789 Tasting Notes
I’ve been down with another lengthy migraine, so I haven’t had the energy to do tea journal the last few days… and the nausea has kinda kept me from even drinking much tea, too. But last Thursday night I received a late birthday package from my best friend who was in Japan during my b-day, that had a gorgeous teacup with Jiji from Kiki’s Delivery Service on it from the Ghibli Musuem, and a bunch of Japanese teas (mostly sakura-flavored teas, as I specifically mentioned I like those and they are hard to come by, and they are in season over there right now, as well as a few other things). One of the stranger things included was an instant plum tea packet that was found at the New Otani Hotel (I believe the Osaka location). My friend’s traveling companion said it was thick and soup-like, so he told me I might want to use it for ramen broth (he knows I use tea as a broth substitute since I can’t use the flavor packets since MSG is a migraine trigger for me). I decided to do something a little different, and dissolved it into the water I was using to make my Minute Rice that night.
Since I only had one packet and I was making a double-serving of rice (which uses two cups of water), I was expecting it to be a little “weak”, but was hoping that the rice might take on a slight plum flavor as it soaked up the water. Ehhh… the experiment didn’t quite work out that way. The rice did have a noticeable taste to it, but it was a very salty flavor! Every now and again I thought that perhaps there was a hint of something slightly sweet or fruity to the taste, but it was extremely subtle; over all, it just tasted very salty. It certainly wasn’t anything to complain about, as it was more interesting than plain white rice, as soy sauce (fermented soy) is another migraine trigger (sigh, but I miss it dearly!), so at least the instant tea powder gave my rice some much needed added flavor. But I certainly wish it had taken on some plum notes like I had hoped. Maybe if I’d had more of the instant tea packets it would’ve worked? Who knows!
Green March! I’ve been using my gravity-well infuser at work to make Margaret’s Soother tea for a coworker with a terribly swollen throat, and haven’t felt like swapping the leaves out to make tea for myself when I want a cuppa, so I brought one of my last Teapigs samplers, since they come sachet-style. Like the Up Beet tea, this tea tastes more like an herbal blend but has a bit of green tea included in the blend.
I’m really enjoying this on a rather cold, dreary windy March morning. It tastes like a lemon ginger tea, with a nice lemony base and a warming gingery note that isn’t overly spicy and doesn’t leave too much heat behind in the mouth, which has been my problem with many lemon ginger blends (seriously, why do so many have to go so crazy with the ginger?) What I’m really enjoying here is there is a lovely noticeable sweet burst of coconut on the top sip that lingers in the aftertaste, that adds a new dimension to the flavor profile. I’ve never had a lemon ginger tea with coconut, and I’m loving the flavor combination! It works amazingly well. Though the tea includes licorice root, I actually can’t taste it at all; there is no pop of sticky sweetness (I’m a huge licorice root fan) so it must be used very subtly here; perhaps it is just enough to mellow some of the ginger out or bring out some of the sweetness of the coconut, which are both things I can’t complain about.
This is a nice tea, and for the coconut alone this is one of the best lemon ginger-style teas I’ve ever tried!
Flavors: Coconut, Ginger, Lemon, Lemon Zest, Spicy, Sweet
Green March! Spent most of my evening playing with my Kabusecha Saeakari Shaded Green Tea from Marushige Shimizu Tea Farm that I got from Yunomi — I’m mainly trying to find a preferred “casual” brewing method for it that I can use at work when I don’t have tea scales and an easy way to get the water cool enough, etc. Definitely had some failed cups (too astringent, too light, etc.) but I’ll keep working at it; I know the right combo is in there somewhere! Right now I have a cold brew set to steep overnight, since I’m curious about it’s iced tea potential. (Bringing an iced thermos to work may be the way to go for that tea if all else fails!)
While I was doing all that playing around in the kitchen, I fixed up my sampler-size serving of Geisha Getaway from T2 as a cold brew in the fridge. Now that it’s ready and strained, I’m excited to have this sipdown; it smells great!
