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Recent Tasting Notes
After surviving a mentally and emotionally strenuous week of meticulous note-taking where my only consolations were intermittent dance breaks and painting with no pants on, this tea was my shoulder to cry on, held my hair back while my feelings purged themselves from my dried husk, and tucked me in to prepare me for the impending emotional hangover.
I love Earl Greys. Ordinarily, weak bergamot is a pet peeve, and the stronger and sharper the bergamot, the better. Parker’s Blend takes a different tack and I am so here for it. Bergamot is by no means overlooked in this blend – the Earl Grey lineage is apparent with a flavor profile bolstered by orange peel and lavender. The soothing addition of vanilla is what really distinguishes this cup, being a great feature to gently soften and sweeten the acidity. Be the Parker’s Blend of your tea shelf.
Flavors: Bergamot, Citrus, Lavender, Vanilla
I have already been introduced to blue pea flower via Adagio’s Bella Luna, which has a lemon/blueberry personality. Parker’s Evening Blend steeps up with the same gorgeous deep indigo tint, but the first flavors I detected were cream (must’ve been the honey) and chamomile. I am at a loss to say which I like better: Bella Luna is the sparkly sapphire; Parker’s Blend is a blue plush comforter. Depends on whether you need to twinkle or cuddle.
Ironically, on the coldest day I’ve ventured outdoors this month and in the looming eyes of god, satan, and pumpkin spice, I selected Summer in a Cup for today’s tea sampling. I could tell instantly that we would get along splendidly in our autumnal sin (don’t judge us, I can technically drink this tea without inciting the outrage of the trinity for four more days).
The leaves smell divine, a bright sunbeam of fresh flavors – an energetic blend of fruit and sweet marshmallow, with peach and orange dancing in the foreground. This fragrance is a lot less decisive after steeping, but the peach inarguably leads the way. Like me, the aftertaste is a little tart and favors peaches. Unlike me, the main sip is sweet, light, and invigorating. I really enjoy the way the sip bathes your tongue despite the borderline astringency of the aftersip. Yes, I am very confidently asserting aftersip and taking off with it like a drunk driver behind the wheel of the english language. Accidents happen. You roll with the punches. Sometimes you just roll. Sometimes, aftersip just rolls off your tongue. Or maybe accidents aren’t so accidental. Maybe you drink summer just to see if autumn has anything to say about it. None can say for sure. All of this is possible…in the Twilight Zone.
Flavors: Fruity, Marshmallow, Peach
This tea is the beverage representation of that friend who you like in theory and share a lot of interests with, but they’ve got a lot going on that they need to work through and you try to enjoy them but you just end up having to work through it with them, too, so it’s better if you just kind of leave them to do their thing.
I opened the bag and my first impression was to be incredibly impressed. Big chunks of freeze-dried strawberry, visible chocolate chips – I smelled the leaves and could practically feel that moist, chilled chocolate that invariably melts on your fingers the second you bite into that strawberry. You could smell the depth of the chocolate, the way it kind of overpowers the smell of the fruit, you could sense the strawberry inside – every texture by association. They absolutely nailed the smell of a chocolate covered strawberry.
Strangely enough, the aroma emanating from the brewed cup – which was strikingly pale for a black tea – was not that of chocolate or strawberry, but rose. This prompted a review of the ingredients list. Not only rose petals, but organic cheesecake flavoring was also afoot. This gave the cup an unwarranted tartness that I did not anticipate from the leaves at all. It was the type of tartness that clings to the back of your tongue and the roof of your mouth – I had to really study the flavor in my mouth to regain those chocolate notes, which seemed to dissipate into nowhere. The feeling is something akin to that if you opened the fridge to find out your picky kid had breached your secret strawberry stash and sucked the chocolate off them, leaving only the bitter strawberries of your resentment and the memory of a sugar fix that could have been.
