August Uncommon Tea

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Recent Tasting Notes

National Superhero Day Tea!
I don’t watch marvel movies or shows with the exception of Jessica Jones which I loved. I chose this one because it’s described as a “strong” black tea with “Bourbon”. (I actually thought Golden Arrow would work for Jessica Jones in terms of her office and desk with the mahogany. I also thought Black Metallic would work as well with the purple flowers and elderberry for Violet from The Incredibles.)I’ve never had Bourbon before so I can’t comment on if this tastes like it or not. I realized that I actually have had this tea before and just had forgotten since there was no tasting note on it. It’s quite smoky and does have a kind of burnt flavor that’s left on your tongue and isn’t pleasant. I’m not liking this one so far but maybe I just need to brew it at a lower temperature next time. I love Golden Arrow and thought this one might be similar but it’s just not working for me. Maybe this one does better with milk.

Flavors: Alcohol, Bitter, Burnt, Smoke

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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April Sipdown Alphabet Challenge: “C” Tea
This one has a nice and authentic dark chocolate flavor. It has the bitterness and fruitiness that the darker chocolate bars have. I also get some of the booziness but unfortunately, my sample didn’t have any pieces of cherry in it. It’s also somewhat drying on the tongue. Something to note is that my cup did have quite an oil sheen to it on top and I know that bothers some people. It’s a nice chocolate tea and I bet it would be even better with the cherry. I just noticed that they recommend trying this tea with milk so I’ll do that next time.

Flavors: Bitter, Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Drying, Fruity, Tannic

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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I’ve steeped my other August samples following their instructions for the first cup just to see if I like their recommendations and if it helps bring out the flavors listed in their descriptions, but I’ve never had an oolong brewed western style that really wow-ed me so I’m skipping straight to gongfu with Eventide. I’m still quite an oolong newb but they’re growing on me. Water about 200°F, a few little balls of tea leaves sprinkled in the teeny baby gaiwan ‘cause I’m too lazy to weigh it out, steeps starting at 15-ish seconds.

The first couple steeps were mostly just roast flavors and aroma. Nice toastiness, not one of those that smells burnt until the other flavors start coming through. The package lists steamed banana leaf as one of the flavors this tea is supposed to have. I have no idea what steamed banana leaf tastes like but I taste something that could maybe be green leafy something. And something fruity…tropical fruit? I’m so bad at picking out specific flavors. There’s a little bit of floral too, but I only get it while my cup is hot. Once the tea cools the floral vanishes. Weirdly, one sniff of the gaiwan lid smelled exactly like my mother’s caramel cinnamon rolls. The corner rolls, specifically…the ones that start to get a little hard on the edges and the goo is aaaaallllllmost a tiny bit burnt. I don’t know if this tea would be good with baked goods but it has made me want delicious cinnamon rolls and croissants.

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The packaging mentioned Guinness-like flavors so this seemed like a good choice for St Patrick’s Day. The dry tea smells kind of like boozy raisins to me. There’s an alcohol-ish (the drinking kind, not the cleaning kind, but I can’t really pinpoint what kind specifically) scent I get from several of the darker cocoa-y type flavor August teas. Maybe it’s something in their flavorings or maybe it’s my allergy-addled brain (yay, springtime) not knowing what I’m smelling, I don’t know. The brewed tea smells like dried cherries and spices. I taste a bitterness that sort of reminds me of the bitterness of coffee but the flavor isn’t anything like coffee. There’s some dried fruit flavor. I guess I could maybe see how if you stretched your imagination you could get pumpernickel but the dry smell was probably closer to pumpernickel than the flavor. Nothing reminds me much of stout beer like Guinness. It’s not a bad tea, I just don’t really taste the flavors listed on the package.

