American Tea Room

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93

I got this tea during American Tea Room’s going-out-of-business sale, as a hopeful replacement for Bluebird’s The Cat’s Pyjamas (which was just too chamomile-flavored for me to finish off so I gifted it, but I liked the way the valerian root knocked me out). This tea included valerian root, but looked like it had enough ingredients to drown out the chamomile and hopefully have a more pleasant flavor for me to drink before bed.

When I first opened the package, what I first noticed is there wasn’t much chamomile in the blend, so I definitely wasn’t going to be getting another Cat’s Pyjamas. The scent was strongly that of fennel, and a bit minty. Brewed up, the fennel is definitely the dominant flavor, which is fine by me; being new to it, I immediately found I absolutely love it! It’s like a vegetal licorice, waaaaaaaaaaa! Sooooo good! There was a slight cooling, minty aftertaste, and a tiny hint of rose right at the end of the sip. Despite the amount of lovely schizandra berries in the blend, they don’t really impart much on the flavor. The floral notes, apart from the rose oil occassionally ghosting through, are also far too subtle to have an effect on the flavor.

I’m not sure how much valerian root this blend has compared to The Cat’s Pyjamas, but there is at least enough to wind me down and have that drowsy effect on my system. That particular herb just seems to work for me, and I’m glad to have found this tea, since I’m really digging the taste of that warm fennel. I think this is going to be my go to when I need to get to bed early from now on!

Flavors: Fennel, Licorice, Mint, Rose, Vegetal

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

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90

This is one of the teas I picked up during American Tea Room’s big going-out-of-business discount sale. I’ve never had any of their teas before, but can’t resist a big discount, and I admittedly grabbed a lot of floral flavors since I really enjoy those. While I’m always a little hesitant when teas include jasmine after my experience with jasmine pearls, overall this blend had me curious, with its mix of florals, mint, and white tea base.

Opening the bag, the scent was heavily that of rose and mint, and honestly if those are the only two flavors I end up getting from the brewed cup I know I’ll be satisfied, because that is a flavor combination that I really enjoy. The brewed cup was a lovely yellow color, that didn’t have such a strong minty scent, though it was still noticeable. There was definitely still a lovely rose aroma wafting up from the cup, with another more subtle floral scent in the background. Jasmine? If so, it’s certainly light, which is exactly how I like it in my floral teas, which bodes well. Oddly enough, I didn’t notice any hint of lavender at all.

The flavor of the tea was very much like a rose mint tea. The base was minty, leaving that cool, freshing feeling in the mouth, but it wasn’t overwhelming or overpowering. A strong rose note sweetens the mint and leaves a strong presense in the finish of the sip. There seems to be a softer background note of jasmine, but it is very subtle beneath the mint and rose flavors. The lavender seems to be lost beneath the other more dominant flavor notes; since lavender has a floral-minty note, paired with the stronger floral rose flavor and peppermint, I can’t make out a lavender flavor in my cup. The tea is very smooth, and the aftertaste is sweet, floral, refreshing, and leaves a slight peppery, tingly note.

While I wish the lavender had been a touch more pronounced in the final cup, I absolutely love the mint rose flavor, which is refreshing and relaxing. I think this is going to be a favorite nighttime warm cuppa, but I also can’t wait to also try this iced.

Flavors: Floral, Mint, Pepper, Rose, Sweet

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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85

good basic breakfast black tea. A little astringent, good black tea flavors.

Preparation
2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 14 OZ / 414 ML

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83

medium black tea but with very light Bergamot Flavor, much less than in like Twinings earl grey. A very smooth tea, not acidic or sharp at all.
Good, just different.

Preparation
2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 14 OZ / 414 ML

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83

light, a little fruity, not very black-tea heavy.

Preparation
2 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 15 OZ / 443 ML

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83

Delicious. Nutty, bready, goodness in a cup. A great dessert or breakfast time tea.
I don’t really see anything else jumping out at me from the American Tea Room to purchase — but this one came highly recommended. If you have not tried this, it is an excellent flavored black tea.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Honey, Sweet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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88

Sipdown no. 18 of 2018 (no. 374 total). A sample.

Just as tasty as it was the first time. Nothing to add to the previous note.

The kids have a piano recital today, and I plan to ride the Peloton. Other than that, it’s a toss up between cleaning out the master bedroom closet, which I’ve been meaning to do for a while, or sending stories out that have been accumulating in the rejected pile.

The way I’m feeling about writing these days, I’m thinking the closet is more likely.

