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Recent Tasting Notes
Thanks for the sample VariaTEA! Which month’s Amoda box is this one from?
Out of the blends from VariaTea’s latest ‘care package’ this is a tea I was looking forward to a fair bit; despite the hibiscus in the blend which I personally think it completely unnecessary to include in most blends but especially in berry ones.
When I first started drinking teas I was actually rather hesitant about trying blueberry teas because I don’t actually like the fruit a whole lot, and I definitely don’t like the taste of anything artificially blueberry flavoured but when I finally did try out a couple blueberry blends I learned that it’s a flavour I surprisingly quite enjoy – especially when paired with a black base like this one is. In fact, my most logged tea on Steepster happens to currently be DT’s Blueberry Jam tea – it makes a great everyday sort of tea and brews up very consistently, so when I tried this one I was kind of internally measuring it against that blend.
Dry, the leaf smells mildly of blueberries and black currants with the faintest scent of something sweet and almost black licorice like – which is odd given that none of the listed ingredients are ones I’d associate with that sort of flavour or scent. Visually, I don’t see much (if any, really) hibiscus in the leaf I’ve measured out. I’m slightly relieved about that, though I wonder if it’s going to make for a skewed sampling.
Taste wise, the blueberry is definitely the first flavour here though it’s quickly followed by a little bit of elderberry and the sweeter side of black currant. I don’t actually know how much black currant is blended in here, but for people who dislike the medicinal taste black currant sometimes has I don’t really see that ever being a problem with this blend; it’s all sweet and jammy, and faint in contrast to the blueberry anyway. I will say that compared to Blueberry Jam, this has the same level of berry flavour with the same accuracy when it comes to how realistic it is.
The downside is the base. This had a recommended steep time of three to five minutes and I steeped on the lower end of the spectrum – three and a half minutes in total. Even with a steep on the low end of Tay Tea’s suggested spectrum it brewed up quite bitter, and sadly that bitterness is the finishing note which lingers well after you’ve finished the sip. It greatly detracts from what would otherwise be a very well done blueberry tea.
For that reason, I don’t think I’d order it for myself though I do think it’d be worthwhile to try it again with a steep time closer to two and a half minutes to see if the bitterness could be lessened without losing out on the robust blueberry notes.
Flavors: Bitter, Blueberry
Another sample from Amoda – the ingredients on the bag say almonds and vanilla, but the tea description says caramel, which is a bit confusing. It’s fairly similar to the Caramel Toffee Puerh I have in my cupboard, so I’m brewing them together to compare. It smells delicious, a bit more caramel-y dry, and a bit more vanilla-y once steeped. I used 3g of leaf for 10oz of water, two quick rinses with boiling water, and then a 5min steep. This is actually pretty nice. The puerh base is smooth and rich and a bit sweet. It doesn’t taste as sweet and desserty as it smells, but there is definitely some vanilla creaminess that really comes out in the flavour. It smells and looks so similar to the caramel toffee puerh I already have, but it actually does taste a bit better. When that one runs out, I might restock with this one instead.
Edited to add: Second steeping (7min) is milder in flavour, but still sweet and pleasant. Also, I feel like I could have a nap. Is it normal for shou puerh to make you sleepy?
Flavors: Caramel, Earth, Vanilla
Thanks to Amoda for sending me a sample of this to try! This came in a little plastic, resealable bag – so happy the resealable sample bags are back!
The aroma of the dry tea is super floral – lots of rose (obviously, there are tons of rose petals in the tea as well), and bergamot. I don’t really detect any cardamom? But I also didn’t happen to get any cardamom pods in this sample, so it might not be representative.
Brewing instructions were 1 tsp/8oz cup, boiling, 3-5min. I measured a level tea spoon (using one of those spoons that’s for tea, and actually holds 1.5tsp) and it came to, like 1.6g and looked like a lot of rose petals. The petals tend to shift to the top of the sample, you know? So I ended up dumping the rest of the sample into a dish so I could fish out some actual tea and bring it up to 2g. :) This went into my 10oz mug and steeped for 4min.
It’s a very nice tea! A lot more floral and less spicy than the Person Palace tea Amoda sells, which I tried previously and really liked. I have a plain rose-flavoured black tea in my cupboard and this is a lot more complex and interesting than that. I think it’s the bergamot and maybe the borage that just rounds it out? If you like rose-flavoured teas, I definitely recommend this one.
