1018 Tasting Notes
Ah, yum! If I’m going to drink something with artificial additives why not go full candy and have a tea that’s essentially candy canes in liquid form?
I have not been overly satisfied with most of the new additions to David’s Tea as of late and am left wondering where the “tea” part went. It’s hard to remember to be bitter and whine loudly when I’m drinking this though. The dry leaves have mini candy canes scattered throughout and possess the aroma of vanilla and peppermint.
Liquid tastes like the smell with noticeable vanilla. The peppermint is not too strong with only a light presence of that “fresh” feeling in the back of the throat. My lips are tingling and I’m getting some puckering pungency so this isn’t a flat beverage. Generic black tea is not bitter and provides a meek earthy base.
I think Santa’s Secret will be my indulgent friend for this deadline filled week. Time to read Cloud Atlas and Storm of Swords get cracking on those public executions in 17th and 18th century England!
Out of the four teas from Mariage Frères gifted to me this was one of two chosen because the giver “thought the name was cool.” I am absolutely speechless before her rationale. What makes “Alexandra David-Néel” sound more appealing than teas with names like “Eros,” “Mandalay,” or “Pleine Lune”? I will never know. I’m happy to try a new tea and learn about an interesting historical figure, either way!
In summer the aroma reminded me of winter spices and mandarins but now that it is damp and wet the impression changes to dry desert and floral fruits. This tea does transport me places I’d rather be.
When I first opened my tin and caught a whiff of the aroma I thought “new chai! I need to add milk.” So, without even take a sip, I went straight for the milk and was dismayed at my spicy and fruity milk creation. This tea is actually tasty without the milk; the fruity, mellow, floral notes do not need it or do well with it anyways.
The flavours are complex. The first spices to hit me are the cloves and ginger. After I had my wisdom teeth removed I received a “clove” cleaner so it’s usually the first spice I detect. I will never forget you, cloves.
The ginger is a nice balance of sweetness and zing and leads me to noticing the next jumpy spice, cinnamon, which blends so well with the others I can barely single it out. The cardamom is spicy sweet and I think it may contribute to the last surprising bit of floral sweetness- reminiscent of something potentially citrusy and creamy. While this last note adds another dimension to the tea it tones the spice affect down a notch, and that’s ok.
Aftertaste is peppery and sweet. There’s a pleasant tang from the spices and a black leaf astringent streak but no bitterness that I can pick up! Floral endnote and cinnamon are more pronounced in second steep.
Sometimes, I just want something predictable to wind down with. No crazy ingredients, funky aromas, or overwhelming flavours- just a nice and simple tea.
Vanilla Plantation is a flavoured tea but it’s a straightforward and honest one. The vanilla here is not overwhelming enough to cause a headache, like some jasmine and vanilla teas. Instead, it maintains its simple Ceylon base with only enough vanilla bean to create a mellow and creamy sweet cloud.
There has never been even a hint of bitterness in all the times I’ve had this although there is a slight pleasant pungency which keeps the tea from being too soft and dull. Undoubtedly, there are better vanilla blacks out there but this is the nicest I’ve had so far. It’s so rich it tastes like it already has milk. It’s similar to Silk Road’s London Fog, with a creamy start than a pointy black base to skim through it.
The dry leaves smell of vanilla with something vaguely citrus-like. The liquor is a bright gold. Wet leaves are brown and fragrant and hold up well for two steeps.
I’ve also had this iced with chocolate soy milk which is very tasty. I’m glad my friend convinced me to buy this- it’s become one of my favourite Silk Road teas.
Now that I’ve had more time with this tea I can’t believe I ever mistook its citrus scent for anything but an Earl Grey’s bergamot. The illusion of oranges comes from the profound amount of bergamot that jam-packed into this, and it is an overload. I don’t think I have ever smelled so much bergamot, ever and it takes on a sickeningly sweet and sour perfume quality.
This time I had it with milk, the natural sidekick of “the Grey”, and it was much more agreeable. Very creamy, very tart, very Earl. That “perfume” bit comes to rear its ugly head, however, and the last note and the aftertaste is rather nauseating because of it- too bad. Less steeping time is more in this case unless you like the sensation of bergamot taking over all of your senses in a sudden sweeping, conquering blow.
Very citric, but it doesn’t have that sweet, super-fruity quality that orange has and all of the tart, scent oriented powers equated to bergamot. It’s more like dose of lemon if not full bergamot. It’s not a bad Earl Grey but I think I’ll stick with others for now.
Key words: bergamot, perfume, earl grey, “needs milk”
I don’t even know how to begin describing the scent that this mad array of ingredients gives off. It’s cinnamon spiced fruits and nuts with a roasted quality and, overall, comes across as some kind of candied roast mixture. It smells good, crazy but good. The items in this herbal blend are similar to the Kanpe herbal concoction and Forever Nuts.
Steeped, it smells like Forever Nuts, which reminds me of hot cheros. I am getting a lot of the hibiscus. It seems strange to have something at once be so tart and fruity and yet so nutty, spiced and roasted. It ends on a sweet & sour note in the back of the mouth, and tingly cinnamon and puckering cheeks. The notes in the sip go “zing”, than melting smooth, than “zing” again… is this herbal tea playing “Jingle Bells” on my tongue? Maybe if I drink it differently it will play a different tune?
Crazy, crazy Christmas tea.
It’s a bit weak for my tastes. Drinks like chocolate chip cookie dough with lots of chocolate chips. The scent of the dry leaves reminds me of chocolate liquor.
