53 Tasting Notes
After a couple of more exotic holiday blends earlier today, I was down for a nice, brisk, proper black tea with requisite caffeine by late afternoon, and this seemed the likeliest suspect in my current arsenal (still seeking my personal ideal Keep Calm and Carry On no-nonsense iconic British tea!). It did the trick nicely, and despite the fact I apparently overdid it on the tea to water ratio (I mean, we’re talking it came out Vantablack), it handled the insult with aplomb, and wasn’t bitter at all. Good choice!
Not rating because, well, I really dislike clove unless it’s delegated to a very minor supporting role, and unfortunately that is not the case here. But it seems churlish to low-rate a Christmas tea for having too much clove. I mean this flavor is exactly what one would expect from something named “Esprit de Noël,” but I had hoped MF might handle it a bit differently and give me a nice surprise. All the other ingredients with no clove, or just the tiniest bit, would be right in my wheelhouse, but the amount of clove in this just undoes me.
I did have it steeped in hot milk this afternoon, and that’s probably the only way I can enjoy it … once in a blue moon. I need to give this to someone who will appreciate it.
I had to come back and raise my rating on this one a bit. It’s a chilly morning here, I’ve turned on the heat, and casting about for nice, warming, comforting cuppa, felt like it might be just the time to try this one again, coming back to it with two differences: 1) not having some specific imaginary tea in my head that this was supposed to duplicate, and 2) not underleafing the first cup (it’s hard to get away from that first “watery / weak” impression when trying something for the first time).
Making this nice and strong, with milk and sugar, it’s yummy, toasty winter cheer; an in-from-the-cold-and-snug-by-the-fireside, warming sweet treat that is more of a chocolate drink than a tea drink, but much more fun than plain old cocoa. Oh wait, I just had a thought! I should try this with some maple syrup instead of sugar. oooooh.
This is from the Canadian tea company, Grosche (which also makes a 1000 ml size of this model), but I actually bought mine from amazon.de. I only received it today, but here are my considerations and initial thoughts:
I spent quite a while checking out the various gravity infusers, and most get pretty high marks, so people seem to like the concept. I have mixed feelings because I’ve been trying to consciously reduce the amount of plastics in our life, and this seemed gimmicky to me. What is the difference if you steep in your teapot and pour through a strainer, or steep in this and place over the cup? I’m still not 100% sure, but as my “tea area” in our small kitchen has become more and more cluttered with tea tins, tea bags, teaspoons, teapots, cup infusers, teapot infusers, strainers, things to put infusers in after using, things to put strainers on after using, etc., I became more inclined to check it out.
Who knows? Either I will still have all that … plus new plastic gimmicky thingy, or I’ll get most of my kitchen counter back.
So, onward; from what I observed from reading ratings, watching videos, and thinking about it, there were a few things I decided I wanted.
1, of course, was BPA-free plastic for the entire construction (Grosche company note on that below •).
2 was a wider design, rather than tall and narrower, to give more room for the tea leaves to swim and dance. Or whatever it is they do.
3 was an easy-to-remove filter mechanism, and easy to clean design
4 was a lid that would stay open on its own
I think this model satisfies considerations #1-3 very well; #4, not so much. It is a floppy tea lid, so I do need to have my thumb on the tab to keep it open, which can get awkward.
I’m very happy with the ease of removing the filter, which is very, very painless. I’ve seen videos of people who had finally removed the filter from their gravity infusers to do a thorough cleaning and actually broken the device because it was so complicated / fussy to remove. This one is easy-peasy. I should also mention that the filter is wire mesh (good! I did not want plastic) and super fine, so stray particles should not be a problem.
I was concerned about cleaning. The site says to spoon out the used tea leaves and then rinse. [frowny-face emoji] Yeah, no, I do not want to stand over the bin slowly spooning out tea leaves with one hand while holding open the lid of the infuser with the other, and the lid of the bin with my third hand. Instead I fill the device with water, pour out over a sieve, and dump the leaves from the sieve into the bin. Swish sieve and device, and done. This works nicely. Well, on my first day, anyway, but I don’t see any reason for this to change.
So far, I like it! Will it be the catalyst that declutters my mess? We shall see! I’m going to try using mostly this and putting other things away except for the particular times I want to use a pot or a cup infuser for whatever reason. Our kitchen cabinets are too few and bursting full, so my husband is even going to make a special little shelf for the Aberdeen, so it will be off the kitchen counter, yet easily at hand without digging through a pile of stuff.
Other thoughts: it’s very nice to see the leaves through the transparent container, which might be a big part of the popularity of these items. Very satisfying.
But, I wish there were a measure for milliliters on the side for pouring in the exact amount of water. I can just pour the exact amount I need for a cup into my kettle first, but I want to be able to swish my cup and the infuser with hot water before steeping, so need that extra bit of hot water from the kettle. (Yeah, we don’t have hot water on demand from the tap; it takes a little bit for the hot water heater to get it to temperature.) I can also measure hot water from the kettle into a small pitcher or glass measuring cup and then pour into the Aberdeen, but now we’re getting into more complications and mess that I was hoping to avoid.
I’ll learn the right amount for my usual tea cup and be able to eyeball it, but it would be nice to have the measure for other size tea cups, making for two cups, etc.
• Material info from Grosche: “The only tea infuser and teapot with 100% BPA-free Tritan construction on the market today! Other brands use either poly-carbonate which contains BPA or cheap poly-propylene in their filter mechanisms.”
Okay, I guess I better go ahead and give this a number, finally. The reason I’ve avoided this is that Marco Polo and Wedding Imperial were in my very first “posh” tea buy, the purchase that put me on the road (not very long ago!) to trying more and more teas, and the reason I hardly drink coffee any more. But! I really overdid it with these two, to the point of making myself sort of sick of the taste of them … thus my delayed write-up.