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88

Another never before opened sample packet. I believe it’s the last black tea sample I have from ATR. I still have a number of oolongs and white tea samples, also some pu erh.

It has a spicy smell in the packet. A bit like cinnamon. The aroma of the steeped tea is really appetizing. Malty-chocolatey, bready, and a hint of coffee. Its a very dark amber color.

The flavor is smooth and mild for an Assam. It’s not the heavy, black coffee-motor oil combo of some Assam. I’m not getting sweetness until the finish and aftertaste, but it’s not bitter or sour in the sip.

It’s even easy on the stomach, and in that sense is better than many Assams in my book. I like this one well enough to consider it something could easily drink more often than not. It’s going on the wish list and fortunately, it’s still available.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Coffee, Malt

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML
teepland

An Assam that is easy on the stomach? I need to try this one! I love Assam but only have it occasionally because too much of it makes my stomach upset. :(

__Morgana__

I hear ya, which is why I found this one surprising.

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89

Another unopened ATR sample. I steeped this one according to directions with a slight modification. I didn’t take it to 5 minutes. That seemed too extreme to me.

I’m surprised no one else has written about this one. I even had to create the entry.

This is a really lovely tea. It has some smoke in the dry leaft and steeped tea aroma and also in the flavor. But it’s just a tad. For the most part, what I smell and taste is that yummy American Tea Room base. Pretty sure it’s lapsang mixed with Yunnan, my desert island black tea. But the lapsang is a grace note here and not the focus.

I’d consider buying this again instead of the lapsang. I think where I’m ending up on lapsang is that it’s something I might want once in a while, but I’d be more likely to drink something like this more frequently.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Malt, Smoke

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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90

Unopened sample packet, steeped according to directions.

OMG. The leaves are so gorgeous and they smell like a gazillion different yummy things. There’s the chocolate-vanilla continuum thing going on — it’s so amazing, I can’t tell which end I’m on. It could be either, or both at the same time. There’s a confectionery aroma that is stunning.

After steeping some of that goes away or at least flattens out and there’s more of a malty/bready smell. It’s a dark copper color.

The tea is smooth and easy to drink. Delicious but without the same depth and malty quality of some of the other ATR Yunnans. It’s not that there’s no depth or maltiness, just that it’s a different version, like the difference between milk chocolate and dark chocolate. This one is the milk chocolate version.

After reading others’ notes, I wanted to love this so much it would be my first 100 rating. but I can’t give it that, at least not based on my tasting today. It’s an excellent tea, but to my personal palate prefers the darker flavors of other ATR Yunnans.

It’s still going on the wishlist, though.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Butterscotch, Chocolate, Malt, Toffee, Vanilla

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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87

Sipdown no. 11 of 2018 (no. 367 total). A sample.

Compared to the Todd & Holland sipped down earlier today, this seems more complex and nuanced. Not sure whether that has to do with grade, or with year or harvest, or some other thing, but there’s a definite difference that I don’t think is placebo effect.

Teatotaler

Margaret’s Hope Second Flush Darjeeling is the tea that started me on my tea journey – My first tea love. I am never without it!

__Morgana__

It’s a keeper!

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87

This is a backlog from yesterday while the site was down.

A never opened sample packet, steeped according to directions.

This one strikes me as different from other second flush darjeelings, even other Margaret’s Hope second flush darjeelings. I don’t know whether that’s because of the grade or not, because some of the others I’ve had aren’t graded. This one is FTGFOP.

In the packet there’s a scent that I recognized but it took me a while to put a name on it. Honey!

The steeped tea has prominent grape notes, with the characteristic muscatel flavor and sharpness. This one is quite astringent, which cools the mouth in the aftertaste.

It’s a great darjeeling.

Flavors: Astringent, Grapes, Honey, Muscatel

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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95

Another unopened sample, steeped in accordance with package directions. They worked well for this one.

This is a backlog from two days ago while the site was down.

This is a wonderful tea. It’s definitely on the wish list.

In the packet it smells like earthy chocolate. After steeping it smells and tastes like the base of some of the ATR blends I love.

There’s a quality to this tea that I have tasted in Samovar teas and also in Cline Zinfandel. I don’t know what it is or how to describe it, but I think of it as depth. It’s also part of the quality I identify as malty. There’s no taut surface tension to this one. It’s like falling into a flavor. The tea is also quite a pretty color — mahogany, and clear.

And that flavor is naturally just sweet enough. I taste molasses, baked bread, chocolate.

