158 Tasting Notes

85
drank Masala Chai by Teavana
158 tasting notes

This chai is a staple of my morning routine. I combine it with Samurai Chai Mate, and together I like them better…alone, this chai can sometimes gain that bitter black tea edge, especially if you miscalculate on the water-simmering portion and the leaves have had enough before you’re through heating the milk that you add (if, like me, you find chai lattes the only way to go). The smell is heavenly, velvety-smoke and cinnamon, and the moment I open the bag my entire kitchen smells like the holidays. The aroma it releases when it’s on the stove and heating is almost as much a part of having chai as drinking it is.

Really, that’s what chai has become for me — a morning ritual. It’s certainly not the most slimming of my morning rituals, but I don’t care. Boston is cold right now…bitterly and suddenly, after such a temperate early season. Getting out from under my down comforter is always such a crisis of cold feet and lack of interest in being awake, but if I make it to the kitchen, then I’m good. I can start to simmer the chai blend, turn on a few lamps, and sit and smell the spices while I wait for the gunmetal grey blur outside of my window to turn silver and sharpen up into a proper world. Sometimes the sun throws in a few other colors gratis, too (but not often, because this is Boston and if there’s one thing Boston does well, it’s the color grey).

It’s true that there are probably better ways to wake up than this one, but probably not many.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec
I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

You’ve made me miss Boston and winter weather.

sophistre

I would send you some if I could! That’ll all turn around this spring when you can write tealogs about sitting on the porch (or equivalent) with iced tea in the balmy weather and I’m still slogging through Boston-colored slush. ;)

I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

I do have a porch with a wrought iron, bar-height patio set for two. I’m not a big iced tea drinker, I still drink hot tea in the spring, just not as much. However, summer is long here and super hot. I will not miss it when I don’t live here anymore.

takgoti

Your description of the waking up process is so vivid. From the sharpness of the cold and the warmth of the lamps to the scent of the spices wafting up from the stove – you’ve painted a lovely mental vignette.

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70
drank Keemun Concerto by Adagio Teas
158 tasting notes

Had this last night, but I was too tired to log it then. Lacking any other reason to sequence this sampler of six teas, I thought I would knock out the two that smelled the most alike first.

This one has a much more pungent smell when dry than the assam. The assam’s fragrance seems to be almost light, definitely not minty but sharing some of that quality in the nose. This one I opened, sniffed, and said, ‘figs’. That’s what it smelled like to me last night…dried figs. This morning I’m getting more of that barn-hayloft-horses smell I mentioned in my assam note…but where other people might find that off-putting, I really like it. It’s like hay and leather.

The taste of it was surprisingly grassy for something that smelled to me as though it would have darker raisin elements than the assam. Grassy, and then I was able to get the smoky quality the longer I sipped on it. I like both of these equally, I think. The assam might be easier to drink a great deal of, but this one was just as good for totally different reasons. I only had time to steep it once, but next time I’m going to be curious about steeping it several times, as it, like the assam melody tea, lacked bitterness on the finish.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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68
drank Assam Melody by Adagio Teas
158 tasting notes

Oh boy oh boy oh boy!!!

(No, not for this tea…though it’s pretty good! This excitement is due to my Adagio order arriving today. It’s my first go-around with them (re: teanewbie), and so I decided to order a whole slew of samplers to start familiarizing myself with tea types I’ve never had before…and I’m going to work through them all. This is the first one. Whee!)

I like this. What I like most about it is that it lacks any bitterness whatsoever, which surprises me, because it seems as though it should have some. I can vouch for the mouth-dryness mentioned in some other tasting notes, though it’s not parching or intolerable.

The smell of the tea as it was brewing was wonderful, but maybe some of the wonderfulness is due in small part to memories out of my childhood. I spent a lot of time with horses (as a lot of little girls seem to) and the smell reminds me a little bit of the scent of hot bales of alfalfa hay in the sunshine…a sort of earthy hay sweetness and warmth that I have no analogue for. If I had to make another comparison, I might say raisins, but not sharply sweet raisins…more like the aftertaste of raisins.

I got a little bit distracted during the second steeping and I’m not sure how long the leaves were in the hot water, but I know the temp was down to 208 instead of 215 when I poured it in. The flavor is more black-tea this time, weaker but still tasty. I’m looking forward to steep #3, but I suspect I’ll be done with it after that.

I’m still fussing with my ratings…I’ve rated so few teas that it’s hard to know where to place this little marker. Stuff is subject to change for a while…

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
TeaEqualsBliss

Have fun with your new shipment! Looking forward to seeing which ones you chose and what you think of them!

