725 Tasting Notes
I rarely do a review for the same tea again (my original post on this is here: https://steepster.com/mastressalita/posts/396293 ) but after attempting this tea (stovetop style) a few times over the weekend I think I’ve finally perfected how I like it. The first time I made it, I had trouble getting it quite right, too. Since past and present Sara have the memory of a goldfish, it stands to reason future Sara will too, so this is for you, future Sara!
1) Use plain oat milk, not vanilla. Otherwise it’s way too sweet.
2) For a 16 oz. cup: use 2 cups oat milk and 3 heaping regular ol’ kitchen teaspoon globby scoops tea for a more “mild” profile; for slightly more kick, use 1 cup oat milk/1 cup water and 4 heaping teaspoon scoops of tea mix.
3) While simmering the tea, DO NOT BLINK. BLINK AND YOU DIE. (Or at least your chai will boil over that quickly… but I’m still sure Weeping Angels are involved somehow…)
4) Don’t even think about trying to use your gravity well infuser as a strainer. Just don’t do it. Goopy residue will coat the fine mesh and you’ll never get the tea out and have to use a standard strainer anyway.
It’s a nice chai, albeit a bit finicky because of the goopy honeyed leaf. Having tried a sticky chai now, I don’t think I’d ever get one again, since it is much easier to measure the leaf consistently and get more balanced scoops with dry leaf, and I can always add my own honey to the stove mixture to taste anyway. It has been a bit interesting that every cup I make seems to be an entirely different dominant spice flavor, likely due to just what happened to be stuck in my clumpy scoops that time; yesterday, I had an extremely fennel/anise cup that tasted like melted black licorice (I love black licorice, so I was fine with that!) while today, I’m not getting that at all, instead it tastes very cinnamon-sweet.
Flavors: Cardamon, Cinnamon, Clove, Licorice, Spices, Spicy, Sweet
This is the free sample that came with my advent order. Figured since it’s such a small package and I fear losing it I may as well just drink it up this morning. I actually weighed the tea (surprisingly, I actually weigh most of my tea rather than using imperial “teaspoons”), and it weighs 1.95g — I usually use 2.5g for a 12 oz/350ml cup of tea (up to 3g if I’m trying to use up a bit of leaf and it’s a tea that doesn’t tend to go super bitter on me). Using my favorite leaf-to-ratio calculator, OCTea [ https://octea.ndim.space/#/ ], dropping it to 8 oz/250ml seemed a safe choice. So hopefully the cuppa will balance out correctly! 205F water, 3 minute steep.
The package just said “black tea” but after brewing and smelling that distinct piney smoked aroma, they must have used Lapsang Souchong. I tend to have issues with that tea and avoid it as it is a migraine trigger; occassionally if it is used with a subtle hand with enough other flavors I’m okay (I’ve had some 52Teas blends that worked for me!) so we’ll see… It is a strong enough aroma I’m having a hard time making out any other aromas in the cup, which usually isn’t a good sign for me (it really does have to be subtle, if my head thinks there is smoke in the air, it flips the migraine switch…)
Honestly, I don’t mind the flavor; the lapsang is coming on the most strongly, but I’m getting a strong pine flavor that I really enjoy and the smoke isn’t coming off as a burnt or charred flavor like I get in some teas. But it is still such a strong flavor I’m having a hard time tasting anything else in the cup. I assume that the rooibos (though I can’t taste it) is at least cutting the intensity of the lapsang a bit which is probably why I’m able to tolerate this, and I am getting a little hint of the spices left on my tongue after the sip. But that vanila/walnut/chocolate flavor the tea is supposed to have? That is just impossible to taste against pine smoke. At least for me.
Pleasant, toned back enough that I am not inhaling smoke and going to get a headache, but not a flavor I’d care to have in my cupboard.
Flavors: Pine, Smoke, Spices
Black Tea Friday! One of my 2017 52Teas blends, still in a sealed pouch. Until today.
Brewed 3g in 350ml 205F for 3 minutes, and let the cup cool just slightly. The tea smells incredibly sweet and creamy… I do get caramel, but also that coconut note I seem to get sometimes from vanilla/cream/cake flavorings. The base tea is quite smooth with some nice bread, raisin, and honey notes, with a sweet flavor filling out on the tongue. It tastes of burnt sugar with a bit of vanilla toward the end of the sip. I never seem to pick out any cream cheese sort of flavors from cheesecake teas, but I’m quite satisfied with the sweet dark caramel/burnt sugar note of the cup.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Coconut, Cream, Honey, Raisins, Smooth, Vanilla
Decided to brew this sampler tonight after my Thanksgiving tradition of ordering gobs of Thai takeout (typically on the Wednesday before when things are open) and then reheating the leftovers, which last me days, for dinner.