I have to say, of the pineapple green teas I’ve tried so far this month, I think this has been my favorite so far, thanks to the coconut notes! This has a really refreshing, sweet, pina colada flavor. The pineapple flavor is noticable but a bit lighter (and personally, I prefer my fruity greens to not be too overbearing), and this allows the coconut notes to really shine, leaving a lovely sweet coconut taste on the tongue right in the finish. I can actually make out some very light, delicate grassy notes of the green tea beneath the pineapple and coconut. The pina colada notes are very complimenting, and the iced tea is very refreshing.
The pina colada combo is an easy win for me, and I like that the flavor isn’t too overbearing, so I’d say Geisha Getaway is my top pineapple-flavored green I sampled this month, followed by Pineapple Sorbet by Bluebird Tea Co., which had a nice pineapple-citrus combo, and finally Pineapple Paradise by Fusion Tea, which had a very strong pineapple flavor, which I felt overpowered the mango notes that were supposed to be present in the tea. If I have any more pineapple greens hiding in the ol’ sampler drawer I’ll have to update, hahaha!
Flavors: Coconut, Grass, Pineapple, Sweet
Tried this one again iced, and made a second warm cuppa just to sipdown the rest of my sampler, and had a very different experience than with my initial cup. Both the second warm cuppa and the iced brew had a noticably strange, unpleasant taste that I just didn’t recall on that first cup. It’s sort of an acrid taste, like something just doesn’t seem to be meshing with that overwhelming lime flavor at all. I think it may be the red rooibos in the blend, and I’m suspecting that it may have all sunk to the bottom of my sampler, so that I ended up not getting much of it in my first cup, while an abundance of it steeped out in my jug of iced tea and my sipdown hot cup (I certainly don’t remember my first cup being such a vivid reddish-orange color as both of these cups are presenting). I don’t really think it is complimenting the yerba mate and the green rooibos, and am confused why it was necessary to include it at all… I like red rooibos just fine, but here it seems to be a very clashing flavor and the result is a bit off-putting to me. I’m going to have to lower my score on this one, and I’m a bit glad for this sip down.
Green March! Granted this tea reads more like an herbal fruit and veggie blend; one wouldn’t even notice the inclusion of green tea unless reading the ingredients! I’ve been feeling a bit of a craving for hibiscus (my body could probably do with the extra Vitamin C, being on the mend from that food poisoning a week ago, so I’m not going to question that craving!) and I was surprised I actually had this blend tucked away under the Green Tea section of my (far too large) tea list. Sounds good to me!
Mmm. This tea delivers sweet, tangy, and savory notes all in one. I can really get behind this! It has that satisfying punchy hibiscus base that I really enjoy, but the beetroot and carrot give it this slightly savory flavor. There is a spicy, gingery top note, but it isn’t overly strong; I have some other hibiscus-ginger blends where the ginger is very spicy, but here it is a mild spiciness, adding a gingery tones to the veggie notes but not enough heat to leave a lasting aftertaste. The tea is tangy, but pleasantly so; Teapigs uses whole leaf in sachets, not crushed hibiscus petals, so it doesn’t have the strong tart notes that the crushed hibiscus so frequently used in bagged teas causes. It’s a very rounded tea; the sip starts out with a tangy fruit punch note, and ends with a more savory flavor of spiced beet and carrot juice. It feels warm and satisfying, and full of vitamins that I feel like I need right now. I’m going to try to get a few steeps out of my bag, and really make the most out of my two teabag sampler!
Flavors: Fruit Punch, Ginger, Hibiscus, Tangy, Vegetables
This is one of the teas I picked up during American Tea Room’s big going-out-of-business discount sale. I’ve never had any of their teas before, but can’t resist a big discount, and I admittedly grabbed a lot of floral flavors since I really enjoy those. While I’m always a little hesitant when teas include jasmine after my experience with jasmine pearls, overall this blend had me curious, with its mix of florals, mint, and white tea base.
Opening the bag, the scent was heavily that of rose and mint, and honestly if those are the only two flavors I end up getting from the brewed cup I know I’ll be satisfied, because that is a flavor combination that I really enjoy. The brewed cup was a lovely yellow color, that didn’t have such a strong minty scent, though it was still noticeable. There was definitely still a lovely rose aroma wafting up from the cup, with another more subtle floral scent in the background. Jasmine? If so, it’s certainly light, which is exactly how I like it in my floral teas, which bodes well. Oddly enough, I didn’t notice any hint of lavender at all.
