254 Tasting Notes

75
drank Blood Orange by Tea Forte
254 tasting notes

Finding a single steeps sampler package from Tea Forte was a nice surprise. Finding the sampler package was of their latest Noir line of pan-roasted black teas was even more surprising. The best surprise was finding a blood orange flavor hidden amongst the other mediocre flavored teas.

From what I can recall, the best blood orange tea I have so far had was from David’s Tea, which was a pu’erh blend. Reminiscing on that blend, I do remember liking it quite a lot, namely for its flavor.

Tea Forte’s blood orange does give quite a powerfully citrus scent, leaning more to pekoe for my liking but not so much to become offensive. The leaves are thankfully generic loose leaf in appearance and color, with the citrus peel and flowers giving a lighter and softer texture.

This is my second time steeping this tea, as my first had given a fairly weak flavor at three minutes, so increasing the steep time with new leaves could yield a better brew.

The brew is a lovely deep copper, with a subtle citrus aroma.

The flavor is a lighter pekoe, more bergamot than citrus. Despite, the citrus that is detected jumps out significantly. Steeping a minute longer does give a more interesting taste. There is a slight astringency, and the black tea does round out the flavor eventually.

It is not quite the best, in fact quite far from it. What it is, in the best circumstances, is a pleasing morning cup.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 14 OZ / 414 ML

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85

I have been enjoying this tea since early 2013, part of the Damn Fine Three-Pack, which I have purchased again early this year.

The leaves are handsomely dark, with a powerfully smokey yet subtly fresh scent. The aesthetics of the dry leaves coincide nicely with the hard rocker personality.

The wet leaves give a nice pu-erh aroma, very strong but not overpowering smokey scent. The brew is also very much pu-erh, with very deep and dark reds, and a very earthy aroma.

As powerfully smokey as it seems, the flavors are not overpowered. Giving mainly sweet and caramel flavors, there are faint and very subtle earthy textures underneath, and very little astringency. It could probably benefit more to make stronger with more leaves, but light makes for a great early afternoon cup.

With subtle detailing and clever traits to accommodate it’s assigned personality, this is indeed a damn fine tea.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 14 OZ / 414 ML

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85

Today’s tea two, or the second tea leaf today. Again, I have been enjoying this tea for quite some time, unsure of why I haven’t reviewed it until now.

The leaves have an extremely subtle scent, a pleasingly sweet smokey freshness. They are dark and curled, seemingly dusty and manly presented; I would say the equivalence of a nicely trimmed beard.

Steeping the leaves gives a less subtle and more pleasing sweet malty aroma, the liquor very dark and very rich. This is, indeed, a modern tea.

The flavors are lightly malty, and lightly sweet. The smokiness does return within a full body. There is no astringency, just simply very well rounded.

This tea is perfect to enjoy in the late mornings or early afternoons, extremely pleasing with no surprises.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 14 OZ / 414 ML

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90

I have been enjoying this tea predominantly as a morning drink; although I’ve tried it for afternoons, it doesn’t feel right to drink any time after 11:30 AM.

The dry leaves are beautifully curled and richly dark, impeccably arranged in its relatively tiny tin. The presentation alone makes purchasing this tea worth it. The dry scent gives little; more subtle fresh earthy notes, appropriate as a spring crop.

Steeping brings out it’s very rich colors and aromas, lessening the subtle earthy tones for a more chocolate body with a hint of smoke beneath the surface. There is a surprising sweetness to it, which I did not initially detect until taking the aromas in a second and third time, as well as a light fruitiness.

The liquor, although very deeply red/copper, gives a light caramel aroma and nothing else. The flavor though, is very smooth and very fruity with a thick cocoa body. There is a slight astringency, but no bitterness.

As far as malty teas go, this beautiful tea may be the best I’ve had so far. Expectedly thick, but surprisingly subtle and delicate.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 14 OZ / 414 ML

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85

My first encounter with Oprah’s Chai was iced at the local Starbucks, as it was quite a humid spring weekend. I thought what I was given was alright, considering how most Starbucks Chai teas and lattes can be, it was comparably better. Keep in mind, a specialty tea shop had opened recently, conveniently across from the local Starbucks, so I also had much more quality tea to compare it to as well.

Both dry and steeped leaves give off the very familiar scent of Teavana’s very own Maharaja Chai Oolong, which is one of my very favorite teas, a nice robust spicy blend. It is possible there is more spice than the Maharaja Chai Oolong, as Oprah’s Chai gives a shorter and stronger kick of flavor, which might be the result of the black tea. The spices do not linger, nor do they overwhelm; it is surprisingly soft for the kind of bite it provides. Nonetheless, there is still that similar flavor of spices with a naturally lightly sweetened body.

Alone, with no milk or sugar, this tea is outstandingly great as an alternative to the Maharaja Chai Oolong, with an appropriate kick, followed by a gentle finish.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 14 OZ / 414 ML

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100

It’s been quite a while since I’ve had a proper Chai, aside from your typical lazy Starbucks lattes.

