1918 Tasting Notes
Jasmine tea has been on my mind for a while now. Specifically Harney’s jasmine pearls, but I didn’t want to have them this late in my work day since I wouldn’t be able to get as many steeps out of them as they deserve. So I went for this jasmine to satisfy my craving for the moment. Certainly not as sweet and jasminey as the pearls, but still with a good dose of lovely floral jasmine.
Of course it’s kind of not working because it’s making me want the pearls more, but oh well.
Well, this is actually the last of the teas I brought back from Europe that I have yet to sample. I want to love Rose Earl Greys because I love both flavors, but I haven’t quite found one for me yet (admittedly I haven’t tried many!). I admit I’m a little worried about this one potentially having the same black tea base that I disliked on Tea Palace’s Earl Grey St Clements, but we’ll see. It certainly smells amazing dried: bright and citrusy bergamot, slightly sweet, with the floral rose undertones. The mix has lots of rose petals, some partial buds, and also bits of citrus peel in it.
Moment of truth (when it comes to the aroma at least, since I can usually tell if the black tea contains whatever mystery black I dislike)… not what I expected, but not bad either. The black tea base is what I smell here, with perhaps a hint of rose, but the bergamot has gotten lost. This isn’t the English Breakfast black tea base that the St Clements had, though, this is warmer, with spicy notes, perhaps with a bit of roasted grains. I’m still wary, but only a taste will tell.
Not bad. Not my favorite cup of tea, but certainly drinkable, and likely enjoyed by someone for more of a taste for unflavored black tea than me. I’m not really getting any bergamot or Earl Grey flavor at all, just a light, herby rose at the end of the sip and in the aftertaste. The primary flavors are from the black tea (origin unknown, unfortunately): a bit of pepper, some bright note, a roasted flavor, and a rather prickly mouthfeel. I’m afraid I’m pretty terrible at separating out all the myriad of notes that many people get out of a black tea, so sorry for the paltry description.
So I think I can pretty safely say that Tea Palace’s Earl Greys aren’t for me. At least I was able to get samples of them instead of buying more on aroma of the dry leaf alone (I’m really not sure how that strong of a bergamot aroma can just completely disappear, but it does).
This is a tea I’ve wanted to try for a while, so I was excited to get a sample from Jillian! A while ago I was on a specific hunt for my perfect Earl Grey, but now I’ve settled more into just trying EGs when I get a chance. Nevertheless, this one was always on my list to try since a lot of people seem to be fans.
I couldn’t get a ton of aroma from the dry tea, but brewed it smells fantastic. The bergamot is strong and at the front, but it’s not really in your face. It’s also has an amazing depth of aroma that I can hardly believe bergamot is the only flavoring. It’s got a sweet, smooth smell that reminds me of an EG creme (but not overly so). The black tea base is present with a touch of pepper, but it seems to boost the bergamot instead of merely competing with it.
It tastes good, but it doesn’t quite live up to the aroma for me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a great EG, but I won’t be too sad that it’s limited edition because it doesn’t blow me away like I was expecting from the aroma. The initially flavor on the sip is a little flat; maybe I need to steep for longer? It doesn’t seem to be bitter at all, so I may experiment with that next time. Anyway, the flavor really blooms late in the sip and in the aftertaste, and it does stay fairly true to the notes in the aroma, but fainter. I just wish the whole sip could be like that! It is well balanced, with a black tea base that I enjoy and a citrusy bergamot note rounding it out. Thanks again Jillian, I’m glad I got to try it!
I wanted a fruity tea this afternoon, and this one jumped out of my samples box at me. I picked this tea up with an assortment of other Revolution Tea sachets back at the beginning of May at a truck stop of all places. The dry leaf on this one smells really peachy. I can see through the sachet that the oolong is accompanied by a bunch of flower petals.
I went ahead and brewed this a full five minutes because if I recall correctly my experience with the other teas from this company was that they were a bit weak. The aroma is oolong-y; it says on the pouch that it’s a green oolong, but it smells more like a dark one to me, with a faint roasty aroma. The fruity peach notes are there in the background.
It may smell like a dark oolong (and look like one, from what I can see through the sachet), but it certainly has the leafy, vegetal taste of a green oolong. The peach/apricot flavor remains in the background of the flavor, subtley boosting the oolong itself. I peach flavors can taste medicinal to me sometimes, but this is a true, juicy fresh peach flavor (perhaps because it’s not over-flavored in the first place). I don’t get any ginger from this one, though it says it has some on the packet. I’m pleasantly surprised; I wasn’t expecting much out of this one, but it turned out pretty good after all.
