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Recent Tasting Notes
How am I the first to write a note about this tea?
As those of you who have read my notes over lo these many years know, I am a huge fan of jasmine green tea. Huge. Many people are saying. Big league.
I think I was saving this one because it smelled so awesome in the packet. By awesome, I mean that it smells very much like jasmine flowers, not like painted-on jasmine flavor.
That is also the case after steeping. It’s definitely jasmine flowers. There’s something even slightly nectary and polleny about the aroma. Bingo. The tea is clear and golden yellow.
And wow, it tastes just like it smells.
I am in love.
I opened this for the first time today because I’m trying to taste a new green and write a note about it at least every time I sip down a large tin of green to keep a balance going.
The ingredients list mentions rosehips and raspberries “and other natural flavors” which is interesting given the name. The other natural flavors must be the “essence of pomegranate”?
There’s a strong fruity smell in the packet. If I didn’t know about the raspberries, I probably would have said it smelled like pomegranate. But knowing, I sometimes smell pomegranate and sometimes raspberries.
The tea is a strong, gold color and has a juicy fruity smell.
Amazingly, in the flavor, the combination of raspberry and whatever the flavoring agent does remind me of pomegranate, though not as tart. Which is actually good, because if it was that tart I’m not sure I’d enjoy drinking it.
The berries sweeten the flavor up nicely. Certainly, at times while drinking this I think of raspberry rather than pomegranate. But I quite like raspberry, so that’s not such a bad thing.
I didn’t experience any of the bitterness others have mentioned steeping at my standard time and temp for green tea.
Very nice indeed.
Flavors: Fruity, Raspberry, Sweet
A Berry Frui-tea July! Here is another of my most ancient Art of Tea samplers… I want to say early 2017? I guess that was long enough in blend-time that they’ve now discontinued this one. It always amazes me that I can procrastinate on a sample and then find that the tea is no longer carried by the vendor by the time I get around to it…
So different than most hibi-hip fruit teas I sample, this one is mixed with rooibos and honeybush. I like hibi-hip fruit teas, and I like rooibos/honeybush teas, so this really should be a shoe-in for me. Smelling the sample, I couldn’t even really smell the rooibos/honeybush, I just got a strong tropical fruity scent out of the bag.
I found myself a little perplexed on how I wanted to make this — I prefer hibi-hip teas iced, but prefer rooibos teas warm! Obviously the only solution was to try the sampler both ways! The warm cuppa was actually quite nice. The flavor reminded me a lot of Tea Chai Te’s Papaya and Pineapple tea (a hibi-hip fruit tea that is sans rooibos/honeybush) since it had that same sort of tangy tropical fruit taste with a very hibiscus-fruity base flavor. The main difference here is the base wasn’t so thick in mouthfeel, and a little less tangy from the lack of papaya, with a slightly stronger pineapple note. The tangy fruit notes also felt a little more rounded and sweeter; I really couldn’t taste any distinct rooibos or honeybush flavor notes against the fruit, but I think it was sweetening up the tea a good deal. Still probably too tart/tangy for anyone sensitive to hibi-hip, though (unless adding sweetener, of course).
Then I tried it iced… and ooooooooooh did I suddenly taste that rooibos! And I do not like the taste of iced rooibos, because for some reason when rooibos is iced, I only get a very distinct “cough syrup” flavor from it, that under most circumstances, I don’t get in warm tea (this may just be when it is paired with fruity flavors… I’m not sure!) In any event, this batch of iced tea tasted like cough syrup. Ya, no.
This was fine as a warm cup, but… I don’t really like drinking these kind of teas warm, and iced this was just a whole lot of nope. If this blend didn’t have the rooibos in it, I could’ve iced it and happily drunk it all day. Meh, such a waste. Ah well, that’s another sampler sipped down.
Flavors: Fruit Punch, Fruity, Hibiscus, Medicinal, Pineapple, Sweet, Tangy, Tart
Pear seems like a tricky flavor. I’ve had pear teas and while they’re always tasty, they don’t always taste like pear.
If the dry leaf was any indication, though, that wasn’t going to be a problem here. The tea in the tin smells like the juicy run off from canned pears, without the sugar.
Steeped, the aroma is less intense and greener — the tea base comes out a bit more. But there’s still more than a definite hint of pear in the aroma. The tea is an intense gold color and remarkably clear.
