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Today wound up being about trying new teas, which is never a bad thing. I think I’m gonna take some older ones that I either have in large quantity or am expecting more of from Black Friday orders and drink those tomorrow, though.

Anyway, I went to McQuarries today though – which was a completely unexpected trip. I’m not really totally enthused by that store – today was my second time going, and I had the same sales lady as last time that made me feel incredibly stupid and just seemed to be in a totally bitchy mood. I had asked about finding some good, fruity tisanes for cold brewing and she just very coldly told me “tisanes are herbals” and offered no advice. Umm, thanks? Mind you, this is the same lady who basically belittled me for inquiring about King Tut’s Lemonade last time, which had been discontinued (however, they don’t regularly update their website and it’s still listed there, so I had no idea of knowing that).

I asked a lot of questions about ingredients, since any of their new blends aren’t listed on the website (due to lack of regular updating) and there are no listed ingredients either on their storage/display containers or on the packages they sell their tea in. She seemed pissed to have to answer my questions, though. Smeh.

For whatever reason, I’m intricately drawn to teas with alcoholic beverages in the titles – which makes NO sense since A) I don’t drink and haven’t in over two years (technically I’m still under the legal drinking age), and B) even when I was drinking, the types of ‘alcohol inspired’ teas I go for are not the types of liquor I drank. So there’s that…

I didn’t actually look at the ingredients booklet they have in store when I got this, which maybe was a bad idea. I made sure to VERY CLEARLY specify I did not want anything with ginger or raisins, but looking at the leaf for this blend I see what looks like raisins; I’m hoping I’m wrong and it’s just other dried fruits though. I am also seeing a bunch of hibiscus, but that’s not necessarily bad.

In regard to smell – this is so incredibly strong and powerful smelling. When I was drinking Creamy Eggnog earlier I had the sealed packet of this sitting on my kitchen counter, and from the kitchen I could still faintly smell this. It reminds me of DAVIDsTEA’s Guava Cadabra in that I had a sample size of that one in a ziploc bag and no matter what I did it always smelled intensely of guava, and whatever I put it next to managed to pickup the same smell on its packaging – I’ll be sure to carefully store this.

I kind of get hibiscus, but I also get an overwhelming sense of grape and strawberry (grape is not making me feel too good about the raisins) – and it’s weird because there IS this fermented alcohol like quality to the smell, but it also just sorta reminds me of sugary Kool-Aid. I’m vaguely reminded of rum and there’s a vague creaminess – but it’s kind of odd and not really all there.

Because this is so strong smelling, I cautiously only used 1 1/2 tsp. instead of the 2 tsp. I’d normally use for an all fruit blend. This went into 8 oz. of boiling water, and was steeped for five(ish) minutes. The liquor is actually this really beautiful dark red/purple colour, and it gives off a strong aroma of fermented type wine, is sorta “rum-y”, and has this nice strawberry cream smell too.

Taste wise, the hibiscus because quite prominent and really sour, but is countered sort of well with the taste of strawberry (I almost get weird rhubarb types notes too), and a more noticeable rum type of taste in the back of the sip and aftertaste. And there’s IS a creaminess to it, though I’m not finding it super pronounced. Basically this is initially tart and sour strawberry which awkwardly transitions to a more fermented/rum-y type of taste with some creaminess. I actually think I’d enjoy this quite a lot if it DIDN’T have that super sharp kind of tang from the hibiscus at the first bit of the sip – it’s the kind of tang that hits the sides of your tongue (does that even make sense) and takes a longer time to sort of fade away.

Next time I have it hot, I’m actually going to use even less leaf (1 tsp. probably) and a shorter steep time. I am really interested to see how this cold brews though, seeing as that’s why I bought it anyway. And, to be fair I did try the one I thought I’d like the least first. The other tea I bought today is called Fig Rose and I think I might like that one a lot better.

Kelci

Don’t let the lady at McQuarries get to you. Next time you go in, I think you should ask her if you did something to offend her. It will catch her off guard and open the door for your to tell her she isn’t being very nice. If she doesn’t respond to that, just do as I do, instead of getting mad at her, think about how something really must be going on in her life to make her act like that, and feel bad for her.

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Kelci

Don’t let the lady at McQuarries get to you. Next time you go in, I think you should ask her if you did something to offend her. It will catch her off guard and open the door for your to tell her she isn’t being very nice. If she doesn’t respond to that, just do as I do, instead of getting mad at her, think about how something really must be going on in her life to make her act like that, and feel bad for her.