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I thought this tea might be a good one for days I want coffee but my stomach doesn’t think it’s such a great idea. It really smells like coffee dry. While it was steeping I could smell something sort of toasted grain-like. I wasn’t completely sure if that was the barley malt or the mate. I have very little experience with mate (just a couple of flavored bagged teas from grocery store brands) so I’m not sure I could identify “mate smell”. I usually taste my tea before deciding if it needs milk/cream or sugar, and I probably should have done that with this one too…but it’s been a grumpy day of spring allergies and stressed out sewing procrastination (feeling a bit in over my head on a project) and it looked and smelled like the kind of tea I’d want to add something to so in went the sweetened condensed milk right away. I don’t teally taste the coffee. I can still smell it a bit but it’s not nearly as strong as the dry tea. It kinda just tastes like roasty black tea. I may have buried any of the more subtle flavors in sugary milky goo. It’s not bad this way but it doesn’t make me think coffee. Oh well, will taste it first next time and maybe use plain milk if it needs additions. It feels astringent in a way I’m not sure I’ll like plain but always good to try it anyway.

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Dry this tea smells mostly like cherry to me. There’s something else there that I thought was part of the cherry flavoring (you know how some flavorings can be strong and almost boozy smelling when fresh?) but now I think it might just be the smoke. As with the other August teas I’ve tried, I followed the package instructions for my first time making this tea (boiling water, 4-5min, approx 1 tablespoon per 10oz water). The brewed tea smells smokier than the dry leaf. I taste more smoke than cherry too. The cherry didn’t disappear, the smoke is just stronger than it was in the dry tea. I’m not really enjoying this one. I let my cup cool too much before drinking and it’s just not great at this temperature. Maybe it would be better hotter. The cherry tastes unpleasantly artificial to me. I’m not sure if that’s the added flavoring or just the combination of smoke and cherry. I think I’ll try it with milk/cream next time to see if I like it better that way. And I’ll definitely try to drink it before it cools to lukewarm next time. I like the size of these sample packages…enough tea to make more than one cup so you can experiment with the preparation a little bit (or fix any oopsies that occurred) but not so much that you might end up stuck with a ton of tea you hate.

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After reading one of Roswell Strange’s notes mentioning orange blossom I was all set to try Metropolitan as my next August Uncommon Tea since it said something about neroli on the back of the package but after opening it and sniffing I wasn’t sure it was quite what I was in the mood for. I sniffed a couple more teas and settled on Arabesque instead.

It smells good. Very creamsicle-y. It’s not just vanilla, it’s that creamy vanilla ice cream type vanilla. I’m not sure the sample size is the best way to try this one. My sample pouch has several large pieces of orange slice that might’ve thrown off the ingredient balance and the tea leaves fall to the bottom and hide in the pouch’s crease so it’s hard to get an even mix of everything if you’re not making the entire pouch in one go. I steeped according to the package instructions (175°F water, 4-5min) to see how that turned out. The brewed tea still smells like creamsicles but maybe a little milder than the dry leaf. I’m not sure if it’s just been a while since I’ve had teas that are flavored with things other than flower petals or citrus peel but August teas seem quite strongly flavored/scented to me. This one isn’t as intense as Black Metallic but it’s definitely not weak flavor either. The flavor is creamsicle…but not. Maybe it’s the jatoba wood or something about the base tea but something there keeps it from being as creamsicle flavored as it smells. In a weird way it kind of reminds me of some non-dairy “healthy” creamsicles I tried that had coconut milk or something instead of ice cream. The orange is there, the vanilla is there, but there’s a little bit of an odd taste and there is absolutely no creamy mouthfeel. Not BAD but disappointing if you’re expecting it to be identical to the dairy version in flavor and texture. I think if you go into this tea expecting liquid creamsicle it could be disappointing. As it’s cooling I think the wood might be coming out more and the vanilla is becoming more of just a sweetness. It smells more like a sweet summery orangey sandalwood type thing than ice cream truck to me now. It tastes more like orange and wood too. I feel like those are two completely different descriptions but both describe the tea? I’m guessing how well mixed the ingredients are when you scoop them out will determine whether it leans more toward the creamsicle flavors or toward the wood type flavors. I think I like it. It seems like a lighter, gentler on my stomach, more relaxing tea than some of the others I picked from this company. I’d like to get a bigger bag at some point to hopefully have a more even mix of ingredients to see if that changes the flavor at all.