It’s in the flavor, though, that this really shines. Though I have to focus my mind a bit on the warm pear desserts I’ve had in the past to get past the initial jarring effect of hot pear, that’s what this is. Hot pear, not sugary, with a grassy green sencha coming through mostly around the edges. It’s amazingly true to flavor, without any artificiality.
I dub this my official top pear tea so far.
June Wedding! Time for something old, so I found another of my oldest Art of Tea samplers, White Acai, a flavor they have since discontinued.
Like most of the teas I’ve been brewing lately, I made this one cold brewed. The tea brewed up a most lovely very pale yellow, like the color of white corn, and has a somewhat tropical fruity aroma, smelling a bit of berries and pineapple.
The flavor is a fairly soft and delicate fruit tea. It has sort of a soft, sweet raspberry sort of taste to me, with a little bit of subtle currant and pineapple notes later in the sip, and it has some very natural sweet floral notes. It’s quite refreshing, and I actually like that the fruit is a bit softer rather than being really robust; I feel like a lot more of the white tea is actually coming through, and some of the soft fruit and floral notes here are from the base itself. Perhaps it was just my particular sampler, but despite the tea having hibi-hip, there is no tanginess or tartness here at all; in fact, from the sheer near-white color of the brew, I have a hard time believing those ingredients were in the blend at all. It is very naturally sweet! I love my tangy fruit teas, but something light, delicate, and sweet like this is a nice change of pace… I’m a bit sad this tea has been discontinued. I wouldn’t mind having more of this around during the hot summer months. Ah well, at least I still have a large bag of White Hibiscus, which has a very similar flavor (yes, despite the misleading name… seriously, that tea tastes nothing like hibiscus!), albeit a little more floral and a little less fruity than this tea.
Flavors: Black Currant, Floral, Pineapple, Raspberry, Sweet
June Wedding! Something old, and it certainly is… it’s at least the oldest thing in my cupboard where I actually know the date, coming from an Art of Tea order back in 2016, as a free sampler. I’m not a big fan of breakfast blacks, so I kind of stuck it back in a drawer and forgot about it. Figured it was time to finally finish it off.
It’s a fairly standard breakfast tea, brewing up rather dark and strong and malty. I get a very malty, woody flavor, with a very slight citrus taste on the finish, not surprising since this is using a Ceylon black tea base. I’d say this tea is somewhat tannic and leaves a bit of astringency on the tongue after the sip, which is why breakfast teas like this aren’t my favorite; I’ll probably see if I have any milk left in the breakroom here at work where I’m sipping on this to tame that a bit. If not, it’s at least not so unpleasant I won’t be able to finish the cup.
Nothing particularly unpleasant, but not something that particularly interests me either.
Flavors: Astringent, Citrus, Malt, Tannic, Wood
This tea smells amazing-love jasmine! The flavor is a pretty strong jasmine and a slight veggie taste to it which is kinda a turn off for me. Just not a fan of veggie flavors in teas still! But is definitely good. I’ll probably just not keep it though cause I have lots of good jasmine teas.
Flavors: Jasmine, Vegetables, Vegetal
May Flowers! Another of my very old Art of Tea samplers I’ve been meaning to finish off, and since I made a quart of iced tea out of this, this is a sipdown!
I bought this because I had the most lovely Plum Oolong at a teashop called Shangri La in Boise, Idaho, once, but it is obvious that this tea was not their source; it tastes nothing like the tea I had in that shop. I’m pretty disappointed with it. The base just… doesn’t really have much oolong, if I’m to be honest, so it comes across a lot more to me as a hibi-hip tea with lots of schizandra berries in it. Which is fine… if I wanted a fruity hibi-hip tea. But I wanted a plum-flavored oolong. I get maybe some hints of a somewhat roasted earthiness from oolong leaves, but honestly… it just doesn’t seem to do a whole lot. There is a slightly sweet-tart fruity berry flavor to the tea, but honestly the flavor I’m getting doesn’t really make me think of plums much at all. The overall impression I get? A really watered down cough syrup.
I won’t miss this one. Alas, my search for a good plum oolong continues…
Flavors: Berry, Earth, Medicinal, Roasted, Sweet, Tart
It’s a sipdown! I’m raising my rating on this one because my gut was right after tasting that first awful cup; Art of Tea’s recommended steeping instructions were just not favorable for this tea, and once I made a cup using a much cooler water temperature (around 170-175 F) and a shorter steep of about 3 minutes, this actually was a really nice tea! It really mellowed out and I suddenly didn’t have that overbearing smokiness that just didn’t really blend with any of the other flavors in the cup; instead it tasted more grassy with an underlying fruitiness and a mild floral touch at the end of the sip. The flavors actually blended well and felt complimentary now. It really made a world of difference!
