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Recent Tasting Notes
A sample from KittyLovesTea. First flush darjeeling is one of my favourite things in the world, so I’m always pleased when the opportunity arises to try a new one! The leaf here looks fairly typical – small in size, variagated from dark to light green, with some downy silver buds. There are some tiny leaf fragments. I gave 1 tsp of leaf 1.5 minutes in boiling water, as this is the method I’ve found best suits my tastes. The resulting liquor is light golden brown, maybe a touch yellowish. The scent is fruity and a little woody.
There’s huge fruitiness in the initial sip – I’m thinking stonefruit particularly; apricot and peach. A wonderful muscatel grape note emerges in the mid-sip, and adds a richness and depth to the overall flavour. There’s a slight woodiness right at the end of the sip. While this isn’t an astringent tea, I’d say it’s definitely brisk, leaving a slight dryness in my mouth. The tea itself is smooth and almost honeyed in texture, so it’s a slightly odd contrast, but not unpleasant.
I like this one a lot, which makes me feel a little sad. I wish I’d had the opportunity to explore Tea Horse’s offerings a little more before they closed, but such is life. An excellent, intensely flavourful first flush darjeeling.
A sample from Kitty Loves Tea. I’ve been curious about this one for a while. How can toast and jam be replicated in tea form? Answer: like this. As per the recommended parameters, I used 1 tsp of leaf and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees.
Hojicha isn’t always my favourite green tea, but I will admit that it works here. It provides the perfect toasted flavour; not overdone or burnt in any way, just perfectly golden toasted. The initial flavour is all sweet strawberry jam, though, and it’s utterly delicious. The hibiscus and strawberry pieces capture the tart/sugary/fruity balance perfectly, and then the hojicha base ushers in the crisp toast underneath.
I’m actually quite amazed that a tea can capture a food taste so well. It’s a pretty rare thing in flavoured tea, I think, unless I’ve just been unlucky with the ones I’ve tried. From what I’ve experienced so far, it seems that Tea Horse produced some unique and imaginative blends that were well executed to boot. It saddens me that they disappeared from the tea world after such a short time. Worth a try, if you can get your paws on some.
From the EU TTB – Round 3
Another Tea Horse blend that I’ve been wanting to try. Finally, here’s the opportunity! As per the recommended parameters, I used 2 tsp of leaf and gave it 1 minute in water cooled to around 170 degrees. The dry leaf is a thing of beauty. Plentiful pink rose petals, whole green pistachio nuts, and the darker green tea base (composed of rolled pellets).
Brewed, the liquor is a medium yellow, and smells primarily of rose. To taste, it’s sweeter than I expected. Rose is the main flavour, but it’s almost as if it’s a sugared petal. It’s not too perfume-like, just delicately floral. The pistachio flavour is mild, and emerges mostly at the end of the sip. It adds a creamy, gentle nuttiness to the overall sip, and it works well with the lightly vegetal green base. There’s a slight astringency to this one, but it’s not overwhelming. Just a dryness at the back of the throat post-sip.
I’m not always the biggest fan of floral teas, but I liked this one a lot more than I was expecting to. It actually reminds me of Turkish Delight! Another wonderful tea, courtesy of the wonderful TTB!
From the EU TTB – Round 3
So the EU Travelling Tea Box was waiting for me when I got home from work yesterday. It certainly cheered up an otherwise gloomy day! I opened it to have a peek straight away, and then found that I couldn’t actually fit all of the teas back in. I’m not sure how they ever fitted to start with, but there you go. A box of wonders!
This was the first one I pulled out to try. I wanted something a little familiar, but also something new. I didn’t get the chance to try Tea Horse before they closed, and I absolutely adore Assam, so this one fit the bill perfectly. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor was quite dark, so I added a splash of milk.
This is exactly the kind of Assam that I enjoy. It’s strong, bold, and sweetly malty, with a wonderfully smooth caramel flavour underlying. It’s not as distinctive as some Assams I’ve tried, but it makes a lovely straightforward tea for drinking after a difficult day. It’s flavoursome without being complex, good for times when what I want is a tea I can relax with and not have to think too much about. I imagine it would also make a good “wake-up” morning cup.
I’m really glad to have had the chance to try this one. It might be a keeper.
I made Indian food for dinner and I thought it was only fair to finish that off with an Indian tea, my particular craving being Assam. I have a few samples of Assam to go through but I finally settled on this one.
This Assam is dark brown and rather finely chopped with some golden tips present, as well as some sticks. It smells wooden and dry with some malt tones.
Once steeped it has high malt scent with sweet wood. Flavour is strong with rich malt tones, mild sweetness and astringency and wood tones. It re steeps well and actually I prefer the re-steep, it’s lighter and sweeter, less rich than previously.
