824 Tasting Notes
May Flowers! This is actually the first earl grey tea I ever bought for my collection. I had never liked the taste of bergamot (which, considering the way I like citrus and strong tart, tangy flavors, I’m not sure why I never liked that taste, but it just was very offputting to me… perhaps because it was so perfumy? Despite how much like I like florals, I can’t handle a jasmine-scented tea because it is simply too strong in scent and sets my head off because I feel like I’m drinking perfume, so the aroma more than the taste could have had a lot to do with it). But I read a lot of reviews saying this was a good earl grey for “people that normally don’t like earl grey” and I thought I’d try to adapt my palate, starting with this blend (and I later added other blends as well, and now I’d say I’m pretty tolerant with all but the heaviest of bergamot teas).
This tea does have a noticable bergamot flavor that lingers on the tongue, but there is a fruitiness to the base. Most people say it tastes of peach, but for me, it tastes very much of lychee, and lychee black teas are one of my favorite things, so that actually was a good way to ween me into the bergamot. The tea is accented with rose, sunflower, hibiscus, and mallow petals, and while you can’t really taste any of those flowers individually, there is a very subtle floral sweetness right at the end of the sip.
I used to always take this with some milk, to cut the bergamot back just a bit, but now that I’m more used to it, I can drink a cup plain, and pick out the lychee fruit notes beneath the citrusy bergamot. I think I’d certainly prefer something like this over a plain earl grey in my cupboard.
Flavors: Bergamot, Citrus, Floral, Lychee
It’s a sipdown! I’m raising my rating on this one because my gut was right after tasting that first awful cup; Art of Tea’s recommended steeping instructions were just not favorable for this tea, and once I made a cup using a much cooler water temperature (around 170-175 F) and a shorter steep of about 3 minutes, this actually was a really nice tea! It really mellowed out and I suddenly didn’t have that overbearing smokiness that just didn’t really blend with any of the other flavors in the cup; instead it tasted more grassy with an underlying fruitiness and a mild floral touch at the end of the sip. The flavors actually blended well and felt complimentary now. It really made a world of difference!
Flavors: Berry, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Hay
May Flowers! This is one of my oldest samplers, so it’s time I finally tend to it (at least there is no coconut in it, so dodged a bullet there!) This is a guayusa tea blended with jasmine green tea (I admittedly can’t stand a plain, heavily-scented jasmine tea, but have found I’m usually fine when it’s blended with other things so it’s more subtle), and it also has some hibiscus petals as well as some strawberry (since my sampler was before they changed the formula to raspberry) and rosehip to add some other fruity notes.
Brewed up warm, this tea has a very odd aroma… I’m getting a somewhat tobacco smoky but somewhat earthy scent from the guayusa, but it is mixed with a very sweet floral aroma. Honestly, I don’t think the two really pair all that well, and after tasting the tea, I feel about the same. The flavor of the guayusa is a bit dominating and that smoky flavor sticks out a bit rather than really mixing well with the floral jasmine and soft, underlying fruity notes. It feels a little off. I think if it was a little more subdued it would be better, or maybe if the tea was somehow a little more naturally sweet, somehow the profile would work better. Since I still have quite a bit of the sampler left, I do plan to play around with brew amounts, water temperature, and steep time, and see if I can’t get a more favorable tasting cup out of this. I feel there may be potential, but for now I’m not impressed.
The batch of iced tea I made is a bit more pleasant; the guayusa is still a little stronger than I’d prefer, but much more subdued overall than my warm cup, with far more of the sweeter strawberry and floral jasmine notes coming through. Since my iced tea batch was prepared by cold steeping overnight, this definitely makes me think that experimenting with colder water temperatures and shorter steep times than what Art of Tea recommends may be the secret to a tastier warm cup. But if all else fails, I definitely can sip this down making iced tea!
Flavors: Berry, Earth, Floral, Hay, Smoke
May Flowers! I discovered one teabag of this in my cupboard, gifted to me from a volunteer at the library sometime ago. Since I just sampled a bagged raspberry-flavored hibiscus tea last night and found it quite enjoyable (especially when I don’t really drink bagged teas much anymore), I figured I’d give it a go while that comparison was still fresh in my mind. Since I only had the one teabag, though, I did a hot steep.
