217 Tasting Notes

drank Tazo® Joy™ Full Leaf Tea by Tazo
217 tasting notes

It was another wonderful Christmas at my house, the day when we Christians celebrate the most precious gift of the birth of Jesus Christ our Savior. In addition to this miraculous gift, I also received some other cool presents this year. One of the great ones was a box of Tazo Joy tea from a dear friend of ours.

I don’t drink a lot of bagged tea anymore as I prefer the bolder and more complex flavors that more consistently occur in loose leaf tea. However, there are some bagged teas that are exceptional. I believe Tazo often falls into that category.

First of all, you know Tazo makes “classy” products because their teas are enclosed in “sachets” rather than “bags.” All kidding aside, they do use a silky woven material for their bags…uh…harrumph…sachets, instead of paper. One of my complaints with bagged tea is that you can occasionally taste the paper bag. The Tazo sachet material seems to be tasteless and odorless which allows the tea to sink or swim on its own merit (or lack thereof).

One interesting NOTE: When I was researching this tea on the Internet, I found what must have been an image of older packaging for this tea. At that time, the box said the tea was contained in “filterbags.” I guess “sachets” does sound more sophisticated. :-)

The Tazo Joy sachet contained long black full leaves, as advertised. Other tea bags that I’ve tried contained leaves/by-products that were pulverized to a dry powder. I haven’t found that method optimal for producing superior flavor. The Tazo sachet also had an enticing fruity aroma.

I steeped the sachet for five minutes in eight ounces of boiling water as recommended on the box. The resultant color was a goldish orange. The brewed smell was slightly sweet and fruity.

The taste of this tea was quite decent. The flavor was fruity, mildly sweet, smooth, and lower-end-of-medium-strength. There was absolutely no astringency. There really was no aftertaste either.

The package revealed that the fruity flavor came from peaches. My palate wasn’t sensitive enough to discern the specific fruit’s classification but I was able to identify the flavor as a resident in that family.

All in all, this is a nice tea that I will be happy to drink on those days when, for whatever reason, I don’t have time (or the inclination) to set up the Breville tea maker for a pot of loose leaf tea. Also, I would definitely choose this blend over some of the nasty tea-like substances produced by certain office tea pod machines.

Flavors: Fruity

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Russian Caravan by No. Six Depot
217 tasting notes

This was another economical find at our local Dean & Deluca store. The reason for the low price might be because this product was discontinued. (I could not find any specific information about it on the Internet.)

When I opened the drab, but signature, No. Six Depot metal container, the aroma of the short dark leaves reminded me a lot of English Breakfast tea. No. Six Depot seems to use black teas from all over the world. I’m not sure which was used here but I’m relatively confident that it wasn’t Chinese tea. My guess is that it consisted of Indian and Ceylon leaves.

As always, I followed the manufacturer’s recommendations for the initial steeping. I brewed the leaves at 200 degrees for five minutes. The color was orange/gold. The odor had weak English Breakfast and malty characteristics.

The first sip of my cup produced very little flavor. It was early in the morning when I tried it but my taste buds should have been alert enough to wring more taste from this blend. At about the fifth gulp, and after quite a bit of swirling inside my mouth, a defined malty tea taste began to register. The flavor was nice once it clocked in. It was smooth without astringency and the aftertaste was brief and faint.

Maybe the Russian Czar had more sensitive taste buds and/or clearer sinuses than I have. Regardless, this American peasant would have liked the tea to be stronger.

Flavors: Malt, Tea

200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

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After much deliberation between three of us (me, myself, and I), I decided to review each of the ten teas separately to make the individual tasting notes easier to find. With that in mind, the tea of the day is:

Vanilla & Rooibos Tea

I really like these cool glass “test tubes” that package the ten teas. When I unscrewed the lid of this one and stuck my nose inside, I could immediately smell the vanilla. I steeped the orange/brown leaves for five minutes at 212 degrees.

The brewed color was orange/gold. A faint presence of vanilla was detected in the aroma.

The flavor of this tea was pretty much all vanilla. I could taste the tang of the rooibos when I concentrated, but vanilla best described this selection. The flavor was smooth and there was no astringency. However, the vanilla aftertaste stayed on my tongue longer than I preferred.

This is the second of the teas in Trader Joe’s ten-pack that I’ve tried so far. It’s not an unpleasant tea. I would probably like it better in the afternoon than I did in the morning.

Flavors: Rooibos, Vanilla

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

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I don’t drink many bagged teas anymore but The Republic of Tea’s products were among my favorites when I did. Two aspects of this tea enticed me to try it:

1. It was a free sample that came in the mail
2. I enjoy drinking Christmas teas during the festive season

When I opened the sturdy envelope to expose The Republic of Tea’s signature tea “disc,” an inviting spicy cinnamon aroma spewed out. I steeped the disc for five minutes at 212 degrees. The color was a light gold/orange. The aroma was…like…Christmas!

