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Recent Tasting Notes
Temperate rain in the forecast caused us to pull out our potted mints that we had mulched and tucked on the edge of the carport to snooze out the winter. Removed the mulch to see what fared well…best out of the batch was the catnip. The cats found it immediately, and due to my incompetence with a camera phone, you all missed some of the funniest feline gyrations—they rubbed their muzzles in it, practically turning their heads 360 degrees to wallow in it to full effect; Tazo tried to climb in the pot…all to say, I got to steep me some of that when it matures this spring!
Inspired by their enthusiasm, I’m enjoying a sweet and fresh strong tisane with applemint from last summer’s backyard crop. Come on, warmth and sunshine!
Wouldn’t you know it…threw together a second steep of last night’s tulsi, some chamomile, and a spoonish of dried apple mint from the back porch, ended up with a cup of evening nirvana (I’d swear there was some vanilla voodoo going on in the background)…and paid absolutely no attention to the proportions or steep time so I may never be able to replicate it again!
Apple mint is much better dried than it is fresh, but the leaves are fuzzy instead of smooth like regular mint, so it looks almost a little moldy in the jar. In case you need to know.
Have any of you tried pineapple mint? It’s the prettiest one growing by the back door; ruffly green leaves with creamy white edges. But I still can’t decide what it really tastes like. Stuffed a jar full in the fridge with one decaf Red Rose bag to make it tea-y, left it overnight. It’s gentle and satisfying, but I can’t determine if it’s “pineapple” or “unclassified somewhat citrusy” mint. Ah well, it was lovely to come home to a gentle, quiet cup of anything after a mind-blowingly plate-juggling workday.
Too many cookies and student helpers that sneak me chocolate when I can’t leave my little charges. (I pick ‘em well!) Plus, hubby taking advantages of my afternoons off for ice cream dates. Who am I to refuse? But I’m starting to feel the effects of sugar bloat, so I’ve made myself a little calendula-orange mint after-dinner steep. Orange mint is pretty mild, but does add a little freshness to the calendula. This would probably be more refreshing chilled.
Of all the plants in our back porch mint-speriment, the chocolate mint has flourished the most. It’s put out more tentacles than a kraken, so we’re trying a (Little Shop of )Horror-ticultural mutation: Set a pot next to it, anchored a couple of tentacles under an inch or so of soil, and are waiting for it to take root before cutting it loose and separating the pots. We’ll see…
Also, of the varieties of mint we’ve cultivated, this one makes the best stand-alone tisane—the chocolate flavor is truly and noticeably present, and though it’s mild, it does taste like mint tea instead of minty water. Come on over and I’ll cut you some sprigs.
OK, this is the last of the homegrowns I had not yet tried—pineapple mint. It’s interesting: leaves are thick and a little fuzzy, long olive-green ovals with cream-colored edges.
Again, using a bag of Red Rose decaf as the backdrop—I think it’s a winner because there are no strong tea flavors to compete with the mint so I can get a fair impression of the flavor profile. I’m not entirely sure I’m getting pineapple out of it, but there is a fruity-something happening along with the mint.
Wish y’all were here to share with. The applemint has gone bananas; almost growing faster than I can prune. I have several large clumps drying upside down in the garage. It’s beginning to look like a tobacco barn.
Whoops, forgot this category existed, and with all our recent homegrown experiments, I could be filling it up. We bought two chocolate mint plants from local nursery; one for a bed in front, the other in a back porch pot. Now that they are flourishing, it is clear there are two varieties. One has long, pointed leaves; the other has leaves that are more spade shaped.
We’re drinking long and pointy tonight, with a bag of Red Rose decaf tossed in to give the cup a little density. If you’ve never tried chocolate mint, it is well worth the $3.49 experiment—steeped straight up, you can detect the essence of chocolate. With some tea to give it a little heft, you can almost taste an Andes mint.
Weary, worried day left my neck and back crunkled like a wad of aluminum foil.
