8 Tasting Notes
The sample I got from Juniper certainly looked like a forest floor- the dry leaves where long and twisted. A light foggy green color, purpled, silvery, and dusted, reminiscent of ancient roots. It had a faint musty odor.
The wet leaf smelled much stronger! An animal smell – like wet straw, and sour fruit. The leaves became a deep brown with red and plum undertones, thick stems, and choppy edged leaves (like Italian parsley).
I used a more elaborate steeping process than usual. First I boiled water to a very high temperature- and doused the leaves (3 heaping spoonfuls) immediately pouring the water out to rinse off the dust. I then steeped the leaves for just 25 seconds and was surprised at how strong the color was (a thick rusty brown). The smell of the tea-broth was changed as well, almost like cookie dough. Brown sugar, but still musky. Pleasant and rich. When I took a sip it rolled over the tongue like cream. I expected something astringent from the smell, but it was completely toothless – musky at the back of the throat but with a lighter note on top like buttercream. As I drank it, I noticed a cooling effect as well. Overall it was earthy and round – and perfectly balanced. I always thought with tea if it isn’t “sweet” it must be “bitter” and if its neither, it must be bland. But this really was balanced, and far from bland, not too rich. Complex, yet uncomplicated.
I steeped it 7 times increasing the steep time by 5 seconds each time and got a unique cup each time. A very exciting tea, I highly recommend visiting Juniper Baltimore. You can read the full tasting here: https://www.doublecuptea.com/blog/2017/4/28/sip-of-the-month-pu-erh
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Forest Floor, Irish Cream, Musty, Peat, Smooth, Wet Wood
This is a fun tea – it would be perfect for a tea party with kids. The dry blend is textured and colorful with a strong tangy smell. Watching it steep is the best part, the red pieces ooze a vivid magenta trail of color as they sink to the bottom. It does have a bit of sediment, but that’s to be expected from a rooibos tea. As for the flavor, it’s rather punchy to start: tart, with a lot of sourness coming from the apple. The citrus flavors are more subdued and the whole thing fades to a delightful sugar coated fruit flavor. I’m not super into fruity tea, or sweet teas, but this has a nice cooling effect. Sip it slowly, the tea gets more concentrated as you go, and the tartness builds on itself – drink it too fast and you’ll completely miss the subtle sweet notes at the end. This is one that changes a lot depending on what pieces you get in each cup- mine seems to have a lot more apple in it than anything else.
Flavors: Apple Skins, Citrus, Dried Fruit, Sour, Sweet, Tangy, Tropical
green grassy slivers, bright yellow roots, orange peel, and golden seeds all
wrapped up in a silky triangle pouch.
The smell was at once spicy, savory, and sweet – like a steamed carrot. The
liquid steeped to a cloudy mustard yellow, an exotic color to find in ones tea cup.
I took a sip and was met with an explosion of flavors: bright licorice sitting on top
of numbing spice, bitter lemon, and some extra tooth from the ginger. It wasn’t
particularly sweet, or bitter after all – which was perfect, because somehow, the
sweet, sour, savory, spicy, and bitter were perfectly balanced. The first sip and
every sip after felt like an electric shock of flavor…but a soothing electric shock?
Have I discovered the tea version of shock therapy? The world would be so much
better if everyone replaced their cup o’ jo with this stuff. The tisane that slaps you
awake, but in a good way.
Flavors: Carrot, Ginger, Grass, Lemon Zest, Licorice, Spicy
Dark green and brown leaves, somewhat wrinkled and torn with red brown bits of stems about 2 cm long. Subtle earthy, black coffeeish smell from the wet leaves – steeps to a medium brown color.
The cafe described it very simply as “a Taiwanese, nutty, tea”
Its definitely Oolong, but I found my particular cup to be much more plum. Toasty, but plum. It has a slow dry woody start, but a sweet bright finish. A likable tea, especially as a compliment to something sweet (I had it with a dark chocolate kissed vanilla bean bun).
Flavors: Dark Bittersweet, Plums, Toasty, Wood
French Blue Lavender. Sounds good right? Bright green seed shaped buds, tipped with soft purple and cream petals. While it didn’t steep to the bright purple I expected – It’s got a pleasing scent: bright, clean, and floral – like perfume.
First impression: this stuff is pretty & POWERFUL. The cup I had was rather pungent, invading my sinuses with it’s too soapy touch. But the flavor under the salt & soap seemed light and pleasant – like sage with more sweetness. The soapiness spoiled it for me – I’m told it makes a good latte though.
To be fair, the cafe I went to serves 2-3 table spoons to 1 large carryout cup.
Depending on the barista: It can get a lot of steep time waiting on the counter, so I can’t vouch for what the actual flavor profile of this tea might be. If you feel like braving a cup, I’d try half the steep time and maybe 1/3 of the leaves recommended. Thinning it out with more hot water didn’t help much much in my case.
Flavors: Floral, Lavender, Perfume, Sage, Salty, Soap, Sweet
Regular Lipton Tea was a family staple growing up – it’s so cheap to buy and you can add anything to it. It’s hard for me to rate it – all teas in my mind are either better or worse than Lipton. So, when I saw the Lipton Instant Ice tea bags on sale last week, I didn’t hesitate to drop a couple dimes on it. Went to brew my first pitcher and realized there was no hot water required? This confused the hell out of me. I was actually pretty skeptical starting out, but one or two giant tea bags to a pitcher made perfect iced tea in 5 minutes…just add the ice, and a wedge of lemon. Who knew it could be that easy? It’s still Lipton tea, not the best, not the worst – but I’d recommend the iced tea bags solely for the convenience of it.
Wasn’t expecting much from another quick and easy breakfast tea bag – but between Twinings Earl Grey (which was too weak for my taste) and Bigelow’s blend (much too flowery) I found the Wild Harvest tea to be just right for me. Plus I appreciate the brands dedication to a product that’s both Fair Trade and Organic.
There’s a little herb cottage nestled in the heart of the Maryland Renaissance Fair called “Herbalist Delight” – you can bag up as much loose herbs as you want for pretty cheap there.
I took home some of their Black Currant Tea, took me a while to get the steep right:
Loose leaf, fragrant purple leaves, stems, and berries – twisted bruisey color about 1cm long. Oder – sweet, round, like dark fruit – somewhat pungent. Take 1 spoonful to a cup, steep 3 minutes. Color – amber honey. Flavors – bittersweet plum, like brown sugar without the sweetness. Feel – round, full, thick like coffee – heavy and velvety. Tannin – slightly sour, dry after taste, coats your tongue. Finish – tart, weighty, slow – think like thirsty rocks in a damp cave – somewhat gritty. Kind of tingles like the after-bite of blueberry pie. Overall impression – it’s a little like drinking a blackberry briar patch.
Flavors: Black Currant, Blackberry, Brown Sugar, Dark Bittersweet, Plums