911 Tasting Notes
Sick, stuffy and tired might not be the best time to try a new tea, but looks like that’s not going to stop me. I’ve been trying to have this tea for a few days but one thing or another comes up. But now with the massive amounts of tea I’m attempting to have today (and succeeding nicely, thanks), I can throw this one in to the mix.
The dry leaves smell surprisingly spicy. Smoky and almost a little ‘whoosh’-y menthol-y. There’s also a darker sweetness. I’m getting whiffs of the rooibos but the wood doesn’t smell sour – it blends very nicely with the other dark, spicy, earthy smells going on in this tea. All brewed up, I can smell the rooibos more distinctly but it is combined with what smells like lapsang souchong and a warm spicy smell. I’m thinking it is the pine from the tasting notes but possibly the citrus is bolstering the spicy bit of it.
And wow, the taste is surprising. There is so much lapsang souchong in the smell that I was really expecting that to be the main taste but it isn’t. Instead it is fruity sweet with a warm spicy to it followed by a bit of wood taste that must be the rooibos. But it doesn’t have the moldy wood taste that normally sticks out of flavorings like a sore thumb. Instead, it all combines nicely – the rooibos wood flavor is like the trellis and the other flavors are little vines, twisting and weaving around and through it. Bright little flowers of citrus pop through the smoky clouds occasionally and spark thoughts of an Earl Grey.
This tea is nuts. There is so much going on but it is all so effortless. It doesn’t seem forced or clunky or unwieldy, but instead like beastly-looking dancers gracefully twirling on a dark stage.
And wow, with that I think I officially need to stop. The mental exhaustion is obviously too much for my simple mind. But yeah, I don’t think I’ve tasted something like this tea before. If you don’t like lapsang souchong, I’d say you wouldn’t like this. At all. Very woodsy and smoky. But if you like smoky, dark, intense teas? This one is pretty awesome.
So much love to takgoti for sending me this. So. Much. Love.
(ETA: Second steep – more citrus, less smoky, just as much love.)
Today I’m alternating between soup and tea in order to quiet my cough. But since I really don’t need to OD on caffeine, I thought I’d make the next tea an herbal. Okay, so there is a tiny bit of black tea in this. But based on the leaves, it’s too tiny to really count so I’m thinking I’m okay.
Dry, this smells sweet and woodsy and a little like dried fruit. I can’t figure out exactly what kind of fruit… maybe a fruit roll up? That’s sorta dried fruit, right? Or not. Anyway, brewed, it smells a bit like the apple cider TheraFlu. Yeah, this might not be pretty. Not that I wasn’t worried before. I mean, the description plainly states that it is using hibiscus to enhance the present tartness of rose hip.
Now, I’m not one that follows the school of thought that all hibiscus is evil. I just think that there is a place for it. It’s like the food service at my college – their food was pretty bland but about my junior year, one of the chefs apparently discovered that if they added spice to the food, it wouldn’t be tasteless and bland. Now, that is true, but when everything tastes like red pepper? Not that big of an improvement. Same with hibiscus. In certain situations it can be good and help accentuate the flavors already present. But to depend upon it to provide the sole taste? Not cool. So I’m hoping this really isn’t hibiscus flavored tea.
Huh. This is hard to describe. Okay, first off: the hibiscus. Yes, it is there. But it isn’t overpowering. It adds a lighter (and yes, slightly tart) note on the tail of the tea. It gives me a little bit of the phlegm-y feeling when piping hot that I get from hibiscus flavored things and I could do without that, but again, the hibiscus isn’t the dominant flavor and the phlegm-producing tang calms down a little as it cools a smidge.
Now, on to what I can only assume is rose hip (having never tasted it before). It’s very woodsy and a bit flat. The hibiscus does help fluff it up a little. And it is a bit tart but in a sweeter, darker way from the hibiscus. So in this case, the hibiscus does actually round out the flavor of the rose hip, giving it more depth. That’s good. I could probably do with a little less hibiscus but credit to this tea for having a distinct non-hibiscus taste going on.
So how do the tastes go together? This is going to sound weird, but this tastes like marinara sauce. No, seriously. There’s the darker initial flavor which is kind of like a roasted, slightly spiced, mellower tang and then it lightens to end on a tomato-like brighter tang. That might be the cold talking but seriously, that’s what I get. I even made the husband have some (sharin’ the germs) and he didn’t look at me like I was insane. He even said that he could see that with the tang at the end. So I’m not totally insane.
Now I feel like I need some pasta. I’m drinking tomato sauce. And I’m not sure how I feel about that. I might actually like it but I can’t get over the weirdness factor. Ultimately, while I don’t hate this tea, it confuses me enough that I’m gonna have to go a little towards the ‘meh’ face. Because I’m drinking marinara sauce.
I needed to open this tea and I needed something hot for my throat/chest so I combined those two needs and decided to have this tea this morning. Can I first say wow at the steep time? I was surprised that it’s just 1 – 2 minutes. But then these are tiny little bits of tea, so I suppose that isn’t too surprising. It brews up dark, even in that short amount of time, and smells cardboard-y with a splash of almost-creamy vanilla.
Sipping, it’s a little flat. I’m not going to say that is all the tea because I am getting my first introduction to it while sick with a horrible cold. But not a lot of nuance going on in this tea. It is nicely stout, pretty malty. I have a feeling this would stand up well to milk. Even though it is not as flat-tasting as my first sip made me think, it still doesn’t have any subtlety within the flavor. It’s Assam and it makes no bones about it. The vanilla does help, I think. It doesn’t actually flavor the tea but rather adds a little insulating bubble of faint sweetness that smooths out what might be a little too malty and rough. Not that it makes the tea smooth, but it prevents it from being as rough as it might be. It’s malty and cardboard-y and it’s got a decently chewy body to it along with a little bit of an edge. And I’m only half way through my 12-oz cup and I can already feel the caffeine going so this definitely qualifies as a wake up tea.
All in all, it lacks a little roundness in taste to make me a huge fan of this tea, but I enjoy the stoutness and sort of vanilla-moderated-in-your-face-ness of it. But then most mornings, subtle teas do me very little good so that plus the caffeine means that this at least fulfills its purpose as a good wake-up tea. Plus, the heat has made my chest feel better. Brownie points for that.
I’m still sick. The thing that’s really killing me is my cough makes my chest burn. It’s not fun. I’m not exactly sure why I thought this tea would be a good idea, but I did. Perhaps it’s the chest burn that translates to drinking a tea that makes me think of Crunch Berries on fire. In a good way.
Also on the plus side, even with my head stuffy and gross, I can still smell this tea. Yay for smell! I have to wonder though, if it tasted this mild the first time I had this. I’m going to say no and that my taste buds are messed up a bit. But I can taste smoky and a little berry so that’s good.
I’m pretty tempted to bump up my rating of this since I’ve been having little cravings for it. But I’m going to wait until my taste buds and sense of smell are back up to par.