26 Tasting Notes
Before I made the switch to loose leaf, this was one of my favorite bagged teas. I’ve been curious how many of these teas still hold up now that my palate has changed so much. I can’t stand the taste of teabags anymore, so I’ve been opening up the bags and dumping the (very low-quality) tea into my gravity-well infuser for steeping.
Surprisingly, I still really enjoy this tea! It actually tastes just like the Spice and Tea Exchange Cinnamon Plum loose leaf tea I have, only the plum flavor is replaced with apple. It has a warm, slightly tart hibiscus base, with some fruity sweet apple notes, and a warmth of cinnamon spice that lingers in every sip. The tea feels very much like a thick fruit cider. It doesn’t remind me much of apple cider, as hibiscus is the dominant flavor, but I enjoy it as a fruity, spicy winter drink. This tea still holds up.
Flavors: Apple, Cinnamon, Hibiscus, Sweet, Tart
Unlike the Spiced Apple Cider by Nil Organic Tea I sampled, this tea has a very strong, full, fruity apple flavor! It has a very mild tart taste and tastes like Granny Green apples, evoking a warmed apple juice or apple cider feel. There is a hint of light cinnamon in the finish, but personally I wish that the spice notes were just a touch stronger; since the Nil Organic Tea Spiced Apple Cider blend was all spice and no apple, and this blend has a nice apple base but is lighter on the spice than I prefer, I find blending the two teas together creates a very solid, apple-and-spice cider experience. But even plain, if you want a tea with a good apple flavor, this is a good choice.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Green Apple, Sweet, Tart
For a tea called “Spiced Apple Cider”, this tea is all spices, no apple. Even using a full tablespoon of tea, the tea is all spice notes — cinnamon, nutmeg, and in particular a strong clove flavor that is left lingering on the tongue — but there is just no apple flavor left in the naturally sweet rooibos base. Adding a touch of sugar helps the tea become much more palatable, as it rounds out and mellows the spices a bit and brings out a slight hint of the apple notes lingering in the background, but it simply isn’t enough to make me think “apple cider.” I think the name “Spiced Rooibos” would have been far more appropriate.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Nutmeg, Sweet
This is a very delicious green tea… but it is also very fussy to make. You must be very mindful of the water temperature and especially the steep time, because if you oversteep this tea, it will turn bitter very, very quickly! But if treated just right, this tea has a very lovely green tea flavor. It reminds me of genmaicha, sans the nuttiness of the genmai rice. The leaf just doesn’t seem to come off with that overly astringent grassiness that many green teas have. And the fruitiness of this tea is excellent! What I love about it so much is that it is light and delicate, rather than being so strong that all you taste is this heavy strong infusion; I find flavored green teas of that variety tend to just come off feeling so artificial. You get such a nice green tea flavor here, with these light fruity notes that hit the back of the tongue that give it a lovely combination of fruity sweetness and tart zing. The fruitiness is a bit like a combination of pomegranate and raspberry. So far this has been my favorite fruit-flavored green tea.
Flavors: Fruity, Grass, Raspberry, Sweet, Tart, Vegetal
You know when you visit the Farmer’s Market, and there is stall selling bags of nuts covered in warm cinnamon and sugar and the smell is absolutely divine? When you open up the bag of this tea, the aroma reminds me exactly of that! (The loose tea looks good enough to eat too… like a cinnamon-covered granola!) This is a tea that works best for me when it is brewed strong to really enjoy the flavor, so I usually use two heaping teaspoons (this tisane has pretty large, chunky ingredients, so I find it comes out a bit weak otherwise!) and let it steep in boiling water for around 7-10 minutes. The resulting tea is a dark red color from the beetroot powder, which also gives it a very slight tart note which reminds me just a bit of hibiscus. It counters the natural sweetness of the tea, as it is very nutty and has some slight cinnamon-sugar notes. I really like the tea with its natural beetroot tart bite, since that is a flavor I’m personally quite fond of, but adding a bit of sweetener mellows that note out so the tea becomes such an incredibly smooth dessert tea. This is a rather unique evening indulgence tea!
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Nutty, Sweet, Tart
I got this tea in a holiday sampler from TeaSource last year. Opening up the sampler and sniffing the leaf, it smells strongly of cinnamon, reminding me of Big Red chewing gum. After brewing, the tea continues to have a cinnamon aroma, though not nearly as potent as the dry leaf. The black tea had a medium-body and very smooth mouthfeel with no hint of astringency. It has a warm, cinnamon flavor, that leaves a slight spicy note lingering on the tongue, but it isn’t quite as strong or as potent as some black cinnamon teas I’ve tried; there is a bit of natural sweetness, likely from the fruit inclusions, that keep the spice a bit more grounded. Sadly I pick up no fruit or citrus flavor notes, so the tea is pretty underwhelming; it’s just a cinnamon black tea that is a little more subdued and a little more sweet than stronger cinnamon black blends. It has a fine flavor, but isn’t particularly interesting; if I want something spicy I prefer a tea with a bit more depth, like a unique chai.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Smooth, Spicy, Sweet
Ah, old faithful.
