618 Tasting Notes
Throwback Thursday! This was one of my earliest teas, and certainly one of my first flavored green teas. I remember when I was new to teas I found it very fussy and had a lot of issues with bitterness/astringency if it wasn’t brewed just right, but somehow I feel revisiting it now, a good year later, I probably wouldn’t run into that problem. I have a better grasp on not overleafing or oversteeping greens now. I am more worried about age degradation than anything else, since greens are known to not hold up well over time.
I never did much iced tea in my early tea-drinking days either (that came later), so I don’t think I ever cold brewed this one, either, and that is pretty much my standard for fruity greens, now. So this brew was prepared as a cold steep overnight. The tea is such a lovely pale yellow and has a very pungent fruity aroma. The flavor is a crisp, clean flavor that is actually more of a floral flavor than strongly fruity. The green tea has a very refreshing clean sweet grass flavor, and there is a strong spring florality present, reminding me a lot of jasmine blossoms, and then a very gentle, subtle sweet-tart fruity note that is a bit like raspberry or pomegranate that lingers on the back of the tongue. The floral note to the tea is perhaps a little strong with a slight perfume-like flavor, but it isn’t perfume-like at all in aroma and doesn’t aggrevate my head in the slightest; the aroma is very berry-sweet and fruity. Overall, it’s quite nice and makes a nice iced tea for the spring weather. I do think I’d like it more if there was a bit better balance between the floral note and fruity note in the tea, but also appreciate that it isn’t swimming in a strong artificial fruit flavoring that overpowers the base green tea, and I can taste a nice clean grassiness.
It’s a good tea, but I think after having tried so many greens now, I am not as crazy about it now as I was when I first tried it, and had so little exposure to flavored greens (I originally scored it at a 90). So I’m lowering the score, only because after a good year or so of tea drinking, in comparison to so many other teas, it just doesn’t strike that high of a rating for me anymore. I do still quite enjoy it, though!
Flavors: Berry, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Jasmine, Perfume, Raspberry, Sweet, Tart, Vegetal
I wanted to try out my new teapot, and since its main purpose was to hold moar water, I made a big ol’ pot of tea tonight, double the size of what I typically have for my nightly pot o’ herbal, four cups instead of two. This sampler was 14g in size, so I just went all out and steeped up the whole sampler. I ordered this ages ago, in the fall of 2017, and never opened it, and was amazed how much aroma the leaf still held; it smelled boozy, with notes of maple, caramel, coffee bean, and fudge. I wonder how much of that will present itself in the actual tea?
After giving the pot a very generous steep time, the steeped tea is a bit more caramel in color than I would expect from a rooibos, which usually are very coppery red. The aroma is still very enticing; I’m still getting that somewhat boozy essense, with strong hints of cocoa and coffee and a bit of a caramel sweetness. And the flavor is… quite nice! This is an old tea, so I’m impressed it has held up so well! The other tiramisu teas I’ve tried have had a very strong apple presense in their base, but that is missing in this tea; it tastes like a chocolate liquor, and I get a strong fudgy taste toward the end of the sip. There are also notes of caramel, coffee, and roasted nuts. I’m not getting any of the typical flavors of rooibos from the base, other than perhaps it is adding to the caramel sweetness of the tea; it certainly isn’t presenting as woody, grassy, or medicinal in any way. It’s very smooth and a very solid dessert tea.
Am I regreting I used this all up in one shot now? Maybe a little… but at least this is going to be one really nice pot of tea.
Flavors: Alcohol, Caramel, Chocolate, Cocoa, Coffee, Maple, Roasted nuts, Smooth, Sweet
Teabox Tuesday! It’s in the herbal hours of the evening and I’m getting low on teabox herbals, but I do still have this one from the Discovery Teabox, so thank you to Skysamurai for organizing and to those that participated for sharing! Brewed up my small sampler of this one in my little Japanese doubin, which holds about two cups.
The dry leaf smelled faintly tropical to me, mostly of pineapple. Hmm. Perhaps the sort of thing I should cold brew, but the water is already boiled so let’s do this.