Flavors: Berry, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Hay
May Flowers! This is one of my oldest samplers, so it’s time I finally tend to it (at least there is no coconut in it, so dodged a bullet there!) This is a guayusa tea blended with jasmine green tea (I admittedly can’t stand a plain, heavily-scented jasmine tea, but have found I’m usually fine when it’s blended with other things so it’s more subtle), and it also has some hibiscus petals as well as some strawberry (since my sampler was before they changed the formula to raspberry) and rosehip to add some other fruity notes.
Brewed up warm, this tea has a very odd aroma… I’m getting a somewhat tobacco smoky but somewhat earthy scent from the guayusa, but it is mixed with a very sweet floral aroma. Honestly, I don’t think the two really pair all that well, and after tasting the tea, I feel about the same. The flavor of the guayusa is a bit dominating and that smoky flavor sticks out a bit rather than really mixing well with the floral jasmine and soft, underlying fruity notes. It feels a little off. I think if it was a little more subdued it would be better, or maybe if the tea was somehow a little more naturally sweet, somehow the profile would work better. Since I still have quite a bit of the sampler left, I do plan to play around with brew amounts, water temperature, and steep time, and see if I can’t get a more favorable tasting cup out of this. I feel there may be potential, but for now I’m not impressed.
The batch of iced tea I made is a bit more pleasant; the guayusa is still a little stronger than I’d prefer, but much more subdued overall than my warm cup, with far more of the sweeter strawberry and floral jasmine notes coming through. Since my iced tea batch was prepared by cold steeping overnight, this definitely makes me think that experimenting with colder water temperatures and shorter steep times than what Art of Tea recommends may be the secret to a tastier warm cup. But if all else fails, I definitely can sip this down making iced tea!
Flavors: Berry, Earth, Floral, Hay, Smoke
Welp, I had to throw out a coconut tea today for going rancid, so I decided to go through my tea spreadsheet and check my oldest teas, and noticed a few of my oldest Art of Tea samplers (which are just over a year old) had coconut in them. One of them (Coconut Cacao Pu-erh) had indeed gone rancid. Le sigh. Never even got to try it! Ah well, my fault for being a tea hoarder, and I didn’t know about the coconut issue until recently. The other was this tea, and it actually didn’t have the “rancid smell” when I opened it, so I figured I should try it… and if it tasted okay, drink it up stat!
Despite being purchased at the same time as the other Art of Tea sampler, this one seems to have been spared… perhaps it was just a fresher sampler to begin with from their stock, or maybe it just includes less dry coconut in it? In any event, it smells very buttery, sweet, and coconuty, and doesn’t have that rancid “off” scent. So I’m willing to give this one a priority sipdown.
I find the taste a nice coconut flavor, with a creamy body that has a light buttery note and leaves a very sweet finish on the tongue. It’s really lovely! I’m honestly shocked this has such a nice flavor and has held up so well given the age, considering how many of my coconut teas have spoiled recently, including ones half as old. Call me impressed!
Flavors: Butter, Coconut, Creamy, Sweet
May Flowers! This is one of my oldest samplers (I bought it with a birthday giftcard in March of 2017, I believe?) and it has just barely slipped past the “best by” date, so I’ve marked it as a priority for sipdown. Art of Tea has since discontinued this blend, too. Ouch. So much changes in a mere year…
This is a black tea blended with rooibos, orange peel, and hibiscus, rose, and safflower petals. I couldn’t see any rooibos in my sampler, but could smell a bit of the telltale “medicinal” scent I get when it is mixed with black leaf, but mostly the leaf smelled strongly of the black tea and rose petals.