I had most of this note written and then my browser crashed, boo. Anyway, this tea comes courtesy of Jillian, thanks! I’ve been interested in flavored oolongs since although I haven’t had a lot of them, I’ve enjoyed the ones I’ve tried so far. And this one is almond, so I’m definitely excited to try it because I love almond-flavored anything.
The scent of the dry tea isn’t very strong, but I definitely catch an almond aroma; nutty, not quite sweet marzipan-type almond. The brewed tea smells really nice. Almondy, yes (though again in more of an actual-nut kind of way), but also distinctly appley. It reminds me of apple-almond pastries.
The flavor is light, but tasty. I wish I had brewed it for a little longer, I think. The main flavor of the sip is really the oolong: a little bit fruity/floral, a little bit roasted (just a tad!) from the darker oolong. The taste isn’t as appley as the aroma, but I do get hints of it, which must just be coming from the oolong. The almond blooms at the tail of the sip and lingers primarily in the aftertaste, and its slightly more sweet-almond marzipan than in the aroma. All in all, a tasty tea and I look forward to trying it a couple more times with different steeping parameters.
I had a pot of this tea at the teapod tea shop in Covent Garden, so I’m interested to see how it brews up at home now. This time I can smell the dry leaf: very fragrant, and a bergamot that’s on the floral side, which matches up to the taste of the cup I had last time. There’s also that warmer, rounder orange aroma in the dry leaf (no doubt from the bits of orange peel in the mix).
The aroma of the brewed tea is primarily of the Ceylon base with the high, bright, somewhat floral note of the bergamot overlying it. This cups seems a tad oversteeped; perhaps I put too much leaf in, or the water in the tea shop wasn’t quite boiling, or somehow I steeped it longer. There’s a touch of bitterness now, and that lovely floral bergamot is more astringent and overwhelmed by the black tea base. Well, I guess this is one I’ll have to play around with to get right, but I know it has the potential to be delicious!
I needed a break from black teas after this morning, so I decided to go for this white tea. Another last minute addition to my Tea Palace samples, this is one of the first relatively additive-free white teas I’ve had. It has rosebuds, true (and lots of shattered rose petals in the leaf), but I have my doubts that they will add too much, since it’s not a true “rose-scented” tea. The dry leaves smell—I’m not joking—like dried leaves. Tree leaves, I guess, like fall. Once I got a whiff of rose in there as well. Besides rosebuds and petals, this blend appears to include rose leaves as well, which is probably where the dried leaf aroma is coming from.
I’m not sure if I trust the steeping instructions on this one (for one, how much is a “dessertspoon” of tea??), and I don’t have a default white steeping setting really. I may have oversteeped this one, but I have plenty to play around with to see how everything changes. The liquor is a dark yellow/light amber, which is darker than I was expecting, and it has a light aroma that’s leafy with a faint rose undertone.
I probably don’t have a subtle enough palate for a tea like this, but I’m enjoying it all the same. I’m getting that leafy note that’s persisted through all phases of this, and a light rose note lingering at the end of the sip. The rose isn’t very sweet, but it’s more of a vegetal rose if that makes sense—not rose candy, actual roses on the bush. As in most cases, I would usually go for a more highly perfumed tea. This one’s good, but it doesn’t quite blow me away.
Even though Earl Greys are some of my favorite teas, I didn’t buy many while I was in Europe because I wanted to reserve the precious space in my luggage for (for the most part) more unusual blends. But when it came down to picking extra samples at Tea Palace, being unprepared, I fell back on some versions of Earl Grey that sounded interesting. This is one of those EGs that is combined with other citrus besides bergamot, which I’ve usually enjoyed. The tea definitely matches its photo: this thing is jam packed with fairly sizeable hunks of orange and lemon rind. The dry leaf smells like a bergamotty EG, but perhaps a tad sweeter—if bergamot is a high, bright note, the orange fills in the bottom and is warmer.
As is often the case, the strong flavored notes are much more subdued in the brewed tea. Here the black tea base is at the forefront and it smells a bit like an English Breakfast blend, actually. Which is a bit disconcerting, as I’m not the biggest fan of most English Breakfasts.
When very hot, it definitely reminds me of an English Breakfast. Cooled a bit the bergamot starts to come out, adding a high bright note, but it still tastes primarily like the black tea. Disappointing for me; I was expecting more flavor from the added orange and lemon. I wish Tea Palace would said what black teas went into their blends (on other Earl Greys they say “China Blacks”… not that helpful). I can imagine some people really enjoying this, as it’s not highly bergamot flavored and is really all about the black tea base, but I’m not really one of those people, unfortunately.
