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Recent Tasting Notes
Last day dogsitting, last day to sample my sisters tea collection. And let’s be honest, there isn’t a lot of “tea” here. There is a lot of herbal things, and some of them even have a bit of tea in them.
This is a white tea with vanilla and coconut. The aroma is just that. Vanilla and coconut. This would be great for people that don’t like tea. Don’t get me wrong, it smells really good. But then I taste it.
The taste is dry and a bit on the bitter side. The vanilla disapears as soon as it enters my mouth, and the coconut just doesn’t go well with the remaining tiny hint of white tea.
Remember those old bitter beer face commercials? Yup.
Flavors: Coconut, Fruity, Vanilla
I am a big fan of rooibos, and not a huge fan of outside flavors in my tea. Maybe I’m an elitist. Or maybe I just have a more traditional taste. Any way, here we have a rooibos with berries added. Let’s see…
Aroma is primarily berries, but the underlying rooibos smoothness is still present. Taste is similar. It is certainly a rooibos, with that distint smooth, satisfying taste and feel. The berries are very prominant, but not quite to the point that they are overwhelming. I would personally like more rooibos taste in the balance, but this does work.
The problem with many of these boutique tea companies is that they don’t trust the taste of their tea, and feel the need to bury it with flavors that should just be a hint, a helpful addition to compliment the tea itself, not to be a primary flavor. This comes close. Any more berry covering up the rooibos, and it would be overdone.
Yet another, the third this morning, sampling from the Tea Forte collection box. Here we go.
The aroma is wonderful. Classic Jasmine Green. I’m picky about teas like this, because so many companies add too much crap to classic, simple ideas. The aroma on this suggests otherwise. Strong, big and bold, earthy, nutty, grassy aroma.
First taste is the same. Subtle, very well balanced, very drinkable. The Jasmine pops out with that grassy, nutty taste, while not overwhelming and hiding the wonderful earthy undertones. The taste keeps getting bigger from there, but never goes unbalanced.
This isn’t the best Jasmine Green I’ve tasted, but I am impressed by the amount of in your face taste while still keeping the super drinkable well balanced overall appeal. It’s on the verge of being over the top, but not quite. Great Jasmine Green.
Flavors: Earth, Grass, Nuts
The 2nd sampling from the Tea Forte collection box.
The first reaction is Damn, it’s a good thing I like blackberries, the aroma is almost overwhelming with them. It is a reallly good aroma. Aside from the strong blackberry smell, there is also a hint of nuts and a bit of spice feel. You have to really search to find them.
The taste is all fruit. The blackberries take over, hiding everything else, even the underlying black tea base. I would love to have more balance in this case. After all, if I wanted hot blackberry juice, I would have that. I like black tea, and there just isn’t even a hint of it here.
Other than the balance, this is a damn good tea. The blackberry taste is smooth, soothing and super yummy. Probably a great afternoon tea, maybe during a rainstorm with a book open. Good stuff.
Dog sitting thjs weekend, which means checking out my sisters tea collection. She isn’t as much of a tea fanatic as I am, but she does have the Tea Forte and Tazo box collections, so all is not lost.
The first up is Tea Forte’s Earl Grey. Here we go:
I am a fan of Earl Grey. As a Star Trek fan, I loved when Picard ordered his Tea, Earl Grey, hot. I have had good and great Earl Greys, bad ones, boring ones and overdone ones.
So far, this one is good, but dangerously close to being overdone. The aroma is good, with that classic fresh, fruity, refreshing smell, but on the subtle side. The initial taste is memorable Earl Grey. Warm, welcoming, refreshing, with that fruity, slightly earthy, complex taste and feel. This one has a hint of smoke as well. The secondary taste is where the problem is. Spice? Really? A spiced Earl Grey? So American. I guess I just don’t like spiced teas.
This is definitely a step above the average mass produced Earl Grey, but not the best I’ve had. The complexity works against the basic flavor, like they tried too hard to make it interesting instead of just making it good. There is something extra in here, something unnessesary, something adding more of a spice taste. Without it, whatever it is, I would like this much more.
