6 Tasting Notes

65

I’m just going to put this out there: for someone who doesn’t like rooibos as much as I don’t like rooibos, I sure wind up drinking a lot of it in the form of dessert blends. What can I say? I’m not smart, but I’m also desperate to keep myself warm during the dregs of winter and decaf is the only way to accomplish that without giving myself a heart attack.

Where to start? This is an odd one. It smells dusty in the tin. Without any addition of cream or sugar, the brewed tea is mostly not-too-sweet strawberry with a dash of funk you can’t quite place. You neither like nor hate it, and yet you can’t stop drinking it. Why? You search yourself for answers at the same time you fire up your kettle for yet another cup. You don’t know. It makes your mouth dry. Why are you doing this?

Maybe you’re wondering where the 65 rating comes from, and I’ll tell you: the addition of cream and sugar changes /everything/. I resisted the obvious additions for so long because I don’t typically like adding anything to any tea, but this is one where I clearly recognize the superior choice. It’s like drinking an entirely different bag. The dust and must disappears, the taste of cocoa turns to a surprisingly smooth milk chocolate, and the tart of the berry levels out. It’s hard to oversteep this one at this point.

Overall, a niche sip that’s nice when I want something a little more indulgent, but not necessarily one I’ll be reaching for as a regular drink.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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70

I love RoT’s Earl Greyer Vanilla more than most, so I jumped on the Estate blend hoping for another earl grey creme that would knock it out of the park. It smells pleasantly like a creamsicle in the tin, but brews up smelling mostly just like heavy vanilla cream with a floral hit. If you’re not a fan of big bergamot flavors, this is right up your alley.

The verdict? It’s…fine. Yeah, it’s fine. It didn’t knock my socks off, but it’s a smooth sip for what’s shaping up to be a sunny day after a snowy hellscape. It’s inoffensive, takes well to cream and sugar (this one is especially poised for cream addition), and will be enjoyed, but inevitably not replaced once it’s gone.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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90
drank Paris by Harney & Sons
6 tasting notes

I am big on earl grey (especially earl grey cremes) like every other basic tea bitch, and picked this up on recommendation as an earl-adjacent blend. Spoiler: I loved it so much that I gifted a tin to some friends at the next convenient holiday. The bags come in a bougie little tin that makes you want to wear a giant wig, eat delicate little patisserie, and run France into financial crisis until you’re inevitably guillotined.

Three words: juicy, bright, lush. This stuff is dreamy from the moment you crack open the tin and catch a whiff. Can we have a candle or some perfume in this scent? I want to die in it. By contrast to its citrusy cousin, this one is more red-fruit-forward to my tastebuds with a hit of creamy vanilla to round it out. Absolutely delightful. Welcome to my permanent rotation.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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80

I have to admit, I did absolutely no research before picking this up on a lark. I wanted something new, I barely read the description on the tin, and my knowledge about the teas of the world is, at best, passable. I lucked out incredibly.

Toasty, savory, and comforting. This is a tea I reach for when my sweet tooth needs a reset. Great on bitter cold days, especially because the scent is almost brothy. I was startled by the flavor, but now I can’t get this tea off my mind. Expect others to ask you what the hell you’re drinking and, if you can bear it, give them a sample.

Preparation
3 min, 30 sec

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53

What can be said that hasn’t been already? It’s not elegant, refined, subdued, understated—and that’s the point. I can’t think of a tea that’s a bigger ‘f*** you’ to subtlety than Cinnamon Apple Spice, which puts ‘cinnamon’ first in the name because it wallops you in the olfactory from the second you pour the water over. You could put some sweetener in this to soften the punchy taste of apple and hibiscus or to round out the bite of eye-watering cinnamon, but why? Wild horses shouldn’t be tamed. Just enjoy the ride.

Flavors: Apple, Cinnamon

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec

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80
drank Glazed Lemon Loaf by Tazo
6 tasting notes

I started drinking this to curb the sadness wrought by cutting coffee out of my life several years ago, and while it may not be genius by some standards, it holds a special place in my heart as being a gateway tea to the broader landscape.

It’s bright, creamy, and lush. It smells sweet, like a warm pan of—you guessed it—glazed lemon loaf. It mimics the real thing pretty impressively close, and I suspect this would only increase with the addition of milk and sugar. It’s smooth inoffensive, and an easy drink; not overly acidic or sharp. I try to be economical, but double up tea bags on this because I honestly love it that much.

I’ve demolished many boxes of this stuff, and while it’s not always in my stash, it is my go-to when I’m sick or want something warm and sunny, but caffeine-free.

Flavors: Floral, Lemon, Sugar, Vanilla

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec

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