27 Tasting Notes
I bought tea advertised as “Osmanthus Oolong” by Tao of Tea, but the leaves I got are definitely a green oolong, not like the picture of the more deeply oxidized leaves! Mine are tightly rolled green leaves sprinkled with dainty little osmanthus flowers! I drink this pretty often since I got a big sack of it. I’m pretty relaxed about steeping times and temperature – I give the leaves a quick rinse to open them up, but then I use water that’s been boiled and has cooled off for a bit.
The first infusion, predictably, packs the most osmanthus flavor. The osmanthus combines with the oolong to create a bright apcricot inflected brew, with a sweet, fruity sparkling citrus quality and a lightly green floral tone. The apricot flavor reminds me more of dried than fresh apricot. It has a slightly astringent, sort of sour aftertaste, but that’s not necessarily a strike against it, as it seems in keeping with the fruity osmanthus flavor.
Subsequent infusions lose a lot of that sparkly quality and steer closer to the smoother, rounder flavor profile of a typical green oolong, but with a lingering fruity-floral finish. I usually get a good three or four infusions out of this tea before I move on! I like this tea in the mornings because of its refreshing, sunny flavor.
I have plenty of dried mint at home, but if I’m at work and manage to overeat, or eat something that doesn’t agree with me, I can easily find a bag of Mint Medley, and then I’m on my way to relief. There’s nothing fancy frou about a straight-up mint blend like this one, but does there need to be? This is more spearmint than peppermint, but both are present in this cooling cup. The only twist in Mint Medley is a light hit of that tart, quintessential ‘sour red herbal tea’ flavor from the rosehip and hibiscus – but it’s very slight, and if you’d rather not experience any of that in your mint tea – that tart flavor virtually disappears under the power of mint if you steep it for a bit longer.
This tulsi blend is a total staple in my tea cabinet, and at the prices available online, a total steal. You have no excuse not to have a bag full of tulsi in your kitchen! Right now I am sipping on tulsi I steeped with some lemon balm from the garden, and a little squeeze of extra lemon! I usually mix in some other things with my tulsi, because it is kind of plain by itself, and flavor lends itself exceptionally well to blends. You can drink it by itself, though – it has a smooth, mellow herbal character with notes akin to mint, clove, maybe a hint of pepper with most of the bite taken out.
The leaves and bits are fairly finely cut, but my usual tea strainers handle it just fine. If I’m drinking it straight, I usually use a heaping teaspoon per 8 oz. and steep for up five minutes. If I leave it in longer (some say the longer you steep the more you’ll get out of it), a bit of dull bitterness starts to come through.
I usually try to rate teas based on the quality of their flavor without any added mix-ins, but I have to give this herb extra points because of its fabulous medicinal/tonic properties. Tulsi promotes an overall sense of wellbeing, particularly mentally. It’s soothing and balancing. Great in times of stress, or for every day.
They only teas that my current workplace provides are Bigelow brand, so I’ve been revisiting the ones I’m familiar with and trying a couple new ones. Orange and Spice sounds like something I’d like, but the flavor if this is frankly, well… dreadful.
It smells odd. A bit like a craft store in October. Tastes spicy, but the orange fruitiness comes off as strangely medicinal. Now that I’m looking at the ingredients list again, I think I can safely say that I should probably stay away from any teas with chicory in them, and it’s probably unfair of me to go on here and rate any chicory tea. I’m hard pressed to describe the flavor of chicory because I hate it so much.
Earl Grey is a classic – for years it was my favorite type of black tea. :) The refined but uplifting citrus aroma of bergamot really plays beautifully with black tea.
In my opinion Bigelow makes one of the most dependable bagged Earl Greys. Their version is not my favorite Earl Grey in the world, but it’s everywhere and it’s often the best offering available when you’re out and about, in some tiny store or a hotel. Nothing revolutionary here, but the bergamot vs. black tea balance is just right. The tea is not too harsh, the bergamot is not too soapy. It’s just yummy, slightly floral, dandyish (bergamot just makes me think of Victorian gentlemen, haha) lemony sweet bergamot blended into smooth black tea. Easy to drink, and makes me feel a bit nostalgic. I may be biased, because I had this tea pretty often when I was a child.