Probably anybody with a more sophisticated palate will be able to appreciate the tartness as reflective of strawberry, and also sort out those evasive chocolate flavors, but as for me – I will ruminate on the fruits of my discontentment.
Flavors: Chocolate, Rose, Tart
You had me at “orange”. I’m a sucker for fruit flavor, but orange is a personal favorite – and it’s not just bias in favor of my emotional support orange. (this is not a joke, he’s a year and a half old and very handsome)
I stuffed my nose into the bag and moaned. That irresistible, sweet, orange-vanilla combination completely absorbed me, the soft-but-captivating, classic scent of orange creamsicle I was hoping for.
The brewed cup is faintly sweet. I found the vanilla a little evasive, but its presence is more indicated by the rounded-off edges of the citrus. The orange attributes lightness to the tones of the cup, which is a rich, dark color. I enjoyed it a lot, though round one leaves me with the impression that the orange is more of an accent. Not hard to place, but not quite in the foreground of the sip. You taste it more as a crisp afterthought on the roof of your mouth, but comes through sweetly if you let your palate reason with it.
Flavors: Orange, Orange Zest, Vanilla
At last we have another truly cool evening with low humidity! After broiling through days with a heat index of 104F as recently as a week ago, we are going to dip into the 50’s tonight! I have been waiting for this all day.
As soon as we dipped below 65F, I suggested to my husband a bit of rocking chair time on the back porch with a cuppa.
I made this latte style, heating the milk first and continuing to heat it for about one minute with the leaves added, then off the heat and steeping for another three to four minutes. I usually sweeten my lattes and I did add sugar to this one.
I get a lot of chamomile in the aroma but mostly taste the spice – pumpkin spice and cardamom. Oh, I love cardamom in blends like this!
Drinking it, I noticed a tingling warm sensation in my mouth from the ginger. I can imagine how delightful that will be when the temperatures are truly cold!
I am so glad this has honeybush as the base instead of the ubiquitous red rooibos which is not a favorite of mine. I greatly prefer honeybush or green rooibos in its place. This carries the spices so much better and lets them shine more, in my opinion.
It passed the husband test and was deemed as a worthy bedtime treat. And now the warm milk and chamomile combo have made me sleepy, so off to bed!
Tonight’s wind-down cup is Parker’s Evening blend, a pretty simple blend of chamomile, peppermint, butterfly pea flower, lemongrass and honey granules. CuppaGeek uses whole chamomile flowers in her blends and the difference in quality between this and most chamomile teabags is obvious! The chamomile is sweet, fresh and very appley. The peppermint I can’t taste but I do notice a slight opening of my chest and sinuses. This was my first blend with butterfly pea flowers and they really do turn the tea a brilliant purplish blue. I think they contribute just a hint of musty flavor. Light lemongrass taste. Not sure if it’s the chamomile and/or honey granules (which I can’t see in the dry mix) contributing to the honeyed body and flavor, but the sweetness is mild and pleasant. I do notice a lingering sweetness in my throat. The addition of butterfly pea flowers makes this a caffeine-free blend that I think would attract young sippers… so I ordered a pouch of this for my niece. Overall — smooth, sweet and simple.
Flavors: Apple, Flowers, Honey, Lemongrass, Mint, Musty, Smooth, Sweet
The aroma tickled my housemate as I poured her a cup from the pot. She’s definitely into it. The lemongrass reigns in this caffeine-free blend. I often find lemongrass sharp on my palate. Here it’s well tempered by jammy-sweet blueberry. I lean toward tart blueberry flavor versus jammy but I found this to be a totally pleasant profile.
Flavors: Blueberry, Citrusy, Green, Honey, Jam, Lemongrass, Sweet
I am an unashamed mint chocolate slut. Despite the fact that I’m typically wary of chocolate scent or flavor when it strays far from its familiar form, I could tell from the rich, saccharine smell of this tea that it was packed with real mint chocolate, and the ingredient list attests to the dark and mint chocolate candies that enhance the added flavors. I performed a little preliminary quality control on those – they passed inspection.
