By the gods, I love this stuff1. Yesterday, I had to collect Mum from JFK at around 7:30 in the morning. That’s around the time I usually go to sleep, so I ended up staying up the night before, afraid I’d sleep through. So there I am, 4:30 in the morning, slightly bleary-eyed and more than slightly frazzled, packing a bottle of water and a fuzzy throw for Mum. All that remained was the tea.
Once upon a time, I had only one loose tea—Ocean of Wisdom—and that’s the tea I would’ve made and taken with me. Now I have so many loose teas to consider, so many yummy (and untried) options, and the very thought of having to guess (at that hour) what Mum might like and what I should try was doing my head in, so I ended up selecting the same one: Ocean of Wisdom. It’s just so good. And the fragrance is just so heavenly.
This note, though, is about the second infusion I prepared when I got home. I have to admit that I rarely bother with second steeps, never mind multiple ones. I’d be a horrible oolong taster, given that many times, the best flavour of an oolong emerges in the third steep (and beyond). That said, I gave the second steep a try because this tea can get really expensive, compared to the others in my cupboard: my 4.4oz packet was USD$19, and Samovar recommend using 2-3 tbsp per 16oz/473mL. That’s only about 8 servings! Since it’s rooibos (and therefore naturally caffeine-free) and my favourite blend, I could go through that in a couple of days. Eep! So I was thinking I’d try and stretch it out a bit by steeping again or using less tea next time.
Anyway. The interesting thing about this is that the second steep is a completely different tea. Gone was the warm, sweet, woodsy rooibos flavour I love, and I couldn’t detect most of the other ingredients, either. Really, it just tasted like cloves and ginger. And it was awesome. It was this potent, spicy brew that felt so great hitting my throat, which is a bit vexed with me for taking it to the petri dish we call an airport. I was really surprised by the level of gingery spice, a level that I hope for in my ginger tea blends but rarely get. (To be clear, it’s surprising because the first steep isn’t at all piquant.) The second steep is also slightly astringent, but only on occasion, not throughout the cup.
From now on, this will be a two-steep tea for me.
Tea amount: 2.5 tbspRead full tasting note
Water amount: 16oz/~475mL
Additives: 2 tsp demerara sugar
Dry mouth factor: 4/10 (second steep only, first steep is 1/10)
Warm spice cake in a mug. That’s sort of how Ocean of Wisdom tastes.
So I’ve been pretty sick all day, and sick the entire week, just kind of miserably getting through the week. I’ve been alternating between drinking chamomile and peppermint, trying to get my stomach in order, and my cramps in check. It’s been working, for the most part.
But tonight, after a particularly awful day, I need something a bit more special to wind down with. Let me tell you, this is hitting the spot. I steeped it a bit longer this time, using a whole teaspoon, and the smell coming from my cup is more heavily of cloves than anything else. This is probably because there was a whole clove mixed into my teaspoon. Not a bad thing, but as I’ve said previously, cloves are just not my best friend.
The taste though… it’s still light, but it’s got more of an earthy depth to it. The rooibos tastes like the way it must smell in a forest after it rains. Warm, wet wood. The cinnamon and ginger are highlights here, with the clove playing backup. The licorice rounds things out with a haunting sweetness after every sip.
There’s just something so pleasing and mellow about this cup. I only wish that every herbal blend had the complexity and warmth that Ocean of Wisdom does. A perfect cozy-up-and-snuggle-and-get-ready-for-sleeptime concoction!
And Steepster, I miss you!” Read full tasting note
I wanted something more to drink tonight but it is pretty late so it needed to be decaf. Fortunately, I’ve managed to amass quite a collection of herbal samples! This is my last of this one and while I’m pretty sure I won’t reorder, I have really enjoyed a full-on rooibos/honeybush base that doesn’t taste sour or off or just plain ole nasty. I don’t know if that speaks to the quality of rooibos that Samovar uses or their stellar blending ability (though perhaps both).
This is definitely woody but there is some nice spice and warmth to this that keeps it from being a flat, boring wood taste. Now that I’ve finally gotten used to the fact that this is rooibos but not evil, I seem to give different spices each time I take a sip. Ginger, cinnamon and cloves all pop up at the front of sips and I’m getting something almost citrusy at the end.
