of the tea reminds of the golden color of sunlight in the late afternoon, I can practically hear the cicadas while sipping….wait, no, the cicadas are just deafening this year and that is all I can hear. All silliness aside, this tea was nummy, very sweet notes of raw honey mixed with fresh grapes and a touch of earthiness and kale at the finish. The second steep is just a little bit sweeter at the start and a nice bit earthier at the finish, bringing that leaf pile aroma from the aroma to the taste.
Fun fact, pekoe originates from Chinese for downy hairs/feathers, so basically Pekoe is the term for my much loved tea fuzz (trichomes for the win!) Of course this Fujian green tea is fuzzy, the aroma is sharply green with notes of spinach, artichoke, okra, and a tiny bit of leafy green. It smells very much so like vegetables and summer growth. Once I give the fluffy leaves a nice steeping, the still very green, lots of fresh vegetation and vegetal notes, I am really digging the okra notes along with the artichoke and spinach. The liquid is not surprisingly pretty green, with notes of spinach, artichoke, and okra.
Starting out with a smooth mouthfeel and slightly peppery taste that transitions to sesame seeds and honey. At the end of the sipping there is a nice distinct romaine lettuce taste. I feel like this tea is getting me all my daily greens requirements from sipping this tea! The second steep is only a touch sweet with lots of vegetal notes, a little bit of okra, a little bit of lettuce, and a touch of sesame seed at the finish. This tea is awesomely smooth and green, I enjoyed every sip and find myself curious to see how it would hold up under
Four Season Oolong is one I just have not had that many sipping sessions with, which is a shame, because it is really a neat tea. Called Four Seasons because this Taiwanese tea produces four flushes each year, but it tastes like a spring flush, which is fancy indeed. The aroma of the tightly rolled tea leaves is very floral with notes of hyacinth, orchid, and honeysuckles, also a hint of fresh vegetation making me wonder if instead of sniffing a tea I in fact stuck my nose in a parallel dimension that is nothing but a heady, flowery hothouse. The brewed leaves take on even more flowers with the added sweetness of lilac and magnolia, it is just a pile of flowers! The liquid sans its very floral smelling leaves is also very floral, but there are also slightly creamy notes and sweetness.
The taste of the first steep is like drinking a bouquet of flowers, there are so many floral notes that my mind is blown a bit, it manages to be light and not at all perfume like or ‘soapy’ in its floral taste. It is also quite sweet with a creamy mouthfeel. The second steep is nigh identical in aroma, and very floral and sweet in taste, but there is an added bit of fresh vegetation and dryness at the finish mellowing out the floral a tad.
I do love a good Formosa Oolong. My favorite Oolong teas still tend to be AliShan but my earliest experiences with Oolong tea began with Formosa … Formosa was my first Oolong, and in those earlier days in my tea journey, I believed that Oolong was Formosa and I didn’t know that there are so many different types of Oolong. I’m happy to have discovered Oolong as I have, but, Formosa Oolong will always hold a special place in my heart.
This is a really good Formosa Oolong. It has a very autumnal type of taste with it’s earthy notes and the sweet, dried fruit notes that it has. A warm, toasty taste. Sweet.
This is a tea that you definitely want to take the time to infuse multiple times because the later infusions become tastier than the earlier infusions – sweeter, more intensely flavored.
Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/06/05/formosa-oolong-from-simple-loose-leaf/
Ah, nothing like chai before bed time, a nice soothing spice without tons of caffeine, always a pleasure. This particular chai is a blend of Rooibos, Cardamon, Cinnamon, Ginger root, Cloves, and Black peppercorns…a traditional blend with an herbal twist. The aroma…well, this is definitely not a stick your nose in the bag kind of tea, very potent spices which will make you sneeze a lot if you are a goof like me. It is intensely peppery and gingery, very sweet too with all its spices and rooibos. The brewed leaves bring out more of the woody quality of the rooibos along with a potent note of cardamon, pepper, and ginger. The other spices are not as strong as those three, but they are definitely present.
After adding the customary milk and sugar, the aroma is still very spicy with strong notes of pepper and ginger, along with woody sweet rooibos. The taste is pretty awesome, very strong in the spice department starting off with warming pepper and ginger, moving on the cardamon, and finishing with mouth tingling cloves and cinammon. Luckily the cinnamon is not too strong, I find that a lot of spiced teas make the mistake of having cinnamon be the alpha spice. The rooibos is present as well, around the midtaste you get caramel notes and it finished with woody sweetness and a slight dryness at the finish. A perfect sip for a cool rainy day (like it is for me today.)
Flavors: Caramel, Cardamon, Clove, Ginger, Pepper, Wood
This tea is a very pretty example of FTGFOP black tea, or Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe, because tea grading is rather long winded. This particular black tea (with its adorable golden tips) is from Assam, India. The aroma of the leaves is malty and quite sweet, like dried cherries and prunes, with a hint of fresh apricots and a finish of oak wood. Brewing the tea will get you a nice burst of a bright, brisk, and malty aroma. The wet leaves still retain their notes of fruit, but it is not as strong, the wet leaves have more of a wake you up aroma now.
The liquid without its leafy friends is brisk with notes of dried fruit, malt, and oak wood. It smells very rich, perfect for when I have just woken up and need a brisk awakening. The taste is brisk and quite malty with notes of oak wood and a sweet finish of dried fruit. The package said it was good as a straight tea or with milk and sugar, so I decided to honor my British relatives and have myself some milky tea. Adding the milk and sugar makes the briskness vanish and the richness of the malt take center stage, it is delicious with how rich and fruity it is now. I say if you want a black tea that wakes you up, go straight…if you want a black tea that soothes you, go with the milk and sugar.
