1546 Tasting Notes
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.
I am not sure what to make of this tea. I mean, to me, French Earl Grey suggests a black tea strong of bergamot, with French vanilla. That is not even close to what is in my cup. The main taste and scent are rose. Well, not exactly rose, and not rose perfume. It is like a rose powder or something for the bath. The smell I don’t like. Fortunately the taste is much milder. In the cup, this is not unpleasant. Behind the rose is a note, that at first I am thinking reminds me of mango. Later I considered maybe it is peach and apricot. Definitely the highlight for me. I am not sure where it comes from. Maybe the bergamot and hibiscus blending together? Neither are detectable on their own. This is kind of thick like cream, yet strangely drying. The base has some bite. From the woodsy note, I think it is Ceylon. This is not something I would crave but it is interesting.
And yes ladies, I grabbed a rose tea on purpose today, so I could feel pretty. I’ll probably need another cup or two. Just saying.
Ceylon is like the granddaddy of tea. I have had it a thousand times in everything from breakfast teas to Earl Grey and most flavored points in between. I slightly remember having it straight back in my boil the crap out of the tea bag and leave it in the cup days. I seriously don’t recall ever having it in unblended and unflavored loose leaf. This leaf looks more like Darjeeling or Nepali tea. It has red, green, and brown leaf pieces in it. At 195 F for 3 minutes I get a copper/orange cup that is way lighter than I expected. There is only a small amount of bite with the lowered temperature. It is definitely not abrasive. I don’t notice any noticeable dryness. This is mellow, fruity, a hint of floral. It seems kind of woodsy, leafy, maybe a touch earthy. After posting on my blog I noticed The Persimmon Tree lists this as an afternoon tea. That is exactly how I described it. I did not detect any of the mint a couple of the reviews here mentioned. Those reviews are a couple years old. Possibly their’s was tainted or just a different harvest, as I did not pick up on it at all.
Why didn’t I drink this when it was hot outside? The colder this gets the more intense the strawberry becomes. It is not a candy fake flavor but not actually as tart as biting into the real thing. Of course I am not sure I would really want it that tart.
It is, much lighter than I expected based on the bag scent. Once I realized it was intentional I was more than fine with it. Teavivre explains it is to “ensure that both the strawberry fragrance and Oolong tea’s unique flavor can be tasted”. My opinion is how rare is it that you are supposed to taste the flavor AND the tea. Brilliant! That has been a pet peeve of mine for a while. When I want to drink Kool-Aid, I drink Kool-Aid. When I drink tea, I want to taste tea.
Speaking of which, the oolong here is a green oolong but not one of those highly floral or latex aftertaste ones. This is green, light, and fresh. Seems perfectly matched to the flavoring to me. The leaves are kind of huge in my press.
This is the tea I threatened after the rough start to my tea day. It did not flinch. I’m thinking is it stupid, or just arrogant? Turns out neither. This is in my opinion an exceptional white tea. The leaves (buds really) are fuzzy white and beautiful. They smell of fresh grassy hay and malt with a hint of fruit. Steeped the leaf aroma is fresh bread and the buds turn green and alive looking. The tea is the faintest yellow that is clear and bright. The taste is a mix of light malt and fresh hay with melon or cucumber notes late in the sip. I also catch hints of fruit. All of this is surrounded by a fresh mineral taste at the beginning and end of the sip. The aftertaste is fresh, lingering, and of hay and malt. Subtle by usual black tea standards but if you love white tea, I think you will be impressed by this one. Yes! My day is looking up.
So we go out to breakfast as usual on Saturday morning. Our place is out of tea. How does that even happen? Didn’t anyone notice they were getting low? Of course not. I used to work with a group of guys that always expected someone else to handle it. Usually me or another guy they let go. So I coped the best I could and had hot chocolate. It was meh, but better than cola. Afterwards I was forced into Jo Ann’s fabrics (highlight of my day as you can clearly see). Town was crazy with people and police cars. I have no idea what was going on. Some kind of festival maybe, all I know is I had to drive far out of my way to get through. Thinking, maybe I should listen to local news once in a while. After getting gas and trying to drive back through crazy town, my wife said she had a free drink coming at Starbucks, so why not? Well, why not is because they were so busy my wife forgot to mention free. Dang it. I ordered green tea frappuccino – who all is surprised? Anyone? No? Turns out it was just another disappointment in my day. The new barista drowned this in sugary caramel syrup. So sickening sweet. A year ago I might have liked it. So now I am home and trying to get my iphone to sync with my laptop. It won’t. I give up. Now I’m looking at my tea stash with a threatening eye. You better not disappoint me what ever I choose next! The tea has not flinched.
I don’t know if my preconceived notions are off on this one or if the sample was faulty. What I taste is a sturdy blend that I believe to be Ceylon, Assam, and Kenyan black tea leaf. There is also green leaf in this that I can’t separate out. Underneath the tea is a hint of bergamot. The bag aroma suggested strongly this would taste more like an Earl Grey but it doesn’t. I am OK with that if it is supposed to taste this light. There is also jasmine in the blend but it is only the lightest hint in the aftertaste. The more the cup cools, the more pronounced the hints become. I read reviews of similar blends that led me to expect this to be highly floral. Because that is what I expected, I was left craving more. As a black breakfast tea it is solid enough.