572 Tasting Notes
I’ve been doing a smashing job of putting off weekend housework by catnapping with the cat, and now I’m having an afternoon tea time. I’m still trying to work out the old coconut teas since I’m expecting many to end up in the trash; I got this one from a cupboard sale from Ost (thanks Ost!) and have no way to judge the age, but considering it’s a DT retired tea, I’m expecting it to be quite old. I figured it would be a sampler that would be going, but when I nibbled on a flake, it didn’t taste soured, so I figured I’d be brave and try brewing it. I made 3.3g of tea in a small teapot using 470ml water, western style.
Admittedly the aroma smells a little sunscreeny for my tastes, but maybe that is just the flavoring being used… the coconut is just coming off really strong and a little artificial to me? But from the first sip… I’m not getting the soured note I’m very sensitive to, so I think I’m out of the woods as far as off coconut flakes in the leaf, at least. And the flavoring doesn’t taste as bad as it’s coming off to me in the aroma… it is a bit artificial for my tastes, but the base tea has brewed up a nice golden color and is very pleasant. And I am getting a little bit of a berry note; looking at the ingredients it is apparently raspberry flavor, but I’m getting more of a cherry taste on my tongue. That might be adding to the artificial taste to me, because while I love raspberry, I find most raspberry flavorings used in tea end up with this odd slightly metallic taste to me. While the flavorings are reading a little overbearing/artificial, I will say they are complimenting each other well and coming off as sort of a coconut creme/berry dessert. It is a nice enough cup for an afternoon tea and I’m glad I got a chance to try, but ultimately I’m not sad is unvailable.
Flavors: Artificial, Cake, Cherry, Coconut, Smooth, Sweet, Tropical
It’s a rainy, gloomy day here today (I saw snow, though it didn’t stick thankfully!) and I feel so bleh with the ladytime pains I don’t feel up to housework, so I thought I’d do a little gong fu session with one of my old teabox teas (I really need to work on finishing those samples off!) This is the last black sample I had from the Here’s Hoping Traveling Teabox, so thank you to tea-sipper for organizing and to all those involved in that box for sharing their teas! I had a 2.3g sample and prepared it in my baby sized gaiwan.
2.32g / 40ml (gaiwan) / 205F / 30s|20s|25s|30s|35s|40s|45s|50s|60s|60s
The session lasted ten steeps, and I’ll admit I was surprised at the longevity of a black tea that had to be incredibly old at this point, as I rarely get such longevity even from fresh blacks and oolongs. My first steep ended up much longer than I planned, since I forgot how incredibly hot the little ceramic baby gaiwan is (I’m used to “cheating” with gong fu by always using my shiboridashi which is much easier to handle when it comes to heat retention and not pouring boiling tea all over my fingers). It had an aroma of orange peels, mandarins, and raisin bread, with a strong baked bread aroma present on the top of the cup, and the flavor of the tea was a strong pithy orange peel citrus note, with a less prominent lemony citrus note that produced slight puckering toward the end of the sip, as well as notes of malt and raisin bread, with a rather prominent astrigent/drying sensation on the top of the mouth. The second steep was less pithy with a more fruity and balanced orange flavor and a little stronger in the lemon note, with the malty notes also rounding out a bit and some florality becoming more present, but the tea was still quite astringent. On the third steep I overfilled my gaiwan to its limits of 60ml which made it extremely difficult to pour but noticed the extra water mellowed the tea out, with the malt/citrus/floral notes rounding out and the tea not having the bitter astringent bite on the finish, so the fourth steep I removed a few leaves out of the cup so I could fill it comfortably again at around the 40ml mark and got a flavor on par with the third steep, and the tea even seemed to have some rose florality pushing forward. It seemed some of the astringency was due to having too much leaf-to-water and now, while a bit drying after the sip, it was no longer unpleasant in any way. Most of the rest of the session continued with the tea reminding me of marmalade toast, with a bit of rose florality cropping up from time to time.