The flavor of the tea was very much like a rose mint tea. The base was minty, leaving that cool, freshing feeling in the mouth, but it wasn’t overwhelming or overpowering. A strong rose note sweetens the mint and leaves a strong presense in the finish of the sip. There seems to be a softer background note of jasmine, but it is very subtle beneath the mint and rose flavors. The lavender seems to be lost beneath the other more dominant flavor notes; since lavender has a floral-minty note, paired with the stronger floral rose flavor and peppermint, I can’t make out a lavender flavor in my cup. The tea is very smooth, and the aftertaste is sweet, floral, refreshing, and leaves a slight peppery, tingly note.
While I wish the lavender had been a touch more pronounced in the final cup, I absolutely love the mint rose flavor, which is refreshing and relaxing. I think this is going to be a favorite nighttime warm cuppa, but I also can’t wait to also try this iced.
Flavors: Floral, Mint, Pepper, Rose, Sweet
I absolutely love lavender, and tend to grab any lavender teas that I can find, but as I discovered with this tea, unlike bacon you can definitely have “too much of a good thing” in the case of my favorite floral. I ordered from Lupicia for the first time recently (I couldn’t resist the lure of sakura teas!) and when I saw Lavender White on their site, it seemed the perfect kind of tea for a lavender lover like me.
I made it the other morning, coming off a four-day long migraine that was trigger during a bought of food poisoning. It was such a strong lavender flavor I thought that maybe I had used way too much leaf (I tend to use a bit more than average with white teas, because it is so light and fluffy; I was at work and didn’t have a tea scale available, so I usually wing it by using two teaspoons instead of one to account for the light fluffiness of the leaf on the spoon). The taste was a bit too overwhelming for me, but I will say it did an amazing job helping to kick the remainder of that waning migraine out of my head.
I thought maybe a cold brew might be better suited to it, so when I got home, I measured out the leaf on my teascale and let it cold brew for around eight hours in the refrigerator, then strained the tea. It had a much lighter, clearer color, and I was hoping it wouldn’t taste so strong. I did enjoy the taste better iced, it didn’t have the sort of acrid/bitter aftertaste that the warm cup had from such a strong lavender infusion, but the flavor still came off really strong and less of the light and delicate floral touch that I enjoy so much; I think the white tea is just too light of a base and there is so much lavender in the blend it is just too strong and overwhelming here. But I still wasn’t willing to give up!
So I — quite literally — decided to make lemonade of the situation! I added a few teaspoons of frozen lemonade concentrate to the mason jar of iced tea, gave it a brisk stirring to mix it in and dissolve it, and… perfection! There was enough lavender flavor to hold up against the addition of some sweet lemon notes to the brew, so the iced tea tasted just like a lavender lemonade. It was icy cool, super refreshing, and the two flavors complemented each other wonderfully.
For as much as I love lavender, I definitely will stick to lavender in blends; a little goes a long way! But I’m happy I’ve found a very tasty way to continue to drink this tea; I’m looking forward to the pitchers of iced lavender-flavored lemonade in my fridge once the warmer months set in!
Flavors: Bitter, Floral, Lavender, Mint
Green March! I decided I needed a break from green teas so I decided to try this sampler I purchased from Fusion Teas a while ago in a yerba mate sampler set. Lime is a rather under-represented flavor overall in my collection, but I enjoy tart citrus flavors, so I’m certainly interested in exploring that flavor profile more. Green yerba mate leaves and a lime flavor profile just seems to fit in well for the “green theme” I have going for this month, so why not roll with it?
In the past I’ve usually found Fusion’s flavors don’t quite pop if I only use a teaspoon of leaf, and even they suggest a teaspoon and a half, so I usually go for two teaspoons. The leaf did have a very creamy lime scent, and I could make out some nuttiness in the aroma, but the brewed cup had a stronger aroma of yerba mate leaf (it reminds me of the scent of gunpowder green tea, vegetal and a little smoky), with heavy lime overtones.
