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Recent Tasting Notes
I’ve enjoyed the other three more overtly wintery and festive teas from this month’s box but as we close out 2021 I wanted something more soothing and contemplative to begin my morning with. Lemon and lavender is one of my favourite “fruity and floral” combinations in general, but in particular I like how this tea is such a zesty and lively lemon paired with such a thick and heady floral lavender. It makes for one of those kind of teas that is flavourful and bold enough to wake up with but that still feels grounded and calming enough that you aren’t being slapped into the day!
Tea Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CYJuKCCu1JE/
I’m only just now getting around to trying the teas from December’s gifted Tea Runners subscription box – but this is the one that I definitely wanted to start with! The dry leaf aroma is intensely minty but with a sweet thick creaminess to it as well. It reminds me loosely of a long since retired tea from DAVIDsTEA that I have very, very fond memories of called White Chocolate Frost.
Brewed the flavour isn’t as overtly menthol heavy and intense as the aroma but there is a cooling frostiness about it that does convey that crisp snap of a good peppermint bark. The creaminess is silky and consistent throughout. I don’t find it quite as rich/cloying as actual white chocolate but, in this case, that’s a good thing. I love the hints of the woodier rooibos that still come through.
Overall, it’s a bit different from what I imagined it might be like but still enjoyable and close enough in direction that I definitely don’t feel disappointed by it either!
When I make new orders, I like to try to add something I have never tried before that sounds interesting. This is one of those.
So I absolutely adore so many of the ingredients here. Cinnamon, Cardamom, Orange Peel, and Ginger really are some of my favorite flavors. The lemongrass, however, I am not a huge fan of. Its either too strong and dominating, or makes me think I’m eating a Thai curry. That last bit isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but not usually the flavor I’m looking for in a tea.
And, while the lemongrass is the last ingredient in the list, it does dominate in the flavor. The surprising part, however, is that its still good. The lemongrass is not harsh and the other flavors seem to give a nice base to its brighter nature.
I was expecting a strong masala chai flavor with a potentially harsh lemongrass flavor cutting through it. What I am getting instead is a soft lemongrass flavor buoyed up by the base of black tea. And, at the tail end of the sip, a slight burn/tingling sensation in the back of the throat from the spices.
Honestly I think I would have been happier with more of the ginger, cardamom, and orange peel showing through. But this is still really enjoyable.
Note to self – Try this iced or cold brewed.
Kinda thought I was going to like this tea more than I actually did…
The dry leaf aroma smells very bubblegum heavy which, while definitely not mulled wine oriented, is arguably pretty normal for most mulled wine flavoured teas. There’s just something about the combination of orange and spices that can come off so strongly as bubblegum if used in the right combination. It actually made me more excited for the tea though because I really enjoy that kind of mulling spice bubblegum flavour – strange as it may sound.
Plus, it’s very cool this is a black tea! So many mulled wine teas are tisanes.
Steeped it’s not bubblegum like at all though – so that’s good for the people who would be turned off by that note in the smell. I found the taste really hibiscus dominant and tart, which makes sense and definitely conveys mulled wine (especially with the spice note undertones that were present) much better than the dry leaf aroma. It was too much hibiscus for me personally, though – I wanted more of what I was getting in the nose. I think, however, in this case my ideal taste would be the HIGHLY atypical one based on what this tea is actually trying to be…
From this month’s Tea Runners subscription. I could have sworn this was advertised by email as being a black tea – if I had realized it was a green blend I honestly likely would have swapped it out for a different sample. That said, I’m glad I tried it because it wasn’t half bad!
The almonds and sort of gentle nuttiness that come through in the taste combined with the slightly more generic “red fruit” and acai notes (versus pomegranate in particular) did confuse me at first because they don’t seem super complimentary but it clicked for me as I was writing tasting notes tonight that they might be inspired by an acai bowl, which do often have nuts in them, so I feel like I’m more willing to forgive the seemingly random addition.
Medium bodied and very sippable without any true off flavours – just kind of pleasantly consistent from start to finish.