Thoughtful husband welcomed me home with a Yankee Candle Macintosh candle already burning and encouragement to sit, stare, drool, and relax. After all of the above, I combined a teaspoon of the no-name cut-leaf green tea Fox Farm sells in bulk and a touch less of the wonderful chocolate mint that k s recently shared. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! I think chocolate mint could make grass clippings taste special. The Hershey-bar goodness that is highly noticeable when you try it solo is muffled by the green tea, but still a wonderfully refreshing, un-crumpling treat.
Thought some of you might like to post to this generic category, something like the Chance Combinations that gets a fair amount of traffic.
Feel free to edit the description as you see fit.
In this case, courtesy of k s and company, we’re enjoying homegrown chocolate mint. You’ll have to ask him for the particulars of the variety, but you better believe this is pleasant! Cold steeped a couple of teaspoons in the fridge on a hot afternoon. There is definitely something in the baseline of this tisane that has a Hershey bar aftertaste. So I ate a Hershey bar with it. It just had to be.
Had to reach for this old friend again tonight. I meet the endocrinologist for the first time in the morning, and get my first dose of testosterone (intra-muscular injection, and I’m needle phobic! well, better get over it asap, i’ve got weekly IM injections from now til I’m dead. Worth it though!), so needless to say I’m SUPER anxious.
My heart is beating out of my chest, my hands are shaking so much I had to fill my cup barely halfway to prevent spilling it all over myself. I’m excited to finally be getting what I’ve wanted for so many years, but terrified that it’s going to turn friends and family against me.
Topped up my cup and the shaking is slowly calming down. It’s crazy how emotions can affect you physically, and so dramatically at that!
This is my “emergency kit” tea, the one I keep tucked away in my “emergency kit”, a box with a number of different things that I pull out when I’m having issues with depression, or anxiety.
Had a pretty nasty anxiety attack before bed, but calmed down enough to get into bed. Had some nightmares and woke up in hysterics, which then turned into a full blown panic attack. Running on auto pilot and in one quick motion I leaped out of bed, pressed the button on my kettle, pulled out a pre-filled sachet of tea, and tossed it into a cup, inhaling deeply while the water heated. Poured the hot water, took a sip, and instantly everything that had been on my mind melted away.
Still can’t quite calm down enough to sleep, but at least I can breathe again!
Tea of the morning…..
I have had this for several mornings of late. As I drink it, I just keep calculating in my head how much I can blend up before all my ingredients are gone. I’d say that is a pretty obvious indication that it is one of my favorites. (And I think I will run out of the Assam first, but I am hoping not to buy any tea for a few months.)
What this packs is a morning touch of briskness with a roasty chocolate and smooth finish. I completely feel like the queen of something or other while drinking it, even if it is just ’Mom’s taxi service’.
Usual teapot method.
Tea of the morning…..
I did it. I blended it. My last Franken Breakfast blend has been reblended, making it a favorite of mine. Now to design a label….
Notes of malt, slight briskness yet still smooth, with a punch of cocoa at the end. A great way to wake up!
Usual teapot method.
1 tsp Vanilla Cream Earl Grey (California Tea House)
1 tsp Blood Orange (Adagio)
10 oz water
This is my second time making this concoction and it’s been cold steeped each time. The first time it sat in the fridge for probably 36 hours because it got hidden behind something and I am the master of forgetfulness-fu. I only steeped this one for 8 hours, and it really didn’t seem like the extra time made much difference.
The orange rind/hibiscus combo latches onto the bergamot in the EG and makes this a really bright vibrant cup. The vanilla and cream aspects seem to temper the hibiscus to a degree, so while it is still quite tart, it’s not metallic or overly hibiscusy. I’m actually a bit enamored with this combination and once I have a manageable inventory of tea (so never, really), I would pick up both again to drink this. Especially in the summer.
Aaaand I’m back for more experimental fun!
In my 10 oz mug of cold steeped goodness:
1 tsp Vanilla Cream (Culinary Teas)
1 tsp Blood Orange (Adagio)
It made a surprisingly clean, dessert like cup. Very creamsicle tasting, with a bit of creamy mouthfeel from Vanilla Cream tea. It needed a touch of sweetener (1/2 tsp or so) to cut the dissonant notes of hibiscus that would pop up infrequently. If it weren’t for that, this would be pretty close to ideal.
