151 Tasting Notes
On The First Day of Christmas . . . of the teas that won enough votes to make it into the 12 Teas of Christmas box, this tea received the fewest votes – just enough to earn its way into the box. It actually tied with one other black tea – the Mayan Chocolate Chai blend which ended up being the featured reblend for this past November. Because I wasn’t sure which I should feature in the holiday box and which I should blend as a featured reblend, I just reblended both at the same time and told myself that I’d let my tastebuds decide when it comes time to do the taste test.
And in a sense, that’s exactly what happened. When it came time to do the taste test for each tea, this one was ready to roll – and the Mayan Chocolate Chai needed a bit more tweaking before I was ready to release it.
I really like this chai. I find it’s a different tasting chai depending upon the temperature of the tea. When it’s still quite hot, you get a nice hit of spices and some vanilla. Some caramel too, but the caramel isn’t as strong as it is as the tea cools. The more the tea cools, the stronger the caramel (and vanilla) become.
Either hot or cold, it’s really quite nice and comforting.
PS: You might notice on my blog I refer to this blend as “Caramel Vanilla Chai v.2” – the “v.2” is because this is bit different than the original. Specifically, the original version of this tea (Frank’s version) was a fairly fine ground chai. This also utilizes a CTC blend of black teas, but the leaf size is definitely larger than I recall the ground leaves were in the original. But, I didn’t label this tea as a v.2. And, I figured in an effort to eliminate confusion, I wouldn’t add a whole new listing with the v.2.
This was the “Featured Reblend/Bonus” tea for October of this year. It wasn’t exactly a reblend because while both Frank and I (as LiberTEAS) had crafted apple green teas, they weren’t quite like this one so this is a new tea, but not necessarily an entirely new concept. And since Washington is known for its apples, I figured it was the perfect tea to include with our “I Love The Pacific Northwest” theme.
I really like this tea. It is a combination of both Fuji & Granny Smith apples so you get a little bit of the sweetness from the Fuji and the tartness from the Granny Smith in every sip. The green tea is our combination of Gunpowder and Chun Mee and it seems to provide a nice base here.
Nice, crisp apple-y flavor with a smooth, sweet and slightly grassy background from the green tea.
But what I can tell you is this: I am the featured teamaker of the Amoda Tea Subscription Box for December – and what I am tasting at this very moment is one of the teas that I crafted for the Caffeinated box.
And it is yummy!
I’m very excited about this collection that I crafted for Amoda – I worked with Lu Ann @ Amoda (she curates the boxes for Amoda!) and she helped me determine which teas I’d craft for their box. It was a lot of fun to come up with these teas – and I think you guys are gonna love ’em!
This is the tea of the week for October 14 & I’m sipping on it right now. I cold-brewed it overnight and it is SO GOOD cold brewed! It’s good – you know – brewed traditionally (hot) but the flavors really come to life when the tea cools a bit (whether hot brewed or cold brewed, I tend to prefer this one when it’s cold. Good hot – awesome cold.)
For those of you unfamiliar with Salt & Straw – it’s a really unique ice cream joint that makes handcrafted ice cream using not-so-ordinary flavors. Like Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper … or Pear & Bleu Cheese – which are two of my go-to flavors on the rare occasion that I do go there. But if you’re in the Portland area (I know there are some Southern California locations too!) be sure to check to see if they have any limited edition flavors (like chocolate caramel potato chip cupcake – yes. It’s a real thing.)
Anyway, my go to is usually a scoop each of the two aforementioned flavors – strawberry honey balsamic with black pepper and pear & bleu cheese. These two taste amazing together.
So I decided to go with that as an inspiration – using some of these flavors and reimagining the others. I started with Chinese Sencha for it’s creamy, buttery taste and texture and added some Green Rooibos for a little bit of lightness and to enhance the fruity flavors of the blend. Then I added strawberries & pears. Instead of honey balsamic, I added honey essence & brandy essence. Instead of bleu cheese I added cheesecake essence.
I love the result. It is sweet, fruity, creamy, and there’s just a hint of pepper and brandy. A bit of tang from the cream cheese. A really unique and interesting set of flavors that just – work. I love this.
Another tea from last month. This tea is so good. This morning, I’m able to taste more of the smoky/roasted notes from the Lapsang Souchong, and I like the way this plays with the plum-y flavor as well as the maple and cinnamon notes. As I continue to sip, the roasted flavors start to meld with the other flavors to create a very harmonious taste.
It’s really wonderful: It’s sweet, it’s savory, it has a really nice depth of flavor to it. Perfect for autumn.
This is one of last month’s teas – I cold-brewed it overnight to enjoy today. It’s a different drink when cold-brewed, in my opinion. The green tea becomes a bit more prominent here, reminding me a bit of a gyokuro. I am still getting the fruit notes which add a nice dimension to the overall cup but what struck me most was the notes of green tea I am getting.
