10 Tasting Notes

82

“Honey Fragrance Oolong” is right — this tea doesn’t attempt to do a lot, but the one thing it does do it does really well. It has a light, sweet flavor with a strong honey flavor to it. The after taste is every-so-slightly grassy.

I ended up brewing this by warming the teapot, warming the tea cup, then awakening the leaves by giving them a brief flush of hot water, then by brewing them for about a minute. The resulting brew is fairly light colored (I used a little less than a teaspoon of leaves) and yellow artificial light of my office it was hard to tell if I’d brewed it long enough. I made a guess on the shorter brew time, taking a moment to smell the brew first just to make sure there was fragrance; I think the shorter brew time paid off. There isn’t a hint of bitterness in this brew.

Preparation
1 min, 0 sec

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78

I had this tea for breakfast this morning, with cream and sugar, and was quite happy with it. The scent of the tea is strong out of the tin, but brewing it tends to produce a mellow blackberry taste — not tart, but more like the flavor and sweetness you’d get from a blackberry pie rather than a fresh blackberry. The sage is a really lovely addition to the blackberry flavor. I don’t get a strong black tea flavor — and that’s just as well, since it turns out I don’t really like most black teas.

In the past, I’ve experimented with a range of brewing times — everything from swirling the bag until the water takes on color (say 1 1/2 minutes) to letting the bag steep until I’m done cooking breakfast (at least 8 minutes, probably more). It definitely gets bitter with longer steep times; I think a good steep time for a stronger flavor without the bitterness is probably around 3-4 minutes. I try to keep it to that time if I’m adding anything like honey, cream, or sugar. If I’m drinking it straight, I keep it to 2 minutes. I’ve also tried this tea iced, and I enjoy it that way.

I’ll probably continue to stock this tea for a long time, because it’s a comfort tea — perfect for me on my groggy, slow mornings or when I just need to curl up in bed with a book during a rainy day. Like most comfort foods, it might not be the best quality or have the most robust, complex, delicate flavors — but sometimes you just need a reliable, homey stand-by.

Preparation
Boiling

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42

This tea has a very distinct lemon flavor to it, and the rose and hibiscus are very noticeable. I have an on-and-off relationship with hibiscus, and while it’s obvious they made an effort to not have it overpower the rest of the tea, it is noticeable enough to really steal a lot of attention. I was looking for a subtle rose flavor with a touch of lemon, and this isn’t it. With the addition of honey, it takes on the taste of a floral hibiscus lemonade with some rose. Tart, sassy, sweet — but not quite what I was expecting or wanting from the “Lemon Rose” name.

It might make a really nice iced tea for a hot summer day, or a good tea for mixing up an Arnold Palmer… especially for someone who really loves hibiscus. As for me, it’s not bad and I’ll probably drink the bags I bought every now and then… but I’m not sure I’ll buy this box of teabags again.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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87
drank Genmaicha by Rishi Tea
10 tasting notes

I should start out by saying that the Rishi Tea Genmaicha I have is very old and probably stale. Sometime in 2004, a friend gave this to me as a gift after overhearing me rave about how much I like genmaicha. It was a wonderful, delicious gift, and I managed to use up about half of it before I had to move. Eight moves and later, I finally unpacked it and have been drinking it again.

Even when stale, this tea is amazing. It’s the only genmaicha I’ve seen where some of the rice has been popped. (You can see what look like miniature pieces of popcorn in the blend.) The scent out of the bag is grassy and nutty. The first few seconds of brewing it bring out an intensely nutty scent (yes, like sesame or peanut). After that, the toasted rice and green tea even out, and you’re left with an intensely flavorful and balanced cup of genmaicha.

I’m especially happy with this tea because it is so forgiving of brewing mistakes or bad brewing practice. If I accidentally over-steep this tea, which sometimes happens, it develops the taste similar to green tea blended with mugicha (roasted barley tea). It’s also pretty forgiving of steeping with water that’s too hot.

Preparation
2 min, 0 sec

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68
drank Snow Geisha by Teavana
10 tasting notes

I discovered this tea when I was browsing a Teavana shop wondering if they even had anything that wasn’t overwhelmingly sweet and candied. I like lighter teas for the most part, and I love sour cherries and cranberries, so this one caught my eye. I was initially wary of the candied fruit in the description, but decided to give it a try. I loved it.