The brewed liquor had a sweet and spicy flavor that was reminiscent of hot apple cider at Christmas time. I could taste the cloves underneath the dominant flavors but this taste was positioned perfectly without bullying the other great attributes. The overall flavors of this bagged blend were surprisingly robust and quite smooth. The after taste was gentle and delicate. I didn’t detect even a trace of astringency.

This delicious tea really did spread Christmas cheer on my morning. If you find yourself without your loose leaf infuser during the holiday season, this bagged selection just might bring you some comfort and joy.

Flavors: Cloves, Spicy, Sweet

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Rishi teas are usually solid and reliable. When I saw their English Breakfast black tea in our Whole Foods store, I knew it was worth giving it a try.

A rich malty aroma instantly charged from the metal tin and inner foil envelope upon opening them. The dark brown leaves were extremely short compared to my other Rishi teas. Maybe that is the signature of English Breakfast tea?

I followed Rishi’s brewing instructions and steeped the leaves at 200 degrees for four minutes. The color was bright amber. The smell was malty and slightly sweet.

This tea had a very well-balanced malty and sweet taste, like cocoa. It also was extremely smooth.

The flavor was quite different from most of the other English Breakfast teas I’ve tried. Those all seemed to emphasize the raw taste of the teas that comprised the blend. However, this selection, although definitely not hiding the tea flavors, expertly coated them with cocoa sweetness and malt. The result is the perfect breakfast tea for those of us who like it sweet but straight-up!

The aftertaste was light and smooth. Astringency was not in this blend’s vocabulary.

I bought this product hoping to find a pleasant breakfast blend. Instead, I hit the jackpot. This is an exceptionally robust, full-bodied, and delicious morning tea. My taste buds didn’t locate the advertised cherry notes but that didn’t hinder my sweet and lovely morning ride through four cups of this awesome find.

Flavors: Cocoa, Malt, Sweet

200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

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drank Earl Caramel by Buddha Leaf
217 tasting notes

I told myself I wasn’t going to buy any more teas until I make room in my tea cabinet Plus, I haven’t found another job yet after being laid off, so I should be more frugal with my tea habit. However, I couldn’t resist this one! I love Earl Grey. Caramel (and anything sweet) is high on my list too. I found this one at the local World Market store. The price wasn’t unreasonable. It cost $10 for a little under three ounces.

The packaging was a very simple sealed bag. When I opened it up, a sweet caramel and coconut smell emerged. The dark tea leaves were peppered with cornflower petals, citrus peels, and, I assume, coconut chips.

I steeped the tea at 212 degrees for five minutes as suggested on the package. The brewed liquor had a gold color. The aroma was sweet, with caramel as the dominant characteristic.

From the very first sip, the tea had a smooth and well-balanced rich taste, comprised of MOST of the claimed ingredients (caramel, flowers, coconut, and citrus). Oddly enough, one of the ingredients implied in this blend’s title was not easily distinguished – BERGAMOT! The aftertaste was gentle and brief.

Usually, I knock off a few points when a featured ingredient is missing from the flavor. But, the tastes that did exist were so good and smooth that I didn’t care this time.

This is a very good tea. I do recommend it. Although I drank it at breakfast, it could very easily become a favorite afternoon tea too.

Flavors: Caramel, Citrus, Coconut, Flowers

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

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I got this set of 10 loose leaf teas at Trader Joe’s a while back. I’ve been wrestling with how to do the tasting note(s) for it. Do I review them all in one note or do I create individual notes for each one? While I am making up my mind, I will start with…

Bergamot Black Tea

Putting loose leaf teas in glass test tubes is a novel idea. I felt like a mad scientist when I poured the tea from the tube into my infuser.

The unbrewed short black leaves had a strong bergamot aroma. There also were little blue cornflower petals mixed in with the leaves. Since the packaging had minimal individual information about the teas, I chose my stand-by black tea steeping method: 212 degrees for five minutes.

The brewed aroma contained bergamot and sweet attributes. The color was amber.

The flavor could be best described as a flowery Earl Grey. The flower and bergamot tastes seemed to be constantly fighting it out on my palate, making it difficult to zero in on either. Maybe that is just called “balanced,” but I prefer flavors that are harmonious rather than locked in mortal combat. There was no astringency and very little aftertaste.

This isn’t a bad tea but the flavors need to be fleshed out more clearly. I would definitely NOT try to use it for iced tea.

