514 Tasting Notes

85

I absolutely had to have this after seeing it advertised on Instagram. Caramel AND a massive amount of caffeine? Perfect for a girl who has to get up at 7:30 but refuses to go to bed before midnight.

Last night, I went out with my friends and saw Purity Ring. They were fantastic, of course. Just all-around gorgeous show. But this morning was considerably less fantastic. I went about making this iced to keep myself upright at work. The packaging says that each tea bag contains 165mg of caffeine. A little intimidated, I thought I had only used 2 bags for a 24-ounce container. But when I scooped the bags out after steeping, I discovered a third one. Oh no.

But there was no going back! I had run out of time and had to get to work. Now, I’m going to have to try this again before I can get a proper feel for the flavor. However, even with 3 bags, I agree with what others say about the caramel taste. It’s good, but it’s not as strong as I tend to like it. If you’re only in this for the caramel, I suggest trying a different brand. The tea itself is SUPER potent. That is some bitingly bitter black. Of course, that has a lot to do with my preparation, though. I’m sure if I had used 2 bags instead it wouldn’t be so powerful.

Now, about the caffeine! It’s enough to make me queasy, and I’m a lover of espresso shots. I couldn’t even finish it, while I usually destroy my morning tea long before lunch. My hands shook pretty much all day. My handwriting was terrible. It was just too much. 2 bags next time, Tabby, never 3.

All that said, I’m really interested in a few of the other flavors now that I know how strong it’s going to be and can adjust. The coconut and cinnamon toast ones are calling my name!

Flavors: Bitter, Burnt Sugar, Caramel

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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88
drank Caramel by The Tea Table
514 tasting notes

This was a free sample from my last Tea Table order. Caramel is one of my absolute favorite flavors, so I jumped on getting to try this.

Yay, it’s one of those caramel teas with the little cubes of actual candy mixed in! It was hard to not pick them out and eat them on the spot. The dry tea smells authentic and toasty. Like stovetop caramel, none of that cellophane-wrapped stuff you got in your Trick Or Treat basket and never ate.

I used a pretty good amount of tea, 3 teaspoons, since I was making it iced. It’s too hot for anything else down here this time of year. After sweetener and ice, it got a taste test and I immediately thought of *Liberteas*’ Sweet Caramel Of Mine. Damn, I miss that tea! While it doesn’t taste quite as toasted as that, it has that wonderful lightly “burnt” flavor. The caramel is creamy, malty, and decadent.

For the price, I think this might turn out to be my mainstay caramel tea. Here’s to another Tea Table order and more samples, haha!

Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Butter, Caramel, Creamy, Malt

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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85
drank Vanilla Chai by The Tea Table
514 tasting notes

Ok, I admit I bought this just so I could pick out 3 samples from The Tea Table. I mean, it’s vanilla chai, how could you go wrong there?

And as I expected, I did not go wrong in my selection. It smells delicious. But the scent of the dry leaves and spices doesn’t reflect any vanilla to me. It smells like plain chai. This isn’t much of a letdown, though, because I love chai in pretty much any form. I smell cardamom, cinnamon, and a bit of ginger.

After ice, real sugar, and a splash of 1% milk, I gave it a go. The vanilla still doesn’t really stand out to me. I can smell it before I take a sip, but I can’t really taste it, unfortunately. I do get a pleasant burn from the ginger and other spices, though. That’s very nice. It’s certainly on the mild side for chai, even with 4 tsp. in 16 ounces of water and milk, but it’s not bad. I will be coming back to The Tea Table for sure, if only just to explore more samples. It’s fun stuff!

Flavors: Cardamon, Cinnamon, Ginger, Vanilla

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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82

Ok, finally getting around to reviewing this one. Again, my thanks go to Just Organic Teas for giving me this sample to try!

It smells flat-out wonderful. Bright, sweet mango scent with something perfume-like. The aroma is so inviting and juicy. Citrus and apricot and mango scents – basically any kind of orange fruit. As it steeps, it comes out to a light tan color and the aroma of chamomile appears. Once iced, the tea fades to a more normal green tea color – like faintly green straw.

The flavor is a little milder than I expected, but I like it. It’s not like drinking mango juice or anything. There is no tartness, but you can tell it’s made with tea in the finish. The chamomile is also present – surprisingly unmuted by the fruit. However, in my second glass, I plan on using a less ice-heavy ratio. I suppose my only critique of this would be that the mango flavor needs more of a kick.

