49 Tasting Notes

72

I like this tea, and am sorry to have come to the end of this tin. I did indeed find it a “merry and bright herb tea”, as per The Republic of Tea’s label. First of all, I am a hibiscus tea lover, so those of you who are not, can leave now. (You’re out there in vocal droves. This doesn’t concern you, haters—this review is for those of us who love it.)
This tea has a nice depth to its flavor. The natural bitterness of cranberries has been nicely alleviated by the sweetness in the hibiscus and spices. I made this cup without sugar or honey, so I could taste it honestly by itself. It’s got a nice, clean flavor, very strong and direct, yet mellow.
I like to blend a bag or two of this with other herbal teas, particularly those with orange and/or spices. It is perfect for the holiday season in both taste and its nice bright red color.

Flavors: Cranberry, Hibiscus, Perfume, Spicy

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 20 OZ / 591 ML

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62

This is a fine, lemony tea. I’m not familiar with the taste of ginseng, so while I might be tasting it, I’m not aware of it. It’s got a nice, clean taste.

Flavors: Honey, Lemon

Preparation
7 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 18 OZ / 532 ML

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54

What a waste of money. Not that it wasn’t tasty, but really, eleven dollars for 2.12 ounces (60 grams) of herbal tea? We are not talking exceptional Chinese Pu-ehr or something, but used grape skins with herbs and a little dried fruit. I drank it hot, not iced, because it seemed to me like it would have been even weaker had I added the recommended 2 cups of ice. It has a somewhat watery taste to it, even with just a pint of water steeping the bag.
The flavor is good, sweet ( I had added a spoonful of honey to the pint of tea), with a nice melony quality to it (melons taste of water). The whole cachet of “Chardonnay fine wine grape skins” (as stated on the label) reeks of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” to me. Just because Republic of Tea bought the fancy grape skins and figured out a way to market them to us dehydrated—they’re still weak, and cost way too much for the small amount of tea provided in only six bags. There’s approximately 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon’s worth of leaves per each large teabag (which they called a pouch). Do yourself a favor and buy some good quality organic fruit juice instead. You’ll get your money’s worth as well as nutritive value.

Flavors: Apple, Honey, Honeydew, Melon

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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50

Not proud to admit it, but I’ve been scared of rooibos. First of all, is it “ROY-bose” or “ROY-bus”? “RUE-ee-bose” or “RUE-ee-bus”? Reading that’s it’s also called “red bush tea” and that it comes from South Africa, while interesting, doesn’t help. I’ve had it (and made it) in blends of herbal tea, but as it was always mixed in with other tastes, I never knew exactly what it contributed aside from its lack of caffeine. Even the old Tazo African Red Bush teabags (which, alas, they no longer make or sell) combined hibiscus, lemon verbena, orange peel, rosemary, lemon balm, citric acid and natural flavors. I used to like those teabags. I’m sorry they’re no longer available.
But rooibos by itself I had never had. So I bought this small 4 oz tin (with a nice see-through hinged lid) in order to really try it. Aside from throwing in a spoonful when blending myself a pot of something without caffeine at night, I’d never used it. So here goes.
First of all, be prepared to use some kind of filter paper, otherwise the tiny little seedlike bits can escape even tiny-meshed tea strainers. No, I didn’t do research to find out what part of the red bush this tea comes from. Doesn’t look like leaves, maybe it’s seeds—it’s certainly tiny enough to be little seeds. Yeah, the bulk of them will be caught by the mesh—but there’s enough residue of dozens of tiny specks, you’ll want to use a coffee filter over a mesh if you want to keep them ALL out of your tea.
The tea has a pleasant-enough flavor. It’s not bitter, kind of nutty, kind of raisin-y tasting. I feel like I should be eating a slice of nut bread or raisin toast while drinking this, as it would certainly go well. Don’t know what the health benefits of rooibos are supposed to be (yes, I’ll be looking that up, too), but while not the usual tea flavor of camellia sinensis, it’s a cozy-tasting hot beverage. I’m having this unsweetened, so to taste it by itself. It tastes “healthy”—like it should go along with organic toast or oatmeal, or other good-for-you foodstuffs. Unless you’ve grown up with it, it is not the usual breakfast beverage. This will be a plus for some people, a minus for others who’d rather have regular tea or coffee.
The upshot? It’s not bad. I will have to give it a number of more tries for my tastebuds to get over the “different” factor. But I think it could be just the thing for a cool fall morning, especially with some nice baked goods.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Toast, Grain, Nutty, Oats, Raisins

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more 4 tsp 40 OZ / 1182 ML

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92

A few months ago PBS had a big sale on anything Downton Abbey, coinciding with the end of the series. I used the opportunity to snap up tins of the teas I’d liked when sampled, this being one. It’s the end of August now, and I’ve finally dug in the tea cupboard enough to where I’d been squirreling this away. (Try to bury my faves so I drink up the ones I’m not as fond of.)
I made the first cup unsweetened. I wish I’d used a little less water in the pot. I tend to forget that Republic of Tea should put more in each teabag than they do. Still, a nice smooth fruity black tea, not bitter. I was careful to only steep for four minutes, rather than longer. (Sometimes to make up for smaller teabags, I steep for longer than usual, hoping that will make up the difference. Often that works, but other times, it also renders the tea more bitter. I didn’t do that here.) Bates’ Brambleberry Tea is a pleasant, smoothly drinkable blend, nice and summery with understated fruitiness.
The rest of the pot was sweetened with honey, which brought the fruitiness way into the forefront. I shall have to chill the rest and describe this when it’s an iced tea.

