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Recent Tasting Notes
’Here’s Hoping’ teabox Round #4 – Tea #1
Another fun teabox round to start! I love those orange vanilla swirl type ice cream flavors, and this seemed like it might be like that. Maybe without so much hibiscus! The hibiscus took over a little giving it too much tartness, but there were also hints of orange. It was begging to be sweetened so I added some rock sugar. Without so much hibiscus it would have been better… It also might be better with a honeybush base.
Another one I snagged from a teabox a WHILLLE ago. I guess this is a raw pu-erh tuocha that should be jasmine? I didn’t see, smell or taste any jasmine. But since I usually expect a somewhat bitter raw pu-erh experience whenever I drink raw pu-erh, this one was surprisingly unoffending, if unoffending means there was hardly any flavor at all. The cup was a bright orange both steeps, so it was certainly steeping.. it’s just such a plain flavor. Disappointing but at least it isn’t bitter! The Jasmine petals tea I had from Tea Spot a while ago certainly had jasmine flavors.
Steep #1 // 20 minutes after boiling // 1-2 min steep
Steep #2 // 20 min a.b. // 3 min
This past year, I tried a lot of different “Pumpkin Spice” chai teas … and I think of all that I tried, this one was my favorite. This one was really OUTSTANDING among the many pumpkin-y chai teas. In fact, as I proclaim in my full-length review of this tea: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/12/25/pumpkin-spice-chai-from-the-tea-spot/ it’s the best pumpkin chai tea I’ve ever had.
The pumpkin is prominent in both the aroma and the flavor. It really smells and tastes like pumpkin. Like real pumpkin. It tastes like someone scooped out the filling of a pumpkin pie, liquefied it and poured it into a cup of Assam tea and added some spices. It tastes very true to the squash.
The spices are flavorful and strong without becoming overly spicy. Sure, I love a bold, spicy chai but when there’s another flavor involved – in this case, obviously, pumpkin – you don’t want the spices so powerful that they overthrow the pumpkin flavor. The Tea Spot has achieved the perfect balance between spice and pumpkin-y flavor, and neither of these elements overpowers the Assam tea base which is rich and malty.
A really delightful pumpkin chai!
The Tea Spot has the right idea! Chocolate in a breakfast blend. Yeah. That’s the way a breakfast blend should be! And it’s been my experience that The Tea Spot understands my chocolate philosophy: more chocolate = better.
The black tea adds a note of malt and caramel undertones to the blend. The pu-erh adds a rich, earthy taste without tasting too much like earth. This isn’t harsh or bitter. It’s smooth and really pleasant. And the chocolate … well, it adds chocolate to the blend.
Here’s the full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2014/11/29/bolder-breakfast-blend-from-the-tea-spot/
Thank you for the sale, Momo! The leaves here look like Laoshan black (with some additional gold in color) which explains the ‘chocolate’ in the name, but then there is a very sweet scent of chocolate, so it seems they also add some chocolate flavoring. That is evident in the unfortunate gasoline type flavor of the chocolate… I’ve experienced this before in a couple other chocolate flavored teas. I’m sure the black tea might have been fine on it’s own. It’s a nice tea, so I can kind of ignore the gasoline flavor. I just don’t know how much of the chocolate is the flavoring and how much is the tea itself.
Steep #1 // 4 min after boiling // 3 min steep
Steep #2 // 4 min after boiling // 6 min
I’ve been enjoying cold brewing recently and anything that’s designed to make a more efficient cold brewing experience appeals to me, so I picked this up along with a Steep & Go. They recommend a10-15 minute steeping time at minimum, with 6 hours being the maximum; I ended up drinking this after about an hour.
This herbal blend definitely succeeds in providing ample flavor through cold brewing. The Tea Spot seems to be marketing in part to people who are looking to tea as an easy and potentially healthy water inhancer, and this is definitely a winner in that category. If you’re willing to wait, you get a way more flavorful result than any of those iced tea powder packets and flavor drops, plus it has a natural sweetness instead of using sweeteners.
Flavor-wise, I would call this an even split between the hibiscus and the licorice, with no peppermint at all. The hibiscus provides the sweetness and is also quite tart, while the licorice provides a bitter edge. I tend to dislike licorice, so I’m glad I only picked up a single packet of this to try, but for what it’s worth this is probably the best licorice tea I’ve ever had. I think it’s a good one, just not the best choice for me.