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This tea sounded amazing to me as soon as I read the description. Seeing that it was labeled as being vegan-friendly made me lose control of my finger and before I knew it, a pouch of Black Metallic and samples of several other teas had been added to my shopping cart and then I received an order confirmation. While I’m not actually vegan (lacto-veg, so not too far off, though), I’m rather weirded out by some of the things that pass as “natural flavoring” (or at least some things that have been used in the past…beaver castoreum, anyone?). I really appreciate that August Uncommon Teas seems to have actually looked into their flavorings and categorized teas by dietary needs instead of assuming all tea would be vegan/gluten-free/nut-free/etc or that all flavorings must be derived from the fruit/flower/whatever they’re supposed to taste like. It might seem like an insignificant or silly thing to most, but it’s a big deal to those with allergies/intolerances or strongly held dietary convictions. But anyway, on to the actual tea…

It smelled so good when I tore open the pouch. So. Good. It wasn’t the smoky violet scent I imagined but deliciously fruity. Elderberry, I guess? I’m not sure I’ve had elderberries before. I steeped according to the instructions on the package and didn’t add anything to it. I doubt anyone was dying to know, but the nifty 50¢ measuring spoons August sells fit neatly in their 50g/15cup tea pouches but I don’t think you’d be able to close the 4 cup sample pouch with a measuring spoon inside. It was hard to let the tea cool enough to drink. The aroma filled the whole room and it was fabulous. This is another tea I’d buy to use as potpourri even if I couldn’t stand the flavor. The flavor takes a few sips to taste everything that’s going on. At first sip there’s a kind of bitterness that disappointed me but as I keep drinking I don’t notice it and I think maybe it was just my tongue (or brain?) trying to make sense of the combination of elderberry and violet. Maybe like how at first violet candies can taste like soap or perfume but you come to appreciate the floral flavor as you get used to it? I don’t know. The violet seems to be lurking more in the aftertaste for me but it’s definitely there. It’s an interesting combination of flavors. Berry juice with violet flowers floating in it. I’m not sure I can pick out the smoke or oolong flavors but I’m sure they’re adding to the complexity. I could see some people (my mother) possibly wanting to add sugar to this tea but I’m not sure how well it’d do with milk/cream. Maybe it’d work if you brewed it stronger than I did this time. Interestingly, as I reach the end of my first cup and contemplate resteeping the leaves, my tongue has a tingly feeling like I just had a spicy tea. Not sure what that’s all about. Overall, I like Black Metallic and would probably order it again when I run out. But I’d try a lightly smoked violet tea without fruit flavors too. I’m looking forward to trying the other teas I ordered from this company. I’m a fan so far.

A few additional thoughts from the second steep:
1. I think the spicy-like tongue tingle was just acidity. My stomach felt it before my mouth figured out what it was. Maybe not one to drink on an empty stomach if you’re sensitive to these things.
2. If you need a snack to go with this tea, Peanut Butter & Jelly Bobo’s Oat Bars go with it nicely.
3. If my comments about dietary preferences came across as in any way judgemental it was completely unintentional. My stance on that is basically “I’ll do what I think is right for me, you do what you think is right for you”. I’m not looking to push my lifestyle as the one and only right way. My gripe is when someone, whether through ignorance or malice, interferes with me doing what I think is right for me. It annoys the crap out of me and makes me lose all trust in a company if I see obviously mislabeled products (like “vegan” cosmetics with beeswax and carmine or “vegetarian” dishes with fish sauce or chicken broth). And it happens all the time! I think it happens slightly less often with common allergens but I still see it often enough for it to be a concern (and good luck if you’re allergic to something that isn’t a “top 8 allergen”). I tend to look for things labeled vegan because it’s easier than trying to figure out what a company’s definition of vegetarian is because it varies so much…but I still have to read through ingredients lists and try to get an idea of whether the company has any idea what vegan even means or if they think it’s just a trendy thing to slap on packages to boost sales. This is turning into a bit of a tangent…but my point was that I don’t care what you eat or don’t eat, I just want foods/drinks labeled appropriately. Ideally, things would have complete ingredient lists instead of these ambiguous “flavoring,” “coloring,” and “spice” ingredients (as far as I’m concerned they might as well just print out a label that says “ingredients: stuff”) but until then, I’m glad companies like August are putting in at least some effort into labeling and categorizing their products according to dietary needs. Am I 100% sure that I can completely trust their labeling? No, but I’m trying to give them the benefit of the doubt because they’re at least making an effort.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 15 sec 3 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML
derk

“This is another tea I’d buy to use as potpourri even if I couldn’t stand the flavor.” I did that with freshly ground coffee as a teen. Loved the smell, couldn’t stand the taste.