Brewed, the cup is faintly pink, and since I am a fan of hibi-hip teas, that’s a fairly good sign for me… but the aroma I get now isn’t fruity at all (why did the dry leaf smell of pineapple to me, I wonder?) but… chamomile. Hooboy. Welp. Yup. That is mostly all I taste. Strong, thick chamomile. If I could actually taste hibi-hip, that would be an improvement for me, because I’m not a fan of chamomile. Looking at the ingredient list, there are a lot of florals in this cup, but I’m not really picking out any other distinct flavors… there is a hint of a sort of aloe taste, but the chamomile is just so strong to me it’s overwhelming anything else that might be in this cup. I’m definitely not picking up any huckleberry, which is supposed to be the flavoring added to this tea.
Maybe if I was a fan of chamomile I’d be alright with this, but as is, this isn’t my cuppa. I added a teabag with a small pinch of hibiscus and rose petals from my dry herb stash to a tea bag and let them soak for a bit in the tea, then added a spoon of lemon-infused honey, and though my tea turned considerably more red, it still tasted of chamomile. Guess I should’ve used more than a pinch, and actually made this tea a Scarlet Dragon… Perhaps that’s what is most disappointing to me. With a name like that, and with the hibiscus and rosehip pretty high in the ingredients, why is this such a chamomile bomb? Probably good news for 99.9999% of Steepsterers, but sadly, I’m in that 0.0001% that would’ve prefered a juicy tart hibi-hip drink because chamomile tastes like soap to my particular palate.
Also, my birthday present to myself arrived today! Since I decided the teapots I inherited from Grandma were too delicate to use as actual teapots and needed to go into storage, I still wanted a larger, “English style” teapot. My birthday is St. Patrick’s Day, and I just happened to see this one looking at English-style teapots… and had to have it.
Isn’t it cute? squee I have such a weakness for cute teaware…
Flavors: Floral, Soap
This is one of my oldest teas, and yet somehow I’ve yet to manage to get around to reviewing it. Welp, I guess I should rectify that, since I’m working on sipping it down.
This tea has a very strong sweet strawberry aroma in the bag, but I honestly find the flavor a bit underwhelming; then again, I have found my flavored rooibos blends seem to not hold strong flavors due to aging the most so far, so for my next pot, I may try adding an extra helping of leaf to see if that helps compensate some. The rooibos itself has a pretty strong flavor to me, it’s edging a little more on woody/medicinal/herbaceous, though the tea itself is very sweet with a subtle vanilla note. The strawberry is present, but there isn’t a strong, creamy vanilla note, so I don’t really get “strawberries and cream” at all, and the strawberry doesn’t feel strong, juicy, and defined against the rooibos base… and I’ve had strawberry rooibos teas like that. This just doesn’t hold a candle to Bird & Blend’s Rhubarb & Custard, which did the strawberry/cream rooibos so well. I believe TeaSource discontinued this one, but I have a very similar blend in my cupboard called Lavenderberry, which tasted like strawberries, vanilla, and a touch of lavender, and I remember it being quite lovely. I wonder if they tweaked the recipe, got a different flavoring for the strawberry, or if the age just made that much of a difference? I may have to make a pot of that tea again to jog my memory and see if I still like it as much as I remember…
This isn’t so bad that I won’t be able to finish it off, but it’s just so underwhelming compared to other better teas I’ve had with this flavor profile. It just feels so weak on the strawberry and cream elements it is supposed to be bringing out, so I feel like I’m just having a pot of rooibos. I like rooibos fine, but if I’m going to have rooibos, then I’d rather not have a very weak fruit flavoring in it, since I feel like that is probably what is bringing out the medicinal qualities.
Flavors: Medicinal, Rooibos, Straw, Strawberry, Sweet, Vanilla, Wood
Sampler Sunday! Still trying to finish off all the sampler packets from the Great Sampler Order of January 2018, and it appears I only have three left! Getting there! While spring time does evoke a bit of a “green tea” mood in me (and I have been making a lot of fruity iced green teas again!) and two of the three are green teas, it’s a rainy gray morning today, which just makes me feel like brewing up a pot of black tea, so I opted for the last black tea of the samplers. But it is a rose black, so the floral touch does add a bit of seasonality. I love rose teas so as long as this has a nice base, this should be an enjoyable pot.