Steeped up, the tea looks like a medium-bodied black tea and gives off a rosy aroma. The flavor presents as a nice, malty breakfast tea, but it isn’t as bitter or as astringent as most thanks to the lingering rooibos hiding in the blend; I don’t actually taste it (I’ve had some other black/rooibos blends that don’t get that balance right and the flavor can be rather inconsistent, so I consider this a good thing), but I think there is a sweetness added to the cup by its presense that helps mellow the edge off the black tea, and I actually prefer it that way. There is still a bit of astringency left after the sip, but what is left is much more mild. There is a floral sweetness to the tea as well; there is a notable rose note to the sip which is very pleasant, though it is nowhere as strong as, say, the strong rose flavoring to be had in the White Rose tea I featured a few days ago. The rose is much more muted against the strong black base here, but there is a bit of a sweet, lingering rose floral taste on the tongue in the aftertaste. I can make out a very subtle fruitiness deep in the sip which is likely from the hibiscus, but it is very faint; there is not much hibiscus here, and I doubt many would even taste that much against the strong maltiness of the black tea. If you are a hibiscusphobe, I honestly don’t think you have to worry.
Overall the impression I get is a breakfast tea with a floral touch. I find it quite nice, and will probably try it with some milk next time I make it.
Flavors: Astringent, Floral, Malt, Rose
Chai to Stay Dry! We actually had a rainy April day today, though once the rain subsided our typical crazy 30 MPH winds returned. Meh. This is one of the oldest samplers in my collection (I’d say it’s about a year now… I’m a terrible tea hoarder, I know).
I found this one a little weaker than I’d hoped, and I don’t know if that’s the fault of the chai blend, or the fact the tea sample is now a bit aged. I prepared it with the given steeping suggestions of a single teaspoon, but next time I’ll make a double teaspoon and see if that improves things. As far as the flavor, it certainly isn’t my favorite chai blend. It only has three spices, and I prefer my chais to have a little more depth. Of the spices they are working with, it comes off as very cardamom-heavy. There is also something about it that tastes a little artificial? Like there is some flavoring in there that is coming off strongly. With so many chai options out there, I’m pretty unimpressed with this one. I’ll probably just make a big iced chai latte brew to finish off the sampler in a cheeky quick sipdown.
Flavors: Artificial, Cardamon, Spicy
I rarely leave a tasting note for a tea a second time, even if it’s been a while since I last drank it, or I decide to prepare it in a different way. Usually I only leave another note if my opinion somehow changes (either for the better or the worse) since my initial tasting note, and instead I just focus on writing tasting notes for all the teas I’m trying for the first time. But I felt inclined to leave another note on this one only to mention that I recently cold brewed it in lemonade (leaving about 4-5 teaspoons to steep overnight in a quart of lemonade in the fridge), and the result tastes shockingly similar to the classic birthday party/office party quick punch option of mixing fruit punch with Sprite. It’s just lacking the carbonation, and isn’t quite as sickeningly sweet. I have to say that quart of iced tea didn’t last in my fridge very long!
Flavors: Berries, Citrus, Floral, Fruity, Sweet, Tangy
Green March! Because a blend of green mate, green rooibos, and jasmine green tea should totally count, right? Somehow I keep forgetting I have this tea, and I ended up getting a big bag of it on a whim a year ago with a birthday gift card to Art of Tea (I’m a St. Patties’ baby), since this tea was being discontinued and was marked down, and I didn’t have many mates at the time.
I made this iced (and I am going to assume this blend was probably made with iced tea in mind; I’m not sure if I’ve ever tried it warm) using the cold brew method with an 8-12 hour overnight steep. The tea is a peachy-pink color, with a very light and refreshing flavor that is fruity, tangy, and bears just a hint of a floral sweetness. The tea smells strongly of schizandra berries with some light jasmine notes (and I almost didn’t order this because of the inclusion of jasmine, since I can’t stand heavy, perfumy jasmine teas; I can gladly say this turned out just right for me!) which gives it this really unique aroma. It has this light berry flavor that leaves a very subtle tangy note on the tongue from the schizandra and hibiscus; it is not as heavy and thick as most hibiscus infusions, and even the color of the tea gives away the lightness of the hibiscus petals in the blend. I’m picking up a very soft citrusy note which may be from the tulsi, but it is very subtle beneath the berry flavors. The tea has a soft, refreshing floral jasmine taste that is very pleasant. Despite the base being composed of three very grassy, vegetal teas, there is no vegetal taste to this tea as an iced beverage, making it a very refreshing drink, that has a nice natural sweetness, is fairly mildly tangy compared to many iced tea blends, and has a nice subtle floral edge.
I think I’ll be forgetting about this tea a lot less!
