474 Tasting Notes

88
drank Castleton Autumnal by Harney & Sons
474 tasting notes

I’m… the only person to review this? Seriously?

Alright! I decided to be a little gentle with this one for my first cup, which I think turned out to be a good idea. After under four minutes, it’s quite flavorful. The muscatel is present in the forefront, as one would expect. It’s “green” tasting to me, reminding me of spring and grass. There is a lingering sweetness about it that’s pleasant. It also sort of reminds me of green beans, steamed and sweet. As far as astringency goes, it does dry my mouth a bit, but I don’t mind.

The official description of this tea mentions notes of stone fruit, but I’m not really getting that. Hmm. There is a hint of fruit on the exhale, but I’m not tasting anything specific.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 45 sec

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83

Cinnamon and hibiscus? That’s certainly an interesting combination, but in my head, it seems like it could be a good idea. The bag smells appealing, at least. Warm, comforting cinnamon and not really much else. Something about it reminds me of Christmas and gingerbread men. Also Red Hots.

Despite the hibiscus content, it doesn’t brew up entirely magenta. More like maroon-tinted amber. Even when steeped, I still can’t smell the hibiscus, but I know that’s more than alright with a few of you! It’s somewhat present in the flavor, but you really have to feel for it. Otherwise, this tastes like a plain cinnamon tea. I happen to like that, though, so I’m enjoying this a lot. The cinnamon is very vivid, but not enough to burn. For something cheap and grocery store brand, this is surprisingly simple and good.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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86
drank Tippy Yunnan by Harney & Sons
474 tasting notes

I’ve been meaning to review this for weeks, but I kept getting side-tracked. Meanwhile, my sample dwindles.

As far as yunnans go, this one is on the darker, earthier side. It has that sweet, malty scent to it, with a hearty taste of smoke and hay. After three minutes, it comes out smooth and caramelly, but if you go longer, it gets a sort of heavy bitterness to it like a keemun. It really depends on whether or not you like astringency. If it was early in the morning and I needed a wake-up call, I’d let this steep for a while to really bring out the strength… but tonight, I was looking for more complexity.

I highly recommend trying it both ways. There is no right or wrong preparation, it seems.

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

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76
drank Pumpkin Spice Chai by Twinings
474 tasting notes

My parents got this as a free sample, so I nicked it from the cupboard after Sunday dinner. My first impression of this tea is not good. I sniffed the bag and could barely smell any spices. Uh oh. Also, the pumpkin flavor smelled strangely cardboard-like. But I’m still willing to give it a chance, out of love for chai.

Granted, the actual brewed tea smells better. Fragrant cinnamon and ginger, with something sort of like if you boiled pumpkin pie filling. Stewed is the word, I guess. I can also smell pie crust, which is interesting. I added a very conservative splash of 1% milk and a little sweetener. The flavor isn’t exactly what I expected. This doesn’t taste much like chai. Instead, it’s basically a pumpkin spice dessert tea. Most of the chai spices, except the ginger, are hidden under the heavy layers of cinnamon and whatever they used to make “pumpkin”.

Overall, this isn’t bad, but it’s also not what I was hoping it would be. It does make me think of Thanksgiving and Christmas at my Dad’s, though, which is oddly comforting. I would drink this again, yes, but I don’t think I’d purchase it.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 15 sec

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88
drank Coconut Chai by Zhena's Gypsy Tea
474 tasting notes

I finally gave in and picked this up a few days ago because it was on sale at Kroger. (This had been on my Shopping List for at least 2 years.) I also want to note that my tin is black, unlike the one in the picture here.

By now I’ve had it both hot and iced, which is what I’m sipping on now. As far as chais go from my experience, this is a sort of mild one. The spices aren’t particularly strong, but that’s not to say it isn’t flavorful. It is, it just doesn’t burn my mouth like the chai at Java Monkey here in Decatur. (I love the burn…) Since the spices are so mild, I tend to drink this one without milk. When I brewed it for the first time, I put a few teaspoon’s worth in, which was also nice, but I was looking for a bolder experience.

The nutmeg and cinnamon are what I taste first, followed by delicious ginger and cardamom. I can’t say the coconut stands out very much, but it’s there. It adds a sweet sort of vanilla-like note, which I am loving right now. Sadly, though, this tea makes me miss Adagio’s Thai Chai. While I’ll be happy to finish this tin, I think I’m going to keep searching for my perfect chai…

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 0 sec
yappychappy

How does this compare with Adagio Thai Chai? Have you had that one?

