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Recent Tasting Notes
March Sipdown Challenge – March 2 drink a boozy tea for International Irish Whiskey Day!
I thought I had written a prompt I couldn’t fulfill, since I did a sipdown on my O’Connor’s Cream a while back. (That one is a repurchase as soon as I sip down enough to justify adding a tea! Thankfully, Tin Roof Teas carries it so it will be easy to get.)
I went through my cupboard on here because rootling through the real thing was daunting, and discovered two teas that could qualify – this one that was a Christmas gift from Superanna to Ashman, and Jingle Bells, which purports to have champagne or sparkling white wine flavor – I forget which. It is awesome.
I went with White Bellini because I was in the mood for something lighter.
This one requires careful steeping for us. When I made it by their directions, it was good but very astringent. So astringent Ashman mentioned it. So I started steeping it at the incredibly low temp of 160F, like a matcha, and he loves it this way. I prefer it this way, too. The astringency is gone and the peach and apricot flavors come out just right, not KAPOW in your face and strong (which can be good when you want that strong flavor like with Harney’s Apricot Black, which is yummy, too) but well-blended, well-balanced, and refreshing on the palate with gentle briskness. You definitely taste the peach and apricot both and they are identifiable, not generic fruitiness.
I am drinking it hot on this rainy but warm March day, but I have already tried it iced and sweetened and it is great that way, too.
Is it bad that I never even look at recommended steeping instructions ha ha? Kusmi’s “white” teas are tricky in that they’re actually a blend of white and green, so I always steep them at a green tea temp also.
Cameron B: That was my mistake the first time I made it! I saw the name and assumed it was all white tea. The green in this needs delicate handling!
I did not initially see that this is a white and green tea mix and I made the first cup with water that was a bit too hot -around 185F. It was good but astringent, so I checked the can, saw the green and their recommendation to go with 175F, and decided to dial it back even a bit more to 160F.
Ashman, Melissa, and I all liked it this way. Melissa (one of the many with that username here on Steepster, I think!) said it reminded her of Madame Butterfly from Gurman’s in Dublin, and that is one of her all time favorite teas.
This is very peachy and fruity. It will be easy to drink down this gift from Superanna!
I am so surprised to see bad reviews for this tea, but I notice that most of them are from people who hate either bergamot or lavender. I like both of those things on the right base, so this bides well for me.
The aroma of this tea is heavenly to me. I could bring the tin to my bedside and sniff it until I fall asleep and dream sweet dreams.
I was surprised to see that they recommend 195F water and since my kettle just had 190 or 200, I went with 190F. Next time around I will try 200F to bring out more of the base tea flavor. My only criticism is I wanted more base tea flavor and I think that is fixable with either time, temp, or leaf amount.
Something about this also reminds me a little bit of Perseus from The ODor.
I did not find the bergamot to be too strong. I don’t like super strong bergamot and when I do have bergamot I prefer it on a Chinese base. The main scent to me is fruity candy. A big sniff of the tin brings to mind a wonderful tangerine tea I had long ago plus American Smarties. I have heard of a powder candy in Britain they refer to as sherbet but seems to be something they dip lollies in. That might be similar to the flavor of our Smarties, so if anyone has tried both things, please let me know if they compare! Layer that with lavender and bergamot. If that doesn’t appeal to you, may I have your tin, please?
I am so happy right now.
AJRimmer Advent Day 21
To be honest, I drank this in a hurry on my way out the door this morning. It came across as a pretty basic chai blend…enjoyable, but not memorable.
Flavors: Cardamom, Cinnamon, Clove, Spices
1.25tsp steeped 4 minutes in 80C water, drunk bare.
Okay, first off: I over-steeped this. Instructions suggest 3-4 minutes, but 4 may be too long for the green in this blend, which I’m finding bitter. Adding some water really helps there; I’ll do a shorter steep next time.