By the way, the Steep & Go itself is awesome.
Flavors: Hibiscus, Licorice
Oops, I accidentally deleted my tasting note. Basically, I pulled this one from the T&C TTB before sending it off based purely on the fact that it had “breakfast” in the name. I didn’t realize until after taking a few sips and going onto Steepster that there was puerh in the blend. That would explain how it got so dark (it looked like coffee!) and why it was less malty than I expected it to be. I also found it sweeter than I expected, which seems to have been on purpose. It was a bit of a caramel taste to me rather than chocolate. And finally, I also feel like I tasted some kind of spice. That’s about as specific as I can get. I also spilled about half of my mug as I foolishly practiced doing headstands near the cup. A have a nice little tea stain on my carpet to remind me not to do that again. Oops!
I have strong feelings about this tisane. I didn’t really think I was difficult to please with rooibos until I had this tisane. I’ve liked rooibos for years. My entry point was Celestial Seasonings Madagascar Vanilla. Then in 2008 I lived in South Africa near Cape Town for half a year and got to try lots of local blends from the farmers in the Cedarberg Mountains, the cream of the crop. South Africans drink a lot of rooibos. It is available nearly everywhere you go to dine and is a frequent refreshment at events. I had already liked it before my trip there, but I came to really love it during that time.
Let’s get on with this Red Rocks review though. Dry, the needles smell like vanilla and pipe tobacco. While brewing, the aroma is rather intoxicating. Oh, if only this tisane tasted like it smelled, It’d be heaven. The scent is like warm sugar cookies or a packet of fruit and cream flavored instant oatmeal after you’ve added the water.
The flavor, unfortunately has some major offenses. First of all… I don’t taste rooibos. I don’t taste vanilla. I don’t taste almonds. Funny, since those are the only three ingredients! What I taste is something akin to cherry pipe tobacco. It’s creamy, but tart, oh so tart. Adding sugar only makes it more tart, and it leaves a tartness in my mouth for several minutes after I drink it. To me this is the worst aspect of this tisane. I end up salivating like I just sucked on a lemon, or like there’s a penny in my mouth.
I have never had tisane with almond pieces in it before, and from this experience alone I don’t think I’ll ever trust another tisane with nuts in it at all. I felt skeptical at first and imagined they were filler because as hard and thick as nuts are, I didn’t imagine they’d really saturate and release much flavor in just a few minutes steeping in hot water. I think I was wrong though, because I couldn’t figure out where this tisane gets its tartness from until I ate one of the almonds. Yuck! I should mention that this tin of tisane (which I purchased at Whole Foods) doesn’t have an expiration date or manufacturing date on it, which should have been a red flag for me. Nuts expire. I didn’t even know that until about a year ago when someone mentioned it in a nutrition class. Then I went to taste months-old nuts I had in my pantry and realized… wow, they do taste off after a while. The almonds in this tisane taste really off to me, as if they may just be old and acrid. Or maybe they’re just not great almonds to begin with. I can only wonder.
I should have returned this to the store when I first drank it, since they are pretty lax about returns if you don’t like something, but I live far away from there and don’t have reliable transportation, so I decided to just give it some more chances. I have since removed all the little almond pieces from the tisane and find that it is a bit better than before, though it doesn’t taste much different and it still does not have the signature woody qualities I am used to in rooibos. I find that adding sugar and cream together makes this tisane more enjoyable for me, but it still has that lingering tartness that just kills me. I’m not a purist in the sense that I won’t add sugar or cream to a tea or tisane, but I am a purist in the sense that if I can’t drink a tea or tisane WITHOUT cream or sugar, then to hell with it. Rooibos has always been a gentle and refreshing drink to me with nothing offensive about it. The fact that this blend has an offensive quality to it is a major bummer, and as rooibos goes, this wasn’t exactly a reasonably priced one either.
I tried it with varying amounts of tea and varying times and could never really find a balance, so…. meh.
I’m on a quest now to find a rooibos that is perfect for me, and will be following some leads from other reviews and a forum post I made. Wish me luck!
