91 Tasting Notes
Classic tea. Bouquet of Flowers No. 108, created in 1880 by Pavel Kousmishoff in St. Petersburg, Russia to celebrate the birth of his daughter, Elizabeth, is Kusmi Tea’s oldest blend. It was the favorite tea of Tsar Nicholas II. Fast forward 136 years later and 7000 miles west to a Russian tea lover in Richmond, Virginia, USA. It is a sunny springtime Sunday afternoon and I am feeling a bit nostalgic today. April in Virginia is glorious! Drinking Bouquet of Flowers just seems right as I gaze thankfully into the garden at my flowers that survived last night’s frost – Hopefully our last! I think that the odd spring cold snap must have put me in the mood for something Russian.
I love all things floral and I especially love floral teas. A brazen, unapologetic floral fiend I am! That said, I honestly think that many folks with floral fears in regard to tea might just find this tea to be quite acceptable.
The dry leaf smells mostly of lavender, and there is a hauntingly pleasant woody scent that calls to my mind the smell of an old antiques shop or, perhaps, the library of an old English country estate. That kind of woody scent. There is a bit of spicey sweetness in the fragrance that lingered into the three minute steep.
Flavor wise, the tea base of Ceylonese, Chinese and Indian tea creates a very smooth base, with a pleasant bit of bread and malt, along with the woody note. The main floral note is lavender, but it is not overwhelming or perfumey. I also detected a hint of sweet violet. The citrus components from the bergamot, mandarin, lemon and lime work very well to keep the floral components in check.
This is a tea of masterful synchronicity. Everything comes together just right to produce the classic cup of Imperial Russian tea. It makes a fabulous afternoon tea – Great with sweets! The fact that Bouquet of Flowers No. 108 has been around for over 130 years says something. I am surprised that this tea is not more highly rated. As far as I’m concerned, if it was good enough for Tsar Nicholas II it is certainly good enough for little old me.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Bergamot, Citrus, Lavender, Lemon, Lime, Malt, Sweet, Violet, Wood
Roses for the Queen. What a superb idea! I’ve been on one of my Keemun kicks here lately. Whenever that happens I tend to spend a great deal of time at the court of gracious Queen Catherine who benevolently bestows upon me her rich gifts of fine, sweet cocoa and malt. With a deep sense of gratitude I decided to bring her roses, a gift for her unrelenting kindness and grace. She loved them!
Two parts Queen Catherine and one part Harney’s Rose Scented Black was spot on perfect. I used one heaping teaspoon of this blend to eight ounces of 205F water and steeped for three and a half minutes. Just right! Although no additions were needed, a jot of milk and a dash of sugar only enhanced the rosy chocolate treasures of the tea.
The Queen loved my roses so much I’m thinking knighthood here. I see a long and happy future for myself at good Queen Catherine’s rosy court.
Watching Phantom of the Opera with my boys, Dennis and Forest, my kitty kids. Between doling out treats and giving tummy rubs I am enjoying Royal Wedding from Harney & Sons.
The coconut and almond flavors compliment the natural sweetness of the Mutan White base very nicely, with the merest wisp of rose working well in the background. Very creamy and smooth. As another reviewer noted, the taste is not unlike carrot cake, a carrot cake with a rich, decadent frosting! Royal Wedding is undoubtedly the best flavored white blend I’ve had.
An old movie, my kitties and a great cup of tea, life is very good indeed. I think I’ll have another cup if Dennis and Forest will allow me to get up!
I love Russian tea! Along with their venerable Anastasia blend, Traktir is my favorite of the eight Kusmi blends that I have had the pleasure of drinking. It’s subtly smoky and sweet with mild notes of citrus and spice, evocative of caravan campfires and camels laden with luxuries from the East. It’s a tea that makes me long to own an antique samovar.
The day after I received this tea along with three free samples, I received another package in the mail from Kusmi with more free samples! Merci and cпасибо, Kusmi!
Flavors: Citrus, Smoke, Spices, Sweet
Spending this frigid Sunday evening in my warm and cozy Darjeeling Bungalow again. In addition to the usual warm buttered toast, nuts and muscatel grapes set before me on the Bungalow’s table, tonight there’s some nice yummy stone fruit! The Bungalow is a very fine place indeed to while away the hours, especially on a cold winter’s night!
Burrrrrrr! It’s cold as a witch’s you know what outside and I need a little vernal action! Enter Kusmi’s Violet tea.
I am a floral fan, no doubt about that – rose, jasmine, lavender, lychee, orange blossom, osmanthus – I love ‘em all! This is my first violet tea, and it is quite wonderful. It’s floral alright but not overly so. I firmly believe that nonfloral folks would be just fine with this tea – Kusmi is big on subtlety. A four minute steep at 90C yielded a mildly floral tea that was very smooth, even creamy, with a wisp of vanilla. The natural floral, violet sweetness worked brilliantly with the China base. The flavor really is candy like, with no additions required for this cup!