Cofftea

Ditto! Adagio was my 1st online tea order and my 2nd experience w/ a loose leaf tea company over all. Have fun wracking up cup points! Creating tea blends are another great way to do that.:)

teaplz

Whoooo you sound like me. :D Have fun with your new teas!

takgoti

Hah, my ratings are constantly getting adjusted. Funny how sometimes a single tea can make you realize, “Oh, man. I need to go change everything.”

Hope you enjoyed your Adagio new things! I’m sure I’ll be reading about them shortly!

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60

This tea is very sweet. You’ll expect that when you open it…you can smell the vanilla right away…and also a faint trace of something else that’s almost but not quite chocolate, even though chocolate isn’t represented anywhere in the actual flavor or scent once you brew it up.

It’s not ‘in your mouth’ sweet. Well…it IS, but the sweetness seems to linger after you swallow, in the aftertaste, rather than being picked up by your tongue when you actually have a sip of tea in your mouth. After taking another look at the ingredients I find myself unsurprised…it has honeybush and stevia leaf in it, and that seems pretty typical for both of those.

The ingredients list also includes kukicha. I confess that while I’ve had this tea multiple times in the past, I never bothered to look up what kukicha is. It seems to be bits of a green tea plant aside from the leaves? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kukicha

Learn something new every day.

It brews to a very pretty golden-honey color, with much warmer and deeper smells than I’m getting out of the foil bag. Trying to suss out the individual flavors is difficult for me tonight…I blame this cold I’m still fighting…but I can get a sense of every listed ingredient on the bag save for the coconut. There’s always a creeping sweetness at the finish, climbing up the sides of my tongue to linger toward the back. Every time I cough or clear my throat, it intensifies a lot. Crazy!

When I first tried this tea, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. It is very sweet, and I was accustomed to a very mellow, completely unsweetened, almost sort of bread-y cup when I thought about chamomile teas. I think I’ve finally decided that I like it, though. It’s an off-beat kind of sweet, and the way it happens mostly on the swallow is interesting enough to keep my attention.

I did cut the amount it recommended to brew by 1/3 though…I used 2 tsp. in 3c. of water. I should probably try their recommendation sometime to see how it goes (maybe I’ll find the coconut on the other side of that threshold) but in the past I’ve never had any trouble infusing a plenty-strong cup with even less than I used tonight.

Now, to spend 20 minutes in the kitchen trying to get this stuff out of my infuser. I think I need to invest in some silk pyramid bags or something for a few of my pesky Particle Teas. :|

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
teaplz

Ugh, anything chamomile-based is SUCH a pain! I need to get those baggies too, because it’s very traumatic and problematic trying to get every single pollen bit out of the little mesh holes.

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31
drank Pear Luna by Teavana
158 tasting notes

Bought this one during my recent splurge at Teavana, somewhat against my better judgement. I’m not really a huge fan of heavily flavored, heavily sweet teas unless they’re strictly intended to be served over ice, and even then I don’t like them too sweet…fruity and sweet are not mutually inclusive qualities. The guy who works at my ‘local’ Teavana is friendly and helpful, but I think our tastes differ. Most of the tins he opened for me made me feel as though I was being bludgeoned to death by a hammer made of fruit-sugar…and not necessarily natural fruit (or sugar) either. All of this while I was sick and congested! It may be that some of those don’t taste as strongly as they smell, certainly, but I was too wary to find out.

I caved on this one. He seemed to believe it wasn’t as intensely fruity as it smelled, and I wanted a white tea…pears, I thought, would surely not be that strongly represented after brewing. They, like blueberries, can usually be counted on to be subtle when used in foods and the like, right?

Ehhhh. I’ve been avoiding it because of the smell since I bought it — never a good sign — and finally decided to give it a try tonight while waiting for something in the oven to finish up. It tastes more or less like it smells — less strongly, though, which is a blessing — with a stronger sense of the white tea. If you go crazy for the smell of it, then you’ll probably go crazy for it in your cup. I can see adding this to some sort of pitcher concoction destined to be served over ice, but by itself it might be a little bit boring iced, and I can think of a bunch of other iced teas I’d rather be drinking.

