1737 Tasting Notes
This is my very first Adagio Custom Blend. I chose a simple combination of their white blueberry and white peach and added some cornflowers. It’s very pretty, and it tastes rather good: clean and lightly fruity.
The white tea apparently comes from Fujian province in China. I am satisfied with the result and will continue to design new teas in this series to commemorate HRH Emperor Oliver, who took leave of this world on September 16, 2013. Tea and cats are natural companions.
I’m interested in creating these teas in part because in perfumery there has been a huge onslaught of new “autodidact” perfumers who appear to be just mixing stuff together in their garage—or kitchen. Perfumery is a profession, but tons of people are christening themselves perfumers, probably in many cases because the mark-up is incredibly high. Only about 2% of the price of a mainstream perfume is for the actual juice. The rest goes to marketing, packaging and, of course, profit.
So why is this relevant? Because I want to say that just because I can choose to mix a bunch of ingredients together does not make me a master tea blender. I am a complete and utter dilettante, but what appears to matter above all in both perfumery and tea blending is that the ingredients being blended together be of high quality. Then most combinations are going to work. No magic, really, at all. Just a decision to combine this with that. Originality in perfume making is overrated, it seems to me, given my experience at Adagio.
I had a cup of this after my first meal of the day: Scottish oatmeal with molasses brown sugar. As nice as before. Very light, so good after eating.
I read a scathing review of this tea by someone at Amazon who complains that it is “weak”. It is definitely light, but it’s up to each sipper to decide whether that is a virtue or a vice! Today I squeezed the plump bag (it expands a lot), and re-immersed it before re-squeezing to get as much sencha flavor goodness out as possible. The liquid was a bit darker, but still greenish-yellow.
Okay, I now see that I am writing these notes for Calm advanced mesh filter sachets in the wrong place. My tin (which is the same as what is served at Starbucks these days) lists:
Chamomile flowers, blackberry leaves, lemongrass, rose petals, spearmint leaves, lemon balm leaf, hibiscus flowers, lavender flowers, marigold flowers
So this is quite a bit different from what is listed above. This blend is much lower on hibiscus, for one thing. The blackberry leaves and lemongrass are fairly dominant. I taste the spearmint at the very end, which is a nice touch. There is no licorice, which is probably why this is less sweet.
Tonight it occurred to me that brewing a bag of this with a bag of Harney & Sons Egyptian Chamomile might just produce the perfect chamomile blend. This one is not as rich in chamomile, and the Harney & Sons appears to be a soliflore, so to speak.
Another satisfying post-coffee Refresh experience for me at Starbucks today. I started with a mocha, and then followed it up with a Refresh as my free refill. I seem to be the only person who takes advantage of the free refill program. It’s really wonderful for writers, since you can spend the whole day there drinking their whole leaf sachet tea!
While walking home with my venti cup steeping two beautiful bags of this fragrant mélange of spearmint and tarragon, I kept sniffing the opening of the lid, and I realized that I find this scent aromatherapeutic. I always feel better after I drink it, but I love smelling it, too.
I am rather surprised by all of the hatred for Tazo Wild Sweet Orange. I had consumed a couple of boxes of the filter bags a couple of years back and was expecting the new formulation (in the whitish envelopes and box) to be bad since I am not happy with the new formulation of filter bag Calm.
Instead, I find that Wild Sweet Orange is the same as it ever was: a tart and tangy orange infusion in the style of the Celestial Seasonings Zinger series. Is there an Orange Zinger? Hmmm… not sure. If so, I’ve never had it. Tazo Wild Sweet Orange appears to have been modeled after Lemon Zinger only with orange replacing the lemon. There’s a lot of lemongrass, rosehips, and hibiscus, too.
I do not find that this tastes or smells like cleaning fluid—as others have reported. The orange facet is more like orange juice without the natural sugar. It does not smell exactly like orange oil—it’s more tart than bitter, and there is no overwhelming orange peel scent either because of the other ingredients. I definitely do not find that Wild Sweet Orange smacks of Tang (thankfully). It’s true that citric acid is the third ingredient, which is bound to be a turn-off, but I find it nonetheless drinkable.
No, it’s not my favorite herbal infusion by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s okay now and then as an Orange Zinger-style beverage. It might be better cold, but I’ve never tried it that way. I do prefer Passion cold, and find it very tasty iced in summertime. This bright orange tea probably just has too many overlaps with mundane orange stuff in people’s experience to be taken very seriously as a beverage.
This herbal infusion is basically indistinguishable from my memory of Celestial Seasonings Raspberry Zinger. It may be that in a side-by-side testing, I’d find salient differences, but not having any Raspberry Zinger on hand, I can only work from memory.
Tea Forte Wild Berry Hibiscus is red, it’s juicy, it’s somewhat tangy (wild!) and it’s berry flavored-hibiscus. Several other ingredients have been thrown into the mix, but the hibiscus and berry loom large.
Truth in naming!
