92 Tasting Notes
This tea may be a little lost on me, as I add milk to almost all black teas. It has a warm, malty character that is not overwhelmed by the touch of creaminess. I wouldn’t say the cream is vanilla exactly – it just rounds out the boldness of the tea. It did taste just a touch artificial towards the end of the cup, but overall I thought it was very nice – bold, but still polite for difficult mornings.
Second steeping… not bad! There is a little less bite, but overall this holds up well to reusing the leaves.
Chai seems to be a pretty individual thing. I myself prefer a chai that’s heavy on the black pepper and cardamom, but I wouldn’t mind if there weren’t any cloves at all. I also want the tea itself to be robust, able to stand up to stovetop preparation (and the accompanying milk and sugar!) This is a great chai for my preferences. The smell is strongly of black pepper and cloves, but when brewed the cloves take a backseat to the pepper and cardamom. I gave it 5 minutes, and it’s perfect! The pepper has bite, but it isn’t too much. I really like this – it reminds me of Tazo’s chai, for reference, but it’s better!
The smell of strawberry candies hits my nose when I open the bag. This tea certainly smells more fruity than I was expecting! I can smell the assam as well, which makes me happy – perhaps it won’t be all fruit!
Steeped for 5 minutes at boiling. Without additions the black tea base is strong and a little bitter. The fruit flavors come in at the end, making me think this would be lovely iced.
I added my usual milk and sweetener and tried it again. The addition of sweetness changes the character of this tea a great deal, but not in a bad way! It doesn’t taste of strawberries or lemon – instead it tastes exactly like candied violets. I love that taste, so I’m pretty excited to get violets from what I assumed would be a standard fruity tea. It’s definitely floral – I’d recommend this to anyone who loves rose tea or earl grey (though it isn’t as sharp as either of those blends.) I gave my husband some as a blind test, and he hated it (he hates floral tastes) but definitely did not identify it as being fruity. I really like this one!
This tea is the answer to a common conundrum of mine… what should I drink in the morning when I’m feeling under the weather? I need some caffeine to wake up, but I don’t want the astringency that I usually do in a morning cup. This tea is the answer – cooling peppermint blended in with malty assam (my favorite breakfast tea.) Now, you will note that I completely forgot that this contained black tea and had it at 10 pm… but never you mind. It will be great for mornings!
The tea leaves are really pretty, with the contrasting dark black and bright green colors. The smell is 100% peppermint, so I was expecting the mint to dominate. I let it brew 5 minutes – longer than I would usually let an assam go, but I like my tea strong. To my surprise, the mint doesn’t dominate at all. In fact, without any additions it’s mostly malty assam, with a cool finish. I added milk and sweetener, and the assam stood up nicely while allowing a little more mint through. This is not a mint tea, though as it cools I do get a little more mint. I think it would be decent iced, but it might be too minty. I like this much more than I thought I would, though it doesn’t replace my beloved “Read my lips” for a black tea/mint blend.
Dessert tea of the night! Gingerbread lattes are one of my biggest indulgences around the holiday time, so I thought I’d try this tea. I brewed the tea for 4 minutes, and then added 1/4 cup steamed milk and a little sweetener.
At first, I was a little disappointed at the taste, which I found timid. I put the leaves back in for another minute, and reminded myself that it may not be as strong as Starbucks, but it’s a whole lot better for me! Luckily, both worked. The extra minute brought out a little heat from the ginger, and I stopped wanting it to have coffee in it!
I can taste the ceylon base, so this tea isn’t totally about the flavoring. There is a nice bit of ginger and some cream. I’d still like it to be sharper tasting, but that’s just me. It’s nice and soothing, especially as a dessert!
I love white chocolate, but I’m not sure how the taste translates to tea, since I think it just tastes like sugar and cocoa butter. I threw this into my order because it sounded interesting. The samples from Culinary teas are huge – twice the size of most companies!
The smell of the dry leaves is dusty, and intensely of cloves. I was not excited as cloves are almost my least favorite part of chai (though still, better that than star anise!) I brewed up a whole pot of this to share with my husband. There is an oily sheen to the top of the tea, likely from the melted white chocolate chips. First sip (no additions) is really all about the cloves. It’s sharp and a bit unpleasant. But chai needs milk and sugar, so I added both to my cup.
It’s nicer with the milk, which tames the clove a bit. I still think the flavor is unbalanced. There is a slight creaminess, but I can’t really taste the white chocolate (that’s ok, I didn’t think I would!) I do like the bite of black pepper at the end. My husband, who is far more sensitive to bitter tastes than I, took one sip of his tea and then immediately headed to the fridge for his cinnamon coffee creamer. I don’t believe in non-dairy creamer, so I can’t say, but he said the cinnamon made it much better. I can’t really recommend this one – I would like more spice, but less cloves. Drinkable, but a bit of a last resort tea for me!
Not as assertive as I thought it might be, but still a good cup for breakfast! I thought I totally oversteeped this (left the infuser in for 6 minutes while answering some computer questions) but it’s fine. Apparently it can handle longer steeps than most breakfast teas that I have had! I’m not getting much malt, and it’s not super astringent (with milk and sugar, as I take all breakfast teas.) Not my favorite, but I wouldn’t turn it down!