311 Tasting Notes
Ok, so I impulse-bought this on the way into the office because the only thing I’m keeping permanently deskside at the moment is a pair of oolongs, and neither go with milk, and sometimes you just want something milky, and it was Monday morning, and I was weak.
I’m sure I should have checked the ingredients before buying, because I sure as heck don’t see any chunks of spices in this, as I’d expect in a chai – whole cloves, bits of cinnamon bark, ginger pieces, cardamom seeds, whatever – and the ingredients list reads “black tea, vanilla, spice, and syrup flavourings (26%).” Huh. Syrup flavouring?
Bananas. Oh my god, what’s with the bananas. This is the second time I’ve had something that calls itself a chai that my brain just tastes as lightly spicy bananas. Like, straight out of the bag I get this REALLY strong whiff of bananas. It smells like the tupperware of banana oat muffins I ate my way through last week. There is no mention of banana on the ingredients list. Why am I getting banana?
There’s a coffee shop in the city centre that does gorgeous coffee and lovely loose-leaf teas from a local company I’m normally fond of (indeed, their Bombay Chai has added bay leaf and tastes like it’s got whole spices in it) but I suspect this might well be what the cafe uses for their vanilla chai latte, because the banana-ness is identical.
Because it tastes like it’s supposed to be a banana tea when I drink it too, either that or somebody stuck a banana in the tea leaves and let it ripen. I’ve done it as per the package directions, hot and very milky, and it’s a bit sweet and creamy and there’s some spicy warmth, but not really any specific spices I can pick out. Maybe the syrup flavouring is uncannily like banana? I have no clue, but as a banana tea goes I’d probably still go for Bluebird’s Monkey Chops or Banana Bake from T2. And I wasn’t looking for a banana tea today, I was looking for a chai, so this is disappointing on all counts. It’s drinkable inasmuch as it’s sweet and milky and not wholly offensive, but man, it’s otherwise just kind of weird.
Wow, I totally forgot I owned this one. I pulled it out on a whim when nothing else appealed to me, and man, it’s FIT. I brewed it a little longer than I’d intended, as my husband is under the weather and I got caught up in giving him a feel-better cuddle for like 5 minutes and forgot my tea was brewing. And it’s fine! I haven’t had a Darjeeling in ages, and this is so nice. It’s so fruity it’s like I chucked a handful of raisins in the mug.
Contrast this with the bagged darjeeling that I had at the office that was bitter and tannic after like a minute and left me with a feeling in the back of my throat as though I’d been sick… no, there’s no comparison. This stuff is GOOD.
Comfort tea time. Oh man, I am so sick. Currently sitting dizzily at my office debating whether it’s worth sticking it out to the end of the day, or calling it quits to go home and rest. I’m figuring the former, as I’d really rather take tomorrow as a sick day when someone else is in the office, as she’ll be there to cover anything urgent and I won’t be grossing her out being all sweaty and snotty. I wouldn’t be so concerned, were it not for the fact that I’m going away from next Wednesday for like a week, so I feel a certain duty to try not to leave a huge backlog before the plane’s even taken off.
My husband bought one of those BB-8 droids that we can drive around using an app on his phone. It’s ridiculous how much that chubby little droid makes my heart do backflips. Like, I say “who’s a good little droid?” in my puppy-voice, and BB-8’s like “beep beep beep beep!” and nods. BB-8 IS a good little droid.
So obviously I’d be remiss if my massive hoard of tea didn’t include something inspired by BB-8’s sweet personality. It’s a blend of black and fruit teas, with sprinkles and fluffy tufts of raspberry leaf, and it smells like a punnet of fresh sun-ripened raspberries kissed by the faintest sprinkle of cinnamon. It starts with the vanilla, quickly joined by raspberry with a juicy finish. It’s not unlike a raspberry jam sponge with a touch of cinnamon for warmth, or maybe a buttery linzer biscuit. And it’s decaf, so it won’t rattle the nerves of slightly anxious little droids. Or me, when I’m already twitching from the caffeine in the Day Nurse I’m taking to try and retain a semblance of human-ness.
TERRIBLE NEWS: I’ve had a sore throat for the last 3 days, and had to leave work early on Thursday. I must be coming down with the man flu my husband’s just getting over, so won’t be able to make reliable assessments on tea for a few days. Everything kind of tastes like I-feel-like-I’m-going-to-throw-up.
But this is still a good tea, and having it warm is nice even though I’d normally cold brew it. I ain’t got time for that. Mmm, strawberries.
It’s so weird in Oxford right now. Like, it’s grey and dreary and drizzly and blustery, but the temperature’s gone above 10, so I’m bundled up for the wet and wind, and end up sweltering by the time I get where I’m going. So weird. But at least I’m wearing my Star Trek: TNG cardigan (in science blue, but of course) and thus I feel fabulous.