DrowningMySorrows

Haha, yeah, as a teen I loved the coffee aisle at the grocery store. No one in my family really drank coffee so it wasn’t a smell I grew up with and walking down the aisle after someone had used the grinder was the best thing ever. It was a tiny town and I had few sources of entertainment.

tea-sipper

You weren’t seeming judgey about anyone else’s diets! I know what you mean – just get the labels right on everything… it shouldn’t be that difficult.

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80
drank Cabaret by August Uncommon Tea
796 tasting notes

Chocolate and cherry are both flavors I tend to steer away from in tea blends, as chocolate is often too thin and artificial-tasting and cherry tends to be either medicinal or hibiscus-tart. But this one was a pleasant surprise! It’s one of the better chocolate flavorings I’ve run across…rich and dark and just the tiniest bit bitter, like a quality dark chocolate. The cherry plays second fiddle, but provides a nice dark fruitiness that combines well with the chocolate…no hibiscus and it also doesn’t taste like cough syrup! This blend is quite pleasant straight, but I’m thinking it would be outstanding as a latte.

Flavors: Cherry, Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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75

I’m not generally a fan of floral tea, but violet may be the exception to that. This one perfectly balances the violet and elderberry flavoring on a rich black tea base, creating a delicious blend that does NOT make me feel like I’m drinking perfume! Another pleasant surprise from August Uncommon.

Flavors: Berries, Floral, Fruity, Violet

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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70

I find it odd that August Uncommon markets this as an Earl Grey, because I barely taste the bergamot at all! But once I got over my disappointment at this not really being a flavored Earl Grey, I do like it for what it is: a strongly-flavored plum and clove black tea. The clove can be a bit overpowering (I’ve learned not to get more than 1 whole clove in my infuser!) but brewed correctly, this is a lovely balance of fruit and spice on a malty black base that resteeps beautifully. I don’t love this one as much as some of the others in this sampler pack (looking at you, Low Country and Silencio!) but I definitely enjoyed getting the chance to try it.

Flavors: Clove, Malt, Plums, Spices, Stonefruit

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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90
drank Dark Iris by August Uncommon Tea
796 tasting notes

Oh my goodness, the SMELL of this tea! It has one of the richest aromas I’ve ever encountered in a tea blend, filling my whole kitchen with a mouth-watering peach scent while steeping. The flavor isn’t quite as amazing as the aroma, but it is still quite delicious. Very peach-forward with pistachio coming through in the aftertaste. I don’t really notice the lime, but I also don’t miss it as the tea is quite lovely just as it is. The oolong makes a nice smooth base for the other flavors. This is another one I’m hoping to repurchase when I finish my sample!

Flavors: Nuts, Peach, Smooth

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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95
drank Silencio by August Uncommon Tea
796 tasting notes

I honestly did not expect to like this one. I have a pretty low tolerance for spice, so “spicy” worried me and pineapple, chocolate, and pepper just sounded like an odd combination. But somehow it works! The pineapple comes out strongly in the aroma, but is more muted in the flavor, coming in behind rich dark chocolate, a bit of smoke, and just a hint of peppery warmth. The base tea is strong enough to support all these intense flavors without overpowering them and it actually resteeps surprisingly well for a flavored tea. Since I finally got brave enough to try it, I’ve found myself reaching for this one more often than almost anything else in this sampler pack and definitely plan to order more when I run out!

Flavors: Black Pepper, Dark Chocolate, Pineapple, Smoke, Tobacco

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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5
drank Biarritz by August Uncommon Tea
796 tasting notes

I was very excited to receive the August Uncommon Top 10 sampler pack as a Christmas gift from my grandma in December! Since I got a lot of other tea for Christmas and had the Samurai TTB with me in January as well, I saved these teas to open on my vacation this month. Overall, August Uncommon continues to impress me with the quality of their tea and the uniqueness of their blends; I quite enjoyed 8/10 of the teas in this set and several are going on my wishlist to purchase in larger quantities soon.