The tea has a strong fruity aroma, of stonefruits and mango; in fact, I’m getting very little floral elements from the scent, so it seems the fruit flavorings added to the tea are made to dominate here (which is a bit confusing to me for a tea named “Black Rose”). I am, however, getting more of the rose present in the flavor; the black base is lighter bodied (at least at my brewing parameters) providing a bit of maltiness that is present mostly toward the back of the tongue, but the flavors are left to dominate, with a fruity peach/nectarine/mango flavor filling the mouth until a very sweet floral rose finish closes out the sip. The flavors go well together and it’s a nice cuppa. There is an element of juiciness to it, and the rose flavor is pretty strong in the cup but isn’t a strong wafting perfumy aroma coming off the cup, which can sometimes be an issue for me with my migraine head sensitivities.
This is an enjoyable cup, and honestly the only thing that holds me back from the T2 offerings that I have enjoyed is the fact that they don’t sell their teas in sizes smaller than 100 grams, which I simply won’t purchase anymore. I spent all of last week rebagging teas from such large bags of teas to gift and/or cupboard sale off. In a single-person household, I just can’t deal with such large quantities of tea. Tea shops, seriously, you need to offer smaller sizes of tea for purchase or risk losing business!
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Malt, Mango, Peach, Rose, Smooth, Stonefruits, Sweet
Throwback Thursday! One of my oldest teas, this is another “vacation” tea, back from March 2017 when I visited Portland. Now I’m planning a return trip for the Portland Tea Expo in summer of 2019 and figure I’d better start finishing off the teas I picked up the last time I was there! I got this one at Tea Chai Te, a gem of a tea shop (can’t wait to return there!), and it’s really more of a spicy hot chocolate than a tea, since the base is lovely, fluffy Guittard cocoa powder. The spices are whole spices though, rather than ground, so it can be steeped like a tea, if you want to prepare it that way, and I believe the last time I made it that way I did so. For this revisit, however, I just put a generous teaspoon directly into my milk frother with a cup of milk and let it steep directly into the vanilla almond milk as the cocoa powder was thoroughly mixed up and dissolved into the milk. Then I just strained out the spices with a strainer as I poured into the cup.
This would definitely be my preferred method of making this, since when I steeped it as a tea it was very spicy for my spice-wuss self, and then it was tricky finding the right ratios of milk and sweetener to add to the tea. Like this, it is very creamy, the vanilla almond milk already brings a balancing sweetness for all the spices, and I’m getting a lovely amount of spices shining through, so it tastes like a lovely cup of Mexican hot chocolate. The cardamom is especially strong, so fans of cardamom (and chocolate, of course!) would probably love this! I’m also getting notes of ginger, pepper, and a dusting of cinnamon across the top of the cup. Rich, creamy, warm, spicy, and satisfying! I’d definitely enjoy more of this! Increasing my rating slightly from before, since now that I have a milk frother to prepare this (I don’t think I even owned one a year ago?) it really makes a huge difference in how easy it is to make this “cocoa style” and how much that improves the overall flavor and mouthfeel for me.
Flavors: Cardamon, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Creamy, Ginger, Pepper, Spicy, Thick
I found a box of this still in the cupboard that I’ve been trying to clean out, buried behind where I keep my cans of soup teas I use for ramen broth. It expired in 2010. Oops. Only five packets left in it, I figured I’d make one water bottle’s worth and if the matcha tasted nasty due to age I’d trash the rest. At least unlike that fossilized instant chai I found in the back of the cupboard, this doesn’t have milk product in it, so maybe there is some slight hope…
The Yamamotoyama website listing says this is the “lightly sweetened” version of their instant matcha iced tea (the box just says “sweetened”). Honey, there is nothing “light” about this! Is there matcha in this? The green color says there is, but my taste buds are getting nothing but sugar water. Maybe there is a faint shadow of something grassy in the background behind all the sweetness, but this is just… meh. I’ll admit I have to sweeten my matcha drinks because they tend to be too bitter for me otherwise, but I like to at least taste my matcha! This is unbarably over-sugared.
