Calabash Tea & Tonic

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Recent Tasting Notes

Thank you VariaTEA for sharing this tea with me!

Weirdness of the tea name aside, this was pretty good. To be honest, it’s definitely majority hibiscus so the taste is very intense and leans quite tart – but there’s a bit of berry too from the elderberry so it’s not exactly like just drinking pure hibiscus. Not my favourite – I prefer some of the other blends I’ve had from this company. Happy I tried it though, and more enjoyable that I had expected the ingredients list!

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This is the last bit of my sample from VariaTEA, sadly!

Just as good as the first time — this tea is smooth with a healthy dose of vanilla that just tastes plain good. Theres some coconut in there too and it all just melds together nicely.

Thanks for sharing such a great tea!

Edit: Did a resteep of this because I couldn’t bear to let go of it, still smooth with a hint of creaminess but a lot less of the vanilla and coconut.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Another great sample from VariaTEA!

I steeped this one at just under boiling (very scientific, left the kettle open for a few seconds after it came to the boil) for 4 minutes.

This one smelled fairly sweet, but I felt adventurous today. The flavour is actually great! I can’t believe I’m enjoying this as much as I am because I usually don’t care for ‘overly’ flavoured teas, but this one is well done.

This has a very smooth feel with a healthy dose of vanilla and coconut. The base is not astringent at all, which I love. Overall a really smooth and lovely cuppa this afternoon.

Thanks VariaTEA!

VariaTEA

Glad you liked this one!

Courtney

Thanks! :)

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drank Blue Velvet by Calabash Tea & Tonic
1434 tasting notes

Another sampling from VariaTEA! Hmmmm…. strange. I get vanilla and some coconut creaminess. Something a little sweet at the start of the sip that I’m guessing could be cinnamon. The tea base adds depth. The scent has a deep perfume feel to it, almost a hint of honey. The large part of the sip is a little dull, but those notes come back out in the finish. Adding some creamer to the last half of the cup, which brings out the vanilla. I tried steeping this for 2 minutes, but it tasted a bit weak so I put the basket back in for another minute. I could easily sip the rest of this mindlessly while I work to struggle integrating my Square account to my website. I do so hate the tech part of artist life. Need more tea!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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69

had this the other day – thanks for teh sample VariaTEA. I honestly couldn’t have told you what they were going for with this blend. I didn’t get any particular taste from it…but since i don’t mind hibby, i was fine drinking it. Just nothing special or unique…and NO clue on the name lol

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77
drank Idris Chai by Calabash Tea & Tonic
12043 tasting notes

Sipdown! Tried this as a latte this time and it was still pretty decent, nothing I need to have in my cupboard but tasty enough. It’s thin and certainly doesn’t have that thick mouth feel you want in a rich hot chocolate, but I like the chai/hot chocolate vibe that tried here. Thanks for the Sample variaTEA..

…in other news, October = a new month and an awareness of how much I’ve let my cupboard slide, making purchases…and there are more I want to make haha. Trying to restrain myself a little. Closed borders with the US makes that a little easier at least.

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77
drank Idris Chai by Calabash Tea & Tonic
12043 tasting notes

I’d like to try this sample from VariaTEA as a latte. As a straight tea it wasn’t bad. not my favourite bend of chai spices but the “hot chocolate” aspect was nice, if a little on the thin side vs a rich creamy hot chocolate.

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70
drank Blue Velvet by Calabash Tea & Tonic
12043 tasting notes

sample from variaTEA. the description was curious to me…but when i smelled it…it was coconut. shrug and it tasted like coconut haha. To me this was just a coconut black…middle of the road, nothing special but nothing terrible.

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76

Sipdown (1331)!

I made this one when I got to the office this morning, but then I got pulled into an unexpected conversation and by the time I returned to my mug it was cold. It’s still quite good, and interestingly I’m getting a lot more coconut than I usually do – is that from the difference in temperature? I’m not sure, but I’m not mad about it. It’s thick and buttery, and works well with the usual vanilla notes of this tea. Still no cinnamon to be found, though…

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76

Delicious cuppa overall, but this really just tastes like a very good vanilla flavoured black tea to me. Super creamy and rich, and maybe a little bit of coconut but I’m not getting any of the other described flavours even though I’m enjoying it a lot.

Thanks for sharing, regardless, VariaTEA!

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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

From yesterday – steeped up in a “fill your own teabag” and left in the cup while I sipped/worked over the afternoon. That was a mistake, as it turns out, because the first half of the cup was fresh, zingy/tart hibiscus and ginger perfection but the last half of the cup was wayyyyyy too intense on the hibiscus and just too tart/puckering to be all that enjoyable…

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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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This tea is is basically an explosion of gorgeous golden flower petals, with soothing notes of cinnamon and apricot!! Regrettably, I’d forgotten about this tea over the course of the summer – but I felt like I got a chance to rediscover it this afternoon, and I found it very comforting! Only thing is, don’t leave the teabag in too long – the first three quarters of the mug were splendid but the last quarter that I allowed to steep for a half hour or so had a very sharp acrid note from the very concentrated marigold.

Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CKUhSeugjOs/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kppJjGTRt6c&ab_channel=LaurenAuderVEVO

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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

Geek Steep S1E18 – The Runaways

This is the tea I drank during our episode recording. Sometimes the tea that I choose for the recording ties in with the fandom in some way – perhaps something I considered pairing with it, or something I realized would have paired well after I “did the geek”. Not always, though – and this was one of those weeks when I just wanted to have something classic and unrelated during recording…

If you don’t know the “origin story” for Genmaicha, Marika does a stellar job describing the myth of where the name for the tea comes from at the start of the episode – I highly recommend listening to it. Of course, I always recommend listening to our podcast. I am biased in that way.

Our Website: https://www.geeksteep.com/
Our Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/geeksteep/

My Geek Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CKRltxXAkpV/

Listen to us on Buzzsprout:
https://www.buzzsprout.com/1286036/podcast/website

DB topic:
https://steepster.com/discuss/42133-geek-steep-a-new-tea-and-fandom-podcast

Flavors: Freshly Cut Grass, Grass, Seaweed, Toasted Rice, Toasty

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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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68

Latte Sipdown (276)

This one smells so good but I could never coax out the flavors quite like I wanted to. Instead, I get a lot of black tea flavor here with the smell of coconut and vanilla. Even as a latte, it’s a black tea with some coconut flavor but the emphasis is the base and it’s nothing special.

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68

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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66
drank Idris Chai by Calabash Tea & Tonic
5659 tasting notes

Sipdown (290)

I do NOT like this plain. At all. It tastes like cheap and thin hot chocolate. It needs a latte prep for sure since this just feels like its lacking something without it.

Dropping my rating slightly from 72 because if a tea needs milk/latte prep this badly, it probably isn’t the best tea to start with.

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66
drank Idris Chai by Calabash Tea & Tonic
5659 tasting notes

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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66
drank Idris Chai by Calabash Tea & Tonic
5659 tasting notes

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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