1981 Tasting Notes
Finished the tin of full leaf “sachets” of this today and it wasn’t harsh at all. Go figure. Bumping it back up a few notches on the theory that my experience last time was an aberration. Reserving judgment on chai as a genre for now as I’m such a novice. I’m sure I’ll try a number of other kinds before I circle back to this one, if I ever do. I’d like to try some traditional chai to have something to compare against.
When I ordered the two lemon herbals and some gear from Teavana, I tossed this one in mostly to qualify for free shipping but also because I was curious to try something with a pear flavor other than the Tazo Green Ginger, which I didn’t care for very much. (I thought I wasn’t tasting the pear in that, but the last few times I’ve tried it I’ve concluded I am tasting the pear — it’s what is taking the edge off the ginger — but I still don’t love it.)
This is another chunky, colorful, trail-mix texture mix, with a very dominant, and pleasant, scent of dried pear to the dry mix. There’s a nutty undercurrent that is consistent with the trail mix idea.
The liquor is a delightful color; a peachy pink color that I think we referred to as melon when it was the in clothing color for women last decade (but since it was last decade I could be misremembering). There’s a fruity, almost wine-like aroma that along with the color makes me think of a blush wine.
The taste. Rose hips and hibiscus. What more can I say? They have their place but they seem to overpower many an otherwise promising drink with unwarranted tartness where sweetness would have been more consistent with the flavor of the fruit itself. The pear is underneath this tart, somewhat lemon-laced flavor, along with some apple, and yeah, I can taste the pineapple too. I really wish they’d gone for sweet with this one rather than tart. It could have been miraculous.
The first time or two I had this, I thought it was, quite simply, terrible. To the point of almost setting off my gag reflex.
But since I tried it so early on in my tea travels, I couldn’t be sure the problem was with the tea. That and being a glutton for punishment led me to try it again. I’m actually getting to the point now where I’m finding it ho-hum rather than awful.
For one thing, it is vastly improved with shorter steeping time. Three minutes is far better than five. For another, it takes some getting used to. At first, the vanilla tasted somehow detached from the tea, which was dark-tasting verging on bitter. Detached, beany and fake, all at the same time. The last couple of times, however, the vanilla has been more integrated with the tea and sweeter without the fakeness, and the tea less bitter. It does still smell better than it tastes, both in the bag and as brewed. Though I can’t see buying this again, I can see finishing the box.
Finished my tin of the full leaf “sachets” of this today. Strong, brisk, and about how I remembered it from the first note I wrote. Pretty consistent in that respect, at least when brewed at home. A bit smoother when brewed for only 3 minutes. Will I buy again? Probably not, as I expect there are better breakfast blends out there.
I got this when I was hunting for an apple flavored herbal — it’s not what I was looking for, as the overall experience is more cidery than appley, but is nice in its own right. The dry rooibos mix has a smell that I think might be rum, though I am not much of a hard liquor drinker. In any case, it’s an alcoholic beverage I’m smelling. That aroma mellows out some to a more appley, hard cider sort of smell once brewed. Interestingly, this aroma doesn’t come through in the flavor of the drink, which I thought, being a dominant smell, it would. The apple in the flavor is fairly subtle, but it isn’t masked by the cinnamon as I’d feared it would be. In fact, the cinnamon takes a back seat, which is unusual in my experience. Usually if cinnamon is present in the ingredients it isn’t shy about announcing its presence. The fact that it doesn’t here is a nice a change. The apple comes through the most in the aftertaste.
I can’t comment on the rooibos aspect, as I’m still not sure I know what rooibos tastes like. I’ve only had flavored rooibos blends. I’m going to have to get some unadulterated rooibos so I can have a frame of reference.
Was out of town and tealess for a few days. Back now.
Actually, I wasn’t completely tealess. I did have a Peet’s darjeeling from the gift shop at Asilomar state park. The other times I tried to have tea at the event I went to I was foiled in my attempts by a lack of hot water. There were plenty of Bigelow’s and Lipton’s bags, just never any water in the urn by the time I got my cup over to it.
