94 Tasting Notes
Bought a sample of this on takgoti’s recommendation. First of all, wow. The dry leaves are incredibly long and dark. These are the biggest black tea leaves I have ever seen (although admittedly, I have not seen very much). The leaves smell so strongly of chocolate, caramel, and coconut that I can hardly believe these are not flavored. In fact, they smell very similar to the coconutty-Chocolate Cream Truffles tea by Portsmouth that I had a few days ago.
So, I’m scooping in a teaspoon into my Zarafina. The leaves are long and twisty, so it’s hard to tell if I really have a full teaspoon of tea in there. Oh well. Setting the Zarafina to Black and Strong for the first run.
The smell of the liquor is more like honey than chocolate, to me, but maybe I just didn’t rinse my cup out enough. I just downed this cup in less than a minute because it was so good. I’m not quite at the level yet where I can pick out all the different flavors in a tea. I tastes honey and roasted yams (?). Or maybe honey roasted yams. Hard to say. It was good though. Really, really good.
Second cup: While pouring this into a cup, I could strongly smell chocolate. And now that I’m sipping, I can definitely taste it as well. Oh, heaven. Here we go. Definitely getting coconut and chocolate, similar to the tea I mentioned earlier, and maybe a little caramel. Now that I’m looking at the liquor, it seems quite a bit darker than the first cup. Adding a tiny bit of sweetener.
Sorry, got sidetracked. Found my kitty unapologetically eating my dinner. >:o
Ah, caramel, there you are! On cup three, added a little more sweetener. Okay, this honestly tastes like a chocolate-caramel candy bar. I am so glad I tried this. I was an awesome introduction to non-flavored black teas.
Editing to add that I let the 4th resteep cool down, and it was even more chocolate-caramelly, and a bit sweeter as well.
This tea (dry) smells SOOOO GOOD! (Teen Girl Squad reference, anyone?) Sweet and chocolately, but in a honey-ish way rather than a refined-white-sugar, Nestle chocolate bar way. I’m not really good at picking out coconut flavors (I dislike coconut “flavored” things like candies and pina coladas, but like plain coconut, coconut milk, and thai food) but I suppose that’s in there as well. And yum, cream—perhaps that the coconut? If I didn’t already know what flavor this is, I would guess some chocolate-honey-cream combination, which I suppose is pretty close.
Alright, let’s get down to sipping…
The liquor itself isn’t sweet, and is even a little bitter. The bitterness works, though—it just reminds me of chocolate, which is yummy when it’s a tad bitter, right? Surprisingly, honey doesn’t work with the tea very well—it drowns out the tea’s flavor.
Second infusion – lower temp, less bitterness, Splenda – good, but not great.
Maybe this tea needs milk? I don’t have any in the fridge at the moment, grr.
After yesterday’s awfulness and Orange Dulce experiment, I knew I wanted something reliable and delicious. Enter Mid-Summer Night’s Dream. I’ve been up all night, and now I have to rush to the library to return an overdue book (which charges $0.02 per minute it’s overdue…eff you Lamont, you stingy bastards). Anyway, I need some caffeine, stat, and MSND always delivers. Plus, it tastes amazing.
I’m not a huge fan of tropical flavored things, but this tea is delightful. Actually, I’m not sure tropical is the right word to describe how this tea tastes. It certainly has bits of tropical fruits in in, but the blend overall doesn’t really taste “tropical”, I guess. It just tastes…dreamy.
I can see cubes of dried fruit (most likely pineapple) and what I think must be dried strawberry mixed in with the green and black leaves. It says to brew at 195 degrees for 3 minutes, so I set the Zarafina to green tea and strong. The resulting liquor is amber with a hint of red.
What I love about this tea is how well the strawberry, papaya, and pineapple notes blend together into something unique. No single flavor is predominant, but if you concentrate especially hard you can pick out each of the flavors. I could sit here all day, inhaling the sweet (but not too sweet), tangy (er, not sure that’s the right word…this isn’t sour or tart, it’s just “exotic”), swirly scent of this tea. Mmm, strawberries…no, wait, pineapple….no, wait, papaya….no, wait, strawberries again.