Flavors: Cherry, Creamy, Tart, Tobacco
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. So I was looking into the vast expanse of my cabinet looking for Shou Pu-Erh. The only ones I could find where greens. Then I found a bag that was not labeled and gave it a sniff and thought it was the bolder breakfast. Sure enough that’s what it was. Score! I forgot how much I love this tea. The Pu/Black mix is spot on and the chocolate essence is just right. My only regret is that I have maybe a teaspoon left. I think I will have to get more!
Received this as a sample from The Tea Spot…. it seemed like it was tasty but unfortunately the sample was so scant that I couldn’t even make a normal sized cup out of it, I felt like it could have been stronger. To my tastes, anyway.
It seemed raisiny and malty and a good strong breakfast tea, from what I could gather. I would love to find a good breakfast tea to stock.
I can’t really rate this because I felt like I didn’t have enough tea for a satisfying cup!
Would like to try again sometime with more!
Got a sample of this from The Tea Spot. I drank it this summer, lol. So yeah, this is a very late review.
I had it for breakfast everyday when I was visiting my cousins’ cottage for a week in August, on the beach with my baby. My actual baby. Not like, a romantic thing.
It was delicious in the mornings with milk. A good strong cup and I usually had two steeps out of it. I honestly can’t quite remember if it was super flavourful, but I did enjoy it.
Assams are usually tasty to me!
So, there you have it! Just reviewed it so I’ll remember having tried it :)
I got some of this in my Tea Sparrow box under the old name: Coconut Milky Oolong. The dry tea smells amazing: rich, creamy coconut. Yum. Brewed, the scent mellows down a bit but it still smells delicious. I also enjoyed watching the oolong unfurl as it steeped. :) I was a bit surprised that this was a relatively less-oxidized oolong – there’s definitely a greenish flavour to it that doesn’t quite blend with the coconut. But the coconut flavour itself is light and delicious – not at all artificial – and the overall impression is of creamy, coconutty, yumminess. I have steeped it 3 times so far, and this third steeping has less of the creamy coconut, and is more of a mild greenish tea. It’s still pleasant enough to drink. I think next time I brew this I’ll be more careful about water temperature and aim for a lower steeping temp, to see if that lessens the slight greenish astringency and tips the balance in favour of the coconut.
Flavors: Coconut, Cream
Really I guess I can’t say it’s added to my cupboard. I sipped it down quickly! I received this from my first tea sparrow monthly subscription. It smells wonderful!! Light hints of coconut At first sip I taste the oolong then at the back of my tongue the light coconut hits. I don’t know that I’d go out of my way and pay extra shipping to purchase this one but if the blender had several I liked I’d certainly add this to the cart. I just received this today and sad to see it gone already. No artificial aftertaste which I get with some blenders. The was a “clean” tasting tea and I’d use the word smooth to describe it too!
From the Lewis & Clark TTB (delayed)
I needed a kick in the pants this morning, and this looked like just the thing. It certainly delivers a lot of flavor, largely due to the pu-erh base. The taste profile is mostly chocolate, though the puerh provides most of the power behind the chocolate. I thought I smelled nuts when I started to drink but may have been an unconscious comparison to Harney’s Florence tea, which is one of my favorite flavored teas.
This tea certainly delivers on the promise: big bold flavor; not at all subtle; yet none of the off-flavors you can sometimes get from pu-erh. I’m enjoying it. (Note: I added nutra-sweet, which is my usual practice for chocolate-flavored teas).
Lewis & Clark Traveling Teabox – Tea #29
Black tea, pu-erh, and chocolate? I’ll bite. Not too much chocolate here – wisps of it at the top of the cup. It’s not a strong pu-erh and I don’t think pu-erh could be bold anyway… pu-erh is usually so smooth! A little bite to this one… but I wouldn’t call it bolder than the rest! But the three elements here made for an interesting cup. I ‘m not sure why there aren’t more black tea/pu-erh blends, as they have the same steep temp most of the time anyway.
Steep #1 // just boiled // 3 min
Steep #2 // just boiled // 5 min
This has been my go-to bedtime tea lately.
To start with, you have to get over the “stinky foot” smell of hibiscus.
The taste is sweet/tart, and especially nice with some honey.
It definitely lives up to the promise of putting me to sleep….
It does contain valerian
From the Lewis and Clark TTB.
A fine breakfast tea. SMACK in the face kind of thing because of the shu pu’erh. The chocolate flavoring is excellent – strong, yet I can taste the earthiness of the base teas below. Seems like it’d be best for when you’re up before sunrise during winter.