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Recent Tasting Notes
My husband and I had our hanami at a local park that happens to have a bunch of cherry trees. They’re small, but loaded with blossoms. This tea was the perfect accompaniment to the onigiri, shrimp shumai, strawberry daifuku, taiyaki (custard AND azuki bean filled!), and a mini baumkuchen that I brought. I brewed it up beforehand according to the instructions, and put it in my thermos. Delicately floral, light cherry fruit, soft green tea flavor, nothing was too heavy, nothing overpowered any of the other elements in the tea. We enjoyed it so much. I wasn’t expecting much from this, since my previous experiences with cherry blossom green teas have been mixed. They can get cloying, metallic, overly floral. Not so here. This is a winner.
Flavors: Cherry, Cherry Blossom, Floral
Single bag grabbed from a tea box. I taste mostly a sour rose and a pepperiness, maybe also from the rose. I get maybe a little chocolate and some nuttiness. The black tea doesn’t contribute much. I’m drinking this with milk, and it’s okay, but not really my thing. I don’t like that these bags are each stored in their own non-sealed cardboard pyramid.
Mastress Alita’s Monthly Sipdown Challenge
January 2022 → A tea flavored like your favorite pie
I know, I know. It’s February already. I intended this for yesterday, but time got away from me. My favorite pie of the moment is lemon ice box pie from Jim ‘N Nick’s. I think Jim ‘N Nick’s is a local restaurant, maybe originating in Birmingham but now spread throughout the southeast US. (Just checked and there is a lone location in Aurora, Colorado.) Anyway, it’s mostly known for its barbecue. They have some other great items on the menu too though, one of which is their lemon ice box pie. It’s wildly expensive for a slice of pie, to me at least, so I usually savor a few bites over the course of a few days (if I can make it last that long). Equal parts tart lemon and mile-high whipped cream with a buttery graham cracker crust. It’s heaven on earth.
This tea comes closest to that puckery lemony flavor, but of course it can’t compare. It would be unfair to expect it to. As a tea, and a green tea at that, it’s enjoyable. It’s not tart like I expected but instead tastes more like Pez candy. There are quite a few lemony elements in this tea, so I’m not sure which is giving me that impression. Contenders are lemon verbena, lemon myrtle, lemon peel, lemongrass and natural lemon flavor. I’m guessing it’s either the lemon verbena or the lemon myrtle. I’m not familiar enough with them to match the flavor. So yeah, not as enjoyable as the pie but definitely a nice enough green tea. Coming from someone who doesn’t really like green tea, I think someone who does would probably like this one.
This was meant to be my pick for one of the sipdown prompts (a tea with bean notes), but I don’t taste anything bean-like here. I saw one note that mentioned soybeans, so I went with it. I’m no connoisseur of green teas which is probably why I’m only picking up the most obvious flavors (jasmine). I don’t love it, but I also don’t love green tea all that much either.
I’m settling in for trap session No. 2, so scroll past all my notes today if you don’t want to hear me go on and on about it. :D We released our first cat on Thursday, and I can’t think of many times in my life when I’ve felt so proud. We’ve had to put the fostering on a hold for a bit, so I’m really excited to have found something else to learn and do in the meantime. Planning to drink lots of tea today while I wait.
Flavors: Bitter, Drying, Floral, Jasmine
Why is this sweet?! I was hoping for a nice, straightforward tea that lives up to its name. Instead I’m tasting sweetness at the front of the sip, so much like stevia that I had to check the ingredients list. Stevia isn’t on there, so I’m guessing that the sweetness is coming from the licorice root. Unfortunately I can’t shake that stevia vibe and I really really dislike stevia. Thankfully this is a sipdown and I’m counting it towards Mastress Alita’s January 2022 sipdown challenge as paired with a favorite hobby because I drank it (or tried to) while decorating my planner for the week.
Another from TreeGal a while ago! Thank you! A single sample that looked so fancy – the package makes it seem so classy and dessert like, so the actual tea was confusing. I expected a long leaf black, with creamy peach sugar flavor. Really, it’s like a tart peach, not even a candy peach. The black tea is finely chopped – very small. I only see an occasional marigold flower, but upon steeping, I definitely taste some coconut and yep, there it is in the description too. No idea how old this is now, but I know I have had this sample for at least a year or two. The description mentions mango flavor? Not even peach flavor? I guess it could taste like mango, but then why not call it mango brulee? It isn’t brulee either. Just confusing all around. I didn’t hate it, didn’t love it. I probably would have been better blindtasting it, than relying on the name to guide me. Glad to sample, glad it’s gone. Next morning cold tea tasted like stone fruits on rich black tea — I love next morning cold tea. :D
Steep #1 // 20 minutes after boiling // 1 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3-4 minute steep
2022 sipdowns: 6
Flavors: Cherry, Coconut, Mango, Peach, Stonefruit
It’s a good tea for the afternoon. Not heavy on the ginger (which is good for me, because ginger and I don’t always get along) and slightly pear-fruit flavored. This is delicate, nothing to whack you in the face. Delightful in an afternoon rainstorm.
