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Recent Tasting Notes
I have determined that I don’t nearly have enough caffeine free teas in the house, or rather enough variety. Most of them are all fruit blends or fairly spice heavy and tonight I was really looking for something more mellow and relaxing.
Course at the time I had forgotten that I still had some of this in my cupboard, somehow it got pushed to the back. And it was the perfect cup; camomile and mint with that refreshing hint of spruce… So soothing and relaxing which is just what I needed after a stressful day.
This tea brings back memories… it marks my first ever foray into the world of loose leaf teas (for all that it’s a herbal blend :D.) Prior to this I had been limiting myself to grocery store tea bag brands (though at the time I had been starting to get pickier about what brands I got.) Then one Saturday afternoon my partner and I were wandering the aisles of one of our local farmers markets and I spotted a tea vendor that we’d walked by numerous times before, but this time I was curious so in we went.
We ended up spending a lot of time there, smelling different teas. The fellow manning the booth came over to give us a hand and after telling him my preferences at the time he suggested this herbal blend as a good one to try “first.” So away I went with a bag of tea… and no ball or tea bags to brew it in… opps… Eventually though I was able to get this brewed and the rest, as they say, is history.
Dry this tea is not only visually appealing, with all the different textures and the splashes of color, but it also smells amazing. I’m not usually one for long ingredient lists but the combination of it all just really works for this tea. Each sniff is just a little bit different from the one before but I can usually pick out the peppermint, chamomile, and spruce needles, which together form an interesting base for this tea. All told it’s probably one of the most well rounded scent profiles I’ve ever experienced in a tea.
The infusion comes out a lovely clear gold and the aroma darkens somewhat though it is still refreshing. To be honest the change in the scent profiles from dry to infused reminds me of going for a hike on a trail leading into the forest, you start out with just a light hint and then once you’re inside the scents “darken”.
And I love the flavor… the chamomile mixes in so well with the peppermint, leaving just that touch of “fresh” in your mouth; and mixing in the pine needles just gives it a bit of pizazz that sets this tea apart. The lavender and strawberry help to sweeten it up significantly, but the infusion does well with some added honey too (back when I first had this tea I couldn’t imagine drinking something unsweetened, it was a running joke that I wanted tea or coffee with my sweetener and milk rather than the other way around… Man how things change :D) As for the rest of the ingredients… as foreshadowed by the scent profiles they all combine to form a complex but compelling mixture where none really stand out per say but the combination just elevates this tea to a whole other level.
In the end this tea served as a grand introduction to a whole other world that I had no idea existed… a world that eventually lead me to Steepster. So with that in mind I raise my cup and wish all of you in the US a Happy Thanksgiving, and for the rest of you(/us) TGIF! :D
I’m on a roll this morning… it’s a mini blizzard here and the snow is the big, wet fluffy kind that sticks to everything, so I’m drenched and cold. Add onto that, that due to an emergency downtown (the wind was blowing debris off the towers) public transit was being re-routed and as such got backed up so I walked that last number of blocks into work. Then I go to make myself some tea and somehow manage to dump most of my scoop on the floor rather than in the basket, and it was the tail end of the bag (I’ve got more at home but still!) sigh There are days…
On the plus side I’m looking forward to the Great Canadian Traveling Tea Box making its way towards me; according to Canada Post it should be here by Friday! Yay!
Onto the tea; I didn’t want anything sweet today and I hadn’t had this one for a while so I figured why not. Now don’t get me wrong this tea does have a bit of natural sweetness to it but it’s not the predominant note in this tea; smoke and spice that’s what I think of when drinking it. Not over much of either of those notes but just enough to give this a nice, well-rounded flavor profile. Add onto that the lovely rich, but light, mouth feel and it’s the perfect counterpoint to this snowy (and long) Monday.
A long time ago someone told me that if I wanted to try the “good stuff” I should get some quality Gunpowder. I had only just begun my non-grocery store tea journey and was at a loss as to what this “Gunpowder” tea really was but I managed to find some in a reasonably short amount of time by visiting a tea vendor at one of our local farmers markets. Both the visit and the tea were an interesting experience!
Dry this tea has a distinct smoky scent which mixes in well with the main aroma of hay cut on a warm afternoon. There’s also a hint of spice in there which gives it a well-rounded profile. Be warned however that this tea will expand greatly when steeped, the small balls that it is rolled into are very deceptive and make it easy to accidentally add to much tea to your cup.
And don’t steep it too long, it can get very bitter very quickly; I tend to only steep mine 3-4 minutes for the first steeping. Once steeped the aroma loses some of the smokiness that was prevalent in the dry tea and the dark “spice” notes become more noticeable. The liquor is a rich clear gold-yellow and has an interesting mouth-feel, warm and rich but light at the same time. The flavor reflects the aroma, light and hay-like with touches of smoke and a good bite at the end. It also holds up very well to multiple re-steepings, which for me makes it a great tea to have available for those days when I just have to have tea on hand all day. (This is good thing since when I start drinking this tea I find it very hard to put it down for long! :D)
Amount: 4 tsp
Water: 500ml at 212°F
Tool: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker BTM800XL
Steep Time: 7 minutes
Dry Leaf Smell: berry, floral
Steeped Tea Smell: peppercorn, berry, fruity, floral, woody
Flavor: spicy, woody, sweet
Aftertaste: berry, lavender
Liquor: opaque dark red-brown
Good flavorful rooibos, a bit woody for those who don’t like that, nothing too remarkable.
Gift/Swap from chana karma
Rating: 2/4 leaves