So I put on Chocolate by The 1975 and dug in.
The mint might be a little muffled by the chocolate flavor, but they’re delicately balanced. The blend is just the slightest bit drying without being very astringent or bitter. The subtle cooling contributed by the mint helps keep this tea from being too sweet or heavy, drawing your attention to the back of your tongue and the end of your sip, without detracting from the overall flavor profile.
The devil on my shoulder is telling me to put a scoop of mint chocolate ice cream in a cup of this. I won’t deny that this will probably happen. Unapologetically, I love ice cream more than I could ever love a human – both are better accompanied by tea. There’s something uniquely satisfying about the sensory paradise of a spoonful of cold ice cream chased by a swig of strong, hot tea, but perhaps that’s particular to me.
Flavors: Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Peppermint
The last sentence in Cuppa Geek’s pitch for this one is: "Customers have commented that this tea reminds them of lemonade! " Clearly, those customers have never scarfed half a package of Archway soft lemon sugar cookies in a sugar fit (the good Archway kind from when I was a kid, not the skimpy cut-production-corners version you get now).
…because this is the lovely liquid replica of that lemony cookie goodness. Superb.
Simply because I am craving autumn, the tea name had me envisioning something a little tart and sharp, like scones with unsweetened cranberries. This went another direction, but I’m glad it took me along for the ride. Think berries and cream instead, smooth and sweet.
Now, because I forgot whether my Saturday mug (surely you have a mug for each day of the week, too) was 12 or 16 ounces, I think I overleafed somewhat, because the bottom third of the cup was a little bitter. I’m calling that “leaf fail” on my part, rather than on the tea’s. Can’t wait to try this with a little dairy.
Thanks to the lovely and talented ashmanra, I have been introduced to CuppaGeek. I am a sucker for wordplay and creative titles, so Double Golden Bonus Points were awarded right away after browsing selections on the website.
My first pick was Baked Apple Pie (with a hint of rum). It’s one of those herbal blends that also needs to be a potpourri—CuppaGeek nailed the pie scent. You might need to buy one packet to drink and one to sniff.
With really “chunky” herbal blends (lots of apple hunks and chamomile heads), the flavor differs a little with each cup, depending on the mix that comes up in your spoon. Last night’s nightcap was light on the rum and cinnamon and the apple-chamomile came through nicely and well balanced in the foreground. Tonight’s may be slightly different.
I have been whining for months about the demise of Celestial Seasonings’ Sweet Apple Chamomile. I’ll hush now—I’ve met its much more luxurious stepchild.
Rain, rain…all day long. I had this one for breakfast. I lit some candles to make it cozy in the house, made waffles and bacon, and settled in for a cup of Parker’s.
I used my Kamjove this time and I think I overleafed just a tad. It was a teaspoon – I did measure – but it was a slightly heaping one. I steeped, pushed the button, steeped again and blended the two.
I am not sad I overleafed a tad because it really made it great as a breakfast tea. If I make this for afternoon I think I will use a scant teaspoon. As it turned out today, it was super fruity and a little brisk, just what you want in the morning, especially with maple syrup on the plate!
Parker’s is more complex than a plain Earl Grey, and is more akin to a good Lady Grey with the fruit flavors in play.
Meanwhile, I am trying to learn qi gong. Anyone else have experience with it here?
I can’t write a really proper review for this yet, as I reviewed it for Sororitea Sisters and I have to wait until that one publishes. What I CAN do is tell you just a little about this tea.
This special blend, along with Parker’s Evening Blend, benefits St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, where Cuppageek’s son is being treated. These are some of his favorite tea blends!
And it is easy to see why.
Look at the ingredients. Think extra nice Lady Grey. For now I will say no more!
But nip on over to Cuppageek Teas if you can and treat yourself and some friends to some delicious tea, and help support a great hospital at the same time!