183 Tasting Notes

100

Went for this one out of my Whispering Pines box this morning. Feeling like I need a comforting tea. Morning just came too early… and I’m a morning person. But I could have easily slept another two hours, were it not for the 11-month-old climbing all over me.

Anyway, I’m so glad to get to try this one, because someone FINALLY did it: made a chai with a Yunnan Dian Hong, instead of Assam or Ceylon like you see most chais made with. (If there’s another company that’s done it before now, I haven’t found them.) This must be a new tea, because I had to add it to Steepster’s database. First review, what what?? XD #isadork

The loose leaf smells great! The first thing I smell is the cardamom, then the cloves, and then the cinnamon. Can’t quite smell the Dian Hong over those very strong spices, but hey, I like my spices to have some staying power.

Anyway, I made this the way I’ve been brewing chai nowadays, a little closer to the traditional way, but still pretty American—two parts water and one part milk. Basically, I steeped it for a while in less water than normal so it would be nice and strong, then filled the cup the rest of the way with milk. I will eventually try this the fully traditional way, but the husband currently has all our stock of paper tea bags, and he’s three hundred miles away. Might have to break down and use one of our tea balls. I digress.

Oh, man. This is soooo good. I might even venture to prematurely propose that this might be my new favorite chai. I don’t like chais with anise, and this one has none. It’s made with my favorite type of black tea. It ‘s spicy and rich and robust and not astringent. I kind of hope the cardamom mellows out a little with age, ’cause right now, it’s kind of taking over, but we’ll see. I’m still thoroughly enjoying it. Kudos, Brendan!

Edit: So, on a whim, I tried resteeping. I didn’t have high hopes, because resteeping chai hardly ever works, right?

Well, this one works! :D

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 6 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 207 ML
Whispering Pines Tea Company

:D so glad you enjoy this one as much as I do!

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90

Mmmm, spicy, fruity, yum! I am not quite certain exactly what elderberries taste like, so I can’t really identify if I’m tasting it now or not, but there is definitely a berry-ish quality to this tea that could possibly be them. Regardless, it has a deliciously thick mouthfeel and a wonderful spicy bite from the cinnamon and chicory. Well worth the money! I will be going to this one in the evening, especially when it’s cold.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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86

I got home last night from going visit my husband (sooo needed that, I miss him so much), and my order from Whispering Pines was waiting for me! So, naturally, I busted it open first thing this morning, and this one was calling my name.

The loose leaves smell faintly dusty and woody, with the barest hint of smoke. Oh my gosh, these leaves are HUGE! Some of them are EASILY two inches long! They’re very darkly oxidized, too. I love dark oolongs, so that’s a plus for me.

I thought I would break from my usual steeping method and do what it says on the package (although I used more water than it said to). The brew smells VERY nutty, with a slight hint of charcoal, like the nuts were just a teensy bit scorched.

Mmm, I’m getting a heavy hit of that roasted nut flavor that I love in dark oolongs. This is warming me to my toes on this rather chilly morning. After sipping a while, it doesn’t get astringent or too dry in the mouth. It’s not what I would call “juicy,” but it definitely is not drying, so I appreciate that. I’m enjoying it very much. It’s not something that I will go for very often, probably, knowing the type of teas that I tend to gravitate toward , but when I am in the mood for it, I will be very glad I have it. :)

Edit: The second steep was just as good as the first, and I even got some hints of chocolate, which combined with the nuttiness made it taste like almond bark or Nutella. :) Yum !

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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drank Cheesecake Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
183 tasting notes

Finally got around to trying my March sample. :) My little girl is down for a nap, so I thought it was the perfect time to have a latte and weigh teas to send to people (all of which can be done while sitting down, mercifully—been running like a crazy person this morning). Anyway, I decided to do something a little different and try it hot, with the unsweetened almond milk I found in the fridge. I had to add some sweetener, because I do find unsweetened almond milk to be somewhat unpleasant (bitter is not quite the right word, but it’s close). I added a little xylitol, not to defeat the purpose of the unsweetened almond milk, which seems to be so proud of its 30 calories a serving.

