Calabash Tea & Tonic

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Recent Tasting Notes

76

Thank you VariaTEA for sharing!

I don’t know why, but in my head I was sure that this was supposed to be an Earl Grey Cream type of profile. It didn’t taste like that at all, so I am glad that I was wrong because I was about to be all “Uhhh… definitely missed the mark”. As it stands, I think it only slightly missed the mark from it’s intended flavour. What it does get right is that very lovely sweet and creamy coconut profile – this is basically just a smooth and silk vanilla coconut and it was lovely! I didn’t really taste any of the other advertised flavours, but as a stand alone coconut tea I’m into it!

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87

Tea Pop!

I keep putting off this tasting note because I feel like I did a bad job keeping track of the flavours, and since this was one of the teas I ordered from Calabash with the express purpose of supporting Black owned tea companies and getting more product reviews out there for their teas that seems shameful to me.

I need to get over that feeling though, because I have a practically full bag waiting to be revisited and I can take conscious tasting notes in the future when I drink this tea again!

This was my favourite of the three teas I ordered though and, admittedly, as soon as I smelled the dry leaf I knew it would be! It was so fresh and aromatic, and the mix of ginger and Jamaican spices made the inside of my nose tickle instantly just from smelling it!

I steeped this as a concentrate and topped off with a slightly lemon flavoured carbonated water to make my tea pop – and maybe that’s part of why I felt bad about this tasting note? For a first review, it’s not explicitly only about the tea itself. Sure, the tea likely would have had a citrus note to it already from the lemongrass but I certainly “boosted” that flavour note.

Ultimately, the citrus/lemongrass is NOT what made the blend though – it was that magic combination of tart, puckering hibiscus and tingly, warming spices! Plenty of ginger, in a way that makes me think of very good ginger beer, but also delicious allspice among others! I liked it a lot, and I think I would just as much even if I wasn’t drinking it in soda form!

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Like I said in my tasting note for Genmaicha, from Calabash, when I order from a brand new to me tea company and don’t have reviews/recommendations to go off when selecting teas, I tend to be drawn to things that are more unique and that I’ve not seen other places…

That’s why I selected this tea; it’s visually very pretty and I will be the first to admit that I am not immune to the allure of a nice looking blend. I also like apricot teas, typically, and this is meant to be an apricot and cinnamon profile.

I shared a photo of this on my instagram account in the stories when I first received it, and holy shitballs are there A LOT of marigold petals in this tea. Like, you can look at the photo on the website and know that it’s got a ton of marigold in it but it hits you much differently in person. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another tea blend with this much marigold in it! As impressively stunning as it is to look at, though, there are some issues that come with that in terms of flavour…

In tea blending, marigold is often used as a visual filler in order to make blends more attractive looking. It’s cheap as an ingredient, and pretty – so it serves that dual purpose quite well. It does, however, have one practical purpose aside from aesthetics – it can soak in and carry flavouring quite well. However, without those flavourings it has a very flat and neutral taste – fine when used in small quantities for aesthetics but when it composes the majority of the blend and the blend has no flavouring added to take advantage of it as a carrier…

Well, you can probably see where I’m going.

This definitely isn’t an awful tasting tea – but there just isn’t enough of the apricot and cinnamon in the blend to overtake the large quantity of marigold. So, the flavour comes across as incredibly thin and bland, even though the apricot and cinnamon used in the blend smell very nice and would probably steep out quite beautifully if they weren’t so stretched out. What makes it so eye catching and stunning is also, sadly, the downfall in delivering a great flavour.

I’m obviously going to play around with this one to see if I can bring out more flavour when I brew it – but even if I can’t that doesn’t mean it’s a total write off. I’m not a strong believer of the wellness benefits of tea, but I know that there are some purported positive health benefits to drinking marigold so if there’s any truth to that at all then I think you’re probably getting a decent hit of whatever that is with the quantity present here…

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80

Another tea order from a Black owned company – thanks again VariaTEA and Shae for helping compile this list so that I had a source for companies to support!

VariaTEA has had been good success with the blends she ordered from Calabash, which encourage me to order – however I didn’t order any of the same teas, somewhat intentionally so that I between the two of us we could get as many different reviews out there for their assortment. When I order from a new company, I typically like to order a mix of their best sellers, most out there/innovative teas, and something “safer” or that I view as a staple blend (both for my own security as a consumer, and to see how they approach the standards/staples). I’m sure you can probably guess what this one is – a staple blend/safe choice. Shockingly, though I have several flavoured genmaichas on hand right now, I don’t have a straight one – so I thought that since I like genmaicha and it’s a good benchmark tea it would be the one I’d order.

I have to say – it’s a genmaicha. Like, there’s something to be said about the fact that once you’re experienced one of two different straight genmaichas you’ve kind of experienced them all. It’s toasty and comforting, with a subtle green tea flavour note. As I’ve expressed in other tasting notes, I steep my Genmaicha with boiling water for a very short period of time, which brings out more of the popped rice and less of the sencha; the short steep time helps offset the tea from tasting bitter.

I will say, visually this looks to be a Genmaicha mix that is a bit heavier on the sencha over the toasted rice, and my steeped cup was a little greener than I’d expected from my typical steep method – but not bitter and not unpleasant. It was a nice, smooth drink to enjoy this morning and I’m glad that I can support a Black owned tea company by purchasing this type of tea cupboard staple!