There is a nice, strong lime flavor to the tea, and it accompanies the natural flavors of the yerba mate leaf well, which do actually manage to shine through the strong flavoring — though subtly — adding hints of grass and lemon-citrus as soft background notes. I do wish the lime was just a bit less strong, as it is hard to make out some of the other flavors in the tea — there is a very subtle hint of nuttiness left on the tongue in the aftertaste, and a slight coconuty sweetness to the cup, and I would’ve liked these flavors to be brought to the forefront a little more. Overall, though, if you like the taste of lime, it’s a nice tea. I found it growing on me a little more with each sip, and will probably use up my sampler trying out an iced batch, as I feel the lime flavor will really shine in a cold brew.
Flavors: Citrus, Coconut, Grass, Lime, Nutty, Sweet, Tangy
Green March! I purchased this tea blend from Shakespeare’s Corner Shoppe in San Diego, California, when I was there on a vacation last fall. It was their “featured flavor” the month that my friend and I visited for our high tea, so we were offered a cup of it while we were waiting for our teatime goodies to be served. I’ll be honest, this is totally not the kind of tea I’d be interested in off the name (I’m not a fan of raw cucumbers, though admittedly I don’t mind them cooked in things or flavoring water, and I also don’t care to eat raw watermelon based on texture, though I don’t have problems with the flavor of watermelon, though find most artificial watermelon flavorings, like that used in candies, pretty sketchy) but if someone is offering me free tea, unless it has a migraine trigger or bananas in it, I’m going to take that cup. And I was surprised how much I liked it! So I picked up a bag of it from the shop after the tea before we left.
This shop does have a few custom blends, but most of their teas are sourced, with this one being no exception. Since Shakespeare’s Corner Shoppe is a UK products novelty store as well as offering high tea services, I’m fairly certain they are using English Tea Store as the wholesaler for the majority of their blends. The ingredients and the look of the leaf is identical, and I can’t find this blend offered by other popular wholesalers like ITI and Metropolitan, so I’m pretty sure I’ve located their source.
I remember enjoying this tea as an appetizer during my high tea, but I find I don’t enjoy it quite so much as a warm cuppa now. It comes across with a very strong flavor that I find is just a bit too strong for me when I’m drinking a warm cup of green tea; I prefer more subtle fruity touches with a strong base of sweet, warm grassy notes when I’m drinking my green tea warm, and find that most flavored green teas are too overwhelming with their flavors, completely overpowering the tea base, and the heavy warm fruit flavors often just feel off to me somehow. This was no exception, and the flavor just felt strange and off-putting as a hot brew.
Iced, however, I really enjoy the flavor of this tea! This may be one of my favorite iced teas. There is definitely a certain refreshing touch of cucumber here, like quenching cucumber water, like I really enjoy. The watermelon flavoring doesn’t really taste like watermelon to me; rather, it is more like the Japanese “melon” flavor, something that comes across a bit like a cross between cantalope and honeydew. It’s very naturally sweet, and doesn’t require any sweetener; just chill and drink! (Though, I imagine adding some fresh sliced cucumber would probably make a lovely addition to an iced pitcher of this!)
This is one that I’d just forego warm and go straight to the iced tea pitcher.
Flavors: Cantaloupe, Cucumber, Honeydew, Melon, Sweet
Green March! I’ve been in a floral mood, so I grabbed this sampler of T2’s Green Rose out of my stash. The tea wasn’t quite what I was expecting, as it is a green tea fruit blend with some rosey floral notes, but it turned out quite nice!
The tea has a really nice aroma of mango and rose. There is a very distinct mango flavor, with some notes of peaches and apricots. It is very naturally sweet, with a floral finish that leaves a soft rosey flavor lingering softly on the tongue. I had been expecting a grassy, vegetal base with a fairly strong rose flavor from the name, but this tea is like a sweet, fruity mango-peach nectar with a kiss of rose petals; it is blended very nicely, with the floral notes managing to stand out just enough to the fruitiness to not be overwhelmed, which is what I had worried about when I saw all the fruit flavors listed on the packaging. To be honest, I think of all the T2 samplers from the big Christmas discounted sampler haul I picked up, this has been my favorite so far, and I certainly wouldn’t mind having this tea restocked in my cupboard! I’ll even forgive the fact that I can’t taste any of the base notes in this (I normally like a little of the green tea grassiness to shine through in my fruity green tea blends) because I’m just feeling this mango/rose combo. Mmm!
Flavors: Floral, Mango, Peach, Rose, Sweet