For once the name of a product tells you everything you need to know. This is incredibly sour, incredibly strong lime. It has a dry, slightly bitter aftertaste. I find it impossible to drink on its own! I don’t mind some sourness – I’ll squeeze in some lemon or lime to unsweetened tea, and I can drink most hibiscus teas without sugar – but this super lime is on another level.
I could imagine this would be a very convenient tea for fans of lemon or lime flavors, as there is no need to cut open a fresh fruit. With some added honey, sugar, or other sweetener, this would be quite therapeutic hot, and very refreshing iced. However, I can’t help but give this a pretty mediocre rating, because it fails as a stand-alone beverage.
Black Raven tea… conjures up a moody, mysterious sort of image, doesn’t it? This tea delivers on its promise, but truth be told, lighter, more delicate teas are more my speed. This tea is dark, dark, dark!
It’s full-bodied and deep yet brisk. A two minute steep is plenty. It doesn’t get too bitter or astringent unless I forget about it and let it steep over five minutes. The deep tones of robust black tea are dyed even darker with the indigo purple blackcurrant flavor, which is added at pitch perfect levels – prominent, but restrained enough to leave the character of the tea leaves in the spotlight.
Now, my boyfriend thinks this smells a bit like cat pee, especially the leaves before they are steeped – but he says the same thing about almost every other blackcurrant flavored or fragranced thing. I can overlook that, having been exposed to blackcurrant flavor in teas and and jams since childhood.
Eastern Shore Tea company suggests that you steep this with a whole cinnamon stick and sweeten with brown sugar, and in fact, I can’t think of a better way to drink this tea. The warm and woody spice of good, fresh cinnamon adds extra depth and the richness of brown sugar takes it over the top. Perfect for a dark, stormy night… if you work nights and don’t plan on sleeping, that is. Maybe it’s the placebo effect of the intense flavor, but this seems to pack enough of a caffeine wallop that I prefer drinking it when I need a serious energy boost!
Chocolate Hazelnut… fabulous flavor combination. Who doesn’t love some Nutella? But this isn’t nutella… it’s decaf black tea. Hmmm. A lot of chocolate teas suffer from a weak flavor or an identity crisis.
The good news is that tea does not skimp on the flavor. The sweet hazelnut-vanilla-chocolate flavors impart a surprisingly creamy impression to the underlying black tea all by themselves, but this cup just begs for a splash of some milk or alternative creamer. The initial impression is intriguing, but then the lingering flavor feels more than a little artificial, like I liberally poured some flavored coffee creamer into my cup of black tea. I can imagine people who love flavored coffees lapping this one up with enthusiasm, but to me this just tastes a bit… trashy. Like the tea equivalent of junk food.
Organic Lemon Ginger Green tea by Stash is a cheap and convenient fix for your on-the-go ginger tea needs. Lemongrass is here to add lemony cheer, and there’s just enough green tea in this blend to soften the edges considerably. The ginger feels energizing with the bright lemony notes and smooth, subtle green tea finish, and then warm and soothing in the aftertaste – no overwhelming ginger punch to the face here. I’m surprised by some of the strongly negative reviews – there’s nothing revolutionary here, but a lemon ginger tea is a classic staple in my book, and this one works!
I love chai. I love chocolate. So why is this tea such a disaster? This does not have the flavor profile of any chai I’m familiar with, and it does not taste very chocolatey to me either. It’s not that I don’t like cacao nibs, which have a unique, raw, almost wine-like quality – in fact, I buy cacao nibs in bulk because of how often I use them.
The cacao and chai overtones are there, but the spices are skewed towards an odd curry-like savory direction. Vague, sickly sweetness and chicory root overpower a thin black tea component, and the whole thing has an oddly musty, dirty sock/fish vibe. There is no sweetener or creamer that can redeem this. This tea has been on the shelves for a while, so somebody is clearly buying it and enjoying it. I just tell myself that I got some crazy dud, because it disturbs me to imagine that somebody out there would have been depraved enough to enjoy the cup that I poured down the drain.