I’ll admit, with the exception of Stash’s Apple Cinnamon Chamomile (I know, a tea with chamomile in it, of all things!), I’m just not really a fan of Stash’s hibiscus. I don’t know what it is. I’m a huge hibiscus fan (unlike the majority of the reviews I find on Steepster… seriously, I feel like such a black sheep on this site considering how I like things like hibiscus and licorice root!) but there is something kind of bland-tasting whenever I try a hibi-hip heavy Stash tea… it just never seems to have that nice, fruit punchy appeal. This one is no exception. It feels a bit too watery, and I’m getting way too much lemongrass citrus, so neither the hibiscus nor the raspberry is really coming through for me here. I can appreciate that maybe the raspberry isn’t as strong as Celestial Seasonings tends to go with its fruit flavorings, but it seems a little too drowned out here… or maybe it’s just the citrus notes are hiding it? In any event, I think the lemongrass was an odd fit here. Celestial Seasonings definitely had the nicer hibiscus raspberry tea of the two, in my opinion, both because the hibiscus just tasted nicer, and the raspberry flavor was more pronounced. And it wasn’t so citrusy.
Flavors: Berry, Citrus, Hibiscus, Lemon, Tangy, Tart
May Flowers! This is the final of the four fruit teas I’m revisiting from the Celestial Seasonings fruit tea sampler! And since I had enough teabags of this one to make it iced (and that’s how I tend to prefer my hibi-hips teas anyway) this one was hot steeped and then chilled so it was icy cool!
Hmm… I may have to take back what I said about the True Blueberry being my favorite of the bunch (though it may be an unfair advantage, since I did get to prepare this one iced instead of warm). But I do think of the Celestial Seasonings fruit tea sampler set, this one works the best for me. The flavor is, once again, quite strong, but I think of all the flavors the raspberry blends the best with the tangy fruit notes of the hibiscus base. And since they blend so well together, the raspberry feels a bit more natural and juicy. It’s also easily the least obnoxiously sweet of the teas to me; there is a touch of berry sweetness there, but the tart and tangy notes are more dominant, and feel more natural of ripe raspberries to me. So of the four fruit teas, I think this one blends the hibi-hip base and flavoring the best, and tastes the least artificial of the bunch. It’s probably tangy enough that some folks may have to sweeten this one, which I would not say for any of the others in the sampler set.
Flavors: Fruity, Hibiscus, Raspberry, Tangy, Tart
May Flowers! Onto the True Blueberry from the Celestial Seasonings fruit sampler! There was only a teabag of this one left, so this is a hot steep.
The blueberry is definitely a step up from the Country Peach Passion and the Black Cherry Berry. Unlike the Country Peach Passion, this one is back to that fruity hibiscus base that I personally enjoy (which I’ll still admit I enjoy better iced, though with the warm blueberry flavor it isn’t too bad, since it reminds me a bit of warm blueberry pancake syrup). Unpopular opinion, I know, but I really like the tangy fruitiness a nice hibiscus/rosehip base provides. The tea has a strong blueberry flavor and a lot of sweetness, which really gives me the impression of a plate of blueberry pancakes (or at least blueberry syrup!)… but again, I just find the overbearing artificiality of the flavor a bit much (I have a feeling I’m going to be feeling that about all these fruit teas…) It’s not… bad, exactly, I just wish the volume was turned down a few notches. But, overall… a quite satisfying bagged tisane. I still need to revisit the Raspberry Zinger, but I have a feeling if I was going to pick up just one of the four flavors in the fruit sampler, the blueberry might just be it!
Flavors: Artificial, Blueberry, Hibiscus, Pancake Syrup, Sweet, Tangy
May Flowers! Since I started this trip down memory lane by finishing off my expired since [date redacted to protect my shame] Black Cherry Berry, I may as well go ahead and do the rest of the Celestial Seasonings fruit sampler.
I always remember Country Peach Passion being one of my favorites, if I am recalling correctly (at least, I have vague memories of getting an additional box of this one separately from the fruit sampler at one point in time, way back in the day). That may also be why I had a few more teabags of this one left than the others, so I decided to make a quart of iced tea to sipdown this one.
The tea had a strong peach aroma, but the flavor just… doesn’t hold up for me anymore. It may just be the more chamomile-heavy base of the blend (I’m not much of a fan of chamomile), but honestly I think it’s because I have started drinking too many loose leaf peach-flavored teas, which have such a natural flavor, that feels really refreshing and isn’t so overwhelming, and the flavor here just tastes… like fake-peach, like the kind of peach used in candies. It’s really sweet and really strong. It’s passable, but… meh. Honestly, it just feels like a bit much for me to drink this plain. I could imagine it possibly making a decent mixer with a rather plain bagged black tea to make a decent sweet peach-flavored iced black tea, though.
