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Recent Tasting Notes
Chai to Stay Dry! I don’t think I’ve had a pu-erh chai yet this month, and I really have been trying to get to those Fusion Tea samplers that I’ve had sitting around forever! So this is a good excuse to get to this blend of chai spices, caramel, and a pu-erh tea base.
I have to say, this is a very satisfying chai. As far as more “traditional” tasting chais, I’d say that this one and Reena’s Chai from TeaSource are probably my favorite I’ve tried this month. Like Reena’s Chai, this chai also has a very balanced flavor of spices, while offering a bit of natural sweetness that really compliments the spice flavors and allows them to have a nice warmth in the mouth, but to not be overbearing or leave an unpleasant lingering heat. I get this nice mix of ginger and clove in the main sip, with just a hint of pepper in the background, but the sip closes on a sweet note. I wouldn’t say there is a pronounced caramel flavor, but certainly a noticable sweetness that works well with the spices. The pu-erh here is very smooth, without any of the pronounced earthy notes I get from, say, Scottish Caramel Pu-erh (or the hint of fishy smell I get from that blend, either). I think as soon as I finish off my Scottish Caramel Pu-erh, this tea is going to be it’s replacement in my cupboard. It may not be as caramel-y, but the base tea alone gives it a more pleasant flavor on the whole, and it’s just a really good daily-drinker chai, to boot!
Flavors: Clove, Ginger, Pepper, Smooth, Spicy, Sweet
Chai to Stay Dry! Decided to do something a little different today, as I do want to focus on some of my older samplers, but I’m still trying to keep to the “spice” profile associated with chais. This is a guayusa mixed with lemongrass and cinnamon; I’ve had relatively few guayusa blends (which is a shame, because I tend to enjoy the flavor of guayusa more than yerba mate in general, but finding blends with it is far more difficult than the latter!) and having something different than another black tea chai but that still offered a caffeine punch sounded nice this morning.
The steeped tea smelled strongly of cinnamon gum, but I found the flavor wasn’t as strong as I was expecting. I get notes of dry hay, a muted citrus that lacks the notable tang that accompanies lemon, a touch of mint, and an aftertaste of cinnamon that adds a bit of flavor to the cup but doesn’t leave a warming sensation on the tongue like other cinnamon spice teas I’ve tried. The cumulative flavor is very grassy or herby with a slight cinnamon touch right at the finish.
Honestly, the more I drank this, the more I enjoyed it. It wasn’t what I expected when I first sipped it, as the smell and the taste created a big disconnect in my mind. But once I settled into the earthy flavor and was warmed from within from the cinnamon, I started to really get into the blend. It’s a simple but effective tea.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Citrus, Hay, Mint, Sweet, warm grass
I’ve had my Fusion Tea samplers for a while, so it’s probably time I started to do something about that. I really enjoy floral blends at this time of the year (well, to be fair, I enjoy them year-round, but at least they seem especially appropriate right now!) so I decided to use the majority of the sampler to make a quart of this iced, and then use off the remaining bit of leaf to have a nice warm evening cuppa.
The warm cuppa is very relaxing. The base oolong reminds me of the orange ginger oolong in my collection, and I almost wonder if that’s the very oolong used as the base, because I swear I’m getting a bit of a mandarin flavor mixed with the lemon zest citrus notes in the background, with some subtle earthy notes and just a hint of ginger. The dominant flavor is a very sweet rose flavor; often I get a slight peppery note from rose, but here it is all sweet and floral.
The iced tea is also very nice! It’s very smooth, with a bit of a creamy mouthfeel, and very refreshing. The flavor is very close to the warm cuppa, though I’d say the earthy and orangy base flavors are a little more subdued, with the lemon zest and rose notes really coming to the forefront. I didn’t even notice the ginger in the iced blend.
Overall I really like this flavor combination, and am a little sad this oolong was discontinued. It was a really enjoyable cuppa with a lot of natural sweetness, a really strong rosey flavor, and a nice lemony-orange citrus background note.
