195 Tasting Notes

1

The hubby and I (and our froglet) were whizzing through the Atlanta airport last night when we spied this cafe in an alcove, so we decided to check them out. I didn’t get anything, because I was dreadfully overheated, but he ordered this tea. He sweetened it and we dashed, thinking he could stir it later. In a few minutes, as we were approaching the base of an escalator, he stopped at a trash can and took out what looked to be a GIANT teabag full of WAY too much leaf. Seriously, this was enough tea for a large pot, steeped in his maybe 16-oz. to-go cup. On top of that, when we finally had a moment to tend the tea, we realized that the wooden stirrer was not long enough to reach the bottom of the cup (wonderful), so we couldn’t even properly dissolve the sugar.

What with the over leafing and the useless sugar sitting in the bottom of the cup, this was undrinkable. A very disappointing experience. I suppose I blame the business more than the tea, but I have to rate it based on something.

Preparation
3 min, 30 sec 16 OZ / 473 ML

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92
drank Winter Storm by Royale Tea
195 tasting notes

Backlog from yesterday.

I made a pot of this last night, since it seemed to be the right occasion—we’re getting the first snow storm of the season, and the snow began falling earlier yesterday, around 11:00. I’m not used to snow, nor temperatures that don’t get above freezing for days on end, but I suppose I’ll have to get used to it this winter. Lucky for me, I’ve got this tea to help take the chill off. :)

This tea smells strongly of orange peel and clove, which makes me think back to my childhood holidays, when my mom would let me and my sisters poke whole cloves into the skins of a few oranges, to make the house smell nice. We’d always try to make some kind of design, with varying degrees of success. Anyway, there are other spices there, too: cinnamon and cardamom, mostly, with a floral note, and perhaps some vanilla.

The spices don’t taste overpowering, so there’s plenty of orange in the flavor. The flower petals add a nice touch, and the vanilla is much more present in the actual brew. This tea is just enough of a not-quite-boring-orange-spice tea that it’s really quite enjoyable. The black tea is a… Ceylon? I really don’t know my black teas well enough. It’s light-bodied and complements the fruitiness quite well. Yum!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 9 OZ / 266 ML

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75

Having this one this morning with my banana coconut muffins. :) I actually have to raise my rating for this tea, pleasantly enough! I think the last time I drank it I wasn’t expecting the pecan flavor to be as prevalent as it is, and mistook the somewhat drying effect of that flavor for astringency. Drinking it again, I can tell now that the pecan flavoring, while ever so slightly artificial tasting, makes my mouth feel as though I’ve actually eaten pecans (without having to pick them out of my teeth, which is a bonus), which could be mistaken for the flavor of an overly astringent black tea. The maple is a nice background note, but being an inherently stronger flavor than pecan, it has no trouble making itself known. :) The black tea is… well, Republic of Tea. Their black tea base seems to be neither malty nor chocolatey nor robust. It just serves as a foundation for flavoring, which is why I won’t re-rate it TOO highly.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 9 OZ / 266 ML
darby

I love Republic but I do wish too that their black base had more oomph to it.

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100
drank Jasmine Oolong by Teavana
195 tasting notes

Ahh, yes, this is exactly what I wanted this evening: clean and calming, with notes of honeysuckle and clover and chrysanthemum, and of course, jasmine. Just delicious. happy sigh

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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85
drank Fresh Mint by Grandessa Signature
195 tasting notes

I’m having this one today, just by itself, because I’m feeling a sore throat coming on, possibly even some voice loss, and I wanted something simple to have with my afternoon snack. The mint here smells mostly of peppermint, but there’s some smoother spearmint notes there, too… might be my imagination, though, since it’s pretty subtle.

Mmm, nope, there’s definitely some spearmint in there (or maybe it’s just mine). Peppermint has a bite, and spearmint is much smoother, and this is definitely a smooth mint. It does linger in your mouth, like peppermint, but it goes down so nicely… If you’re looking for just straight-up mint, but don’t really care for a plain Jane mint leaf tisane, look no further! :) I’m not in the mood for this one often, but it’s quite delicious, for a mass-produced bagged tea.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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80

Hmm, apparently I haven’t rated this one yet, despite having had it for a few months and drunk it a few times. Husband and I made a pot of it last night to drink while watching an episode of Game of Thrones, season 4 (I know, we’re behind the curve, like usual). This tea seemed appropriate because there were a lot of Dornish people in this episode, and blood oranges grow in Dorne. At least, we thought we remembered that from the books.

