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Recent Tasting Notes
Ben and I are, after many years, replaying Mass Effect, the whole series. It was my favorite game series ever, well until the infamous ending of Mass Effect 3, which in all honesty burned me out on fiction and games with an RPG element for a while, but I might have taken it too seriously (I do that) With the talks of Mass Effect Andromeda in my future, and having finally gotten over the ending, it was time to revisit my favorite series, but problem is we both wanted to play again. Joint playthrough time! It feels good, very nostalgic, so much so I had to bring my Dropzone Desolator…which just looks like a Reaper…to live on my desk once more.
When one is busily playing video games and snacking on Haldiram’s Kaju Mix snacks, one needs a robust Masala Chai to provide sustenance. Today I am looking at Teabox’s Assam Masala Chai, a blend of CTC Assam, cinnamon, cardamon, ginger, cloves, and pepper corns. I love Masala Chai blends that include lots of pepper and cardamon, so this blend makes me happy. You can really smell the cardamon and ginger too, the pepper is not faint, and the other spices are robust but less so. A lot of Masala Chai blends tend to go heavy on the cinnamon and cloves, both of which I like, but to me they say Christmas rather than tea, so I am happy for those two being on the milder side. The Assam adds a sweet and robust malty quality that is not totally overpowered by the spices, which is most excellent.
Into a pot of milk and a bit of water the tea goes for a simmer, my kitchen smells great now, strong cardamon and ginger, pepper and cinnamon, and of course a bit of cloves and rich malty tea fill the entire room. Making Masala Chai smells great, and I love how it just inundates the entire area like a spicy potpourri.
I decided to sweeten the Masala Chai with a sugar stick, because I never get the chance to use them, Masala Chai and Ostfriesen Tea are the only time I ever sweeten my tea anymore, or use creamy additives for that matter. This is a wonderful Masala Chai, but I am a sucker for a Masala Chai with an Assam base, it gives the tea a richness and a briskness that I love. The spice blend was quite well balanced, with more focus being put on the cardamon and ginger, with a more gentle accompaniment of pepper and cinnamon, with a bit of cloves. I actually wish the spices would have been a bit stronger, I can always go with more pepper or more cardamon, but for people who like a milder and well balanced chai with a wonderfully tasty base tea I highly recommend it.
I don’t do flavored teas, do to the overwhelming amount of straight teas to choose from, so I really needed to twist my own arm to try this free sample. I’m glad I did. The aroma as I opened the bag was in your face bergamot, but when I took my time to appreciate it instead of backing away I was floored with the nuance of the aromas. Yes bergamot leads the way but it is really not that overpowering and in a way fronts for the subtle notes of floral tones that I can best describe as a potpourri my mom used in my bedroom as a kid and I was a stinky kid at that.
The infusion also has the same aroma profile leading down the road to happy thoughts. Never gave aroma therapy much thought being a western ICU RN, but this really has calming effects. The flavor is exactly as the company says, “gardenia, white rose and sweet lime”, well rosy as I don’t think I could distinguish between white, red or pink roses. The bergamot is so well blended in with this white tea that you cannot discern it as an additive as much as part of the tea leaves. I have sampled some of Teabox white teas and they are pretty good and this base tea is one of them, unfortunately they do not list the variety they used.
Wow, that was a mouthful for me. Teabox is definitely one of my favorite companies, and as a rule the more pricey an item is the better the quality, but here they have really exceptional quality for all their teas no matter the price.
Got a sample of this in a recent order from Teabox.
The leaf is a lovely mix of blackish green through olive to silvery green leaves and buds. Dry, it has a hay and citrus aroma. The liquor is golden in colour with a citrusy and floral aroma. It tastes of mango, citrus and something floral. Basically, it’s a tropical mix that is not as sweet as some Darjeelings I have had, but is really light and refreshing despite the heavy flavours. Two thumbs up for this blend.
Flavors: Citrus, Floral, Hay, Mango
I got a sample of this with my recent order to Teabox. I would not normally buy breakfast blends, or any other blend really, but the weather has put me in the mood for something more autumnal than the Darjeelings that I have been stuffing my face with recently.
My misgivings about breakfast blends aside, this is pretty good for what it is. The dry leaf has an earthy, malty aroma. The aroma of the liquor is plum and Christmas pudding. It tastes malty and fruity with a bit of sweetness, but also a sharp edge on the side of the tongue. The malt character remains in the aftertaste too. Not bad. It does not rank up with my favourite teas, but then it is a fraction of the price, and taking that into consideration, it is pretty good.