Flavors: Bergamot, Flowers

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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I don’t know how many people are aware that Charleston, South Carolina, besides being a beautiful city, is also known for its teas. The Charleston Tea Plantation teas (now owned by Bigelow) are excellent and have been well known in the South for a long time. I’m not familiar with Oliver Pluff & Company teas, but since they are also from Charleston and my home state, I feel obligated to try them out.

The tea was packaged in a sturdy air-tight tin that was very similar to the containers sold by The Republic of Tea. When I opened the lid, a citrus and spicy aroma greeted my nostrils. It was sweet and enticing. The leaves were brown and medium-length. Orange peel pieces were sprinkled throughout the container.

Oliver Pluff and Company recommended steeping the leaves at 195 degrees for (3-)5 minutes so that is what I did. The brewed smell was faintly cinnamon. The color was dark gold.

Not a lot of flavor registered during my first couple of sips. However, I’m willing to give the tea the benefit of the doubt since my sinuses are still at the tail end of Fall allergy season. Also, a medium-strength cinnamon and slightly fruity taste did emerge through the mist after a few more sips.

The taste was smooth and I didn’t encounter any astringency. The aftertaste had a touch of orange and cinnamon to it and it hung around for an appropriate time period.

I would have liked the taste to have been a bit stronger and more defined, but all in all this is an amicable blend. If you are not an allergy sufferer, you might find the flavors more amplified.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Orange

195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

Their tea is also sold in Colonial WIlliamsburg and at A Southern Season in Raleigh, NC. I would really love to go to Wadmalaw Island! I have a good friend who lives in Charleston and I hope to go stay for a few days and visit the tea plantation.

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About a year ago, we discovered in our Publix store the best bottled tea I’ve ever had. Most bottled teas taste artificial or watered down to me. The bottles of Pure Leaf tea set a new standard. They tasted great, natural, and freshly brewed. So, when I discovered a loose leaf Pure Leaf product in Publix last night, I immediately tossed it into the cart.

My hopes were high for this tea. It was packaged in a simple and contemporary plastic jar. Inside the lid, just a simple paper seal protected the contents from the world we live in. The short dark brown leaves had a nice rich earthy aroma.

As always, I followed the manufacturer’s instructions and steeped the leaves at 212 degrees for three minutes. The brewed liquor was a dark honey color. The smell was like Assam with a tad of sweetener.

The flavor of this tea was smooth, robust, and full-bodied. I could taste both the Ceylon and Assam, which seemed to be blended in perfect harmony. There was just an itsy bitsy twang of astringency, but this seemed to disappear after the first couple of sips. The aftertaste was strong but amiable.

As I said earlier, I had high hopes for this tea, and it didn’t disappoint me. It had all of the characteristics that I look for in a black tea. It was bold, defined, and flavorful. I will overlook the twinkle of astringency since it went away quickly.

If your grocery store has this tea, I would recommend you give it a try. You can’t go wrong at under $7 for 4.7 ounces!

Flavors: Tea

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 36 OZ / 1064 ML

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drank Czar Nicolas II by russian royal tea
217 tasting notes

I found this tea at our local international foods store. I love this place because it is the only location in my area where I can acquire the great Scottish foods that I grew up on, such as, meat pies, bridies, and sausage rolls. The store also has a fairly large selection of loose leaf teas that are mostly Russian. Let’s check out this one…

The tea comes in an interesting thin cardboard box, adorned with individual color pictures of Czar Nick himself and his wife. This colorful packaging reminds me of the containers of many products sold during the 1950s, particularly European goods.

I opened the inner silver foil envelope to access the leaves. They were long and brown with a potent sweet and flowery aroma, almost like perfume. I don’t prefer flowery teas, but this aroma was not unpleasant.

I steeped the leaves for five minutes at 212 degrees as recommended on the colorful box. The brewed liquid had a faintly flowery and sweet aroma. The color was dark gold.

The tea tasted much like it smelled. It was medium-strength, semi-sweet, and flowery. If I had to identify the flower, I would guess, rose. I actually liked the flavor. It was smooth. There was no astringency. The aftertaste was gentle and did not overstay its welcome.

This is one of the few flowery teas that I have liked so far. Of course, though, I like anything that is sweet, so maybe this sensation on my palate over-ruled the flowery contribution. If you happen to run across this product, give it a try. I don’t find anything offensive about it.

Flavors: Flowers, Sweet

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

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I ventured into the world of serious tea drinking in the Summer of 2011. I started out slowly and gently with bagged tea but climbed to the incredible flavorful heights of loose leaf teas in October of that year. Once you go leaf, you never go bag (except when you get free samples)!


South Carolina, USA

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