100 Tasting Notes
This is the 8th TEA of Christmas – when I first set out to create this blend, the flavor profile that I had in my head was a custard pie with a dusting of nutmeg on top. I love those pies – but I’ve also come to the point where I know I need to avoid the bakery because I will end up buying said pie and I don’t need the pie – and neither does my pocketbook (they aren’t cheap!)
So I wanted a tea that was creamy and custardy sweet like that – but not so much like it that it made me wish for the real thing. I wanted something that would curb my craving for something creamy and sweet without something that would remind me so much of the pie that I had to go out and buy one.
And I think I managed to do that with this tea. It’s sweet and creamy and custard-y. The nutmeg adds a nice dimension to it. But it also definitely tastes like tea. Similar enough to the pie to curb the craving for it without tasting so similar that I feel I must have the pie.
The last few days (the last week, really) has been absolutely crazy for me – and so of course, I’m very behind in posting my tasting notes for the 12 Teas of Christmas teas. This is tea for day 7 – Crisp Cranberry Soda – which was one of the new teas in last year’s box – brought back for this box by popular demand.
This blend is lovely – a pop of cranberry (which pops more if you allow it to cool a bit) with a lemon-lime soda note – inspired by the seasonal sodas that I see on the shelves this time of year. I love the combination of lemon, lime and cranberry. Lots of tart in there (which is kind of surprising for me, actually, because I usually don’t like tartness but here, it’s working for me), and the sweetness of the rooibos is just enough to keep me from feeling a puckery sensation, I think.
A really lovely caffeine-free tea!
The last few days have been crazy for me – so yes, I’m still behind in posting about each of the 12 Teas of Christmas. This is the 5th Tea of Christmas. I wasn’t surprised that this was one of the highest vote getters in the poll over the summer – this tea sold out in record time when I first released it in July of last year.
And this is just as tasty as I remember it being – lots of banana flavor with lovely notes of marshmallow and toasty rice flavor. I think I may enjoy this best while hot, but I also enjoy it a lot iced – I don’t usually enjoy many Genmaicha teas iced, but this one is an exception.
I’m still a day behind – today is actually the 5th day on our countdown but I’m sipping on the 4th Tea of Christmas from our 12 Teas of Christmas box.
I stuck pretty close to the recipe on this one – using an Assam blend rather than my often used blend of Assam, Yunnan and Ceylon. I chose to work with what I call an “Assam” blend – using a malty Assam and an Assamica tea (grown in China) rather than just going with just the Assam because I feel that the Assamica gave the Assam a bit more roundness. The Assamica is rather robust on it’s own and quite malty, but it also is a bit smoother than Assam and I wanted that.
I like this one – nice and fruity but also nicely dessert-y sweet. Plus, with the Assam base, it makes a really lovely first cuppa when you need help shaking the sleepy – which is what I am in desperate need of. (Yeah, it’s still a bit ‘early’ for me.)
After I finish this cup – I’m off for the rest of the day! (I get two days a week with my grandson – and today is day 1 of the two!!!)
Yep, I’m still behind – and I don’t see myself getting caught up any time soon – since Mondays and Tuesdays are my days that I’m away from home for most of the day. But I figured I should at least make an attempt to get caught up with this tea tonight. Besides, it seemed like the ideal drink tonight since it’s late and it’d be better if I watched my caffeine intake.
This is one of my favorite tisanes that I’ve crafted. I love the way the flavors work together – the hazelnut offers a beautiful depth to the chocolate – and the strawberry adds a bright sweet-tart note. The nutty tones of the honeybush add to the hazelnut notes. It’s just yummy!
So, here it is, Day 3 of the countdown to Christmas with TEA – and I’m already behind a day! In my defense, I was gone pretty much all day yesterday, Mat HAD to see the new Star Wars movie yesterday and was even kinda/sorta lamenting that we didn’t go to see it just after midnight. Instead, we went to see it at 10:30 am yesterday. Seriously? Who goes to see a movie at 10:30 am? Or, to put it another way, what NIGHT OWL goes to see a movie at 10:30 am?
Anyway, after that, I went to watch my grandson graduate from his Tiny Tigers martial arts course which is something I wouldn’t miss for the world. Then my oldest daughter and I went shopping for Christmas and I didn’t get home until about 8 pm – and I came home to a hungry younger daughter and Mat – so yeah, not a lot of time to do other things.
Moving on to tea – this was yesterday’s tea in the 12 Teas of Christmas countdown. Holiday Marmalade. You may be wondering why I chose this name. The name didn’t inspire the tea – I didn’t start out with the name already given to the tea. To be honest, this tea went through a few names before I found one that I was content to give this tea.
My original vision for this tea was a spiced orange curd – you know, sort of like a lemon curd only with oranges. And spices. So I built the tea around that idea, with oranges and vanilla bean and spices – but I was never really happy with the name “Spiced Orange Curd.” I think it was the “Spiced” part. It seems like every time I add some fall or wintery spices to a tea, I just slap on the word “Spiced” or “Spice” to it and wa-lah … it just kind of lacked any sort of creativity whatsoever. So then I thought, Holiday Curd? No, I didn’t like that either. I don’t know why but it just wasn’t doing it for me.
