276 Tasting Notes
So this is that morning when I’m having a hard time getting going (not to imply that most of my mornings are otherwise…). But anyway, I’m drinking this tea, and it’s just perfect. It’s strong and deep and malty and, surprisingly (since I used a lot of leaf and steeped for a long time and didn’t pay much attention to brewing parameters generally), quite smooth. There’s some astringency, but I actually like that in a tea. This may not be a refined masterwork of a blend, but it’s really hitting this particular (sleep deprived and morning hating) spot for me in a way that not too many teas can.
So even though I’ve more or less come to the conclusion that pumpkin tea is a). kind of a strange concept and b). not for me, I’d been curious about this tea for a while. Not curious enough to want to spend my meager tea budget and storage space on it – in addition to the pumpkin tea thing, I’m also a little weirded out by teas with sprinkles and similar – but curious nonetheless. So I was very grateful when someone at the NYC meetup – I think it was Teamore? – offered me a sample.
Onto the tea – I’m mostly getting cinnamon. There’s also quite a bit of sweetness. The black base is smooth and seems pleasant, but it’s overpowered by the strength of the cinnamon. I’m not tasting any pumpkin, or even what I’d consider a pumpkin pie spice blend – there’s no ginger or nutmeg, and in my book those are both pretty essential. Plus I just really like ginger. I am getting a strange sour aftertaste – I suppose this could be the pumpkin flavoring (which is clearly not working for me if this is the case), or maybe it’s the lemon peel? It’s not terribly strong, but it’s also not terribly pleasant.
For reference, I steeped this according to the instructions, no additives. I imagine I might be able to yield a slightly better result if I had enough of this to play around with, but I do not and don’t plan to buy more. Definitely glad to have been able to try this one, even if it’s decidedly not the tea for me.
This is another sample from the NYC meetup, courtesy of Nicole Martin. It’s pretty good – it reminds me a little bit of Paradise Tropical Tea, which is (in my opinion) a good thing. The flavoring is on the assertive side. I’m getting mostly generic tropical fruit; I see that mango and passionfruit are mentioned in the description on Art of Tea’s site. There’s a faint floral undertone to it, but it’s much subtler. And even with all of that going on, the base (Ceylon?) manages to come through nicely. I’m drinking it iced (brewed hot, then chilled), for reference.
I’m finishing off this sample now, and, despite having paid no attention to timing or leaf/water ratio, I’m enjoying it quite a bit more than I did yesterday. I’m definitely using less leaf and more water this team, and I let the tea steep for much longer (like over ten minutes…). Also, cooler water. It’s still extremely astringent – more so, actually – but that strange herbal aftertaste is almost gone and I’m getting more of what I consider a standard Darjeeling profile. Still not my favorite, but much more enjoyable.
This is the last (to be reviewed) tea from my Happy Bag from January. Dry, it smells exactly like peach gummies (and looks gorgeous!). Steeped, the vanilla is stronger than the peach – although the peach is quite present too. The overall effect is very floral – perfume-y, even. I’m usually all for the strong florals, but even I’m finding this a bit much. The mouthfeel is quite creamy, probably due to the vanilla. I’m also getting honey, although I’m pretty sure there’s no honey or honey flavoring.
The base – or what I can taste of it underneath the quite strong flavoring – is fine, if unremarkable. When very hot it’s slightly vegetal, which isn’t a quality I enjoy alongside fruit flavoring, but as the tea cools the base recedes into the background. I’ve tried this hot and iced (brewed hot, then chilled); it’s pleasant both ways but I tend to prefer most flavoured greens iced, so that’s how I’ll be finishing off my bag.
The apricot flavor comes through nicely. The green base is light and delicate. This is my first time trying a tea with hops, and I’m not entirely sure what they’re supposed to taste like. I’m not getting anything malty or beer-like, but there is a vaguely herbal flavor – maybe that’s it? I can’t say it especially appeals to me, but it is something different. Thanks for this sample, Nicole Martin!
This is very dry and grassy, even by Darjeeling standards. It’s quite astringent as well. There’s an unexpected (to me, anyway) herbal aroma I’m not liking very much. I’m glad to have had the chance to try this and will certainly be finishing my cup, but it’s definitely not my favorite Darjeeling. This is another sample from Nicole Martin – or at least I think this is what it was!
This is very pleasant – roasty, earthy, and woodsy. It’s not at all vegetal or seaweedy, and in general I’d say the flavor profile is fairly subdued – it’s like a less exuberant genmaicha. I was looking for something straightforward and soothing this morning, and this tea fit the bill. I can see it being pleasant iced as well. In the interest of full disclosure, I did brew this western-style (3-minute steep) – I find it results in a more relaxing and enjoyable tea-drinking experience for me.
This is very different from other Russian Caravans I’ve had, and from what I’d expected – I bought this in the shop, and the bins at Porto Rico are just labelled with names, not descriptions. It’s mostly oolong (something on the greener side; I’m not equipped to say anything more than that) with a bit of green (something Chinese, I’d imagine, and not particularly vegetal). It’s not at all smoky, and I don’t think there’s any black tea in the mix. It’s a perfectly drinkable blend, but nothing really special.