2183 Tasting Notes
We went to a new Korean BBQ place for dinner tonight, which was extremely delicious, and I had a nice green tea there but of course I have no idea what kind or brand of tea it was. It was kind of a plain, grassy green, but I found it really tasty which surprised me a little because I feel like I’m not usually very into grassy greens. It paired nicely with our BBQ, and it kind of made me appreciate a plain, simple tea with a meal.
Anyway, we stopped by a bakery afterward and I decided to get a small cup of tea because I was feeling really wiped out and we were going to see a movie (which didn’t end up happening, because I totally didn’t expect it to be sold out, guess that shows me). Anyway, they had a small selection of Celestial Seasonings teabags and I chose this one. I was honestly expecting very, very little from it, but I was pleasantly surprised. They don’t say anything about other flavorings added besides bergamot, but I got strong lemony notes from this one along with the bergamot. I am shocked to find out that the tea base is partly Assam (and apparently also Kenyan black), because I liked it fine and I tend to not like Assams. Of course, these teas are probably blended to be as inoffensive as possible to your casual tea drinker, so I’m sure the base is toned down from other Assams I’ve tried. It wasn’t bitter or astringent or harsh in any way, and I didn’t feel like I wanted to add milk and/or sugar to tone it down a bit. Anyway, it was perfectly drinkable, and I would pick it again if I was in need of tea.
This tea may be called Boston, but I swear it just walked out of a plane from Paris. That flavor profile is just so similar to Coquelicot Gourmand from Dammann Freres, except this one has cranberries and lacks florals. The cranberries are sweet and tart, and they make a perfect pairing with that almond. And that almond! That, of course, is what makes the tea seem french, because it’s that almond-biscuit-macaron flavor, which is so totally different than “almond cookie” teas in the states. I am a big, big fan of this tea.
Another tea that obviously fits my recent chocolatey/nutty/rich tea kick. I also could use a fair amount of perking up this morning, so a nice full-bodied black tea was definitely in the cards. This tea is just so delicious! Glad I have a full tin of it that will last me for a while.
I’ve been in the mood for more “substantial” teas… things like black teas, and teas that aren’t really fruity but rather have “richer” flavors. It’s a hard feeling to describe, but it’s typified by teas like the Bailin Gong Fu black from Teavivre and Organic Chococolate “O” from the tea spot, or perhaps nutty teas and such. I don’t want jasmine greens, I don’t want white teas, I don’t want high-altitude green oolongs, etc.
So what am I doing drinking a tieguanyin with jasmine blossoms? There’s just something about this tea that edges toward that “richer” flavor. It’s floral, yes, but also buttery and with almost caramely notes to it. Those notes are one of the reasons I love it so much since they bring more to the party than just a floral, sweet oolong. And it’s delivering on my cravings today perfectly.
This is another tea that I just can’t seem to get enough of these days. The balance between the awesome tea base and deft flavoring is just delicious.
In trying to look up some information about this tea base (Hong Maojian), I discovered that Mao Jian tea is usually produced as a green tea, and there aren’t many places that sell Hong Mao Jian, that is to say black Mao Jian. Tea Palace, in the UK, is the only source for an unflavored one that I’ve found online. In any case, I’m really glad I just put in an order for 3 ounces of this tea because I have a feeling I’ll be craving it more and my sample is just about out.
This is another sample from my recent batch, so thanks again to Angel Chen and Teavivre for the samples, which I have been enjoying very much. I love jasmine teas and I very much liked their dragon pearls, so I was excited to try this one as well. The dry leaf smells very pungently of jasmine, but it’s not quite as sweet or purely floral as pearls, as if it’s a little rough around the edges. The green tea comes through in the aroma and grounds the jasmine a bit.
The aroma of the steeped tea is jasminey but also intriguingly buttery at first, though the jasmine seems to overwhelm it a bit as the tea gets cooler. It’s very heavily floral jasmine, moreso than the pearls; this one isn’t holding back. I like this tea and I’m enjoying my cup, but I wonder if a steep at 1 minute wouldn’t result in a more balanced cup between the jasmine and the green tea. I guess that’s something to try out next time!
