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185 Tasting Notes
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Forgive the photograph of this tea (and the next like five teas I upload from Mad Hat). I am neither a skilled enough photographer, nor an experienced enough photoshopper to upload a picture that does any tea justice.
So we went and tried our local tea shop today, yay us! It was a good experience, they have a LOT of unique tea blends that they don’t reference on their website, so entering the store I think is really the way to go. The prices are reasonable, they’ll brew you a fair sized sample for $2.50, and with the exception of one minor fluke (what do you mean no one roasts green tea leaves, they only roast the sticks?), it was a very enjoyable experience.
So, the first tea why try from them is their Earl Grey de la Creme, which should be standard fare, but for some weird reason this is our first loose Grey buy since we’ve started on our whole loose leaf journey. Neither Missy nor I are exactly sure why. Oh well, rectified.
Opening the bag… wow. It is overly perfumey. Like, makes you take a step back. I’ve heard a lot of people say they don’t like Grey because it’s “floral”, but have never understood it before. Totally understand it from the smell of this bag. It smells like flowers and limes, which isn’t far from bergamot, but still…
Tally forth, we brew a pot, and it is extremely good. The floral scent is gone, and it’s just back to good old bergamot for me, with maybe just a hint of sour citrus that may be lime. I know lime and bergamot aren’t terribly far from each other, but this kind of distinctly tastes like lime. Well and truly after the bergamot, but still limey. They should cross breed those two and call it a blimey. I’d buy them.
Anyway. Towards the end of the lime tang, I start to pick up just a hint of vanilla. Really not overpowering at all, just subtle enough to tag on underneath the citrus notes and hang in for a little flavor.
The black tea itself is very, very smooth. I believe it’s assam, but it doesn’t quite have that… richness that I expect from assam. Maybe a weaker assam? Does that exist? At any rate, the bag doesn’t say, and I didn’t think to ask. All in all, a very positive blend.
I’d put the price at mid-range, a little higher than some other Grey’s I’ve seen, but for $9.50 for a four ounce bag, I’m definitely not going to complain. Plus it’s supporting a local business, blah blah sustainability, blah blah closed economy. Consider that the entirety of my Keynesian Economics understanding.
As an amusing side note, each of their teas has a pencil-drawing style picture of an animal, unique to each tea, with a little quote in French. This one happened to be “Ceci n’est pas un Colobus Monkey”. This evidently hearkens to a famous surrealist painting called ’The Treachery of Images". Our daughter, much more obsessed with France than surrealist French artists, asked about it.
Uhh… bonjour? Non. Adieu!
My Steepster Select box came today as well… man, I am just getting a ton of new tea to try!
In the bag, I wasn’t really sure what to think about this tea’s smell. It truly smelled like hay and fresh grass, and I was setting myself up for disappointment. I just can’t handle the teas that taste like I’m drinking hay. It’s just not right. I’m sure it’s healthy, but it’s not right.
Let me say that I was delightfully, pleasantly surprised by the flavor of this tea. The toasted-ness definitely brings out some malty, sweet notes from the green tea that makes it super enjoyable. It is truly transformed away from the green tea flavor into this sweet, nutty blend. I’d believe you if you told me this was some kind of toasted nut infusion, rather than a roasted green tea. Other than, you know, the green leaves that were obviously in the bag.
Almost as an afterthought, underneath all of that roasted goodness, you can begin to taste the green tea base. I’d be bluffing, at best, if I tried to say I could figure out what kind of green tea flavor it was, but I know that it doesn’t taste that much different than the aftertaste I get from my genmaicha.
Now, I’ve never had a houjicha before, having only recently learned what it was. I’m really curious how ‘different’ this may taste from those roasted green teas. Am I truly tasting something unique and remarkable from Mauna Kea, and therefore it deserves me paying $10/oz for more? From my current level of inexperience, it’s really hard to say. But this will definitely kick around in the back of my mind as I try other teas.
On that note, anyone have a houjicha they would recommend?
Another very generous sample from Azzrian. Thank you!
In a past log, I gave MarketSpice’s Seattle Spicy Chai a fairly favorable rating. It was really an eye-opening experience for me. One, simply due to the level of spicyness in that tea. Two, it was the first really spicy tea I had ever tried. I had a few masala chais before that had ginger and peppercorn in them, but never anything that really made me say WOW, SPICY! So it was very eye opening. It was almost like a punch in the face ;)
So I gave it a very high rating. Maybe it was naive, but it felt right at the time.