Flavors: Fruity, Malt
Happy Sunday, y’all! I know it’s getting late, but now I’m finally caught up enough to do today’s Sunday Tea and Books!
Simple Loose Leaf describes this Lady Earl Grey Black as a “very popular Earl Grey blend of citrus bergamot over an extraordinary Nilgiri Black Tea with the added indulgence of Vanilla.”
The only other vanilla Earl Grey I’ve had was David’s Tea’s Cream of Earl Grey (Organic), and I have to admit that set the bar very high for this tea. What I really liked about David’s Tea’s version was that the vanilla of the flavouring melded with the chocolate notes of the base tea, and that the bergamot was very sutble.
In contrast, this tea is a disappointment. Holy CRAP is this tea bergamot-heavy. It’s quite sharp-tasting, and the vanilla shows up much more in the scent than the taste. The taste here is mostly bergamot, and it’s so strong that it becomes almost metallic.
I’ll be honest, I couldn’t finish the full 24 oz of tea I brewed, which is how much I normally brew of a single tea at a time. I got a little over halfway through and let the remainder cool, after which I just didn’t feel like drinking the rest and dumped the remainder over some flowers in the front lawn.
I really don’t know how much of this is due to the Nilgiri base, as I know that the one time I had a Nilgiri tea, the flavour was quite dark and earthy, but hoo boy, this tea really needs to lighten up.
Eh, I’m tired (hosting a garage sale all weekend can do that to a person), so I’m going to take the extremely literal route today, and say that since this tea is called Lady Earl Grey, it reminds me of The Grey Lady from the Harry Potter series.
And why not? This tea is sharp, and when the Grey Lady shows up in Book 7 to reveal the history of Ravenclaw’s diadem, she doesn’t come off looking very sympathetic. Her own sense of superiority when others ask her about the diadem’s whereabouts plays into this acerbic, sardonic persona. There’s no softness about her, just like the vanilla doesn’t contribute any of its expected softness to the tea.
I’m tired. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. If I were in a somewhat better state of being, I would tell you all about my friend’s late cat, also named Lady Grey, who was an absolutely sweet but absolutely dumb cuddle monster — but I’ll leave that for another day.
I got this in the $1 Box from Simple Loose Leaf Tea. I’ve had it a few times now with different brewing methods.
A lightly roasted oolong that starts off with a robust roasted/raisiny taste and dies down quickly into a mellow sweetness.
I enjoy this tea but I would say it’s not really worth it to brew it Gongfu. I could only get 3 solid infusions from it before the flavor was quite weak. Still pretty tasty for those first 3 infusions though.
Flavors: Raisins, Roasted, Sweet
I made this one iced as well, because it has totally been an iced tea day.
But this one is not my favorite. The blueberry is a little over the top and fake. It’s a shame because I think the shou mei is pretty nice in this tea, but overwhelmed by the fake blueberry. A little sugar might have helped the fake blueberry not taste so wrong to me, but I am hesitant to add sugar to iced tea.
If anyone is interested in trying this tea, let me know.
From the Round 3 Here’s Hoping TTB
Meh. The base tea is good, but the plum flavoring taste fake. It actually taste more like a grape flavored Dum Dum lollipop than plum. While this isn’t a winner for me I do think I’m warming up to white teas a bit more.
I can’t say that this is my favorite tisane because it isn’t. I’m not all that wild about Hibiscus. But I did enjoy the citrus-y aspect of the blend as well as the flavor that the spices add. As long as I don’t steep it too long (I steeped it for 6 minutes) the hibiscus doesn’t get all out of whack and become syrupy.
My daughter, on the other hand, really enjoyed this.
Not bad but not my favorite. I didn’t expect it to be my favorite because Hibiscus is right there in the name of it. But I’m happy I tried it and it gave my daughter and I a moment or two together to drink tea – these are few and far between because she just turned teenager.
Iced tea sipdown
It’s been so lovely for the past few days that I finally got my iced tea pitcher out of the curio cabinet, rinsed it out, and got some coldbrew going. I ended up using the last half of this package of tea along with the full sample of Shou Mei White that Simple Loose Leaf sent me a while back.
However, I think that I didn’t use enough water in the steep, because the mix tastes quite dusty and somewhat bitter.
Although I will enjoy certain blends, I’ve never been a huge fan of white teas in general. I’m just glad I’ve got two fewer types in my cupboard.
Kinda-sorta-backlog from a few days ago.
I made a big batch of this in my iced tea pitcher a few days ago, and have slowly been sipping it since. While the dry tea leaf and the brewed tea certainly smell of blueberry, I find it hard to discern in the tea itself without a little hit of sweetener.
As it goes, though, this isn’t bad. There’s a light floralness on the back of the tongue, and the body of the sip is nice, fresh, and clear. This is definitely a tea made for coldbrewing.
Also, in my last note, I complained that I didn’t have much to write about, but I just thought of something: where on earth are my incoming tea boxes?! I’m still waiting to hear about my Just Organic kickstarter tea package being sent out, and apparently my Teavivre teas had been sent out back in July but are still not here – they’re not even showing up as arrived in Canada yet. On top of that, I’m also waiting for a set of sampler teas from Teasenz. That one is more recent, so I know I shouldn’t expect it yet… but… I want my tea NAO! =^.^=