Considering the age of the tea sample, I was impressed with how much I got out of it, and had a nice, warming session on an otherwise dreary afternoon.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Citrus, Drying, Floral, Fruity, Jam, Lemon, Malt, Orange, Raisins, Rose, Smooth, Toast
I figured this would be another pouch of tea I’d promptly be clearing out of my cupboard straight into the garbage bin; the ingredients did not list dried coconut on the website (only coconut oolong, and I know the coconut oolong that Snake River Tea sources uses coconut oil/flavoring and doesn’t have dried coconut pieces in it), but when I took the pouch out since it’s one of my oldest teas, it had dried coconut pieces in it. DOH. (Tea shops, properly list your ingredients, please!) But I pulled a few slivers out, and… shocking, despite have an older purchase date that a few of my other recent trashed blends, it was okay! I can only assume that this is because it is a house blend and was probably fresher at purchase than the “big box” companies that keep teas on shelf/in warehouses for a while before they ship them out, making them a lot older than the rough “purchase date” I go by on my stats. This also happens to be one of Snake River Teas few house blends, as most of their teas are wholesaled by other suppliers (it does use teas they have on hand from those suppliers: their coconut oolong, houjicha, etc., but they’ve mixed them together to create their own house coconut tea).
I’m usually not a big fan of mixed leaf teas because they can be fussy to brew, but since the black tea, oolong, and houjicha can all be brewed/steeped at a higher temperature this one works well. It comes out as a rather nutty/toasty flavor, with a sweeter coconut aftertaste on the tongue. It has a light roasted element, and there is a slight vegetal touch, but it doesn’t detract much from the coconut flavor. The teas do come together well for a roasty, nutty coconut flavor, and it’s a very energizing morning tea.
I’ll be drinking this one down quickly though, since I definitely don’t have much faith in those added dried coconut pieces. If you have a coconut tea that still works, why risk it? May as well enjoy it while you can!
Flavors: Coconut, Nutty, Roasted, Toasty, Vegetal
Yesterday I was trying to sip down one of the coconut Earl Greys I had in my collection that I had grabbed looking for a “dup” for my beloved “Foggy Coconut” by 52Teas, since I can’t just reorder that whenever I need a restock. My Hawaiian Earl Grey from Tealyra had already gone the way of bad coconut, and then I discovered that my Earl Grey Bella Luna from Adagio had also gone bad. I had a harder time telling with that one because the bergamot was so strong in it, but it had a sour note that kept making me suspicious, so I carefully pulled several slivers out, ate them separately, and… yup. As soon as I realized I removed my review yesterday and trashed the bag. I would never judge a tea based on a soured ingredient. And then I hastily made a cup of this to take to work at the last second after dumping the other cup.
I remember I bought this because my local grocery had it and Roswell liked it so much; they’ve stopped carrying it since and now they only carry Lemon Loaf (and I’m okay with that, since Lemon Loaf is my favorite, I’m sure it was selling way more than the others and they made a decision based on shelf space). This certainly isn’t a bad black tea, it just doesn’t taste particularly strong in butterscotch notes to me; I get a bit of a vanilla note, and a hint of caramel, but it doesn’t read as butterscotch per say, and I think that’s because the strongest flavor is a warm, roasty chicory, with a touch of a cinnamon undertone; it’s pleasant, but rounds it out in a way that doesn’t exactly make me think of a Blondie dessert in any sort of way. So it’s a pleasant bagged black tea, and I like the flavor I’m getting from it, I just don’t particularly think it is emulating what is listed on the box, at least not to my palate.
I only have a few teabags left and am going to finish this one off soon, and admit I’m going to miss this one. I don’t have many bagged black teas I can just pick up at the store that I really enjoy, at least not as much as this one.
Flavors: Caramel, Cinnamon, Nutty, Roasted, Smooth, Sweet, Vanilla
Despite my best attempts to stop this cold from coming on, the little runny nose I’ve had in the evenings the last few weeks has reached my throat, and I’ve been bone exhausted, so I’m taking today off work to rest, hoping the extra eight hours of sleep can make some difference from it getting worse. I resurfaced from bed for lunch and while not particularly hungry I am thirsty and since I had my hibiscus/ginger tea this morning, I wanted something different now. I found this sampler that I believe I received from a cupboard sale from Ost, so thank you Ost! Seems the perfect time to try it out, so I made a small pot and grabbed an apple and peanut butter for my lunch to go with.
Brewed up, it is the tawny brown color of the peppermint base, and has a minty aroma as well. The flavor is minty, but has a fresh pine note from the juniper berries, and a very brisk, menthol quality from the eucalyptus. I’m not picking up the orange citrus in the blend against the strong mint, though. The juniper is definitely the standout of this being “just another mint tea” as I really like that flavor and don’t feel it is utilized enough.