A nice Assam, nothing special but perfect for my needs tonight. :)
Flavors: Malt, Wood
As I was sorting through my stash of tea, I came across this and decided that I’d finish what I had of it. It’s a bit of an old sample, which is further illustrated by the fact that Tea Horse is no longer a functioning company. Sad. I really liked this company – what little I was able to deal with them. They were always friendly and helpful.
Anyway … on to the tea – even though this is an older sample, I have to say that the tea is still very flavorful. I think that the packaging (the foil lined, kraft packages) seem to keep the tea in a very fresh condition better than some other packaging. The black tea base is still quite rich, the chocolate notes are strong and the peppermint does not overpower the chocolate (bonus!) Tasty.
However, since this tea is no longer available as the company is now defunct, I won’t bother with a numeric rating.
I made this for my Mom today, since she was visiting. I know she likes mint, but normally I do not, so I figured she would be able to really appreciate this. I brewed it at 208 degrees for 5 minutes. I added about a tsp of rock sugar, but no milk.
My Mom really liked this! It smelled so great that I took a sip and you know what? Even I liked it! The chocolate and mint flavors are there, but neither is overpowering. It tastes more like a light mint chocolate chip ice cream than a peppermint patty (the worst candy EVER!).
I would absolutely drink this again. It would make a lovely dessert tea, and that’s saying a lot coming from me. Normally the only mint I tolerate is spearmint, but I would make an exception here.
I thought I was really in the mood for this tea this morning, but it isn’t quite hitting the spot. I’m having it with a little cream and sugar and it is good, but I want something else this morning… after I finish this cup. I’m finding that as I try and collect more teas, I’m less likely to know what I want to drink. Too many choices!!! It’s a good thing!
I’m on a black tea binge this morning which my husband agreed would suit him well this morning. I’ve visited India with a cup of Darjeeling (which wasn’t logged) and now I’m off to China for a pot of this Yunnan black. The tea smells wonderfully musky and autumnal, and the leaves are long and twisted into knobbly shapes with some golden tips present.
Flavour is rich with classic Yunnan musk, wood and fruit tones. Also has some smoky tones in the after taste and a little bit of dryness. It’s slightly astringent too but in a nice way, it’s medium strength which helps keep it strong yet on the lighter side, otherwise it would be too astringent. I still prefer the golden tips but this makes a nice change to my usual Yunnan black teas.
“What’s in your cup?” This morning’s tea was truly a new experience – Keemun Orchid by Tea Horse courtesy of KittyLovesTea. Premium Keemun Hao Ya is my usual morning tea. By comparison, this Keemun is quite unique! I brewed 1 tsp. (3g) / 8 oz. & 6 oz. / 212*F / 4 min. without sweeteners, milk, or cream.
- Fragrance: A lush but gentle smokiness that reminds me of fine pipe tobacco & a light floral scent.
- Liquor: Golden amber
- Aroma: Lush, winey, & smoky
8 oz.: A smooth, winey, med-bodied Keemun, with a pleasing velvet-like orchid aftertaste that persists long on one’s palate – truly special. At 8 oz., the lush winey Keemun character is more potent than the cocoa notes.
8-min Re-steep: Nearly as enjoyable as the first cup. With a little less potent winey character, the orchid notes are easier to appreciate.
2nd Cup – 6 oz.: With this higher leaf-to-water concentration, the orchid flavor is much more obvious and the cocoa notes are easier to appreciate.
8-min Re-steep: Nearly identical to the first 6 oz. cup.
An exceptionally unique Keemun.
Thanks to KittyLovesTea for providing this delightful generous sample. Unfortunately, per KittyLovesTea, “they have recently closed down. :( “ Thus, I feel very fortunate to have tasted this Keemun Orchid, which was also my first orchid tea experience.
- RO water re-mineralized with an Aptera filter http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/39532-puregen-aptera-alkamag-water-filter
- Brewed western-style conveniently in a tea mug with a Finum brew basket http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/29177-finum-brewing-basket.
This is a very delicate Darjeeling. It’s sweet, dry, musky and floral. Also very smooth and almost creamy. Also showing elements of wood, honey and misty.
A nice Darjeeling but it’s much too subtle for me, I prefer a darker Darjeeling. Though this did accompany my porridge well this morning.
I’ve spent three hours today making a four tier chocolate fudge and banana cake with chocolate sprinkles for my husband birthday. Luckily I had some candles saved in the cupboard for a birthday cake I made last year and forgot to use so that saved me a trip to the shops. My dinner prep is also done, we are having home made spaghetti with vegetarian soya balls and my super strong garlic bread. It was going to be three course but with such a huge cake between just the two of is I don’t think we could eat another course. Plus with all that chocolate it’s going to be super rich.
Tea Horse sent me this blend in the monthly club so it’s yet another little treat for us to share today.
The blend smells like sweet apple with a soft, smoky background. The chilli also adds a bit of a kick which tickles my nose.
It tastes like a normal smoky black tea at first but in the after taste it offers sweet apple and gentle spicy chilli. It picks up in strength a little as I drink more of it and whilst the black tea is rich and strong it’s not astringent.