This blows it out of the water. Like fishing-with-dynamite kind of out of the water. The flavor on this tea is astounding. The cayenne pepper really takes a front seat in the class, puts its hand up and just starts BEGGING to be called on. Its fantastic. The chocolate notes follow shortly after, and are very malty and smooth, especially compared to other teas I’ve had with chocolate in them. The ginger and cardamom peek in just after that, and its all finished off by a soft spoken almond/cherry affair.
On a somewhat interesting personal note, my taste buds have always had issues with almond/cherry flavoring, they’re basically indistinguishable to me for some reason. This makes most things that are supposed to taste like almonds taste TERRIBLE, and most things that are supposed to taste like cherry be, well, fairly tame rather than overly fruity. This blend plays a similar trick, but the cherry-ness that I pick up (both scent and taste) work well with the other flavors, mainly the chocolate. Rounds out the whole experience quite well.
Another interesting trick… with the Seattle Spicy Chai… the peppercorn flavor really… you really get used to it fairly quick, and the spicy isn’t as spicy once you get a few sips into the cup. The cayenne, while maybe not as big of a shock to begin with, doesn’t lose any of it’s potency. It stays just as powerful all the way through (or at least through the eight or so ounces I’ve drank so far). Plus, because it’s more long-lasting than upfront, Missy enjoys it more. Bonus!
This is totally going to replace Seattle Spicy Chai as the spicy tea I keep in my cupboard. Thanks again for this sample Azz, it really is wonderful!
Genmaicha will always hold a place in my heart. It more or less kicked off my journey into loose leaf tea. A box of Serendipitea’s Genmaicha was left in my cupboard from when a friend of mine had rented a room for a bit, and out of curiousity more than anything, our loose leaf tea journey was born.
For such a simple blend, it is truly an amazing flavor combination. The earthiness of the toasted rice, with that rich, roasted flavor that just fills up inside of you. Unlike any other tea I’ve ever drank, this tea makes me feel comforted and soothed. I think that’s part of the reason Missy chose to brew this genmaicha tonight… it was comfort tea, to wash away the horrible memories of the icewine.
The green tea in this particular blend is a little vegetal, probably more than I’d typically be okay with. But for some reason, it seems to fit in this tea. It probably has more to do with the ‘green’ coming in after the somewhat ‘brown’ taste of the rice, the green is more of a second string than a first seat. The toasty-ness is really the star of the flavor profile.
It also has a fairly charming color to it, as it develops into this translucent green that almost glows, like you’ve stumbled across the key to life… itself!
At some point in time I’d like to try someone else’s variant of genmaicha, but I really do enjoy Serendipitea’s. It doesn’t hurt that I can get it from Amazon for a ridiculously cheap amount, and it’s at my door in two days (Prime membership makes impulse buying far, far too easy). Though, we had just recently bought another 8 ounces before we had found the wonder that is Steepster, and the many other tea peddlers that are out there.
Wow. So… I really want to write a good thorough review of this tea.
But I can’t. The first drink made me cringe. I tried a couple more sips so I could at least give it some attempt at a review. It tastes like artificially flavored powdered grape beverage, thrown in a blender with a stick of cherry lip balm and a pot of tea.
If I can say one good thing about this cup, it’s that they did not skimp on the flavorings for this brew. Unfortunately, those flavorings are terrible. Oh man would I avoid this if at all possible. I can only vaguely imagine a brew tasting worse.
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Another very generous sample from Azzrian. Thank you!
Drinking this tea effectively doubles my experience with oolong tea. I’ve now had two, count ’em two, different oolongs in my tea career. The first was a Maharaja Chai Oolong from Teavana, and the second being this.
Now here’s where my inexperience probably leads me to a bit of a confusion – this looks like a black tea. I would wager, and possibly lose, money at the tea-casino over the family of tea that this belongs to. Intellectually, I understand that green tea is non-oxidized, black tea is 100% oxidized, and you can call anything between oolong. It’s a near black. Like… I’d say it was an oolong that was 99.2% oxidized. Like there was a little factory of workers on starting boards waiting for the pistol to go off, so some large man with a megaphone could yell “Go! Go before the oxidation finishes! We’re losing money by the second!” Preferably with a pirate accent, so he could toss in pirate insults. Insults are always better in pirate.
