107 Tasting Notes
I ended up with this matcha when we got sent some old Teaopia stock to clear out. It’s…okay, but doesn’t froth well, and I am pretty much using it up in lattes and such.
Yesterday at Second Cup, I noticed they have some syrup flavours out for sale that I do not have yet. I currently have their soda vanilla, caramel and peppermint, but they were selling some others including orange and toasted marshmallow…so I picked those up.
Today, I made an iced orange creamsicle matcha latte! About a cup of matcha with a half-cup of milk (more tea to milk, I wanted the tea to be stronger), a half-teaspoon of the vanilla syrup and one and a half teaspoons of the orange.
Pour the matcha and syrup over ice, shake well, strain into a big icy mug.
Froth the cold milk in a separate cup, top up the mug with the cold frothed milk.
NOM. A bit indulgent (90 calories from the syrup, probably around 10 for the matcha, plus whatever milk you use), but totally worth it when it is boiling hot out.
Now I’m trying to figure out what I can do with the toasted marshmallow.
Lime Gelato Oatmeal
Acquire the amount of water you need for yer oats, heated to an appropriate green tea steep temp. Oat type = the longer cooking, the better, for better flavour absorption.
Steep a good 4tp of tea per cup of water, for at least five minutes – don’t be timid.
Add tea to pot, bring pot to a boil, add oatmeal and cook as per usual. I recommend adding some ground flax at this point for badass health benefits.
When done cooking, add a drizzle of vanilla syrup, honey or agave to sweeten and bring out the creaminess.
Done! Lime Gelato Oatmeal, folks. Good to serve on the side with a lime-y cold drink like an actual CUP of Lime Gelato, or maybe a Via Cool Lime if you are super tired in the morning like I was this morning, and don’t have the energy to make flash-chilled tea.
-chai oatmeal and Nutella: Chocolate Chai Oatmeal
-strawberry oatmeal (I favour strawberry whites) and vanilla or heavy cream: Strawberries and Cream Oatmeal (obvs!)
-blueberry and pomegranate oatmeal plus various fruits like blueberries and strawberries: Very Berry Oatmeal
So a new DAVIDsTEA opened up in our mall yesterday. We were told it was going to open earlier, so I don’t know if we just heard wrong, or if their opening was delayed by the horrible flood Calgary had this month.
But they are open now, across from our mall’s food court and beside the Build-a-Bear – which tells me that they will have their hands full with drinks and moms with strollers and little kids knocking things. I’m actually kind of hoping they take pressure for tea drinks off of us, especially at Christmas… They are, after all, by most of the food, and we are way down past Starbucks. So maybe.
I strolled by yesterday to go get some noms from the food court, and realized they were sampling.
Sampling. Rather aggressively, with 2-3 people out several feet in front of the store (huge no-no by our contracts) with trays trying to coax people in. Security was probably letting them get away with it for their opening (and since I’ve never seen this from their locations before, it was probably just for their opening), but it made me blink rapidly.
And then snicker hard. Oh, lil’ DT chicks! Have fun with that!
This will be highly convenient, though – both Teavana and DT in the mall where I work! My favourite employee at the other DT store I can easily reach is apparently transferring up north (boo!) – she came into our store for a drink the other day and told me that. So I guess I might as well stop going there and go to the one in my mall for refills instead. Assuming they are decently stocked.
And assuming they don’t always have a big line for drinks!
Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.
Hi, guys. Still here. So sorry I have not been around at all. About mid-way through the winter school semester, life sort of collapsed around my ears. Turns out that a full-time job with full-time school and learning issues was just a dumb thing to attempt. Pretty much any part of my life that was not school or work closed down, and I have been very depressed for a while from the stress. There was a period in there where I actually even doubted that I still like tea.
After the semester finished, I took a good MONTH off from EVERYTHING (well, except work because I like to eat). I didn’t go on Steepster, barely glanced at Facebook, took a LOT of time to myself to recover and come out of a very black bout.
But I am back! I have something of a plan for next year, and life is back in a better swing. I am my usual chipper self again, and back to lots of tea drinking. I will start reviewing again soon, I promise, and will check in on all the people who added me in my absence. My, you people had faith!
So hello again everybody! Missed you all, and sorry I have not been around to celebrate awesome teas you found and lattes you made. Let me know in comments anything you think I should know that I missed!
So I think I need to call this entry, “The First Time Tea Really DID Taste Like Juice To Dan.”
