260 Tasting Notes
The Final Sipdown: Day 6.1
I’m starting day six of TFS on the tail of a sadly empty day. Yesterday I spent the entire day sleeping [or trying to sleep] off a migraine that culminated in a bit of prayer to the porcelain god last night and this morning. Yes, yes, all together unpleasant but I’m feeling quite a bit better today and prepared to make up for yesterday’s lapse.
Hello, Rose Congou. I recall being told that you were “not the best” upon receipt via Auggy and therefore I’ve been unmotivated about trying you out. Today, however, is a day for vanquishing and productivity, and so – here we go.
Oh, and also, I lowered steep time and temperature on this by quite a bit because I used a lot of leaf on this pot.
The dry leaf smells of rose, but I can also smell the black tea and that gives me some hope. I’m not a huge fan of rose anything, and so that has probably added to my trepidation towards trying this guy. Smelling the liquid gives me that mix of rose and black tea again, along with a hint of lychee, so closing my eyes, I tip the cup and go in.
Not unpleasant. The black tea – which lends dark, malty notes and a smidgeon of astringency – is the main flavor until I aerate it a bit, and then the rose comes through, especially in the finish. Lots of sweetness in the front. The aftertaste is pretty light, but I get a hint of…is that dark chocolate? Yes, I think so.
This tea wasn’t nearly as scary as I was making it out to be in my head. It was actually quite pleasant. Is it something I’ll be buying? No, probably not. But that’s mainly because pleasant or not, I still am not a big rose fan. Even though it’s surprisingly close to lychee in flavor. Maybe it’s just a hump I need to get myself over. In the meantime, I’ll finish this pot and enjoy the rest of this episode of Cougar Town.
Teas Downed: 13
The Final Sipdown: Day 4.3
There we are. Delightful.
This tea smells of vanilla, and is that hazelnut? Maybe it’s because I’ve got hazelnut on the brain right now. I put way too much tea in here and tried to compensate by lowering the steep time. While it seems it could have stood [I just tried to use the word standed…what?] to have been lowered more, I can still taste the vanilla.
Not much to say about this tea. It tastes of rooibos. It tastes of bourbon vanilla [mainly in the finish and in the aftertaste]. Both flavors are fairly loud so if you don’t like one or the other, I wouldn’t bother with this tea.
Also, while it is tasty, as is bound to happen I’ve had better in the span of a year. And thus, a bump down is in order.
That’s all folks; I need bed. Bed needs me. Bed bed bed. And so on. I go to sleep on a cloud of vanilla. Not a bad way to hit the sack.
Teas Downed: 12
The Final Sipdown: Day 4.2
Y’all, we are in the middle of a RAIN. STORM. I can hear it coming down in sheets on the other side of my window shade and, oh yes, right on cue – thunder. Rain like this makes me wish I had a screened in porch to enjoy it from, but as I don’t I’ll settle for making some more tea and finding a blanket.
The wet…leaves?…smell of a strange melange of butter and cedar sawdust and [unsurprisingly] hazelnut. The tea is OUCH. Too hot to drink.
Sniffing the hot liquid, I get a whiff of butter + hazelnut again with an added note of popcorn, and that makes me excited to retry this tea. I’m catching up on last week’s episode of Castle, so I’ll wait patiently for this to cool so I can try again it. I’ll just sit here and smell it while the rain pounds down. Waiting patiently. Waiting…patiently. Watching a commercial about Djibouti. Djibouti is fun to say. So is
Argh, impatient. Going to try this again.
Hmm. Bother. I’m remembering why I rated this so low. It tastes like cardboard. Specifically…tongue depressors. Like the taste of a popsicle stick once the popsicle was gone. That’s what this tea tastes like. Except it doesn’t even seize that completely as it’s watery.