Opening up the bag, there’s an unnaturally powerful zingy lemon scent. I made the mental association of Thera-Flu, and can’t get it out of my head now. It completely smells like Thera-Flu. But I’m fond of citrus (actually, I’m fairly fond of Thera-Flu), so it really doesn’t bother me… consider yourself warned.
The brew itself was much less pungent, and the steeped aroma was definitely more in line with orange than Thera-Flu, thankfully the flavor follows the same pattern. The flavor is just gently floral, with a hint of orange, but overall I find my tastebuds tangled with more of that zesty lemon taste. It’s a little bit chemically, and a little bit tart. It did drown out the tea flavor to me, which really hid in the background, and just left me feeling like it was all based on a weak black tea. If there was any subtle distinction between the oxidization level of this tea and your standard black, I’m not confident enough in my sense of taste that I think I’d ever find it.
The other thing kicking around in the back of my mind is that I’m not trying this tea at the right time. I drink it, and its decent tasting, but I really think to myself that I’d enjoy it more with breakfast. I think it would shine a lot more on the other end of the day than the one it’s currently trying to star in (Ha! Not intentionally a nighttime joke, but I’ll take it).
Or maybe keep it around for when I’m sick. I really cannot shake the Thera-Flu association!
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I received this in the mail today as part of a VERY generous swap from Azzrian. Thank you!
Still being fairly new to all of the different teas that are out there, I have a hard time not reacting like a playful little puppy. Every new tea I get that tastes good is like my new favorite person to play with. I haven’t tasted a tea this good since the last awesome tea I tasted! Now you’re my favorite tea. Now YOU’RE my favorite tea! To sort of ‘leash’ my inner puppy, I’m sloooowly drinking this tea, and writing towards the end of the cup.
There’s a lot to like about this tea. The mint flavor is very tasty, but not overpowering. After the first flavor rush, the mint smooths down and allows the vanilla to shine through a little more. Underneath both of those, hiding ever so delicately is the flavor of the green tea. The black tea doesn’t have much room to come through, and I feel like it may be a more mellow black tea to begin with.
I’ve never had a black/green blend before, and we actually brewed this one a little hot and long for green tea, which gave it the tiniest hint of bitterness in the background. That’s our own fault though, nothing to blame the tea for. Our next go at this one, and we’re going to go with a lower temp and less time… see how that works out.
This is my first Golden Moon Tea, and I have a sampler pack from them coming soon. If the samples I get are up to this level of quality, it will definitely be a company I’m interested in buying from in the future. This cup of tea went by really quick, and we keep fairly large cups around here :)
Thanks again to Azzrian for the swap!
It’s really fun adding a new tea to Steepster. A) It makes me feel like I’ve uncovered some lost treasure of the Sierra Madre by buying this tea that no one else has reviewed. B) When you add something like this tea, you just get to click so many boxes! It’s a Chai, it’s a Rooibos, it’s a Maté, it’s SUPERTEAAAAA!
I bought this with a little bit of giddyness (read: spite) that it might replace Teavana’s Samurai Maté. Close Colonel, but no cigar.
It’s a very good blend, and I’m so far ecstatic with the quality and flavor from my Ovation purchases. Definitely a company I will buy from again.
To me, the standout flavors are the cardamom and the rooibos. The fruit blends a little bit behind those two, and gives a little bit of a… lift, for lack of a better term, to the flavor. The cinnamon and anise are noticeable in the blend, but take a much more subdued backseat than I’m used to for either one of those two spices. These are typically strong, domineering beasties, and they’re comfortably waiting their turn on this one.
Overall, the smoothness of the flavor here really impresses me. It just feels like silk gliding over your tongue, and none of the flavors are overtly grabbing for your attention. It is very relaxing… which is probably a bad thing for a maté blend. This could very easily be one of those awkward moments where you had to explain to your boss that you were up all night drinking tea. Try it with a straight face sometime.