Although the dry leaf looks like it has more black than green tea in the mix, the liquor tastes mostly like green tea, with a little something extra added. I love that the tea flavor isn’t drowned out by the fruit. I’m not a fan of teas that taste just like their flavoring (once again, boo to Orange Dulce).
One thing I dislike about this tea is that it can be finicky. That’s the trouble with black-green blends—it’s very easy to oversteep the greens. Oversteeping means bitterness, but that can thankfully be fixed with a little sweetener. This would be great with honey, but unfortunately I don’t have any sitting around at the moment, so Splenda will have to do.
Now, off to return that damn book. And to pick up some raw honey to stir into the next infusion.
2nd infusion: no sweetener added. Liquor is just about as dark as the first cup, and smells less sweet—good, because I’m still recovering from that last cup.Waiting, waiting waiting for it to cool down…
Ah! Here’s that orange dreamsicle. It does smell like one. For some reason, I can almost smell something hot chocolately…maybe it’s just the sweetness from the jasmine.
Taste is lacking. Or maybe I’m just used to the over-sweet, too-strong, gag-worthy last cup I made. Adding a dash of Splenda…better. The tea still has that thick mouthfeel. It’s very smooth, although I’m not sure I like it. Literally no astringency or bitterness, which is impressive for a black tea, I suppose. I’m still reminded of a tin of Earl Grey Le Creme by Portsmouth that I lost somewhere, except I’m pretty sure I prefer that over this.
Headache city, right now. I don’t mind perfumy teas, normally. But right now my apartment is a mess, my cat is hiding under my futon which I’m scared might break at any moment, and this tea is just making my head feel worse. I probably shouldn’t have chosen this tea for the moment…I have an aversion to vanilla (but not cream, strangely) so I have no idea why I picked this out.
I can taste jasmine, followed by vanilla, followed by orange. I added too much Splenda, and it is just too, too sweet.
This tea almost reminds me of a very perfumy Earl Grey with cream, but without any of the characteristic lightness. The liquor is heavy, almost syrupy. It’s hard to swallow. On the plus side, it’s quite smooth. I can’t detect any bitterness or sharpness.
I’m not getting orange creamsicle from this, but that’s okay. I’m sure this would taste good under other circumstances, but at the moment it’s just not working for me. I will have to review this again when I’m in a better mood. Hence, no rating.
I’m back in Boston after a red-eye flight across the country…got back to my apartment around 7 AM, ate, and then passed out until now. Seems like as good a time as ever to bust out this tea. For me, English Breakfast tea + milk + sugar reminds me of being home on a sick day in 4th grade, cuddled up in a cozy blanket and calling my mom at work every hour and being babied by my usually stern grandmother. Warm fuzzies all around.
I finally opened that loose-leaf tin I’ve had sitting around on the shelf. The leaves are much, much smaller than I expected…disappointingly so.
First cup with 1 teaspoon of leaves— the liquor is a beautiful orange-red. It’s a little sweeter and less bitter than the bagged variety. Adding Spenda—sweet, delicious, and less bitter. I could easily drink cup after cup of this. Adding milk—weaker than I remember the bags being (with milk and sweetener).
Take 2: Double strength. With Splenda – more astringent than bitter. Needs milk. Uh oh, forgot to heat milk before adding tea to cup. Oh well. Still good, but cold.
To be honest, I was afraid of this tea at first. I had a bad experience with Hot Cinnamon Spice (too sweet) and was afraid this would be HCS 2.0. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case.
This tea is good, but not amazing. There are strong notes of clove, cinnamon, and orange, like the Hot Cinnamon Spice, but their arrangement is different. Clove is the dominant spice in the mix, which gives it a chai-like flavor profile. Even so, you wouldn’t mistake this tea for chai. The sweet orange rounds out the flavor, eliminating the spicy “kick” that chai often has.
Overall, I was a little disappointed by how weak the tea was. When I think holiday spice tea, I expect strong and bold flavor. This tea was light, but not in a good way. I feel like Hot Cinnamon Spice would have been nicer if it were less sweet and lighter; this tea would have been better if it were more bold. I might try a longer steep time and see if that remedies the problem. I don’t think this would stand up to milk either. I wanted to be warmed and woken up, but this put me to sleep. This might work as chai for people that don’t like chai, if that makes any sense.