But this was one of the two that flopped for me….and flopped quite spectacularly! I can usually finish any mug of tea, even if I’m not really enjoying it, but I actually dumped this one out after a couple of sips. It felt like drinking a mug of cough syrup…the artificial cherry flavor was STRONG and the anise also gave it a cloyingly sweet, throat-coating mouthfeel that I just couldn’t handle. I’ve passed this on to an amaretto-loving friend in hopes that she will enjoy it more than I did…wouldn’t take much!

Flavors: Anise, Artificial, Cherry, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
tea-sipper

An awesome gift from your gram! :D

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65

Sipdown! (22 | 95)

I didn’t realize I only had one serving left of this, I’ve never tried it but sent it to a couple of people. So that was a nice surprise when I opened the pouch!

Wow, there’s a lot of anise going on here! It ends up tasting a bit like fennel, even though there’s no fennel here. I do taste some creamy cocoa and a nice toasty grain note from the barley.

But really, I feel like the anise is out of balance here. I do like anise, but it’s overpowering the other flavors a bit, and the tisane comes out tasting like black licorice. A shame, because the ingredient combination sounded really good to me…

Flavors: Anise, Cocoa, Grain, Licorice, Roasted Barley, Sweet, Toasted

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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drank Biarritz by August Uncommon Tea
2303 tasting notes

Nope, this is revolting to me.

It’s all amaretto and medicinal cherry throat lozenges. There’s a bit of anise as well, which is something I generally like, but here it’s just making the artificial and boozy flavors even more cloying.

Into the rehoming box it goes!

Flavors: Alcohol, Almond, Anise, Artificial, Candy, Cherry, Marzipan, Medicinal, Powdered Sugar, Sweet

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
Martin Bednář

Rehoming box sounds beter than “Blergh, I need to send it someone else, box”

Courtney

I felt the same! None of their rooibos teas were good for me. :( But I also love the idea of a “rehoming box”. :)

Cameron B.

I’m sure someone else who likes strong amaretto teas would probably enjoy this one, so I’ll save it for a swap or TTB.

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78
drank Cabaret by August Uncommon Tea
2303 tasting notes

Sipdown! (18 | 91)

Wow, the leaf for this one is tiny! There were some big dried cherries/cranberries but everything else was in very small pieces. I really like chocolate and cherry together, but I tend to be disappointed by chocolate teas, so we’ll see how this goes…

It’s not bad. The chocolate isn’t terribly artificial, which is saying a lot for me. There’s a definite boozy note to it that I don’t love, and the cherry along with it is making me think of amaretto. But there’s also a deep, syrupy bordeaux cherry flavor.

My only issue with this one is the base. It’s an Assam, and it tastes very generic and tannic to me. The astringency is conflicting with the other rich and smooth flavors, which makes me sad. So this probably won’t be a repurchase because of that…

But it’s quite good for a chocolate tea, and that’s coming from me, a self-proclaimed chocolate tea hater!

Flavors: Alcohol, Astringent, Bitter, Cherry, Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Malt, Marzipan, Sweet, Tannic

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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drank Outlaw by August Uncommon Tea
373 tasting notes

I made a cup of this for myself and one for my partner. Mine ended up undrinkably bitter and his ended up slightly bitter with a little bit of smoke and no fruit taste at all. Not sure what I did to this one but at least I have a few more cups to try again!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 45 sec
Cameron B.

Oh no! I have this one but haven’t tried it yet. My default steep time for black teas is 3 minutes though.

Emilie

I’ve found that I generally like August Uncommon’s black teas between 4-5 minutes, especially to compensate for not getting to 212°, but I don’t think that holds true for this one!

Cameron B.

Ooh, a tricksy one! From the photo it looks like there’s some CTC black tea mixed in, so maybe that was your downfall ha ha.

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2021 sipdown no. 38

This is my last August Uncommon tea from Cameron and sadly, these rooibos teas have not been good for me. At all.

The combination of ingredients here ends up tasting like a deli meat? I can’t really peg down which deli meat since I haven’t eaten meat in many years, and this was not a positive reminder of the taste haha!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec 3 g 14 OZ / 414 ML
derk

Haha, wut!

Courtney

I know!

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