609 Tasting Notes
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
I was first introduced to this blend as “Autumn Apple Crisp” from Spice and Tea Exchange, which I picked up as an autumn seasonal in 2016, but the tea did not return the next year. Searching the ingredients, I then discovered Adagio’s autumn seasonal “Autumn Mist,” which was the exact same blend of ingredients, and not nearly such a price-gouge as Spice and Tea Exchange’s teas.The first time I made this tea (the “Autumn Apple Crisp” version of the blend) I made a cup at work, and the scent was so strong that my coworkers walked into the office and thought they were smelling maple or apple pie, not realizing it was just my cup of tea! It had a very strong, carmelly scent from the creme brulee flavoring, and a nice carmelly apple flavor with a lot of natural sweetness. I remember thinking how much it really did remind me of caramel-covered apples!
Revisiting this tea with the “Autumn Mist” version of the blend, I’m noticing a lot more of the gunpowder green tea than I remember from before. The tea has a very distinct, slightly smoky flavor from the base, and isn’t quite as sweet as I recall. There is still a nice touch of apple on the back of the tongue, and some sweet caramel notes, but the overall flavor is a little more full and less dessert-like than I was expecting.
I kind of miss the old “Autumn Apple Crisp” version now. Ah well. This one is good enough to scratch the itch, I just wish it were a little more sweet with stronger caramel notes!
Flavors: Apple, Caramel, Smoke
I started off my tea blog a year ago by reviewing a Rooibos Chai blend by Spice and Tea Exchange, which I’ve come to find is more commonly known as the “West Cape Chai” blend. I thought it would be fun to try another rooibos chai blend as a bit of nostalgia. This blend is by an Etsy seller, AmberFreda, and features many of the same ingredients, but it is missing some of the ingredients and its balance is a bit different.
To me, the most notable difference in flavor between this chai and the West Cape rooibos chai I tried before is the absense of the licorice root, which makes this chai have a much spicier flavor profile. Though the rooibos itself provides a slightly sweet base, this chai packs a surprisingly spicy punch, with particularly strong notes of ginger and clove leaving some heat behind on the tongue. There is an almost peppery heat to it. It is a decent chai, but personally, I like the blend of the West Cape version better, as I like the way that the inclusion of licorice rounds out the spices and naturally sweetens up the blend, since I happen to be one of those people that is particularly sensitive to spicy tastes. But if you like really spicy flavors, this version of Rooibos Chai may be more akin to your personal preferences. I did find it quite nice with some warm vanilla almond milk, and it worked well for iced chai as well!
Flavors: Clove, Ginger, Pepper, Spicy, Sweet
I received this tea as a gift from my best friend, who lives in the Bay Area of California where Hobee’s restaurants are a staple. I enjoy having breakfast there when I visit, so he got me a bag of their signature house blended Cinnamon Orange tea, which he especially enjoys iced.
The tea is a very finely ground black tea with a strong spicy scent. It has a very strong, full flavor; there is a warm, orange-flavor to the black tea body, but the finish is bursting with a strong cinnamon touch on the tongue that gives off just a little heat, with hints of clove and a subtle sweet, floral rosy flavor that balance out the cup nicely. The flavors compliment each other nicely and have a natural sweetness that works well. The tea makes a great warm tea in cold weather, but it is also great iced! I like to hot brew it and then chill it, and give it a nice brisk stir to mix up all the spices in the chilled glass. It needs no sweetening and is so flavorful and refreshing! It’s an amazingly versatile tea at any time of the year.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Orange, Rose, Spices, Sweet
This is one of my favorite green teas, and I find sipping on a cuppa now I enjoy it just as much as when I first shared a pot in a local teashop with a friend last winter to review on my blog. It has this beautiful scent of cherries and roses, but the brew is not nearly as heavy as the smell might lead one to believe. It is very light, delicate, and smooth; a brisk two minute steep leaves a light amber brew that still has that enticing aroma, but the taste is a soft, relaxing, delicate cherry taste that rounds out into a floral finish, rather than being overwhelming and coming off too much like cough syrup as a result like so many cherry-flavored teas have a tendency to do. This tea does a good job of pulling the cherry flavor back into more of a floral experience and mimicking cherry blossoms, like its name, and to me it reminds me of springtime in Japan in a cup. The tea has a nice natural sweetness and doesn’t have any bitterness as long as you mind your water temperature and steep time, with the grassy green tea flavor becoming very soft beneath the floral notes.
Flavors: Cherry Blossom, Cut grass, Floral, Sweet
I’ve never been a huge fan of straight black teas, but as a St. Patrick’s Day baby I felt inclined to give an Irish Breakfast blend a go. My coworker is a big fan of English and Irish Breakfast teas and donated a bag of this Twinings of London bagged tea so I could review it on my blog. I’m not particularly a fan of bagged tea, either, but she claimed it was a “better brand” and I wasn’t going to turn down some free tea.
The scent of this tea brought back so much childhood nostalgia… I was instantly transported back to my grandmother’s house! It occured to me, that growing up as a small child, I associated a single scent as the “smell of tea,” much like one might associate a single scent with the smell of coffee, and that “tea smell” always made me think of my grandma’s house. Of course, now that I’m grown and have become an avid tea drinker, I know that each tea has a very unique aroma, but now I know… my grandma must have been drinking an Irish or English Breakfast blend!
As far as the taste, it wasn’t as bad as I remember. Usually straight blacks just come off too harsh for me so I prefer flavored blends with some sort of desserty or spicy or fruity taste, but trying it “English style” with a bit of milk and sugar, I actually found it quite pleasant! Perhaps my palate has just changed over the years, or maybe I just needed to take it English style to balance the astringencies.
I’m sure I would enjoy a looseleaf variety more, but as far as bagged tea goes, I was pleasantly surprised!
Flavors: Astringent, Malt
I purchased this tea from Steepers, a tea shop in Campbell, California, and am fairly sure they source several of their tea blends from Metropolitan Tea Company, including this one.
This is one of my favorite dessert teas, though I admittedly have to use a lot of leaf to get the sort of nice, rich flavor that I really love. At a tablespoon of rooibos, the tea has this lovely toffee flavor with some subtle caramel notes, while managing to not be overly sweet and allowing just a bit of the rooibos base to come through. I also found that, unlike many of my flavored rooibos, this one resteeped for me fairly well with an increased steep time, perhaps from the increased use of leaf, and I can manage to squeeze a few extra cups out of it while still getting a pretty decent flavor. This is a nice tea to hit a sweet-tooth craving around bedtime, since it is caffeine-free.
Flavors: Caramel, Nutty, Sweet, Toffee