For the cost per cup and how utterly ‘meh’ I am about it, I should probably be rating it lower than I am…but I think in this case much of the lack of appeal has to do with what I like in a cup of tea, and not necessarily how offensive the tea itself is. Now I have to figure out what to do with the amount I have left.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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85
drank Chocolate Delight by Tea Guys
158 tasting notes

So, I order from these guys periodically. They started here in the town I’m living in, after all (Boston) and I’m pretty sure their base of operations is still out of this state, so it’d be regional loyalty on my part if nothing else! Fortunately, some of their tea blends are so lovely that it’s hardly twisting my arm to browse their catalogue.

They really focus on flavored teas, as one glance at their catalogue can tell you. This is always tricky for me, because so many flavored blends (from any and all companies) try MUCH too hard.

I AM A STRAWBERRY TEA, it will scream at your nose where you stand, easily five feet away from the cannister. I KNOW THAT YOU WILL BE ABLE TO TASTE MY STRAWBERRIES ON YOUR UNCOMPLICATED AMERICAN PALATE!

Anyway, this is not a strawberry tea. This one is chocolate. Of note, I didn’t order this tea…they tossed it in with another of my orders (for the Earl Grey Cream, which I love) in a sample pack for free. The sample isn’t a bad size, either…good for a few cups at 9g, and this is hardly the first sample they’ve sent me.

I don’t often feel the burning desire to consume chocolate, but every now and then I want some. The fact that I’ve had this opened (I must have tried a cup before? I don’t remember doing so) in my cupboard for months is testament to that fact, and perhaps worth remembering in my review…I rolled the top of the foil but didn’t seal it.

The blurb up top is different from the blurb on the back of my sample…it says ‘cocoa beans, vanilla, barley and yogurt bits’, just as a heads-up.

Either way, I’m finding I really like it. I wanted something other than chai today (expected the world to end, there) but needed the caffeine and some kind of perk to my mood. Usually for my chocolate fix I go straight to the hard stuff — Dagoba’s organic Xocolatl hot cocoa with spicy chili and cinnamon, yum yum yum — but I’m clean out of the stuff, and I spotted this while I was rummaging around unsatisfied through my other options…so I decided to give it a go.

The smell of the tea is fantastic, if you like the smell of nutty cocoa. They recommend preparing it as a latte, which is what I did. I simmered approximately 3 teaspoons of it in a cup of water as per the recommendation on the packet, but instead of adding 1/2 cup (1%) milk when that was done with, I added the full cup to stretch it a little, and heated it again. The smell while it was simmering in the water was very tea-strong, probably unsurprisingly. Once I added the milk, though, it smelled lightly like baking, tea-infused chocolate-chip cookies. That sounds almost gross to me to write, but was actually sort of nice. A little bit of german rock sugar finished it off. In the end, it wasn’t quite as dark as a chai, but still had that pretty caramel-like color.

The actual latte is pretty nice. It differs yet again from its smell by being more tea-flavored on the tongue than the smell suggests it’s going to be, but the taste of the chocolate is easily detectable. It reminds me a little bit of those chocolate-striped cookies that usually have chocolate all on the bottom…but without that much sweetness, with a little bit of nuttiness, and with a definite black tea base.

I could see myself ordering this as a way to scratch the occasional sweet-tooth itch I get, for certain, though as I say chocolate isn’t usually what tickles my fancy, so the rest of the time it’d be likely to stay on the shelf.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 15 sec
Cofftea

Chocolate syrup in a tea? How does that work?

sophistre

I thought the same thing! I handled some of the blend before tossing it in, and I suspect what they’ve done is soak or dip the little cocoa bits in it, but I can’t tell for sure. Nothing came off on my hands and the inside of the sample packet is dry, not oily or slick…beats me!

teaplz

This sounds delicious and nommy. I’d definitely try it.

takgoti

The worst thing is when teas smack you in the face with their scent and then they have the nerve to taste nothing like it, which I wholly doubt is due to any immaturity in my palate and mainly due to sucky tea.

Anyhow, this does indeed sound nommy. I’m going to have to take a look at what the Tea Guys have to offer. Any recommends?

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75
drank Samurai Chai Maté by Teavana
158 tasting notes

So, I love chai. I should get more specific than that though, and say that I love chai lattes. Presumably one could wave some soy/milk/cream and sweetener in the general direction of a cup of chai and have done with it, but I am not that person. I like the malty-foamy-cozy-creamy parts of drinking chai, so that’s almost always how it’s prepared.

Not feeling well in the last month led to a spontaneous trip to the nearby Teavana, to which I had never been for no reason other than that I never made time to go. It also led to a flurry of spending done under the auspices of needing these various purchases to feel better, which in hindsight is weak justification even for me, but there you go. This was among the things I brought home…along with the Masala.