Fortunately, those green tea notes play well with the notes of sweet and tart that I get from the variety of fruits in this blend and I also find myself able to pick out the different flavors as I continue to sip on this. The coconut is a bit more prominent in a hot cuppa – here, it becomes more of a tropical note, sweet and creamy for sure but not quite as strongly, definitively coconut to me as it was with the hot taste test. The pineapple is sweet and just a little bit tangy – and that tanginess is accentuated with the presence of the lime which is definitely more prominent in the cold-brew versus the hot-brew. The blueberry comes through at first as more of that berry tingle towards the end of the sip and into the aftertaste, but as I continue to sip, the blueberry comes forward a bit more.
It’s a really nice composition. I didn’t sweeten this pitcher of tea but I’d imagine that a bit of sugar would bring out the fruit notes a bit more. Me, I like it just the way it is.
I turned this into a latte and put it in my thermos for this morning’s tea. I have had to restructure my sleeping schedule (which I have, to date, failed to do) because Amethyst needs me to help getting her son (my beautiful, sweet, adorable grandson!) to school (she has early morning classes). So, since I need to be awake for at least another couple of hours, I am hoping that this caffeine boost will help that (and hopefully won’t keep me awake much longer than that).
This makes a fabulous latte. It tastes great non-latte too – in fact, I have to admit that I do prefer it non-latte, but that’s become true of almost every single tea in the past few years (before I even took over the 52Teas thing). That said – it is really nice as a latte too.
I love this golden Bi Luo Chun – it has a natural chocolate-y note going on and hints of caramel too, so I knew that it would be the ideal base for this caramel-cream chocolate blend. And this blend makes a really nice, comforting cup that is also encouraging a wakefulness that I need at the moment.
Tea of the Week for August 19: I cold-brewed this one overnight, and it is also really good. Usually, I am able to say right away which way a tea tastes better: hot-brewed & served hot or cold-brewed and served chilled. (Or even hot-brewed and served chilled.) I’m not able to do that with this tea because all three work really well, perhaps equally as well. They do taste a little different, of course, but they are all really good.
When it’s served hot, I get equal portions of the fig and the cheesecake and a tasty Assam background. What I really like about this particular Assam is that it is very smooth. When it’s hot-brewed, I don’t get astringency. Mind you, I’ve not oversteeped it, but what allows me to say that is that I thought I oversteeped it the first time I tried it (as an unflavored base) and it wasn’t bitter or even astringent. It didn’t feel dry on the palate at all. It just had a very rich, malty flavor. I was very impressed by it. This is why I recommend a 3 minute steep time (as opposed to my usual 2 1/2 minute recommendation) for this particular Assam tea, because it can withstand it without imparting a bitter bite or a hint of astringency.
When served hot, the fig and cheesecake have a very balanced taste to it. When served cold (after hot-brewing), I notice a bit more cheesecake than fig, but still both are prominent.
As I sip it now after cold-brewing it overnight, I find myself mentally comparing it to a milk bubble tea, but with fig rather than the usual taro I tend to favor from my local bubble tea place. The cheesecake flavor lends that sort of creaminess that I would taste from the milk bubble tea, but it’s a bit more tangy than the milk bubble tea. And I think that’s a good thing because I like that contrast. Granted, this isn’t a bubble tea (so please don’t interpret my comment that way), I just found my mind recalling my favorite bubble tea drink as I sip this – meaning that there is something about this that evokes those memories.
The base seems perfect for this combination of flavors. I really am pleased with this one.
This was the tea of the week for August 12 – I created it to celebrate my youngest daughter’s 18th birthday. The cake we ordered for her is her favorite cake: a vanilla cake with lemon curd filling and chantilly cream frosting. Every bite of the cake is awesome – but really, the cake is all about the chantilly cream. That chantilly cream is pure deliciousness: silky smooth, vanilla creaminess that’s not too sweet the way other frostings can be. It’s just perfect.
So I wanted this tea to be focused more on that chantilly cream experience, so I went lighter on the lemon and cake-y notes so the creamy vanilla notes could shine through. The lemon and cake notes are definitely there – and they get stronger as you continue to sip, but even as they do get stronger, they still serve as accent notes to the sweet, creamy vanilla.
I cold-brewed this overnight because it’s still a bit warm here in the Pacific Northwest and I wanted to see how this would work out as a cold-brew – and it turns out that it’s fantastic cold-brewed. I poured the first glass and gave it to Lilith to try, figuring if she wasn’t into it, I’d just finish that glass. But she definitely WAS into it and took off with the glass – so I poured myself another.
This might just be my favorite white tea that I’ve created to date. It turned out exactly the way I wanted it to. Perfection!