Is it as spicy as advertised? Oh yes, yes it is. Yet somehow, it manages to be sweet enough on its own for my liking. A little splash of milk is nice, and the flavor is indeed intense — but it doesn’t need sugar! I really like the balance of this chai. It’s not wussy, it’s not clingy, it’s delightfully aromatic, and it warms me down to my tippy-toes. Granted, it’s an unusually warm day today (January in Chicago should not see me walking outside in a hoodie). But it’s also incredibly windy, and that wind really whips right through you and chills you to the bone. A wonderful afternoon tea, and I’m sure I’ll love it more when it gets cold again. I’ll write another tasting note about my experience of this tea with milk next time — as most chai is usually served.
58 Tasting Notes
This tea comes in huge sachets. I mean HUGE. You need a really big mug (or pot) to brew it. But it smells exactly like perfectly roasted corn, with all the nice charred bits of husk on the outside.
The taste is smoky, sweet, and immensely satisfying — especially on single-digit-degree days, when you’re freezing. A big mug of this and a huge bowl of whatever warm food makes you happy (congee, porridge, stew, soup, whatever), and you’re good. Or at least, I am. NOM.
Part of Doulton’s Nabokov prize!
It says what it does and it does what it says. The keemun and assam play delightfully together, balancing very nicely with the barest inkling of smoke.
A very nice way to start a fairly blah day. I started drinking this while watching three crazy squirrels chase each other through my yard, over my fence, into my neighbour’s yard, over their shed, and up a few trees. It also stood up nicely as an accompaniment to a fresh tarragon and parmesan omelette with turkey bacon. :9
All in all, a truly decent cup of tea, and one I’d be delighted to find in any non-tea-specialist restaurant or shop. I usually avoid ordering tea from most places, as I know they’ll probably only have Lipton…XD
Part of Doulton’s Nabokov prize!
This wasn’t loose. It was bagged. But what a bag! It’s a very neat little bag, looks possibly hand-sewn. I haven’t yet seen another teabag like it. Not sure what the material is, but it’s not like those little silky bags everyone seems to be using nowadays. Whippersnappers. But I digress, as usual!
I…wouldn’t have known what this was, upon tasting. I mean, yes, I’d have known that it was black, but it wasn’t anything remarkable. I was a little disappointed, especially reading that description. It sounds like something that would have been right up my alley, you know? I didn’t get any of the spices, nor the orange peel. It was just…flat. Not bad, but not really remarkable either.
Still, it put Kate Bush’s “Babooshka” in my head. Which can’t be a bad thing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHwiMgkp8wg
Part of Doulton’s Nabokov Prize!
I see Doulton’s on a mission, here. Clearly. ;) And it looks like she’s winning more converts with every steep!
The first thing I got was smoke, but warm, comforting smoke. And dulce de leche. Smoky dulce de leche, then. Like smoky, comforting, familiar trenchcoat. Which is appropriate! The smell and taste are both classic. The colour is a rich, warm amber that suggests maple syrup.
The most this needs is an eensy bit of raw sugar. I’m talking tiny. The thing about sugar is, like salt, it’s a flavour enhancer more than anything else. It shouldn’t dominate (well, OK, except in sugar cookies and rock candy); it should only compliment. Don’t add cream, whatever you do. I did, thinking a tiny drop would enhance the creaminess, but it was too much. It overwhelmed the lovely delicacy of this tea.
Before the cream, it was a lovely, sinuous, wafting thing. Like a smoking jacket belonging to someone who only smoked really nice tobacco in a pipe for years, perhaps taking it in the library after dinner with a snifter of single-malt.
Trenchcoat, smoking jacket. I’m sensing a theme. No fedora, though. Definitely no fedora. ;)
Another from Doulton’s Nabokov package!
The smell is pure homemade caramel, and no mistake. The taste brings out more of the pear and chocolate, and the whole thing coats the inside of your mouth in a most delightful way—-again, like homemade caramel (not those nasty hard things you find in the candy aisle). It’s like a decadent, desserty caramel treat without sticking to your teeth. This tea doesn’t need anything, although I believe a drop of cream or two wouldn’t go amiss. Then it’d be like dulce de leche/latte, depending on who you are and what you like to order. :)
Dessert heaven. I feel like this would probably be redundant at an afternoon tea, simply because you wouldn’t really need any tea cakes or other sweet nibbles with it. :)
Part of the Nabokov prize package! (Thanks again, Doulton!) :9
Oh my. This was the first thing I smelled when I opened that prize package, and there was a LOT of tea in that little box. This was in a tin, too, so it’s slightly surprising that this won out.
