217 Tasting Notes
I bought this tea for two reasons: I wanted to support the company’s efforts (in a somewhat indirect way) to do their part to help rebuild Nepal, as they have pledged to do with their profits for the next year, and I wanted to try the tea that won the North American Tea Championship in 2014 in the black tea category. The reviews looked very promising, so I went ahead an ordered the 1.6-oz. package. The tea is very reminiscent of a Yunnan golden tips, but with a slight smoky/bitter edge to it, somewhat reminiscent of the flavor of a pecan, or like a single leaf of lapsang souchong snuck its way into the steeper. It’s deeply malty, but also smooth, like someone took my favorite beer and made it into a tea. I thoroughly enjoyed it, although next time I might try steeping it for less time, just to see. :)
I have had this sample for so long, I’ve forgotten who sent it to me in a swap. I’m sorry, whomever you are, and thank you for sharing! I’m pretty sure this was just thrown in, not something I requested but something the person thought I would like…
Anyway, I steeped it up this morning after breakfast.
The loose leaf didn’t smell like much, but the brew smelled SWEET. Like rock candy and maple syrup, with a slightly woody, rooibos-like aroma from, I’m guessing, the base? I didn’t look at the ingredients.
I tried it first without sugar, but it was clearly in need of some, so I added a scoop. I’m guessing the sweet flavor that comes across as maple syrup might be intended to be a caramel flavor, from the cola. There’s no cherry flavor really to speak of, but that’s all right with me, because the flavoring in cherry cola is waaay artificial and not very pleasant to me. There is definitely a baked good flavor there; if I’d had to name this tea, I’d have probably come up with Maple Coffee Cake or something. A little cinnamon wouldn’t go amiss, to seal the deal in the baked-good-flavor department. I’m quite enjoying this! (As I think about it, this may be the very first Della Terra tea I’ve tried… I could be wrong, though.) Anyway, I’d rate it higher, because I really do like it, but it’s missing a flavor element that it probably should have. Thanks again to whoever sent me this! I will have to perhaps make a Della Terra order in the future, if their other flavors are comparable in overall effect.
I had such high hopes for this tea that after something of a bummer of a first steep (which my husband liked, so I’m not discounting that maybe my pregnancy taste buds are toying with me again), I decided to steep it again this morning. The last time, I had added milk, almost out of habit (and thinking that a chocolate milk flavored tea could only be improved by the addition of actual milk), but the flavor was just all kinds of not right. No chocolate, no marshmallow root, just this odd flavor that was vaguely burned. I thought maybe I’d just steeped it too long, but there weren’t really too many tannins… I couldn’t figure it out. So I thought I’d try it again this morning. That odd flavor was there again, but this time it was identifiable: wet wood, like the flavor of a toothpick. I think I have decided I just don’t like the base tea. It is not rich or malty or chocolatey or anything I like in a black tea. Again, it could very well be my preggo tastes messing with me (I have noticed that teas that I like have started to taste a little different than normal, not in a bad way, usually, just different), so I guess I won’t rate this one. This whole experience has been rather bizarre. It doesn’t help that I don’t think I’ve ever had a Qu Hao before, so I have no past experience to reference. Has anyone else encountered anything close to the flavor I described with this tea?
I may have steeped this too long for the flavors to come through in the way that they were meant to, so I will hold off rating it until I can do it the way it was intended. Hubby and I have been steeping honeybush lately for much longer times, because we’d read that it generally tastes better the longer you steep it. We’d found that steeping it for 10 minutes produced a flavor we really like, but when we did that with this blend, the chocolate and other flavors all but disappeared. I was quite disappointed, understandably, so we’ll try again, with the measly leaf we have left (one of the reasons I wasn’t in favor of Frank’s decision not to offer the 2 oz. packages anymore), to get the correct flavor out of it.
We FINALLY restocked our cupboard with this tea, hallelujah ! I missed it so much~
I don’t normally steep this one too long, ‘cause it is a travesty when oversteeped, but yesterday I was brave and brewed it for three minutes. Glad I did, too! The vanilla is really present, a nice balance to the bergamot. This tea is quite rich, almost caramelly. I did notice that Teavana seems to have changed their recipe, since I don’t see any blue cornflowers anymore, but I have to say that I don’t think whatever they did has altered the flavor overmuch from the original. Very satisfying, as either a breakfast or afternoon tea.
The hubby and I were looking for something to sip while we wrestled with the online tax monster. This one seemed just the thing. We steeped it twice, as follows:
1st – 170°, one minute, 16 oz. water, two perfect teaspoons of tea
2nd – 180°, one and a half minutes
Both steeps were sweetened with a little clover honey (I prefer wildflower, but clover is generally more accessible, and cheaper besides). The clover taste, to my pleasant surprise, did not overpower the flavor of the apples or the tea, although it did take away some of the tartness that I remember this tea having. A very nice apple blend, although I would have preferred a sharper apple flavor (more like a Braeburn or a Pink Lady than a Gala or Red Delicious). I like my apples to bite back. :) The base tea was a sweet hay undertone, with just a hint of something floral to round it out. Lovely!
May I just say that I adore this tea? It is malty and chocolatey and bready and not at all bitter or astringent, not even the way that chocolate can be bitter or astringent (which, in chocolate, is a yummy quality, but not always in tea). I really like a tea that I can sink my teeth into, that is perfect as is, and this tea is it. No frills, no complex flavorings (although those also have their place). Just a good black tea with hints of honey and yeast and chocolate. Yum. I’d have this for breakfast every morning if my budget would allow me. :)
I decided to pull this one out because my stomach is not feeling very happy this morning, and I know sometimes mint tea has helped this situation in the past, so here goes. I followed the package directions, steeped it for 3 minutes in boiling water that’s been “slightly cooled.” The aroma is quite strongly mint, and not much else, maybe just a hint in the aroma that this is not just straight mint. I decided not to sweeten it, since I thought that might diminish the effects of the mint on my stomach. The pu-erh really takes a backseat to the mint, but there in the flavor as well is the barest hint that this is not an herbal. I’ll give this one another try at a later date, when I can perhaps do more to coax the pu-erh flavor out (and maybe steep it a little longer… I got impatient, wanting to settle my stomach).
Ahhh, free at last, free at last. Hubby and I got off the no-caffeine diet finally, but this is the first new tea I’ve tried since then. This may creep some of you out, but I got this tea at an estate sale nearby. Apparently, a fairly wealthy lady passed away, and the family hired a company to sell off basically her entire house worth of stuff… including whatever non-perishable food items she had. This tea was among them, and I just couldn’t pass it up. I think the woman tallying up my stuff just gave it to me for free, because it was in a bag with a whole bunch of other stuff, and she took one look in the bag and said, “Two dollars.” Score!
Anyway, the loose leaves smell wonderful, like strawberries and wildflowers. They unfurled nicely when steeped, pretty much all the way, although I still intend to try a resteep, because oolong. The brew is a lovely medium green color, but the strawberry smell is gone. It smells now of just flowers (the package suggests orchids, and I suppose I buy it, along with maybe daisies and honeysuckle, since there’s a little sweetness in there). There’s also a slight earthy/grassy smell, which I associate with oolong in general, like smelling a bouquet of flowers that someone just picked and that have a bit of soil left on them somewhere. Anyway, I don’t really get the milk or cream flavor that these oolongs are supposed to have, but it’s a perfectly enjoyable tea nonetheless. It tastes like summer, fresh and green and lush. I may not buy any more, but I will enjoy it to the last leaf. There’s quite a bit left in the tin, so I have much to look forward to. :)
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.