I decided to take the leaves for an ill-advised second steeping (9 min! let’s just squeeze every drop of flavour out of these suckers, lol). This time I broke open a couple of green cardamom pods and tossed them into the basket as well. This is actually… surprisingly drinkable, given that I have no business attempting to make 2g of tea blend stretch to making a total of 20oz of tea, that’s ridicious. I’ll definitely be adding a cardamom pod or two, the next time I brew this properly, since the rose/cardamom combination really is the whole point of this tea.
I don’t know if I’d be able to choose between this one and the Persian Palace by Sloane. They’re both good, and suprisingly different from each other. Happily, it looks like I’ll be able to buy 25g of each, once I finally take myself off tea-buying hiatus. :)
Flavors: Bergamot, Cardamon, Rose
This is one of the teas from the December Amoda box and when I opened the package, I immediately got a whiff of the juicy berry flavoring in the tea. It was amazing and as the tea steeped, the smell just got stronger. It was so familiar and so delectable but I could not place it…until I took my first sip. It tasted much like DAVIDs Blueberry Jam. It is not as jammy as that tea though due to (1) the addition of hibiscus which is quelling the sweetness and (2) the lack of stevia sweetener also leading to less sweetness. Instead, it is weaker and more like indulging in a bowl of berries. Tasty but not something I must have again.
from my December Amoda Teas box.
I wasn’t too excited to see that there was hibiscus in this blend. Hibiscus … ugh. I dislike this herb. I wish more tea companies would just say no to hibiscus.
Fortunately, the hibiscus is light here. It doesn’t add too much tartness nor does it add to the texture (I’m not getting that thick, syrupy ick from hibiscus here).
This is actually pretty tasty, a really nice berry tea. The blueberry is the top note. I get sweetness from the blueberry and a hint of tart. The currant gives this a slight wine-like note. I liked this cold too.
Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/12/29/wild-woman-black-tea-blend-from-tay-tea/
This one also came from the December Amoda box. I have to say, for some reason it seems like blueberry teas get the brunt of the hibiscus abuse. And that makes me sad, because I love blueberry, but I hate hibiscus. Hopefully it plays a small role here. The dry tea reminds me of a very specific blueberry-flavored something, unfortunately I can’t think of what it is. It’s a very sweet and jammy blueberry smell.
Unfortunately, I can already smell the hibiscus tartness in the steeped cup. Why must they do this to me? This has a much milder flavor than I expected. And the flavor is actually quite lovely, mostly (fresh) blueberry with no real tartness. However, it’s a teeny bit bitter even though I only steeped for 3 minutes, and other than that the base doesn’t taste like much. Also, a touch of astringency is showing itself already. I do enjoy the depth that the elderberries and currants add to the blueberry.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Blueberry, Jam
Gee Tay Tea, way to set an impossible bar to clear with this name.
This is a tasty tea, but unless you have bad sex or just don’t like sex, it’s not better than sex. :P
Still setting aside unreasonable expectations, this is lovely. Peppermint forefront, chocolate next and a touch of sweetness, vanilla and maybe spearmint. The rooibos base doesn’t stand out, which is good.
I thought I was done with chocolate teas for the moment, but I guess not. This has a nice After Eight quality to it, without being too desserty.
Thanks to Lindsay for the chance to try this!
Flavors: Chocolate, Peppermint, Spearmint, Sweet, Vanilla
This chai has an interesting set of flavors. The rooibos is lightly honey-like with earthy/nutty notes. These flavors work with the chai spices well. The cinnamon, cardamom and ginger are warming and balanced. The lemongrass adds a bright note to the cup. The vanilla softens the edges. It’s a nice blend.
This tea does not live up to its name. However, it is really good. I has a nice mix of rooibos, peppermint, and chocolate. The chocolate is foremost in flavor, followed by the rooibos, followed by the peppermint. It has a really nice flavor. I am again avoiding caffeine so I picked this one today because it is low in caffeine, having only a little from the dark chocolate.
I brewed this once in an 18oz teapot with 3 tsp leaf and boiling water for 5 min.
Flavors: Chocolate, Peppermint, Rooibos
Mmmm, this is yummy. It tastes pretty much the way you you think it should, based on the ingredients: vanilla rooibos, mint, dark chocolate… yep, they’re all there, and they blend together beautifully. It’s rich and comforting. This is a lovely dessert tea already, and I haven’t even added milk or sugar to this cup. I only got a sample (in Amoda Tea’s “Fall Picks Discovery Set”) but I think I’ll have to buy more of this.
Flavors: Chocolate, Mint, Vanilla
I ended up buying a tin of this from Amoda Tea, so I’m happy to report that I still like it. :) I’m getting more of a bergamot flavour in this than I did with the sample I tried earlier, balanced against the cream and caramel. I made it up with sugar and milk because I was in the mood for something sweet, but it’s also lovely plain.