Its funny, because it seems like a lot of people get into tea on flavored tea blends, then move toward unflavored and purer teas. True, I got into tea with flavored teas, but I went through a period where I enjoyed plain black tea (and I’m talking about a straight up English Breakfast or something like that, not the high quality single-source blacks which I haven’t tried many of), but now I really do not like it. It may be one particular tea in the blend that I’m reacting to (Assam perhaps?), but I don’t know because I can’t really parse them out. I guess even though I’m not a plain black drinker, maybe I need to do a tasting of a bunch of different single-source plain blacks just to figure them all out.
When I went on Tea Palace’s website before my trip to London to scope out the teas I was going to buy (that’s right, I was that prepared), this one piqued my interest because I do enjoy rose and mallow blossoms, but I wasn’t sure about it. Then I tasted a sample in the shop and I was sold. The flat leaves of the sencha green tea have a ton of flower petals mixed, both roses and mallows.
I no longer remember what exactly the sample tasted like, but the dried leaves smell remarkably fruity. I wanted to say passionfruit, but then I smelled it back to back with Passionate Rose and Blue Sky is brighter and more citrusy, but with a rosey floral overtone. There’s a warm sweetness underlying it; I’m pretty sure that’s the mallow flowers. The liquor is still a very pale yellow after 3 minutes, but it’s a very fragrant brew. The brewed tea is more subdued in aroma, with the grassy green sencha coming through. The fruity note has resolved itself into a more floral aroma, though still with a definite sweetness.
The flavor gives the feeling of dense, fragant florals. The rose is the primary note, but the mallow rounds things out a bit I think. It has a lovely natural sweetness, almost like fine jasmine pearls (but not jasmine in flavor). It is the nectar sweetness that comes from outstanding florals; I’m beginning to realize how much I love that in a tea. The tea has a soft tartness (is that an oxymoron?) as well, reinforcing a tropical fruit feeling (mango? passion?), but overall this is a floral tea. The green tea provides a grounding backdrop, like being in a lush flower garden (you not only smell the flowers, but the soft fragrance of the greenery all around them).
Now I’m remembering why I was sold on this tea! Delicious, and it fits in well with where my taste buds have been taking me lately.
ETA: I don’t always resteep, but this one told me to. The second steep (same parameters as the first) is equally delicious: still slightly sweet, floral, lovely, but this time with a bit more grassiness coming through from the green tea.
This is the only tea I brought back from Poland. By the time I got to Warsaw, I was experiencing some tea-buying fatigue (believe it or not!), so I said I wouldn’t buy any tea there. But I had passed a tea shop a couple of times, and an adorable tin in the window with a European Robin on it drew me in. I could get the small tin filled with effectively a sample size of any tea, and I immediately chose Mnichów (the pronunciation of which I completely butchered when ordering it… I’m lucky he understood me enough!).
I had a pot of Mnichów (Polish for “monks”, i.e., Monk’s Blend) at a tea place in Warsaw earlier, which I liked and was generally intrigued by, but the tea house didn’t sell their teas dry. This one I have no description for, but the smell of the dry leaves indicate it’s probably a fairly traditional Monk’s Blend. What that means… well, the descriptions for the Polish tea Mnichów that I’ve found online indicate a bergamot, jasmine and vanilla flavor is standard. Sometimes no vanilla, but this one definitely includes it. This is not quite the same it seems as most Monk’s Blends in the states, which seem to be primarily vanilla and grenadine (exception: Upton’s, which is more like the Polish blend). Oh yeah, and this one is actually a black/green blend (again, I found out after steeping when the difference is more obvious). All of this makes me feel pretty dense because quite obviously this tea is very similar to the last tea I reviewed, Thé au Tibet by Mariage Freres. Perhaps that one is really more properly Thé au Tibetan Monks.
As I mentioned, the dry tea leaves definitely have notes of vanilla, bergamot and jasmine to their aroma. There is also a distinct chocolate aroma, which is surprising. (spoiler: this doesn’t show up in the taste). The aroma of the brewed tea is very vanilla, though I do detect the bergamot adding a high, citrusy note. Sometimes I think jasmine florals can almost smell a bit earthy when in a blend with other flavors, and I’m getting that here as well.
This is another one I’ll have to steep at a lower temperature to really get a feel for (darn hiding green tea leaves!), but it the vanilla flavor isn’t as omnipresent as I expected. It’s light, especially as the tea cools, but definitely detectable in the background. It’s overall fairly floral, the bergamot lingering at the tail of the sip. The jasmine is floral but on the earthier side and not honeysuckle-sweet. It’s a good blend, and I can’t complain about the flavor combination. I think I prefer the blend of these flavors in Thé au Tibet, but I also think I need to try both again at a lower temperature to really know.