Flavors: Artificial, Peach, Sweet
May Flowers! This is another bagged tea revisit; I only had one bag left of this in my cupboard and it’s rather old, so I figured it was time to sip it down. This is a hibiscus/rosehips blend with black cherry flavoring, and while I usually make teas like this iced, since I only had a single teabag of this left, I opted to just make a warm cuppa.
Though taking hibiscus warm isn’t my favorite (I prefer it chilled), that is actually my favorite part of this tea; the slightly tangy, fruity flavor of the hibiscus is very pleasant. It’s the black cherry flavor that I don’t care for so much. It’s very strong, sweet, and tastes very artificial; somehow I just can’t shake the feeling that I’m drinking liquified cherry Life Savers, and if it weren’t for the overbearing sweetness, the black cherry flavor itself reminds me far too much of cough syrup. The tea doesn’t have that medicinal edge or bite too it, but the strength of the flavor is on par with liquid medications and somehow brings my mind to those associations; I think that is why I would prefer a little softer touch.
This was a perfectly drinkable cup, but this isn’t a tea I’d care to restock.
Flavors: Artificial, Candy, Cherry, Hibiscus, Sweet, Tangy
Welp, I had to throw out a coconut tea today for going rancid, so I decided to go through my tea spreadsheet and check my oldest teas, and noticed a few of my oldest Art of Tea samplers (which are just over a year old) had coconut in them. One of them (Coconut Cacao Pu-erh) had indeed gone rancid. Le sigh. Never even got to try it! Ah well, my fault for being a tea hoarder, and I didn’t know about the coconut issue until recently. The other was this tea, and it actually didn’t have the “rancid smell” when I opened it, so I figured I should try it… and if it tasted okay, drink it up stat!
Despite being purchased at the same time as the other Art of Tea sampler, this one seems to have been spared… perhaps it was just a fresher sampler to begin with from their stock, or maybe it just includes less dry coconut in it? In any event, it smells very buttery, sweet, and coconuty, and doesn’t have that rancid “off” scent. So I’m willing to give this one a priority sipdown.
I find the taste a nice coconut flavor, with a creamy body that has a light buttery note and leaves a very sweet finish on the tongue. It’s really lovely! I’m honestly shocked this has such a nice flavor and has held up so well given the age, considering how many of my coconut teas have spoiled recently, including ones half as old. Call me impressed!
Flavors: Butter, Coconut, Creamy, Sweet
May Flowers! This is one of my oldest samplers (I bought it with a birthday giftcard in March of 2017, I believe?) and it has just barely slipped past the “best by” date, so I’ve marked it as a priority for sipdown. Art of Tea has since discontinued this blend, too. Ouch. So much changes in a mere year…
This is a black tea blended with rooibos, orange peel, and hibiscus, rose, and safflower petals. I couldn’t see any rooibos in my sampler, but could smell a bit of the telltale “medicinal” scent I get when it is mixed with black leaf, but mostly the leaf smelled strongly of the black tea and rose petals.
Steeped up, the tea looks like a medium-bodied black tea and gives off a rosy aroma. The flavor presents as a nice, malty breakfast tea, but it isn’t as bitter or as astringent as most thanks to the lingering rooibos hiding in the blend; I don’t actually taste it (I’ve had some other black/rooibos blends that don’t get that balance right and the flavor can be rather inconsistent, so I consider this a good thing), but I think there is a sweetness added to the cup by its presense that helps mellow the edge off the black tea, and I actually prefer it that way. There is still a bit of astringency left after the sip, but what is left is much more mild. There is a floral sweetness to the tea as well; there is a notable rose note to the sip which is very pleasant, though it is nowhere as strong as, say, the strong rose flavoring to be had in the White Rose tea I featured a few days ago. The rose is much more muted against the strong black base here, but there is a bit of a sweet, lingering rose floral taste on the tongue in the aftertaste. I can make out a very subtle fruitiness deep in the sip which is likely from the hibiscus, but it is very faint; there is not much hibiscus here, and I doubt many would even taste that much against the strong maltiness of the black tea. If you are a hibiscusphobe, I honestly don’t think you have to worry.
Overall the impression I get is a breakfast tea with a floral touch. I find it quite nice, and will probably try it with some milk next time I make it.
Flavors: Astringent, Floral, Malt, Rose