This is one of those “turns blue because butterfly pea flower” herbal blends. I don’t really care about “color novelty” in tea, but I actually like the taste of butterfly pea flower and will drink it straight (I particularly like it the traditional way with some lemon juice and honey). I’m mostly used to it paired with citrus, though this is a minty/fruity blend. My blue cuppa smells heavily minty, with a touch of an herbaceous element, but I’m not getting any fruitiness in aroma. And honestly… even though there are blueberries and blackberries in the blend, I am not tasting them either. I am getting a very nice tasting mint tea, with a fresh and tingly sensation from the mints, with the spearmint being the most dominant minty flavor. I am also tasting the ginger in the blend, but it isn’t really spicy; more, it is adding to some of the earthy notes I’m getting in the tea, as well as a slight warming sensation at the back of the throat. It’s actually interesting, as I’m getting a cooling feeling more on my tongue, and a warming more on my throat… despite being conflicting, it isn’t unpleasant. Usually butterfly pea flowers have a sort of vegetal flavor to me, but I’m not getting that, either… instead, I’m getting more of an “earthiness” beneath the mint that reminds me a bit of echinacea or tulsi.
This is actually a nice “I’ve gorged myself” chaser considering the mint and ginger, which are my two main “help my poor abused GI system” teas. In the end, the butterfly pea flower really is just a “color” gimmick as I don’t think it’s doing much of anything for the blend… just a way to try to make a mint blend “more interesting,” really. But if you like mint, I mean… it doesn’t really need to be interesting?
Anyway, I’m fine with it, mostly because I’m not adverse to pea flower flavor. But since pea flower can be one of those easily aversive flavors, really no reason to recommend this over any other mint / mint and ginger / tummy tea sort of blend.
Flavors: Earth, Ginger, Herbaceous, Mint, Peppermint, Spearmint
Another of my 2017 tea haul that I’m trying to work through. Sampler size, still sealed (boy was it ever, I didn’t think I’d ever get the zip at the top of the pouch to come undone!), a First Flush May 2017 harvest with a May 2020 best by. I brewed western with my breakfast-for-lunch, 3.5g leaf to 500ml in 205F water with a 3 minute steep.
The wet leaves have a lovely aroma of sour fruits, lemongrass, and meadow flowers. The tea liquor is a bright, light orange color, and the aroma from my cup is an herbaceous sort of florality (dandelion?), rose, hay, strong citrus (lemongrass and orange zest), and minerals.
Mmm… the tea is very light, citrusy, and floral, and extremely smooth. The aromas are presenting in the flavors as well, as I’m tasting meadow flowers/dandelion, subtle sweet rose, lemongrass, lemon and orange zest, and a bit of malt and hay. I’m just not tasting the minerality that came out on the nose. Probably not the sort of strong, full-bodied tea one would associate with breakfast, but a lovely afternoon cup.
Flavors: Citrus, Dandelion, Floral, Flowers, Herbaceous, Hot hay, Lemon Zest, Lemongrass, Malt, Orange Zest, Rose, Smooth
I was so sleepy this morning I turned on my kettle before putting the water in. How?! I started hearing a weird “clacking” noise and then a burning rubber smell, and realized what I had done. Then I had to wait a good 15 minutes to know if there was any life left in the old girl so I could make my morning cuppa.
This is from 2017, best by March 2020, but was still vacuum-sealed, so I’m hoping it has held up okay. Brewed western, 3.5g to 350ml in 205F water (if my kettle wasn’t totally borked!), steeped 3 minutes. The leaf looked nicely opened and my liquor is a slightly reddish-brown color. I’ve been a little trepidacious about any oolong boasting itself as “roasted” as I sampled a few Teavivre (through Dazzle Deer) ones and they just weren’t for me, but the aroma coming off this cup is extremely pleasant… A very chocolately scent, as well as some orange zest and a light rosey sort of floral.
Thankfully this isn’t just charcoal in a cup; it is delicious! There is a slightly earthy/mineral roasted nuts quality, with some notes of cocoa and orange zest, a bit of floral sweetness, and a slightly vegetal/woody flavor as well. Everything goes together so well in the cup and is very smooth, warm, and satisfying.
I really like this one!
Flavors: Cocoa, Earth, Floral, Mineral, Nutty, Orange Zest, Roasted nuts, Rose, Vegetal, Wood
That charcoal-infused matcha really put my GI through the ringer today, so tonight I’m sticking to mint and ginger… and saw this mint-flavored herbal tea powder sampler. The last rooibos-based tea powder I tried from B&B I really didn’t like, because I didn’t like how the rooibos flavor came out in powdered form… but I blended this up in vanilla oat milk and it just smells very sweet and minty, like peppermint candy from the blend of the vanilla and mint aromas.
