12 Tasting Notes

78

A festively cheery cup, fragrant with clove and nutmeg, with a beautiful copper tone. I drank the first one plain, for the notes, and then made another into a latte, complete with whip and a dash of nutmeg and cinnamon. In other words, I had a decadent dessert for breakfast, and you’re missing out, but I digress!

The nutmeg really carries through to the sip and weighs on the back of the tongue, just like a gingerbread cookie might do.

Besides the typical gingerbread suspects, there’s a mildly buttery mouthfeel and slightly acidic aftertaste from the black tea, the latter of which I wish was a bit better balanced, but I am hardly complaining about anything in this lovely little cup.

Definitely going to have to stock up on a little of this to share with my sisters during the holidays this December. Thanks so much for introducing me to this one, tea_sipper!

Flavors: Clove, Molasses, Nutmeg

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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65

Ok, so first off, this tea is adorable. The tiny mallows and sunflower strands? You’re killing me, Bluebird.

The dry and steep aromatics are distinctly those of the marshmallow bunny coated in chocolate. Yeah, you know the one, yes you. The popped rice, I think, does just as much of the heavy lifting in that regard as the mallows and cocoa shell bits.

On the tongue, the chocolate pulls riiiiight through, the mallow easing it onto the palate, and the overall taste has the acidity of the black balanced by the distinct flavor of the green. I actually didn’t notice until the first taste that this was a black-green blend.

All-in-all, this is the Cocoa Krispies of tea. Just add Saturday morning cartoons and you’re set. I wouldn’t likely be moved to purchase again, but I am really glad to get to sample 10 g, and the cuteness of it all has me won over for sure.

Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Marshmallow, Sweet, warm grass, Toasted Rice

Preparation
6 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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97

The steep time is an absolute delight: all carnival and candy, reminiscent of fairgrounds in the early fall. Carmel apples are definitely what are coming through, like a bold candied cider.

The sweetness isn’t so much there as I expected from the tiny toffee pieces, and the flavor isn’t as present as the aromas would have you expecting. Still, I keep finding myself hovering over my mug just to take in the scent.

First brewing score: 65
-—-
Update: Brewed a travel mug this morning before setting off to lab and dressed it up with a little cream and sugar. Good God, this is brilliant for a milky tea. I remain interested in seeing if I can’t get these same flavors to pull through on their own with a longer brewing time (tried 5 minutes with a heaping tsp last time), but this really hit the spot this morning. I sipped it down in half the time it usually takes me to finish off my tea as I kept finding myself reaching for my mug over and over. Updating this to the upper 90’s because this experience was…magical.

Flavors: Candied Apple, Caramel, Kettle Corn, Toffee

Preparation
7 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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5
drank Serenity Now by DAVIDsTEA
12 tasting notes

One of the things I love most about teas is that while there might be a real consensus here and there, many times taste is a very situated preference, something that is articulated differently in everyone. That’s my disclaimer. I didn’t care for this tea.

Hibiscus right up front and center. Tight and tart. Is it too much to mention that this is the exact opposite of “serenity” for me? Spearmint is definitely present too. It’s a little like your grandmother’s travel perfume leaked in her purse and drowned her pack Wrigley’s at the bottom. Not for me. Couldn’t make it through the cup.

Flavors: Hibiscus, Spearmint, Tart

Preparation
7 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Xxxxx

Wonderful olfactory word picture!

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63
drank Green Chai by Adagio Teas
12 tasting notes

Sweet cinnamon aroma during first steep. So this is a green chai. Definitely distinct from those with the typical black base. The taste is so-so, but I will say that these green leaves are super mild and allow the spices to do all the heavy lifting and hence the foreground is composed of the spices, a tingle left on the tongue.

Despite the spicy presence, nailing down exactly which ones the blend is composed of is a more difficult task. The taste that pulls through is less so the usual thoughtful layering of nutmeg, coriander, etc. but rather a few striking chords, notably those of ginger and cinnamon.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Ginger

Preparation
3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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80

If garam masala ingredients got together and decided to compose a dessert-like tea symphony, this would be it.

The flavors here, unlike in so many flavored teas, don’t compete with the black base whose presence here is that of the main player: moderately bodied with very little acridity, especially for having been steeped on the longer side. The aroma is decadent—a bakery full of cinnamon buns: rich, spicy, and buttery notes which fully translate into the flavor.