The texture was nice and creamy, but the flavor profile was meh. It was a good cup of matcha, but I didn’t get any cheesecake flavor. Next time I will go all out and make it the way they recommend. Lesson learned.

Preparation
1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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39
drank Spiced Brandy Shou Mei by 52teas
183 tasting notes

Whoa, this one has got some POTENT flavors going on. As soon as I opened the package, I actually had to back AWAY from it, because I was so overwhelmed by the licorice aroma charging at me like an aggressive rhino. I let it sit open while I prepped the water, and gave it another sniff right before steeping, and I can happily report that the anise had lightened up, and I could in fact smell other things—spices, mostly, and something a bit musty.

I steeped it up and sweetened it, because not being a huge fan of anise, I thought that sugar might help. What I got instead was a POWERFUL flavor of alcohol. It pretty much took over, leaving the spices to duke it out for the aftertaste. I don’t think I am a fan of this one. My husband is, though, so he’s welcome to it.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 9 OZ / 266 ML

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100
drank Cinnamon Roll Honeybush by 52teas
183 tasting notes

I’m almost out of this tea, which is thoroughly sad, because currently they’re out, so I can’t order any more at the moment… I am upping my previous rating for this tea, because I have found it to be one I go back to again and again. It is so deliciously cinnamon-y and bake-y, with a little tangy sweetness that just rounds it out so well. I added a splash of whole milk, which makes it taste like I just drizzled a little more icing on an already delectable cinnamon roll. I can drink this one easily with or without milk, and it’s equally delicious, a quality that always makes me want to rate the tea higher. Yes indeedy, this one is a keeper. :3

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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97

A new acquisition as of today, and I’m super glad I went for it! I hadn’t tried this one before, even though I’m pretty sure my hubby, a former Teavana employee, told me I would like it. I haven’t been a big fan of ginger until recently, which may have had something to do with that.

ANYWAY. The loose leaf smells intoxicatingly of coconut and cream and almond, with none of the metallic notes of rooibos—promising! I made myself a cup as soon as I got home, using Teavana’s recommended parameters.

I got mostly coconut from the flavor, with a hint of spice in the aftertaste. I could taste the ginger ever so slightly in the beginning, when it was still hot, but alas, now that it has cooled, the ginger flavor has pretty much disappeared. I still really like the flavor and the creamy mouthfeel. But it gets a less-than-perfect rating because of the absent ginger.

Flavors: Coconut, Cream

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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38

I tried this one iced in the store, and after the first sip, decided not to take it home (not for lack of effort on the barista’s part, I might add). I thought the copious amounts of hibiscus I saw in the tin would mellow out in an iced brew, and I may have been correct, but I don’t think I’ll ever know, because it was steeped a bit too long for my liking, and all I could really taste was bitterness from oversteeped oolong and a bit of artificial grape flavor, kind of like Kool-Aid. I won’t be getting or trying this one again.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 30 sec 3 tsp

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89
drank Blueberry Bliss by Teavana
183 tasting notes

Sipdown! This is actually a backlog from a few days ago. I was staying with a friend, and she was feeling nauseous, so I brought out the only red tea I’d brought with me—this one. I remembered when I’d had nausea from being pregnant, I drank a red tea I have with lemongrass in it, which pretty much knocked the nausea on its ass, so I thought it would help her. She said it didn’t really make it better or worse, but it did taste good, so I guess that’s something. :)

I had forgotten how much I really like this tea by itself. It’s got enough flavor in it that the red rooibos doesn’t bother me, and the blueberry is very present (and lends a wonderful purplish color to the brew). I hope Teavana hasn’t discontinued this one, ‘cause I’d like to look into getting some more…

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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drank Pure Peppermint by Twinings
183 tasting notes

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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 (I get on tea kicks, which are various lengths of time in which I’ll drink one or two teas religiously, and then I’ll switch), 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

Location

Louisiana, USA

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