This is a lovely tea blend, with lots of creamy caramel flavours. I was surprised to read that it’s a cream earl grey blend, because I can barely taste the bergamot at all. The caramel and rooibos flavours are much stronger for me. I liked it a lot plain, and it was also delicious and dessert-y with a bit of sugar and milk. Yum.
Flavors: Caramel, Creamy, Nutty, Rooibos
What a day. I have had what I am now referring to as “Sore Throat Apocalypse 2014”. Three weeks of a nonstop sore throat and general yuckiness! And it just won’t go away!
Anyway, that means that every afternoon I have been napping at 1:30 or so until 2, and then wake up groggy and in need of something to ease me back to the world of the living.
This Muse Blend I bought from a little tea shop in Woodstock, NY (Yes, THAT Woodstock). I love that place. I could spend every penny I have there in an hour or so on all the pretty teaware and teas.
So, the Tea. Dry, the peppermint is nearly all I get, as tends to be the case when peppermint is in a blend. I was fortunate to have tried a sample of this at the store, as I am not a fan of heavy-handed mint, and the smell alone would have put me off.
Steeped, the scent of peppermint moves to the back of the line and lemon comes shining through.
Sipped, everything works together as a whole. Lemon first – the warmth of lemon balm -followed by botanicals in the middle – the rose and lavender shine here, and I love that combination – followed by peppermint, and finishing with lemon grass left on the palate, and a slight tingle from the spearmint. It’s a beautifully balanced tea, one that I appreciate, given how many teas I have had that strive for this type of balance but end up with either heavy mint or a strong pine-sol type effect from botanicals and lemon together.
In terms of herbal application, I also enjoy the balance here: lemon balm and lavender to calm the nerves, but peppermint and lemongrass to wake up the senses. I think especially useful after a rough night of sleep, or after a too-short nap.
Flavors: Lavender, Lemon, Lemongrass, Peppermint, Rose, Spearmint
This tea is 70 % savory and 30 % sweet. It does not compare to the absolute finest of teas but it is enjoyable to drink when you are looking to avoid caffeine and you have had too much caffeine already. This is one I don’t regret buying but probably would want to try something different next time.
Love the name of that tea, received it in the tasting box by Amoda. I am glad they included this tea because when I opened the bag I was pleasantly surprised with a lavender/rose smell. The red color of this tea is beautiful. I brewed 1 tsp in 8 oz of water for 4 minutes. I enjoyed it at the end of the day and it has a nice rose taste. I would drink this tea again.
Revisiting this tea makes me miss Amoda! I really did enjoy getting their boxes each month.
This was a lovely Earl Grey creme with an interesting twist – the addition of rooibos to the base and a hazelnut cream caramel flavor. A very memorable Earl Grey creme!
The dry leaf smells scrumptious – strong with notes of vanilla. The flavors work very well together in this blend. The bergamot has a pleasant tangy quality that is softened by the vanilla, and the caramel and hazelnut enhance each other very nicely to create a really decadent, dessert-like tea. It’s one of the more unusual twists to the classic Earl Grey that I’ve tasted, but it’s also one of the most indulgent! I really liked this.
Cheri sent me this from the TEAlephone. It’s a pretty good chocolate rooibos tea, especially paired with a chocolately dessert. The chocolate flavoring is strong enough to leak out of the baggie and outdo the woody base. It also has a roasted, borderline burnt, quality after the tea’s cooled a bit.
So I’ve got three green tea-mint blends on hand right now and I’ve decided to do a head to head comparison: Berber by Tay Tea, Moroccan Mint by Teavana, and North African Mint by David’s Tea. One of the few green teas I’d like to keep around would be one with mint, so I’m trying to pick which one. Both Berber and Moroccan mint are just spearmint with gunpowder green tea, while the North African Mint has cardamom, peppermint, ginger, Japanese-style Hojicha green tea, licorice root, fennel, clove, and black pepper. So, it’s not really a valid comparison, but this study doesn’t have to pass peer review so it’s happening :-P.
This one is is the most minty in both smell and taste. The spearmint really dominates in an almost toothpaste-y way. I can’t taste tea at all, except that the mint is a little softer than it might be on its own.
The winner for me is, shockingly, the Teavana version!
The link to the Moroccan Mint review: http://steepster.com/teas/teavana/2028-moroccan-mint?post=252648
The link to the North African Mint review: http://steepster.com/teas/davidstea/6039-north-african-mint-organic?post=252647