Tabby

Yeah, I really like their Thai Chai. This doesn’t have any lemongrass in it, so it tastes a little less, um, Asian for lack of better words. I remember Thai Chai having a bit of a stronger coconut flavor as well, which is another reason why I like it better.

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58
drank Mint Herb Tea by Bigelow
474 tasting notes

Still on my mint tea kick, I picked up a box of this at Big Lots for $1.80. (Wow…) Bigelow’s official website doesn’t list this stuff, and there wasn’t a page for it here on Steepster, either. That made me a tad apprehensive, but I’m still going for it.

It brewed up darker than most peppermint blends I’ve had recently, and it has a strange, sharp scent to it. It’s hard to describe, but it sort of reminds me of lawn clippings that have been in the sun for a few days. Kinda sour and strangely pickle-like. Yes, pickles. Like the bread-and-butter pickles that come from a jar. Or sweet gherkins. Weird.

The box additionally lists rosehips, lemon peel, and hibiscus in the ingredients, so I guess that explains the darker, more reddish color than what I’m used to. But, honestly, I don’t really taste any of those things. I just taste peppermint and spearmint leaves, which is nice, don’t get me wrong. It tastes fine, nice and cool and minty. It’s just the scent that kinda gets to me. Maybe I’ll mix it into other teas or something…

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

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84

So, I was at Goodyear getting an oil change and the second I wandered away from the counter, I raided their coffee and tea area. I basically took one of each flavor they had. So what if this is bagged and Kroger brand? I’ve never had it before and I’m willing to review it!

Fresh out of the foil, the bag smells lovely. Minty with the potent, herbal aroma of lemongrass. The peppermint draws me in, as I’ve been out of mint tea for a while, and have been missing it. As it brews, the peppermint becomes the most noticeable scent over the lemony herbs.

Upon first sip, I’m greeted by a very fresh peppermint taste that immediately chills my tongue. It’s followed by sweet, soothing lemon verbena and lemongrass. Just like the scent of the tea, the peppermint leaves take the forefront and are followed by lemon. It’s nice that they didn’t put lemon peel in this, or else I think it would have been too harsh. All around, this is sort of unremarkable, but I like it. It’s simple, gentle, and clean-tasting.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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85
drank Raspberry Earl by Zhena's Gypsy Tea
474 tasting notes

Raspberry Earl Grey! It’s like something I’d make up for myself!

First of all, this tea smells great before it’s brewed. Strong on the raspberry, but not so strong that it reminds me of candy. It’s more like the actual dried fruit. The aroma of bergamot is there, but just barely. Sort of hiding behind the raspberry, but that might be a good thing. One wouldn’t want them to clash.

As far as the flavor goes, it’s much smoother than I expected. The black tea aspect is gentle, but mildly astringent. It’s mostly there in the aftertaste, backing up the fruit. Raspberry is definitely the most dominant flavor. So much, that if I hadn’t known this was an Earl Grey, I probably wouldn’t have guessed it. However, there is a bit of a tingling, cooling sensation that must be the bergamot shining through. I wouldn’t exactly call this an Earl Grey because of my own preferences, but it’s still a good tea. I’m going to enjoy finishing my sample.

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

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90
drank Hao Ya 'A' by Harney & Sons
474 tasting notes

As I prepare this, my hopes are high. It smells like it’s going to be a very good, strong black tea. The fine, narrow leaves have a sharp, dark, lightly smoky aroma. It’s almost like a lapsang souchong, but not piney. As it steeps, I smell notes of wheat and cocoa. Almost like kid’s cereal, but smoky.

The dark tea’s flavor is malty and toasted. Great for this wet, chilly day. The smoke also plays a part to strengthen and compliment it, lingering in the aftertaste and exhale. The cocoa does come through, but it’s not the most prevalent flavor. It’s a tiny bit on the astringent side, but not really that bitter. There’s certainly a lot going on in this Keemun, but I like it very much. It’s very satisfying. I will probably get another sample next time I order, along with the Hao Ya ‘B’.

EDIT: Coming back to say that this might be a tea to avoid if you’re caffeine-sensitive!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 15 sec

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85
drank Blue Ginger by Harney & Sons
474 tasting notes

As I finish my sample, I want to note that this makes a great iced tea! Very refreshing, especially paired with my spinach salad! Something about it being cold really brings out the lychee flavor, too! Upping my rating!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 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/industrial 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, golden monkey, chai, and keemun. My favorite add-ons are plum, cinnamon, coconut, apple, raspberry, bergamot, cucumber, sage, vanilla, 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.

Location

Decatur, GA

Website

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