1495 Tasting Notes
I have been making my morning frap for months with Cafe Al Fresco brand sugar free vanilla and caramel syrups. I ran out. Our Walmart seems to have stopped carrying flavored syrup. So I bought Torani brand at Kroger. It is more expensive and personally I don’t care for the taste. The vanilla is way too light on taste. On the other hand, the caramel tastes more like butterscotch – which I’m OK with – but it is so highly flavored I can’t adjust it down enough. I hate change. They say it’s good, but it never is (My Sheldon melt down moment). The bottles last a long time, so I have a while to find something else. If it wasn’t for wanting sugar free, I would try making my own. Splenda will not thicken like a syrup and I can’t get xantham gum to work without making a clumpy mess. O well, the sun is out and it may be the last 70 degree day of the year. Through whining now. On to the next!
Had this one again. Last time I used 195 F water and a 2 1/2 minute steep. It was slightly drying but otherwise a smooth tea with a light peppery citrus bergamot. This time I went full boil (212 F) and the recommended 3 minute steep. With my comfort tea version (Ahmad) a 3 minute steep will produce a rough edge from the Ceylon base. This new version from Nina’s also has a Sri Lanka (Ceylon) base. I was curious if it would develop the edge – not to be confused with the guitar player for U2 ;) Turns out a longer steep made a better cup of Earl Grey than before. It did not develop a sharp bite, rather it stayed nicely smooth. I did not notice drying this time. What I did notice was the bergamot became richer and stronger. A very good, solid, cup of Earl Grey. Not as refined as the old Keemun base but to me the heartier Sri Lanka base adds character.
Started my day at 4:00 AM. At 6:00, I found myself chugging Mtn Dew and zapping spammers. It kind of makes me happy.
I decided chamomile rose silver needle would be a good one to get me through the rest of the day. I often have silver needle in the morning as it seems to pack almost the caffeine buzz of the Mtn Dew, however it works much more evenly, with no face punch. Keep your assam, I’ll have silver needle. I figured between the theanine in the leaf and the chamomile, it would keep me relaxed and focused. The rose just smells pretty and looks beautiful in the mix.
Here is what I learned – the first cup I went light on the leaf. It was predominantly rose. It is quite lovely, and natural. I had to pay attention to pick up on the chamomile later in the sip. It is slightly sour and slightly sweet. I really wasn’t able to pick up on the white tea. There was an interesting spice flavor mixed in that reminded me of allspice. It was kind of cinnamon, kind of clove. This was not exactly background but not the driving flavor either. I had my wife taste it. She thought it tasted minty. Interesting how differently we perceived it yet both noticed something else was going on in the cup.
For cup two, I doubled the leaf. Now the predominant flavor is apple. It is almost apple sauce. I don’t make out the spice flavor from before but it must be contributing to bring out this sensation. I also taste honey. Interesting how the chamomile has taken the lead. This drifts into the rose later, but rather than dropping off, the chamomile travels along side the rose. It is a very interesting combination.
I can pick up the silver needle but only lightly. There is subtle notes of hay and cucumber. Had I not tried straight silver needle before, I might have missed these notes.
A very interesting and changing cup depending on the amount of leaf used.
Cannon Ball! Love the name. Some of the balls are monstrous (I wanted to spell it monsterous but spellcheck said that is not a word – should be). Some of the balls are only the size of average oolong nuggets. The dry scent I got I have not seen in any other review. It was bread and honey, kind of malt with sweet hay. Thought maybe I didn’t get the press thoroughly clean but the pouch had the same awesomeness.
The first cup was crisp, vegetal, and savory. Dryness builds as the cup cools. It had a bite that was the good bitter. The aftertaste had a citrus note that to me wasn’t obvious at first.
The second cup I used less water – 8 oz with the same leaf (the first was a 10 oz mug using 7 balls). The scent is highly lemony. I did not notice the dryness, but because of the amount of leaf and the 2 1/2 minute steep, the bitterness was kind of intense. I added a little sweetener and it balanced right out. Now it tastes very nutty. The sweetener made the citrus really pop and there is a good dose of grassy vegetal late in the sip that along with some floral notes drift right into a healthy citrus aftertaste.