Blast. That was a disappointment. I’m going to grab tea number three. In the meantime, however, I’m going to continue to smell this. Mmm…
Teas Downed: 11
The Final Sipdown: Day 4.1
This came as a free sample the last time I ordered from Tavalon, which was [in congruency with the theme of my Final Sipdown run] a while ago. First, let me say that this was labeled as “Cool Mint.” Sniffing the bag, I was reminded yet again of Mr. Bubble briefly, but then…
Do y’all remember Fun Dip? I say remember, but it may very well still be around. For those not in the know, Fun Dip is essentially a long packet divided into four or so pouches. Three pouches contain flavored, colored sugar powder. The last pouch contains one or more sticks [think short tongue depressors] made of some solidified formula containing mostly, you guessed it, sugar. The point of Fun Dip is to lick the sugar sticks, dip it in the flavored sugar powder, and then drive your parents crazy before you fall asleep in a sugar coma. They used to sell these at the snack bar during swim meets, and me and my friends would always try to snag one of these and split it, figuring that between the group of us we could find at least one parent willing to buy one. Kind of disgusting, now that I think about it, both because of the germs and because of all that sugar, but that is what this tea immediately brings to mind. It also kind of smells like pixie sticks – a product very similar to Fun Dip – which the boys on our swim team once sat around snorting on a dare. Actually, it might not have even been a dare. They might have just been doing it for fun, which pretty much solidifies all boy vs. girl childhood stereotypes. I won’t bother describing what came out during the [much later] expulsion of said pixie sticks.
So taking a sip of this tea and uh, yeah. First, there is NO WAY this is Cool Mint. After looking at the tea in the bag, and searching the Tavalon tea base, I have determined that this must be Crimson Punch and so I will log it as so. Second, there’s pretty much no way I’m going to be able to finish this without sugar because, OHWOWSOUR. Reluctantly, I drag myself upstairs [I have spent the entire day going up and down and up and down and up and down stairs and pretty much hate them by the end of the day] and get some sugar because oh why the hell not. I can’t drink it anyway because it’s really that sour, so MIGHT AS WELL.
It tastes like Kool-Aid. Hot Kool-Aid.
This is just ridiculous. And yet, it’s not like I would throw Kool-Aid down the sink if it were given to me, so I’ll finish it. I can taste hints of cranberry and apple, but…I mean, if I were rating sugary children’s drinks this might get relatively high marks. As a tea though? Well. The rating shall reflect.
Teas Downed: 10
The Final Sipdown: Day 3.3
After a rough and tumble couple of teas, I decided to treat myself to something I knew would my tastebuds would enjoy. As an added bonus, I get to remove this from my cupboard and my sample box until I get around to putting another Harney & Sons order through. [Vanilla Comoro, I’m looking at you.]
I can definitely taste the white tea in this, and if I were to take a stab at naming it I’d say it’s a bai mu dan. [Looking at the description, it says Chinese mutan. Is this yet another varietal of the Chinese name for White Peony?] The bergamot is nice and light, combining nicely with the white tea flavors and not overwhelming the cup. The finish has a bit of sweetness to it, and the aftertaste is refreshing and clean. The only downside is that it’s quite drying, and I find my tongue sticking to the roof of my mouth.
It’s raining outside right now. I can hear it tapping on my window. If it snows this winter, I can tell I will want this tea to drink while I’m watching it. There’s something different about the quality of the light that filters indoors during the winter and the feeling it induces complements this tea beautifully. Given the barrage of wintry precipitation we received last year, though, I think I’ll be thankful for the rain.
It’s been about a year since I last drank this, but the remainder of my little sample held up nicely. Sometimes I feel a bit mean and harsh when I write a negative note about a tea, but then I drink something like this and it reminds me that no, sometimes it is absolutely justified to leave some teas sitting on a poor rating. Winter White Earl Grey is a superb example of a well balanced, well executed blend. Bumping the rating a bit.
Samples Downed: 9
The Final Sipdown: Day 3.2
Oh sweet mercy.
Figuring I’d get rid of the last of my RoT free sample-in-the-mail things, I steeped this one up. Smelling the tea bag, it reeked of black licorice. Must be the anise. Not a good sign for me.
The taste is pretty terrible. Something in there makes my tongue tingle in an uncomfortable way – like when I take a bite out of something that has way too much pepper on it. I’m pretty sure that’s coming from the ginger. One time, a friend gave me a ginger candy and I got that same uncomfortable tingly feeling. Now it’s scratching at my throat. Ouch.