Flavors: Ginger, Honey, Pear
I wanted an early wake-up call today, but not the one I received at 5:30 a.m.: a cat doing, um, what you don’t want cats to do on the carpet. Thus, two large mugs of unleaded PG Tips and Partridges later, I’m switching to lower caffeine options early in the day. (Sorry, I always feel honor-bound to explain external tea motivators.)
With that totally unnecessary verbiage out of the way…I would never have expected peach and mango paired with peppermint. Several interruptions kept me from starting the cup fresh and hot, so at slightly above room temp, the peppermint comes through first with the fruit behind it. Two completely different streams of thought, but they play together nicely. Nothing notable about the green tea, just a light, almost invisible carrier for the main ingredients.
This was part of a Tea Forte “Warming Joy” sampler from last year and doesn’t appear to be in the 2021 lineup, nor have I found a trustworthy tea description on alternate retail sites.
So you’re stuck with my observations. Black tea base, which just serves as the pack mule for the big hunks of ginger I can see through the pyramid bag and some peppermint. Nothing sweet added to the mix, so what you get is warmth and bite. There’s one more bag in the second layer that I may hang on to for sniffles and sore throat season.
The neighborhood lawn mowers have finally laid off; I’ve got the window open, and other than these soft keyboard clicks, the only other noticeable sound is a few robins and cardinals catching up on the day’s news. Delicious after a rowdy afternoon.
I can’t decide whether the tranquil setting is subliminally boosting my rating for this Tea Forte blend, or whether I just hadn’t paid attention to how nice it is. A base of soft rooibos, a little blueberry and elderberry, a whisper of vanilla (or so saith the tea description). Just berry, no tartness.
This is a pyramid from an aging sampler box I haven’t yet exhausted, but I’m thinking that a fresh tin of loose leaf would be just ducky.
On to the rowdies. (I’m sure you were just waiting to hear;) service project day with the most disparate, wacky, maturity-levels-all-over-the-map group I have taught in years. My work group was on trash and weed control patrol on the church campus when they weren’t doing high hurdles over the shrubbery. Then on to the roller skating rink. Skating rink technology has not changed much in 45 years. Black light, disco balls, limbo, and middle schoolers darting around on wheels like bugs. My job was Watching The Stuff. At one time, I was custodian of eight pairs of shoes, two watches, an asthma inhaler, two tubs of cotton candy, one tray of Don’t Let Anyone Touch Those Nachos, and my fellow sponsor’s phone and ID. All returned safely to their rightful owners.
I’m down to the “I really don’t know how I’m gonna feel about this” pyramids from my Tea Forte sampler, and I hesitated to give African Solstice a go, particularly when I saw that rosehips were a key player. I was braced for a mugful of tartness, but this is surprisingly sweet. My taste buds can’t detect anything but a general “unspecified fruit” flavor, kind of like that one single good chew of Fruit Stripe gum before it goes tasteless. Same with the roses—a nice team player in this rooibos-based blend, but they don’t stand out.
None of that sounded very complimentary, did it? It’s a really nice evening cup, especially out of my new favorite hissing mug (just the favorite one that hisses, not my very favorite). Go ahead. Say I’m nuts. I think this little ceramic mug, which had been stashed in storage for ages, was from a donation center when we were trying to cobble together a kitchen after our tornado. Brown with little curlicue hearts on it. I don’t know if it’s the porous texture of the ceramic, or the shape (it tapers inward the tiniest bit at the lip) or the slight flaw in the inner glazing … but whatever it is, it hisses when it’s full of a warm cuppa. Shhh. There. Hear it?
Mastress Alita’s sipdown challenge Wednesday, August 18th: National Pinot Noir Day Tea #2
This one is from TreeGal! Thanks very much! Another Darj for the challenge today! I’m noticing some fruit and hibiscus in this sample, along with a fragrance of strong bubblegum. uh oh. I have never had quince but apparently it should be like pear. This doesn’t seem like pear to me. The brew color is quite dark and red. It doesn’t really taste like pear or even Darjeeling. It’s very tart, and then has a very earthy flavor… maybe even a hint of grape! When cooled, definitely red wine. But yes, still bubblegum, even though the description mentions grapefruit. Second steep is even harsher, not liking it. Glad I only had one serving of this.. it was fun to try anyway!
Steep #1 // 35 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 20 min after boiling // 2 min
2021 sipdowns: 112
Being of the non-hibiscus camp, I wasn’t especially anxious to give this a try; most of the blood orange blends I’ve tried are so tart they make my eyebrows sweat. But I’m trying to sip down the remains of a Tea Forte sampler, so there they were, and I felt honor bound to sample them.
I fridge-steeped two pyramid bags overnight and was very pleasantly surprised. No tartness to speak of—just a pleasant, deep, almost grapefruity citrus peel and pith personality. Surprise!