Mmm… I’m happy to say I’m not tasting that strong rooibos taste here! Maybe using a sweet milk is cutting through it, or maybe it’s just from the flavorings, I’m not sure. Minty and sweet; I do pick up the sticky sweetness of licorice root, which I know is one of those flavors a lot of people hate (I am not one of them, though). There is a little bit of a nutty flavor here as well (which I assume is probably from the maca/rooibos base) but it isn’t coming off as particularly earthy or herbaceous. And the powder frothed up nicely in the cup, too… Every now and then I’ll get a sip with a slightly powdery-feeling texture, but it isn’t really unpleasant, and definitely not that really awful sandy/gritty feeling I was getting from the Black Magic Matcha.
Redemption. I am really liking this one! If B&B’s tea powder tins weren’t so expensive, I would consider adding this one to my cupboard.
Flavors: Candy, Creamy, Licorice, Mint, Nutty, Sweet
Thus far, I’ve only had really bad separation/texture issues with B&B’s “non-matcha” tea powders, but this one… oh man. Even though this is one of their matcha matchas, this had the worst mouthfeel of any of their tea powders for me yet. It was like a cocoa powder that refused to dissolve no matter how much it was whisked (I used extra creamy plain oat milk) and it was so gritty. I’ve had some gritty powders but this was just plain unpleasant. The flavor was fine — it tasted like a mild cocoa — but that chalky mouthfeel overpowered everything for me.
This was also the first time that I added my latte into my breakfast smoothie for the morning (strawberries and yogurt for a chocolate strawberry smoothie!) and that texture still held up. All the others I had texture issues with at least blended up fine into my smoothies, but this smoothie definitely still has that grainy/gritty feel to it… ah well, it’s breakfast for the morning, so I’ll still drink it…
Definitely not my cuppa. While I have used activated charcoal for health reasons before, I’m fine just swallowing it as a capsule, drinking it when it leaves such an unpleasant texture isn’t really my jam. As for the flavor, B&B has already done a hot chocolate-tasting matcha — Cocoa Matcha — which tastes richer and blends up nice and creamy, so I’d have no reason not to get that one over this.
This is probably my least favorite of B&B’s tea powder line-up I’ve tried thus far.
Didn’t have time to make a cup of tea to take with me to work today (gasp!) but I was able to squeeze some kettle time in during my lunch break and now I have this in my thermos for the afternoon. From 2017, still in a sealed packet.
The flavor of this tastes pretty much spot on for the “Brownie Batter with Nut Butter Swirl” that I finished not that long ago, just minus the nuttier notes; it’s the same richly chocolate, fudgy flavor, with some nice cocoa and bittersweet dark chocolate notes. Perhaps waxing a little more drying on the sip than I typically prefer, but that was my own fault; lunch breaks are busy for me and I wasn’t able to take it out of the steeper on time to my preferences for blacks, making this cup a little on the brisk side. Had I managed to get back to the steeper when the timer went off, I’d imagine this would be quite smooth, and I still have several more cuppas left in my packet to test that theory.
Nice, deep chocolately tea, and with a full and thick feeling body to the sip that doesn’t have that really thin/watery feel that so many chocolate teas have. I can taste a little malt/breadiness from the base, but mostly the flavor is dominant. I might like to try this one as a latte, if I find the time for it before I use up the leaf.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Chocolate, Cocoa, Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Malt
I’ll admit I wasn’t really looking forward to trying this sample since it got such bad reviews here, and while I do like turmeric powdered spice blends to make Golden Milk, turm in a beetroot powder base did not sound very appealing to me. But this was a decaf “not-matcha” so I figured I’d make it as my nightly cuppa, and if it was terrible, into a breakfast smoothie it would go, along with some real matcha for the pep I need.
I am now out of coconut milk (what I typically use with turm!) but have restocked plain oat milk and vanilla oat milk, and since I would be crazy to blend anything with turm without some balancing sweetness, I used the vanilla oat milk. The crazy part is… it worked?! Because the main flavor I’m getting, against the vanilla sweetness of the milk, is the orange and it tastes like creamsicle… only a more spicy iteration of creamsicle that is leaving a bit of warmth at the back of my throat. That vanilla oat milk must be covering up a lot of sins because it doesn’t taste earthy at all. Strong orange citrus offset with creamy vanilla, and then a hit of spicy warmth at the end of the sip… peppery, in fact.
The only thing really bringing this down as a cuppa is I had the same problem I’ve had with several of the other “not-matcha” tea powders from B&B where the powder won’t blend up nicely into the drink and has left a bit of a gritty/grainy mouthfeel on the sip.
I’ll be finishing this cup tonight, and putting a different matcha into the smoothie. Not something that scratches any itches for my cupboard (especially at the kind of prices B&B charges!) since if I want something spicy, I’ll just make Golden Milk, and if I wanted something orange, their Orange Matcha actually has matcha and whisks up properly. But this was at least a pleasant surprise since I was expecting something way worse than I got.
Flavors: Citrus, Orange, Pepper, Spicy