82
drank Sweet Merlot Black Tea by 52teas
2245 tasting notes

Oooooh the scent of this one has me most intrigued! Yes, upon opening the packet you are greeted by fermenty-grapes aromas, all sweet and a bit vinegary. Reminds me quite a bit of going wine grape picking last fall, where the guy had us sniff grape clusters to pick out good molds vs. bad bacteria. Unfortunately it was the grapes that had the smell that were infected with bacteria and discarded, and the fungally-infected grapes (I should know this…! Was the good fungus Botrytis, perhaps?), that looked rather unappetizing but had no smell, that they actually collected for a particular type of wine. Or something.

Anyways, I digress. It reminds me of picking grapes for wine.

Steeped, I’m getting much more concord grape aroma. Exciting! Haven’t ever had a grape tea that I’m aware of. I can also smell a malty black base…. smells good!

Hmm. Well we’re not having the bitterness problem here that there was with the Cherry Garcia, but there’s not as much body as I would like. Where’d that black base go?! Definitely getting grape flavour and grape aftertaste. Ok, actually there is a touch of astringency. Maybe I’ll reduce the infusion time next time.

Well… doesn’t exactly taste like wine to me. Maybe it needs some more time. I do appreciate the grape though, and would love to see a tea like Blueberry Cream Cheese Danish, but with grapes (as that tea really worked well).

ETA: Perhaps I should have used less water for the second infusion. Water just below boiling, steeped about 3.5-4 minutes. Definitely tastes like a re-steep. There’s a bit of grape in both aroma and flavour, but it really tastes just like a grape-flavoured black. Quite hoping this improves with age – I would have been happy if it tastes like that sickly sweetish fermenty grape scent it smelled like! More like wine to me :)

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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I have always been a tea fan (primarily herbals and Japanese greens/oolongs) but in the last year or so, tea has become increasingly more appealing as not only a delicious, calming drink, but as a relatively cheap, healthy reward or treat to give myself when I deserve something. I should clarify that, however; the reward is expanding my tea cupboard, not drinking tea – I place no restrictions on myself in terms of drinking anything from my cupboard as that would defeat my many goals!

My DavidsTea addiction was born in late 2011, despite having spent nearly a year intentionally avoiding their local mall location (but apparently it was just avoiding the inevitable!). I seem to have some desire to try every tea they’ve ever had, so much of my stash is from there, although I’ve recently branched out and ordered from numerous other companies.

I like to try and drink all my teas unaltered, as one of the main reasons I’m drinking tea other than for the flavour is to be healthy and increase my water intake without adding too many calories! I’ve found that the trick in this regard is to be very careful about steeping time, as most teas are quite pleasant to drink straight as long as they haven’t been oversteeped. However, I tend to be forgetful (particularly at work) when I don’t set a timer, resulting in a few horrors (The Earl’s Garden is not so pleasant after, say, 7+ minutes of steeping).

I’m currently trying to figure out which types of teas are my favourites. Herbals are no longer at the top; oolongs have thoroughly taken over that spot, with greens a reasonably close second. My preference is for straight versions of both, but I do love a good flavoured oolong (flavoured greens are really hit or miss for me). Herbals I do love iced/cold-brewed, but I drink few routinely (Mulberry Magic from DavidsTea being a notable exception). I’m learning to like straight black teas thanks to the chocolatey, malty, delicious Laoshan Black from Verdant Tea, and malty, caramelly flavoured blacks work for me, but I’m pretty picky about anything with astringency. Lately I’ve found red rooibos to be rather medicinal, which I dislike, but green rooibos and honeybush blends are tolerable. I haven’t explored pu’erh, mate, or guayasa a great deal (although I have a few options in my cupboard).

I’ve decided to institute a rating system so my ratings will be more consistent. Following the smiley/frowny faces Steepster gives us:

100: This tea is amazing and I will go out of my way to keep it in stock.

85-99: My core collection (or a tea that would be, if I was allowing myself to restock everything!) Teas I get cravings for, and drink often.

75-84: Good but not amazing; I might keep these in stock sparingly depending on current preferences.

67-74: Not bad, I’ll happily finish what I have but probably won’t ever buy it again as there’s likely something rated more highly that I prefer.

51-66: Drinkable and maybe has some aspect that I like, but not really worth picking up again.

34-50: Not for me, but I can see why others might like it. I’ll make it through the cup and maybe experiment with the rest to get rid of it.

0-33: It’s a struggle to get through the cup, if I do at all. I will not willingly consume this one again, and will attempt to get rid of the rest of the tea if I have any left.

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