When I went back to buy more, I didn’t try any in the store — just ordered an enormous refill and went home as usual. It tasted different (I didn’t realize until later that it was because they came up with a new blend), and it ended up on my back shelf for a month or so.

Recently, I’ve pulled this out and started drinking it again.

The smell in the canister is very medicinal and sharp — very similar to cherry cough syrup, like others say. It actually reminds me of the sharp scent of a codeine cough syrup I once got prescribed. It’s not a pleasant smell, in my opinion.

The first few times I brewed this, I used water at boiling temperature (because I’m lazy and I don’t really have tools to measure water temperature in my office right now) and let it seep for about two minutes. The resulting flavor was pretty awful. It was sharp, bitter, and unpleasant.

Thankfully, I was being extra lazy that day and rebrewed another cup from the same leaves. That cup turned out exactly how I wanted it to taste — sour, floral, without being too heavy, sweet, or bitter.

For some reason that gave me the idea of rinsing or awakening the leaves, much like an oolong tea. The next time I brewed it, I gave that a shot — heating the pot first, then adding the tea leaves, then adding hot water. I rinsed the leaves for about 10 seconds, and drained them. Then I added water and brewed it for 1 minute (the recommended brew time is 2 minutes). That turned out pretty good.

The next time I tried it, I did the same rinsing routine, but this time tried mixing the hot water with a little bit of cold before adding it to the pot (to reduce the water temperature), and I tried brewing it for even less time (45 seconds). This turned out even better: the taste is tart and fruity, without being bitter or astringent, and the scent carries cherries, cranberries, and roses.

I wouldn’t drink this if I were looking for a white tea — the fruitiness completely drowns out any traces of the white tea flavor. But for a sour, tart tea, this is pretty much the bee’s knees, as long as you take extra care when brewing it. If the tartness is too much, you can add sugar and it will balance out some of the sourness; I often do this when offering this tea to my friends or family.

Preparation
0 min, 45 sec

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100
reviewed Tea For One by Bodum
10 tasting notes

I got one of these in gray, and I love it. I use it all the time for loose-leaf tea when I’m just brewing for myself.

The clear walls allow me to see how the tea is brewing, but because they’re double walled I can still hold it even when it’s filled with steaming hot water. The tea filter is big enough to give the tea leaves a bit of room to expand, and does a great job filtering out pretty much everything solid. The lid also doubles as a holder for the filter, which means I don’t have to search around for a spare plate or something to rest it on or worry about dripping liquid everywhere. And it’s easy to clean. :)

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53
drank Sorapot by Joey Roth
10 tasting notes

The Sorapot sells for $200, which, in my opinion, is far too expensive for a teapot, even a designer teapot made in the United States and shipped in beautiful, ecologically friendly packaging. I managed to find a deal online and purchased this for $100 + tax and shipping (still a bit much in my mind).

The packaging for this product is beautiful, and the product is as well. The form of it is beautiful and sturdy. I actually cannot use this pot in my office when I’m in a hurry, because every time I’m in the kitchen with it, several people will notice it and start asking me what it is, how it works, and will then launch into a detailed conversation about their experience with tea and their opinions on it. I’ve never gotten a reaction like that based on a teapot before.

It does produce a good brew — giving tea leaves plenty of room to unfurl. It’s easy to get a visual indicator on brew time, because you can see the tea gaining color through the glass pot. And the metal mesh is a good filter — while it doesn’t trap fine particles, it does keep out lots of small particles, including rice from genmaicha and odd bits of herbs and fruits from herbal/fruit blends. It easy to clean out the filter afterward, because it’s so accessible. And the spout pours easily, without much block-up and almost no dripping.

However, there are several issues with the design/construction that would make me think twice about buying it if I had to make a decision to buy it again. For one, dissembling it for cleaning or filling is a hassle. The handle swings open and wide very easily, making it difficult to catch the glass container. I’m constantly worried about fumbling and dropping it and breaking the glass. The pot itself is also pretty heavy, so I’m always slightly concerned about pinching my fingers or skin — or even about accidentally slamming the glass hard enough to break it. Additionally, the glass container is just slender enough to be a pain to clean out. It’s too tight to fit a hand in, making it tough to scrub or dry out.

Also, because there isn’t any way of easily removing the leaves, I find it’s not worth using when I’m only preparing tea for myself — otherwise I end up with bitter tea.