Flavors: Citrus, Fruity, Mango

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 15 sec

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76
drank Organic Bramblewine by Tazo
514 tasting notes

I received this tea as a gift a good while ago and have made it several times without reviewing. It’s certainly not something I’d buy for myself due to the rooibos content and the sheer LOAD of hibiscus.

When steeped, it’s what you’d expect with a hibiscus tea. A bright, cheerful magenta. Very pretty! I made it iced and had to sweeten it – it’s pretty dang tart otherwise. The flavor makes me instantly think of Starbucks’s Berry Hibiscus Refreshers. There is a nice berry flavor that goes along with it, but it’s on the lighter side and kind of blends with the tangy hibiscus.The green tea aspect might as well not be there, but the rooibos… It doesn’t let itself be forgotten about. It leaves that aftertaste I hate so much in my mouth and nose with every sip.

Like I said, this isn’t something I’d get again, but I won’t mind finishing it over ice on hot days. Also, I’m not tasting wine at all. I think they just call it that to sound fancy.

Flavors: Berry, Blackberry, Fruity, Hibiscus, Rooibos, Sour, Strawberry, Tangy, Tart

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 30 sec
teaqueen

I have this one. Hibiscus galore with a hint of fruitiness, and not so much wine. Or bramble, whatever that is.

Tabby

Bramble is just another word for blackberry bushes, lol.

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72
drank Chai Ultra Spice by Twinings
514 tasting notes

This is a freebie I got from Twinings’s website. Ocassionally, they let you sign up for free samples, but usually when I do, nothing happens. I was pleasantly surprised to find this in my mailbox a few weeks ago.

Anyway, it smells like a mostly ordinary chai in the bag. Clove stands out the most, followed by cinnamon and a tart scent that I think is just a combination of everything else. After it steeped, I splashed in a very small dollop of 1% milk and it went instantly pale. Not a good sign, usually. I hate a chai that can’t hold its own against a little milk.

As I sip, I’m disappointed. It tastes like gingerbread made from cardboard. There is a hefty amount of ginger, which is nice and leaves a pleasant burn. That must be the “Ultra” part. But the rest of the tea… I can’t taste the black tea base at all. The cinnamon, ginger, and clove are a lovely touch, but… I dunno, this just tastes cheap and kind of lame to me.

It might have been better if I had used more than one bag, but I only had one. Double-strength, this might have been alright.

Flavors: Cardamon, Cardboard, Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger, Spicy

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 30 sec

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84
drank Kiwi Black Tea by The Tea Table
514 tasting notes

This is a free sample I received with my last Tea Table order. I am such a sucker for tea companies that let you pick freebies! When I picked this out, I didn’t read the description completely. My thought process was basically “Kiwi tea? I’ve never had that! Done!” And so it arrived.

The scent of it really is unique. It smells very fruity and “tropical” for lack of a better word. I definitely do smell kiwi, but also pineapple. Yum! The pineapple was a bit of a surprise, as were the lime leaves. Another first there!

The flavor is lighter than I expected, with a hint of the kiwi’s tartness. You know how a kiwi is sweet, tart, and bitter all at the same time? This tea is sort of like that. Kiwi flavor is in the forefront, followed by pineapple, and banana. There are no banana ingredients in this, but I swear the notes are there. Or maybe I’m crazy. (That’s more likely.) I can’t say I taste the lime or blackberry leaves over the fruit, but I know they’re not really strong flavors to begin with.

Anyway, I don’t know if I’d come back for more of this, but it was a nice experience. I’ll definitely be back to The Tea Table for more samples!

Flavors: Fruity, Pineapple, Tropical

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
Fjellrev

Sounds like a delicious flavour combination!

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85
drank Orange Hibiscus by Just Organic Tea
514 tasting notes

Nearing the end of my Just Organic Teas reviews with this one. I’ve got the mango-citrus one next, then I’m on to other things.

The scent of it instantly reminds me of Tazo’s “Passion” and this glass bottled juice tea they made called “Brambleberry”. (Which turned out to be marion berry juice and cinnamon.) The hibiscus is bright and in the forefront, complimented by cinnamon. Honestly, I can just barely smell the orange peel and lemon myrtle over the hibiscus, but we could all assume that was going to happen.

When finished, the tea comes out to such a dark purple it’s practically eggplant. It’s very fragrant, fruity and spiced. Once iced, it comes out to a lovely cranberry-like shade of red. Sipping it over ice seems like drinking fruit juice. There’s zero tea astringency or bitterness since it’s herbal, so it’s very smooth and even after sweetener, it’s tart. The cinnamon is a nice touch, too. It makes it stand out. However, the cinnamon and hibiscus are loud and don’t really give the other notes a chance.