Flavors: Berries, Citrus, Floral, Fruity, Sweet, Tangy
This is one of my favorite iced teas! I think I made it warm once, but I prefer it iced so much that I always cold brew it by the quart now. It has guayusa in it, making this the first hibiscus tea I’ve had that also packs a subtle caffeinated energy punch, and since I tend to drink a lot of hibiscus when I’m fighting off colds and trying to zap myself with Vitamin C, I’m usually really low on energy, so that caffeine really helps out! It’s also just really tasty! It does have a nice, punchy taste, but it isn’t as tart as other hibiscus teas I’ve tried (Tazo’s Passion, for instance), thanks to the blending of the stevia leaf. This tea actually has a nice balance of sweet notes and a slightly tangy finish. There is a nice citrus note to the tea, but it isn’t overwhelming; it’s like having some subtle lemon wedges floating in a fruit punch. This tea is so refreshing, and I tend to keep a mason jar of it in my fridge year-round!
Flavors: Citrus, Fruit Punch, Hibiscus, Lemon Zest, Sweet, Tangy
Sipped down another sampler in my collection! This is the first chocolate mint rooibos I’ve tried, and I found it enjoyable enough, but after trying a few others of that flavor profile and going back to this one, it certainly isn’t my favorite of the bunch. It has a very smooth mouthfeel, but I’ve had other choco-mint rooibos with a more creamy feel to them, and for this flavor combo, I just think I prefer that mouthfeel much more. For all the chocolate that is in this tea, I also find the chocolate notes are pretty subtle for how much chocolate is listed in the ingredients of this tea; it’s there, but becomes more of a subnote to the sweet taste of the rooibos/honeybush base and the much stronger minty notes. I’d prefer a bit more balance of the chocolate and mint, personally. It is a perfectly servicable tea, I’ve just had better chocolate mint rooibos blends.
Flavors: Chocolate, Mint, Rooibos, Smooth, Sweet
Sipping this one down as I write this. This is a jasmine oolong with a dark amber liqueur. Much too late in the day for medium caffeine, but it is so delicious & I am already pondering re-steeping☺️. Definitely worth adding a sample on to an order from Art of Tea. If you are a jasmine fan I recommend this one…
Flavors: Floral, Jasmine, Peach, Wet wood
I got this tea in a holiday sampler collection of Art of Tea blends a few years ago, and of the different white tea chais I’ve tried, so far this one has been my favorite, as all the others are trying to duplicate each other on a certain specific flavor profile, and this one is quite unique and I haven’t managed to find anything quite like it anywhere else. Which happens to be a problem for me, because Art of Tea is one of those places that goes from a sampler size to a 4 oz. bag, and I loathe having a quarter pound of tea around… it takes me eons to go through that much and is just not feasible for me (not to mention storage is a big problem in my tiny apartment). But a little 5-7 cup sampler is just not economical for restocking when shipping prices aren’t getting any lower. So once this sampler is gone, it’s going to be a very sad farewell to this tea… I’m really going to miss this one! I really wish I could find something like it from a place that sells their tea in one or two ounce sizes… sigh
The leaf to this tea actually smells like fresh evergreen trees to me, and once it has steeped, it has a bit of a pine aroma that is very refreshing and really does evoke thoughts of winter as the name implies. The flavor has a nice spiciness to it. It’s just a little peppery, but more tickling rather than biting, with a lot of clove and anise in the finish. I’m one of those folks that is very “spicy-sensitive” and have to get all my food “0-star” and I can affirm that this is a nice, mellow, relaxing chai, not a “burn-your-mouth-off-where-is-the-milk-aaaaagh-it-needs-more-milk-and-sugar!” kind of chai. I take it plain and really enjoy the play of the spices and that sort of evergreen-freshness along my tongue. It feels warm yet refreshing at the same time!
Flavors: Anise, Clove, Pine, Smooth, Spices
I love oolongs. This is a citrus and vanilla flavored oolong. I bought this one based on the reviews and that it won awards. I’m still on the fence about this one. I actually liked the 2nd & 3rd steep better than the first. 3rd steep I do get that hint of an orange dreamsicle at the end of my sip. Not one I’d for sure buy again but nice to try. I may rate this higher after a few more attempts.
Flavors: Bitter, Citrus, Cream, Flowers, Vanilla
Not overly perfumed and not soapy/oily as some other Earl Grey’s can be…found that the tea’s brisk flavor to be distinct but wholly not unified with the bergamot…a good every day Earl Grey – not exceptional but solid…