Apart from the self-inflicted and easily-solved bitterness, this is a beautiful mint green tea. The spearmint scent on the dry leaf is strong, almost overpowering. The steeped tea is much more balanced between what looks and tastes like a gunpowder green and gorgeous, vibrant spearmint.
Mint can help clear my head, so I am finding this a grounding, soothing cuppa.
6.5 tsp for 1200mL water, steeped four minutes 30 seconds at 90C in a Breville, with the basket set to go uppy-downy.
I’ve reviewed this gorgeous blend as a bag in a cup, after which I promptly ordered myself a tin. I’ve just made a pot of it in my Breville, and the scent is wafting everywhere!
Brewed from loose leaf in a pot: everything I’ve said before, only even better. The licorice — very subtle — and the balance of spices, orange, and tea are nigh-on perfection.
I had my doubts about the hype around Kusmi teas, doubly so about the hype around Tsareva. I am happy to say I was wrong.
1 sachet for 250mL water 90C steeped 4 minutes, drunk bare.
So I had one lone little sachet of Tsarevna as a free sample in a recent Kusmi order. Ho hum, I thought, another spiced black tea, probably just some stale cinnamon. Another spiced black tea with orange — Stash is hard to beat there. Another chai wannabe that just fails. Another …
Then I opened the sachet.
Somehow, Tsarevna smells like no other orange spiced black tea I’ve ever had.
The licorice is really good here, subtle (for liquorice) and playing support for the other flavours: sweet, sweet oranges with no bitter pith, really warm cinnamon, and some cardamom.
It’s not a chai. It’s not an orange spiced tea. It’s entirely itself.
The tea base is light and not at all tannic, light-bodied, no bitterness or astringency, so I’m gonna guess it’s a China black tea. And that’s just fine, because the tea plays well with the orange and spices, and, most amazingly, neither dominates the other.
2.5 tsp for a 500mL pot, water at 90C, steeped 4 min 30 seconds, drunk bare.
Dark copper liquor, almost red, definitely India tea in the base as well as China, maybe some Ceylon heft and smoothness? This blend’s got bergamot oil, orange oil, and, unusually, mandarin oil, which really lifts this blend into something special. The citrus notes dance; the tea base soothes and fortifies.
This is my favourite yet from Kusmi … and it was only available in refill bags instead of a tin, so I’m worried it might be on the chopping block. I’d happily serve this at a holiday gathering, and I’d also happily drink it every day. And I’d most certainly offer it to an EG lover who’s just come in from the cold.
(Please, Kusmi, don’t lose this one.)
I love this, but I thought it was discontinued. If it isn’t, I have a last minute addition to my Christmas list!
Found it! I guess it was out of stock for a very long time when we last looked for it. It looks like you have to order a 100 gram bag, but that doesn’t scare me. Ha ha!
1 sachet steeped 4 minutes in 90C water, drunk bare.
And now, the last new-to-me sachet from my Kusmi Earl Grey sampler …
Oh. Oh, my. Well now.
An amazingly well-balanced blend. A light-coloured and light-bodied liquor serves up a bright and mineral … I want to say Ceylon-led-blend? Not sure. Bergamot is soft and subtle and charming, definitely on the light side, and that’s just fine here. The vanilla flavour is very subtle, thank goodness, and only announces itself in a whisper after you’ve gotten bergamot and orange, at least. I also caught some grapefruit notes. A very gently warming spice taste at the end: cinnamon maybe?
Wow. An utterly lovely blend, and, in my experience, unique. I look forward to trying this one made with loose tea.
1 sachet for 300mL water @ 90C steeped 4 min 30 seconds, drunk bare.
My second-last new-to-me from my Kusmi Earl Grey sampler …
I expected to dislike this one, truth told. Once we start adding berry flavour or scent to a tea, it’s either fakey-fake sweet-almond from cheap 1970s hand lotions or tear-your-tastebuds-a-new-one hibiscus. I avoid hibiscus. Sure, it adds authentic colour and tartness, but it also dominates.