I can’t really say this tea tastes very “orange”. But that’s fine, as I’m not really into that. But if you are looking for something citrusy, I wouldn’t recommend it for that. Still, I like it. It reminds me of sangria! That’s what it is! Maybe it wil have to make another appearance this summer for that reason alone.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Fruity, Hibiscus, Tangy, Tart

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 45 sec

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86
drank Iced Strawberry by Just Organic Tea
514 tasting notes

I’m pretty excited about trying this one because for the longest time, I thought I was intolerant to all things strawberry flavor. But! It turns out it’s just Red Dye No. 40 that makes me sick! That leaves me free to drink all the strawberry teas I want now! Yay! This will be the first. (I still wish I could have Starburst, though…)

It smells wonderful before it hits the water. Like sweet strawberry preserves. It makes me want jam on toast. Like the other iced Ceylons I’ve tried from Just Organic Tea, it gets very dark and concentrated in the quart of water they recommend using. This prepares it to be hit with an almost full glass of ice, where it must stand up to being diluted.

The flavor puts a smile on my face. After a little sweetener, it’s a fruity and oddly wholesome-tasting treat. Like the others I’ve tried, the black tea aspect sort of falls into the background. (Though the caffeine boost it provides is nice.) I’m still definitely reminded of strawberry jam as I drink it on this bright spring day. It’s almost like a dessert tea — the black tea add a sort of base that makes me think of strawberry shortcake. Mmm. Definitely recommend this one, guys.

Flavors: Berries, Fruity, Strawberry

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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85

Another sample from Just Organic Tea! I’m genuinely surprised that I’m the first person to review this.

It’s late, but I want iced tea, so this is perfect. Something naturally caffeine free as it only contains herbal ingredients — spearmint, lemon peel, and lemon myrtle. All organic, of course. The spearmint in the aroma is very soothing but strong. It mutes the smell of the other ingredients, but that’s kind of normal with mint. It doesn’t play second-fiddle.

The water slowing changes to a cheerful light greenish-yellow, then darkens to the color of a light black tea. A sort of brownish amber. The aroma of the tea, which I know is concentrated for icing purposes, is very pungent. I smell spearmint above everything else, followed by a scent that reminds me of lawn clippings that have dried in the sun.

The resulting tea is my favorite so far in the batch of samples. The mint they use is obviously quality – devoid of that weird “dill” aftertaste I’ve encountered so often in mint teas. I’m not sure what causes that taste, but I only seem to notice it in cheap mint teas. I know this might not be something others experience, but to me, this also one of those “creamy” spearmints. The lemon myrtle and peel, like in the aroma, are muted almost completely. There’s a hint of them in the finish, but you really have to be looking for it. Still, the result is very refreshing and manages to be minty without being “toothpastey”. It leaves my mouth feeling cool. I like it very much. It would be glorious to put some fresh mint in with the ice.

Flavors: Lemon Zest, Mint, Spearmint

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 15 sec

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Bio

Quiet, strange, and in love with the world of tea. 20-something and living just outside of Atlanta. Cat lover, EBM/synthpop geek, balcony gardener, and collector of fossils. On the hunt for the perfect tea in each of my favorite categories.

I prefer black teas, but I’m trying to broaden my horizons. My favorites tend to be yunnan tips, earl grey, chai, and pretty much any black tea from Fujian, China. My favorite add-ons are plum, cinnamon, sage, apple, coconut, raspberry, lychee, bergamot, osmanthus, cucumber, lavender, vanilla, cardamom, ginger, and caramel.

I’m shy about green tea, curious about white, and learning to love oolong. I hate rooibos and anything with orchid, fennel, or jasmine.

I’m currently growing my own tea. I have a 3-year-old potted Camellia sinensis, and I plan on picking a tiny bit of new growth this spring for my first try at drying my own leaves.

Since joining, I’ve traded with: Kaliska, QueenOfTarts, LiberTEAS, JustJames, Spencer, Ninavampi, Jillian, Teafreak, KeenTeaThyme, and RachanaC (Rachel)-iHeartTeas.

You can assume that I’m preparing my tea using the Western method. I use zero-calorie sweeteners and in the hot months, I drink my tea almost exclusively iced.

Location

Decatur, GA

Website

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