But oh. I was worried. It smelled divine dry, as others have noted. It smelled even more divine after I poured boiling water over it. As it steeped, the rich hazelnutty chocolate smell pervaded the entire first floor of my house. It’s a hell of a thing to experience first thing in the morning! (Starting a day on such a note, really, how could your day possibly go anywhere but downhill from there?!? XD)
It’s delightful, yet nerve-wrecking. Smelling it, you think to yourself, how could this possibly taste as good as it smells? No way it can. No. Way.
And it’s…surprisingly light. Full-bodied, yes, but lighter in colour than expected when fully brewed. It doesn’t coat your mouth the way you’d think on smelling it. Which is actually a good thing, because it smells like one of those decadent desserts that you can only eat a few bites of before you have to doggie bag it. Because this is lighter than expected, I was able to drink the whole pot over the course of a couple hours.
Added a teeny tiny bit of raw sugar to it, but that’s it. Later, I may try a spot of some sort of milky-thing, or soy creamer. Update to follow. Man oh man, the Nutella comparisons are apt, except that’s chocolatier and this is hazelnuttier (technical terms, yes). I can’t wait to try this with my banana/Nutella crepes. :9
TTB strikes again!
This smells like heaven and tastes twice as good. I’d almost be tempted to chew the tea leaves, if I didn’t know that I could resteep them at least a few more times and have more of this lovely, lovely tea.
The smell is intoxicatingly ethereal. It’s a bit vegetal and floral, as everyone has said…but what they haven’t noted is that it smells like a lush night-blooming garden in the heat of deepest summer. It’s not cloying, but it does surround you and infiltrate every sense. It may even permeate your skin, I’m not sure. Since I’ve been sniffing at it ever since I opened the bag, I’m hardly an objective judge! ;)
The taste is light, full, and tantalizing. It’s a bit like you’re drinking summer.
Norbu is apparently having a sale right now on this tea, too. End of Vintage sale, 25% off any quantity. Oh holy monkey, do I need some. .
“Nothing beats the taste sensation when maple syrup loud handclap collides with ham!”
—-Special Agent Dale Cooper
Ham, this isn’t. But smoked ham and smoked bacon are close enough (well, before they’re cooked, and leaving arguments over back bacon and streaky bacon aside), I say it counts! ;)
Moving onward: In the tin, it smells very, very smoky. With a hint of salt. Kind of like the rub you put on bacon as you’re preparing to cure it (minus the cold, greasy hands).
As it brews, there’s a hit of maple in the scent. The taste is much more of a smoked bacon affair, but the maple lingers in the scent. If you want to amp the maple, try pouring a little maple syrup in.
If you’re an anti-carb person but miss BLTs, wrap some lettuce around some juicy, ripe tomato slices and munch it with a mug of this. No bacony mouthfeel, but still very tasty! (I won’t be held responsible if you decide to use mayonnaise as an additive, though. ;) )
It’s surprisingly good. I felt compelled to try it, just by virtue of its existence. I’d probably not want to drink it at night…but then, I don’t usually go in for heavy black teas at night anyway. :)
Second cup (but not second steep)!
This time, I’m armed with those molasses maple cookies I made earlier. I heated a few of them up slightly, because they’re best when warm.
Do “cookies” count as an additive? Because unless it’s for a specific reason, I don’t normally put anything in my tea anymore. Earl Greys require a little milk for me, and perhaps a little sugar. A few other teas might as well, on a case-by-case basis. With honey, I have to be certain of what I’m pouring it into, because I tend to use really nice honeys that have so much character on their own, I want to make sure I’m not compromising the flavour of my tea with my honey.
Anyway, I started out intending to just drink this cup and nibble a couple of warm molasses cookies. I quickly found myself dunking them instead.
THEY WORK QUITE WELL TOGETHER, I’D SAY.