Cardamom, coriander, and cinnamon in a very balanced ratio. A treat.
____
Also: Leigh, you are now a goddess in my book. I found out just after receiving your package last night that this was a limited edition tea and that DAVIDs is no longer carrying it. There’s got to be more than 50 g here. Sending serious tea hugs to Georgia. <3

Flavors: Butter, Cardamon, Cinnamon, Clove, Coriander, Maple Syrup, Toast

Preparation
7 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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92

Delicate and simple. More complex than your usual chamomile, but a smoother ride with a little added fanfare. Thanks so much for this taste, slb222. Really enjoying this first cup of our exchange.

Flavors: Floral, Lavender

Preparation
1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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50
drank Earl Grey Rooibos by DAVIDsTEA
12 tasting notes

Really thrilled over this tea, but not because of the taste. Let’s talk chemistry! Especially since I’m quite literally procrastinating going over my orgo while writing this.

I’m an earl grey lover through and through and had never had a rooibos when I visited DAVIDs last fall and mentioned this in passing to the girl behind the counter. I was there for blacks and herbals, and hearing of my love of the earl, she hit me up to try it with the rooibos twist for my late night cravings. I’ll try anything once, and it’s a beautiful tea, but it wasn’t hard to figure out why I had drunk around this when found in my cupboard this morning for my next sip-down.

I opened the bag. What is that? Mint? With earl? Ugh. The dry scent, for me, is off-putting and certainly does not give off that lemon-cloud-rainy-sky feel that I’ve come to appreciate in an earl. Which made me consider: what is rooibos? Is this the scent of a rooibos? Is this what I can expect it to taste like?

A quick office hour with Professor Wikipedia and I see what we’re working with. A familiar word highlighted in the “you-have-clicked-here” purple flagged me down, and we’re off. Cinnamic acid is found in the leaves and stems of the rooibos legume, most familiarly found today in cinnamon, has a honey-like odor (check!) and is one of two major flavor components of cinnamon. I’ve spent the past two weeks working with acids—including this very one—turning them about into esters on paper and look forward to attempting one in lab, so this is a happy fun chemical coincidence that I didn’t expect.

I love cinnamon—cook with it nearly every week—but I’m not certain this flavor profile pairs well with earl grey. Many tea companies and drinkers seem to feel otherwise, and that’s great. I will say that the mint-like scent turns to give more of a cinnamon flavor once brewed and that I found this much more sippable than the dry had me expecting it to be. I sipped this along with a little whole milk and sugar, as prescribed on the package, which I think likely helped it along for me in the taste department.

I’m ordering a few more rooibos this week from Bluebird Tea Co. via tea-sipper (thanks again for doing this!) and looking forward to see how rooibos fares without treading on my beloved Earl.

Flavors: Bergamot, Cinnamon, Honey, Lemon, Mint

Preparation
6 min, 15 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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65
drank The Earl's Garden by DAVIDsTEA
12 tasting notes

Toted 16 oz of this along with me to tutoring today after dressing it up with a little milk and the juice of a tiny wedge of lemon. The blend itself is gorgeous and seeing the little blue petals fall out of the bag I’ve left untouched for nearly a year had me wondering how I could have avoided this one for so long.

I really care for bergamot in general, and it’s there with a perfume-y presence right at the nose, both with the dry blend and the lingering scent of the brewed tea. The lemon wedge brings this fragrance through to the taste, and the milk offsets the acidity of the black leaf. The drinking experience, with the dairy factored in, is something of a Strawberry Creme Saver—remember those?

This is definitely one of DAVID’s better blacks, but I think I’d like to sample higher-end earls before purchasing this one again. Any recommendations out there?

Flavors: Astringent, Bergamot, Earl Grey, Perfume, Strawberry

Preparation
6 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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26
drank Cranberry Pear by DAVIDsTEA
12 tasting notes

I had this brewed over ice last summer while visiting DAVIDs on a whim with a friend. That time, the flavors really pulled through, and I was moved to buy a couple ounces. Now, drunk hot, I hardly hear any notes other than the acidity of the black tea, the less dimensional pear, and the artificial flavoring. Bummer.

Flavors: Artificial, Biting, Pear

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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Bio

I spend most of my day with books, and tea has become a spectacular way of both beginning, breaking, and ending the day. I also hobby around in the kitchen and a rooftop garden in my spare time.

As for taste, I’m really into well-composed natural herbals with nutty, piny, vegetal, or floral notes as well as bold, complex blacks, including chais. Milky matchas and taros are favorite indulgences, too, but in all honestly, I’m here to learn more about tea and am hoping to make my way into Oolongs and Pu-erhs as I empty out my cupboard. All the same, I hope my logs in general tell a story of palate expansion, discovery, and a fair bit of fun. I’ll try anything once.

Location

Chicago

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