1559 Tasting Notes
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.
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.