This is going to be a bit of a teaplz Manifesto, and a reflection of my tea journey so far, so I apologize in advance for the rambling. Actually, I don’t apologize, since I mainly write these entries for myself.
I feel as if I’m come a long way since my first sip of loose leaf just a few short months ago. I’ve tried lots of different kinds of tea, from several different companies. I’ve become friends with a lot of wonderful people here, who have opened my eyes even further to what tea could be, what tastes good, and what I might actually be interested in. I’ve felt myself evolve already, and start to become more solidly what type of tea drinker I am to become.
That being said, let’s take a look at my TeaGschwendner order. Back just a month or so ago, when I ordered these teas, I was terribly excited in the newness and novelty of it all! Tea that tastes like almond cookies and apple pie and bacon! All sorts of desserts and flavors and exotic items steeping up in a beverage! The sheer expanse of flavor profiles and different odd things was just plain exciting to me. Of COURSE I had to order Chili-Chocolate tea and strawberry tea with pepper flavoring. Bring it on!
But now, the novelty has worn off. Having been exposed to companies like Samovar, Golden Moon, and Rishi, my tastes have changed. The more quality flavored tea and regular plain-old tea I have, the more I crave that more than the way wacky stuff. Almond Cookie by SpecialTeas, by the way, is still an amazing flavored tea. Ranked up there with some of the best I’ve had. But I find myself more and more preferring flavors that … occur naturally. Like jasmine or orange or ginger. Stuff that occurs naturally instead of mimicking other flavors. I want natural flavors. Robust flavors.
But I also want tea. And after all, that’s what brought me here, right? Tea. Sure, there’s a lot of fun in novelty-style tea, but then the shine and newness of it wears off, and then there’s almost a weariness. A battle and toil to finish that sample, to trudge through that cup. I really dislike the feeling, and honestly, it’s weighing me down.
So let’s get to Gwendalina’s Baked Apple. It shares a problem that a lot of TeaGschwendner’s flavored teas I’ve sampled have: amazing smell, and lack of flavor. I can’t speak for some of TG’s more quality offerings, of course. They’re a huge company with a vast variety of teas. For all I know, I’ve just chosen cheap and affordable teas from them that just don’t really suit my taste the way that I thought they would.
This one smells like an apple pie pulled right out of the oven. I can smell completely the crust and the cinnamon and the almonds. The apples smell sweet and freshly cooked, oozing in their syrup. It smells amazing.
So I get out a level teaspoon, and steep this up. TG recommends boiling water, but with green tea mixed with black here, I went for a bit lower than that. The resulting infusion was a nice yellow color, and the smell coming off it was a liquid version of the dry leaf. It almost reminds me of when Snapple had their apple pie flavor. Does anyone remember that?
Unfortunately, the flavors aren’t nearly as potent and exciting as they smell. They’re all there, but they’re very faint and non-descript. I catch hints of apple and almond, mixed with an almost crust-like, bake-y flavor, but none of it combines together in an exciting way. The tea base itself tastes fairly weak and unexciting. It doesn’t have enough body and oomph to support the generally weak flavor. So while it doesn’t taste bad, by any means, it’s severely disappointing when compared to the smell.
Not all crazily-flavored teas fall into this category! Take Almond Cookie, for example. Its smell and its taste are pretty damned close, yet it manages to incorporate a tea-like base as well. It manages to be robust and subtle and entirely sippable. And each sip surprises me with the pastry-like intenseness of cookies. I get none of that here, which really makes me sad.
Yes, I think I’ve moved away from exotic-flavored teas. Give me a regular old flavored tea that isn’t overly ambitious, that just tries to do a flavor well. I actually really enjoy more than anything picking out flavor notes in non-flavored teas. Plain tea. The original. It’s so much more exciting to pull, say, a caramel note out of a keemun, than actually drink down a caramel tea.
So it’s a bit of a jaded teaplz here, with quite a bit of unsatisfying tea. Time to give it away? Time to order stuff that suits my tastes a bit more? We shall see.