617 Tasting Notes
Throwback Thursday! This is one of my earliest flavored green teas. I remember I didn’t care for it initially as a warm brew, and while I probably should revisit it warm sometime, these days I really do just drink most fruity greens as cold brews in my water bottle at work, so that is how I prepared this one: 5g in a quart of water, steeped over night, and then strained.
I still am not wildly crazy about the mandarin flavoring of this tea; it is quite strong and citrusy, but something about it just strikes me as too potent and artificial. I wish it was dialed back just a touch. That said, it at least doesn’t have the weird metallic aftertaste that I get quite often from orange flavorings, so I guess it has that in its favor. Despite the flavoring being pretty strong, the green tea itself holds up surprisingly well as a base since I can taste a refreshing fresh, grassy, vegetal taste, and often with flavored greens, I can’t really make out any base notes from the green tea at all. It is nice enough as an iced tea, but not one that wows me; I’ll be happy when I’m able to sip it down and this wouldn’t be a tea I’d consider restocking. I think what I’ll do for my next batch is mix up some lemonade and steep in that, since I think that might tame the orange flavoring a bit.
I wavered about lowering my score from where I had it initially, but decided to keep it since the base green tea was surprisingly good and I was so impressed the notes held out against such a strong and (in my opinion) unpleasant flavoring.
Flavors: Artificial, Citrus, Grass, Orange, Tangy, Vegetal
Teabox Tuesday! I’ve been migraining all day, so I haven’t made any tea yet. Thankfully I haven’t completely exhausted the herbal options from my teabox stash, though I am getting close. This one is from the Discovery Teabox, so thank you to Skysamurai for organizing and to all who participated in sharing tea!
The leaf has a very nutty aroma. Steeped, the tea is very much a deeply red rooibos color, and smells nutty but has the sweet rooibos notes I’m familiar with, honey and a touch of vanilla or caramel. The flavor is pretty nice; not quite as strong as I’d probably like, but I tend to steep my herbal teas a little overleafed, and I had the very last serving in the box on this one, so I’m using a little less rooibos for the cup than I’d probably use left to my own devices. That said, it is still pretty tasty. The rooibos base is pretty heavy, but it’s a nice rooibos with more of the sweeter notes I like, and lacking in the brassy/woody/medicinal notes. I taste a lot of honey, caramel, and a touch of subtle woodiness. The flavors that come through most strongly are a nutty note and vanilla; I’m not sure if I’d say I really get “pecan pie,” but at least I’m not just tasting heavy marzipan like I do with so many nutty dessert teas.
It’s a very satisfying cup and makes a nice sweet dessert tea before bed. I’ve never seen this company before and have a few more herbal option samplers to try from them from the box, so thank you!
Flavors: Caramel, Honey, Nutty, Rooibos, Sweet, Vanilla, Wood
Sampler Sunday! So, I decided I would use one of the teapots I got from my grandmother today, as they are larger “British style” teapots (normally I use a little 2 cup sized Japanese doubin). The instructions on this sampler packet from T2 had a very odd tea to water ratio listed compared to how I usually make my blacks, and I didn’t trust it at all, and I wanted to make it with the ratio I usually use, but I also wanted to use up the whole packet at once, and therefore needed the larger pot to hold enough water. Basically I wanted to do the 5g packet in 700ml.
Then I went to steep, and as soon as the 205F water hit the teapot, I heard a “cracking” sound and noticed an eggshell appearance on the glaze of the teapot. WELL THEN. That couldn’t be good! So I was scrambling like a mad woman just to GET THE WATER OUT, poured everything I could into my gravity well infuser with the teabag and had to dump the overflow. That infuser only holds two cups, or about 500ml. So, I guess grandma’s teapots were “decorative only”? How was I supposed to know?! They looked like completely proper teapots to me! Either that, or they are just so old they can’t handle the shock of actually being used as teapots and taking hot water anymore… in any event, the porcelain is now warped, but not completely shattered, so into storage it goes… sad. I really wanted to use them. It was sort of a sentimental thing. And the tea went back into the doubin. I have no idea what the sudden “ditching” did to the steep, either. But it suddenly went from the original 700ml down to 500ml, with the same amount of leaf and a change of vessel in between. Let’s see how this turned out…
It smells nice, at least. The last vanilla black I tried from T2 tasted like Circus Peanuts to me, and was one of the worst teas I’d tried, so I’m hoping this isn’t the same vanilla flavoring. Anything that triggers “banana” in my head is just a no-go for me. Also getting a nice malty aroma. The malty black base is coming forward fairly strongly, with a sweet bready toast flavor, making the vanilla more subtle, so I like this more than that other vanilla tea (Blue Mountain, I think it was?) already. There is a very light astringency following the sip, and the very slightest citrus note lingering beneath the malt and vanilla. However, I still think this vanilla flavoring tastes a bit odd. A little too sweet/artificial… it isn’t striking that place that makes me think of banana (maybe because it is lighter here, or the black tea taste is more prominent) but there is still something very candy-like and I’ve certainly had other vanilla black teas I’ve liked a lot more than this, that tasted more natural and blended nicer with the base. It’s a nice enough breakfast tea, but not a favorite. I’m just not jiving with their choice of vanilla flavoring, especially compared to others I’ve had.
