654 Tasting Notes
Sipdown! This loose leaf was a good office blend: forgiving of oversteeping, flavorful through multiple steeps, and not too picky about temperature. The very bottom of the bag was mostly dust so the flavor was off, but other than the final dregs this blend tastes like strawberry candy and creamy vanilla.
I checked out this company because it was getting good reviews on here, has interesting tea descriptions, and was on sale over the holidays. However, I find this company’s marketing off-putting and unnecessarily pretentious. Ok, yes, the name should have tipped me off, but for some reason I had been reading it as August the month rather than august the adjective meaning “majestic”. The first descriptor on their front page is “Tea so modern it’s like nothing you’ve tasted before.” I was originally going to do a line-by-line breakdown of what’s wrong with their FAQ, but at a certain point that’s just free labor. My point is that the things this company claims are uniquely theirs – fancy blends, seasonal batches, and single-cup brewing – have been around for years and are already being done quite well by a number of other companies large and small. A Quarter to Tea, 52teas, Whispering Pines, and Lupicia come to mind off the top of my head. Meanwhile, a more-than-cursory reading of the booklet that comes with your order (and the website) suggests that this may be a dilettante effort: “Tea is unlike coffee in that cold-brewing does not yield flavorful results.” Ahem. Hands up if you’ve enjoyed a fine cold-brewed tea in the past year. Since the weather is getting nicer now, I might try it out with their own blends just to underscore how misguided this is. If a company is going to talk themselves up this much while demonstrating a failure to grasp or respect the basics, their product better be transcendent.
Ok, I’ll concede that it’s good, but it’s not transcendent. This is certainly no Butiki-level excellence. This particular blend tastes a lot like a sweeter version of Lupicia’s Momo Oolong. That one is a more delicate peach oolong but the blends share a distinctive fruity peach flavor. The lime note comes out in the aftertaste, lingering long after the sip is through. I’m not picking up on the pistachio taste, which is unfortunate since that was what attracted me to this blend in the first place. I am picking up on the white chocolate flavor, both creamy and sweet. As the brew cools, the white chocolate and lime flavors become dominant. It’s a nice combo but not quite what I was expecting based on the ingredients.
Ultimately, I will happily finish off the sample and the others that I bought. However, they are not so good as to override my concerns with how the company presents itself. I am probably not their target audience anyway. The marketing seems pretty clearly directed at people who want to be part of the hip, new thing, not people who are into tea for its own sake.
Sipdown! I actually finished this two days ago but I was unable to write it up until now. This was my go-to peach tea at work. It is not finicky about temperature and brew time, which is a key requirement for a good work tea when all I have is the hot water spout from the water cooler and I can easily get called away from my desk or get too caught up in work to time a steep properly. The peach flavor is juicy and sweet without tasting like candy. It’s more like a drop of peach nectar in a medium roast oolong. I probably won’t restock this – the next Lupicia on my list is the melon oolong – but I would recommend it.
I wouldn’t seek this out (I generally find it just ok as jasmine teas go) but Tea Forté was the only brand available at the restaurant and I needed something to complement the amazingly rich chocolate cake I was having for dessert: https://www.instagram.com/p/BTzt7A3lU8E/ The floral jasmine flavor of the tea cut the denseness of the chocolate really well. The contrast of light/delicate/floral and rich/creamy/chocolate made for a good dessert pairing.
I have strong thoughts about AU’s marketing, but this is a sipdown and I want to get the tasting note down now. I’ll get into the marketing another time.
This blend tastes like sweet pineapple and lemon to me. I’m not picking up on caramel, pastry, barley, or the base tea. I’m a little disappointed that the sencha base is so thoroughly drowned out by the pineapple and lemon flavors. On the other hand, those fruit flavors are distinct, gently tart and not cloyingly sweet. I actually think this would have been delicious as a cold steep but I didn’t have enough leaf or patience left for it. It’s nice as a hot brew too, just nothing special.
Flavors: Lemon, Pineapple
I’m pretty sure that this was a company sample from years ago. I’ve been keeping it well-sealed in the freezer so it still has flavor but I’m sure it was better when it was fresh. Yesterday, I made a rice milk latte of this in my brand new Elwood the rainbow unicorn mug: https://www.instagram.com/p/BTcC8Q7lu5x/?taken-by=try.all.the.tea The ratio I used was two teaspoons matcha mixed into half a cup of rice milk, then added half a cup of 180f water and blended the whole thing with a milk frother. The result was creamy caramel goodness. It was slightly vegetal and sweet but not too sweet. I got a good froth going too!
I had this whole plan today. I was going to get out my big fancy rosewood tea tray and do a comparison tasting of three yellow teas, which is a style of tea I’ve never tried before. I even had the teaware picked out.
And then I woke up with a migraine.
So no fancy tea tastings for me today. BUT. All is not lost. I am making it up to myself by enjoying the last of this wonderful blend (yes, sadly, this is a sipdown). I even added one of my fancy Kusmi matryoshka sugars. The flavor of this blend has admittedly faded with age so I’m glad to be finishing it off while it’s still tasty. At this point, the most prominent flavor is maple syrup. There’s a hint of almond under there and the waffle is just gone. Especially with the sugar amplifying the maple flavor, I can’t taste the base tea at all except in the slightly dry mouthfeel after the sip. I am quite all right with that at the moment though.
EDIT: I was reading through the tasting notes on this tea and realized that the last note I wrote for it was also when a migraine put a crimp in my plans and I was using Butiki for consolation. There may be a pattern here, folks. :-)
This is one of my few kosher-for-Passover flavored teas and one of my favorite bagged teas, period. I enjoy it best with a splash of rice milk and a bit of plain honey or brown sugar (although this past week it’s just been sweetener, no rice milk). The rose scent of the dry tea is so strong that I have to keep it separate from my other teas. I love it though. It’s fresh and floral and gorgeous. The rose comes through in the flavor as a strong, natural taste. The chai-ness mostly seems to be cinnamon. Although the ingredients list claims coconut flavor, I’m not picking up on any of it. The base tea holds its own against the rose and cinnamon but seems to be a fairly unremarkable bagged Assam. Thankfully it doesn’t hurt my stomach so long as I eat first. Yay for cheap grocery store teas that don’t suck!
Thanks so much to Phi for hooking me up with some of this! I like that I can throw a few shells in with just about any vanilla, rooibos, or dessert tea and it comes out yummy. I also enjoy brewing this straight and drinking it with a splash of rice milk – the experience is creamy chocolate goodness. Alas, no rice milk for me right now due to Passover, but this is still good without it! The flavor is akin to a piece of 60% dark chocolate. The mouthfeel is medium for tea but thin for hot cocoa/chocolate milk. Overall, this is a tisane I’d like to keep in stock.