1855 Tasting Notes
I’m finally getting around to trying something other than the gigantic bag of orange cinnamon black tea from this tea company. I ordered a few herbals from this company even though I don’t drink herbals all that often. And in fact, all of these herbals have hibiscus in them, so I may be saving them for next summer anyway. I like hibiscus tea, but I like cold, sweetened hibiscus tea. But this morning I’m trying this one hot for kicks anyway, because I hope the lemon and eucalyptus will soothe my sore throat. I have a full on head cold, so I’m working from home today, which means a limited tea selection. Mostly herbals!
This tea company is a wholesaler that also sells their teas retail. It would possibly a really good deal (the tea is really cheap!) but the shipping is pretty killer (it gets pretty expensive pretty fast on an order). A number of the teas I bought show up on here from other retailers, and this is one of them. The dry leaf on this one smells very hibiscusy. When brewed I can still smell the hibiscus, but it’s mitigated by some lemon and orange. The taste is actually very pleasant. For a tea with hibiscus and rose hips, it’s not really tart at all; it’s smooth and a little sweet (this is perhaps the honeybush? this is actually my first one!), with a nice full mouthfeel that sometimes is lacking with tart fruity herbals. It’s lemony and orangey and definitely soothing. I think it would make iced tea as well. I’m not in love with this one, but it is nice to drink.
Back to a nice flowery oolong. I like it when an oolong with a flower in the name is actually scented with those flowers (as opposed to being given that name because the natural characters might evoke that flower) because my expectation of those oolongs is often for a more floral tea than I end up getting. This tea is interesting because of all the myriad of aromas and flavors going on!
When I first smell the dry leaf it has that vegetal, slightly grassy, oolongy, slightly floral aroma that I might expect from any green oolong. What’s crazy is that if I blow into the pouch, the aroma that comes out is roasty toasty grains, though more like toasted rice than a dark oolong. That slowly fades back into the first aroma, and somewhere in the middle of that transition is what the tea actually ends up tasting like. It’s also what the steeped tea smells like: greenish florals (a kind of oolongy florals, not intense like smelling that particular flower) with a warm toasted grains backdrop. This is a green oolong that you can definitely tell is half-oxidized, and the combo of flavors is nicely balanced. The main body of the sip seems to really be the vegetal, not-too-floral green oolong with the toasted background notes. There is some natural sweetness to this oolong, and it swells up at the back of the sip along with more intense florals. Overall this is a very tasty tea, and really not overally floral for a tea that is scented with orchid flowers.
I decided to try to start going through some of my lingering samples by cold steeping them for lunch, which has the added benefit of using up more tea than a regularly brewed cup. Yesterday I was adding the rest of my sample of Tea District’s Marvelous Mango to my cup, but there wasn’t really enough, so I decided to throw the remainder of my Upton Vanilla Black in as well. Vanilla Mango sounded decently tasty. Fortunately Jen set up this combination tea so that I can easily log it! It ended up being about 2 tsp Mango to 4 tsp Vanilla, cold steeped in 16oz of water. I was surprised that the vanilla wasn’t stronger, especially since it made up the majority of the tea, but the cup was acutally more mango-y with some hints of vanilla. Pretty tasty, and it made me want to experiment with vanilla-fruit combos in some of my other cold steeps.
Yet another from SimplyJenW! Since my throat seems not interested in calming down, lots of hot tea is very appealing right now. A cream Earl Grey is definitely something I haven’t had in a long time, but I do very much enjoy them. The dry leaf on this one smells nicely of bergamot and cream. The bergamot brings out a sourness to the cream, which doesn’t sound very good when I say it like that, but the smell as a whole reminds me a bit of cheesecake. Mmm, bergamot cheesecake.
When it’s brewed it loses most of that sour cream-cheesecake aroma and the cream this time is bolstered by the warm aroma of the black tea, which makes it smell nicely rich. The aroma is actually very well balanced between bergamot, cream and black tea. The flavors are nice on this one as well: citrusy bergamot, smooth, tasty cream. The black tea base is pretty nonremarkable, and I’m wishing perhaps for a rich ceylon note to anchor the bottom, but it’s also not overwhelming or bitter. Overall definitely a nice example of its kind.
Oh no you don’t, tonsils. You just calm yourselves right down now… I just got done being sick, I can’t be sick again! This is so unlike my immune system.