Flavors: Artificial, Astringent, Candy, Citrus, Malt, Sweet, Toast, Vanilla
I’m trying to put all my Strand Tea orders to the forefront due to age, so I made a cup of this for my work thermos this morning. They call it “Pu-erh Mocha” but it is obvious from the ingredients that it is wholesaled from Metropolitan Tea Company and is their Ethiopian Mocha Pu-erh blend.
Don’t like coffee? Then you won’t like this tea. I think this is one of those “gateway” blends, as the coffee element is very strong. I haven’t had coffee in quite some time now, so I imagine the caffeine is going to hit me hard; this actually has ground coffee in the blend, not just whole beans to give it a “coffee flavor”, so it will pack a jolt. I used to drink coffee quite a bit back in the day, but my stomach is a lot more sensitive these days, and even mixed with the pu-erh, I’m not sure if I can handle something like this anymore, even though I don’t mind the taste. It’s just a might too acidic-feeling when I deal with a lot of nausea/IBS with my migraines and the pu-erh doesn’t seem to be cutting that feeling in my gut down enough. I get some subtle earthy notes, and the mild hint of burnt sugar from the butterscotch is nice, but I wouldn’t mind that being a bit stronger, just to add a touch more sweetness to the cup to counter how bitter it is coming off… perhaps next time I should try this latte-style with some almond milk? That may make all the difference. Otherwise, I’m not sure if I can possibly sip down this much leaf of this tea. It’s just too wrought-iron strong for how sensitive my stomach has become.
Flavors: Bitter, Burnt Sugar, Coffee, Earth
Repost. I bought this tea from Strand Tea under the name “Niagara Frost ‘Ice Wine’ Black Tea” and have been working on sipping it down (one serving left!) but have recently discovered this blend is wholesaled from Metropolitan Tea Company, so I’m moving my original review under the wholesaler because that is just how I like to jive.
Autumn Harvest! This is one of my oldest teas; I bought it in a Strand Tea order in the summer of 2017. It’s a black tea with some Bai Mu Dan white tea leaves, ice wine grape flavoring, and raisins. The dry leaf does smell sweet and grapey, but also a bit like black currant, and also has some floral notes.
I have a pitcher of this icing in the fridge, but right now just have a warm thermos to sip at work. Originally I prepared the tea at 205F and steeped for four minutes, but this produced a bit more bitterness and astringency than I prefer; I wasn’t sure if that was because I steeped a little longer than I usually prefer to steep black teas, or if I didn’t take into account that this blend includes some Bai Mu Dan which may have reacted poorly to me using the typical water temperature I use for black tea bases. So on my lunch break, I prepared another thermos using 190F water and steeped for three minutes, and the tea seemed to be much more to my tastes this way. There was still some astringency after the sip, but it wasn’t nearly as potent, and I also found there was a sort of pear-flavored note coming through in the flavor prepared this way as well. The base is Ceylon, so it likely is a quite brisk black, and I do tend to respond more favorably to stronger blacks with shorter steeps, so I imagine that had a lot to do with it.
The flavoring is quite nice; there is a floral touch here that I like, slightly rosy and sweet like honeysuckle, which I also noticed in the Honey Mead tea I had recently. Beneath the floral notes is a strong grape note, but it doesn’t taste particularly raisiny. The end of the sip brings out some subtle pear and citrus notes. It’s a fairly pleasant tea, with perhaps a hint more astringency than I tend to favor due to the Ceylon base. Certainly not enough to keep me from drinking, and I’m looking forward to seeing how my iced tea turns out, since I think this flavor is going to work well for that.