A nice gimicky tea that’s tasty and festive. Thanks Tea Horse. :)
My first cuppa of the morning and this one is served with milk and sugar. I received this tea as part of my monthly package.
Flavour is wooden, musky and dry. Quite strong and very suitable as a breakfast tea, baring in mind I have milk and sugar in it it could always be stronger if needed by having it black.
My husband is not a huge fan, says it’s nice but not brilliant. He can’t elaborate on that though other than to something is missing as a strong black tea for him.
Evidently this is a mixed review. I will have to try it again another time but keep it black and see if it makes much difference.
I’m mostly getting cocoa, and there’s a fair bit of sweetness. I’m not getting any smoke, although I think a hint of it would add some welcome complexity here. This tea is very nice for what it is, but I’m more and more convinced that Chinese black teas are never going to number among my favorites. That said, I could see myself enjoying a cup of this or something like it once in a while. Thanks for this sample, Nicole_Martin!
Quick notes on this one for now. It’s a very light strawberry fruit tea with a toasted after taste. It’s sweet but not unobtrusively and the overall strengths work very well together. Much lighter than I was expecting but it will suit my fruit and sweet tea moods. Not quite a breakfast tea for me but still a nice unique blend.
First Sip Thought: “Just what I need to beat this heat!”
Smell: Usually I find one ingredient particularly stronger than another when I open the package to give it a smell. However, in this case I found that each scent was fairly equal except for the vanilla. I think that the equal aroma of each key ingredient really helped me get excited (and slightly impatient) to wait for this blend to brew. I’m extremely thankful that the ginger does not over power any of the other flavours too. Weeeee!
Taste: Delicate strength of flavours come with this unique punch blend. My favourite addition to it are the orange and lemon peels for the citrus hit. The hints of vanilla is not too noticeable to me but that’s fine because I think the blend is amazing without it. I prepared this blend iced as I thought it would be appropriate for a very British punch cocktail. No milk, no sugar – just a dash of organic honey. What I especially loved was that when this tea was sent to me, Tea Horse also sent a recipe on how to make their Crown Jules Punch. Punch Blend No. 1 is the main ingredient as well. The recipe card will be sent out with any purchases of the tea from their shop. Another plus!
I can be nothing but honest from the start when I say “I dislike pistachio”. So having a pistachio tea was not that exciting for me but if I look past that and see the rose word behind the dreaded pistachio then I was able to say “Alright I might like it”. Most rose teas I adore..in fact I don’t think I found one that I didn’t like.
In raw form this has wonderful colours…yellow, light green, dark green, pink, brown. It’s nice to steep colourful teas. :)
This unique little blend has an unbelievable rose and marzipan scent that is so thick and sweet I could almost taste the marzipan pieces my nan used to buy us to share. No pistachio as such but there is that sweet nutty feel about it, more almond though than pistachio. Hey I’m not complaining!
The temperature and steep time are taken from the guide lines on the front of the tea package. I admit it’s a much shorter steep than I was anticipating but I shall try it all the same. Also qty is 2 teaspoons of blend in a 4oz or 5oz mug.
Once steeped the tea is light yellow in colour with a soft and sweet rose fragrance. The marzipan has definitely toned down along with the sweetness which has left it much more floral.
Flavour is light and soft but with sweet rose and a dry nutty (a mixture of pistachio and almond) beautiful tones. It’s stronger than I thought it would be for such a short steep and it seems to have left it so fresh and gentle, it’s a beautiful touch. If steeped for any longer I believe the rose would be too thick and would outweigh the nuts.
Also has a buttery/creamy style effect the more I drink of it. Like floral silk that pans out to a subtle dry but sweet nuttiness. Very delicious and original.
Side Note – This also came with a cocktail recipe.
2tsp Pistachio Rose
2tsp of golden castor sugar
35ml VSOP cognac
Zest of one orange
Small bunch of mint
Plenty of crushed ice
(Optional) 3 drops of rose water
I don’t have cognac but that cocktail sounds amazing!
My talk about Keemun with looseTman reminded me that Tea Horse sent me some in the monthly club.
This Keemun has a dark, smoky and wooden scent in it’s raw form. The leaves are finely chopped into roughly 2-3mm pieces that are very dark brown with a few golden tips.
I shall be brewing one large teaspoon of tea into a small mug which I estimate to be around 4oz. The temperature and steeping time are as suggested by Tea Horse.
Once steeped the tea is golden honey coloured with a beautiful smoky, cocoa and floral scent. Very beautiful.
Flavour is very clean tasting and smooth with essences of smoke, sweet flowers, fresh wood and very dark cocoa. It’s rich in dark flavour but light in consistency which makes it refreshing. Also picking up increasing malt flavour which is a personal love of mine.
Very delicious, looks like this is a new favourite Keemun to add to my cupboard. :)