So there’s no hibiscus in this one, but I do get that fake-almond thing from the berry, vanilla, and caramel flavours. The bergamot cuts into them in the finish. That finish is sweet and a bit cloying, like a cookie that’s crumbled in your mouth and you can’t quite swallow yet.
I’d serve this to someone who said they liked a “cream” Earl Grey, but I won’t go our of my way on this one for myself. That’s no comment on the quality of the tea. It’s just a subjective thing.
1 sachet for 300mL water @90C, steeped five minutes.
I’ve been utterly ruined for Earl Grey by TeaBox’s Earl Grey Citrus, which remains the most fragrant and delicious EG I’ve ever had — probably because it’s so very fresh. Stash comes second, especially with their double bergamot EG.
So I admit, I was expecting the bergamot here to light may fire.
Well, it blows on the embers nicely. I would hardly call this an “intense” EG, more of a medium-to-strong EG. The tea base is quite good, which can make or break an EG, no matter how much or how little bergamot is used.
It’s delicious. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a lovely, sparkling bright Earl Grey with a good tea base, and a very smooth finish. I would happily serve this to someone I know likes a good EG, and I would buy it again.I could drink this all day. For intensity, though, TeaBox and Stash are way ahead.
1 sachet (full leaf within) to 300mL water @90C steeped 4 minutes, drunk bare.
Definitely not getting the soapy thing that many others have. Then again, the floral scent here, ylang-ylang, is in just about everything from soap to body wash to lotion to shampoo …
The citrus gently cuts the floral, and the black tea base is, once again, decent-to-good, as it should be for the price.
I love floral teas, so this totally works for me, The contrasts blend into one delightful and very smooth yet complex tea.
I’ve kept the bag in … at 5 minutes, the tea really starts to take over.
1 sachet (full leaf within) to 300mL water steeped 4 minutes at 90C, drunk bare.
I’ve got a sampler! I love samplers! And it’s an Earl Grey sampler from Kusmi, so it’s bergamot forever here at my house today.
After s subtle and gentle start with Kusmi’s basic Earl Grey, it’s up several notches of brightness with a good Ceylon and China base, bergamot oil, lemon and lime oils, and orange blossom flavour! The first sip is very citrus, but not rudely so, and the orange blossom gives it all a soft finish that I could get really get charmed by. This blend is supposedly named after Anastasia Nikolovna Romanova, the youngest daughter of the last tsar and tsarina, and she was impish and playful, very bright and loving.
I’d call this a soft-to-medium EG. The orange blossom flavour really mellows things out at the end. I’d drink this any day. No bitterness — I expect using 90C water helps there.
1 bag steeped 4 minutes 30 seconds in 90C water. Drink bare.
Kusmi is new to me, and I’m a student of Russian history, so how can I resist?
I’ve come to enjoy black teas, especially Darjeelings, brewed at 90C instead of 95C. It’s often makes for a smoother tea.
I’m also on an Earl Grey kick — can’t get enough bergamot. TeaBox’s Earl Grey Citrus might be the best I’ve ever had, so fresh and vibrant — it scents my whole study — with Indian teas in the base. Andrews and Dunham Damn Fine Tea Mount Grey is also excellent. So is Stash’s regular (yum) Double Bergamot (oh mah GAWD) Earl Grey. That said, it’s actually hard to find an Earl Grey that uses a decent tea base and doesn’t just cover up poor quality tea with bergamot perfume (Twining’s, I’m looking at you — and don’t get me started on supermarket’s own brand EG teas.)
So I’m a bit picky about Earl Grey.
I’m hitting a Kusmi Earl Grey sampler today, everything from their basic Earl Grey to the spicy and vanilla Earl Grey they call Prince Vladimir. I love samplers — always a great excuse to make MOAR TEA. One at a time, though, one at a time.