Flavors: Astringent, Citrus, Floral, Fruity, Grapes, Honeysuckle, Pear, Rose
Throwback Thursday! This is hardly a “throwback,” because I’m still frequently enjoying these in the shadows, secretly and guiltily, mixing up my instant Thai tea while no one knows the wiser. I actually brought packets of this stuff on my last vacation (to the San Francisco Tea Festival) because I knew it would be so easy to pack and make while traveling; I enjoyed one cup at Todd’s house, and then when I emptied some of the packed teabags that I knew I wasn’t going to need into a bag to give Derk at the festival I was like, “Should I really give her this? Instant tea is considered lower than bagged tea!” And I did it anyway. I mean, to be fair, most instant teas usually aren’t too great. I’ve had some instant chais that were pretty decent, and some that were pretty awful. But this stuff really is quite good. Sweet, creamy, milky… I’ve been going through quite a lot watching through the second season of Drag Race Thailand, as well!
I usually make it warm since the powder has to dissolve, but when I order Thai tea in a restaurant, I always get it iced, or as a bubble tea. I really wanted more of that experience, so I decided for this throwback to try to see if I could recreate that! Once I had tried icing it right away by adding ice and it was a truly disastrous cup, so I just decided to always make this stuff warm. So this time I decided I’d just prepare in advance.
I used four packets of the mix to prepare a quart (4 cups). Usually when I make iced tea, because I want to help balance out the water temperature more evenly, I’ll boil two cups hot water and mix with two cups cold water, but since I didn’t know how that would work dissolving the powder, I went ahead and boiled four cups of water. I added the water slowly, stirring the mixture, making sure it evenly dissolved in my glass mason jar. Then, with the jar left open, I left it on the counter for several hours, trying to allow it to cool closer to room temperature (so it wouldn’t “vacuum seal” too badly… this is why I usually do a hot/cold water mixture when I’m making iced tea). Once it felt fairly cooled off, I sealed it off and put it in the fridge to chill overnight. Thankfully it wasn’t too hard to pop open the next morning, and it was great! Really did remind me of Thai tea flavored bubble tea, minus the boba (and made me wish I had some boba to add!) Since the powder already has the milk/sugar in the powder, nothing has to be added to get that milky/creamy and sweet flavor. Has a very vanilla/cream-forward flavor. I was surprised it turned out so well like this! Next time I may see if the powder dissolves fine if I use half the amount of hot water so I can use my typical hot/cold water mix for preparing iced tea, because now that I know this works, I’m imagining I may be making it this way instead of hot a lot more often. Also, I may just have to order some boba to add, heh.
Flavors: Cream, Creamy, Sweet, Thick, Vanilla
Teabox Tuesday! This is the last green tea from the Here’s Hoping Teabox, so thank you to tea-sipper for organizing and those that participated! Since I like fruity greens iced, I coldsteeped my sample of this overnight and filled my water bottle with it this morning… and then didn’t get to drink it because my stomach has been in migraine nausea/pain hell all day. Gastric stasis, so fun! After massive amounts of mint it feels like it’s trying to settle a little, so I’m finally getting to sample this tea… at least my water bottle stays ice cold and I can drink the tea tomorrow if my stomach is feeling better!
I have no idea how old this leaf might be now, but I’m still getting a rather strong tropical fruity scent from the tea. I’m not sure if I could place the fruit, though. Perhaps mango or passion fruit? I suppose the obvious answer would be guava, but I’m fairly certain that is a fruit I’ve never had before! (I’m so uncultured) This still has a great flavor and I think a cold brew was a great way to go as far as preparation; the tea tastes very thirst-quenching and refreshing and has a nice fruit flavor that lingers on the back of my tongue, but doesn’t come off overbearing or oddly artificial, or with any of the strange metallic notes I sometimes get from flavoring agents. I’m picking up notes of stonefruit, particularly a peachy/apricot taste, as well as mango and a subtle orange citrus and sweet berry note, with the berry flavor probably the most prevalent mid-sip, but the apricot/mango flavor lingering on my tongue the strongest in the aftertaste. The green tea itself doesn’t leave much of an impression on me compared to the fruitness of the blend, other than being quite light, delicate, and refreshing.
This is a water bottle I am going to enjoy! Thanks for sharing!
Flavors: Apricot, Berry, Citrus, Fruity, Mango, Orange, Peach, Smooth, Stonefruits, Sweet
Throwback… Tuesday? Had a bad stomach migraine today so I was having horrible nausea/stomach pain/GI issues all day. Still am, really. So I haven’t managed to get to my teabox tea yet, even though I coldbrewed a big mason jar of it yesterday, because I just wanted nice soothing mint on my stomach. This tea is fabulous on a sore throat, but I’ve found it does help settle my stomach a bit if I sip on it slowly. The pain tends to return when the attack is bad, but a little more slow sippage tends to bring back some temporary relief. I’m down to one last serving and not sure how I’ll manage once it’s gone! I do have some other mint teas, but I just really find this one so tasty and soothing… I love the gentle flavor the clove and licorice root bring. I just can’t justify wasting the money on shipping to restock a single tea, and while I’m on hiatus I just am not going to make a bulk order, so I’ll have to do without for a little while, I guess. But I really do love this tea. Tasty and functional! Bumping up my rating on this one… it may be a basic blend, but the balance is great, it’s good warm, tepid, and iced, and the “soother” in the name is just so spot on!
