417 Tasting Notes
Wow. I’ve never been a fan of rooibos, so I was hesitant to try this sample that I’ve had for a while. But then I realized I had only ever tried red rooibos and this one has green rooibos. When I opened up the bag, it smelled like delicious, juicy honeydew with no medicinal rooibos smell. Off to a good start! After steeping it, there was a slight medicinal smell, but that may have been a bit psychological. The taste of the tea is purely juicy honeydew. It reminds me of this Korean popsicle I had as a kid that totally defined my summers. I’m very delightfully surprised with how much I like this one. The one criticism I might have is that it does run on the sweet side, so I have to be in the mood for something sweeter. I bet it would also make a really great cold brew, but sadly, I only have enough sample left to make one hot cuppa later. Perhaps I will pick some up when I get back to California. I’m really tempted.
Ok, so I originally intended to cold brew this one to mix it up a little, but then I realized that it might be difficult to do because the tea is tightly rolled up into pearls. So I kind of used two techniques to steep this one. First, I used warm (not boiling hot) water to pour over the pearls to encourage them to open up a little. Then I stuck the whole thing into the fridge for quite a few hours (6-8 ish? I’m very back at keeping track of time). It was a very inexact method, and I clearly can’t even remember much about it, but it turned out pretty nicely!
At first, there is that typical malty sort of taste that you would expect from a black tea. However, it was less strong than I thought it would be. Instead, there was this nice honey flavor that brought some sweetness to the tea. I think there were also some cocoa notes there, but I don’t fully trust my taste buds to figure out flavors, haha. Anyway, I think I enjoyed this tea as iced over hot, surprisingly! Good to know :)
Okay, I know I’ve been on a tea buying hiatus, but as soon as I found a decent boba place in Boston, I moved all the way across the river from it. These sticky humid days have really made me crave a nice cold milk tea, so I caved and bought a box of these at an Asian supermarket. It’s not a perfect substitute for my beloved California boba, but this milk tea will do the trick well enough. I will say, though, that the black tea base can be overwhelmed by the added sweeteners, so if you’re looking for a tea that really stands up for itself, this is not your cuppa. If you love milk tea/boba/bubble tea/etc, this tea will do just fine when you’re in a boba desert.
Cold brewed this one again. I accidentally forgot about it and left it in there for about 20 hours, whoops! Anyway, I just wanted to add to my previous note that the tea itself actually does taste minty. Last time, I thought it was because I was eating something minty while drinking it, but the tea itself has a minty note about it at the beginning of the sip that turns into a grassy flavor. I don’t recall thinking it had a minty flavor when I drank it hot, so it’s quite interesting that I pick up on it now. Another curious cold brewing experiment!
Edit: As the tea warmed up to room temperature, it suddenly became super bitter. I guess that’s what I get for leaving it to cold brew for almost an entire day!
Sipdown (108)! Alas, the oddly cool weather has passed and it has returned to sticky humidity again. Though that deters me from hot tea, I do love cold brewing, so I used up my final tablespoon of this one in a cold brew. The flavors did not change much from when I tried this one hot: mostly roasty/smoky flavors, very smooth, and no bitterness. While I am sad to see this one go, I take comfort in my large stock of the dark roast of this houjicha, which I prefer anyway. Plus, it’s one less tea I have to worry about when I inevitably move again in a couple months.
I’m totally taking advantage of the cooler weather to drink up some of my favorite hot teas. Like I probably stated in previous tasting notes, this houjicha is on the heavier/smokier side compared to other houjichas that I’ve had. Now, I usually am not a huge fan of smoky teas, but in this case, it works really well with the roasted flavor that is present in all houjichas. Also, it’s really working today in particular because my new apartment has chlorine-y water, so the strong flavor of the houjicha helps drown that out.
A sad sipdown (109). Today’s cuppa was a bit weak because I only had a very loose teaspoon left of these leaves. This is one of those black teas that has such complexity in flavor ranging from sweet and honey-like to bold. I’m so glad I got to try this one out, and I’m sad to see it go. Whenever I come off my spending ban, I will likely place a reorder from Teavivre, and this will definitely be on the list!
So when I was in Paris a couple of weeks ago, I actually did manage to visit a couple of tea shops including Mariage Freres and Kusmi Tea. In general, the teas that I smelled at Mariage Freres came off too perfume-y or artificial to me in the store. In addition to that, I was pressed for time and the shop was busy with many customers, so I did not end up getting anything there. Now that I’m re-tasting this tea, which was so generously sent to me by Stephanie, I’m kind of regretting not carving out more time to really poke around and actually talk to some of the salespeople. This tea does such a nice job of balancing the almond, spices, and black tea base in almost a creamy sort of way. On the other hand, perhaps it was good that I didn’t stick around too long because I already have enough tea as it is! Anyway, looks like my next cuppa will be my last of this tea, so I’ll be sad when it’s gone.
I’ve had a “four seasons” oolong before that blew my mind. Now I don’t know what makes an oolong a “four seasons” oolong, but when I saw this at Teavana, I decided to go for it. I used another one of my Starbucks rewards to get a free ounce of this tea because I didn’t want to commit to two ounces before liking it. The sales girl was really pushing me toward the Monkey Picked Oolong, saying how much she and everyone else in the world loved it. I actually already have that one and am not as enamored with it as everyone else, so I stuck with this oolong.
At the first couple of sips, things were looking good. It’s sweet, creamy, and floral- my favorite characteristics of a green oolong. It wasn’t quite as amazing as the other four seasons oolong I mentioned earlier, but still good. As I was getting to the bottom of the cup and the tea cooled a bit, I noticed more bitterness and some astringency as well. I don’t know if it was because it was toward the bottom or because the tea had started cooling, but I wasn’t too happy about it. It wasn’t unbearable or anything, but I’ve had many delicious oolongs that set the bar pretty high. So anyway, a decent cuppa (& better than Monkey Picked IMHO), but I would probably not purchase this one in the future. With Teavana’s pricing, I could better spend my dollars on better and/or cheaper tea.
On an unrelated note, I’m so happy to be able to drink hot tea again because of the rain. I usually don’t like rain, but I guess this is the silver lining!
After figuring out that my new city has not-so-great tap water (even filtered), I decided to try out some stronger teas for cold brewing to cover up the weird chlorine taste of the water. That is how I decided to cold brew this gunpowder. I put about a tablespoon of tea in my water bottle for 6-7 hours in the fridge. On the positive side, the taste is very strongly smoky, so I can’t taste the weird tap water anymore. On the other hand, the smokiness was a little too strong for me. I think I’m not such a fan of smoky in teas. There was also some bitterness at the end of the sip, but it wasn’t too strong.