I ran another Cococaramel Sea Salt experiment today.
1 tsp Cococaramel Sea Salt (Teavana)
2 tsp Ceylon Star (DAVIDsTEA)
6 oz milk
6 oz water
Then cold steeped for 6 hours.
And while this might not be the best thing I’ve ever had, it’s the best tasting Cococaramel Sea Salt has ever tasted to me.
Overall, this cup is anise-y and just a little naturally sweet, but in a way that actually works. There’s a little bit of chocolate flavor that leads into the caramel at the tail of the sip. The milk seems to have the body that the Cococaramel needs (otherwise it’s just too, too much).
I think I can definitely finish off what’s left of my bag like this.
Things that wound up in my 12 oz cup this morning:
3/4 tsp Darjeeling Sungma Summer (Adagio)
3/4 tsp Ceylon Sonata (Adagio)
1/2 tsp Tulsi Signature (LaJava)
1/2 tsp fennel & anise seed
I didn’t have enough Summer Sungma for an 8 oz cup, so I needed to get creative. I brewed at 200 and steeped for 3 minutes, and maybe wish just a little that I had gone a little shorter. Something in here got mildly astringent. Maybe even just a smidge bitter, but I mostly notice the drying feel on my tongue.
The anise adds a sweet licorice-like flavor that pairs all right with the base combination and fennel. The fennel itself is sweet and a little savory. The tulsi adds a little bit of cooling mouthfeel, but also contributes to the savory feeling of the cup. It becomes more prominent as the cup cools. Sugar and milk/creamer probably would have benefited this cup too, but it was fine without any add-ins as well.
Also, I’m on dogsitting duty so here’s Tango:
1 tsp Caramel Apple Explosion (Blue Raven Tea)
2 tsp Cococaramel Sea Salt (Teavana)
12 oz water
The hope here was to find a method of drinking the Cococaramel Sea Salt that I enjoy, because I still have just over an ounce of it left. This wasn’t my answer. I might try again switching the Caramel Apple to be the larger leaf amount, but the licorice root and anise in the Cococaramel seem to be incredibly dissonant with everything ever (including the original tea itself), so I’m not holding out hope. It might end up getting tossed into the swap pile yet.
1 tsp Hibiscus (Jamestown Teas)
3/4 tsp Pomegranate (Dori’s Tea Cottage)
12 oz water
I used the last teaspoons of each of these together in a cold steep.
The result was very tart and hibiscus-y with a sweet-tart pomegranate aftertaste. There wasn’t much in the way of the coppery flavor I associate with large amount of hibiscus, so that was refreshing. Sugar helps this along, but it was still on the far too tart side for me. It was definitely drinkable, and probably a good way to jump start your mouth in the morning, but it’s not something I’d do again.
6 tsp Risheehat Golden Musk Second Flush (Thunderbolt Teas)
6 tsp Blueberry Syrup (California Tea House)
2 quarts water
So, right now there’s a pitcher of this in the fridge. Fiance insisted he was getting sick of iced Darjeeling, so I doctored it up a bit.
It’s a decent blueberry flavor (a little tart maybe) but it pairs well enough with the sweet, earthiness and delicate florals of the Darjeeling. It’s not something I’d choose for myself as I think plain Darjeeling is perfect thankyouverymuch, but it’s nice to have someone to share my tea with.
1.5 tsp Coconut (Adagio)
1 tsp Lemon Soleil (Adagio)
12 oz water
I didn’t have enough for a full cup of either, so the bits at the bottom of the tins ended up in a thermos in my fridge together.
After it was done, I added a little milk, a little brown sugar, and the tea into a shaker and hoped for the best.
It’s surprisingly good like this, which I find strange because I’m not big on either of these alone. The lemon flavor is subtle, with coconut reigning as the king flavor. There’s a nice creaminess supplied by adding milk, as well. Are lemon coconut macaroons a thing? Because I’m pretty sure this is what they taste like.