It’s best as a latte as that’s when the nutty ingredients and brittle flavour mix with the dairy to give an overall impression of clumpy, sweet, dough. When I went to visit my parents on the mainland I added some caramel toffee syrup to the latte and ended up giving the cup to my mother. She loved it.Despite its light flavour, the tea is rich like its namesake. It’s Milky, sweet, nutty, and noticeably chocolate geared. It imitates raw cookie dough very well but I’d rather eat the real thing.
I went to visit my old roommate, who happens to work at David’s Tea, the other day and really went overboard on buying samples (and mugs). I’ve found a new way to waste resources and procrastinate: hold heat-sensitive mug under hot water, while turning it slightly. The colour change lasts longer if a hot substance is actually in the mug so I promise I won’t do that horrible thing too often.
Most of the samples I picked up were winter teas but I also grabbed a few non-seasonal deviants under ex-roomie’s “persuasive” coaxing. Big Apple was one of the deviant teas; along with Buddha’s Blend. She was a huge advocate for Big Apple but told me that it’s tricky steep and should be left in cooler waters than suggested. With that tidbit I steeped Big Apple around the 70 Celsius mark.
Big Apple smells so strongly of apple that it should be no shock that it also tastes like apple. The exciting factors are the hints of vanilla and unidentified spice (cinnamon or nutmeg) that I get. The tea gives an overall impression of apple pie with ice cream or some other baked apple dessert. It’s buttery and gooey light like a doughy crust or melted ice cream. Cream white goes into a soft green spice and end with a fruity, teasingly tart, apple. I feel like I’m drinking a baked and generously buttered spiced apple, especially when it cools down. Aftertaste is mostly apple. No astringency at all.
At about 5 min with estimated 70-82 C water, the second steep still has some apple flavour and a mushy vanilla note but I’m not picking up as much spice, only the softest of coatings! The liquid still gives off the scent of spiced apple but the aftertaste has creamy white tea with a toned down apple. Third steep is very diluted but Faintly fruity and very buttery leaves.
I haven’t had Mom’s Apple Pie or Movie Night in a while but this reminds me vaguely of both of them. Big Apple is much more buttery than the former and doesn’t taste as oily and weak (tea-wise) as the later. I have to try it at the actual recommended temperature, but for now I’m satisfied with this tea.
Buddha’s Blend has a great floral fuzzy peaches scent to it but it doesn’t come off as a “candy” tea. The smell was definitely a selling point for me.
The first time I prepared this I experienced that astringency that only comes from oversteeping, or using water that’s too hot. Despite my mistake, it wasn’t undrinkable and the taste was heavy on the peaches with a perfumed milky endnote like plain yoghurt-both sour and creamy.
This time around I think I got it right, with a cup that’s simply a creamy, floral, peach delight with only a shadow of tartness. The last flavour is still light jasmine but it is no longer abrasively sharp. This tea is so indescribably smooth and full bodied with only the slightest puckering sensation that it may be a contender for my more permanent collection. The white and green leaves do give off detectable complex flavours but I think I’m picking up more white, here. Smooth, creamy, floral, fruity notes coexist with the more prominent jasmine and white hibiscus. Everything blends flawlessly together and holds up well on second steep. The only downside is the floral fruitiness of it can become overwhelming and the more bitter aspects of the tea leaves come out more as it cools.
Note: when I come across something new and edible that I’ve never tried before I usually attempt to eat it. This is what I did with the white hibiscus after first steep and it was so deliciously creamy and subtly sweet that… Yes, I probably shouldn’t have eaten it but I was curious and now I have an idea where the milky fruit flavour comes from. For those who saw “hibiscus” and shied away, it tastes very different from the normal, very tart, red variety that infiltrates most blends.
This has the most amazing fruity spice smell, ever. I know it says the liquor is golden green but I was really expecting it to turn red with the amount of cranberries I see in the blend. In this serving I got a gigantic piece of cinnamon the size of the top digit of my thumb- so as huge as a mountain, everyone!I didn’t read the ingredients carefully so it was a surprise to get a licorice scent from the liquid- from the anise.
Drinking it, I’m mainly picking up spicy sweet and something leafy that I can’t place. This is different. I thought it tasted alcoholic at first but it’s just the anise/licorice association. The cranberry-apple sweet notes and this leafy-ness come out more as it goes from hot to warm and reminds me of the Cranberry Pear tea. The anise has a nice sweet component too and I can handle it a lot better than fennel. Tangy sweet aftertaste with cinnamon prevailing throughout… that’s what I get for dumping a jumbo cinnamon stick in! Texture: somewhat oily (safflower) and tingling on lower cheek walls.
This is, without a doubt, a little taste of Christmas and I don’t think I would enjoy it as much out of season. It’s perfect for right now though and making me very excited for the upcoming holiday. Apparently there are mistletoe and green tea leaves in this? I don’t know what mistletoe leaves tastes like but you could have fooled me with the tea.
Before I start I have to come clean with something: I don’t like strawberry things. Weird, eh? I also have the worst hand at steeping black teas and avoid them for their astringency.
Already, the strawberry scented Marco Polo and I look to be in a doomed relationship but that’s not the case. Oddly enough, I find this tea to be delicious. I’m not even sure the “strawberry” tag is right- it’s more of an impression of many syrupy fruits. It reminds me of dark chocolate dipped strawberries, which I do like, or even of a cherry jam filled black forest cake. There are fruity and creamy components but the base is ultimately dark and strong. It’s nice to have a dessert tea that doesn’t scrap the “tea” part or isn’t masked over with sugar additives.
My cup today started out hot and astringent, to warm and floral, and then lukewarm with a finishing aftertaste of fruity chocolate. My now empty cup smells like caramel. It’s a complex tea and I can’t do it justice.
Side note: I received this as a gift, along with three other teas, from a friend who came over for a wedding. I’m chocked that Mariage Frères isn’t more readily available where I live but grateful for the experience.