So why no bell and no cigar? I really do have a big love on for my cassia cinnamon. To me, the most disappointing thing about this blend is that the cinnamon is so passive. I think this has to do with Ovation using cinnamon chips instead of cinnamon/cassia flavoring. It is also possible that Ovation is using ceylon (true) cinnamon, which is supposed to be less ‘HI I’M CINNAMON LETS BE FRIENDS’, and my ignorant American tongue just doesn’t know what it’s missing.
Definitely a good brew, but it isn’t going to dethrone my Samurai. There’s got to be a better joke there than that. Oh well.
The irony here is that what, two days after I say that I’ll never request this tea… I request this tea.
But I’m not changing my rating, no no. So here’s the humor. I went to a semi-fancy beer place, and bought a semi-fancy bottle of mead, imported from Denmark. Missy also wanted tea, and the question was posed:
What kind of tea should we drink, that won’t spoil or overpower the flavors of the mead?
That really mild Nonsuch Estate tea that we tried the other day, of course. Worked perfectly. The same timid profile that left me feeling ‘meh’ a few days ago accompanied tonight’s drink rather well. Though, I kind of feel bad for it. It’s a terrible measuring tool to comment on how well this sits in the shadow of the night’s other beverage! If Nonsuch was a child, I’d be giving him a complex.
So… Strawberry Sunset (take 1) is a tisane I made using Ovation Teas custom blending, using the following options:
Tea Base – Chamomile
Herbs, Spices & Flowers – Cinnamon Chips, Lemongrass
Fruit & Nuts – Strawberries, Figs
Flavorings – Strawberry, Spearmint
Let me start off by saying THIS IS DELICIOUS, even though it isn’t as strawberry-y as I wanted. It’s very, very tasty though. The strawberry flavoring isn’t as dominant as either the mint or the chamomile flavors, but it picks up a little more as the beverage cools. The amount of lemongrass they used in this blend is perfect, just a hint of zing as a finishing note. It lingers a little bit too.
The fig flavoring is lost, which I somewhat expected, since fig is a little tame on it’s own. I think I’ll actually replace those with more strawberries the next time around (oh yes, there will be a next time, this isn’t over between us Ovation).
The brew has a very pale, almost white grape juice color. This was a little surprising to me as I was expecting the vibrant red that I had in the Strawberry Sunset that I was basing this from. It probably just means that Ovation is using a more ‘natural’ product, where the one I had before was a more artificially colored and flavored blend.
I’m finishing up the second cup, and this chamomile is totally knocking me out. So I’m going to rate this 100 and run off to bed. Yes, I’m going to give it 100 even though it can be improved slightly. I figure any lacking in flavor combination is my own darned fault, so I can really only rate the tea on the quality and flavor of the chosen ingredients, which is AMAZING.
Yaaaay, it’s new tea day! It’s new tea day everyone!
So… I got my Ovation Teas order in today, and it has this Vanilla Chai in it. Oh em gee, is it good.
Like most masala chais, the tea in this blend takes a backseat. Both cinnamon and clove are a tough roadmate to contend with, and this blend is no exception (nor do I want it to be!). The vanilla adds just the perfect touch of sweet, creaminess alongside the spices. Man, Ovation did a really good job on this one. The flavor combination is perfect.
This was my first order from OvationTeas. It consisted of this, a maté chai (to compete against Teavana’s Samurai), and a custom blend that smells really, really good (and has figs!).
If nothing else, I have to say that the price is competitive. At $9/4oz, this is going to be a fairly difficult tea to beat. Plus, it really helps that Ovation is about ~10 miles away from my house. I feel like my ridiculously good, moderately priced tea is contributing to my local economy. The shipping was fairly quick, considering that I had a custom blend in there (so excited!).
I’m considering this to be the best tea I will never want to drink again.
Please, allow me to explain.
This tea is very good. It is a very light, mellow, golden black tea. It definitely falls in the more caramel-ly range of black teas, and is very pleasant on the tongue. It’s mellow, it’s smooth, and it’s slightly sweeter than what I normally get from a straight black tea.
But that’s it. The flavor is fleeting, it doesn’t linger, it doesn’t entice me with spicy secrets. It knocks on the door, asks you to vote, and moves on. Two weeks from now, I’m not going to remember it’s name. I’ll stop and go “You know what I want, a good straight black tea… that would taste great” and I’ll pick something that tastes like a black tea, not it’s mellow cousin. He’s a nice guy, but I just don’t think he can get the job done.
