198 Tasting Notes
Le sigh, another prolonged unforeseen absence… I hate it when I just drop off the face of the planet.
Also, the hubby and I are back on a no-caffeine diet, so that means no real tea for a while, except for these lovely decaffeinated bagged teas. Celestial Seasonings has a few, but they aren’t usually carried in the stores, and we’ve found some Twinings and Bigelow decaf here and there. This one I found at good ol’ Wally World (that’s Southern for Walmart… don’t ask). I was so excited to get a decaf chai! I’d missed it so much (we’ve been on this diet for a month now).
Anyway, I steeped it up and added some almond milk and sugar substitute. This particular kind of sugar substitute is called xylitol, and I spring for it because I abhor the aftertaste that stevia and other artificial sweeteners have. This one has no aftertaste, and behaves exactly like sugar, even in baking. :) But I digress. The spices were not overly strong, but they were there, kind of like the kid who sits in the middle of the classroom, and when you get to his name calling roll, gives you a half-hearted wave but says nothing. Anyway, I’ve noticed that decaf black teas have lost a lot of their “oomph” (and by “oomph,” I mean tannins), so you can steep them for much longer without getting that unpolished-copper-astringency. This black tea was no exception, and although I steeped it for way longer than I would a normal chai, the flavor was just lackluster. I’ll drink it, though, because sometimes you just have to have chai, lackluster or no.
I bought this for 84 cents at the commissary, because A BOX OF TEA FOR 84 FREAKING CENTS. It was a seasonal sale. :3 Anyway, it sat on the shelf for a while, until my husband brewed it up one morning and let me try a sip. First of all, it was CLOYINGLY sweet. Like, the taste in my mouth was like I’d just taken a spoonful of molasses. Then I looked at the ingredients label and saw it: chicory. Don’t get me wrong, chicory is a great ingredient in the proper applications. It was just W-R-O-N-G for this tea. It added that way-too-sweet-and-vaguely-spicy flavor that was a big turn off. It completely took over whatever pumpkin flavors might have been there. Yuck.
I cannot even describe how much I want this tea to make a comeback. I don’t see that happening, though. It’s been gone a while (which says something about how long I’ve been hoarding my last little bit of it, refusing to let it go away…). I love my stinky oolong. It really is a flavor combination that I’ve not found anywhere else. I mean, if anyone out there knows of a tea similar to this one, holla! Combining oolong and rooibos, first off, is intriguing, but then to combine papaya and cardamom?? Ridiculous props to whoever came up with this gem of a tea. I still haven’t quite run out, but I can see most of the bottom of the tin… T_T
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.
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!
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.
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.
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. :)
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!