126 Tasting Notes
I got a sample of this in my December Lupicia newsletter. Dry, the sachet smells very strong – mostly caramel, but there’s also a whiff of alcohol. The caramel’s slightly on the artificial side, like those mass-market cellophane-wrapped caramel squares. The aroma stays strong post-brewing, but the flavor’s weaker than I expected. It’s sweet, and that hint of alcohol does come through. I’m not sure I would’ve been able to identify caramel if I hadn’t known, though. On the plus side, the rooibos isn’t too strong or tobacco-y. There is a slightly strange note I can’t identify, or even describe properly – it’s kind of medicinal, I think, but that’s all I’ve got. I think it’s probably just the rooibos interacting differently with the caramel and rum flavors than it does with the fruits and spices I’m used to. All in all, this is a fairly pleasant caffeine-free cup but not something I’d stock.
Not good. I vaguely remember enjoying this at some point in the distant past, but either I’m remembering wrong or my tastes have changed. I really like ginger, and I’m into the idea of a nice gingery tisane for the winter, but this is not what I’m looking for. This is very sweet, and it’s not as gingery as I’d hoped it would be. I mean, there is quite a bit of ginger, but it’s overshadowed by whatever else is going on. I should note that I’m very much not a fan of sweetened teas or very sweet tisanes, and I’m sure this is coloring my impressions here.
I love the idea of Celestial Seasonings’ holiday blends – that combination of ice-skating gingerbread men or polar bears and nostalgia is hard to beat, I guess – and I do find Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride and Candy Cane Lane enjoyable. But this one’s just not a winner. If anyone’s interested in an almost-full box of this, let me know!
There’s a lot of hibiscus in here. There’s a lot of hibiscus in most of Celestial Seasonings’ herbals, actually – I see someone else noted that all of their berry blends taste the same, and it’s really true. Still, I find the berry thing they’ve got going on pretty pleasant. And this doesn’t not taste like blueberry – it’s about as tart as a sourer specimen, anyway. Not my favorite from Celestial Seasonings and probably not something I’ll restock, but not bad for what it is.
My mom picked a box of this up for me in Israel recently. And it’s actually pretty good for a bagged Earl Grey! The bergamot’s quite strong, which is a plus for me, and the base has a nice hint of smoke. The tea part of this tea could be a bit more pronounced, but I can live with that. It doesn’t measure up to my current favorite EG (Lupicia’s), but I wouldn’t expect it to. This will be good to have around for times when loose leaf’s just not feasible, definitely.
This is another sample received from either Nicole_Martin or Fuzzy_Peachkin at one of the NYC meetups. This is quite sweet and floral, but not offputtingly so – I find that some very green oolongs are just too strong on the honeysuckle front, but this one had enough savory and vegetal notes going on to keep things balanced in a way I was able to enjoy. Green TGYs aren’t my favorites, but this is certainly one of the nicest I’ve tried.
This is a nice delicate green – it’s a little bit floral and a little bit vegetal (spinach, more than grass or seaweed) and maybe just very faintly nutty. And I got four solid steeps out of the leaves – the later steeps were more vegetal, but without even approaching the point where I start feeling like I’m drinking leftover spinach-cooking water. I’ve really been enjoying Chinese greens lately, and this is no exception. Thanks to whoever gave me this sample – I’m 99% sure it was either Nicole_Martin or Fuzzy_Peachkin.
This tea is just as wonderful as everyone says it is—I’m often underwhelmed by the teas that are really popular on Steepster, but not this time! It really does taste like a springtime garden—I can’t identify the separate florals involved, but I can say that they merge into something really delightful. And although there’s no denying that this blend is strong on the florals, they’re not overwhelming or soapy or perfume-y. I can taste the (very green, fittingly) oolong, but it’s not the star of the show. The second steep was almost as good as the fist—a little lighter on the florals and heavier on the oolong, but not drastically different. Even my mom, who is not a fan of floral teas, thought this was pretty nice and something she might not mind drinking once in a while. Thanks for the sample, Fuzzy_Peachkin!
This is one seriously floral oolong. It’s very light, very sweet, almost entirely devoid of savory notes. It’s got that unidentifiable jasmine-but-not-jasmine thing going on, floral-wise—I shared this sample with my mom, and she said the floral note (which I’ve gotten in lots of other green oolongs, although never quite to this extent) is honeysuckle, so there you go. Although I’m generally all for floral, I’m finding it a bit much here. I’m used to TGYs being more savory and having a bit more depth, and I do prefer them that way.
In a shocking break from my usual, I did NOT brew this one western style—I actually followed Yezi’s instructions. It’s nice to brew like this once in a (very long) while I suppose, but mostly I was reminded of why I do prefer western style. I just really like settling in with a large (or even mid-sized) cup of tea and relaxing; I don’t find all the measuring and timing and general activity enjoyable. Anyway, this time I did four steeps, and I can’t say I noticed a ton of difference from steep to steep. I feel bad for not loving this tea, but I just didn’t. I can tell the quality is high, though, and I can see someone with different oolong preferences really enjoying it. Thanks for the sample, Nicole_Martin!
I received a sample of this tea with my Bellocq purchase a few months back and am just now getting around to trying it. This is very light—all I can taste is the bergamot, really. The bergamot’s natural and quite delicate; it’s pleasant, but not as assertive as I generally like in an Earl Grey (or Earl Grey-esque blend). The tea base is barely detectable—I can tell something’s there, but that’s it. I haven’t had much success with whit teas thus far—I haven’t tried a ton, but all the ones I’ve had seem lacking. I do tend to go for strong flavors, and I don’t think I’m particularly good at picking up subtle notes, so it could be that I’m just not going to be able to appreciate them properly. This isn’t a bad tea by any means, but there’s just not enough to hold my interest.
Too much cocoa. In that sense, this reminds me of the kinds of Chinese black teas I don’t really like—it’s lighter and less malty (although still quite malty for an oolong, I think) than those teas, but still. I’m not even sure I would’ve been able to identify this as an oolong if I hadn’t known; although it does have that light, refreshing oolong aftertaste it also has a lot of characteristics I tend to associate with black teas. In addition to the cocoa, there’s also some honey. There’s not much in the way of florals or roasted notes, which is a minus point for me as I love both those kinds of flavors in oolongs. For reference, I brewed this western style (as I brew most everything).
I got this sample from either Nicole_Martin or Fuzzy_Peachkin —thanks to whichever one of you it was, and thanks to both of you for letting me try some of Teavivre’s teas—although this wasn’t a huge hit, many of the teas I’ve sampled from them have been, and I’m looking forward to placing an order soon.