Dudes, this is totally unprecidented. I tried this tea for the first time just a couple of days ago, but I’m already going back for another cup. This afternoon I was trying to decide on a tea and my mind just kept coming back to this one. I mean, me craving the same tea within a couple days of having it is not common anyway, but with an unflavored black? Never! Until today, apparently. Since this tea comes in little individual sample pouches I had used some from a pouch already and there was a little less leaf left in the pouch than I normally use. I didn’t want to open another pouch just for that, though, so I’m brewing it for 3 minutes instead of 2 (still within the recommended range) to see how it goes.
Annnd then I got caught talking to someone and it cooled off a lot (it’s still warm, but just), but you know what? It’s still delicious. I really wouldn’t have guessed that I would find an unflavored black tea that I like so much, but here it is. I have to say thanks again to Teavivre for sending me this sample, which I did not expect to like, and exposing me to these kinds of teas!
I was interested to compare this one to the “new version” Amandine Rose, which isn’t really a new version of this tea but rather a pretty different tea altogether. I brewed this one a little cooler than I did last time because I had success with that temperature for the Amandine Rose, and last time there was a hint of bitterness to this.
The steeped tea smells really cinnamon-cookie-ish this time, kind of almost like a snickerdoodle, though there are some almond notes that are wafting around my office this morning as well. Surprisingly, I feel like this tea is more bitter than when I had it the first time. I mean, it’s not very bad, but it’s still there. The flavors aren’t as nice overall either; it’s less almondy, and what I’m getting is mainly the taste of bitter snickerdoodles. Whatever they did to the tea base for Amandine Rose, it works, because this one just isn’t as good. Perhaps it’s the addition of candied violets to the new blend, which does sweeten the tea a touch and perhaps covers up some light bitterness. Either way, I’m not sad that this one was replaced with Amandine Rose.
I already have a plain chocolate tea that I loooove (The Tea Spot’s Organic Chocolate “O”), not to mention some others kicking around my cupboard, but still this one called out to me to order it when I was trying to use my groupon. This time the ingredients lists match on the website and on my pouch, but they don’t seem to match what is in the bag… a whiff revealed something nutty, scratch that, coconutty, and little white shreds in the mix seem to confirm. I don’t have any problem with it and think it sound (and smells) like a good addition, but coconut haters might not agree. It does make it smell really similar to the sample of Carribean [sic] Flair from Praise Tea that I have. Enough that I would stick this in the coconut-chocolate, mounds-in-a-cup category instead of the plain chocolate category, at least by the aroma of the dry leaf and the steeped tea.
I am honestly not sure why this company directs it’s customers to steep their black teas at 195°F. I mean, I thought it might be because of a slightly bitter base that doesn’t come through when you steep it at a low temp, but I steeped this one boiling and there’s not a hint of bitterness (and it’s way better of a cup of black tea than the Victorian Earl Grey which I steeped at 195°F). In the end the flavor of this blend is like it’s aroma: very similar to the Praise Tea version, and very coconut-chocolatey. What I wish I had from this is some depth from the black tea base; right now it just kind of sits there and doesn’t contribute much to the overall flavor. I may be kind of ruined on chocolate teas by The Tea Spot’s. Still, I won’t have any problems drinking this, but it may take me a while since I probably won’t be craving it either.
The ingredients listed on my pouch of tea are slightly different from those on the website. When I created the listing for this tea I used the ingredients off the website, but here are the ingredients on my pouch: white tea, green tea, lime shreds, coconut shreds, pineapple bits, safflowers. The major differences being that the website lists lime granules, marigold blossoms instead of safflower, and no pineapple.
The leaf of the green and white mix looks pretty decent, and it smells incredibly limey. It’s somewhere between a key lime pie and a margarita. There was some kind of giant, dried white hunk of something in my leaf, but it seems to have disappeared after steeping. I fished another one out of the pouch and took a nibble, and it seems like some kind of freeze dried, concetrated lime dust… likely the “lime granules” listed in the ingredient list from the website.
Steeped it smells way less like a margarita, which is probably a good thing because I am at work. I actually can’t quite pinpoint the aroma right now… the lime is still there, but subdued, and there are some other scents that I just can’t place. The flavors are a little odd in that again they are hard to place, but the tea still adds up to be pretty tasty. It does taste a little like a key lime pie, or at least the filling, which I think is the coconut adding a creaminess to it. I don’t get any distinct pineapple, which apparently may or may not be in there anyway. The green/white tea flavors peek through a bit, which keeps it from being too candy-sweet over-the-top. I realized I have never had a lime-flavored tea, which might be why it seems odd to me, but I still am enjoying my cup.