Some of you guys may remember how disappointing the DAVIDsTEA Spring Collection was last year. It was mostly just…flat, taste-wise. I think I still have a cup or two’s worth of Tangerine Dream in my cupboard which I meant to drink up but didn’t because meh.
But I secretly loved this one, and got a whole tin of it full before it was gone from stores. Then proceeded to pretty much forget about it entirely.
I re-discovered it on my shelf the other day when I was looking for tea that I could keep down with norovirus in my system. I disregarded this as a possible choice, but vowed to keep it in mind as something to drink later.
I pulled it out this morning, and popped the lid off – it’s still full, I’ve basically had none of it since I bought it. Great investment, huh? I had to wince at how much this looks like an old Teaopia tea: a whole tin of cheap sencha with some fruit chunks in it. I’m increasingly biased towards teas with a sencha base, as fewer and fewer of them hold up for me as time goes by.
Uniquity has a review for this tea stating that she(? correct me if I’m wrong) thinks it tastes like – or the taste reminds her of – Tim Horton’s peach juice. I scoffed when I first read that, because juice is so obviously a much stronger-tasting substance, and I always used to be vaguely annoyed/subconsciously envious of people who seemed to have much more developed taste buds than me.
But now… No, she’s right, I tasted it this morning. Never mind the description of it as a green tea that’s mildly fruity, it darn well tasted like juice! That could be largely blamed on the amount of sugar I had in it, but I’ve used that amount of sugar before and never thought tea tasted like juice.
Then again, my tastes are definitely changing/developing in ways I never expected: I recently tried a cup of Fruitopia, something which I used to think of as refreshing, but which I haven’t had in at least a year. When I did, I was shocked to my core at how much sugar I can now taste in it; it’s literally so sweet that it coats my mouth and makes it sticky. There’s no way that shit is “refreshing” or hydrating.
Anyway. There was definitely a strong peach flavour that came through, despite the fact that this tea is meant to be mango and guava flavoured. I’ve been trying more guava-themed stuff lately, so I think I’d recognize that, but I just didn’t taste it. It’s peach and mango. There also seems to be some citus notes underneath…I was thinking it’s not sharp enough to be lemon, so orange or tangerine.
Maybe my thoughts are now biased because of sencha, but the base did not hold up like I remember. It was a little queasy-making because it was so sweet and the base apparently collapses when you add sugar (there’s a mental image), so pretty much for the first time ever with a flavoured tea, I steeped another cup clear. (New leaves, mind you, because I have way too much stuff to justify re-steeping much of anything. Plus, that’s not a fair comparison.)
And…yeah. Part of me is missing that level of sweetness, but the flavour seems better now. Of the fruit, at least – it’s not as sickly. The base does not improve, though, and it’s more obvious that I do not like it.
Oh well. It might be nice iced, and 100g isn’t much when you are making 700mL of it at a time in little pitchers. I’m sure I will find a use for it.
Whoop, whoop, I am set up for school! Dad spotted me a bit of money to cover tuition until my Christmas bonus comes in on Friday (I hope), and I got all my tea gear in my locker, if not my tea – sugar, spoons, filterbags, wee travel mug. I went to SBUX tonight to test the hopeful hypothesis that they will give me hot water for free after the Market closes as long as I don’t need a cup, and this hypothesis has so far proved correct. Yes.
So I’m finally getting around to my sample of this that I’ve had floating around since…it came out. Yeah, that long. I let this steep longer than I meant to, but it seems none the worse for wear.
And ooooh pineapple!
I’m such a fan of pineapple-flavoured stuff. Not so much the actual pineapple, because I have difficulty with the texture. But juice and flavouring, that I can do.
This one just has an awesome balance of flavours, to me. There are some people who seem to like the base to be stronger than the flavour in a flavoured tea. I don’t quite understand that; if I wanted only tea flavour, I’d drink a straight tea. And I do drink straight teas, but I generally want a strong flavour in a flavoured tea…and a base which is not weak, but which takes to the background and meshes well with the flavour.
That is the balance I’m getting here. The oolong is nice, but I’m more aware of the pineapple. Pretty much exactly what I want when I picked up something called “Pineapple Oolong.” It’s very bright, and the bit of floral I get at the back of the sip is actually working with the other flavours. That’s nice, because floral notes sometimes make me rather queasy. Then again, that may only be when they are added to the tea and not natural to it.