Flavors: Menthol, Mint, Peppermint, Pine
Well, I had always been under the impression that Tea Chai Te made it’s own blends, when I opened up this sampler of Rishi’s “Tangerine Ginger” that I got for free from an order with them ages ago, it looks just like Tea Chai Te’s “Tangerine Dream” (formerly known as “Orange Zephyr”) which is one of my favorite teas (I even restocked it when I visited their shop in Portland on vacation last summer). This leads me to think they are actually wholesaling this blend from Rishi — the leaf certainly looks identical to me — but there are some minor differences listed in the ingredients between the two (Tea Chai Te says their blend includes ginseng and doesn’t list schizandra berries, though it certainly looks like I can see schizandra berries in Tea Chai Te’s leaf from a visual inspection; Rishi doesn’t list ginseng in their ingredients). Hmm… I’m still bordering more on the “this is wholesaled from Rishi” fence than not, since they are a large tea wholesaler to smaller tea shops (I am still pretty convinced Tea Chai Te makes their own chais, though…)
In any event, at least that means I already know I’m going to like this tea. It’s a hibi-hip with ginger and has a nice orange flavor, as well. This is one of my go-to “sick teas” and may seem an odd choice, but all that hibiscus/rose hip packs a whollop of Vitamin C which is perfect once my nose starts going runny or my throat starts feeling froggy, and the ginger is calming on the throat or tummy/GI tract. I like hibiscus teas, so I like the warm tangy fruity base which I’ve always felt accompanies an orange flavor well (like in Christmas spice blends), and the ginger is warming and gives a bit of heat against the throat but isn’t overbearing to my spice-wuss self, and I think it’s the touch of licorice root in the blend which helps temper it. I don’t really taste the licorice root as a distinct flavor, but there is an overall balance of the tangy hibiscus/spicy ginger with a sweetness that works. And that is another ingredient that works nicely with the ginger to calm a sore throat.
Along with TeaSource’s “Margaret’s Soother,” this is one of my favorite “what ails ya” teas.
Flavors: Citrus, Fruity, Ginger, Hibiscus, Orange, Spicy, Sweet, Tangy, Tart
Today has been one of those “my GI tract is trying to kill me” days, and my ginger offerings have been (mostly) exhausted (I at least used up all my bulk ginger from the co-op in San Francisco, and it’ll be a long time coming before I can go back there… I could only find the powdered kind at my local grocery and that just is not what I want, meh).
I thought turmeric might be the next best thing, especially since most turm blends include ginger. And I’ve had this sampler forever. I’m used to turm blends being spicy but this appears to be more apple than anything looking at the dry contents. The brewed tea is a sharp marigold color and smells like a more earthy sort of apple spice tea. The flavor is actually pretty nice; I am a spice wuss and have had turm teas that knocked my socks off, that I could only drink with ample amounts of milk to cut the spice, but this is a mild, sweet tea. Honestly, I’d have a hard time telling it is a turm/ginger tea at all; the main spice note I’m getting is cinnamon, not ginger. The base is heavily apple, and I’m getting a strong stonefruit note too (it has mango flavoring apparently, and lately my palate has been reading mango flavor more as peach/apricot). So I’m getting a sort of apple/peach cinnamon tea, with a sort of earthy, rooty touch to the flavor toward the finish. A little warming toward the back of the tongue, but not spicy. It’s fine overall, but I doubt there is anything special about it compared to any of the other turm teas that seem to be making the rounds these days… of course, I haven’t tried very many either, so I may not be the best judge of that statement.
Flavors: Apple, Cinnamon, Earth, Spices, Stonefruits, Sweet
Onto my next packet of 2017 tea from Snake River Tea! Snake River Tea called this tea “Bronco Buzz” (after Boise State University’s Broncos, likely because it already has the orange and blue petals included, the team colors, giving it a “local tie-in”) but it is a very popular wholesale blend called “Mate Carnival” from International Tea Importers; I’ve found a ton of tea shops that carry this that I stuck on the entry list that you can check out, and if you search “Mate Carnival” on Steepster you can already find tons of reviews that have been put up under a handful of those individual tea shops.
So, coffee teas. I know they are not very favorable. Folks either like their coffee, or they like their tea, and there seems to be a consensus that the streams definitely SHOULD NOT CROSS. I was a big coffee drinker for years before I became a teahead, so I don’t really have such strong aversions. I do find that I haven’t really gone back to coffee these days because with the GI issues I have from migraines (yes, migraines aren’t just a head problem, they affect your whole GI tract) coffee doesn’t sit well in my stomach (I will still partake in a rare mocha since the thick milk can help with that). But I figure something like this should be fine, as it is mostly flavor, and not actual coffee that could feel all acid-like in the tum; and I have never fallen out of love with the aroma or taste.
