16 Tasting Notes

drank Earl Grey by Tin Roof Teas
16 tasting notes

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78
drank Jingle Bells by Lupicia
16 tasting notes

The weather was so favorable this morning that I had no choice but to agree with its prediction for the tone of the day, which calls for a very special tea indeed and can only mean one of a few from the selection in my cupboard. I have had this tea for two or three years and have quite simply been too excited about the prospect of drinking it to dare crack it open, but sitting down to an episode of ‘Murder, She Wrote’ after a leisurely drive through sunny and verdant scenery, I could hear this tea crying out in indignation demanding to be tasted.

First impression unsealing the bag: delight. The scent wafting to greet me is nothing short of a summer day spent over a pitcher of sugary-sweet grape Kool-Aid, but the complexity of the flavors really blossom in the cup, where the artificial grape candy flavor assumes a muscatel character and the rich depth of warm jelly that takes me back to a delectable Polish blueberry jagodzianka. Even a pervasive effervescence seems to emulate the crackle of a delicate pastry glaze, but it pulls me in a few different directions: on one hand, it’s giving the crispy candy shell of grape Nerds candy and the scintillating spark of sourness that follows it, but on the other hand, the intermingled strawberry notes point me toward a bubbly rosé. A little astringency cuts the sweetness to perfection. I have no choice but to be obsessed.

Flavors: Astringent, Candy, Effervescent, Grapes, Jam, Malt, Red Wine, Strawberry, Toast

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
gmathis

Perfect pairing for a beautiful day.

ashmanra

Yaaaaay! It should be only about 18 months old, I think, so hopefully it will stay fresh for you. I am glad you opened it and started enjoying it. This and Merci Mille Fois are two of my favorite flavored black teas.

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I am locked in battle with this tea.

I have braved the trials and illness of days 4 and 5 in caffeine purgatory, only to reward myself with a troubling blend indeed. Zealot that I am for basically everything in this ingredient list and for artificial grape flavor, this tea seemed destined to be my soulblend. I stuck my nose into the bag eagerly and was met with an aroma that could be said to be grape in the same way as the aged, grape-scented eraser that fit snugly in the miniature juice carton for the family dollhouse growing up – sort of faded and elusive, but yes, maybe grape? The smell is sweet and marshmallowy but the grape is difficult to pin down without pulling the bag on over your head.

Moving on, I followed the recommended steeping directions and the result was, I think, concerningly pale in color and in palate. In trying to magnify the flavors enough to get a detailed read on them, I have gone ballistic. I made a second cup with an increased steep time and water temperature; I have sniffed the leaves and the cup until I have gotten lightheaded; I’ve sipped, I’ve swished, I have LITERALLY gargled with this tea, but I am having the most devilish time unlocking the flavors sufficiently to really enjoy and analyze this cup. I will file this one away to be reassessed when one or both of us are better disposed to cooperate.

Preparation
2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
gmathis

Gargling! Now there’s a technique to try! (I’m with you—try as I might, I just can’t coax anything substantial out of a white tea.)

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73

Today I am passing Day 3/7 in my decaffeinated prison. I woke up with a headache probably equally related to dehydration as caffeine deprivation, but dreaming of a hot americano all the same. As punishment for my meditative weakness, when I finally managed to coax myself out of bed at the ripe hour of 2:30PM, I perused my cabinet for my lowest caffeine tea, and the winner would appear to be this rooibos-based earl grey blend. So here goes.

Admittedly, I don’t know much about rooibos, and most blends I have tried of this variety have been inoffensive. The dry leaves are about what you would expect and smell almost tart or lemony compared to other earl greys. In the prepared cup, however, I lose track of the bergamot oil. The steam carries a honeyed raspberry aroma, and with the delicate touch of tartness enfolding my tongue, I begin to wonder if our friend bergamot has not taken a wrong turn and gotten lost in the wilderness somewhere on its way. A pleasant, low-profile cup, but whether it has earned the eponym of Earl Grey remains to be told.

Flavors: Honey, Lemon, Raspberry

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
gmathis

Rooibos and bergamot are polar opposites. I can’t see them getting along nicely in the same cup. Roo needs ice cream flavors like vanilla and strawberry.

ashmanra

I am not a fan of red rooibos but green rooibos makes an awesome base!

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90

I survived day 1 of only tea-derived caffeine, successfully powering through the day on nothing but a single cup of black tea and pure vibes.