I don’t have time for a third cup at the moment but according to the review on SoriTEA Sisters it will be the best cup yet. I hope to find out for myself later.
Unique and worth a try.
This may be too extreme for even me. I just popped Chef-Boy-R-Dee Ravioli in the microwave because it was easy. I’m not even sure it counts as real food – mostly grease and starch I think. Then I brewed up Golden Tips because it is awesome. They don’t play well together (imagine that). A lot of the subtleties of the tea are covered in spicy sauce. Not my best move but the ravioli is gone now and I still have plenty of tea to cleanse my palate. The bread notes are already present just waiting on the sweet potato and other flavors to emerge.
This isn’t an official review. I am going to play with this one a few times before making a final assessment. This is a new blend of Nina’s Earl Grey. Apparently it is not on the market yet. I was given this as a gift from a thoughtful Steepster friend. I have tried the old blend and my note is on Steepster. The old blend has a keemun base and is very refined and civilized. This one has a Sri Lanka base (Celyon) which should give a slightly rougher edge to the cup.
The scent from the tin is citrus and peppery bergamot. Very intense when dry and all concentrated. I did this first cup at 195 F. That is what I have been using lately for Earl Greys. I steeped for 2 1/2 minutes. I try not to go longer with a new black until I see how it affects my stomach. Some cause a great deal of burn. The brew is ruby red and very pretty. It turns more root beer as it cools. The wet leaf has a nice leafy scent under the less intense than when dry bergamot.
The sip is – Earl Grey! What I mean is it is Earl Grey the way I like it. The Ceylon base is drying and tingles the cheeks. It has a slight bite. Had I used hotter water I could boost that bite, I believe. The bergamot while hot is kind of laid back. As the cup cools it grows in intensity. Me like.
OK, apparently this has turned into a review. So let me add as a final thought before I experiment more – My experience with Nina’s beyond this blend (and their Lapsang Souchong – which is awesomely powerful) is their teas are noted for being very refined, wonderfully flavored, and mellow. This tea is not mellow or refined and that is what I like about it. My thought is Nina’s might be better to offer two Earl Greys with expressive names to signify the difference. I am not too sure how this blend will fair with their usual customer base. When it comes to Earl Grey I am definitely more of a barbarian!
The longer I drink this on a daily basis mixed with cold milk, the more I have learned to appreciate it. At first, I was like this isn’t Starbucks. Now, I’m all this isn’t Starbucks and I’m glad. Having not completely broken my sweet tooth addiction, I have made great progress. The last couple trips with my wife to the coffee shop for a frappuccino have left me with a icky sweet aftertaste and a craving for this. I use about 1tsp of powder (I worked up to it from 1/4 tsp) and 12 oz of milk. I add a splash of vanilla syrup and caramel syrup. Just a splash in equal amounts. All the flavors are present and the sweetness is kept in check. If I could get the grainy texture of the frap I would never need to go back. I know they use shaved ice but at 7 in the morning that seems a bit dangerous.
Thanks to GGMathis and her amazing Cheapster Steepster tea bags, I learned I really like strawberry tea. This one is pretty tasty. The aroma seems very natural to me. The taste equally so, minus the tartness. The green tea has a grassy aroma in the wet leaf but is harder to pick out in the cup. I’m OK with that in this case because, well, strawberry. This may well be my favorite from Secret Garden so far.
Looks like I originally posted this in the wrong place.
The Secret Garden Tea Company is a new webstore with its home in Vancouver BC. At the time of this note, they have a contest going that is mentioned on the discussion board, although Steepster’s bad behavior seems to have buried it somewhere in cyberspace.
Any who, opening the bag this has a very strong aroma of rose. Under the rose is a light touch of bergamot and vanilla. The scent is almost too much. The sip however is much less potent. The vanilla adds a sense of creaminess that seems felt more than tasted. The rose is the primary note. I have only recently begun to appreciate rose as a tea ingredient. This is strong but not overwhelming. What surprises me is bergamot used as a support ingredient. If you did not know it was in the mix it would be easily overlooked, yet it adds a fullness to the profile.
The proceeds of this tea go to the BC Children’s Hospital.