319 Tasting Notes
So evidently when I made my first pot of Rhubarb Vanilla Ale this morning, I misread the instructions and used one teaspoon per cup rather than one tablespoon – whoops! Onto take two: this time, the base is stronger but still smooth and not smoky. The rhubarb and vanilla are coming through about as strongly as they did before. I am getting the hops, on the end of the sip and in the aftertaste, and I do find them slightly bitter and just weird-tasting. Still, they’re not strong enough to ruin an otherwise very pleasant cup of tea for me. I’m keeping my rating the same, just FYI.
First tea of my massive Black Friday Butiki order! This reminds me of Butiki’s Ruby Pie, although I think I slightly prefer the new blend. The dry leaf smells very sweet and fruity, but once steeped the aroma mellows. The flavor is fairly light, with some pleasant tartness – probably the rhubarb flavoring. The base is delightfully smooth, and surprisingly light for a Keemun. I don’t taste anything I can identify as hops, which is no bad thing as far as I’m concerned. I’ve tried one other tea with hops (not from Butiki) and found the flavor too assertively herbal – aggressively herbal, even – for my liking. I’m not picking up on the vanilla either, although there is a light sweetness that might be coming from that element of the blend (and probably also the safflower? I’ve always wondered what role that plays in blends…). This is very nice, if not a standout for me, and I’m pleased to know that hops in tea don’t necessarily have to be a dealbreaker!
This is my favorite from Celestial Seasonings. It’s not the best tisane in the world, but for what it is (and what it costs) it’s a pleasant cup. It’s sweet (but not too sweet, like certain other CS blends that will remain unnamed), with hints of vanilla and citrus, and the mouthfeel is pleasingly creamy – almost buttery, even. To me, it’s more vanilla frosting than sugar cookie. Like so many flavored teas and tisanes, it doesn’t taste quite as amazing as it smells. As others have mentioned, it really needs two bags for the full blast of flavor (especially if you’re anti-sweetener like me). And although I’ve never tried it this way, I bet it’d be great with a splash of soymilk – maybe I’ll do that for my next cup.
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!