These weird blustery days are calling for warming teas, so I went for one with bonfire in the name. It’s toasty and buttery and warm but not quite cooked apple, and it’s got a really pleasant character.
Ok, so I got an email from my colleague basically chewing me out for not yet having entered a bunch of stuff into our new database, which I’d planned on catching up with today. Email’s from Friday afternoon, when I’m not in the office. GREAT. Spent most of today freaking out about how my team will think I’m incompetent and want to fire me and all that scary jazz and stress that OH MY GOD my perma-fatigued, brain-foggy, suddenly-overweight self does not need in my life.
Like, I’ve been working here for a few months now and I swear to Gosh I can’t afford to be fired from the university because it’s basically the only employer in town, and nobody’s paying me to write.
But this tea is one of my favourites. It’s all pleasantly almondy cinnamony warm Australian goodness.
So I’ve been prescribed an iron supplement for about a month now, and it’s seriously cramping my style inasmuch as I have to be really careful eating and drinking around it – for some stupid reason, tea inhibits its effectiveness, and so does dairy. TEA AND DAIRY ARE THE TWO MOST IMPORTANT FOOD GROUPS TO ME, WHYYYYYYYYYYYY
So as a result of this I’m trying to find herbals and rooibos teas I can drink early and late in the day that won’t interfere with my attempt to see whether the iron tablets will be enough to make me not a complete wreck. This one’s a no-brainer because a) it’s rhubarb, which is one of my favourite tastes; and b) it’s Bluebird, and their teas are reliably delicious. So this one went down a treat as always last night, all creamy rhubarby goodness in harmony with the taste I like about rooibos, and none of the sickly medicinal-ness that I don’t. Win!
(Also, feel free to recommend me your favourite rooibos/herbals, as I’mma have to increase my arsenal of them if this iron thing ends up being long-term. Help me, Steepster hive mind, you’re my only hope!)
I had to drink something reliably scrummy to get the memory of last night’s pumpkin spice out of my taste buds.
This one is so good, though. I was so wary about the prospect of banana tea, and yet it’s SO GOOD! There’s no suggestion of that nasty banana artificial flavouring (barf) and it tastes instead like creamy banana chips baked into banana bread, that melds so nicely with the base. I love it with milk, to bring out the creaminess of the banana. I love it so much. How is this such a comforting taste, I don’t know, but it is. Oh man. Good.
I can’t give this one a fair review because it’s my own damn fault I didn’t notice I’d added a sample of pumpkin spice rather than pu erh spice, which was adjacent to it on the alphabetical list.
I do not like pumpkin spice drinks. Believe me, I’ve tried. I love pumpkin in pie, in cheesecake, simply roasted with a drizzle of maple syrup and a sprinkle of sea salt. I have a recipe for pumpkin muffins that I’ve been making for 25 years. And I love spice: I have so many variations of chai that I love, and I’m always finding new ways to incorporate new spice blends into my baking and cooking. My five-spice gingerbread biscuits were a highlight of the Christmas season.
And I love when black teas have pumpkiny notes in and of themselves, but this doesn’t taste anything like that. I’m not sure what it tastes like. It doesn’t taste like pumpkin spice lattes, which I also hate, but I kind of also hate it.
Which makes me sad because there aren’t a lot of adagio’s flavours that I’m not keen on.
So I know I’m not selling it well, but if anybody wants an almost full sample sachet of pumpkin spice tea…
I’m still not over the Star Wars. I don’t know if that’s evident by my, like, having gotten a buttload of Star Wars teas in. This is normal behaviour, isn’t it? I’m also holding out for my friend’s shop getting a backorder of the Pop vinyl figure of helmetless Poe Dameron, and if my finances weren’t utterly decimated for the forseeable future, I’d be tempted by the lego set with little Admiral Ackbar. He’s my favourite! NERDNERDNERD
As it is, I’m presently mainlining tea whilst I binge-listen the Arcade Fire Meets David Bowie EP for an essay I’ve been asked to write for a forthcoming book. There’s a lot of memories in this for me.
But first, tea. There are so many layers to this tea, it’s astounding. The dry leaves yield an intensely nutty, sweet buttery fragrance, with fresh strawberry following. As soon as it begins to brew, the perfume transforms into warm, spiced honey. The flavour is wrapped in luscious, bright strawberry, underscored by creamy, earthy notes of maple and buttery hazelnut, while hints of cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger add lingering warmth to the finish. And to my eternal delight, the coconut doesn’t really flavour it (as it just kills every other flavour for me when it does) but lends an extra creaminess to the texture instead. It’s as beautiful as Poe’s shining, tousled hair, as warm as the light in his eyes when he looks at Finn. Balanced, beautiful, and perfect.