There also seems to be another fruit in here. From the description, I’m guessing it’s apricot? It comes out a little more as the tea cools. I bet this would be amazing iced!
I want to give this a couple more shots, as well as try it iced, but I think this might end up being a cupboard keeper.
Very nice, anyway. And very relaxing, which I need just now. I had my first Women’s Studies class today, and I really don’t know about the prof… I was about 3-4 minutes late because the building the class is in is numbered in a really confusing way, and I went down the wrong hallway at first. She did not give me a chance to sign the attendance sheet. Um, okay? If this were even the second class, I would accept that, but geez, people coming late because they couldn’t find the room is something that HAPPENS on the first day!
And then she rushed through her PowerPoint slides and didn’t give us more than a few seconds per slide to write anything down – some slides she didn’t even show because she got so caught up TALKING, which I guess must be the only way to communicate! And her written notes suck – no complete sentences, because she’s one of those types that puts up the barest sketch of notes and then “fills in” during class.
ADHD makes my working auditory memory virtually non-existent, so I depend on clear written notes, and the shitty notes she gave us aren’t even on the student Blackboard, so apparently she’s also one of those types who withholds written material to blackmail people into coming to class. So now I have a few pages full of half-finished sentences, and the barest idea of what we discussed in class because I can no longer really remember it. In a few days, I will have no memory of anything she said at all.
I came to the library stressed almost to the point of tears, but the tea is helping immensely. I am definitely never going to her class from now on without tea in hand. And maybe a discreet voice recorder. But mostly tea.
So I’m back in school, and finally have regular access to some sort of computer again. Albeit not mine, which is just not the same thing. Particularly since I can’t access my iTunes…
Still, back in school! I managed to snag a locker someone forfeited from last semester – whoop, you just feel like tourist in school until you get a locker. This is also mighty important when you’re Canadian and need a place to stash all your winter gear – heavy coats on top of books are not fun to cart around a uni campus. And I needed a place to put my tea so I wasn’t hauling bags of leaves around in my bag all the time! So yeah, I got a locker and gleefully stashed my coat in it and went to my second class.
Which was naturally interrupted by one of the school’s normally-rare fire alarms. So I spent most of that class outside with no coat, and getting my Chucks wet in the snow I would otherwise avoid. What can you do.
My school has installed these clean, cold water dispenser things by all the water fountains, so people can easily fill up water bottles! So cool! They don’t dispense hot water, unfortunately, so I still have to trek to a coffee shop/food establishment for that. Still, guess I could try out the shaken bottle of matcha method. People do do that with cold water, right?
Anyway, I ran through a couple of my teas today, but I got a little sick of tasting their flavour being ruined by being brewed in cardboard cups. (I need to remember to bring empty travel mugs that I can brew in!) So I threw up my hands and said, cheap bagged it is so that I don’t keep wasting my stuff. And I went to Timmie’s and got this.
Maybe my standards are low at the end of the day, maybe they added too much sugar (no, I know they did), but this isn’t that bad. I haven’t had a plain EG in forever – what should it taste like? This reminds me more of black licorice than anything citrus. The base could be stronger. It’s not good. But it’s pretty pleasant nevertheless. I could stand to have this again.
Number one, the hard drive on my home computer is apparently worn out (I’m using my mother’s laptop to post this currently), so I may not be around for a bit until we get a new computer, or I get onto the computers at school; whichever comes first. (And yes, I realize I have not been around much lately anyway, but I expected my posts to increase a bit now that I will be at school more. Plus I always feel it fair to post when I know I’m going to be absent.)
In the meantime, if anyone knows a way to transfer the data from the busted hard drive to a new one, I’d appreciate hearing it. We stupidly haven’t backed it up since the last computer switch (cats kept unplugging the external hard drive, so we lazily gave up) and we stand to lose 15 years worth of saved data. Boo.
Secondly, I stopped posting much about Christmas teas…partially because I was so busy, and partially because my Christmas kinda sucked. It’s very First-World-Problems to complain about your gifts, and I did get nice gifts – some nice sweaters and stuff, some school money. I know that I am normally hard to buy for, and I normally never make a list. But this year I actually made a list – mostly tea stuff, like a matcha bowl – and pretty much no one got me a damned thing on it. The only person who got me anything tea-related was my father, by some sheer luck – he doesn’t even live with me, but he knows I like Doctor Who and he got me a TARDIS bathrobe (which is awesome) and a TARDIS teapot (which is AMAZING and which I have wanted forever), and then my family managed to chip the latter by the end of Christmas Day shuffling it carelessly around the kitchen. Oh, and my sister got a copy of a PS3 reboot of a game series that I mostly play – not her – which she is spitefully hoarding in her room even though the console she is also hoarding in her room is a PS2 and won’t play that disc, and even though I let her play several hundred dollars worth of games I buy. So I had to buy my own copy. The overall feeling is just…no one really cares what I actually wanted, have a sweater.
