501 Tasting Notes
I had been saving this tea for two reasons. One, because I know from experience that Fujians don’t really make good iced teas, so I was waiting for chilly weather. And two, because Fujian black teas are my absolute favorite, so I had the urge to hoard it.
The scent of the dry leaf makes me smile. It’s rich and chocolatey like cocoa nibs. I’m also smelling baked goods, like wheat bread or a croissant. As it steeps, the tea grows nice and dark, almost opaque. The wet leaves smell even more like bread.
The flavor is smooth and pleases me greatly. Exactly what I’ve come to love in a Fujian. Deeply satisfying and on the hearty side. A tad malty, but mostly wonderfully chocolate-like. It has lots of layers and notes mixed in harmoniously. I’m really not understanding why so many people here weren’t pleased with it! They must have been oversteeping or something.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Chocolate, Cocoa, Hay, Malt, Wheat
I haven’t reviewed this tea? I could have sworn I did. Oh well, maybe I’m thinking about Teavivre’s version.
Anyway, it was 33°F this morning. A harsh wakeup call, if you ask me. So, I wanted something strong and wintery. No iced Earl Grey for me today!
I’ve had lapsangs before, but this one smells like straight up bacon cooked over a wood stove. Or cooked outdoors, at least. It’s smoky, but not in a cigarette way. In a nice fall way. You know that smell that fills your car for a moment when you pass someone burning leaves in their yard? It’s sort of like that.
However, the flavor is much less intimidating than the aroma. It’s actually a very smooth black tea. Hardly astringent and not bitter at all. It also doesn’t taste charred. More cured than burned. In the forefront are smoky pine notes, followed by leather and meat. I know it’s odd to think of tea as meaty, but I definitely taste something that makes me think of bacon.
While I know most people don’t like lapsangs, I still recommend this tea. It’s an unusual experience that I think people should have at least once. You never know, you might love it!
Flavors: Campfire, Dark Wood, Leather, Meat, Pine, Wood
I can’t believe I haven’t written about this tea yet. I’m dipping into my second tin now, thanks to Kaliska.
This is my favorite Earl Grey to ice. Something about the crisp darjeeling is perfect for it. Though the bergamot is still very, very strong, you can taste some of that foresty flavor coming through. It’s not as heavy as the black base Harney & Sons uses for their more famous EGs. It’s a lovely combination of fresh wood, bergamot, and citrus notes. I can’t really say that the muscatel flavor comes through, though. There’s just too much other stuff going on.
Today, I’m having it with a pinch of Harney’s French Super-Blue Lavender. A pinch is really all you need. That stuff is seriously potent, but I find it soothing. Yum.
Flavors: Bergamot, Citrus Zest, Green Wood
Short review because I don’t actually have the tea in front of me. I finished my sample off yesterday.
This is one of those comforting, naturally chocolatey teas. The little balls remind me of Cocoa Puffs. They’re the same size, shape, and almost the same color. For Adagio, it’s surprisingly complex. They smell sweet and hay-like. The tea brews up dark brown and smells wonderful. I get notes of honey, hay, cocoa, wheat, and bread in the flavor. Mmm.
The only reason I’m giving this tea less than a 90 is because I’ve had Teavivre’s version and it was noticeably better. I know they’re from the same region, but there’s just a slight difference in quality.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cocoa, Hay, Honey, Wheat
About two weeks ago, I left my job of 4 years to find something better. During my week and a half of being unemployed, I did some research on Atlanta-based tea. Sure enough, I found Just Add Honey, with their small brick and mortar store at the edge of downtown. While they weren’t hiring, I got to visit and meet the owner, a kind lady by the name of Brandi. There were a couple teas I wanted up on the wall in jars, but being in between jobs, I just got a sample of chai. (And made sure she had a copy of my resume, haha.)
Let me tell you, this tea packs a punch! It does not disappoint on the spice aspect. When I sniffed it in the glass jar, I was surprised at how clovey it was. Most blends of chai I’ve tasted were a little shy with the clove, or even left it out completely, but not this one. It also has a nice, balanced taste of cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom. Star anise is listed in the ingredients, but I can’t really taste that aspect.
As far as the vanilla goes, it’s interesting. Not a coconutty or French vanilla. It’s a buttercreamy, dessert-like vanilla. Combined with the spices, it comes out to something that tastes like… dare I say it… pumpkin spice. It was definitely a good choice for fall. I might have to go back for more pretty soon. The contrast between the warm spice and the chilly air will be nice!
Flavors: Cardamon, Cinnamon, Cream, Creamy, Ginger, Vanilla
This is another one I bought on a whim from the salvage grocery store. I figured even if it was bad, I could just make it into chai or something.
Turns out, it’s not great. I mean, I’m not a fan of yerba mate in the first place, so I might be biased. It’s strong, rubbery-tasting and cloudy. Very dark and pungent. With a little sweetner, it’s not bad, but it’s defintely not a great black tea experience. There are notes of green plant matter, earth, and hay.
However, they weren’t kidding about it being energizing. Black tea plus yerba mate = cracked-out Tabby. I’m going to have to remember this on days when I’m dragging my feet at work.
So, basically, I don’t recommend this tea for the taste or quality. But I do recommend it for the buzz!
Flavors: Dirt, Earth, Hay
The only reason I have this is because I found it in a salvage grocery store for $1.45. The box was squished, but it wasn’t expired.
As far as bagged chais go, this isn’t the worst one I’ve tried. It also isn’t the best, of course. Cinnamon is the most dominant spice I can taste, while the other spices just sort of blend together in the background. I can hardly taste the base at all.
If you end up with this tea for whatever reason, you might wanna double-up on the amount of bags you’d normally use. It’s really weak and they were stingy with the spice. Or, you know, you could just skip it altogether.
At 3 am last night, I decided I wanted to make chai. Not because I wanted a cup at that hour, but because I really enjoy the ritual of it. Also, it makes my kitchen smell amazing. I figured I’d put it in the fridge for the next morning, when it would be greatly appreciated.
I’m almost done with this tub of bulk black tea. I don’t like it very much, but it works well enough as a base to blend with. I’m going to try it with a plain Assam next.
This is my current chai recipe, if anyone’s curious:
4 cups water
8 tsp. black tea
1 tsp. vanilla extract
10 cardamom pods (mine might be a bit old, so you might need less)
5 cinnamon sticks (same goes for this)
1 2" piece of ginger root, sliced up
1 tbsp honey
This makes chai concentrate, so it’s best served over a lot of ice and with milk.