513 Tasting Notes
Absolutely loving the new update. The new rating scale that actually shows the numbers is awesome! The new fonts, all the little details we can add to the tea pages and our reviews. I’m seriously nerding out over here. I’m going to have a lot of fun filling these things out! But the bottom part – “What flavors and scents do you notice?” Is that like the TL;DR section? Kinda defeats the purpose of a review… or maybe that’s just me.
Anyway, this tea was another gift from*Kaliska*. I absolutely love Earl Grey creme teas. Vanilla and bergamot together with a strong black base? How could I resist?
Upon opening the package, I am instantly hit with a cupcakey, lemony vanilla aroma. Mmmm. If any of you are familiar with Adagio’s Earl Grey Moonlight, this smells almost exactly like it. It looks beautiful in the pouch, too. Very dark leaves mixed with pretty blue calendula flowers and some other silvery flowers that aren’t listed on the webpage. When steeped, the mystery flowers opened sort of like a dandelion. I’d also like to note that there was no oil on top of the tea this time. I wonder if it was coming from the chocolate Della Terra uses.
The black tea this is based on is certainly potent. Quite astringent and maybe a little bitter. But the bitterness is complimented so sweetly by the vanilla and citrus of the bergamot. It’s somehow hearty and soothing at the same time. The creme flavor is especially apparent on the exhale. I think this would be a good tea for first thing in the morning… something that both consoles you after leaving your nice warm bed, but also packs a punch to help get you started.
Flavors: Cream, Flowers, Lemon Zest, Vanilla
This one was a gift from Kaliska after we spent some time checking out Della Terra’s rather unique lineup.
The first thing I notice about this tea is that there are actual little chunks of toffee mixed in. I absolutely love toffee. Also, coconut flakes, which are usually a plus. There’s a lot more to this tea than the name implies. I’m seeing butterscotch listed as an ingredient, too. Yum.
Just like Chili Chocolate Truffle, there is a considerable amount of oil collected on top of the brew. It’s a little cloudy, too. It smells very strongly of chocolate, but not quality chocolate. More like the cheap artificial kinds of chocolate, like Tootsie Rolls or Little Debbie snacks. The rest of the ingredients smell great, however, if you can get past the fake cocoa. I have such a weakness for caramel that I am willing to see past it.
The black tea they used for a base is not very strong compared to all the other ingredients. It’s hardly astringent, and doesn’t do much to add flavor. The strongest thing I taste is chocolate, but in a Swiss Roll kinda way. The caramel, toffee, and butterscotch come next, plus notes of honey. I don’t taste the coconut at all. Overall, I think this tea would be great with everything but the chocolate. I’ll finish the sample, maybe try some experiments with milk, but it’s not something I’d want again.
Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate
My friend gave me one of these to try. He said he found it at the Asian market, but he wasn’t very specific. I can’t say I’ve seen it at the one I frequent.
Now, when I open the foil, I realize this isn’t a traditional tea. It’s instant. There is no tea bag, no loose leaf to be found here. Just tiny brown granules. Honestly, it looks like fish food… not the flakes, more like the kind you feed to bettas. However, it smells delicious. The scent is like maple syrup. It makes me want French toast or pancakes. There’s also a nice spicy scent of ginger. I have a feeling I’m going to like this.
The instructions say I can add hot or cold water, so I went with hot. (There’s still snow everywhere here in Atlanta, after all.) As soon as the water hit the granules, it darkened to an almost coffee-like color. Very dark and with a strong gingery aroma. I didn’t add any sweetener because the package listed honey and glucose in the ingredients. I figured it would be sweet enough anyway.
Good lord! This is some strong stuff! Maybe I didn’t add enough water. It says 220ml and I used a regular sized mug. I know this mug holds at least 8 or 9 ounces, which is more than 220ml. So this could be what it’s supposed to taste like – so much ginger that it burns. It is pleasantly sweet, and you can definitely taste the honey. The brown sugar rounds out the ginger a little bit, adding its addictive syrupy taste. This would be so good if I had a cold. I can imagine it would work wonders for the sinuses. Maybe I’ll add a box of this to my medicine cabinet.
Now, this has been in my cabinet for a few months. I bought it in a little tub that’s lasting me a very long time. I’ve been mixing it with sencha and sipping it iced to try to mimic Tazo’s Zen. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s still good. (I think I need to add lemongrass to make it better.)
When they reference Ceylon in the name, I think they must be referring to the region. These are just plain crushed peppermint plants otherwise. No actual tea.
Anyway, I decided to review this on its own instead of using it as an additive. It’s icy and horrible outside, yet I still want something refreshing. It has a nice, long-lasting mint flavor. As long as you keep the steep time around three minutes or less, it doesn’t start tasting bitter or medicinal. Sometimes mint teas can have a hint of dill flavor to me, which I am repulsed by. This one doesn’t as long as you don’t use too much leaf or steep it too long. It does well for what it is, but it’s pretty unremarkable.
I got this from a coworker and today I could really use a boost. I’m practically falling asleep here as I type this.
Now, Yogi and I are not friends. Everything I’ve tried by them has had all kinds of weird medicinal aftertastes. Plus, they tend to put licorice and anise in everything — which is great if you’re drinking absinthe, but I don’t like it in my tea! This one smells strange dry, as I expected. Not like vanilla, that’s for sure. More like the inside of someone’s spice cabinet. Too much going on at once.
As it steeps, the water changes to a shade of brown I’d expect from a black tea. It smells much more like vanilla and cinnamon now, but with some other herbal, chamomile-like notes. The actual taste is surprisingly pleasant! The vanilla is creamy and really lingers in my mouth. It’s complimented by the cinnamon, though the spiced aspect is pretty tame.