It is now two days later, and I’ve pulled the carafe of the above tea, chilled, from the fridge.
How refreshing! It almost has a melon-like flavor to it now. It’s sweet, cold, and thoroughly enjoyable. I highly recommend this tea—especially as an iced tea!

Flavors: Berries, Melon

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 6 tsp 62 OZ / 1833 ML

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Let me confess to being past my sixtieth birthday. In my more adventurous youth I did things I haven’t done in a long time—and I’m not speaking of sex. I’m prefacing my review thusly, so you understand I’m working from memory here. The taste of this tea reminds me strongly of the taste of…smoking weed. There seems to be a deep, burnt flavor to it, amid all the greenness of the green tea and the mint leaves. I cannot discern more than a hint of the lemon which is supposed to be in this. But really, every time I have made this tea, the flavor takes me back to my twenties and smoking weed—doesn’t get you high, just tastes like it.

Flavors: Burnt, Cannabis, Grass, Herbaceous, Lemongrass, Mint

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more 5 tsp 58 OZ / 1715 ML

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57

Today August 26, 2016 was the 96th anniversary of the day American women got the vote. I chose to celebrate by making my first pot of this RoT Downton Abbey tea, which features a picture of Penelope Wilton as Isobel Crawley and Dame Maggie Smith as Lady Violet, the Dowager Countess. Their two characters were both such strong women that it seemed fitting to me to make this today’s pot of tea. None of my other teas even have that remote a connection, so why not? At least these two characters date from around the time of the suffragettes, and Mrs. Crawley was a big advocate of rights for others, decades before such things were popular.
The label says these two characters “…do not agree on much when they have their afternoon tea—but they would agree on this delightful caffeine-free blend. Fragrant garden herbs such as ginger, orange bergamot mint and lemon thyme add depth and sweetness to a pleasant conversation.” Oddly, although the strongest flavor of this blend is anise, due to two ingredients (anise hyssop and anise seeds)—neither of those are mentioned! This is a disservice, both to those who love anise and to those who feel the opposite.
Truly, anise is the predominating flavor in this tea, and one should know in advance whether to stock up on this tea, or avoid it. I fall into the latter camp, but even so can value the occasional anise tea for soothing a sore throat.
I will have to try this one again, as this pot is cold now, and am nowhere near the kitchen to try to describe it hot.
My other quibble is that three ingredients are not available for inclusion here at Steepster (orange bergamot mint, lemon thyme, and anise hyssop), nor was there a box to click for it being Certified Gluten-Free.

Flavors: Anise

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 7 min, 30 sec 6 tsp 50 OZ / 1478 ML

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79

The first time I had this (about a year ago), I hadn’t particularly liked it, but I think that was because I sweetened it then, and found it a little bit too much like drinking a pastry. I found I enjoyed this this time, when unsweetened (though I suspect the opposite may hold true for a number of tea drinkers).
Got 2 bags of this, so brewed them together. For those who may not know, when Brits use the word “pudding” it can also be used to mean “dessert”, not just the soft, custard-like stuff served in bowls. I believe that’s how the word is meant here: as a “dessert” tea.
It certainly has a near-sweetness to it, even without sugar or other sweeteners. I felt like I was tasting pastry, even with none present. It seems to have a nuttiness, as well. I liked it—maybe as a fall tea, to enjoy watching the pretty leaves outside the window, or at campside.

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Butter, Caramel, Cookie, Dried Fruit, Graham Cracker, Nuts, Nutty, Pastries, Round

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 20 OZ / 591 ML

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80

I just had a personal taste test comparing this to CS Lemon Zinger. Whoa—while this tea may be named “I Love Lemon”, I’m afraid it can’t hold a candle to Celestial Seasonings’ “Lemon Zinger”. I still like this, but it’s just not as intensely lemony. I gave this a “90” my first rating here, but after having experienced the Lemon Zinger, I downgraded this to an “80”. Still like this, would still recommend it, but with the proviso it’s for those who prefer less acidity, less intensity.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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90

I do love lemon, and I love it in my black tea. Just rating this as itself, I like it a lot. It’s got an intensity I enjoy. There’s a nice depth to the flavor. I note others have whined about the hibiscus, but I don’t know what they’re talking about. This is a nice lemony tea. When I don’t have any fresh lemon to add to my cup of black tea, I simply use a bag or two of this thrown into the pot—problem solved. It’s also excellent in a blend of mixed teas. This is better than Bigelow’s “I Love Lemon” tea, which is nowhere near as lemony as this is. It’s even good unsweetened.

Flavors: Lemon, Lemon Zest

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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Seems to me there’s a thin line between true discernment and pretentious twaddle. I’ll write what teas work for me, why I like them or not. I’m not the connoisseur some folks here are, but I think you will get a fair assessment of whatever tea I write about.

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