Flavors: Clove, Licorice, Mint, Smooth, Sweet
I actually sampled this for the first time last month when I had to go up to Boise to take care of some family things, so there was just no way I could write a note for it then. Decided to make another pot of it tonight for my nightly herbal. I did learn last time that like many grocery store herbals a single bag per cup comes out just a bit too weak in flavor for me, so I prepared this one with a ratio of two bags per cup of water (and my dobin teapot holds two cups of water, so four bags in this case).
The tea is a lovely lemony yellow and smells wonderful, very sweet with a strong lemon aroma. I really like this one; it has a nice lemon flavor that doesn’t have any of the “cleaner” flavors I find so often in lemon teas using flavoring, and the citrus comes off with a very juicy appeal. It has a sweetness with a slight vanilla note, and a bit of a lemon zest tart zing toward the end of the sip that I quite like. I feel like I pick up just a hint of the ginger in the aftertaste; it isn’t prevalent in the flavor on the sip, but I feel a small warmth on the back of my tongue after the swallow. And to my fellow chamomile haters: it is listed in the ingredients, and I don’t taste it at all. Another plus.
I imagine I’ll go through this box fairly quickly (which is good, since boxed teas are taking up a lot of cupboard space), but on the flipside I’ll probably restock this one at some point, too.
Flavors: Citrus, Ginger, Lemon, Lemon Zest, Sweet, Tart, Vanilla
Sampler Sunday! This is the last oolong I had left from the Here’s Hoping Teabox, so thank you to tea-sipper for organizing and all who participated! I’ve never tried this kind of oolong before and have no idea how old this tea may be by now so take my impression with a grain of salt.
Decided to try to make the time for a gong fu session this morning, which I am also no expert in. I did split the leaf in my sample to use a smaller amount of water in the session since I don’t like how water-heavy/full I get over so many infusions, and then I’d still have enough leaf to compare with a western infusion as well.
3.45g / 70ml (in a 100ml capacity shiboridashi) / 208F / Rinse|20s|25s|30s|40s|50s|60s|75s|90s|120s
I took the tea through nine infusions, though the flavor was noticably starting to fade by the seventh infusion, and the eighth and ninth infusions were very weak. The wet leaf had a toasty aroma that after the first infusion reminded me of a savory stirfry, notibly with cashew and water chestnut aroma. After the last aroma the wet leaf had a more smoky aroma, and also smelled of raisins.
The first two infusions had a very roasty, nutty aroma, but also a lot of sweetness. The flavor was very pleasant, reminding me a lot of houjicha; it tasted of roasted nuts, had a slightly sweet honey note, and had very subtle undertones of minerals/wet rocks and smoke. I was worried it was going to be another smoke bomb like the last oolong I tried, but nope! There is a tanginess that is left on the back of the tongue which I personally quite like. I get a bitter nut (like walnuts) paired with a honey roast vibe. By the third/fourth infusion a lot of woodiness was coming through, and by the fourth infusion through to the end of the session, the sweetness dissipated and the nuttiness was paired more with a mineral/wet rock flavor, with the subtle smoky aftertaste becoming slightly more noticable. I also started getting a slight vegetable taste of wet water chestnuts which became stronger in later steeps. The tangy feeling on the tongue was completely gone by mid-session to late session, only apparent in the first few infusions. There was a very light pepperiness in the last few infusions as the flavor was fading away.
I brewed my western cup with 3g in 350ml with 208F water for 3 minutes. The western cup was quite nice, with a nice toasty, roasted nut flavor and a mineral note toward the end of the sip, with a very subtle touch of smokiness. The sweeter honeyed notes from earlier steeps in the gong fu session and the stronger woody and vegetal water chestnut notes seemed to be the most lacking in the western cuppa. It was very smooth and lacked the tangy component on the back of the tongue I got in the early steeps of my gong fu session as well.
Since I’m a fan of houjicha and this reminded me in a lot of ways of the flavor notes of that tea, I am definitely interested in exploring this type of oolong more.
Flavors: Honey, Mineral, Nutty, Pepper, Roasted nuts, Smoke, Smooth, Tangy, Toasty, Vegetal, Walnut, Wet Rocks, Wood