Unless you’ve decided you want to try your luck at hand-blending flavored black teas. And you have this flavor that you know would taste great, but you’re afraid it would get overpowered. So you call up black tea’s mellow cousin.
So yeah. It’s good. I just won’t ever find myself going “OH MY GOD I MUST HAVE NONSUCH!”. Except right there, but that doesn’t count.
This definitely rings in as Teavana’s flagship in my book. There isn’t a single other tea or tisane in their repertoire that even compares.
Again, here we are making the distinction of a ‘spice’ tea or a ‘fruit’ tea, as this blend gives you quite a bit of both. The cinnamon is very much the dominant flavor of this blend, which is always something that wins points in my book (why you would keep a pointy book, who knows).
Past the cinnamon, I taste the very wonderful candied pineapple flavor, which then gives way to all the other spice flavors. It is really a very flavorful blend. What’s interesting is that I don’t particularly consider myself a fan of either mate or rooibos. This blend though, man, it’s just the perfect combination of flavors to tie those two base herbs together. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, or some such.
It had been awhile since we had made some, so Missy brewed it up tonight… very pleasant. Although, maybe not the best thought for a nighttime blend… hrmm.
My OvationTeas order will be coming soon… and the Samurai may finally have to defend itself against an upstart challenger. Queue the Rocky music!
If i had to make a distinction, I would say that I like ‘spiced’ teas more than I like ‘fruity’ teas. In other words, if I were to choose between a ginger tea or a peach tea, my assumption would be that I would enjoy the ginger tea more.
Sense does this make, young padawan?
That being said, this tea is both good, and a disappointment. I do not taste ginger in this tea whatsoever, it really to me just tastes like a peach black tea. The peach adds a very pleasant, and slightly tart flavor over the top of the black tea (which tastes like it’s probably a ceylon, but the description doesn’t say for good). It is quite tasty, and it’s a nice flavor combination.
But waaaaaah, where is my beloved Ginger? This island just isn’t the same without her.
Me and my semi-realistic expectations aside, this is another solid offering from TropicalTeaCo, picked up during their March Madness sale. It’s still sitting on their $1/oz list as we speak, and at that price, it’s a steal. Especially if you’re on the other end of the spectrum, and are more of a fruit fan than a spice fan.
(I had to stop myself from writing Spice Girl)
This tea is a bit more remarkable than the last estate tea I tried from TropicalTeaCo.
This tea is very smooth, its a much more mellow bodied tea. I’m not sure I get the true-darjeeling characteristics from it, the fruitiness or the muscatel spiciness… but there is a subtle sweetness behind the the tea flavor. I’m not entirely sure if this is a characteristic of it being a darjeeling, or whether there just happens to be a subtle sweetness ;).
It is definitely a very mellow, relaxing tea. I could see this being a nice evening tea… get home from work… just want a nice simple brew… get your slippers on… pet your vanilla puppy.
This is another TropicalTeaCo ridiculously-cheap-per-ounce buy. In all honesty, I only really bought it for the name (I have a dear friend named Mim, so this made me chuckle a bit). But, it turns out to be quite a tasty tea. I’m not sure what it’s “real” price is, but at $1/oz I can see it being a fairly common purchase. I’ll be getting a darjeeling soon from my groupon Golden Moon sampler. We’ll see how the two compare!
This is definitely a full bodied, malty black tea. It has a nice flavor too it, but nothing terribly special. Another solid, middle of the road black tea from our TropicalTeaCo order.
The one interesting point here… holy hannah is it astringent. Easily one of the most astringent teas I own.
The tea does have a good flavor though, and will lend itself well to some sweet tea over the summer which we’ll have for a week or two, if we’re lucky. I don’t think I’ll buy it again though… it simply isn’t the star of the show, and is far surpassed by other straight black offerings from TropicalTeaCo such as their English Breakfast or their Organic Texas Iced Tea blend.
So, now that my tastebuds are well and truly back in order, Missy wanted me to give this another drink and see how I liked it.
The pear flavor still tastes very artificial and chemical, it has like a soapy taste to it. As the tea cools, this background soapy note also fades away. This could make a very, very tasty iced tea… but I would have a hard time recommending it hot. It’s just very off-putting.
Missy says it tastes great though. I could just be picky!