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After discovering loose leaf, I decided I had to learn as much about in as quick an amount of time as humanely possible; that led me here!

Growing up, the only tea I ever drank was bagged mint tea (especially peppermint), and mint still remains a staple flavour for me. Spearmint is my favourite. At this point in my ‘tea career’ I heavily lean towards flavoured blends; doesn’t matter if they’re fruity, chocolate, sweet, savory, etc. Blacks are my favourite as far as flavoured blends go, with whites a close second. I really enjoy everything but straight Greens though, but I’ll try anything once even if I am wary.

My favourite fruit flavours in blends are cranberry, banana, pear, lychee, melon, passion fruit and especially pineapple. I am also always excited to try anything with Saskatoon Berries, which are delicious and also my city’s namesake. I have a huge weakness towards toffee/caramel and coconut teas and a bit of a soft spot in regard to black licorice. I also adore anything creamy. I am always up for trying soda inspired blends as well because the concept fascinates me. I want to try all the Rootbeer teas! I am also currently trying to try as many Sweet Potato blends as possible.

Tastes I strongly dislike are ginger and raisins. Really, those are the only two things I intentionally avoid. I also have mixed feelings about peaches, mangoes, lemongrass, and chamomile.

In regard to straight teas, I haven’t been nearly as adventurous. I’ve yet to really explore any straight oolongs, except Milk Oolongs which weren’t really for me. In general, I really like straight black teas, especially when they have strong baked bread or malt notes. I like most straight whites, but I have a preference for silver needle teas over other types. Green teas, with the exception of Genmaicha and some Hojicha, make me feel a bit sick and I often can’t finish the cup. I can handle flavoured matcha like Red Leaf Tea sells – but straight matcha is a definite “no go”. I recently survived my first Pu’erh, and it was an alright, maybe borderline enjoyable, experience.

The ratio of cold brewed and hot tea I drink is about 50/50. As far as my cup sizes go, all my daily cold brews are done in a 25 oz. mason jar and my other mugs are 12 oz. with the exception of my Adeline infuser mug which is 16 oz. Unless otherwise specified, these are the cup sizes for all teas I review.

I prefer to drink my tea without adding anything to it, and 9/10 times that will be how I first try a blend. My belief is that milk, sugar or whatever else you add to your tea should be used to enhance an already good flavour: if the tea needs something added to it to taste good then it’s probably not good tea to begin with. The exception is Matcha; I always have my matcha whisked either into cold milk or club soda as “Matcha soda” depending on which way the flavour will be best suited. My roommate, Tre, has a very different philosophy in regard to tea, and that’s to always drown out his cup in sugar – even before tasting to see if it needs any. That’s why I don’t let him drink the good stuff ;)

I’m always up for a swap, but because I have a very low income I can’t really afford to send things outside of North America on a regular basis :(

If you’re from North America and want to organize a swap, just give me a shout and I’m sure we can work something out! Many of my teas are in large quantity so I usually have enough to spare at least a small sample or so.

I’m a vegetarian and have been for more than half my lifetime. I also have a severe allergy to mushrooms, though that isn’t something that has been an issue I’ve had to deal with in regard to tea (at this point, at least).

My roommate Tre is a huge part of my life since he’s one of the only people in town that I know. Currently, he’s taking courses at Siast to become a professional chef which means sometimes I get really nice home cooked meals. He’s a huge Whovian, which means I know way more about Doctor Who than someone who’s only watched a season or so should. Recently he’s got me into Supernatural, and now Doctor Who as well. He knows next to nothing about tea, and he doesn’t really care to learn.

The other important person in my life is my friend Robyn.

I’ve known Robyn since we were in the eighth grade – and she was in all my classes all through high school. For years she was my transportation, since I’m just plain awful at driving and haven’t acquired my license yet. She just so happened to start classes at the University of Saskatchewan the same time as Tre and I were moving here, which worked out excellently. Like Tre she’s a huge Whovian and also a fan of Supernatural (is there even a fandom term for people who like Supernatural?). She was a minor inspiration in regard to this tea obsession of mine (but now I’ve far surpassed her in tea knowledge, consumption, and quantity possessed). Often times I have her over for tea or share my teas with her (and if it’s a tea I dislike she gets first dibs before I start trying to swap it all away here on Steepster).

Some brief “IRL” interests: Clay/Sculpture (or visual arts in general), Improv, Mythology, Big Brother (USA and CA), and an absurdly large amount of TV shows – geeky or otherwise.

Location

Saskatoon, SK, Canada

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