There’s a faint syrupy note that almost but not quite tastes of orange. And the aftertaste has a mix of mint and ginger on it, but it’s not exactly tasty. And also, black licorice. I get hints of it every now and then, and I have now had enough of this to write what I consider to be a satisfactory description and will be tossing the rest of it.
Easily the best thing about this tea, however, is the coloring. It’s got a hazy, frosted glass quality to it and the liquid is a nice, deeply hued, mandarin-amber color. | http://bit.ly/bhNPbH
Samples Downed: 8
The Final Sipdown: Day 3.1
Well, this is interesting.
As soon as I poured the water in over the tea bag, it turned a shade of lavender identical to the final color of Harney & Son’s French Super-Blue Lavender. As it steeped, the color deepened into a bright cherry magenta. Sniffing the finished product, I distinctly smell Mr. Bubble. It isn’t a, “This has a hint of…” or even a, “This smells a bit like…” type thing. It like Mr. Bubble. It also reminds me of the shampoo they use in hair salons sometimes.
Taking a sip, the taste is…I don’t know. I can break it down into three things.
1. You know how gum flavors come in pretty much two different options: mint + mint varietals, and fruity flavors? If you’ve ever chewed on a fruity gum until it loses its flavor, think on the taste of it right as the flavor is dying, before it goes completely bland. Yeah, that.
2. Unsweetened Kool-Aid.
3. Passion Tea Lemonade from Starbucks.
Again, like the Honey Ginseng “Green” I had this morning, there is no green tea taste to be found in this. It doesn’t really taste particularly of pomegranate either, but every once in a while when I swish it around I get a hint of it before it goes back to Kool-Aid.
I dunno. It’s…interesting, and it certainly has flavor, but I’m sorry – this isn’t tea. I don’t think I’m going to finish this cup.
Oh yes, and since I seem to be taking a lot of them lately, picture. | http://bit.ly/aJAVJt
ETA: Just fo’ y’alls info’mation, this was a free sample that came with the catalogue.
Samples Downed: 7
The Final Sipdown: Day 2[ish].3
Feeling guilty about my narcoleptic episode last night, I’m banging this one out before I leave for work.
This tea smells strongly of both honey and ginseng. Honey is something that I usually prefer as an accent to stronger flavors. [A little honey drizzled over some blue cheese? Fuggedaboutit.] However, this smells pleasant and like the kind of thing that would reek of heaven if I were ill.
The tea itself has a definite honeyed note to it, and also, apple juice. Didn’t expect that one. The finish is sweetly bitter, which I’m guessing is coming from the ginseng. Can’t taste a lick of green tea in it, though. On the breath, honey, honey, honey.
All in all, not unpleasant but I don’t find myself particularly impressed. I’m sorry, I know that I’m unsuccessfully attempting not to sound like a snot here, but reading their book is leaving me with a bitterly critical aftertaste. This is hardly the best thing that the tea world has to offer.
Anyway, it tastes as advertised but lacks finesse. I doubt I will find myself buying it, though if I come down with a cold this winter I suspect that this could be great for a sore throat and congestion; especially after adding a few drops of actual honey. The flavoring, while not medicinal in taste, seems medicinally inclined in a strange sort of way.
ETA: I should also mention that this was a free sample that came with their catalogue.
Samples Downed: 6
The Final Sipdown: Day 2.2
Today has been one of those days that hasn’t stopped. Hasn’t stopped rushing, hasn’t stopped production, hasn’t stopped to breathe, hasn’t stopped being insane. I arrived home tired, sore, and exhausted, and then I took Tucker on a long walk and made dinner.
The entire day at work, I found myself wanting tea, and when I spent my 15 minutes of break mentally sifting through the samples of tea I could remember receiving, this one popped in and I have been craving it for the nine or so hours since I thought of it.
This is a sample I got from Carolyn almost a year ago [yikes] and I haven’t finished it because whenever I’ve gone to order it, it hasn’t been there. [It is now, I see.]
Not wanting to waste an opportunity, I pulled out Sorabuddy and decided to take some pik-chas. [Do not know why I decided to spell pictures like that, but it’s how it sounded in my head and I think the tired is starting to take over, so bear with me.]