After another night spent feeling under the weather, I met Day 2 rolling out of my slumber in search of something indulgent to accompany my reading of The Conspiracy Against the Human Race. I settled on this Oatmeal Raisin Cookie blend for a much-needed boost, and oh. My. God.

Despite its delicate, amber coloring, the aroma coming out of my cup is so insanely raisiny it’s like diving into the congealed gummy center of the most fabulously flavorful raisin you have ever tasted and bathing in its cinnamon sweetness. It’s a smooth, syrupy cup reminiscent of curling up in a blanket watching sunny autumn leaves and going back to sleep. I feel like the pat of butter on a warm stack of fluffy pancakes, slowly melting away.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Malt, Pancake Syrup, Raisins

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
ashmanra

Oh my, that sounds scrumptious. Bet it would make a great latte, too. Pure decadence.

Courtney

That book sounds interesting — are you enjoying it? Good job on only tea-derived caffeine. :)

"Youngest"

@Courtney If you are feeling hopeless, disillusioned with life, and desperate for a philosophical take on an existence that feels nightmarish, morally conflicting, and involuntary, I would say this read is the perfect choice for a little comfort in the knowledge that you are not alone and to see someone go to lengths to try to rationalize or articulate your experience. In that regard, I’m greatly enjoying the book and am also continuously impressed by the vocabulary and background holding it together.

That said, if you are a generally satisfied person, I would suggest leaving Thomas Ligotti on the shelf for some other day. LOL

gmathis

Oh, mercy! You are actually making me want to bake cookies from scratch, and that’s sayin’ something! Tin Roof sounds like it could easily be my happy place.

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78
drank Karma Kahwa by Tin Roof Teas
16 tasting notes

After the week spent me like life was a slot machine, I haggardly drew the conclusion that my lifestyle – currently characterized by sleeping like garbage, going to work at 4AM and chugging 400mg caffeine in energy drinks before 9AM just to make it to noon – needed a reboot. What I mean to say is that energy drinks are expensive and I dropped a pant size in a week, so a friend has pressured me into DAY 1/7: no caffeine excepting whatever I get from tea. After passing an insomniac episode all night playing a PC game called “A Night in the Woods” (a cute, cartoonish side-scroller centered around a feline protagonist in a story with an intriguing balance of wholesome mediocrity and unexpected darkness), Day 1 has met me with a weird start.

Escaping work early, I decided to finally check out a nearby tea shop and foolishly thought I might find a couple teas that could pique my interest. The moment I stepped in, I was quickly overtaken by my folly in underestimating their selection. There wasn’t a single tea I didn’t want to try, and I fear the old adage against shopping while hungry also applies to shopping while under-caffeinated, because I shelled out for a bag full to the brim with goodies and a freshly brewed cup of their Karma Kahwa blend for the road. Does it constitute a relapse if I haven’t gone a day without caffeine yet?

Unfortunately, the ambush-like stealth of Tin Roof Teas’s formidable selection forbids this tea being on their website (I think it may be seasonal as well), so I am attempting to conjure the ingredients from memory and taste. Clove is easily the foreground of this flavorful tea with a colorful supporting cast of spices like cardamom and cinnamon lending complexity and complementary sweetness in the background – the almond is there if you look for it and rounds out a festive, dessert-like profile. A little bit drying, this tea was the perfect accompaniment to a sunny but cool day uncertain of its seasonal loyalties and meteorological temperament. I wonder how it tastes with a shot of espresso in it…damn it. Focus on the mission!

Flavors: Cardamom, Cinnamon, Clove

gmathis

Sounds kind of like a spicy biscotti!

"Youngest"

Couldn’t have said it better!

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75

Okay haters.
Maybe this tea has wandered into the wrong cups before, but not this time. Though the aroma, equally malty as smoky, had me in suspense for a moment, the steep makes up for it. Too many bourbon barrel-aged stouts gave me a different expectation- is the whisky in the room with us now? What I got is, I think, much better. This is essentially a down-to-earth smoked lapsang souchong with a wholesome (oaky?) richly smoked profile talked down by honey and the maltiness of the black tea underneath. Though I often like my smoked teas stronger and more monstrous, I was really pleased with this one and the smoke evades that chemical taste so often found in lapsang souchongs (which I admit I love).

Though whisky is not one of the prevailing flavors here, this tea still gave me ideas. To complement the warm smoke filling my nostrils, a few dashes of angostura bitters were an eager accompaniment to add a faintly spicy undertone, and I think this might be the way to go.