About a year ago I got really into tea drinking, and it was at that point that I switched exclusively to loose, full leaf tea. Prior to that, I was an occassional, casual drinker of bagged tea, and this tea was always a favorite.
I have a hard time now drinking bagged teas, even ones I remember enjoying in the past — something about them tastes so artificial, and after steeping loose leaf for so long, now I actually can taste a papery, cardboard-like flavor from teabags. But sometimes, particularly just before bed, I still get an odd hankering to go back to this tea. Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but I’d like to believe that despite being composed of sad, overly processed, dusty shredded pulp for ingredients, this is still a good tea.
But seriously, I’m not going to suffer the paper-taste of a teabag to revisit my old haunt, so I ripped that sucker open and let the powdery remains fill my gravity-well infuser like the sad pulp that they are. And I have to say, for what it is, a cheap, easily accessible caffeine-free herbal… ya, I still like this a lot. I enjoy the cooling mint flavor on my tongue, followed by the slightly-tart citrusy lemon flavor. There is something surprisingly sweet and mellow about it, so the tartness doesn’t feel too strong or puckery. And there is something about it that hints at a bit of grassiness, very subtle in the background.
To be fair, I’m surprised I still enjoy a bagged tea as much as I do after “making the switch.” But I think if my tea collection suddenly disappeared and I had to live off one grocery store tea, this one would probably be it.
Flavors: Dry Grass, Lemon, Mint, Sweet, Tart
I received this tea as a sampler size from Beleave Teas as “Pistachio Almond,” but the blend was sourced from TeaSource. I took it to work today and had a nice sipdown.
The leaves have a very sweet marzipan aroma that reminds me of amaretto: there is a honey-like sweetness, the nuttiness of almonds, and just a slight hint of cherry. The tea steeps up dark with a very inviting sweet, marzipan scent. Though the tea smelled very sweet, it is surprisingly quite well balanced: the base is dark, full, and smooth, and the finish closes with a satisfying sweet, almond dessert flavor. It has a dessert tea appeal, but the black tea and nutty flavors hold up enough that the tea can pass for something heartier (a few extra strong, dark brews to get through the work day can attest to that!) As for the pistachio, it is a more subtle flavor, but noticeable enough if you are looking for it. Pistachios have never been my nut of choice, but here it blends well with the other flavors.
Flavors: Malt, Marzipan, Nutty, Smooth, Sweet
As a hot steep, this tea is not one of my favorites. It has a /very/ strong orange flavor, and if that is what you are craving, then this is the tea for you. I really enjoy fruity flavored green teas, but I personally tend to like the fruity notes to have a softer, more delicate touch in my greens; they don’t have to compete against the strong, astringent flavors of a black tea. This is just a little more bold than I care for, and the flavoring being so strong makes it feel too artificial (which it is, but some teas are quite good at hiding it).
Icing this tea, on the other hand, is an entirely different experience! I like to use the cold-brew method of letting a teaspoon of leaf per cup of cold water steep in the fridge overnight, and then strain off the leaf the next morning. The resulting iced tea is fantastic! It has a very crisp, clean, refreshing taste, the orange notes are tamed a bit while still providing a very flavorful tea, and the tea requires no sweetening. I like to make a batch and drink a nice cold glass with my breakfast, since it gives me such a refreshing “orange juice” feel.
This is definitely a tea that will be getting a lot of use in the summer months when I start ramping up the amount of cold brews in my fridge!
Flavors: Artificial, Citrusy, Orange
This is the first new tea I tried this year, a holiday seasonal I picked up as a sampler from Beleave Teas, which I decided to do a sipdown of recently since the little sugar snowflakes seemed appropriate for the snowy winter weather we’ve been having recently.
The scent of the leaves was very orangey and sweet, with just a bit of spiciness tickling the nose. I shook up the ingredients and went a bit heavy on the leaf, using two teaspoons and making sure to get a good mix of tea leaf and larger, bulky ingredients, and steeped for two minutes, and the resulting tea was a bright yellow-orange, reminding me of orange juice! The tea had a very silky smooth mouthfeel and citrus orange flavor, with a bit of warm cinnamon spice in the finish, reminding me of an orange spice tea, only with a lighter, softer body than the black tea orange spice teas I’m used to. It also had a nice, creamy sweetness with just a hint of vanilla that rounds out the citrus and spice notes from being too overpowering. This was an enjoyable tea, like a warm orange cider with some nice sweet notes.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Citrusy, Creamy, Orange, Smooth, Sweet