I look forward to trying the other two teas that I purchased, both of which were a lot more unique than this one and which I hope will showcase some of the other aspects of Calabash’s tea line up.

VariaTEA

The other nice thing about us not buying the same blends is I can share something with you that you haven’t tried yet.

I have a genmaicha from a shop in London that I’ve had for a while but haven’t tried. Perhaps I should pull it out of the drawer and give it a try…

Shae

I really like this idea. I’ll be thinking of it when I put in my next orders too. The more reviewed, the better.

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70

I was won over by the description of this tea and how everyone who smells it ends up buying it so I wanted to smell it too. Spoiler: it smells goooood! That smell does transfer slightly to the taste, leaving a velvety smooth coconut impression. Alas, there is a sharp metallic twang at the end of this sip that really distracts from it. Calabash doesn’t give recommended steeping parameters so I went with my usual of 3 mins at 200F. Won’t be doing that again.

Martin Bednář

So… blue & coconut? Why call it blue then?

VariaTEA

It has coconut and blue petals. I think “blue velvet” is a thing though.

ashmanra

Blue Velvet was a song by Bobbie Vinton, released in 1963. It was also a horror film that I never saw in the…80’s? I am guessing they were going for the smooth Vinton song. Maybe the blue is cornflower petals and the coconut is the smooth velvet?

Martin Bednář

That makes bit sense then :)

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72

Made this as a latte because that just makes sense for a hot chocolate-infused tea in my mind. Then, while making this as a latte, I think I broke my sister’s frother. THINK because all the pieces are present but the whisk disc component fell out of the whisk arm. It is held on by a magnet so it seems to just be demagnetized. However, I don’t know why.

As for the latte, it’s fine. Though maybe not worth breaking the frother. My issue with this one is that it definitely has a hot chocolate vibe but its a powdered hot chocolate that is not the smooth, silky chocolate you ever want when you want a hot chocolate. Perhaps it needs sugar but I always find myself wanting more. I guess I have been spoiled when it comes to proper sipping chocolate and now anything resembling the processed powdered stuff isn’t good enough. It also definitely has the chai spices which gives it more of a chocolate chai vibe than a hot chocolate with chai spices. I suppose that is what it actually is but I just find myself always wishing it was the latter of those two options.

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72

Made this as an iced latte and it’s got a lot of chocolate flavor. Well, more cocoa flavor than chocolate. And it’s got a nice smooth spice profile from the chai. I was a bit nervous because there was a whole star anise in the infuser but the flavor works here. I should note that the cocoa settles to the bottom so it needs to be stirred before drinking.

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72

Made this as a teapop and it’s not good. It’s waaaaaaayyyyy too tart when initially made as a concentrate and then topped with (strawberry) Perrier.

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72

Had this with sprite and I think I prefer it with limeade. Mixed with sprite, the hibiscus tartness seems to be highlighted. In fact, I didn’t really notice the sprite so I think I would have been better off just having this iced. Mixed with limeade it is balanced though.

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72

Yesterday I cold brewed this and ended up adding 7-Up. That ended up being alright so today I decided to make it as a teapop to finish off the little bit of 7-Up that no one wants to drink now that we have sprite in the house. However, I also was being lazy and the limeade was easier to reach than the 7-Up so that got added instead.

It’s actually refreshing in a tart sort of way. Between the hibiscus of the tea and the limeade, there isn’t much sweet but a nice amount of pucker. That works fairly well with the touch of spice in the blend.

Sil

i read this tea name wrong. that is all.

VariaTEA

Hahaha I don’t like this tea name

Mastress Alita

I love putting straight hibi flowers in lemonade, now I’m curious to try them in Limeade (and also Sprite, through I rarely have pop in the house, heh). Since I actually love hibi (only person on Steepster, I’m fairly sure) and have a bag of raw flowers I may have to try out both of these things soon over these hot summer months. Also, as the owner of a Fat Black Pussy Cat, I love the name of this blend. I’d never heard of this company and have added them to my huge list for whenever I decide to buy tea again.

VariaTEA

The limeade was an accidental purchase but has turned out to be quite good for mixing with teas. Hibi in limeade could be nice. I’m interested to see how your experiments work out. Also, hibi is not my favorite but I think I am more accepting of it now than I have been in the past.

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72

I had this cold brewed earlier. It was a nice pairing with my Jamaican Patty, especially since the patty was very hot and this was cold when I needed something to help with my lack of patience. It’s hibiscus-y and not overly special but refreshing and fruity nevertheless. It also was made better by a splash of 7-Up.

Shae

I’ve never thought to add 7-Up or Sprite to a hibiscus tea but now that you mention it, it sounds like it would be delicious.

Roswell Strange

@Shae – I like DT’s Queen of Tarts w/ Sprite but I haven’t tried it with a lot of other teas though…

Shae

Oh I have that one! Making a mental note to get some Sprite next time we do groceries.

VariaTEA

I made this again today with the intention of making it a teapop using the remaining 7-Up we are trying to get rid of but Limeade was closer so I will be trying that shortly.

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