Oh, and I was sick Christmas, and spent it eating chicken noodle soup.
So yeah. F-ck Christmas, and all associated tea flavours. I think I will opt out next year. I do better job getting myself what I want, and I’m sure some of my family members feel the same way. Maybe next year we can give each other money.
Finally…since this tea is discontinued and presumably not coming back, can I review it now?
Because I actually really, really like it…if made properly. Which is good, because I was never installed with a resist-sales feature, so I ended up with a ridiculous amount of this – probably more than a pound.
It smells so amazing, see, so that every time I smell it I have this odd desire to acquire more of it. It smells like…lemon candies, or something. Just yum.
Steeped, it is not anywhere near as strong as you would think from the smell, which is where my steeping preferences for this come in. I do this one at least double-strong, and I steep it for at least a half-hour in an iced-tea pitcher before I put the pitcher in the fridge. Generally, I also leave the leaves in to continue cold-steeping.
And it’s great! Really crisp and refreshing, a bit like lime Kool-Aid, but less sweet and more rejuvenating. If you have any lime mojito pre-mixed stuff around, it’s also nice to pour a splash of that into this tea to pump it up.
Unfortunately, the above described method is not a terribly cost-efficient use of tea leaves – even rooibos. Still, if you have some of this around that you’d like to use up, try that.
I hope at some point that Teavana tries for another tea with a similar taste profile, but stronger flavour. A lemon-lime theme shouldn’t be a bust, but the flavour needs more punch.
52teas 12 Teas of Christmas – December 15
I absolutely love breakfast. It is by far my favourite meal of the day; something that I sometimes fall asleep looking forward to. I don’t like breakfast when it consists of little but sugary stuff, or something I have to gobble on the go (which happens far too often for my liking) – no, I need breakfast to be large and hearty and full of fat and protein for the rest of the day.
Eggs. Eggs are just about my favourite food in the world. Cheese. Toast. Bacon, which is pretty much the only part of a pig I will eat. Okay, maybe ham sometimes. Turkey and chicken. (What? Those are totally breakfast foods.) Hash browns. Tons of spice! Salsa. Cream, especially over eggs. Pancakes, with butter and fruit and syrup. Oatmeal, with whatever crazy things mixed in that you can think of. Cups of milk and fruit juice. Aaaaand…tea, of course! Usually black tea, but I will make wild exceptions.
I am not, however, the sort of person who makes “breakfast smoothies,” although I do like smoothies. Too much fruit, I guess, and not enough meat or eggs. Oh, and most people think of a breakfast smoothie as something containing a banana, and I am not supposed to eat bananas. In fact, that is the reason I did not order this tea when it was first released – I noted that the ingredients included banana. Granted, I’ve never been clear on how problematic banana might be when it’s steeped, given that no one explained to me exactly how my allergies could be triggered by bananas, just “don’t eat them.” So I’ve avoided teas with banana for a while now, just to be safe.
More recently, I’ve finally, tentatively, tried tiny amounts of tea with banana and worked up to full cups, and determined that I don’t seem to get any kind of reaction to steeped bananas. Cool.
So I’ve had a few cups of this now, and really quite like it. I’ve also taken it to work, and made it into an actual tea smoothie with mango and coconut puree, and that was awesome.
There’s quite a bit of leaf in this little packet, since it’s honeybush; I might be underleafing it some and compensating with the steep time, but I’ve gotten 3 cups of it so far and there’s maybe one or two more cups left. The smell of it is quite sweet, and really overpowering; it reminds me a lot of what Rainbow Sherbet did to my kitchen. I let this cool down because I have it with (what else?) breakfast, so it’s usually not that hot by the time I get to it. But that’s fine, because smoothie, right?
The first time I had it, it was sort of sweet and fruity in a non-specific way…but I didn’t steep it more than a few minutes. This time I gave it several minutes, and that seems to have changed the taste profile considerably. The strongest flavour that comes through here now is definitely banana, which is strikingly weird to me simply because of how long it’s been since I actually had banana.
