1794 Tasting Notes
I began by preparing this tea (in my Tea Forte Cafe Cup), following the directions given on the Tea Forte (steep 3-5 minutes using just-boiled water).
When I first opened the cardboard package containing the pyramid-shaped tea bag, I was immediately struck by the very sweet vanilla smell. It was delectable. The website lists that this tea also contains coconut slivers, and, indeed, traces of coconut were certainly evident in the aroma.
After steeping for three minutes, I decided to remove the tea bag and test the flavour. Upon removing the lid, I noticed the colour was an unremarkable brownish-red of black tea. Then I smelled the tea. The scent of coconut had all but disappeared, and the aroma of vanilla had actually deepened and taken on more muted tones.
With the first sip, I was disappointed. The taste of the vanilla was barely there. I suspected this might have something to do with the length of steeping time, so I put the tea bag back in for another minute. (On a side note, something I really appreciate about the tea bag design is the stiff string, making it easy to move the tea bag around.)
This additional steep complete, I tried the tea again. This time, the vanilla was much more prominent, almost spicy. The liquid itself remained wonderfully smooth. The spiciness was actually a delightful treat, tingling a bit at the back of one’s throat as the tea is swallowed.
Sadly, the coconut that was originally smelled when the tea bag was first brought out is nowhere to be found. This could just be on account of the fact that my taste buds are not very familiar with the actual taste of coconut (which, in all fairness, I have only tasted on rare occasions). The vanilla, however, completely makes up for this lack of coconut, in my opinion. It is certainly one of the best vanilla loose leaf teas I have ever had (out of a total of perhaps three to five, as my vanilla tea explorations have not ranged very far).
I would not call the flavour itself rich, but it is certainly not mellow. This seems to be the sort of tea that could be drunk, cup after cup, all throughout one’s day. And, with the caffeine it contains, would be an excellent stimulant during long work hours.
To test the stamina of the tea, I decided to steep another cup, increasing the steep time by one minute (to bring it to 5 minutes total). The aroma is less intense than before, as was to be expected, but the vanilla smell is still deliciously pleasing. The taste is still quite good as well, albeit not as intense as the first cup. The spiciness is gone, but the smooth vanilla flavour remains.
Over all this was a very good tea. If I were to purchase it in large quantities, I think I would opt for buying the loose leaf in a canister, to allow me to vary the amount of tea used per steeping (and also allow me to more easily steep a large pot of it at once). On my personal enjoyment scale of 0-100, I rate Tea Forte’s Orchid Vanilla black tea a 75/100.
I just have one final question, that perhaps a fellow drinker, or even Tea Forte could answer… “Why orchid, and where is it?”
To brew this tea, I used about a tablespoon of leaves and four cups of boiling water. Steeped in a glass teapot, it was easy to see the leaves as they released a burnt orange liquor. Upon initially steeping this tea, the first thing I noticed was the incredibly light mouthfeel. After the first cup, the flavour continued to linger in my mouth. This oolong has a much lighter taste than other oolongs I have tried. It’s a delicate taste, and very good.
The taste itself…in the first few sips of a cup, one can really taste the leaf, but the flavour seems to fade as one finishes a cup. Perhaps the initial flavour, light as it is, coats the taste buds in one’s mouth so that subsequent sips merely slide through the mouth.
Overall, I very much enjoyed this tea. The flavour was a bit too light for me, but it was still enjoyable to drink. This was very reminiscent of the oolong served in Chinese restaurants with Dim Sum.
I’ve decided that I will give teas that I review an approximate rating, on a scale of 0-100, based on my personal enjoyment of this tea (not it’s comparison in specific areas to other teas). Canton Tea Co’s Big Red Robe oolong receives a 92/100 for its exceptionally delicate taste, light mouthfeel, and lasting flavour.
EDIT: I later tried resteeping these same leaves. This was a major disappointment, as I got barely half of the original body and flavour. This lack of “stamina” in the leaves significantly decreased my rating of this tea (now an 85/100).
Used fewer leaves than normal so that I could still brew it grandpa style and yet not have it oversteep.
The cup brews a dark amber, almost a dark caramel colour. The scent is sweet and malty at the same time, but not very strong. This is one tea you have to put your nose in to be able to smell. The taste is much like the smell – not too strong, but sweet and malty. This tea might be improved by a bit of sugar, but perhaps another time…