ANYWAY. Sniffing the loose tea is really a lot like smelling a bowl that has at one point contained sorbet. There’s a slight creaminess, along with some notes of mango and raisins and blood orange and a little apple. We steeped it for about three minutes (I forgot to start the timer right away…), since it’s a pretty green oolong base and we didn’t want the fruit to outshine it. Alas, it seems those efforts weren’t fruitful (hurr hurr). The oolong really gets lost, but the tangy-sweet blood orange flavor is nice. It’s subtle, but definitely a different citrus than regular orange. It’s on the cusp of bitterness, but not quite there. I wish the blood orange would back off a little, so the oolong could actually be tasted underneath it, but perhaps someone else has a blend like that. We probably won’t buy this one again, but for now, I’m glad we have it. :)

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 45 sec 3 tsp 20 OZ / 591 ML

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88

This was quite a nice green blend, despite the fact that I really didn’t take good care of it (it lived in a plastic baggie…). The peach notes really came out quite nicely. Didn’t get much watermelon, but perhaps the juicy nature of the overall flavor could be attributed to it. :) This tea definitely was juicy, without tasting too fruity. The green tea was smooth and vegetal, like asparagus, but no bitterness. I really enjoyed it!

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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100
drank Vanilla by Royale Tea
195 tasting notes

I bought this tea at a Renaissance Fair in late August, but I’m only just now getting around to reviewing it… The place is local (well, sort of—they’re a little over an hour from me), and apparently they have a little shop and deliver lunch to people on business days. (I only learned this after going to their website. They didn’t tell me all that at the Ren Fair.)

Anyway, I was very excited by this tea, as I’ve not before tried a tea that was just black tea and vanilla beans. The smell of the loose leaf is quite heavy and sweet, which promised good things for the vanilla flavor.

As it turns out, the vanilla DEFINITELY delivers. It’s almost cloying, but only because it’s such a rich flavor. I really, really, really like it. I will never tolerate an inferior vanilla flavor ever again. THIS is the real deal. As for the black tea, it’s a pretty light one, perhaps a Ceylon? It makes a nice couple with the vanilla, although I must say, the black tea is more like the man in the tuxedo escorting the ravishing femme fatale. I’m okay with that. They don’t both need to be front and center.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 9 OZ / 266 ML

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100
drank Coconut Grove by DAVIDsTEA
195 tasting notes

Oh, creamy, buttery, coconutty goodness. I do believe coconut flakes are my favorite tea additive of all time. It just makes the tea so smoooooth.

However, the reason I love this tea is not just because of the coconut. The white tea definitely makes itself known, and it, too, is delicious, with notes of butter and vanilla and fresh grass. This tea has almost a white chocolate kind of mouthfeel—it leaves your mouth a little dry, but the best parts of the flavor linger, making you want another sip. Soooo not what I expect from a white tea.

Flavors: Butter, Coconut, Cream, Grass, Vanilla

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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100

Oh, ginger. Oh, coconut. Oh, man, this is good. I have fallen in complete love with this tea, and there’s no going back. I hope Teavana keeps it around… they have a horrible penchant for getting rid of/altering permanently my favorite teas.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Bio

I very clearly remember my first experience with tea. It was in a Target near my house, and my best friend handed me a cup of chai from the Starbucks inside the store and said, “Try this.” I believe I was about 12 at the time, and from then on, I was completely hooked.

Anyway, as my increasingly weirded out family will tell you, my obsession with tea has (almost) steadily escalated since then. I discovered the world of tea slowly, first with just chai, and then with bagged teas I could get from supermarkets and specialty stores, and then with loose leaf teas. I mostly shop for tea at Teavana, but I also patronize other local shops that I’ve discovered within the last couple of years. I’ve ordered a smattering of teas from a few online places, but I’m always leery of buying tea online, since most of how I select teas in person is by smell… unless I’m at The English Tea Room.

My favorite types of tea are blacks and flavored blacks. And oolongs. Right underneath that are rooiboses and whites, and then greens and herbals, and then mates. I’m always looking for a new favorite, but I appreciate rediscovering old favorites. I like to blend teas, but I never store them that way, mostly because I like to leave myself options.

I prefer nutty/sweet/rich teas to fruity/light-flavored teas or bold/full-bodied teas, but I do try to drink some of everything to widen my palate. I’m always willing to try any tea at least once (except this one tea that Teavana mercifully discontinued… the loose leaf smelled like cheese, I swear). I do perhaps rate teas a little leniently… because I’m not very picky. I will try a tea at least three times before I pronounce that I hate it, and I will always focus on the good aspects of a tea rather than the bad. That’s just how I roll. :3

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Colorado, USA

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