The brewed tea has a strong coffee aroma; it also smells a bit of wood and roasted nuts. It is actually a quite pleasant flavor from the sip, with a strong coffee note, but I’m also getting a hint of wood and nuts and toward the end of the sip a sweeter touch of cinnamon spice and honey; I think the rooibos is actually complimenting the roasted mate in just the right way here to bring a fuller flavor profile to cup so the coffee flavor isn’t too overbearing and there is some natural sweetness coming through. I think my one complaint is the coffee flavor is just a tad artificial… like, it feels slightly syrupy on the tongue, somehow? Or just a little too obvious that it is added to the cup, even though the flavor itself is a rather decent replica. On the whole it is still a nice blend for a coffee-flavored tea.
Flavors: Artificial, Cinnamon, Coffee, Honey, Roasted, Roasted nuts, Wood
Another of my oldest Snake River Tea purchases. It’s called “Wisdom Chai” and has a pu’erh base, but it isn’t the sort of tea I’d think of as what the west brands “chai”… this is a very strange tea. It’s an International Tea Importers wholesaled blend, and you can find some other reviews for this listed under the tea name under the multitude of tea shops that carry it, since ITI is about as prolific as Metropolitan Tea Co.
So, this tea is called a chai, but doesn’t really evoke a strong spice profile to me… it’s an odd flavor profile that tastes strongly of licorice and fruit. Two things that shouldn’t really work together, and for many people probably will not, but for me… I actually kinda like this. It is definitely weird, there is no doubt about that, but I really like the somewhat overbearing, strong licorice taste (I admittedly love licorice, strong black licorice, the kind everyone else can’t stand), and that anise is really pulling out the licorice flavor here, with the licorice root adding a hint of sweetness to really bring the taste of the candy center stage, but there is a backdrop of… stonefruit? It’s supposed to be mango, but I’m getting apricot, with maybe just a touch of very subtle undefined berry. It shouldn’t work at all, but I prepared it as an iced tea (brewed hot and then chilled in the fridge overnight, rather than my typical coldbrew preparation; I worried the pu-erh wouldn’t cold brew well) and am finding the licorice and fruit flavor is pairing well, like an odd food pairing that works, and it’s really refreshing. I do wish the licorice root didn’t linger on the tongue even when iced, but it is more cleansing than when warm, at least. And the pu-erh is surprisingly very mellow, I’m not even getting the typical dank/earthy notes. The anise/licorice is dominating the flavor enough I think the base tea doesn’t hold out much through it. I don’t notice the ginger at all… maybe it’s just me, or the iced preparation?
It’s an odd one, but I like it. But I’m an odd one, too.
Flavors: Anise, Apricot, Berry, Candy, Licorice, Stonefruits, Sweet
I finished off my Caramel Chai Pu’erh sampler from Fusion Teas this morning, and since Dethlefsen & Balk has stopped producing it and that was where they were wholesaling it from, they have stopped carrying it; I’m a bit sad about that sipdown since I really enjoyed that particular chai.
I also have brewed up the entire sampler of this tea from Fusion Teas in a few cold brew mason jars, but despite my best efforts I couldn’t hunt down the wholesale source (I could find many strawberry oolongs, but they were all using infused flavor and didn’t include strawberry pieces or blue cornflower petals). So either Fusion is making some additions, or they have just managed to elude me on their sourcing… touche, Fusion, touche! You win this round.
I do have to say that compared to the Strawberry Oolong I get from TeaSource, I am not crazy about this one. It has a much stronger aroma, so one would think this would be quite flavorful, but there is just something about that flavor that just… doesn’t really appeal to me. It tastes too artificial to me, I think… or maybe there is just something about the natural notes of the oolong that is clashing with whatever flavoring has been added to the tea? I’m not sure exactly what the case may be, but something about the taste isn’t meshing for me. I’m getting a slightly acrid peach flavor mixed with a really artificial strawberry flavor, minus the sweetness you’d expect to accompany that sort of strawberry flavor; the vegetal smoothness of the base oolong at least holds through, and it would probably be a good, quality oolong, if this flavoring just wasn’t working for me.
There is a review by Pureleaf on this and I think I’m getting the same sort of flavor experience from this, only finding it a bit more unpleasant, personally. I’ll finish what I’ve steeped up in my water bottles, but am not going to miss it. And may even make a brew of my TeaSource Strawberry Oolong which has a softer but natural and tasty strawberry note added to a green oolong to wash this away.
Of course this one is still available for ordering, and it’s the one that won’t be missed. C’est la vie.
Flavors: Artificial, Biting, Bitter, Peach, Strawberry, Vegetal