98 Tasting Notes
My professor had a Christmas party in class today and ordered cupcakes, coffee, and tea, and one of the teas in the box was this one. Sounded great! Smelled kind of charred, somehow, but not in a bad way. Probably just the spices. The tea base seemed pretty decent, and I really liked the coconut. This would have been better with some soymilk, but since none was available, I drank it plain. The pepper notes stuck out kind of jarringly, but overall it was decent. The pepper would’ve been calmed with some soymilk, so I’ll try it chai-style next time and it’ll probably be lots better.
I’ve had two cups of this today, and every time I make it, I’m reminded of how perfect this tea is. Full-bodied from the rooibos, roasty from the rice, subtly sweet like caramel popcorn, with a little bit of green tea for a flourish…this really is perfect. If all the rooibos-dislikers tried this, I’m pretty sure they’d feel differently after just a sip.
Made some in our school’s dining hall before art this morning, because I hadn’t had this in a while. Forgot to watch the clock for a few minutes—it may have steeped 7 minutes. You’d never guess I oversteeped it though, and after adding a splash of soymilk I was off. Opened it up and…man. The best aroma. I’ve said this before, but this takes me back to about this time last year, and the memories are incredibly sweet. Tasty, smooth, sweet, excellent body, a little thickness with the soymilk, and a fantastic scent. I’ve generally left bagged tea by the wayside since being turned on to loose leaf, but this, along with a host of Celestial Seasonings varieties, will always remain. It’s perfect in its own beautiful way.
So I got what seems to be a mild concussion Sunday night (while sledding on my birthday, no less) and I’ve been rather out of sorts for the past day and a half. I’m feeling so much better now…thanks in part to the perfect mug of this that I brewed on my way to class this afternoon. It really tastes like a candy cane…smells amazing…sweet and minty…refreshing and calmed my stomach…perfect. Thank you, tea, for helping my recovery.
The second tea I’m trying from Verdant.
Dry: grassy and zesty, with a hint of fruit juiciness. Normally the whole “grassy” description freaks me out, but I really like this…when I put it in my brew basket in my rinsed mug, I smelled it and got something creamy.
1st steeping: while steeping, I’m sticking my nose over the mug (which I do pretty invariably.) I’m getting a scent that I can’t really place, but it reminds me of one of my favorite fragrances…it was essential-oil based, a little dusty but with a zinging fruity note. That’s exactly what this smells like. Mmmm. Can’t wait!
Sipping…a very evident green taste on the first sip. This is my first oolong, too, by the way. The green taste recedes into the others after the first few sips, and the rest of the mug has a crisp mouthfeel with a little tartness and more characteristics of a black tea. At the bottom of the mug, I’m starting to get the taste of whatever that delicious essential-oilish aroma was…I’m really excited to keep uncovering the flavors in this tea. I also really really want an yixing for oolongs now…
2nd steeping: again, I’m getting that lovely essential-oil smell that I can’t place. Mmm, this is a bit creamier than the last time. Very subtly so. I still have a crisp, green mouthfeel and sort of a bright-tasting note. Now I’m tasting a light floral note that goes to the back of my tongue. The aftertaste is dusky and vegetal.
3rd steeping: Ooh. Nutty, floral, smooth. Kind of creamy. I’m getting a twiggy undertone…edging on roasty. Hey, I can taste the Kaffir lime! I haven’t ever had one before but this is a limey taste…right at the end of the sip, on the back of my tongue and roof of my mouth. Wow. This is fascinating.
4th steeping: aaa! Knocked over my empty mug and spilled the brew basket onto the floor. I picked up the leaves that had fallen on the floor and put them back in. The floor is pretty clean—who knows? Maybe some flavor notes will come in because of that…heehee. This made me really appreciate how high-quality this tea is—the leaves are so big and whole that I didn’t have to pick up much! Anyway, aroma: greeny and juicy. Taste is milder now, but still retains the green freshness of before.