To be honest, I would have waited longer, but I just got one of those fancy new gravity infusers, and had to give a thought about what tea to christen it with. Well, why not the first fancy tea I ever sampled? Marco Polo, then, yes. Unfortunately, I was also a bit hungry, and had eaten some salted almonds just before. Unwise. As a general rule, I’d guess that “don’t salt your mouth before tea tasting” might be a good one. At least it’s a good one for Marco Polo. My first few sips, black with a tiny bit of sweetener, were awful! “Bejabber!” I moaned, “And zooterkins! Truly I have bespoiled this once fair elixir by my own depraved intemperance!”
Luckily, though, those first sips did a good job of rinsing my mouth, and when I added more sweetener and some milk, my old love was back to the lovely, luxurious, creamy strawberry shortcake flavor I remembered. Maybe too much so, since now I’m tempted to have more … and more! But no, I’ve sworn I’ll not ruin any more delights with gross overindulgence. No, really.
/me hums innocently
Update: So I’ve been using this for cold brewed tea, and it’s actually really nice this way. I think the mildness works well for this and the tea can steep as long as the jug lasts. I’ve been adding a bit of Turkish Apple tea powder (grains? granules?) from T2Tea with it, and the combo makes a tasty, refreshing cold drink that doesn’t get tiresome. Silver linings!
Speaking of which, I picked up the stainless steel tumbler I use for cold drinks today, took a sip, and was suddenly very confused. “What?? Why is this tea so flavorless?!” Well, because it was water. The same thing I’ve been drinking every day throughout the day and with every meal my whole damn life.
Tea. People think it’s so polite and dainty, but it’s sly, it’s tenacious, and it’s taking over.
I can attest that this tea is very merciful to fools who manage to oversteep, even when it’s just one damn packet you need to be slightly careful not to mess up, and WTH is wrong with you?! :P I had this for my late afternoon pick-me-up just before the end of work, and it was lovely — strong (heh) and smooth and rich, and now I’m all picked up, and free, free, free! Thanks to What-Cha for the sample; very tasty!
Not rating, because I’m not knowledgeable enough, so this is just basically for my own notes. I wanted to try this because (I think?) some have called it a white tea for a black tea person. I’m a black tea + occasional green tea + some herbals + tisanes person. Mostly black tea, though. I don’t have the sophistication or experience to evaluate, but I just want to stray outside of my lane occasionally and try something different.
This was just okay for me. I tried it Western style (not going gong fu until I’m at least a little bit less generally ignorant) according to directions, and no sweetener, and I can’t say my jaded palate was terribly receptive. The second steep was better, but I also added a touch of sugar, which combo brought me up to “somewhat pleasant.” Okay, it’s a beginning. :) I can’t number the things that I only grew to love via persistent(ish) exposure, so I will carry on expanding my tea horizons, and see how and where it goes.
I would like to remark on What-Cha, though. I think I’ll just order their occasional surprise packets on the regular and extend my tea view via their curatorship. I love that option, and the accompanying free sample and nice note really made ordering from them special. Very warm feelings for What-Cha <3.
A rather gloomy, chilly day today, whose grey countenance was not uplifted when I looked out and noticed my summer basil dying (not unexpectedly), and then found I was at the bottom of my tin of MF French Breakfast Tea. Not a crisis, since I have some beautiful teas in my “pantry” (I WISH I had a real pantry), but I won’t be able to order from Mariage Frères for some while, so I will be missing my lovely, soothing, uplifting companion for all those times when I want something of substance, but not too loud, something suave, but not too subtle, something tastefully deluxe yet cozy, warm and comfortable … My old friend for all seasons, French Breakfast.
Some teas you want for their ability to perform, entertain, or teach … they take you on a journey, unlock secrets, shake you out of your rut, surprise you, challenge you, carry you to a time and place, or create new worlds. This isn’t that tea. This is slipping into your softest, best-loved t-shirt or jammies and cracking open a long-awaited new book by a favorite author, or being on the receiving end of a warm, bracing hug before going out to face the world. Whatever you’re doing? It’s there for you. And will be waiting for you when you return.
Well, it took most of a 50 gram package for me to figure out how to make this one work, which is: 1) Open package, 2) Duct tape it to face, 3) Inhale amazing, fabulously fragrant apple toffee tea fumes all day.
No kidding, though, this might be the most best smelling tea ever. For most of my actual brewed cups, however, my tongue didn’t quite pick up on the hype my nose was laying down, and it most often tasted too watery, too weak, too under-toffeed and not at all smoky. Sadly. Nevertheless, now toward the end of my pack, I find that it comes much closer when I make it extra strong and add a nice dollop of honey, which does a good job of coaxing along some of that tantalizing toffee promise of the dry scent. The apple is nice and juicy-tart in this, and the base stands up to that challenge nicely if I leaf generously … and if I leaf generously, there’s maaaybe just a bare hint of smokiness? Anyway, it’s a very, very polite bonfire!
But I’m really enjoying my last few cups of this, and it’s definitely good enough to reorder. I probably won’t, though, because it’s twice the price of a Dammann Frères or Mariage Frères scented tea, while not quite delivering on the promise. (In fact, I could buy 3 Dammann Frères 100-gram packages for the same price as 150 grams of Bonfire Toffee.) It’s been nice, but for now, at least, I’ll spend that tea budget exploring some new flavors.
Be well, Bonfire Toffee, I enjoyed our brief friendship and will miss your lovely perfume … perhaps we may meet again!