So, I’m almost caught up on tasting notes for the week now and I’m realizing that there maaaayyyy have been a subconscious trend this week with me reaching for a higher than normal amount of hibiscus/berry blends. In my defense (though not sure who I’m defending myself to – I guess just the ether) this was part of my November Tea Runner’s subscription and I generally try to taste through all the teas I get in the subscription as quickly as possible…
Sadly I think this blend falls culprit to having too much hibiscus. Don’t get me wrong – it tasted good and was refreshing but the dominant note was strong saturated hibiscus with the blueberry and even the rooibos coming off as more of a secondary thought. Hibiscus can be a really drowning flavour and I just feel that was the case here.
Starting my morning with a session of this black tea – from this month’s gifted subscription box!! This Chinese black is really full bodied and rich with coating notes of syrupy stewed red fruits, malt and fresh baked bread, dried apricots, and a sweet caramel-like date finish. It’s a really nice tea to start the day with because it’s robust enough to force me awake but also sweet enough to not be abrasive!
I tasted this before I read up on it, and I wouldn’t have tagged it as a Darjeeling. My groggy, caffeine-starved brain (stormed overnight; no power this morning till we’d been up about an hour) classified it as “watery Assam with some really nice dark, sweet notes.” However, it was enjoyable, and I’ve got the basket of leaves on standby to doctor up with something a little stronger.
One of the teas in my gifted subscription box this month…
To be honest, I’ve really seen very little pumpkin oolong blends out there and I think it’s a shame because the more roasty, mineral, and nutty flavours of the more oxidized oolong used here really compliment the deeper warming spices. The clove in particular is just excellent. Pumpkin Spice teas very rarely actually taste of pumpkin and that’s true of this one too, but the spice combo is just pleasant. I think trying it with milk might be my next step. I’m really loving exploring some of the more seasonal inspired flavours in this month’s box. I think this is the first time I’ve not heavily taken advantage of the customization feature..
One of the four teas I received in this month’s gifted Tea Runners subscription box! I felt like this was the most cohesive and seasonally appropriate “themed month” I’ve received so far and I was honestly especially hyped to try all of the teas this month!
I made this one today during the afternoon and, while I did enjoy it, I found it taste pretty different from my expectations. To me Apple Cider is usually more sweet apple, though I accept that for many an apple cider is more like a mulled cider with heavy spices as well. Though this tea is spiced I don’t feel like it really matched with either definitely of “apple cider” that I had in my head. I think it was just missing the juicy sweetness of the apple and, if assuming a mulled cider, the intensity of those spices. Instead, it was a pleasant light to medium bodied apple note that tasted rather baked. Almost like an apple pie, but if you stripped away the sweet syrupy part of the filling and just left those cinnamon kissed baked apple wedges. That’s still a pretty delicious and autumnal feeling profile – but not particularly a cider.
Delicious Western-style mug that I steeped up late last week. This was a gifted tea in my September Tea Runners subscription box and, while it hasn’t connected with me as viscerally as some of the other teas, I enjoyed it quite a bit. I found it to be super full bodied and smooth with really lux notes of dark chocolate, leather, and some spices as well. I’ll have to write a better tasting note later though because I drank this following a midday nap and it was in one of those blissful post-sleep moments where everything still feels a little dreamlike.
Got my September Tea Runners subscription box on this past Thursday and just couldn’t wait to dive into it – starting with this tea that I chose to end my work day with. I enjoyed this one in the garden outdoors post heavy rainfall. The rich and warming notes of sweet potato, malt, grilled nuts, sweet red fruit, sugarcane, and cinnamon felt perfectly contrasted with the cool air and aroma of sweet petrichor filling the surrounding space. It’s peaceful and grounding!
Geek Steep S2E11: The Saga Of The Swamp Thing
So tea advent calendars are keeping me very, very busy so I’m behind on my Geek Steep tasting notes – today has been a bit more calm though so gonna play some catch up!
This is what I drank during the episode recording, and I picked it for no reason in particular aside from the fact I’ve been enjoying it a lot lately and I wanted another excuse to make a mug of it. Plus, it’s so cozy and autumnal and it was also cozy and autumnal on the day we recorded.