I should say right out that I’m just not qualified to rate this as far as being a mate, since I haven’t to my knowledge ever had any mate besides this stuff right here. As chai goes…

Today is the first day I haven’t combined it with the Masala, and I’m sort of surprised. I don’t know why I was daunted by the smell of it…it smells sharp and acrid, almost fruity (some part of me thought ‘potpourri’), a much ‘brighter’ smell than the smoky, cinnamon-heavy, shadowy smell of the Masala. I’ve been mixing them half and half and enjoying it a lot, but wanted to add a tasting note for some of these before I go through them, so decided to brew it up by itself. I wasn’t sure what to expect from making this one alone. I thought it might be overpowering or tangy, or…I don’t know. It’s not, though. It’s still a little bit fruity and floral (every time I use those words I feel like they’re not quite right, but they’re as close as I can get), but the steeping brings the cinnamon out a lot. It’s a much more balanced flavor than I anticipated. My first thought is that it would make for a fantastic option for iced chai when the weather warms up, though I wonder if putting it on ice would make the cinnamon more difficult to sense again. Something to look forward to finding out, for sure.

2 tbps. in 2c. water, simmered for a few minutes, and then 2c. milk added (1c. whole, 1c. 1%), brought to simmer again, removed from heat, stirred for a few minutes before straining to keep it from scalding. Turbinado sugar to taste. Not precisely sure on the steep time though.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Cofftea

Why both whole and 1%?

sophistre

In this case, just because I ran out of whole, haha. I guess there might be something said for cutting the fat content while still making sure there was enough fatty stuff in the milk to properly carry the spices, but today it was just what I had left in the fridge. ^^

Cofftea

Haha ok. I always use fat free.

teaplz

I’m pretty new to tea too, so welcome! Love how descriptive your posts are. :)

P.S. I’m a huge gamer too, we’ll have to talk about these games of ours.

P.P.S. With all this talking about games, I just lost the game.

sophistre

Thanks for the welcome! :D I am ALWAYS up to talk about games!

…Except for that one.

That I just lost. :(

Drat.

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60
drank Honeybush Vanilla by Teavana
158 tasting notes

I haven’t been able to shake this cold. I don’t know where it goes when it leaves me, but after a brief vacation it always seems to slink back in just enough to reduce my ability to properly taste food, no more and no less, which is rather cunning…any more and I might be compelled to seek proper treatment to kick it for good.

Having been therefore naughty in my reckless consumption of things I can taste — i.e., some chai with milk that assuredly does not help my mucus situation — I am prescribing myself some tea to remedy what some of my other tea has done to me. This sounds irresponsible, but I count it as a twofer.

This was an interesting choice. I think I overdid the amount of tea that I steeped by just a hair, but it didn’t really suffer for all that. The first cup was not as good as the second…it seems like the sweetness from the vanilla accrues, and the squeaky-clean mouth sensation that it left behind seemed as though it wanted some (I can’t believe I’m saying this, because I rarely like it) very subtle mint, or some other sort of ‘cooling’ addition. That last could just be because I’m still a little bit under the weather, I don’t know. I’d like to try it iced, and can see combining it with all sorts of teas for that little extra bit of sweet. Not my first pick for an evening tea, but a nice option to have, and it seems to live up to its end of the ‘keep my pipes clear’ bargain.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec
takgoti

Eep. I hope you feel better soon. I can have trouble getting rid of colds once I catch them too, but I don’t know if that would stop me from drinking chai if I were craving it either.

sophistre

Thanks! Better every day, thankfully. I don’t know what I’d do without my chai fix…I know the milk is bad, but it really does help me stay focused during the day without giving me the jitters.

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Profile

Bio

Ohhh, I dunno. I like tea but I’m kind of a tea newbie. At this point I can say with authority that I may never be anything else, no matter how many teas I try…there is always something new out there.

I write a lot.

I also play way too many video games.


Ratings! (Bout time, wot?) This is a new arrangement, so…subject to change!

1-10: Not potable. First-sip disasters.

11-30: Intensely unpleasant…won’t catch me finishing the cup.

31-50: I really don’t like it…but maybe somebody else out there would.

51-70: Drinkable, but probably not the first thing I’m going to reach for.

71-90: Pretty good tea, and stuff that there’s a good chance I’ll have on-hand. Will do in a pinch at the low end, all the way up to regular visitors to my infuser on the high end.

91-100: Teas I really do not want to be without.

Location

Boston/Cambridge

Website

http://sophistre.tumblr.com/

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