This is the tea that I will drink whilst dreaming about spring. Perhaps, if I remain a well behaved tea drinker, the Easter Bunny will leave me an extra tin of this next month on Easter morning – Better retract that witch comment!
Flavors: Candy, Creamy, Sweet, Vanilla, Violet
It sure blows hot and cold in these parts. Last Sunday I was trudging through 16 inches of snow. This Sunday we’re having lunch on the patio by the fish pond enjoying the sunshiny 65F degree weather! Welcome to Richmond!
I thought a nice first flush Darjeeling befitting to celebrate this gorgeous foretaste of spring. Darjeeling Tukduh TGFOP from Culinary Teas is quite stout for a first flush, to say the least. It’s wondrously nutty and floral with up front, in your face muscatel. A first flush on steroids. I’m loving the hell out of every sip!
Lifting my tea mug to my fellow Steepsterites – Here’s to an early spring!
Flavors: Floral, Muscatel, Nutty
Heavens to Betsy! This tea is really yummy! After Darjeeling, Ceylon teas are my favorite. Lover’s Leap is a good example of why I adore Ceylons so much.
As I first inhaled the scent of the dry leaves I was rewarded with a Darjeelingesque aroma. As the tea was steeping the aroma became reminiscent of Tie Guan Yin oolong. Interesting.
After a three and a half minute steep at 205F, the light amber liquor yielded a light bodied, but very flavorful tea. To my palate this tea could be Darjeeling’s Sri Lankan cousin. The flavor is brisk, bright and floral, with a bit of mild, citrus astringency. I even caught a fleeting glimpse of muscatel! I totally agree with another reviewer who described the floral note as resembling jasmine. Enchanting herbal and forest notes were present too. I would not dream of any additions to this tea – Although, perhaps, a drop of orange blossom honey might compliment things nicely.
Lover’s Leap Ceylon was full of pleasant little aroma and flavor surprises. Another wonderful Ceylon! Another forever tea!
Flavors: Astringent, Citrus, Floral, Forest Floor, Herbs, Jasmine, Muscatel
Snow day? Really? Must be nice. I’m a nurse. There is no such thing as a snow day for medical personnel. Blizzard, hurricane, earthquake, nuclear strike, super volcano eruption, asteroid collision, catastrophic reversal of the Earth’s magnetic field, The Apocalypse or any combination there of, we have to go to work!
Richmond, where I live, had almost 16 inches of snow. It’s western suburbs, where my job is located, received over 18 inches of snow in places. Snow sissy that I am, that cold white matter reduced me to a quivering mass of protoplasm. After all, I am a Southern boy.
The day before the blizzard began I booked a room at the hotel within walking distance from my job. The thought of being stuck at work all weekend unable to have any private time whatsoever was a grim and terrifying prospect. Blizzard or not, I needed my me time. Time to unwind, relax and recharge my batteries. Especially since patient acuity on my unit tends to run a little high. So off to the hotel I went with my backpack of essentials including, of course, a mixed box of emergency bagged teas that I had thrown together – Twinings Ceylon Orange Pekoe and English Afternoon, Breakfast in Paris by Stash(Not a bad little tea!), and my must have Honeybush by Numi Tea for beddyby. The hotel, thank goodness, had a tiny hot water maker. Kinda like a stripped mini Keurig. It saw me through the blizzard.
So today, home sweet home! A poignant, almost tearful reunion with my beloved tea stash! Now one would think that after drinking bagged tea since Friday that I would go for a full fledged loose leaf. But no, I wanted my Bungalow! First and foremost I am a Darjeeling fiend. As in Darjeeling is my blood type. I had fairly recently purchased a box of Bungalow whole leaf sachet tea and it was love at first sip. This blend of first and second flush Darjeeling tea is redolent of hot, buttered toast and warm, roasted nuts that tantalize the taste buds. Classic Darjeeling muscatel and mild floral notes round things out very nicely. There is also a faint, but very agreeable, vegetal note that I think must come from the first flush. It complemented my Chicken Biryani quite well! I believe that it would be a great tea to try for those who may be on the fence about Darjeeling. It is very smooth. Not a trace of bitterness after the recommended five minute steeping time. I let the water cool a wee bit to just a little over 205F to steep.
Steven Smith Teamaker did my dear Darjeeling proud with this blend. The buttered toast flavor is so incredibly rich and comforting – A perfect wintertime Darjeeling! I’m definitely buying more if this #%$•@ snow ever melts!
Flavors: Butter, Flowers, Muscatel, Roasted Nuts, Toast, Vegetal