Flavors: Earth, Fruity, Malt, Plums
Very fluffy twisted and clean looking leaves in a dark and white array, very visually appealing as I’ve come to expect from Teabox. The smell of the leaves is already quite sweet, with a floral fragrance.
The brewed liquor is an orange gold, very fragrant aroma of lilies and sugar and some other flower. The taste is as sweet as the smell, with a piney pepper touch to it when hot and a juicy berry-like finish that gets stronger as it cools. The aroma lingers after swallowing and leaves a moderately dry feeling to the tongue.
A nice, mindless tea to sip and enjoy since the flavors are light despite being very prominent, although something about this particular kind of sweet is offputting to me (in my opinion, it almost tastes like artificial sweetener like splenda) and although the initial taste is strong with that sweet flavor, something, somewhere, inbetween makes this taste almost thin to me.
Flavors: Berry, Floral, Pine, Spices, Sweet
Too busy enjoying this one to write a proper note right now. Suffice to say that the warm grassy aroma of the dry leaf, the honey and citrus aroma of the liquor and the sweet, slightly nutty taste is just what I wanted on a sunny bank holiday afternoon. Teas like this are the reason why Darjeelings are my favourite black teas. Now, I must get back to working or there will be no new berserkjaknowledge being spread around.
Flavors: Citrus, Hay, Honey, Nutty, Sweet
It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon in Cobh and I have survived a trip into Cork. Ye gods, but the train was packed. It’s not that packed during the week when I commute into work! And the streets here are swarming with tourists come for that authentic Titanic experience. So, I am trapped in my flat for the afternoon now, unless I want to dodge people wandering aimlessly, looking everywhere but where they are going. Ah well, at least I have two consolations: 1. the view from my flat is excellent; 2. I have just made a cup of this tea. Combining the two leaves me feeling very relaxed. Better not get too relaxed though or I’ll get no work done …
So, the tea. It’s the 2016 first flush. The dry leaf has the sweet smell of fresh hay. The leaves are a mix of silver, green and brown. The liquor is a golden, champagne colour and smells sweet and floral with malty notes. It has a really silky, smooth, almost glassy mouthfeel. The floral sweetness extends into the tasting, ending in a sparkling astringency in the aftertaste that lasts for some time. It’s really light and refreshing and there is an element of that relaxing chi that I find in some puerhs. I am really enjoying it, so it is a shame that it does not really resteep at all. Nevertheless, two thumbs up; I do like a good Darjeeling and this is definitely good.
Flavors: Floral, Hay, Malt, Sweet
This tea was enjoyable, but not my favorite. I have fallen in love with Keemuns, and may have lost the taste I previously acquired for Darjeelings, as the astringency and muscatel flavor were more pronounced to me than usual. I will have to mix my Darjeelings and Keemuns to see what happens, as recommended previously.
Amazing perfumed flowery aroma with a touch of sweet. Leaves are fluffy and larger with a bit of a twist and brews a very slightly reddish gold color. The taste is intensely floral with a distinct creaminess and hint of sweet citrus peel to it.
Biggest issue I had with it is that, although I wouldn’t say the perfume is overpowering, it threatens to. Well balanced otherwise, although I did brew two steeps at about two minutes each and combined them to get this cup, so your results may vary.
Still, I enjoyed it very much—it had a very refreshing and extravagant/elegant feeling that kind of screams English high tea party (complete with little sandwiches cut into shapes) to me somehow, haha.
Flavors: Citrus Zest, Creamy, Floral, Perfume, Sugar
Surprisingly fruity-sweet, somewhat floral aroma. A darker, reddish hay color. The taste is bright and floral (not sweet, though, despite the smell), with a hay/corn taste and borderline dry flavor due to the mild astringency, which is prominent in the mouth after swallowing. A decent, full bodied tea, but no real prominent flavors or aspects, which I found boring.
Flavors: Corn Husk, Floral, Fruity, Hay
Definitely smoky and woody with a tobacco aftertaste, however, I feel like it lacks body and is a bit thin in taste. The leaves are kind of unimpressive, short choppy bits that seem to be one step above a tea bag, although the brewed color is an attractive darker gold green. The aroma is definitely charcoal-ish, but more green, like roasted spinach.