This was very tasty, exciting, and unusual. I don’t want to give it a rating just yet; it deserves another session in which I brew it gongfu style—I think that will bring out the flavor better. Like I said before, I’d love to get an yixing teapot for oolongs as well!
Honey. Clover. (Maybe clover honey?) As it steeps, I’m getting something that reminds me of skiing in Steamboat Springs, CO. It’s mouthwatering…
1st steeping (4 min, boiling water): Honey. Slightly creamy. Now I’m getting a wave of cocoa—this IS like chocolate milk! Also, the clover is coming through. Still gives me the taste of skiing in Steamboat, and because that’s kind of confusing, I’ll explain: Every year around spring break, my family and another family that we’re all best friends with (the family we choose) go skiing in Steamboat, CO. Every year except for one we get completely dumped on with an out-of-the-blue late-season blizzard, and we get to ski in 3 foot deep powder to our hearts’ content. Pretty lucky. There’s this sunscreen/anti-windburn stick we always put on our faces when we’re out there, and the smell of it—whatever essential oils are in it—takes me back to bright shiny morning, riding up the gondola, wrapped up in base layers, coats, mittens, pants, gaiters, helmets, goggles, clipping into bindings and launching off into another adventure that gives meaning to life. It’s one of the sweetest memories I have.
Now does that make sense?
2nd steeping (4 min 45 sec, boiling water): Something I forgot to mention in the first steeping—the cocoa taste reminds me of the chocolate milk I would get at a diner I went to on some special mornings with my mom when I was little. I never got chocolate milk pre-made anywhere else (I claimed it tasted like cardboard), but I got it here and it was delicious.
Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled programming. Same mouthwatering aroma while it’s steeping…I’m probably going to use my coupon to get more of this…upon sipping, the cocoa taste is predominant, still with the delicious clover honey note, and wow, this is fantastic.
3rd steeping (~6 min, boiling water): The cocoa has receded a little and the clover honey’s coming back. Mmmm. This is a more subtle sweetness. I’m getting a bit of tingly cinnamon warmth on the back of my tongue, too.
4th steeping (~8 min, boiling water): Put this in my travel mug. Prior steepings have used up much of the flavor, but it retains the slightest hint of cocoa. It’s comforting nevertheless.
Overall: Sweet mercy, this is amazing. I love black tea, and this is one of the most comforting, tasty, unique ones I’ve ever tried. This has made it into my hall of fame—I’m going to always have some of this on hand.
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I went for this one first after my birthday package of tea came…from my tasting note card (which was kindly provided):
Dry: subtly spicy aroma—is that cinnamon? Blankety and warm.
1st steeping: Toasty in the front of the tongue, a little bright and sweet in a blankety, caramel way (yes, blankety is totally a word) along to the back of the palate. Silky, smooth mouthfeel, with absolutely no astringency or bitterness (woohoo!).
So I’m on my fifth infusion now, which I let go for 8 minutes…this tea is magnificent. Roasty, sweet, smooth, and dusky all at the same time. The note that I was trying to name for quite some time was raisin—there is definitely a cinnamon-raisin feel to this tea, and it’s fantastic. This is probably the most unusual black tea I’ve ever tried, and come to think of it, I think it might be the first or second unflavored black tea, too. This is paradise, and I keep detecting more delightful undertones in it. Can’t wait to explore it even more. Thanks, David! Can’t wait to try all the others I got, and to order some more (maybe a pu’erh?) with my nifty coupon code!
This kept me alive this summer when the bitter cold swept through our field station. (Temperature, not sickness…) It reminded me of the Aveda comforting tea that I make when I’m at home, and I had a particular affinity for this one in the dining hall (our cook noticed and made sure to get some more for me). Memories of this tea are particularly vivid, as I had some after a panic attack. Tasty, pretty strong, and sweet. Impressive bagged tea.