I needed this tea for it’s soothing lemon and ginger. This has become my go-to not feeling well tea, whether it be stomach issues or a sore throat. And my throat is being wonky enough this afternoon that I don’t really feel like anything else.
This tea comes to me thanks to SimplyJenW! I always welcome a chance to try a new Earl Grey, and I’m curious about this one since it includes lavender. I’ve had hits and misses with lavender Earl Greys, so I’m interested to see where this one falls out. It’s an aroma combination that I love, but it can go so wrong in the flavors!
The dry tea on this one certainly smells nice: a good blend of lavender and bergamot that is neither overwhelming nor too faint. This one brewed to a really dark mahogany color, and the aroma seems to be a decent mix of the lavender, bergamot and the black tea base, which has come forward a lot. The flavors here are pretty decent. The lavender is a touch strong, I think, but it doesn’t come across as soapy or too herbaceous. The cup is a tad bitter as well as overall stronger than I would like, so I’m thinking a lower steep temp and possibly a shorter time as well might help. Otherwise it’s a fairly decent cup, though I wish the bergamot was more forward to balance the lavender a little better. The black tea base is pretty smooth and pleasant.
When Frank announced this tea, I had to buy it, even though I had only tried one other tea of his and didn’t have a great experience with it. But pumpkin! And cheesecake! I love love love anything pumpkin this time of year, so pumpkin tea was a must have. To be perfectly honest, I’m not expecting much from this tea based on some of the reviews and my own experiences with Pancake Breakfast, but I had to try. Inspired by my low-temp steep on the Kusmi Caramel tea the other day, I ratcheted this one down to see if I could keep the black tea from overwhelming the flavors.
The smell of the dried leaf is really pumpkin-pie spicey. I get lots of cinnamon and clove and some ginger and nutmeg. The pumpkin aroma I can pick up at times through the spice. Steeped, the black tea has come forward, as expected, BUT there is still a good helping of spicy pumpkin aroma in the steeped tea. I am hopeful! That clove is certainly killer in the aroma. The good news is that I don’t just get black tea from this one. The bad news is that all I seem to get is intense spiciness. I feel like the spices are a bit overdone in this one… I’m getting the pungent spice plus that dusty flavor that you get if you eat too much dried ground spice. And remarkably I’m still getting a hint of bitterness with the quite low steeping temp, but it almost seems bitter from too many spices. Yeah I’m going to have to cut this one with something for it to be drinkable for me (and I like Harney’s Hot Cinnamon Spice, so I’m not afraid of spicey teas!). I don’t get really any other flavors but the spices here. Oh well.
I feel like I’ve been drinking a lot of flowery and fruity teas lately, and I needed a break or something. Even though this one is still fruity, it’s nutty almondy marzipanny flavor called out to me. There’s also something distinctly autumnal about cranberries that fits today’s mood. Mmm, I really do love the flavors of this tea. So delicious! Now that I feel seemingly overwhelmed by teas, I find myself mentally narrowing down my list of teas I must have around all the time. This one is definitely makes the cut!
This is another tea from my swap with Angrboda. I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve had a plain Earl Grey, which of course isn’t really true since I had little else but plain Earl Grey while I was in Argentina. But that’s already been a couple of weeks, so I suppose that’s long enough for me to start craving it again.
The dry tea smells a nice, robust Earl Grey. The bergamot is strong and sweet. I steeped it my usual “unknown black” parameters, but I just noticed that they suggest steeping at a slightly lower temp, so we’ll see how this goes. The brewed tea smells nice and balanced between bergamot and black tea, which has a smooth, somewhat roasty, almost chocolatey aroma. I pegged it as a Ceylon, and sure enough when I looked at the description that’s what it was. Maybe I’m starting to get better at knowing black teas! In any case, Ceylon is my favorite EG base, so that’s a good sign.
The first thing I get from the taste is that, yes, I should have steeped it at a lower temp. There’s a fairly decent helping of bitterness to the black tea base. If I can taste past the bitterness… I seem to get a warm, bready flavor from the Ceylon base, a bright, citrusy bergamot note, and a bit of smokyness in the tail end of the sip and aftertaste. I won’t rate this one this time since I didn’t follow directions, but I will say I’m surprised to get that much bitterness (note that I am very sensative to bitterness in black tea) from a Ceylon. This tea seems like it has the makings of a tasty tea if I can get the steeping parameters right.