This sample came with my first Teavana Holiday order of 2013, a blend seemingly replacing the much lauded Samurai Chai Mate & White Ayurvedic Chai Blend.

In a lot of ways, this blend is quite similar to the latter, as they are both chai/chai blends, both come from Teavana, and both leaves contain the much potent lemongrass and tropical fruity scents.

I am actually quite curious about this sample blend, as I have had both of these teas individually before.

These leaves are much darker than the Chai Mate & White Ayurvedic blend, with a significantly consistent spicy kick added.

I do quite enjoy brewing a handsomely dark and rich Chai, especially one that emphasizes full spices next to it’s bright textures.

Teavana may have added a bit too much rock sugar, but that could also be because Maharaja Chai Oolong does not need rock sugar as it is seemingly sweetened already.

Nonetheless, the expectedly rich spices deliver with a full bodied Oolong and tropical Mate blend, which reminds me of ginger beer.

Teavana seem to know what does and does not work with blends of their premium teas, and this blend surely and soundly works.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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87

I didn’t really know what to expect from this tea. It didn’t seem a very compelling tea, as I had always seen it sitting on the shelf as I walked past it in the store. I finally broke down and bought a bag, as I had tried all the other teas.

Upon first opening the bag, a gentle and extremely pleasing aroma fills the air. A very fresh and sweet scent of vanilla and fruit blend quite well with the tea, giving a more after hours cocktail feel. The leaves are long, rolled, and handsomely dark.

My initial steep of 3 minutes, with half a teaspoon of rock sugar, gave a brilliant and bright copper toned brew. The aroma very much like the leaves, fresh, sweet and slightly fruity.

The first couple sips gave me a surprisingly bitter flavor, followed by a sweet subtle fruitiness, which was then followed by a hint of astringency. As surprising as it was, considering how much black tea there is here, it shouldn’t be that surprising.

My second steep of 2 minutes and 45 seconds with new leaves, and this time with a whole teaspoon of rock sugar, gave a darker brew with a stronger sweet and fruity aroma.

The 15 seconds makes such a difference, giving a more flavorful brew. There is much less bitterness and a more subtle floral bouquet. There is something very distinguishing about the toasty sweet and dry textures, with a slight astringency that more compliments the overall flavor.

This tea is wonderfully complex, with so many textures, all working together for your complete enjoyment. I believe I have had this tea five times in the past two days now, which officially makes it a favorite.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 45 sec

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85

This has been sitting on my shelf since I bought it on my New Years weekend trip to Prince George, BC. I’m not quite sure why it took me this long to try it, seeing as I do have a particular and intense love for chai teas.

It is a very typical chai, with a difference in a slight yet noticeable scent of sweetness. Despite, I brew my cups of chai with a teaspoon each of leaves and rock sugar.

The brew is extremely dark and clean, and quite a handsome tone at that. The aroma is comfortingly warm and strong and spicy, like you’re getting a liquid hug.

Normally, I don’t put milk in chai; only when it’s added in restaurants and tea places. But, we had a carton of soy drink sitting in the fridge, and I have never had soy in tea, so I had to try it.

The soy definitely calms the spices down, not so much as to diminish the overall flavor, but to give it discipline. It helps the soy has a nutty flavor that adds to the strong black tea and spices.

It has been too long since my last chai tea. Thankfully, this is quite a respectable and strong chai, and quite superb with sugar and milk, or soy.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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95

Drinking this hastily at work is an injustice to the complexities and sheer beauty of this tea. Even worse is my decision on western style brewing.

There is a subtleness to both the leaves and liquor, a clean and fresh and delicate subtleness. The leaves are a wild and earthy shape and color, with deep and dark greens along the long curls and twists. The scent is extremely faint but very fresh, reminiscent of forest after a rainfall.

The initial steep gives you this thick and velvety brew, followed by a very clean and crisp and lightly sweet aftertaste of grape and apple. It is quite a lovely and brilliant experience, with little to no astringency.

The second steep gave me a thicker velvet texture, with a malty flavor mixed with the grape and apple. There is a mild but bright astringent aftertaste that follows and lingers on your tongue.

The third steep was a lighter malt, with less texture and a slight more astringency. The fading flavors and details made it clear that you should not brew this western style. A tea this complex and delicate requires patience and attention.

Despite my ignorance, my first experience was a complete surprise and an extreme delight. I cannot wait to properly experience this.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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81
drank Earl Grey by Tea Forte
254 tasting notes

This is my second steep, experimenting with steeping times.

Instead of the typical 3 minute steep I do with most black teas, I tried 2 and a half minutes with this. It may have made a world of difference.

The astringency is non-existent here, in place a simple well rounded cup of Earl Grey.

The Bergamot is lighter, not so much heavy but a full bodied flavor. The refreshing aftertaste still follows, and better compliments the tea overall.

I would guess the astringency from my initial steep was now due to the black tea being over-steeped, on top of the Bergamot becoming a heavier factor. It is best to steep this tea at shorter times for a more well rounded cup.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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