Flavors: Fruity, Spices, Sweet
Herbal Traveling Tea Box
Took this from the box since my sinuses have been a disaster the last few days. I don’t know what has been blooming but I needed something to help clear them out (even after using my neti pot). We were about to meet some friends for brunch so I needed something quick and this worked well. One bag in about 12oz of boiling water. Surprisingly drinkable without sweetener but not sure I’d purchase. I already have a quite substantial supply of decaf chai at the moment and this isn’t particularly unique.
Finding a single steeps sampler package from Tea Forte was a nice surprise. Finding the sampler package was of their latest Noir line of pan-roasted black teas was even more surprising. The best surprise was finding a blood orange flavor hidden amongst the other mediocre flavored teas.
From what I can recall, the best blood orange tea I have so far had was from David’s Tea, which was a pu’erh blend. Reminiscing on that blend, I do remember liking it quite a lot, namely for its flavor.
Tea Forte’s blood orange does give quite a powerfully citrus scent, leaning more to pekoe for my liking but not so much to become offensive. The leaves are thankfully generic loose leaf in appearance and color, with the citrus peel and flowers giving a lighter and softer texture.
This is my second time steeping this tea, as my first had given a fairly weak flavor at three minutes, so increasing the steep time with new leaves could yield a better brew.
The brew is a lovely deep copper, with a subtle citrus aroma.
The flavor is a lighter pekoe, more bergamot than citrus. Despite, the citrus that is detected jumps out significantly. Steeping a minute longer does give a more interesting taste. There is a slight astringency, and the black tea does round out the flavor eventually.
It is not quite the best, in fact quite far from it. What it is, in the best circumstances, is a pleasing morning cup.
More leaf, longer steeping time.
What I’m getting is watery liquorice and nothing else. I don’t know if I got an old tin and that’s why I’m not getting much of the base, but the liquorice gives it a coughsyrupy mouth-feel almost. I didn’t think it’d be this prominent in the blend—I figured it was there as a touch of sweetness and to better round out the ‘cherry’ taste. Don’t know if it’s just me, so I won’t rate this.
Heck, with 50 grams I’d probably consider trading it off so other people could see what they think of it.
I tend to avoid Tea Forte like the plague. It’s everywhere, but every runin I’ve had with them has been poor; during the Christmas season I’ve picked up their sample packs and hated every one (I don’t even know if I even bothered to review them!); I don’t know, it was something about the base maybe, or how they chose to flavour them.
I picked up Orchid Vanilla a little while back because it was on sale half off, didn’t have horrible reviews on Steepster, and really, who could fuck up Vanilla. That one turned out pretty pleasant, so when I saw this in the window I decided ‘why not’.
Plus they redesigned the package—it’s part of Tea Forte’s “Noir” collection, with pan-roasted black teas (back of the tin says assam).
I’ll start by saying this doesn’t taste like an assam. But if it’s ‘pan-roasted’ (???), that might be it, but I’m getting no roasted flavours either. There’s a soft hint of vanilla maybe, and it smells faintly of strawberry and cough-syrup cherry… Might be getting a bit of fake cherry taste as well, or maybe that’s the liquorice.
For that matter, there’s a warning at the end of the ingredients about how the tea should be avoided by people with high blood pressure due to the use of organic liquorice root. What? I thought in this day and age, the glycyrrhizic acid in liquorice that /causes/ hypertension, was usually artificially removed from from most liquorice products (for this very reason), or replaced with artificial flavouring/fennel or anise. So was Tea Forte just a little slow on the origin of their root, or did they actually source un-deglycyrrhizinated liquorice, and the FDA didn’t frown on them?
At any rate, I might try more leaf next time/longer steep, because this fell utterly flat for me. I think I’m getting something like astringency and bitterness, plus liquorice. Almost three whole ounces. Lovely. Learned my lesson, I guess. Still, I’ll come back to this one.
I’m not really into flavored tea, but this tea was surprisingly good. Very promising, since a friend gave me a gift box of Tea Forte teas for an anniversary gift, all flavored. Hoping they’re all this good!