Anyhoo. This is a strange little tisane. The cinnamon, as I’m finding is usual when it’s an ingredient, is very obvious, but there’s also another equally strong, and somewhat rounder taste which I’m going to say is licorice owing to the licorice root and star anise ingredients, with perhaps some rootbeer thrown in from the sarsaparilla. I don’t notice the orange peel at all. The combination of the two main flavors results in a cinnamon that is sweet rather than spicy, and a licorice/rootbeer that is spicy rather than sweet.
I don’t usually think of pairing cinnamon with licorice. Licorice is such a strong flavor, I don’t really think of pairing it with anything. And I have a sort of a like/hate relationship with it. If I’m in the mood for it I enjoy it, but I never find myself thinking “wow, some licorice would be really great right now, it would really hit the spot.” Sometimes it can affect me badly, and give me a bit of a tummy ache. I’ve been giving this one a try on and off for a month or so now. Though it would never be something I would drink daily or even regularly, I can see it being something I’d dip into occasionally, probably more in the cooler months than in the spring-like weather I’m enjoying today.
I’m certain there’s more in this one than what’s listed in the ingredients. For one thing: coconut. I think. I’m pretty sure. I can see dry, sort of curly white strips in the dry mix that had the texture of coconut when I bit one, but it was too small to emit any significant flavor on its own. I can see the little orange pieces of carrot, the chopped nuts, and brown spiky bits of sweetened cinnamon. The dry aroma is delicious. Really. It is exactly like carrot cake. Amazingly, given the spiciness of it, down to the scent of the carrots.
It’s a pretty reddish orange color. The red must be from the rooibos. It smells very cinnamony and rooibosy. The multifaceted smell of the dry mixture isn’t obvious in the brewed version, but it can be detected.
The flavor is enjoyable; spicy, not too sweet, and yes, there’s even a little bit of carrot in there, mostly in the aftertaste. It’s definitely the cake minus the icing, though. Carrot cakes tend to have that creamy, lemony icing, and only the very tiniest hint of that is present, and only a number of minutes after the last drop of tea has been consumed.
This one may be better a little on the strong side, so I plan to steep a bit longer next time and maybe increase the quantity some.
I wish this tasted exactly like it smells. If it did, I would have given it a 100. As it is, I think there’s a lot yet to be discovered and appreciated about this one and I’m looking forward to giving it many more chances to impress me.
Finished my box of this yesterday. I’d been making it two bags at a time in 16 oz water the last few times and ended up with a single bag left. That single bag cup was an improvement. It must have been the best ratio of water to bag I’d tried yet. The green tea was discernible in the taste. Unfortunately, the tartness was still too present, and the raspberry too missing, to make me change my mind about it.
I guess this is what you call backlogging?
Last night I was so exhausted from working until after midnight the night before (and starting before 7 a.m. the next morning) that I went directly to bed after dinner. But the night before that, I decided to try replicating this flavor using loose spearmint and peppermint leaves and some tarragon I found on the spice shelf.
I didn’t recall Refresh being overly pepperminty, so I thought they must go heavier on the spearmint. Accordingly, my concoction was 2 parts spearmint, 1 part peppermint and 1/2 part tarragon. It tasted pretty good, and, I thought, similar to what I remembered Refresh tasting like. Then I had Refresh, to compare.
Boy, was I wrong. Big difference. First, the peppermint is stronger than it seemed. Second, the tarragon is actually more responsible for the taste, or perhaps the synergy among the ingredients, than I’d expected. The Refresh tasted much better than my attempt. Much… fresher.
Next time I think I will try a 1:1 ratio of spearmint and peppermint. I may also have to buy some fresher tarragon. And finally, I may need a different peppermint. Although I really like the Upton spearmint, this batch of peppermint, also from Upton, is too earthy for me. I find the dirt undercurrent distracting. I suppose I could also try washing the leaves, so perhaps I’ll do that as well.