At least there is nothing about it that tastes off, or bad… though maybe the lack of flavor to the matcha is due to the age, and if it wasn’t 9 years expired now I’d be tasting more than just sugar, so I suppose I should take that into consideration. I have three packets left to finish this off and get it out of my cupboard. Maybe if I add a few teaspoons of my loose matcha with the leftover packet mix that will help even it out a bit?
Flavors: Sugar, Sweet
Teabox Tuesday! This is a flavored white tea sampler I got from the Here’s Hoping Teabox, so thank you to tea-sipper for organizing and to those that participated for sharing! I particularly like to cold brew fruity greens and whites so I coldbrewed 6g of leaf overnight in my fridge and then strained and now have it in my work waterbottle today.
I was surprised at the faintly pinkish-red color of the tea. It smells fruity, but I wouldn’t say it is a strong strawberry aroma to me, because it has a potent florality to it; it’s quite pleasant, actually. In the flavor I’m getting a very clean, vegetal taste, slightly grassy, with a hint of cucumber water, but there is a sweet floral note as well. The back of my tongue picks up some autumn leaf before a bit some berry flavor settles over my tongue, but I’d say the flavoring is pretty gentle; I’m okay with that since the white tea notes aren’t overwhelmed by artificiality, which easily becomes the case in flavored greens/whites. It’s refreshing, and the name is actually pretty spot on… the strawberry is subtle. That may or may not be your thing depending on what you want out of a flavored tea.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Berry, Cucumber, Floral, Grass, Vegetal
Sampler Sunday! It’s my birthday and I bought myself a small carrot cake, because why not? I thought a simple black tea would go well to accompany the sweet, so I went through my black tea blends and of the three I had stashed, I asked Todd which one I should go with and he “liked the sound” of this one. It was a freebie sampler I got from the Lupicia San Jose store when I visited on my trip last November… to think that storefront would be closed a few months later!
Since there is Darjeeling in this blend, I decided to drop the temperature a bit from what I usually brew my blacks at (205F) to 190F. I kept the steep length the same (3 min) since it looked like mostly whole leaf in my sachet. The brewed tea was a lovely brown shade with a touch of coppery hue and smelled very malty, with some notes of baked cinnamon bread, and a slight floral undertone. Thankfully this cup did not turn out too strong, and perhaps it could’ve turned out that way had I used warmer water or steeped it longer, but this pretty much hit my perfect zone for a black tea, which was a smooth medium bodied brew that can be taken nicely plain. The flavor was a nice malty flavor with a natural sweetness to it, reminding me of baked bread with a touch of honey, and there was a slight cinnamon spice and subtle citrus note toward the end of the sip. There was also a very subtle floral sweetness lingering in the background, which was quite nice as well.
Brewed at these parameters, this was a lovely cup, and went nicely with my indulgently sweet carrot cake!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Citrus, Floral, Honey, Malt, Smooth
Sampler Saturday! Thank you, derk! I received this tea from derk while I was having a hard few months, and really appreciated the laugh… especially since it all started from me making a comment on one of those many “wellness” blends about where the “peachy impeachment” teas were, and then Todd actually finding that one existed, hahaha. Which just proves, there really is a tea out there for everything. Now the real question… does it work? I’m betting it works about as well as every other over-promoted “wellness” tea, heh…
Steeped up a pot using both of my teabags in my doubin, and it certainly smells very peachy! It is actually a surprisingly nice blend, for something that is selling off the gag. It isn’t the sort of peach flavor that is on par with Lupicia or 52Teas, but it doesn’t taste oddly artificial or have any of the strange metallic notes I sometimes get with flavorings. It actually tastes slightly floral to me, giving me an odd peach blossom association; perhaps its from the honey sweetness in the rooibos base which is reading more as a floral/honeysuckle sort of flavor to me in this tea. I do taste the tulsi, and it’s bringing in mostly mint and pepper notes. Mostly I’m getting a sweet floral peach flavor, and it’s a quite relaxing cuppa.
Thanks again, derk!
Flavors: Floral, Honey, Honeysuckle, Mint, Peach, Pepper, Sweet