I let it go a little longer this time, mainly because that seems to help on resteeping. This holds up well to that treatment, and comes out slightly smoother but still rather flavorful. The perfume is still there, but much fainter, like a sachet of potpourri in your sock drawer. (What is it with me, socks, and this tea, anyway?! LOL)
Anyway, I timed the tea so it would be ready when my cookies were. I made some chewy molasses maple cookies, lightly spiced. They’re just a little crispy around the edges, and soft and chewy everywhere else.
It is heaven. Though, to be fair, these cookies would probably be good with a lot of black teas. I’ll be trying them with the aforementioned Molasses Chocolate Crackle next.
Homemade cookies/biscuits/cakes/whatever really do make EVERYTHING better. :9
In the package, it smelled comfortingly familiar, if a little faint. I decided it was worth a try.
As soon as the water hit it, the comforting, soothing smell increased. I want to say it’s almost like your favourite perfume, smelled from far away. Wafting on the breeze, teasing you to come find its source. Except, you know, I was standing right over the mug, watching and waiting. But I digress.
It quickly turned a reassuring dark brown, as you’d expect. The smell never changed, the longer it steeped—-only the colour.
On first sip, it’s remarkably smooth and velvety. The flavour is familiar and more-ish, but not overwhelming. The slight aftertaste is nice, though. Like a lingering sigh of tea.
I’m a big fan of black teas, especially first thing in the morning. While there’s no way this could ever hope to replace my beloved Yorkshire as my go-to first-thing-in-the-morning black tea, it’s not bad! Not overwhelming, and not particularly surprising…but kind of like that comfortable pair of socks you had that you forgot about. And then found when you were cleaning under the couch.
Per Lena’s review, and a story from Cofftea yesterday, I think I’m gonna have to bake some cookies later on to try this again. I’ll update if I do. ;)
I’m a fan of almost anything involving pumpkin. Still, I’m wary of pumpkin-flavoured teas. They usually only disappoint.
This smelled really good in the package, though. More like pie than I was expecting.
The steeping turned out the same…like raw pumpkin mixed with the spices before you mix in any milk or sugar. Or like filling for tortelli di zucca before you add ricotta.
Next time, I’m trying it with milk. This is the best pumpkin spiced tea I’ve tried so far. It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better than most of the others. Stash’s is just a world of no. Peet’s as well.
This came from the TTB, and was apparently created by someone called Sara Schneider.
This tea smells somewhat smoky, and just like what you’d expect molasses and chocolate to smell like when combined with a black tea blend.
Since it had no time/temp/instructions, I did the standard 1 tsp/212F/5 minutes that I usually use for black teas when I have no other direction. Verdict: quite smooth, not too sweet. it’s like molasses and a hint of very dark chocolate mixed with black tea, but not overpowering. Very nicely balanced. Sometimes chocolate teas worry me, because they can easily get out of hand. This is my first try of one involving molasses, but as a big fan of molasses (and someone who frequently cooks and bakes with it), I know firsthand how easy it is for it to get out of control.
Well done. The resteep was lovely, too. Definite winner, and needs nothing at all added to it. :9
It sound ominous, doesn’t it? “Ginger Drink.” Reminds me of drinking Malk, now with Vitamin R! ;)
Let me assure you that this isn’t ominous at all. It’s dehydrated ginger and honey, and that’s it. It is also the second most brilliant thing ever when you are sick.
Feeling nauseous? Drink some of this. Sniffly, throat hurting, feeling achy and generally terrible? Drink some of this. It’ll perk you right up, seriously. Boiling water, maybe a little milk, and you’re good.
I may love it because of family associations, though. Y’see, my aunt had this family remedy for illness. Peel + slice up fresh ginger, then boil in a pot of water until the water gets really, really gingery. Pour it into your mug over crushed red chilli pepper flakes. Add a little honey or sugar if you like to sweeten it up. Milk also acceptable.
She was right, too. I felt better every time. The combination of ginger and chilli peppers can lick just about any feeling of sickness.
This is a lot like that, only with less effort involved. When you’re sick, chances are good you probably don’t feel like peeling ginger. (The slicing’s easy, but peeling ginger sucks out loud.) I’ve got a stockpile of this on hand for anytime I’m feeling at all under the weather. :)
I have some serious a$$-kicking work to do today, so I thought it was time to bust this out again. My pack is a couple of years old—-I originally had it sitting in my desk at the library at which I used to work, when I was trying different ways of waking myself up in the morning.