After a few other name variants that I came up with and was equally as dissatisfied with I thought: what about marmalade? It’s not exactly an orange marmalade – well, it is, but it’s also got those spices and I didn’t want to call it Spiced Orange Marmalade for the same reason I didn’t want to call it Spiced Orange Curd. So – after some thought, I decided that Holiday Marmalade sounded right. I just liked the sound of it. Then I found this musical jam with holiday music lead by guitarist Jorma Kaukonen which is called “Holiday Marmalade” (as opposed to “Holiday Jam”) and I absolutely LOVED it … so Holiday Marmalade became the name of this tea – more so for this melody of music than for the actual tea. :)
This is last week’s Tea of the Week. I generally have my tea ‘menu’ mapped out for a couple of months ahead of time, mostly because I need to be sure that I have the proper ingredients for each tea in stock in time for blending. But this is one that I kind of just came up with kind of late in the game. I changed the menu at the end of October to include this tea – because I realized that I didn’t have ANY minty teas around the holiday (with the exception of Graveyard Mist, which is usually in stock) so I needed to remedy that.
Fortunately, even though I didn’t have many of the ingredients for this tea, I can get my herbs locally so I’m able to get them quickly – and the candy canes I got from an online vendor that is really speedy. The candy canes are vegan, gluten free, nut free and organic. Even the color on the candy cane is derived from plant sources rather than artificial coloring. Tasting the candy on it’s own, it’s actually a rather subtle peppermint candy – but it works with the tea.
The tea has a nice sweetness to it, it’s crisp and minty but the vanilla softens it enough so that it’s not like a swig of mouthwash. I love these flavors with the soft taste and texture of the white tea.
Flavors: Peppermint, Sweet, Vanilla
It’s Back! I’m currently taste testing the latest batch of the Pancake Breakfast Tea. It’s been out of stock from our permanent collection for a couple of months (Yeah, I know! I’ve been behind!) but it’s been reblended and it’s been added to the website!
Whenever we get this back in stock, I’m so happy to have it back in my stash that it seems to disappear almost as soon as I have it back – and this time around, I think it’s even better than I remember – because I’ve been listening (well, reading) what the Steepsterites have been saying about it so I altered the recipe just slightly to give it more of a pancake-y flavor – but without taking away from the maple-y goodness.
This is this week’s Tea of the Week as well as the Featured Reblend/Retro Monday blend for October. I argued with myself on whether or not I should start a new entry for this since it is technically a new Pumpkin Chai – as I didn’t follow Frank’s recipe for this one. But I figured that we do have a lot of entries as it is and we actually DO have 2 Pumpkin Chai entries (this one and the Sri Lankan Pumpkin Chai) – the thought crossed my mind that having another Pumpkin Chai entry may just confuzzle everyone so I decided to just use this one.
As I said, my new Pumpkin Chai is different from the original blend. I didn’t actually have Frank’s recipe for this blend – earlier this year my old computer (that I had for about 8 years) died. Fortunately, I did sense that it’s time was approaching and I started saving my recipes to google docs and I didn’t lose too many recipes. I lost a lot of other things that I wasn’t able to retrieve but for the most part, we got through it with as little loss as possible.
Anyway – I wasn’t able to save all of Frank’s recipes and quite a few of his older ones were also lost in his own computer’s death so to be honest, I don’t recall if this particular recipe was in the set of recipes that I did have. But that’s OK. That chai was alright, but I enjoy making chai blends so I wasn’t too set on needing to recreate his.
I wanted to focus on as much pumpkin flavor as possible – which is difficult for a few reasons: a) the pumpkin bits that are added to the blend do not add a strong flavor – they’re mostly about visual appeal; b) I’ve found that it’s a bit difficult to get the pumpkin essence to express itself fully with a strong black tea base and I’m of the belief that chai blends with a black tea base should have a strong, vigorous black tea as it’s base to support those spices; and c) the strong spices tend to mask some of the pumpkin notes.
Nevertheless, I do think I managed to get some of that pumpkin to shine through.
When it comes to a chai though, the most important thing (at least for me) is the spice. I like a warm and cozy chai – and I even appreciate a really robust, spicy chai. Usually when I get a chai with spices on the subtle side, I find myself somewhat disappointed. It’s something that happens often when it comes to coffee shop chai blends – because most of them use one particular brand of chai concentrate (and I’m not going to name names) and it isn’t a very strong chai – it tastes mostly like milk and sugar to me – with some notes of cinnamon and ginger. I usually get no real discernible tea flavor from those blends and very little in the way of spice. There are only a few coffee shops out there where I’ll get a chai latte these days and those are ones that I KNOW do not serve that particular brand of chai concentrate.
Anyway, I digress.
I wanted this chai to be something that kept the spice profile strong even if I added some milk for a latte (because pumpkin chai blends should be made into a latte, amirite?) and I think I managed to accomplish this. I do recommend that if you decide to go latte with this, that you brew it strong so that the milk doesn’t dilute the tea because this was made to be served as a straight up tea.
And it is good as both a straight up tea and as a latte. As a latte, it’s smooth and creamy, with a really nice peppery bite to it. When it’s a latte, the pumpkin becomes very silky tasting, reminding me almost of a pumpkin yogurt but without that tang of the yogurt, which makes me wonder how some plain kefir might fair in this? Would the kefir curdle with the heat of the tea? It’s not something I’ve ever tried – so I don’t know. If any of you have tried such a thing – please let me know how it turned out!
Anyway, I’m quite happy with this blend – happy that I’m able to enjoy some chai as the weather is definitely CHAI weather to me and also because it’s yummy!