Flavors: Earth, Ginger, Lemon Zest, Orange, Rose, Smooth, Sweet
Tried this one again iced, and made a second warm cuppa just to sipdown the rest of my sampler, and had a very different experience than with my initial cup. Both the second warm cuppa and the iced brew had a noticably strange, unpleasant taste that I just didn’t recall on that first cup. It’s sort of an acrid taste, like something just doesn’t seem to be meshing with that overwhelming lime flavor at all. I think it may be the red rooibos in the blend, and I’m suspecting that it may have all sunk to the bottom of my sampler, so that I ended up not getting much of it in my first cup, while an abundance of it steeped out in my jug of iced tea and my sipdown hot cup (I certainly don’t remember my first cup being such a vivid reddish-orange color as both of these cups are presenting). I don’t really think it is complimenting the yerba mate and the green rooibos, and am confused why it was necessary to include it at all… I like red rooibos just fine, but here it seems to be a very clashing flavor and the result is a bit off-putting to me. I’m going to have to lower my score on this one, and I’m a bit glad for this sip down.
Green March! I decided I needed a break from green teas so I decided to try this sampler I purchased from Fusion Teas a while ago in a yerba mate sampler set. Lime is a rather under-represented flavor overall in my collection, but I enjoy tart citrus flavors, so I’m certainly interested in exploring that flavor profile more. Green yerba mate leaves and a lime flavor profile just seems to fit in well for the “green theme” I have going for this month, so why not roll with it?
In the past I’ve usually found Fusion’s flavors don’t quite pop if I only use a teaspoon of leaf, and even they suggest a teaspoon and a half, so I usually go for two teaspoons. The leaf did have a very creamy lime scent, and I could make out some nuttiness in the aroma, but the brewed cup had a stronger aroma of yerba mate leaf (it reminds me of the scent of gunpowder green tea, vegetal and a little smoky), with heavy lime overtones.
There is a nice, strong lime flavor to the tea, and it accompanies the natural flavors of the yerba mate leaf well, which do actually manage to shine through the strong flavoring — though subtly — adding hints of grass and lemon-citrus as soft background notes. I do wish the lime was just a bit less strong, as it is hard to make out some of the other flavors in the tea — there is a very subtle hint of nuttiness left on the tongue in the aftertaste, and a slight coconuty sweetness to the cup, and I would’ve liked these flavors to be brought to the forefront a little more. Overall, though, if you like the taste of lime, it’s a nice tea. I found it growing on me a little more with each sip, and will probably use up my sampler trying out an iced batch, as I feel the lime flavor will really shine in a cold brew.
Flavors: Citrus, Coconut, Grass, Lime, Nutty, Sweet, Tangy
Green March! Decided to finally try this sampler from Fusion Teas I’ve had for a while.
Today we got a flash snowstorm, so all things considered, a tropical blend didn’t exactly go with our sudden winter weather motif! But it is what I grabbed when I left the house this morning, so it’s what I had to make for my daily cuppa at work today, so I had a lovely bright, pineapple-yellow cuppa tea with sweet tropical scents wafting from my cup as fat fluffy snowflakes fell for several hours straight outside the library windows. Umm… aloha? So I prepared this tea warm today; I’ll admit I normally prepare fruity green teas of this sort as cold brews.
This tea is very sweet, with a strong pineapple flavor. I normally like my fruity green teas to be a bit on the delicate side, but since I really love pineapple (yes, I’m a pineapple-on-pizza person, and no, I won’t apologize for it) I actually don’t mind this. There is a somewhat subtle hint of a floral touch at the end of the sip which is nice, too.
I’m not getting much else out of this, though. I am not picking out any of the underlying sencha flavor (which may be a good thing if you aren’t necessarily a fan of green teas, so take that or leave that as you will; I personally would’ve preferred a bit more of the base to shine through, myself) and I’m not really getting any of the mango notes, either. I love pineapple, but as far as pineapple green teas go, I think I prefer Bluebird Tea Co.’s Pineapple Sorbet which was a little more complex, as it had some nice citrus notes thrown in as well. But then, this tea is readily available and Pineapple Sorbet has been discontinued, so there is that.
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Pineapple, Sweet
This is one of my favorite yerba mate blends that I’ve tried and a staple for me on mornings when I need an extra caffeine boost! I love anything and everything pumpkin, so I was very interested to try this one out, and while it didn’t have much of a pumpkin flavor, the pumpkin spices were so strong and flavorful and the tea so robust that after I finished off my sampler I restocked this one in my cupboard. The tea is best to me when a little heavy on the leaf, but it’s really economical so I don’t particularly feel bad about making a really strong cup; I usually use two teaspoons for a standard size 10 oz. mug or a tablespoon for one of my extra large size 12 oz. mugs. The base of the tea is this really nice blend of toasty roasted mate and sweetness from the rooibos and honeybush, and each sip is filled with a lot of tasty spices, namely cinnamon, clove, and mace (which tastes like a more robust nutmeg). I find that I don’t need to add sweetener, as the natural sweetness of the base and the stevia in the blend balances the spices well. The blend has a very rich, toasty, pumpkin spice feel, and I find it gives a very warm and toasty appeal. This is an excellent autumn blend that can be enjoyed any time, and it works well as a latte as well.