As far as the effects go, I’ll have to come back and edit.
EDIT: While this tea didn’t work any magic on me, I do feel considerably more alert. I can imagine this would be good first thing in the morning, right before work. But for now, I’m too far gone. Nap time…
Flavors: Cinnamon, Vanilla
Another first! My first osmanthus tea. I generally like floral teas (violet, rose, lavender, chrysanthemum), so I have high hopes for this one.
Wow, the aroma is strong and pretty thrilling. Very, powerfully floral and maybe a little fruity. It’s sweet, reminiscent of a sort of blend between violet and rose. As far as appearances go, it looks like an ordinary higher-grade oolong. Dark green nuggets with a stem sticking out. However, there are tiny, delicate flowers mixed in. They’re sort of orangish yellow with four petals… and very familiar! Wait, Osmanthus is the same thing as a tea olive tree?!
Long story short: Tea olive blossoms are very special to me in the way that they invoke nostalgia. They grow all over Atlanta, so whenever I smell them, I get flooded with memories of other times I’ve been around them in bloom. Falls and springs.
The brew comes up to a calm yellowish green. There’s the familiar, pungent oolong aroma, as well as the sweet fruity-floral scent. One sip and I’m in love. This tastes exactly like I wanted it to. Gentle oolong flavors with just a hint of nuttiness to base the flowers on. The floral osmanthus taste is right there in the forefront. It’s bright, comforting, and nostalgic. Exactly what I need in the dead of winter. This is going on my shopping list.
Flavors: Flowers, Fruit Tree Flowers, Nuts
I meant to review this last night as I drank it with Kaliska via Skype, but I ended up getting too distracted.
First of all, this tea smells fantastic dry. Its aroma is decadent dark chocolate with just a hint of peppers. Mostly, it smells like cocoa. The leaves are dark brown and pretty uniform, in small pieces. They’re loaded with pink and orange peppercorns and chunks of cocoa. There are also a few pieces of something I can’t identify mixed in… looks kind of like dried fruit? It might just be pieces of a pepper.
Once steeped, there’s a bit of oil collected on top of the dark brew. I’ve seen this before in coconut teas, but never chocolate ones. Not sure where it’s coming from. The flavor is very chocolatey, but not entirely what I expected. There’s not really any burn from the chili. In fact, it’s hardly present. I think I’d have to double-up the leaf to really get it. Also, there’s a taste that reminds me of popcorn. Yes, popcorn. This tea tastes like chocolate-covered popcorn. But in a good way? I’m going to have to try this again with milk and see what I think.
My first wuyi, thanks to Angel at Teavivre!
The leaves are fragrant and dark, almost like a black tea. They’re rolled into narrow, pointed strips and are the color of dark chocolate. They smell like an oolong, but nuttier and with a hint of hay and cocoa. There’s also a scent that reminds me of new wood.
I let this one steep for three minutes. In that time, the water brewed up to a lovely golden brown. The color of a perfectly toasted marshmallow. The scent of the brewed tea is very different from the dry leaf. It smells toasted, like unsweetened cereal. Again, I think of Cheerios when I smell it. As far as the flavor goes, it’s very similar to the scent. However, I’m getting notes of roasted seaweed, too, but it’s faint. For an oolong, this is a pretty hearty cup!
Since a nasty cold robbed me of my sense of smell and taste, I haven’t been able to review anything new lately. I’ve been mostly drinking familiar favorites and taking lots of naps. I’m feeling much better now, though! So now I can catch up on a few things. (Particularly Teavivre, but not this late at night.)
I’ve had Celestial Seasonings’s Sleepytime once or twice before, but I can’t really recall what it was like. The plain little pillow-shaped bag smells heavily of spearmint with a faint hint of lemongrass. I’m assuming the strong mint is there to cover up the not-so-nice taste of valerian. Oh valerian, how I love thee. Sleepy root of comfiness.
Strange… this tastes like it has chamomile in it, but it doesn’t. Maybe it’s just my imagination? Anyway, I’m not getting any bitterness or “medicinal” flavor. I added some sweetener, however, so I think that should be mentioned. It mostly just tastes like a plain spearmint tea to me. I guess there’s a little herbal weirdness in the tea’s scent, but I don’t taste it that much. Mmm, the spearmint lingers and cools the inside of my mouth.
As for the effects, which are really what I’m in this for, it definitely works for me. I know these blends don’t have an effect on everyone, but I feel very relaxed. My limbs feel heavy, and my spot on the couch feels particularly comfortable. I’m glad I have a whole box of this stuff…
Ooh, a Fujian oolong! I have developed a serious love for this tea region over the years. One might say almost a fetish.
The leaves are rolled up into much tinier nuggets than the other two I’ve tried in this tasting. They are of the same consistency, however. Mottled dark green and lightly floral scented. I copied ashmanra and gave the leaves a quick rinse before hitting them with boiling water. Even though I’m coming down with a cold, I could smell with delight that this was going to be another creamy oolong.
The water was a light greenish yellow after two and a half minutes. When I put the leaves in my mesh infuser, they were barely enough to cover the bottom. Steeped, they practically fill it to the top! They fluffed out much more than I thought possible. Each leaf is whole, hardly damaged at all by processing. They’re narrow and pointed at the end. Maybe an inch long.
The flavor is definitely buttery and a tad vegetal. I’m getting hints of flowers, too, especially in the finish. Is it possible for a tea to be floral and vegetal at the same time? Because I think it is. It’s not as creamy as the Ali Shan, but there’s definitely some cream flavor there.