I don’t think I’ll ever be a huge fan of anything with this much rooibos but then I think it’s pretty surprising that I like this one as much as I do.” Read full tasting note
Sipdown no. 71 of the year 2014. A sample. Wow, my first sipdown of the day? I’m obviously losing my momentum…
But finally a Samovar herbal that is still available to buy! Whew.
I was reading about this being the equivalent of their chai but without caffeine, which got me wondering about how to prepare it. Samovar recommends their chai be prepared using a stovetop method on the sample packet (I still have a chai sample, too), but the directions on the sample packet for this don’t make that recommendation. I’ll steep as directed, since I’ve had excellent results for the most part when I follow Samovar’s instructions exactly.
(I feel slightly intimidated by this blend, which was made for the Dalai Lama…)
The sample didn’t have much of a smell in the packet, just a sort of generic spiciness. This, along with the licorice-as-ingredient, along with the last tisane experience, Nocturnal Bliss, had me slightly worried as I waited for the steeping to take its course. I wasn’t getting a lot of aroma from the steeped tisane either.
But why, oh why did I doubt the blending power of the Samovar? The flavor pulls all the loose ends together so nicely. I know the clove is there, but it doesn’t push the other flavors out of the cup as it can sometimes do. I know the cinnamon is there, but it isn’t heavy, or woody, or powdery. I know the ginger is there, but it isn’t bitter or pungent. I know the licorice is there, but it doesn’t attack me.
I don’t know so much that either the rooibos or honeybush are there, though I can definitely pick them out if I try. There’s a hint of something vanilla-like coming through from the rooibos and honey-like from the honeybush, and I can even get to something woody/reedy if I try hard enough, but I really do have to try pretty hard.
Each of the flavors can be identified, but each melds into the others to create something completely different that isn’t any of them separately and is more then all of them together. It’s as though each ingredient adds depth to the flavor.
If I’m honest with myself, I like the Berry Rooibos and the Orange Ginger slightly better, mostly because I find berry an easier flavor to consume late at night than a chai-like combination, and because the Orange Ginger did some rather marvelous voodoo on my stomach and by extension my entire nervous system. Given this is a non-caffeinated blend, I’d be drinking this at night.
But this has one thing those don’t have. It’s available. If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.” Read full tasting note
Origin: Rooibos and Honey Bush from South Africa. Ginger, Clove, Cinnamon, and Licorice from United States.
Flavor Profile: Deep and earthy, with a subtle cinnamon and sweetgrass sweetness that drapes the tongue. Complexly warm from the ginger and cloves.
Tea Story: Custom blended for His Holiness The Dalai Lama.
Consider this our caffeine-free Masala Chai. Our very special contribution to the traveling exhibit, The Missing Peace: Artists Consider the Dalai Lama, and, our offering to the Bodhisattva of compassion, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama!
Blended with the intention to create an infusion that is warming and grounding, uplifting and comforting. We unite the nourishing power of anti-oxidant,vitamin, and mineral packed organic, Fair Trade Rooibos and Honeybush with the calming warmth of organic cinnamon, clove, and ginger, and the subtle sweet notes of licorice.
We are honored that this blend bears the meaning of the words “Dalai Lama,” Ocean of Wisdom.
From the Cedar Mountain Area, in South Africa’s Western Cape, rooibos is rich in minerals and antioxidants, and free of caffeine and made by gently roasting the tips of the rooibos plant, making the leaves a dark reddish-brown, and an amazing clear, red infusion.
Also known as “red tea,” or “red bush tea,” this herbal is pretty popular these days. A singular flavor that is slightly sweet with notes of barley malt, and yet also a tiny bit roasted. This herbal is a native to South Africa and has been getting so much publicity these days because of its abundance of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins… and their anti-aging properties.
Samovarian Poetry: This warming, grounding, delicious, organic tisane we have custom blended for His Holiness The Dalai Lama. Silken, malty mouth-feel lingers blissfully. South African rooibos, honeybush, ginger, licorice, cloves, and cinnamon. Sail from the ordinary moment into a regal, contemplative one.
Food Pairing: The Ocean of Wisdom is an amazing dessert tea. The deep earthy flavor and warming spices pair effortlessly with chocolate, fruit, sugar, and spice and everything nice. Serve the Ocean of Wisdom with home made pumpkin pie, with a warm palmier, or with chocolatey opera cake.
Samovar's is dedicated to preserving the simplicity and integrity of the tea traditions and inspiring people to practice peace through drinking tea.