At any rate, despite it being a couple of years old, this mate actually lasts really, really well. It doesn’t taste at all old or musty, and while a 5-minute steep may seem a little long, it’s really not much at all (especially considering that I usually am all about strong black teas).
Totally brilliant, I am very awake and focused, just as I need to be. Now, after having written this review, back to work with me—-as mentioned earlier, I’ve got a lot to do today. :)
No notes yet.
Oho. Ohoho. OhohohoHO. YES.
As noted in my last tasting note about this tea, I’d decided i was going to try it with a little milk the next time I brewed myself a cup.
I didn’t end up using milk.
What I did use, instead, was a little cream. Normal heavy cream, nothing special…of which I had only a tiny amount left due to having mixed up a batch of cream scones for breakfast this morning.
That little bit of cream + the 1/2 teaspoon of sugar + this tea steeped for 3 minutes? MAGIC. This has now shot to the top of my list of the most perfect winter drinks EVER. The chestnut flavour is now exceedingly smooth, warm, invigorating, and comforting. It’s like the softest baby alpaca scarf for your throat. You just want to keep petting it and petting it, and it’s so light and delicious and yet so warm and satisfying.
In conclusion, my hat’s truly off to whomever it was on Lupicia’s site who expounded upon the virtues of this particular tea when taken with milk. IMHO, it’s now indispensable…much like my preferred method with Earl Grey. Positively delightful, and if this is a harbinger of how 2010 is going to shake out, I am ALL FOR IT. Roll on 2010 and Joyeux Noël! I’m only sorry I don’t have a lot more of the latter!
Same amount of time, same conditions, same amount of sugar. It’s lighter, but still quite mellow and nutty. The flavor is so strong, I bet some people might even be able to get a third steep out of this, but I’m not gonna try it. Instead, I’m going to try a new bag next time with a little milk like someone reviewing this on Lupicia’s website suggests. :)
In conclusion, this tea reminds me of Kaitou Saint Tail. :)
Upon opening the package and smelling this tea, even before steeping, it’s got a slightly toffee aroma. Not overly-sweet, but sort of dark and sweet and almost like…actually, no. It’s more like marzipan than toffee. As I said, not overly-sweet.
As it steeps, it turns a pleasant reddish-brown colour, as you can see in the stock photo. Actually, as it gets closer to time (I steeped for the full 3 minutes, as I like most teas stronger rather than weaker), the reddish brown gets a little deeper…almost like the skin of a chestnut. Very nice. The smell of chestnuts gets stronger, too. I grow more apprehensive…I like roasted chestnuts well enough, but I’m not sure how I feel about warm chestnut juice. Hrrm.
First sip is pleasantly toasty and mellow, with none of even the “subtle bitterness” the description describes. A half-teaspoon of sugar gives it that tiny little bit of levity it needed, and now the chestnut flavour is bright and vibrant. It really does taste exactly like roasted chestnuts! (I’ve no clue about the Paris part, as I unfortunately have yet to go there. Though I think we may have driven past Paris, Texas once upon a time. But I digress, as usual. :) )
There’s not much tea taste underneath the chestnut, but at the same time, I wouldn’t say that the chestnut is overpowering. It’s more like they’ve melded together so well that I can’t distinguish them.
While I don’t use it as much in daily life as I’d perhaps like, I’m still awfully glad I’ve retained some of my Japanese, if only so I can read tea boxes and steep my tea at the right temperature for the right amount of time. Although this came from a new package my friend in Hawaii sent me (that arrived just yesterday, bursting with tea, eeee!), this tea was made in Tokyo…and so was the box. XD
Haven’t had any of this in awhile, and I only had two bags left, and I’ve been working on a three-day panettone project that I FINALLY stuck in the oven this morning. So a nice, delicate, orange-spiced-black tea really seemed like a good idea first thing in the morning! :D
I love how Lupicia has somehow managed to harness their scent of orange flower so that it isn’t cloying or overpowering in the least. Instead, it’s almost mildly intoxicating. You can see the pink peppercorns, but you can’t really smell them when you first open the package. That doesn’t come until later.
