659 Tasting Notes
Thanks to JustJames for sending me this! I was not a fan of this blend when I first tried it, but it seems to have improved substantially with age. The leaf looks like a bouquet and smells like fresh, sweet lemon. I got three gorgeous, consistent steeps out of this. Each one was a perfect balance of lemon and almond with just enough of a bready note to evoke a delicate pastry. This tea makes me feel all fancy!
Flavors: Almond, Cookie, Lemon, Marzipan
Another sipdown! Carrot cake seems to be a particularly tough flavor to reproduce. I’ve never had a carrot cake blend that was completely spot on. Alas, I still haven’t. I only had a sample size of this blend so I was not able to play around with it too much. Using the suggested parameters of 1-2 tsp/6oz, steeped for 60 sec at 200F, I mostly got burnt rice and a bitter note. Some rice milk and vanilla sugar smoothed out the bitterness. It did nothing to bring out any carrot, spice, or bread/cake notes. I tried doing the second steep at 180F for about 3 min with some brown sugar. The brown sugar brought out some carrot flavor and the faintest hint of ginger, but I suspect most of the flavor was imparted in the first steep and overwhelmed by the bitterness and burnt rice. I am not completely writing this off – mostly because Quarter to Tea’s blends are generally pretty solid – but I was not able to get it to taste anything like its namesake.
Sipdown! It took me about 6 months to get through about 2 oz of this blend. The trick to getting the most flavorful experience with this blend is to overleaf, steep long (5+ minutes), and add rice milk/sugar. At its best, this is a nice chocolatey blend with a bit of kick. At its worst, it’s a woodsy rooibos with more spice in the scent than the flavor. In other words, it’s never bad but not consistently great. I wouldn’t turn it down but I won’t be seeking it out either.
I’m planning to do a fuller review of Pique tea, conceptually, when I review the sencha. However, I only had two packets of the Earl Grey and have now used them up, so I wanted to write this tasting note while my memory is fresh.
I don’t drink black tea much. I actually used this to make iced tea for my partner. Same recipe both times: honey in the bottom of a glass, add hot water and mix, add the powdered tea, add cold water, mix. It was quick, easy, and tasty. The bergamot is very notable. It’s not overwhelming or too tart, but it is about half the flavor. The other half is a smooth black base that isn’t particularly complex but makes for a solid iced tea. My partner was pretty pleased with it too.
I just reviewed this three weeks ago, but I was going through my notes and found another tasting note for it that I never posted. Here it is!
Thanks to TeaVivre for the sample! Honestly, I think the leaf is about two years old at this point. It seems to have held up well, though. I got about ten steeps out of it, gong fu style (natch), following website suggestions (185f, steep times: 5s,5s,10s,20s,30s,35s… after that I just winged the timing). The liquor is a vibrant orange. The flavor is savory, with strong yam and charcoal/borderline smoky notes. There is a gently astringent aftertaste that lingers on the palate. This is not my usual cuppa but I can see it being pleasant on a cold winter’s day. Bonus: this black tea doesn’t hurt my stomach the way many of its peers do. [Edit: This did hurt my stomach slightly during subsequent sessions when I didn’t eat first.]
I spent twenty minutes last night writing up a review of my trip to Alice’s Tea Cup. Then I accidentally closed the tab without saving. So that’s twenty minutes of my life wasted, plus the time I am taking to write this otherwise unnecessary tasting note. Here are the highlights:
My partner and I celebrated our 12-year anniversary with a trip to Alice’s Tea Cup. We like to linger over their unlimited tea service. It’s called the Jabberwocky, because of course it is. We were surprised to see that the price has gone up – it’s now $100 for two people – but we had been looking forward to it and decided to treat ourselves. We ended up going through four rounds of sandwiches, scones, and tea over the course of 2.5 hours. Did I mention we had barely eaten all day?
The sandwiches are fabulous, but you’re here for the tea. I had the Alice’s Tea blend, champagne oolong, French vervain, and Evening Comfort blend. My partner had the Mauritius and one of the berry blends. He enjoyed those teas, especially the berry one, but I did not get around to trying them.
I was completely enamored of the Alice’s Tea blend a few years ago. It was my happy-place tea at a particularly hectic point in my professional life. There’s something about the natural sweetness and lingering rose flavor of this blend that just centers me. I was very happy to revisit it. If I ever get my stash under control (famous last words), I’d like to keep this blend in stock.
The champagne oolong was interesting. I remember thinking that it would probably be better enjoyed on its own, gong fu style so I could focus on the flavor profile and how it develops. It was good though.
The French vervain was a new flavor for me. It tasted like a mix of lavender and lemongrass. Not quite lemon but lemon-adjacent and slightly savory. Not something I would go out of my way to buy but quite pleasant.
The Evening Comfort blend is an herbal combination of peppermint, lemon peel, and ginger root. It made for a good, stomach-settling, refreshing post-meal drink. But the real winner was a blend of the already-steeped French vervain and Evening Comfort. The resulting beverage had the slightly sweet apple and savory notes of a good chamomile up front with a minty note that came in mid-sip and lingered. The savoriness was a little deeper and more complex than chamomile, though. I think this would be really tasty iced.
My precious Butikis! Most of them have been in very careful storage for the past 5 months while we were between places. Now that we’re officially in the new apartment, one of my first priorities was unpacking all of my teas and teaware. This blend is a year old and still fantastic. It’s sweet and savory, floral and soothing, and all around happy-making.
The loose leaf version of this was in my 2016 Happy Bag. I’ve been drinking loose leaf at the office much more often since my office mate got me a steeper mug for Hannukah. I just use the water cooler hot water. I don’t know what temperature it is but it’s hot enough to provide for a decent brew. It’s also cool enough that I can generally get more steps than usual out of the leaf. In this case, I got four good steeps outs of the blend. Each one was grassy and candy sweet but not cloying. This is a nice substitute when I’m craving bubble tea. It’s also interesting enough that I can savor it but not so phenomenal as to distract from my work.
I’ve reviewed this tea before, but it’s been over a year so I am giving it another go. The fragrance of the leaves (both wet and dry) hasn’t mellowed with age. It’s still bold, baked, slightly smoky, hearty bread. The flavor has faded slightly, which is to be expected. The heavy Russian bread and manuka honey notes have given way to a slightly smoky sweet potato taste. The orange brew goes down smooth with a very slight astringency after the sip.
Teavivre’s website says that this is a low-caffeine tea, which is fairly unusual for a black tea but I believe it. I’m not supposed to have caffeine late in the day but I had a gong fu session with this tea last night and still slept ok. It does make my stomach hurt a teeny bit, which most black teas do to me, but if I eat first it is ok. I am having another gong fu session with it now. I started before eating (bad idea) but it complements my Chinese delivery nicely (American Chinese food, not the real stuff).
Thanks to Teavivre for the sample!