104 Tasting Notes
This was the first Tea of the Week for March – it’s also nearly sold out! This month has been absolutely crazy for me – this is the first time that I’ve actually been able to sit down and do something that wasn’t either family related or work related, although some argument could be made that by writing a tasting note of one of my own teas, that’s actually work related.
Oh well. My life revolves around tea and that’s not something I make excuses for and it’s not something that I regret or resent. I love tea!
One of the first teas that I bought for myself when I made the decision to close LiberTEAS was a blackberry sage tea and it’s a combination that I absolutely love. Sage and blackberries seem to be made for one another – I love how the sage tones down a little bit of the sweetness of the blackberry and gives it some balance which allows the berry to be more expressive when it’s not so sweet.
Sage is one of my favorite herbs, I love the sort of rustic, woodsy, earthy note it delivers. It’s savory but because of the presence of the blackberry, this tea doesn’t come off too savory, but instead a unique balance of both sweet and savory, while also allowing the flavor of the rich black tea to come through and there’s just a hint of berry tartness too. It’s a pleasing tea with a beautiful complexity.
Last week’s Tea of the Week – I created this one to celebrate Chinese New Year. I used a blend of Golden Yunnan & an Assamica grown in the Yunnan province as the base. I used my own whole spice version of a traditional Chinese Five Spice as the main flavor profile: Cinnamon, Star Anise, Fennel, Clove & Szechuan peppercorns (I used both whole and crushed peppercorns and cloves) and I also added a little bit of ginger root (not much – just enough to enhance the peppery notes a bit) and mandarin orange.
The spice has a nice roundness to it, with the licorice-y notes of the anise and fennel being what I taste first, but the other spices coming forward just after I pick up those licorice notes. The mandarin comes through and the Yunnan is a nice, smooth background note. I really like this.
I was excited about it from the onset, but also nervous because while I do like to use Chinese Five Spice in my cooking (I use it for short ribs – YUM!) I wasn’t sure how it would translate in a tea – but since I’ve had all of these spices in teas before save for the szechuan peppercorns – I can’t recall ever having Szechuan peppercorns in a tea before. I’ve had black peppercorns and pink peppercorns and long peppercorns but I don’t recall having Szechuan peppercorns in a tea before – but I felt fairly confident that it would come out alright. It is somewhat chai like – but definitely different from most chai I’ve had too. This has a nice balance of sweet, spicy, and savory to it.
I just reblended about 4 pounds of this tea for the actual Myrtle’s Tea House – http://myrtlesteahouse.com – because they have ordered some. They not only sell it in their tea shop, but they also grind it to a fine consistency and add it to their shortbread cookies that they serve to their afternoon tea customers.
And since I reblended it – I have to test it before I start packaging it up. My inspiration behind this blend is some of my favorite things at Myrtle’s. There is, of course, the tea which is a creamy Earl Grey and their exceptionally good strawberry soup which is made of pureed strawberries, cream and a touch of cloves and cinnamon. Seriously – that soup! You guys … that soup!!!
We’ll be going to Myrtle’s on Thursday to deliver the tea – and they probably won’t have that soup on Thursday since it’s not exactly strawberry season at the moment. But they do have a really good tomato and basil soup too and that might be a bit more satisfying on a cold and what I think may turn out to be a snowy day since we’re getting quite a bit of snow at the moment.
Anyway – back to this tea. This is every bit as good as I remember. Sweet strawberry – a touch of vanilla – notes of cinnamon and clove and of course, that lovely bergamot. After I finish packaging up the tea for the tea house, I just might have a few pouches left over to add to the website!
Taste testing a new batch of Marshmallow Treat Genmaicha as we’ve been sold out for a little while now – I reblended some earlier this month and it’s finally ready to package up – which I shall do in a bit! So, if you’ve been waiting for this tea – it’s back in stock!
As delicious as I remember it – sweet & marshmallow-y. I’m always happy when this tea is in my pantry!
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. :)