I’m so glad they still offer this. It’s a close to perfect black tea.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Malt, Molasses

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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74

Sipdown no. 4 of 2018 (no. 360 total). A sample.

Since just wrote about this one yesterday, I don’t have anything to add.

I have picked out another lapsang sample to try tomorrow.

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74

So, having killed a 4.4 oz tin of lapsang souchong yesterday, I thought I’d move to something smaller before starting on the next tin. This is probably enough for four cups/two servings, which is what ATR samples usually generate.

Steeping hotter and longer than the directions, which are 200F for 5 minutes. Instead, I’m doing boiling for 3. It’s what I used for the Kusmi, and it worked.

In the packet, the smell is mostly of smoke. There’s a salted meat aspect as well. This led me to believe that I’d find this too … lapsangy.

But it’s actually milder than I expected in all respects. There’s not a lot of ashiness, not a lot of tar or resin or even meat. There is smoke, and it’s a gentle smoke.

But what’s missing that was in the Kusmi is the sweetness in the aftertaste. So this gets a bit less in terms of ratings.

Flavors: Meat, Salt, Smoke

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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87

Sipdown no. 30 of 2018 (no. 386 total). A sample.

This time, I steeped at 212 for 3 minutes and it was a vast improvement. The rose was more muted than last time (which was fine, because it was too strong last time), and there was more flavor of the underlying tea discernible.

I’d drink this again, but unfortunately, they no longer carry it.

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87

Another sample, unopened, waiting in the wings. I steeped according to directions — I believe this to have been a mistake. Next time I’ll try my usual black tea parameters, or close to them.

There’s a lot of rose aroma in the packet and in the steeped tea, but the color, at this temperature, looks like a white tea liquor. It’s barely a golden color, and that makes me think the base will be all but lost in the tasting.

And that’s pretty much the case. A ton of rose, not much tea. But I suspect that a shorter, hotter steep will remedy that. If it’s the ATR base for some of their other teas, such as the Earl Greys, that could also be a very worthwhile endeavor.

I have not been exercising or eating right because of a personal thing that is happening in my family, but as it is the new year, I shall try to do better — stress be damned.

Flavors: Rose

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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73

Sipdown no. 64 of 2017 (no. 345 total). A sample.

A transition cup from early to mid-morning. We are thinking of going hiking with friends today. I see one more cup in my future before that.

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73

Yet another ATR sample, never before opened.

I haven’t had lychee anything in ages. I vaguely remember having lychee as a dessert in a Chinese restaurant years ago. I recall it being a rather syrupy dessert, like canned peaches.

The smell in the packet is a sort of unremarkable generic fruit smell. After steeping, a sort of pear-like smell comes out in the aroma. The tea is clear and a deep red.

I do get the “honey-like” taste. It’s a bit heavier than honey. There’s a grape note in the beginning of the sip that fills out in the mouth into something fuller, which is what I remember from the experience of lychee years ago. A full, almost heavy fruit experience where most fruits are fairly light.

It may be that I’m just not used to it. I can’t really speak from the perspective of much lychee experience or fandom.

For now, it’s enjoyable enough but something I’d be likely to drink too infrequently to justify stocking.

Flavors: Lychee

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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89

Sipdown no. 66 of 2017 (no. 347 total). A sample.

I quite like this. I think the base is the same as the Yunnan Earl Greys by ATR that I also liked. It’s possible I’d like anything with this base, within reason. I wouldn’t want to go into Bertie Botts territory or anything, but I can think of a lot of flavors that would go with this.

Bumping up the rating a tad and putting it on the wish list.

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89

A never before opened sample packet.

There’s an intense aroma from the packet. It’s a dark smell, a strong vanilla smell. On the continuum, it’s so vanilla it’s almost chocolate. I’m pretty sure the name is intended to refer to this being a black tea, but it’s a fitting name also because of the dark quality of the vanilla.

The aroma levels out in the steeping. There’s still a darkness to it, but that’s the Yunnan. The vanilla becomes creamy. Floral, really. The tea is a medium amber color.

In flavor, the vanilla has both beany and creamy qualities. The Yunnan gives the tea a depth that makes it more interesting than it might be otherwise. If this base were a Ceylon, the flavor would probably sit on top of the tea. In this, the vanilla sifts down into the depths of the tea and becomes one with it.

I’m not sure how to rate this because I really like it, but I am not sure I’m tasting it on a pure palate. I had raspberry yogurt fairly recently.

Sticking it in the upper 80s for now.

Flavors: Vanilla

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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