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Recent Tasting Notes
I got a free sampler of a tea called “Vietnam Vanilla” from tea web vendor California Tea & Herbal when I ordered from them a while ago (they had a few of my favorite blends stocked in 2 oz. sizes, and I was having a hard time finding other vendors having anything smaller than 4 oz. available; I just don’t need that much tea on hand, storage space is an issue and it takes me forever to drink a quarter-pound of tea!) After a bit of research, I’m fairly certain that their “Vietnam Vanilla” is actually just wholesaled “Colonille” from SerendipiTea; I could be wrong, but I found at least one other black tea blend in their line-up that matched another of SerendipiTea’s blends, which makes me pretty confident I’ve found the right tea. It however may be an earlier version of the blend, since the ingredients listed are just Vietnam black tea and (presumably artificial) French Vanilla flavor, which differs from the updated Kosher recipe of Colonille which now includes vanilla beans and natural vanilla flavor.
Old recipe aside, this tea is amazing! The base is super smooth, and almost has a chocolately richness with a slight honeyed sweetness to it, and just a hint of some cherry notes. The vanilla flavor just gives it this sweet, creamy taste that is really divine! It somehow makes me think of Neopolitan ice cream after it’s all melted together at the bottom of the bowl; a little cocoa, a little cream, and a hint of berry sweetness. Fantastic dessert tea! This is proving to be an all-too-enjoyable sipdown while I patiently wait for the RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars S3 finale digital release from Amazon to finally hit my inbox.
Flavors: Cherry, Cocoa, Cream, Creamy, Honey, Smooth, Sweet, Vanilla
I got this ages and ages ago. Stunningly, SerendipiTea still carries it. I thought for sure it would be off the rotation by now just given the number of years I’ve had it. The last Steepster note on this tea was 6 years ago.
In the tin it smells coconutty, mangoey, cookie like. After steeping there’s a citrus edge as well which is weird since there’s nothing citrus in the ingredients.
I was prepared for this to be another tropical tea that basically devolves into coconut. That it doesn’t is a pleasant surprise! There’s a very obvious and discernible mango here and the coconut, at least in this cup, is more in the background. But it does a nice job there of keeping the tea from becoming too sharp. It provides a natural sweetness that tamps down any acidic notes that could detract from the flavor.
It’s been a long time since I had a mango black tea, and I can’t remember being overly impressed by any — though it’s not beyond the realm of possibility. I should go back and look at my notes to see what I thought of the others I’ve tasted. But that wouldn’t be an apples to apples comparison unless they also had coconut and didn’t also have pineapple, which is always the challenge — introduce pineapple into the mix and everything is either pineapple or coconut. Everything else gets lost.
Not so here. Eureka!
Flavors: Coconut, Mango
This was horrifyingly bad tea. I bought this from amazon, on the picture it was labeled as organic certified but when I got it in the mail that was not the case. To make matters much worse I open up the package and the mini puerh cakes smell like straight chemical mixed with this minty smell. I thought perhaps it could be salvaged by seeing how it brews. Absolutely disgusting!! A very dirty tea. I emailed the company and gave my concerns and I asked for a refund for the false advertising of being organically certified. Straight crickets! No word back from this company. Skip this tea, and skip this company!
Unfortunately I can’t describe the flavors from steepsters list so here they are-
Chemical, plastic, butthole, mentos
I never knew that Bolivia had tea estates. This is a really good green tea. I read anote review of a Bolivian tea that suggested it was a bit salty! stupidly, I read it just before I drank it, which probably clouded my judgement. I found it smelled a little of salt, but didn’t taste salty luckily. I’d certainly drink it again.
After much debate and talking with Ben, both of us have decided that I need a sun-lamp, because my SAD is just awful. Each winter I turn into this pitiful, miserable, pain filled lump…clearly I am actually a plant, though not a coniferous, alas. I used to think I had SAD during the summer as well as winter and I would just deal with it, but thinking things through I tend to just feel grumpy and uncomfortable in summer because I loathe the heat, it is just me being a big baby, but in winter I just get kinda catatonic, one step away from hibernating. Next step is to research a good sun lamp, any SAD people out there with suggestions?
It is time to delve into the pile of notebooks from long ago, filled with tea notes of yore! Today we are looking at Monk’s Mead by SerendipiTea, a blend of Apple, Apple Flavor, Chamomile, Mango, Mango Flavor, and Rosehips, all organic and natural! This tea is supposed to evoke the taste of mead, and I have never had mead, the closest I have had is Oenomel, or Grecian Honeyed Wine, so I cannot say how close this tea gets to its goal. The aroma is pretty great, blending dried apples, honey, and the straw and vaguely fresh apple aroma of chamomile. At the very finish is a slightly citrus sour note from the rosehips, though that fades really quickly.
