48 Tasting Notes
Some time ago, I decided I wanted a sample pack from Friday Afternoon. (They do that. It’s lovely. You tell them, “Give me a bunch of teas of type [x]” where X is things like Green, or Black, or whatever, and they send them.
I wasn’t expecting to like this one. I did. :-) Bergamot and I are not on speaking terms (my annoyance with Earl Gray and the fact that it’s often all I can get at conferences is a subject of some hilarity amongst my friends) but in this case, it’s subtle enough that I didn’t automatically go, “Ewwww.”
I’m sure the pomegranate helps. One of my favorite teas that I can no longer get was the Tealuxe Monk’s Blend, which included both pomegranate and bergamot.
This is not a tea that I feel the need to keep large amounts of on hand, but I was pleasantly surprised by it. It is neither excessively floral, nor excessively fruity, and I can taste the tea in it without difficulty. Said tea is also unobjectionable – not strongly acidic, nor does it leave my mouth puckered and angry. I can’t tell which black tea they used, but it’s not one that makes me go, “Nope,” and dump my mug down the drain.
The leaves also handled a second brewing just fine, which was a nice surprise. I will possibly get a small tin of this to keep on hand, for days when I want a tea that’s mostly just tea. It won’t be a huge tin – this isn’t going to be one of my go-to teas – but that’s fine. It’s why I bought the sample pack, after all – to broaden my taste buds.
I’m pleased by this particular broadening.
While traveling, I ended up at the Bainbridge Island Apothecary and Tea Shop, because I was in dire need of a cuppa and about two hours alone with a book. I went out to the back area, where the proprietor has set up a covered area with clear plexiglass overhead (to keep the Seattle rains off) and many comfy couches. There I settled with a pot of this chai and a scone.
It was delicious. The pepper adds a lovely zing to the ginger (I like spicy tea) and the cardamom does not get lost either. I could not particularly discern the vanilla, but that is possibly because I was also indulging in a lemon-blueberry scone at the time, which I expect overwhelmed my tongue.
I bought a small packet of it to bring home with me, and today’s mug is the last of it. I will not be ordering more online (because shipping is just one of those evils that I prefer to avoid if I can) but the next time I’m out to Bainbridge, I will happily pick up another bag. It’s quite good. (And the shop itself is well worth the pilgrimage.)
Flavors: Cardamom, Ginger, Pepper
Last night, I dropped 5 teaspoons of Starry Night into my Hario Filter-in Cold Brew Tea Bottle, and left it to steep on the counter overnight, because it’s too blasted hot where I am right now, and I really wanted to be sure I had tea in the morning. (Jetlag is a horrible thing, and tea is a partial solution.)
In retrospect, I needed to put a bit more in the bottle; 5 tsp is not sufficient for 750ml of water when brewed cold, though it definitely is for a hot brew. Still plenty delicious though. Still a favorite. Not changing my rating at all. :-)
Oh, the sadness that is discovering the tea you drank is not the tea you thought you drank! Alas, poor Mt. Everest Breakfast, you are suffering for my failure to read the label, because you are a perfectly reasonable English breakfast tea that doesn’t have the glory and shine that is the Majesty’s Chai that I drank, thinking it was you.
This tea is a breakfast blend. I love Yunnan, and I love Assam, and sadly, the two combined in this tea to not be a force multiplier of each other, but to instead cancel out the distinguishing notes that both teas have and leave me with…a breakfast blend.
I will not be buying it again, because I do not need a breakfast blend. If I’m going to pay for Yunnan leaves, I want it to be Yunnan-flavored. If I’m going to go drink Assam, I want it to be Assam. I don’t want a blend of the two that tastes merely tea-flavored.
While I wait for a restock on my favorite Chocolate Tea (Harding Spring, from Trailhead Tea) I grabbed a small bag of this to try, thinking that perhaps a rose chocolate might be a nice switch from an orange chocolate.
It’s a perfectly serviceable black tea with some chocolate flavor to it, but I can’t really discern much rose in there. I will finish this sample bag, and feel no compunctions to buy more. There’s nothing wrong with it, but there is no sit-up-and-demand-I-drink-more to it, which means I don’t need to keep it in my cabinet.
Flavors: Cocoa, Malt, Smooth
This is the chai that I grabbed by mistake when I thought I was pulling the Mt. Everest Blend off the shelf, which explains why I was inexplicably tasting clove – and a bunch of other delicious stuff.
And by delicious, I mean, I might have a new favorite chai. This stuff is fabulous. The clove might be a trifle overpowering, but everything else blends together in an amazing taste combination that is right up there with my lamented Coconut Chai from Zhena. (And Steepologie has a coconut chai that I will be trying, at this point, it’s just that the store was out when I ducked inside to snag a bunch of 2 ounce samples.)
The fact that there is pepper in this chai (some of them leave it out) is – I suspect – what really makes it for me. I like the chai blends to be both fierce and smooth, and a lot of them just go for smooth. The oolong is an interesting choice for the tea base, because it’s making the whole thing a touch more floral – again, a plus for me.
I will be ordering more of this. It will be replacing my base chai tin on my shelf, when I finish that one off. Highly recommended.
Flavors: Clove, Floral, Pepper, Spices
I like Bourbon. I like Chai. So when I spotted this one, I decided I was going to try it.
Since I’m currently lacking my handy-dandy electric kettle, I had to settle for making this one with nearly-boiling water; I suspect it would do better with slightly less hot water (something in the 185F range). I also made it with just a splash of milk.
Verdict: Quite good, and it grew on me the more I drank it. The lapsang souchong, which ordinarly would be a turn-off for me (I like smoke, but not in my tea, go figure?) accented the apple and the honey in ways that I had not anticipated. My usual preference for a gingery bite was also present. I found myself wishing I had a good sharp cheddar and some crackers to pair this one with, but I’m out of crackers at the moment. I will probably try it again when I have access to those.
There is a distinct aftertaste that I’m less fond of, and suspect would also do well with a cheddar; after thinking about it, I suspect that’s the anise. (I like licorice, so it’s not a problem, but those who don’t should be warned.)
All in all, I probably won’t go out of my way to buy this tea again, but I will enjoy drinking the remainder of the 2 ounce container I bought of it, and I do not regret the purchase at all.
Every year, my friends and I do a Secret Tea Swap – you can either send tea from your stash, or you can order something to be delivered. This year, a friend sent me Adagio’s Chestnut tea along with a bunch of others. (Golden Yunnan, which I already knew I adored, and several others.) Having had mixed luck with some of Adagio’s teas, I tried it carefully.
And I was absolutely delighted. I’ve reordered it twice at this point. There is a lovely nuttiness to this tea, not bitter like walnut or sweet like almond, but truly hazel-chestnut like. I love it with a splash of milk, and I brew it quite strong – 4 minutes at 180F. (Not hotter, it gets unhappy at a full boil.)
This is now one of my staple “OK, I need a tea that’s going to last me all morning,” teas, and I can rebrew the leaves twice, though usually I’ll only do it once. Definitely a keeper.
Flavors: Chestnut, Hazelnut
I got a tasting packet of teas from Friday Afternoon because I was in the mood to try a bunch of new stuff, and said, “Send me random teas.” So they did.
It’s an Earl Grey I don’t instantly loathe! This is saying something positive for me, but not necessarily for anyone else? It is, however, still discerneably an Earl Grey – I can taste the bergamot pretty clearly, and as usual, my reaction to bergamot is “nope nope nope nope.” So, not for me, but nothing wrong with it if you like Earl Grey. Otherwise, the chocolate is definitely there, and I can’t taste the orange or vanilla at all.