This is another one where Lupicia recommends boiling water for 3-5 minutes. No problem; 5 minutes it is. :)
The first taste is suggestive of more, and also suggestive that just a hint of sugar (maybe 1/2 teaspoon?) would stand it in excellent stead. And it does. (I love honey in tea, but I usually only break it out if I significantly want to alter the flavour of whatever I’m drinking, because it’s got such a distinct flavour of its own.)
Here’s where you smell the pink peppercorn, and slightly taste it as well. It’s not biting or sharp, but it adds a certain zing to that orange/black tea combo. This tea tastes like memories, and is a deep amber in colour that it reaches after about 4 minutes of brewing.
Meanwhile, the panettone is baking up beautifully and is almost done. The house smells heavenly right now. I can’t wait to try it. Happy Festivus, everyone! :D
Holy monkey, smell that vanilla!
The vanilla scent is immediately intoxicating upon opening the package. There’s something pretty and blue amongst the leaves, too, and I’m not quite sure what it is…along with the chunklets of dried pineapple and coconut shavings in the tea.
The vanilla scent vanishes directly after pouring the water over the tea, but comes back in a slightly mellower way after a minute or so of steeping. Pineapple and coconut scents aren’t really evident, but you do get some mellow, sweet pineapple flavour, as well as a hint of coconut toward the end of each sip. The coconut is the only flavour that lingers in the aftertaste as well. It’s not strong, but it’s definitely there—-more like an intangible idea than an actuality.
As for the tea itself, it’s slightly weaker than I usually like. Perhaps I should have flouted Lupicia’s rules and gone for 6 minutes. If the tea were stronger, I’d probably have liked this more. I was worried the vanilla might be overpowering since it smelled so strongly when first opened, but it was actually quite nice.
It’s quite nice to look at, a rather nice dark gold with coppery undertones. :)
(Side note: Lupicia recommends 3-5 minutes for steep time, using boiling water. Generally, when I brew most teas, I tend to veer toward the longest time suggested because I prefer a stronger brew. )
Resteeped! As expected, it’s much more subtle. Still a lovely amber hue, but a bit fainter. The taste is like that as well. It’s lost a bit of its smokiness…more like banked embers still glowing and winking, not hissing and spitting and erupting in flame.
The delicate floral notes that were detectable pretty much only through the aroma are now completely gone. It’s definitely nice, though. I don’t mind.
In summary, if the first steep reminds you of tropical volcanos, the resteep is more like a photograph. On first steep, you’re completely there and savoring the moment, living the experience out and letting the lava flow. On resteep, you’re looking at photos of your last vacation and reminiscing about how great it was. :)
A friend of mine who lives in Hawaii (lucky girl) sent me a special Hawaii-only Lupicia package of tea, full of flavours they apparently only sell in their Honolulu store. So if you’re wondering why you don’t see these offered elsewhere (or on their website, with a couple of exceptions), now you know. :)
At any rate, upon opening the package, the first whiff is kind of ashy. Not in a bad, “oops, I burnt my house down, my bad!” kind of way. It’s sweeter, like when you toast marshmallows over an open campfire on the end of a slightly green branch. Anticipatory burning, yes.
Upon pouring the recommended boiling water over it, the water instantly turns a nice, rich gold. Within a minute of starting to brew, that gold deepens into a rich, luxurious amber colour. The amber deepens as it steeps, but it never becomes a flat brown. Instead, it’s got slightly warm, reddish undertones, like a really nice single-malt scotch. Or John Simm’s eyes, if you like (and I do). Hee. ;)
The aroma as it steeps smells less like burning and more like something sweet and yet slightly sour…not-quite-ripe mango, maybe? There’s an undertone of the aforementioned pleasant burning smell, but it’s overlaid by sweetness. Not overly-sweet, though. (I’m worried I’m making this more confusing in my attempt to clarify. It’s a bit like dancing about literature. XD)
First sip is smoky oolong all the way, but it’s held in check by something sweeter and slightly floral and perfumy that lingers after the oolong is long gone. As the perfumy smell lingers, the burning aroma comes back, and yes, it’s definitely reminiscent of a volcano. In a good way, I promise. It’s smooth, slightly dark in taste, and quite nice overall. :)
I’ll probably go for a resteep later, so stay tuned. :)