Kusmi’s Earl Grey is a gentle soul. Liquor is a beautiful copper, and the mouthfeel is exceptionally smooth — a bit odd for a citrus tea, but I like it. The bergamot is subtle, which adds to the smoothness, and the tea base has some Ceylon, I think, so the tea base is decent.
It’s a competent and delicious Earl Grey, if a very smooth and subtle one. I doubt I’d go out of my way to buy it again, and perhaps Kusmi’s Earl Grey Intense will suit me better. If you’re introducing someone to Earl Grey tea, maybe try this one, but in my experience, those who love EG love it a lot and want more bergamot, not less.
One complaint: the tea comes in those plasticky sachets instead of muslin or paper. Not impressed there.
Finally finishing the last tea from last year’s advent calendars, just in time for the new season to start. This was a mini tin, but I ended up sharing all but the last serving. This smells really good, but the chai flavors didn’t turn out quite as strong as I had hoped. I can’t tell exactly what spices I taste since they’re a bit subtle. It’s okay, but I expected more.
Kusmi has better tart fruit herbals, but I really don’t mind this one. There’s definitely plenty of hibiscus in here, but I think the balance is still decent. It’s like having fruit juice that’s less sweet. I’ve enjoyed a few large cups of this cold. I actually totally forgot about this tin from last year’s advent calendar because it fit perfectly underneath one of my other tins, but it’s still quite fresh! It’s finished now, and I wouldn’t repurchase, but it wasn’t bad.
This is another blend from my swap with Cameron, while this sort of blend is typically my jam, it was not my favorite. I thought it was pretty bland because I like super strong bergamot flavors. It also had a thick film on the top even though it was looseleaf I’m not sure how that happened.
Flavors: Bergamot, Citrus, Floral
SVTTB Tea #2
I got the tea box on Wednesday and since I am in wedding celebration crunch time (Sept 24th), I decided to take samplings of teas that piqued my interest, add my contributions and send it on its way again so I can enjoy the samples over a longer period of time. I managed to find two types of Kusmi tea in the box: Tsarevna and Anastasia. This is my first time trying Kusmi tea and I am pretty excited; it was one of the companies on my “want to try” list.
Tasting Note: Really nice smooth base, lots of deep floral notes and the citrus/bergamot wasn’t over powering. So far I can see why people like Kusmi tea’s blacks. Would drink again if I had more. :)
I received a single sachet of this as a free sample with my small Kusmi order. I was actually considering ordering this exact tea, but decided on the White Bellini instead because I’ve enjoyed Kusmi’s peach white teas in the past. But I was excited to find this sachet when I opened the box! :3
I didn’t remember that Kusmi’s “white” teas actually use a mixed white and green base, so I steeped it at a white tea temperature. It did come out very slightly bitter, but not enough to ruin the mug. I quite like this tea, the “forest fruits” flavor is very heavy on the blackcurrant, which makes it very dark and rich and syrupy. So overall it’s quite jammy-tasting, which is unusual and tasty on a white base. There’s some nice nuttiness from the green tea as well.
I’ll have to keep it in mind for a possible future purchase. And since I really enjoyed the peach and blackcurrant white tea that Kusmi used to make before the rebrand, it would be interesting to try mixing this and the White Bellini to see if I could recreate a similar flavor…
Flavors: Black Currant, Floral, Hay, Jam, Nutty, Oats, Sweet
There’s something about this that I really like. The flavor tastes like lemongrass and a subtle sort of something, though I’m not sure what. It’s lightly fruity, and I’d totally drink it again. This is the second time I’ve had a Kusmi tea without realizing there was mate in there. I don’t usually enjoy it, but apparently I don’t mind the way Kusmi does it!
This smells super tropical. The flavor is definitely still tropical, but the base takes over a little, and white tea isn’t really my thing. I can’t tell exactly what fruits it’s going for, but I can taste something like pineapple. The base is a little drying and plant-like. If the tropical flavors were stronger, this would be really great.