Flavors: Caramel, Cinnamon, Clove, Nutmeg, Nutty, Sweet, Toasty
I had a sipdown of this herbal when I reviewed it for my blog not long ago. The tisane smelled strongly of orange-vanilla creamsicle, and it wasn’t the first time I had a holiday blend this winter with that flavor profile (which I found a bit odd, as creamsicle always makes me think of the ice cream pops, a very summer association in my mind). Despite the large amount of ingredients in the blend, from the two cups I got from the sampler, my impression of the flavor was a sweet orange-vanilla creamsicle base with a lot of tart hibiscus and cranberry notes, something which I recall being quite unique compared to the other creamsicle teas I’ve tried. The tea also had a slightly savory note from the carrot, but it was quite hard to pick up on unless you happen to drink a lot of carrot juice (which happens to be one of my favorite juices). It was very subtle. The tea was quite sweet with a very smooth, somewhat creamy mouthfeel, and despite all the spice in the blend, it left very little impression on the taste; the cinnamon notes were also quite subtle. The tea felt like a blend of a Cinnamon Plum fruit cider tea and an Orange Vanilla Rooibos creamsicle tea. It was a bit of an odd combination, but not unpleasant, either. I wish that for all the ingredients in the blend, more flavor notes stood out. There seems little reason to me to have so many ingredients in an herbal mix if they don’t really add anything because other flavors dominate the cup so thoroughly. Perhaps it was just the luck of the draw of what ended up in my sampler pouch, though.
Flavors: Creamy, Hibiscus, Orange, Smooth, Sweet, Tart, Vanilla
All of the ingredients in this blend sounded promising (green honeybush, a few fruits, roses) but the not-so-genuine peachy flavor is overpowering any other flavors that are there. The peach needed to be toned down, but possibly using 1 1/2 teaspoons was a bad idea.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug// 10 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 5 minute steep
This is a smooth and relaxing too but it doesn’t have as much smoke as I’m used to with my regular Lapsang. I added a little extra and steeped three minutes as instructed – the tea is very dark and I can tell further steeping would have ruined the cup. I don’t blame the strength of the smoke on the amount of time, in other words, but just to describe the tea as it was crafted to be.
Even though not smoky, it’s a nice black cup that adds a small difference for a standard black cup of tea. Would be especially good in the morning or afternoons. A little plain though.
A very pleasant tea – I got my samples tonight and loved the sample bags. I’m a dork but all that matters. The smell of this one delicious – had to take about 10 sniffs before brewing.
Brewed a large tsp in my cup for about 4 minutes. The taste is pure and smooth and very clean. The black tea base is not overpowering at all but does a good base. I don’t taste wine much and only a tiny bit of strawberries – mainly I taste peach flavor. It’s kind of like a strawberry inspired peach. It’s refreshing and fun and light
Flavors: Peach, Strawberry
Oh my – what a flavor! I’ll admit it: I’m one of those people who started drinking teas and who continue to drink tea more or less because they taste good. I’m learning about all of the health benefits and such as an afterthought; so when I smelled this tea in the storefront in McKenny, I was most excited to give it a whirl!
Okay, I’ll break it down. Delicate green tea with mildly tart berry flavor, not overly sweet or bitter. I love the lemongrass and the pomegranate! The color is a very pleasant lemony-green hue, and goes down well without sweetener.
Overall, a mild tea with a light complexity that made me come back for a second brew. This blend rivals the jasmine green tea pearls that I’ve had from Fusion Teas, which is my all-time favorite brew.
Flavors: Goji, Lemongrass
So I’m a sucker for Chamomile teas. I’m about to rip open a cheaper bag of tea from my infant drinking days and plant me some of these little flowers in my garden if they’re truly that easy to grow!
This blend, however, left me a little disappointed. The vanilla bean, coconut, licorice, ect. were all so strong that I was left with an extremely sweet cup with very little tart or tangyness (which I would have expected from that lemongrass). The complexity of the sweet ingredients kind of left the chamomile overpowered! The Honeybush also left that roasty flavor in the back of my throat. I knew that the ingredients in this tisane were strong, but I didn’t realize HOW strong! I just took another look at the package, and it looks like there’s stevia leaf in this – no wonder there was a lingering sweetness that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
If you’re looking for a vanilla-forward, sweet blend, this one definately fits the bill! I didn’t like this tea because of my own personal flavor preferences, but the dry goods were high quality and they steeped nicely – so I’ll recommend.
