13 Tasting Notes
I picked this tea up on a lark at the incomparable Hopey and Company grocery store in Black Mountain, NC, where truly unique products go to be deeply discounted. For $1/box (see, deeply discounted), I felt it was a sufficient risk to take. I have had poor results with supposed “sweet” tea flavors from Celestial Seasonings so at best I expected a cup of hot water that tasted of being heated in the next room over from a lemon. Instead, I got the full and entire flavor of a slice of lemon cake!!! It was amazing!!!
My only regret is that I did not buy more boxes and as I don’t live in Black Mountain, I now have to pay full price for my next load of this tea.
If you are someone who likes herbal concoctions that claim to have the flavors of sweet dessert treats, this tea will actually deliver on its claims.
PS: For anyone that sees my preparation notes, the box tells me 2g is one tea bag. So it is just 1 bag. No need to get out the scale.
Flavors: Lemon, Sweet, Vanilla
I can smell the sugar cookie in the scent. But I taste … grass.
I leave the bags in as recommended in other tasting notes and it just gets grassier. It tastes as if I’ve left my mouth open while mowing the lawn.
My preparation included no additives. No milk. No cream. No sweetener. Just it as is.
Is my tongue broken?
Flavors: Cut Grass, Grass
Firstly, I will note that the preparation instructions say 1 TBSP (aka 3 tsp) loose tea to 8 ounces of boiling (212˚F) water. As soon as I poured that boiling water over my tea infuser stuffed with that TBSP of loose tea, I noticed an immediate colorful cloud leave the infuser and quickly darken the water. I was to let it steep and sit for 5 minutes, which I did, and then removed the infuser.
The brewed tea smelled less strongly than the dry loose tea. The dry loose would make an excellent potpourri, by the way, but that wasn’t what I had selected it for. The brewed tea tasted … like hot water. I expected, at a minimum, to taste rooibos. But no. Just the flavor of hot water. I was confused.
But I’d had a similar problem with a sugar cookie tea that smelled fantastically of sugar cookies but also tasted to me of hot water. I wondered if my tongue was broken for this realm of teas-that-attempt-to-duplicate-baked-desserts.
Perhaps, thought I, what I need is to add a sweetener to this tea. I normally take my tea black. So I hunted down some honey and added the honey. And then it tasted like hot, thin honey. So no, the honey didn’t help the tea flavors appear. Again, it still smelled fantastically, but I have this habit of halting my inhalations as I’m pouring my sip of tea into my mouth, too many aspirated drinks as a child, so the smell didn’t carry over to mask the lack of taste.
Then the strangest thing happened. I declared the tea a failure and let it cool to (I didn’t have a thermometer) lukewarm (cooler than I typically take tea, slightly above room temperature). And then the flavors appeared. All of them. Correctly.
I looked at the packaging: no mention is made of this. I looked at the website for this tea: no mention of this. So I came here to Steepster and put the tea into the database specifically so that I could make mention of this.
Brew according to the directions, but then let it naturally cool. If you still want it somewhat warm, you’ll have to figure out the exact point of lukewarmness that it is still as warm as it can be while still being flavorful. If you don’t mind a room temperature cuppa you are guaranteed flavor when it reaches that temperature.
So this tea is no longer a warm-me-up tea. It has become, instead, a “drink”. And I will enjoy it as such. And I hope you will as well.
Flavors: Sweet, Whiskey
Come for the tin, stay for the outrage over the phrase “pumpkin spice”. Historically, these spice combinations have been called “sweet spice” for they spice up sweet things. Rooibos is not a sweet thing. And the sweet spice blend doesn’t make it a sweet thing. In fact, to my palette, the sweet spice blend might as well have taken the day off because I just cannot taste it. I’m sure they are there, hanging out, being noticed by people with more refined palettes than I have.
But as for me, I wanted a cup of rooibos, and I got a cup of rooibos (with reusable tin as a bonus). Expectations were met.
Come for the medicinal properties, stay for the taste. That about sums up my experience. I was having a lingering cold so wanted ginger for my stomach, turmeric for my immune system, and black pepper for inflammation, and found this tisane which combined all of them without having caffeine (I’m extremely sensitive to caffeine so hope to avoid it whenever possible). The bonus properties of licorice and citrus compounds were add ons I hardly wanted to refuse.
But what surprised me was the flavor. I was prepared for it to be overwhelmingly gingery as an unbalanced tea would be. I was prepared for that too-much-tumeric flavor. I was prepared to be drinking hot black pepper water. I was even prepared for the flavor of the turmeric and black pepper hot water concoction that I’d made myself (because those two in combination are a dynamite hedge witch medicine combo). But no. None of that. Instead, I got a pleasant, well rounded flavor that wasn’t dominated by any one thing at all; one might even say mild and mellow. The flavor is definitely unique, and I found it yummy in an unexpected way.
This would be my absolute favorite tea, but for the single-use plastic envelopes that each individual tea bag is wrapped in, within the box. If other boxes of turmeric/ginger/black pepper tea blends can manage paper wrappers or no wrappers to their bags at all, that tells me that this blend isn’t using the plastic envelopes for any purpose I would appreciate. I just don’t like the amount of landfill trash that one box of these tea bags produces since I know that there can be boxes of tea bags that produce no landfill trash. While this isn’t a tasting note, the plastic envelopes left a bad taste in my mouth, and so I’ve simply stopped buying this tea. Please, Trader Joe’s, do something about that!
I started drinking the Twinings Russian Caravan about a decade and a half ago. I’d only buy the loose leaf in the blue tins but then they stopped selling it in the US. I could find it in teabags every once in awhile but it wasn’t as good. Recently I heard that Twinings still produced it for both the UK and Australia – and that the UK website ships to the US. 4 125g bags cost just under $50 in total after shipping and I’m pleased to report was worth every penny. This is my long lost friend, home again. A perfect balance of flavor, not too bitter, just sweet enough and strong caffeine. This will be my go to tea for as long as I can get it.