As I waited for it to steep, the anticipation built until it was almost unbearable. But then, as I was pouring it out, I became nervous. Would it be as good as I remembered it being? Had it held up after lying in a box for so long?
Eff it. I’m drinking it anyway.
And I wasn’t disappointed. Creamy and milky, with more of a floral aroma and flavor than I remember there being previously. The milk is predominant, though, and that is why I prefer this one quite a bit more to Serendipitea’s.
At times, I get other flavors sneaking into this tea. A hint of sticky rice, a slice of bread, a few kernals of buttered popcorn, a sweet strain of honey. But mainly, it tastes of sweet cream and milk, and it does so rather gloriously. The floral taste I can’t quite place, but it’s something low and perfumed, like gardenia or maybe plumeria.
Ugh, I don’t know if I can express to y’all exactly how tired I am, but I keep falling asleep as I write this log. I promise to do four tomorrow [this promise is more to myself than you guys since nobody really needs to care about this besides me and my accountability buddy whom I hope will not maim me for this infraction], today was just out of control and I am oh.
Combined with my physical and mental exhaustion, this tea is like the equivalent of drinking a glass of warm milk before bed. Speaking of which, holy crap it’s already past 12 AM and I really do need to go to sleep if I’m going to get up on time tomorrow.
Urgh, sorry this log turned so crappy, but I’m going to stop it before it starts to become nonsensical on the cloud bed past quarter of morning. Stretch before you go to the steamer truck stack boat. And in conclusion.
This tea is damn good.
ETA: Unable to finish my cup last night before sleep took over, I drank the remainder of it this morning. It really is much better hot, but retains that buttery, milky quality even significantly cooled down. The floral notes become a little louder and there is a hint of something almost grassy but probably closer to spinach.
Samples Downed: 5
The Final Sipdown: Day 2.1
I’ve been trying not to read my prior logs on some of these samples that I have previously tried [this one coming from Auggy almost a year ago – how time flies!] but sipping on this one I immediately think, “Oh yeah, Froot Loops.”
And yet, children’s breakfast cereal comparison aside, there’s some kind of…sophistication, about this tea. Additionally, though I typically don’t like messing with my tea, this would probably taste fantastic carbonated and I really should give it a go chilled because I bet it’s pretty tasty that way. The tea has such a light, citrusy, refreshing quality about it and for me that’s somewhat lessened by drinking it hot. Hot citrusy things make me think of either Thanksgiving/Holiday dishes, or things you drink when you are sick. Cool citrusy things make me think of cooling off and refreshing yourself during the summer, and so I think I would rather like this chilled.
I’m eating meatballs right now, which typically read as heavier, almost wintry type fare. Thinking I’d finish the tea off and grab some water, the last of my cup overlapped with when I was done cooking, so I decided to try the two together to see how it paired. The result was surprisingly pleasant! The tea, which seems rather lightweight on its own, was really heightened for me by eating it with something bolder and spiced. Quite interesting indeed, and now I find myself going for a second steep to finish off dinner and place a cup in the fridge so that I can try it chilled later. I might as well do it now because I have no more left to try as this sample is GONE.
Day two, sample one, down the metaphorical drain! The Final Sipdown is shaping up to be extremely cathartic. [Also, as I reread my old log now that this one is essentially done, this might be due for a slight ratings bump. I should stress, like other Steepsterites have before me, that the oolong is essentially nonexistent in this tea, but it is nevertheless enjoyable. I’ll try it chilled before I see where it falls.]
ETA: Forgetting to comment on the aftertaste – for me it falls somewhere between lemony and limey with just a whisper of sweetness. Almost like you sucked on a lemondrop five minutes ago.
ETA2: Chilled, this is like lemon water without any sour taste and a clean finish. No sweetness to be had, but I think that if I found myself buying this to make it chilled, I would lightly sweeten the tea when I made it. Whether or not I like this enough to buy it or not is another story, but seeing as how my next Rishi order is likely to be soon, it may find its way in there. Aftertaste hints again at Froot Loops and/or Fruity Pebbles.
Samples Downed: 4