Ricky

I was afraid of the glass breaking myself so I asked Joey about it a while back… I remember him mentioning that he would replace the glass for $20.

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76
drank Zen by Tazo
10 tasting notes

This tea strikes a balance between a nice green tea (nothing noteworthy, but definitely not a bad green) and a light, refreshing herbal tea.

The smell out of the bag is very grassy and minty. The recommended brewing time is 3 minutes — I tend to brew it two minutes or less, to keep the green tea from developing a more bitter taste and to keep the brew light and slightly watery (I don’t like heavy brews).

Overall, it reminds me of a Moroccan mint tea mixed with an herbal lemon verbena tea. The lemongrass adds a good citrusy flavor to round it out. This tea is a standby for me when I want something quick, light, easy to brew, and stimulating.

The main thing I don’t like about this blend is actually the name. Zen is a bit pretentious and cliche, and to trademark a tea name like Zen is just ridiculous.

Preparation
2 min, 0 sec

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41
drank Orange Blossom by Tazo
10 tasting notes

I bought this as an alternative to the Tazo Zen I’d gotten as an office tea at a new short-term contract. (I don’t really stock up my tea collection at work until I’m sure I’ll be there for a while.) I like orange blossom scents in perfumes, so I thought why not in tea? Also, I enjoy jasmine tea straight, so why not in an herbal blend?

The scent of the unbrewed tea in the bag was cloying. It was very sweet, and the berries and orange were pretty overpowering. It also had the scent of fennel — a bit like the dishes of fennel and candy at Indian restaurants — and since I don’t usually like licorice or fennel in my teas (I won’t drink Stash for this reason), I suddenly found myself regretting the purchase. I decided to try it anyhow, though.

Because it’s a green, I only brewed it for about 2 minutes. I prefer my teas light, so I removed the bag as soon as I saw the color really spread throughout the cup. The result was very light and floral. It tasted mainly of chamomile, with very difficult to taste hints of orange and berry and jasmine, and a distinct aftertaste of licorice (the fennel and tarragon coming through) followed by orange oil. The taste of the green tea was pretty much overpowered by the herbal elements.

It was an okay taste — there wasn’t too much licorice flavor, it wasn’t overpoweringly sweet, and I enjoy the flavor of chamomile. I’ve been very slowly using up the bags I purchased, but I doubt I’ll be getting a second box.

Preparation
2 min, 0 sec

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76
drank Zen by Tazo
10 tasting notes

Before I discovered how much I loved green, white, and oolong teas, I drank tea mainly because I enjoyed the flavor of herbal teas and fruit or spice flavored black teas. This tea strikes a balance between a nice green tea (nothing noteworthy, but definitely not a bad green) and a light, refreshing herbal tea. Overall, it reminds me of a Moroccan mint tea mixed with an herbal lemon verbena tea. The lemongrass adds a good citrusy flavor to round it out. This tea is a standby for me when I want something quick, light, easy to brew, and stimulating.

The main thing I don’t like about this blend is actually the name. Zen is a bit pretentious and cliche, and to trademark a tea name like Zen is just ridiculous.

Notes:

The smell out of the bag is very grassy and minty.

The recommended brewing time is 3 minutes — I tend to brew it two minutes or less, to keep the green tea from developing a more bitter taste and to keep the brew light and slightly watery (I don’t like heavy brews).

A previous tasting note mentions good quality tea bags — I agree. The teabags used for this blend are very high quality.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Angrboda

I completely agree about your reservations concerning the name.

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Bio

When I was a child, my mother used to make me tea: mainly herbal blends (chamomile, etc.) and flavored black teas (all fruit flavored). She also introduced me to Good Earth tea (Original Flavor). Occasionally, we’d also drink jasmine tea. We’d add a spoon full of honey to our tea and drink it together.

When I first tasted a plain non-herbal, non-flavored tea, I thought it was the grossest thing I’d ever tasted. It was horribly bitter, tannic, and I almost spat it out.

Later, someone introduced me to an artfully brewed oolong tea — which was nothing at all like the bitter, tannic vileness I’d drank several years earlier. This was… Light. Delicate. Amazing!

Since then, I’ve been trying out different teas here and there, and experimenting with brewing techniques as best I can. I still have a weakness for herbal blends and fruit flavored teas — and a cup of Good Earth is always welcome — but I’ve been spending more time drinking whites, greens, and oolongs.

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