Happily, this is one of those teas that tastes like it’s name, and even resteeps very well, for 2 more steeps at least. Creamy and peachy, this tea is good!
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Soko’s was handing out little bagged samples of this. I haven’t had much luck with Tea Forte, but it was free, so what can you say.
It SMELLS fruity and sweet/vanilla—both dry and brewed; the blend was quite colourful, with purply petals and little dried berries.
Not getting too much fruit in the taste. Mostly vanilla and rooibos, but it’s not bad. I think the problem I’ve had with past Tea Forte teas was too much flavouring going on at the same time (so the end result was almost sharp, or chemically?), but this is mellow while still tasty.
Getting a bit more fruit while it cools. Berry. Might just be from the rooibos, though. I see it has rosehip as well.
This came from the Here’s Hoping traveling teabox – Round 3 – completely forgot to log it though.
I did my own version of cold brewing with this. For pretty much all of my iced teas, I brew them regularly (per the hot instructions – including amount of “leaf” temp and so on) and then I stick them in the fridge. This allows me to use the least amount of leaf and still get some of the flavors that don’t usually make an appearance unless cold brewed. Anyway, this was yummy. It was just sweet enough on its own iced to not add sweetener, but once again, I actually like hibiscus.
Today I had a bit of a clean out of my tea cupboard since I realized that my tea obsession started in July of 2013 and I like to make sure that everything in my cupboard is a year old or less. Well, this led to me labeling all of my teas with the dates of purchase. In my less tea-educated days, I bought so much of individual teas and there are way too many of them that are still kicking around. Let’s just say I have a lot of drinking to do! And I am now on a self-imposed hiatus from teas that I’ve bought recently (like the mammoth purchase I just made from River Teas) except for samples and traveling tea boxes.
Anyway, back to Blueberry Merlot. I like this, just not quite as much as Teavana Blueberry Kona Pop.
Augh! Sneaky rooibus strikes again. There’s a mixed box of Tea Forte bags in the breakroom at work, and I thought Kiwi Lime Ginger sounded just the thing for my scratchy throat. Brewed it up, sat down and took a sniff. Nice, very fruity… not really a tea smell… hey wait, is this not a green? I brought it up here, and saw the dreaded Word. Rooibus. Grabbed the little box each bag comes in… it just says “organic herbal tea / naturally caffeine free” D’oh! dumps tea Dangit :( I don’t know why I assumed it would be a green.
Without Steepster to save me, I would have drank it and had an unpleasant surprise when the stomach cramps set in! Thanks Steepster!
Not rating it, since it might be a perfectly lovely tea – I actually like the taste of rooibus, just not its effects on my stomach!
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this tea – I know I enjoy pear and ginger separately, but I’d never tried the two of them together. This unlikely pairing is unexpectedly delicious, though, and one I’ll happily drink.
The base layer of white tea doesn’t really shine through, but I’m remarkably okay with that since it acts as a perfect vehicle for the crisp pear flavour in the forefront and gentle ginger heat in the background. There’s something delightful about the way the two go together and I can’t help but keep stealing sips out of the mug between sentences.
Two thumbs up. Definitely will be having this one in the future…
Here’s Hoping traveling teabox – Round 3
So, I recently discovered that I love cinnamon tea, but there was something slightly off about this one. I was getting an almost sour tangy taste around the sides of my mouth which I didn’t enjoy. Maybe that was the brief hint of orange? Regardless, there are other cinnamon teas I prefer.
’Here’s Hoping’ traveling teabox Round #2 // Tea #33
Wooee I have never seen tinier black tea leaves! The spices seem tiny too. One teaspoon steeped for two minutes seems really brisk, so I wouldn’t recommend longer steep times. This one could definitely be mixed with milk. I don’t usually like adding milk to my chai – the brisker the better for me. This wasn’t bad for me then, but it certainly wasn’t as delicious as the ’Kim’s homemade chai’ I tried the other day. I like the lingering flavor though.