Flavors: Campfire, Honey, Oak, Smoke

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec 12 OZ / 354 ML
ashmanra

I haven’t tried this one. I meant to but samples were consistently sold out when I was checking, and I was so disappointed that Black Cask Bourbon just tastes like a plain lapsang to me that I didn’t pursue it. I am glad you enjoyed it!

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75

After a long, quiet morning filling in for the regular barista, I got home and decided to finish off the last of my Peaches & Ginger tagalong. When I steep this one at work, I taste a little more of the ginger, but making it in my apartment I find that the ginger is just a murky pair of socks in the shoes the peach walks in on – a smooth, sweet undercurrent echoing distant stories of spice is all I detect, but the peach comes through juicy and aromatic. In all likelihood, a little extra steeping time wouldn’t go amiss for this one. Good body and extremely fruity in spite of everything – I’d even go as far as to say the same for the tea.

Flavors: Ginger, Peach

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 12 OZ / 354 ML
ashmanra

Did you get the tagalong to transport tea to work? If so, that’s a very good idea. Easy to refill with new sachets and a quick rinse and dry is all it needs to switch tea type…unless you take Hot Cinnamon. Nothing washes that away.

"Youngest"

@ashmanra Hm. I did buy the tagalong to take to work but I hadn’t thought it through enough to keep the tin.

surefire

“I’d even go as far as to say the same for the tea.” ;)

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75

Having passed a sufficient amount of my day drawing in my notepad at my desk waiting for work to come across it, my dehydrated carcass has finally pulled itself back to my apartment. This organic assam found its way into my possession as a sample stowed away in my last order and should be a suitable restorative with which to souse my wilted corpse and transmute it back into the vivacious grape it never was.

Though Irish Breakfast was perhaps my original love, this was in the days of milk, excessive sugar, and naivety. That said, my apprehensions find no footing in this nostalgic cup. A dark, malty aroma evokes brown bread and dried fruits, promising a stark breakfast blend, and the taste is the venom you suck out of the wound after a tree bites you. There’s a caramelized and unrefined sweetness in the mouth that decries the taint of added sugar. Mildly astringent, it leaves the mouth reminiscent of a crusty, toasted rusk that I can only imagine would gratefully sop up a dash of milk but which, being without any milk, I find stands pleasantly on its own, if not aching for the complement of a little plum or blackcurrant jam. Glimpsing over Steepster’s flavor profile of this one, I can’t help but notice “leather” amongst those enumerated and must accede there is a character to this tea not unlike strips of pan-fried suede. I guzzle the last swig no less withered than I began but slightly more grizzled – this is a tea I would dip in coffee.

Flavors: Bread, Caramelized Sugar, Dried Fruit, Malt, Toast

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 15 sec 12 OZ / 354 ML

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85
drank Wedding Tea by Harney & Sons
16 tasting notes

This tea is the current feature in the rotating cabinet of drinks I keep at my desk. Each morning starts with anywhere from 1-3 energy drinks, and eventually the workday dwindles down to a sachet of whatever tea is visiting at the time, but each cup is at the mercy of my best attempt to estimate a reasonable ratio of boiling hot water tempered with cold tap water since I don’t have a kettle with temperature control and am thereby consigned to basic breakroom amenities. Today, however, I pocketed a few sachets to enjoy at home. 1 sachet at 175F forgotten for three minutes and my cup is just blooming with the smell of warm french vanilla frosting finely tapered by a touch of lemon. Light-bodied but faintly buttery, it’s a perfect reminder that work is temporary, but tea is also temporary – tea is just much more enjoyable and maybe after work, you can have cake.

While the rose petals impart a flavor if not subtle then perhaps entirely absent, it’s difficult to distinguish this from the astringency of this tea at the back of the sip. The dry, almost gently peppery sensation lingering in my mouth evokes memories of being at a cocktail bar with a friend and daring him to eat the bitter, aromatic petals off the bouquet in front of us, until of course we were both prompted to part ways unexpectedly early in various states of gastrointestinal discomfort. Unfortunately, this is a betrayal I have yet to receive from Wedding Tea and have not been forced to truncate any workdays with thanks to it.

Flavors: Butter, Cake, Frosting, Lemon, Vanilla

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 12 OZ / 354 ML

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He/Him/His

Biopharmaceutical researcher and energy drink addict occasionally moonlighting as a bartender, barista, and tea enthusiast. Hobbies include having jobs and working.

Give me your most diabolical Lapsang Souchong and I will show you my happiest dance.

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