However, if you check out the episode you’ll see we went on a pretty lengthy tangent about why plum teas usually suck so much along with the pros/cons of subscription services that let you substitute out your teas. So, it ended up spawning some good conversation from what was essentially an on a whim tea decision.
Another one that I just had to revisit sooner rather than later!
I think, now that the intial wave of overwhelming excitement about the plum flavour has passed, I’m noticing the licorice root in the taste of this tea a lot more. Licorice root is kind of weird for me: I love black licorice, star anise, aniseed, and fennel which are all pretty dang licorice-y tasting. However, licorice root!? Usually that’s a hard no for me. However, it’s blend almost seamlessly into that plum undertone/finishing note and I think it’s actually helping the plum taste more like plum.
So… At least for now, I’m giving the licorice root a pass in this blend. It can keep doing its thing and I’ll not only suck it up but also enjoy it. This is a nice tea!
Plum teas are usually really disappointing so my expectations here were admittedly low. I still wanted to try it though because I can’t let go of the hope that someday a plum tea will sweep me off my feet. Well… this kind of did that!?
The dry leaf smells really amazing but not necessarily like plum – just warming sweet cinnamon with a deep fruity undertone to it. Reminds me a little bit of DAVIDsTEA’s Sleigh Ride, actually. Steeped up, there was less cinnamon to the aroma that I was expecting, and it was inviting with sweet syrupy fruity notes. Leaning more stonefruit than the dry leaf aroma, but not quite plum yet. The whole thing does make me feel wintery and festive, though.
The taste though… Oh, the taste! The tea starts off with a tart hibiscus forward top note and then moves swiftly into cinnamon – the combination is very akin to DT’s Sleigh Ride. However, following the wave of cinnamon is a deep, round and syrupy distinct note of plum in the finish. It hits hard with a coating sweetness that sweeps the palate before very quickly dropping away and leaving a more generically fruity light aftertaste. It’s over almost in an instant but the moment that heavy taste of plum hits is one of the most plum-like plum teas I’ve encountered in years. That is a taste I will likely be chasing for a while!
Cold Brew Sipdown (1442)!
So cold brewing was definitely the way to go to really get that punch of deeply camphorous/cooling eucalyptus that I was hoping for! Honestly, this brew actually heavily reminded me of Christmas type because of that pine-y taste in combination with a nice sweet and tart cranberry. Definitely way more balanced than when I brewed it hot, as well. I found this incredibly refreshing and really unique. I think, so far, this is the first flavoured blend from Tea Runners that I would hands down buy in a larger quantity!
This smells really good in the bag – almost a pine-y kind of menthol/woodsy eucalyptus with that sweeter red fruit/cranberry undertone. Steeped up it’s nice too, but there’s not quite enough eucalyptus to really satisfy me. Now, mind you, I love eucalyptus in tea and I’d be perfectly okay with having a cuppa that tasted like Vick’s Vapor Rub (ie. Cold 911 from DT) so my eucalyptus preferences might be a little atypical. The cranberry is forward and well balanced between tart and sweet. I think it’s a really pretty and almost sophisticated combination with the eucalyptus. So overall a nice blend, just wish there was more of that menthol punch. I think my next step is to cold brew this – I’m hoping that might mellow some of the more dominating tart cranberry notes and allow the eucalyptus to shine through a little more.
I feel like my brain can’t decide if it wants to still be in the middle of the summer or if it’s ready for Autumn to hit – I keep going back in forth in my tea cravings, too! This was definitely from a more “summer mood” kind of day. Just a nice hot cup of something sunny and bright. Love the simple and sweet lemon notes here with the full bodied black tea.
Pretty simple blend but I do really like that approach when it comes to lemon black teas because it feels so classic to me. I appreciate that this is smooth and full bodied without being pithy or bitter, and there’s a subtle creamy sweetness to the lemon that also works super well in my opinion. Nothing magic here, but for a staple flavour I would consider this a solid option to fit in that “daily drinker” sort of category.