It’s not really an unpleasant taste by any means at all, though, and definitely unique in its smokiness, but unfortunately does not follow up on its promise of a rich flavor to back up the smokey overtones. Indeed, I’d say its predominant taste after smokey is bitter, which can easily turn extremely bitter if oversteeped or scalded.
Overall, a shame that the taste isn’t more full bodied or well rounded as I really liked the idea of a smoky tea.
Flavors: Smoke, Spinach, Tobacco, Wood
Has a nice savory taste profile against the green tea taste without any bitterness. Standard golden green tea color and smell with a hint of roasted grain. Smooth, but not very prominent flavors other than standard grassy and vegetal, with a small presence of roasted grain.
Flavors: Grain, Grass, Hay, Vegetal
A bit on the powdery side. Mildly astringent which can quickly turn into bitterness if not careful . Nice golden color and grassy aroma and a prominent bean taste. Has a thick broth if using a lot of leaf that was kind of a nice surprise on cold days, but can also be quite light if lessening the steeping time and leaf. Pleasant to sip, but not something that wowed me.
Flavors: Beany, Hay, Vegetal
I found this to be super flavorful with a heady perfume reminiscent of a darjeeling muscatel. Sweet apples and melon dominant the profile. Teabox has so much to explore and these Nilgiri teas definitely deserve attention. I’m thinking of signing up for their monthly subscription—there has not been one tea in the sample pack that I split with Big Daddy that I wouldn’t be happy to drink on a regular basis. So many seasonal varietals of Darjeelings, Ceylons, and Nilgiris!
One of the three samples I received with my Teabox order recently was this particular black tea. I have had plenty of Darjeeling teas, and have enjoyed the light and delicate taste of spring teas. This tea is just that – light and delicate.
The moment you steep the leaves, the air around you start smelling fruity, like the fruits aisle at whole foods. I could make out mangoes, sweet and pulpy, in the aroma and i wa excited to taste in the liquor. Surprisingly, the liquor tastes more floral than fruity (in a good way).
This tea evokes the feeling of sitting by the window sill, on a spring morning, with the bright aroma of garden flowers all around you. It has restraint, a lot of it actually, and I wished the tea had more body. It falls short of spectacular on just that count.
Very fragrant, smells very strongly of roses and perfume. The leaves are pretty and fuzzy with little rosebuds scattered in. Was very fluffy and hard to scoop out of its bag without crunching the leaves up by accident though, haha…. It produces a light golden yellow liquor when brewed.
I steeped this tea three or four times and it tasted pretty consistent throughout all of them, although obviously lighter towards the end with increasing (although still not much) astringency and a hint of earthier tastes. The rose aroma was very strong though, and you can’t really taste much else but that and a bit of sweet for the first cup, although it does round out more pleasantly by the third cup. The flavor doesn’t have much substance behind the strong aroma, though.
Flavors: Cream, Herbs, Perfume, Rose, Sweet
I wasn’t sure what to expect from a white tea from the south of India (I hadn’t really heard of Nilgiri teas until a friend recommended it) and did not really have high expectations, to be honest. This tea, however, surprised me.
It’s a sweet cup and bold one at that. I could relish luscious notes of pineapples (or maybe it was mangoes) throughout the cup and the sweetness is palpable. Compared to other white teas (be it Bai Hao Yin Zen or the ones from Darjeeling), this particular white tea has a bold and imposing personality marked by discernible flavors of yellow fruits.
What also stood out for me was how well balanced the cup felt, despite its rich fruity profile. There is a distinct vegetal undertone to this tea, but it is balanced beautifully by sweet note. I have never quite come across such a flavor mix before in a white tea. Like the description says, I think it’s ideal for someone who is new to white tea because unlike the Chinese white tea or Darjeeling white tea, the flavors herein pop at you far more clearly, and you don’t feel like you are drinking hot water (which happened when I first sipped a white tea).
Flavors: Mango, Pineapple, Vegetal
I recently order myself a whole selection of Nilgiri tea samples from Teabox and I started with this one. And what a start it was.
It has an impressively sweet, rounded flavor profile and that’s the first thing you notice about this tea.There is the sweetness of fruits in the attack and middle, followed by a sweet floral note that comes through towards the end. No astringency what so ever! I guess it brought to me the memory of wild flower honey and what a happy feeling it was. I tried steeping the leaves in water that was heated to about 90 degrees Celcius, but the flavors weren’t as sweet and succulent. Guess, I’d be saving this for winter because i loved how full of tropics this tea felt.