Flavors: Coconut, Licorice, Vanilla
These little tightly rolled little leaves open up beautifully in water! As I am still learning about teas, I had never seen pearl-rolled tea before; and it smelled beautifully in the bag. As the water steeped, the aroma really came out of the tea! It’s a sweet cup with playful floral tones, and when brewed properly, has no astringent or bitter properties. I drank this tea without sweetener, and I love sugar! This is literally my favorite green tea to date. Just a beautiful aroma and pleasingly sweet flavor!
You totally can’t judge this tea by the smell of the dried leaves alone. When you take a whiff of the dry blend, it’s more of a caramel creme smell. It’s only after hot water melts the chocolate bits that the smell of chocolate come through; along with notes of toasty vanilla and a subtle hint of floral. I didn’t find the floral rose notes until I began looking for them, but after you’re aware, it does add a nice complexity to the cup.
I should also add that I’ve never liked a chocolate desert type tea. I guess I’ve changed my mind!
Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Rose, Vanilla
This was my first experience with a green earl gray- I wasn’t sure how to feel about the mix of delicate green tea with bergamot flavoring. The scent is floral (rosebuds) and bergamot, with a clean green tea undertone. I brewed a little cool at 165 rather than 175, and the tea leaves opened beautifully even at this temperature. The first note I got was the bergamot and rose; but the green tea melted into the flavor as it washes over the tongue. I am still developing my palette and I did notice a butteryness to the flavor, but it’ll take a few more steeps before I puzzle that flavor out. The second steep was just as good as the first, and I even sampled that one iced!
Flavors: Bergamot, Rhubarb, Rose
Here’s Hoping TTB
I can’t stand artificial cherry flavoring because it reminds me of the liquid cold medicine I took as a child. However, I recently discovered a cherry-flavored tea that I LOVE (Fava’s Cloud 9), so I decided to give this one a try. My mistake! This basically tastes like someone added Triaminic to a cup of black tea. I rarely pour out a cup of tea without finishing it, but no shame on this one!
Flavors: Artificial, Cherry
Another one from Ost, thank you! Always wanted to try this one and here we have a sample. Such an awesome mix of ingredients here. I was hoping all of the sweetness was from the piece of caramel in the teabag, but it turns out there is also stevia. For shame! But otherwise it is certainly a tasty dessert blend — I like that there is both pumpkin and squash (the new list of ingredients should probably be updated). Not too heavy on the cinnamon or ginger. Nutmeg would have been nice! But I can add some nutmeg I have, I suppose (I bought some from Simpson & Vail especially to add to some teas!) Especially if the nutmeg replaced that stevia. No stevia would have meant a higher rating.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug// few minutes after boiling // 2-3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3-4 minute steep
This was the November tea of the month for the Muse Monthly Box!
I have been sick all week, so I have been guzzling tea like it’s going out of style. I have been blowing through what little remains of my bagged stash and combing Verdant’s Elderberry Herbal with plenty of marshmallow root for my sore throat. My diet of this past week has mainly consisted of cough drops, Dayquil, marshmallows and tea.
I thought I’d give this tea a whirl while doing some reading, and I don’t think I could have spit it out fast enough.
Just no. No. No. NO.
This tea was far too similar to the chloraspetic cherry cough drops that I dread. I actually had nightmares about that medicinal cherry flavor. That is what this tea so closely mirrors. The muddy black tea base is only salt in the wound.
Sorry Muse Monthly, but your tea picks have been getting weaker and weaker. At least the books are good?
Flavors: Cherry, Dust, Medicinal
Christina sent me this tea a few weeks ago, and as I was digging through my samples, it caught my eye.
Perfect. Uncaffeinated, new, caramel.
And it smells so much like Divine Temptation from Bayswater. Sweet nougaty goodness.
Anyways, it’s pretty good! I’m enjoying the flavour for sure, and the rooibos isn’t too woody. But if I were in the market to replace this, I’d just get something similar from Bayswater or Janet’s Special Teas. :)
You know, considering there are big huge chunks of caramel in this tea, it doesn’t taste like much besides regular rooibos. There’s a bit of toastiness, and the caramel doesn’t melt all the way through so you can get a second steep, but I wasn’t getting a lot of flavour from this. I think it might be better if I added some sweetener next time.
You can read the full review on my blog: