520 Tasting Notes
Completely unrelated to this post — today I learned how to steam gyoza on my stovetop and I’m quite proud. I see many dumplings-and-tea lunches ahead of me.
Anyway, I’ve been meaning to give this a try and the reviews here were even more encouraging. People can be kinda harsh about Bigelow, but they didn’t seem to hate this one as much.
The bag smells like tart apples. As the tea steeps, it goes from the a faint green tea color to the color of strawberry applesauce. Oh, hibiscus, I know that’s you. It does give it a cheery pink/red hue that someone might mistake for the pomegranate’s influence, though. Clever. The scent of it brewed still smells predominately like apples and rosehips. The flavor, however, is a little weaker than what I was expecting. It basically tastes like a Celestial Seasonings Zinger to me. Fruity with a lot of stuff going on in the background, but none of it being flavors from actual tea. This is meh, but probably alright iced.
This is the last of the new teas we’re carrying where I work. I had sort of been avoiding this one because it was herbal and I’m not really a fan of orange teas. The bag smells very strong, like mint, ginger, and especially anise. That licorice aroma! It’s powerful and a little scary.
As it steeps, the water turns pale green, then eventually a sort of murky greenish brown. I know for a fact that there’s no fennel in this, but it sure smells like it. I detest fennel. The taste is not much different from the smell. The most dominant flavor is tingly anise, followed by orange, then mint. As usual with The Republic Of Tea, the ginger is barely noticeable, which is a disappointment I should expect by now. Essentially, this tastes like watered-down medicine and I will not touch it again.
Another afterthought — The combination of spices in this reminds me of oregano. I’m thinking pizza sauce here.
This tea was a favorite of mine when I was in my late teens, right before I switched to loose-leaf. I first discovered it in Rutherfordton, North Carolina at a combination coffee shop and bar called Legal Grounds. I distinctly remember my father having a sip and making a dad-joke about it not being “his cup of tea”.
So, anyway, this is my first time trying it again after maybe six or so years. It smells delightful and familiar, light on the sage but strong, sweet blackberry. It makes me think of gummy candy. And purple. It smells purple.
The taste really takes me back. Mildly astringent black tea for a base, and complimented by the sage. Those two go very well together, and I would be curious about trying them without the fruit flavor. But the fruity blackberry is nice, too. It’s not the most realistic it could be, but it’s not bad, and even ends on a slightly tart note. I can’t say I love this as much as I did when I first discovered it, but it’s nice to have it again for nostalgia’s sake.
Detox…? Well, I suppose it couldn’t hurt. The little pillow of herbs smells like mint and chamomile the most, and something strong like anise. Something about it reminds me of summer, strangely. Like being outside in the summer. I’m a little apprehensive. But it has red clover in it, another ingredient I’ve been meaning to try out. Maybe clover is the “summery” smell?
I gave the reddish tan infusion a minute to cool, then tasted. The peppermint and licorice combination is enough to leave my mouth tingling. After another sip, I realize there’s something in it that tastes a little too strange for me. It’s woodsy and not in the pretty, floral way. This is too medicinal for me to be enjoying for the taste. I suppose that’s not what it’s meant for, however, so I finished it for the herbal content. Never again, though.
An afterthought — this would be much better with honey.
Hmm, it never occurred to me to rate my kettle, but here it is!
I received this as a gift at least 3 or 4 years ago and it’s still chugging along. It has never malfunctioned, and it even forgave me for trying to heat milk in it. It has survived three moves and even a furry convention. I use the thing every single day. Be it for my tea, cider, noodles, or whatever, it gets the water bubbling faster than anything else I’ve ever had.
There’s only one drawback. When you push the button and open the lid, a few droplets of hot water always fly out. Sometimes they land on the back of my hand, which can hurt. But I see it as a small price to pay for such a useful appliance.
It would get a perfect 100 from me if it had a temperature display. I use a meat thermometer for now.
I’m pretty interested in this one. Rosehips are something I’ve always liked, but haven’t experienced much as a tea ingredient. It seems like being paired with hibiscus wouldn’t be a bad idea. They’re both tart and fruity, after all. But I’m already wishing for a black tea base.
The dry bag smells like hibiscus and cherries. Maybe a bit like a sour apple, too. As it brews, the water changes to a bright red-orange. I tend to use a white or clear mug when I’m brewing a new tea so I can see it properly. Am I the only one that does that?
The tea’s scent as I sip reminds me of apples and oranges at the same time. It’s quite sour without sweetener, and even with a little, it remains that way. It’s also very fruity, and the hibiscus is for once not smothering the other ingredients. The rosehips remind me so much of dried apple slices. Or unspiced apple chips. Honestly, though, it’s not the boldest experience… it makes me want to see how other companies are doing this combination, or something similar.
This is your standard herbal mint tea. Composed of only dried peppermint, it leaves my mouth cool and refreshed, even though I’m drinking it hot. Sure, it’s not the best mint tea I’ve ever had, but it gets the job done. It’s a simple, no-nonsense, no frills drink.
The taste isn’t overwhelmingly minty, and it has a sort of savory/creamy, kinda buttery aftertaste that’s difficult to describe. It sort of reminds me of those after dinner mints. The softer ones that melt quickly in your mouth. While this is soothing, it leaves me wanting something a little stronger. Maybe I should have given it another minute to steep. I’m not sure.
Alright, carrying on with chamomile. But I get the feeling from this tea’s official description that it might not be a shining example. “An excellent quality product”, you say? Hmmm.
Well, it smells like honey to me. Honey and dried grass. The first sip makes me suddenly realize what I have been tasting in herbal “bedtime” teas all these years. So that’s what chamomile tastes like by itself. It’s actually pretty pleasant! It has an vanilla-like quality to it, especially in the aftertaste. In fact, I’d like to taste this in a vanilla blend. I bet some tea company is making that. Must investigate.
I’ve decided I need to give chamomile a chance. I never really had it growing up, so I’ve never had a taste for it. But if it’s something that’s tried and true to de-stress, I’ll give it a try.
As I hit the sachet with hot water, it expands into a little floating pillow full of pale dried flowers and what looks like lemongrass. I think I can see some fruit peelings in there, too. The citrus scent is very powerful and sour, and makes me think of grapefruit and oranges. It’s so strong that I’m giving it a minute less than the instructions say.
The taste is more on the lemony side, with a vaguely minty herbal flavor mixed in. It’s not as harsh with citrus as the aroma had lead me to believe. There’s something about it that tastes very clean, and I like that. Honestly, however, I’m not sure what good chamomile is supposed to taste like, so I can’t make any judgements there. I’ll try a plain chamomile next…