418 Tasting Notes
I… do not enjoy this tea. Which sucks, because I really, really thought I would. Normally, Teavana’s teas have a little too much ‘stuff’ for me, so I shy away from them. But I was eyeing this on the site and finally decided to pick it up when I went in to get Joy. I figured it probably hasn’t changed from the Teaopia tea of the same name, right? And the picture on the site made it look like it at least had a good ratio of tea.
First inkling was when she was measuring out, and I realized… those aren’t the tiny hotchocolate-sized marshmallows. Those are whole centimetre-across minimarshmallows. Kind of huge for a tea. Second was when I went to brew it, and realized all the dark stuff I thought was the oolong tea, was actually everything else. The chicory root, carob pieces. There’s very little actual tea in it. I was disappointed, but I’ve had teas like this before and figured it’d just go in my ‘after dinner decaf’ pile.
Brewed, it smells of chicory and chocolate, so toasty and sweet. There’s an oily film on top, and it brews very dark. The taste is… straight up chicory root, chased with chocolate. I don’t taste any tea, and sickly sweet. As if I’d added a little too much sugar to it. There’s a very off (not quite artificial, but weird and sweet) aftertaste as well. It’s familiar, so I think it must be the chicory or carob, because I’ve had decaf blends with those before.
All the chocolate bits leave a black sludge at the bottom of your mug, and all the marshmallows melt in the infuser leaving a sticky white mess that’s even harder to clean once it’s dried. Definitely rinse out your infuser right after making the cup.
Luckily, the low ratio of tea-to-everything-else means that I can use a good few teaspoons to make a cup. It’s definitely not for me, but still drinkable, so hopefully I’ll finish it fast; I hate when those less-than-spectacular tea buys end up sitting in the back of your cupboard for years.
I’ve been playing around with steep-times for this, and I think I’ve found a sweet spot at about three minutes or slightly under. The peppermint is still peppery, and damn strong, but it’s much more drinkable, and not quite so overbearing. I get a bit more sweetness coming through, tasting a bit like white chocolate. Not much more than that coming through.
This was the only tea out of the three new christmas ones they were advertising that DIDN’T have a sampler jug out, and it was the only one I was interested in. Since Murchie’s switched to a minimum of 50g last year (after they moved one street over downtown—I don’t know about the other locations), I decided to take a chance on it despite it containing almonds. Nothing against almonds, it just felt like they were trying to focus too much on the ‘nut’ in ‘chestnut’.
Dry, though, this smells strong and sweet. It actually smells like pancake syrup. That almost-but-not-quite-maple-generic-cornstarch-sweetness-for-your-eggos. Which, while delicious, was disappointing. Brewed, it smells a lot more subdued, and the actual smell of the tea mellows it out and makes it… MORE chestnut-like? It brews a nice, dark red-brown.
Taste-wise, it’s definitely sweet but not quite candy-sweet, with a touch of nuttyness that gives it an almost roasted character. Not maple-syrup. It didn’t quite come off as chestnut to me, but when I drank it the other night (new cup in front of me now) I noticed a more sweet-potato note as it cooled, which is pretty much how I describe chestnuts.
I feel like in order to really pin this tea down, I’d have to buy myself a bag of roasted chestnuts from downtown (or roast my own; I’ve done it before, though with limited success; though you can also get pre-peeled canned/bagged chestnuts) and nibble on them alongside a cuppa. I’m getting something of the taste of chestnut, but not quite the FEEL of chestnut.
All in all though, I do quite like it. Rolling it around a bit, I can tell it’s got a ceylon or nepal-like base, maybe blended with a china region. I wonder how this would taste with a really nice all-china base. There’s a few nutty and sweet/sweet potato teas that would do well with chestnut.
I’m marking this gamble a success.
Flavors: Almond, Caramel, Nutty, Pancake Syrup, Sweet Potatoes
Y’know what this smells like to me? Shahi tukra. Sugary sweet french toast with spicy cardamom. I made it one time from an allrecipes entry, while looking for deserts with cardamom. It turned out delicious (though probably not at all accurate) and definitely smelt like this.
I had a cup of this yesterday as well while playing videogames. A good amount of cardamom, that’s really nicely smoothed out by the sweetness. Tastes almost syrupy, and caramelized.
Vancouver tea festival’s coming up.
I tried some of this in-store, but they didn’t make it very strong so when I only tasted mint, I figured that was the reason and bout some anyways (because c’mon, lookit those snowflakes; and chocolate!).
I never really think about the different types of mint ‘peppermint, spearmint’, but goodness this puts the pepper in peppermint. I’m not tasting much else. Did five minutes, might need less than that. Not getting any chocolate, but kinda getting weak sweetness probably from the snowflakes.
I was hoping for a new caffeine free tea. It’s funny, I’m fine with mint in tea, but dislike mint-flavoured things (because they tend to overdo it and it gives me a headache). This might be too minty for me, though. We’ll see, I’ll probably play with the steeping a bit. I think I’m getting some of the white chocolate as it cools…
Really looking forward to the Honey Black tea for December, that looks interesting.
Malty, with strong notes of ripe berries. Used to astringency in Kenyan teas, but the almost juicy fruitiness actually really reminds me of Sun-Moon Lake Taiwan assam teas (the most recent one I’ve got on-hand to compare is Oollo’s Red Jade; might do a comparison…). It’s really quite nice to try a full-leaf Kenyan black tea; really makes a difference. Was sipping this during work today, so it’s not fresh in my mind, and I’m a bit sleepy now.
Was actually hoping to pick up Justea’s hand-crafted black (I’ve got the oolong), but it’s a limited release as I understand it and not really easy to find in the grocery shops.
Flavors: Berry, Malt
This was unexpectedly bitter. First time I made it I steeped it at four minutes, this time around, three minutes and it’s still rather strong. Don’t know if the bitterness comes from the bergamot flavouring oils or just the tea itself.
I picked it up because I like supporting local/Canadian companies, and as a bonus it was also being sold at a local independent home/kitchen accessories store.
I might just have to play around with steeping a bit more.
I wasn’t sure on this one in-store, but I got to try a little sample of it and ended up going for it.
Discarded the first rinse, then steeped for twenty seconds. It’s sweet and green, with a bit of citrus, maybe apple, rather than grass or spinach. It’s very smooth.
Second steep for 25 seconds was a little sharper, slightly vegetal, still mainly citrus. Still thinking of warm apple.
Life Hack: Buy a samovar and use it as a daily hot-water dispenser for when you’re drinking tea that you’re not picky about water over. Or at least that’s my life plan. I’ll let you know how practical that ends up actually being.
Aroma: Honey with a touch of something vegetal.
Bright, almost brisk but very smooth. Mellows into honey-like sweetness, maybe darker. Raisin? I usually just say drop fruit. Each sip starts brisk, bright, followed by drop fruits and honey.
I’ve been drinking this for a while, but haven’t really gotten around to a proper review. Out of the Russian teas in the sample set I got, this one is definitely my favourite. I plan to reorder if I can, although What-Cha didn’t have the Russian teas separate last I checked (understandable, since they’re probably a bitch to get… damnit Russia).
Also back to the Tea Books again; been reading an independent published university study from the 60s on Tea Production, so expect there’ll be a post up on teatra.de about that. …Eventually.