Underneath that, the flavour that is suddenly coming out more is actually honeybush, not the other fruit. I’m not entirely certain if I like that; something about honeybush is a little weird to me. Combined with the other fruit, there’s almost a bubblegum aftertaste that reminds me of stuff dentists put in your mouth.
Still, it’s pretty good. My impression of it on various cups has ranged from “quite good,” to “awesome,” so I almost think it’s one I’d want to experiment with and maybe I should get a bag of the re-blend while I still can.
Oh, and I just tried adding a drop of cream to the last of this cup. That brings out the smoothie experience a lot, since it adds that smoothie creaminess, which is lacking in the flavour alone.
52teas 12 Teas of Christmas – December 14
Oh. My. God. F-ck December, seriously. (Yes, this is why I haven’t been around…)
Work. My lord. I could go on and on about it – although really, most of it is just “retail at Christmas.” Our AGM went down to our offsite storage and re-organized, so I didn’t know where anything was anymore, and then nobody kept track of what we were using in the tracking forms I’ve made, and then we ran out of small shopping bags for people’s purchases, and then H/O said we could only order supplies on Sundays and we ran out on a Thursday, and supplies take 5 week days to come, so we were out of small shopping bags for 8 days. We get HUGE shipments of merch and tea to unpack on days that we’re really busy, or understaffed, or both. Our sales goals are too high. Etc. Etc.
There’s good things about Christmas, of course. People spend more on gifts than they do on themselves, typically, and while it’s often fun to find a few bags of tea that someone will like, it’s way more fun to put together a smashingly grand, gift-wrapped set of tea, tins, and teapot all wrapped up in pretty paper and a bow. The sense of accomplishment when you wave the customer on their way with a well-put together gift they’re excited about is higher, anyway. And, possibly because it’s Christmas, we’re getting merch we normally never get. OMG BREVILLE MILK FROTHERS!
But I’m so tired. I’m officially pulling 8-hour days, but it’s more like 10 or 11 – once more than 12 – when you add in submitting paperwork, ordering supplies, and staying behind to finish things like unpacking shipments the team members couldn’t get to during the day. (This is by choice, mind you; because one thing you need to understand when you take on a leadership position is that it’s not someone else’s problem anymore.) Our poor GM has it even worse. I watch her now to make sure she eats. Oh, and there’s construction on a new Target going in a few doors down, and the DUST! The dust is unbearable, and my asthma is killing me!
And my cats are sick, so everyone in my house is losing sleep over that – waking up to clean kitty puke, trying to get them to eat small amounts every few hours because they won’t eat more than two bites at a time. They’re off to the vet’s this morning.
But my little box arrived from 52teas a few days ago, and for the past few nights I have been coming home tremendously happy because I have a little packet to look forward to and rip open!
I was pleased the first one was Cotton Candy – my all-time 52teas favourite thus far – as it seemed like a good omen for the rest of the box. I think – though I could be remembering wrong – that this was the first tea with the new base, and I do adore the new base. I always had a problem with the old black base, in that it was astringent enough to nearly ruin some of Frank’s teas for me. The new base is infinitely better in my opinion – incredibly smooth with a real depth of flavour.
This is basically the zenith of flavoured tea, if you ask me. I’m still choked it wasn’t made permanent. It’s a little hard for me to explain why I like this one so much, because it’s not as simple as just saying that “it tastes just like cotton candy.” It doesn’t, in fact; it tastes like tea – a deep, rich tea – with a flavour overlay that is like your sweetest, most nostalgic memory of what cotton candy tastes like. Cotton candy that is sweet, but never so overwhelmingly sweet that you get sick, sweet without being sticky or cloying or sickening. The way the best childhood treat tastes only after all imperfections have been removed through a fuzzy mind filter of simple joy.
But I’ve never had it cold. I’ve heard it’s good cold, but since it was so amazing the first time I had it hot, I’ve never bothered to experiment. This time, I figured I would give it a go. I didn’t have the patience for a cold-steep, so I decided to ice it. I’ve already had a cup out of this packet (actually on the fourteenth), so I dumped the rest into my infuser (overleafing it some), brewed it hot, dumped in a few ice cubes and then put it in the freezer for a bit to chill it quickly.
…Then I feel asleep at the computer desk. Long week, you know?
WHUPS. Cotton Candy black tea slushie, anyone?