Since Starbucks expanded their refill policy to allow switching over from coffee to tea, I have been enjoying a nice cup of whole-leaf sachet Refresh nearly every time I go there for long enough to sit down through a coffee or latte or cappuccino. Today I had a venti cappuccino with long shots and whole milk extra hot. (I had not eaten a single bite of anything, so I needed some calories along with my mid-day recaffeination.) Very satisfying. Then I returned to my barista for a “refill” (they give you a new cup) of Refresh to take with me. (I should say that these free refills are available when one pays with a Starbucks card…)
As usual, it was an excellent follow-up to coffee, which as you may know dehydrates the body. The flavor combination of spearmint and tarragon is perfect. That may sound weird, but it works well and has the extra added benefit (beyond rehydration) of eliminating any traces of coffee breath. So a little personal hygiene tip for those who do not tote toothbrushes around with them.
I love this tea, especially in these whole leaf sachets. For what it is (an herbal infusion), it’s great. My rating is compared to all other mint-centric herbal infusions, not to the Platonic Form of Tea, since there is no tea in this blend.
Once again I am confused about the various listings of a tea at Steepster. I definitely need to separate Tazo Calm Chamomile filter bags from the sachets, because they are completely different blends and deserve very different ratings.
Tonight I had the loose leaf chamomile blend in a sachet, and it was MUCH better than the filter bags in the light envelope. I had tried these sachets in a Starbucks and was favorably impressed. Tonight I confirmed that this blend and format produce a vastly superior cup of tea. The flavor is on the lemony side and there are tons of other adulterants thrown in as well, but they all serve to embellish, not to shroud the chamomile, bringing out the best in the little yellow buds.
So far this is the winner in my quest for the best chamomile tea. I’ll have to buy another box of Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime and do a side-by-side comparison to be sure. My memory of Sleepytime is quite positive, but sometimes our memories enhance the experience. We shall see…
I now have a fair number of the Tazo Calm Chamomile sachets, so I’ll be satisfied with these for the foreseeable future. No more gross wood dust masquerading as chamomile. I’ll stick with the sachets when it comes to Tazo.
There are two Harney & Sons Chamomile at Steepster which seem similar to the one I tried tonight (which specifies on the envelope that it is indeed Egyptian), but my packet matches this picture, and it definitely is in a powdery, not loose leaf, form, despite being in a “silken sachet”, which surprised me a bit.
Isn’t the whole point of mesh sachets to be able to to have a loose leaf experience with the ease of a filter bag? The chamomile in my mesh bag was completely powdered to the point of looking homogeneous. So how would this differ from a brewed filter bag, assuming that the sachet and the filter bag do not contribute any flavor?
It seems that the contents are straight-up chamomile, not a blend, but I cannot be sure since the powder looks homogeneous but might still be a blend instead. Anyway, it tasted a bit sour initially and not very juicy and enticing as complex chamomile blends can be. So this is definitely not going to be the winner in my undying quest to locate the perfect chamomile tea.
Yes, I’ll drink my other four or five sachets. No, I probably will not buy it again. Unless, of course, by that time I’ve acquired more of a taste for this simple, no frills, schoolmarm chamomile. Probably chamomile purists would appreciate this more than I do. I need some adulterants.
One thing that I did appreciate about this experience was that the chamomile powder turned into a kind of sponge when I squeezed it. A unique texture!
The last time I purchased a cherry-flavored green tea, it was called “Sakura Cherry Blossom,” or something to that effect, so the possibility that it might be artificially flavored never even crossed my mind. An artificially flavored JAPANESE tea? was basically my ignorant assumption. It turned out that, despite the use of “Sakura” in the name, the tea had been sourced from other parts and the flavoring was indeed artificial. The big bag sits in my pantry to this day.
Why am I such a stickler for natural flavoring? Well, because aside from vanillin, which is a natural component of vanilla, the other “artificial flavors” used in food stuffs and beverages could literally be n’importe quoi. All bets are off, people. Remember melamine in cat food and toothpaste? Like I was saying.
Fortunately, no such problem with this cherry-flavored green tea blend from Tea Forte: Cherry Marzipan. The name makes it sound as though it’s going to be some sort of über-decadent dessert tea. Far from it, in fact. The cherry flavoring is quite marked on this somewhat bitter but clean green tea. For me, the marzipan facet has more to do with the aroma. I’m not tasting the almond so much as smelling it.
Notwithstanding the decadent-sounding name, this is a fairly clean green Japanese-style tea laced with cherry. It’s pretty good, but the slight bitterness leads me to believe that the instructions given on the filter bag envelope were wrong. “Near boil” is probably too hot for this brew, and I’ll keep the steep to the lower end of the 3-5 minute range next time…
I would never have guessed that this is a rooibos blend. All the better, I suppose.
If I keep drinking these “skin radiance” teas, I should have the most radiant skin around. Or wait: don’t I already, since I drink green and white tea all the time? Isn’t the biggest contributor to skin radiance just plain water? No one can reasonably deny that I am well hydrated.