1812 Tasting Notes
A couple of months ago, I reviewed one of Lipton’s “premium” offerings, their Darjeeling, of which the only premium aspect seemed to be the label design. As I had picked up a bag of this Kenyan black tea at the same time as the Darjeeling, I made it a goal to review them both, eventually, even just for the sake of warning you all away from them (or perhaps finding a hidden gem). Previously, I had said that I would review this tea a week after the Darjeeling, but I simply could not bring myself to do so.
Compared to the Lipton Darjeeling, this one…tastes like Lipton Yellow Label with strong coffee or earthy tones. I love pu’erh, so I am no stranger to earthy tones, but these just make it taste “deep,” rather than giving it any sort of complexity. When it is first sipped, there is barely any taste at all. As the tea passes over the back of the tongue, rough bitterness follows, leaving the mouth feeling like it is coated with a slightly chalky feeling. Quite frankly, this tea is not worth the money being charged for it, nor is it worth time to describe further its poor qualities.
To find one redeeming quality, I would say that I would gladly drink this tea over the Lipton Darjeeling, if those were my only two options. However, it should be pointed out that the Lipton Darjeeling is one of the worst teas I have ever consumed. On my personal enjoyment scale, I rate this tea a 20/100.
My first impression of this tea was “Wow! What an aroma!” My second impression was “This is definitely something new and pleasantly different.” The tea in question was Adagio Teas’ Gingerbread, a black tea that was very different than other spiced black teas of my past tasting.
I began with a simple steep – three minutes of a teaspoon of this tea in a just-boiled cup of water. The aromas that hit my nose, as the tea brewed, focused mainly on the cinnamon bark and “gingerbread flavor.” In a way, I was quite thankful. My past experiences with teas containing cinnamon and orange peel have usually resulted in brews, where the orange is far too strong and the cinnamon very subdued, both accompanying an overly bitter black tea (bitter on account of how long it took to get any sort of non-tea flavor to evolve). With the addition of gingerbread flavor and ginger root, this tea moved beyond the traditional orange and cinnamon spiced black tea.
In Adagio’s Gingerbread, orange peel took a back seat in the vehicle of flavor that drove across my tongue with my first sip. Despite all of the bold additions to the tea, I found that the resulting brew was not overly strong, instead containing a pleasant mixture of all of the flavors. Warm cinnamon swirls around the outside of the flavor palate and the ginger root adds a slightly sweet bite to the main part of the body – the Ceylon black tea. The lack of heaviness to the tea helped it go down smoothly, and I found myself drinking it far more quickly than I had anticipated.
This black tea was not especially re-steepable, but I typically do not expect such from black teas, especially flavored ones. For my first few cups (and pots, over several days), I did not sweeten it at all, as it has a bit of natural sweetness. Upon the addition of a small amount of sweetener, I found that more of the orange flavor came forth.
Well done with this holiday tea, Adagio. I will gladly drink it any time of the year. On my personal enjoyment scale, I would rate this tea an 87/100.
I can smell this tea even through its package. Opening the package, the smell of toffee wafts to my nose, plus notes of pu’erh a bit of…mint? How odd…mint… According to the English Tea Store, the pu’erh is accompanied by butterscotch pieces and almond. Putting aside the difference between butterscotch and toffee, I rinse the leaves, then begin my first steep. While waiting, I think how fitting it would be, if I was writing this review with Montblanc Toffee Brown ink.
I think that the slight mint aroma came from the pu’erh mixed with the almond, as it is still present in the wet leaves, yet carries more earthy tones. But how does it taste? “Like dessert in a cup.” One can still taste the pu’erh, right down the middle of this tea, but the edges are more than heavily laced with a sugary-but-not-overly-sweet combination of toffee- and caramel-like flavors. From a traditional Chinese sense, I would not expect that pu’erh would ever be mixed with any sort of sweet, but the English Tea Store has found a good combination in the mixing of pu’erh with butterscotch and almond.
The flavors of this blend are smooth, and the pu’erh is bold enough to stand out among the sweet tones. I recommend steeping this tea longer than you might a normal pu’erh for the sake of fully drawing out the notes of toffee and earthy pu’erh tastes. I was able to resteep it several times in my gaiwan.