221 Tasting Notes
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.
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.