You know one of the things I kinda hate about chamomile? It gets sooooo stuck into the fine mesh of the steeping basket, meaning it is a real pain to clean, other than that I love the stuff. The aroma is primarily chamomile, blending straw, pollen, strawflowers, and a touch of apples. I pick up a gentle note of mango at the finish, but mostly this is all chamomile all the time. The liquid is a blend of mango and apple with a slightly sour note and a finish of pollen and strawflowers.
The first thing I noticed about this tea is the utter lack of anything but chamomile, the front taste is all chamomile all the time, with strong notes of pollen and wildflowers fading to apples. That apple note builds from a distant apple memory to a full on baked apple, with extra sweetness from the mango. At the finish there is a note of honey, with a slightly sour citrus note, it lingers for a while, making me salivate from the sourness. This is not a bad tea, it did not wow me overly much, but I found it pleasant, I think I would have liked it a lot more if it lacked the rosehips, since for me this tea shined most when it was very sweet.
For blog and (crappy old) photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/01/serenditpitea-monks-mead-tbt-tea-review.html
My second tea for soothing the sore throat. I actually did about half this tea, and half spearmint. Chamomile and mint is my absolute trump tea for when I’m sick, but I didn’t have any plain chamomile so I went with this.
It was extremely smooth and soothing on my throat, but one thing that I think I’m learning is that chamomile just isn’t my favorite tea flavor. It helps my throat, but I basically only drink it when I need it.
Hnnng. Backstory on this tea: there was a well touted coffee shop in the library where I did my undergrad and I would occasionally stop by with a friend and pick up a cup of tea. By the time I graduated I was hooked on this stuff but couldn’t figure out where to get it.
The other day I remembered what it was called and finally found it and bought a 4oz box (on Amazon… the expiration date is in 6 months so I think I’ve learned my lesson now :/)
The peach isn’t as strong as I remember but overall it’s still my favorite “comfort tea” – I generally don’t care for chai but the spices mixed with the mellow peach are phenomenal. It’s perfect for the change in seasons and hopefully wintertime too. It reminds me of thanksgiving.
Flavors: Clove, Ginger, Peach, Spices
Happy Thursday, internet! Yours truly had a long and tiring day of playtesting and I am greatly glad to be home and only a few short hours away from sleep. I got very little of the Zzzzz’s last night because someone poisoned me (or I caught a stomach bug) but it sounds more dramatic to yell ‘who hath poisoned me?!?’ than ‘where did this virus come from?’ it is always about which is more dramatic. I think when this playtesting and such is over I am going to take a vacation, just not do anything for a week other than drink tea and maybe play Minecraft, and lay in bed a lot. It will be gloriously lazy.
Today’s tea is SerendipiTea’s Dahl House, inspired by much loved novelist Roald Dahl, I was never a huge fan of his work, but I can certainly say they were influential and helped shape many children’s lives. One of these work’s was James and the Giant Peach, I mean, who doesn’t love the idea of sailing away inside of a giant peach, I am pretty sure that is every Southern child’s dream (or at the very least mine) especially with talking bugs. The first thing I notice about the aroma is the real, fresh, peach smell that is wafting out of the dry leaves. I love when peach flavored teas actually smell like peaches and not peach candy, it makes for a happy me. There are also notes of malt, honey, and a really nice zingy ginger aroma that makes the tea smell very warm.
Into the steeping basket the leaves go, and the aroma of peaches and ginger fill the room. I admit, I miss my tea lair, but I do no miss the basement at all, so dingy…so many spiders…ok I liked the spiders. The peaches still smell like warm, juicy, fresh peaches but with an addition of ginger and malt, with a slight bit of oak wood at the finish. The liquid is super peachy and sweet, though the ginger is milder, a tickling warmth at the back of the nose. The malt is right up there with peaches in strength, making for a very rich aroma.
The first thing noticed upon sipping this tea is it is very rich and malty, with a delicate honey sweetness and a tiny hint of roasted peanuts…but where is the peach…wait, found it! Not even to the midtaste, the peaches explode, much like biting into a ripe very juicy peach. This is no sad peach you bought at the super market when you had a 2 A.M. craving, no this is a fresh from the orchard roadside-stand in the middle of South Carolina peach! A very real distinction that we Southerners get bent out of shape over, we are a bit obsessive with our peaches. After that massive pile of peach to the face the flavor has a wonderful warming ginger burn that lasts into the aftertaste where it lingers as a nice tingly feeling in the belly. I was quite fond of this tea, it reminded me of home, and I liked the addition of ginger, it blended nicely with the peach!
For blog and (not very good) photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/05/serendipitea-dahl-house-tbt-tea-review.html
I absolutely love this tea iced or hot! I’ve been on a huge kick with it lately and its pretty much all I have been drinking this week. I like that the Jasmine isn’t too strong and you can taste the apple as well as you smell it. I also have forgotten that I was steeping this tea until like 30 minutes later and it did not pick up too much bitterness so that’s definitely a plus for me. I use 3 teaspoons of tea in 2 cups of water for my iced tea because I like it really strong but as a hot tea a teaspoon to 8oz is good.
Pleasantly surprised with this! I was alittle hesitant about this blend because on the sample bag it says there’s hibiscus in this, which I’m not a fan of. But happily the apple and mango are mainly dominant over the hibiscus and rose hips. A really good blend
Flavors: Apple, Mango
I’m brewing this Gongfu style. This is a pretty strongly roasted oolong. In fact, it is so heavily roasted that the flavor reminds me of Houjicha. I don’t taste anything distinctly “oolong” about it, or maybe there’s the subtlest hint of flowers in the background. Compared to most other rolled oolongs I’ve tried, this one overbrews quite easily. It has a bit of a drying, astringent finish only two or three infusions in, and as dry as it leaves my mouth feeling, I’m not too compelled to do a fourth infusion. I will anyway, for the sake of curiosity…
The fourth infusion seems to have really lost flavor for the most part. I’m not getting much out of it, but it is still really dry feeling in the mouth, and has a bitter finish like orange blossom tea.
Other than the first infusion, I didn’t enjoy this tea at all. The first infusion was great and reminded me of some of the better Houjicha I’ve had, but after that there were some astringent and sour qualities that were so overwhelming to me I didn’t really feel compelled to try to describe the subtleties. It’s not that I don’t like the roasted flavors this tea has… it’s just that I’ve had lots of other teas that have similar roasted flavors without all the biting qualities of this one, so to me… I wouldn’t revisit this tea.
Flavors: Astringent, Roasted
How did I never review this? I’m usually so good about that.
I bought some of this from Shab Row Tea Emporium in Frederick, MD. It’s nice. Minty with the feel (if not quite the taste) of chocolate. Sugar doesn’t really add much to this tea, though I do like adding a bit of Herbal Infusions Cacao Tea to up the chocolate taste. It’s nice but not really something I’ll get again.
Flavors: Chocolate, Peppermint
I believe I got this one from QueenofTarts. I need to remember who sent me which samples better before I put them with the other samples I need to try. >< I’m like 99% Sure this is from QueenofTarts, but correct me if I’m wrong. xD
Anyway, this one smells and tastes strongly of vanilla bean.
One of the better vanilla teas I’ve tried so far actually. Lovely tea for this afternoon. Thank you so much, QueenofTarts Or whoever else might have given that to me. xD
Funny that some of the other reviews say too much jasmine, because I’m finding it to be too little jasmine. There is only a hint of jasmine and I like really strong jasmine flavor. The rest of the tea seems really well balanced, but it just doesn’t pack enough punch for me.
There has been a role reversal in the house today, instead of Ben having to take care of my sickly self, I got to take care of him today. Poor sickly thing either picked up a super nasty cold or the flu, chances are I am going to get it what with the fever and sore throat I have had all day, but it has not hit me as hard as it has him. I feel really bad since he has one of those amazing immune systems and never gets sick, he just does not know how to deal with it. I have been giving him loads of tea which seems to be helping.
Today’s tea is Fu Man Chu, by Serendipitea, a blend of Organic Jasmine Petals, Organic Pouchong, and Organic Pu-erh. I need to start this review by saying that I have always wanted a Fu Man Chu mustache, I mean it is just so cool! Yeah I am one of those nerdy chicks with mustache envy, I think because it just looks fun to twirl while contemplating, I could twirl it while contemplating this tea! The aroma of this tea is quite unique, a blend of heady jasmine and earthy pu-erh. It is like a blend of blooming flowers and a garden after rain, it has that mineral and wet earth aroma. This tea smells like laying on one’s back in a summer garden, a very interesting concept.
Once the tea has been brewed the wet leaves get a bit of that market smell that I associate with some pu-erh, it is a bit metallic, earthy, and has a tiny bit of a wet river mud aroma at the finish. There is also a pretty potent jasmine aroma followed by a honeysuckle sweetness. The liquid is a heady blend of jasmine and orchid with an underlying earthiness and honey sweetness. It is pretty intense!
The taste if this tea is certainly interesting! It starts off sweet and heady, with a strong taste of orchid, honeysuckle, and jasmine. This transitions to earthy pu-erh with a touch of metallic and a slightly bitter finish. Sadly, even though I am always a fan of the unusual, I did not find this particular blend worked for me. It was too contrasting of tastes for me. I do recommend giving it a try though, it is so unusual that it is a tea that needs to be experienced at least once!