866 Tasting Notes
This is one of my favorite iced teas! I think I made it warm once, but I prefer it iced so much that I always cold brew it by the quart now. It has guayusa in it, making this the first hibiscus tea I’ve had that also packs a subtle caffeinated energy punch, and since I tend to drink a lot of hibiscus when I’m fighting off colds and trying to zap myself with Vitamin C, I’m usually really low on energy, so that caffeine really helps out! It’s also just really tasty! It does have a nice, punchy taste, but it isn’t as tart as other hibiscus teas I’ve tried (Tazo’s Passion, for instance), thanks to the blending of the stevia leaf. This tea actually has a nice balance of sweet notes and a slightly tangy finish. There is a nice citrus note to the tea, but it isn’t overwhelming; it’s like having some subtle lemon wedges floating in a fruit punch. This tea is so refreshing, and I tend to keep a mason jar of it in my fridge year-round!
Flavors: Citrus, Fruit Punch, Hibiscus, Lemon Zest, Sweet, Tangy
This is such a great tea! I found it at the Farmer’s Market in Boise, Idaho, from a tea vendor called Thunder Mountain Teas. The pu-erh base has a lovely rich, smooth flavor, with some slightly earthy and chocolate notes. So many flavored pu-erhs I try have this really cheap, “dirty” or “fishy” tasting pu-erh base, but this one is fantastic, and the flavoring is perfect! The tea has a very rich hazelnut flavor, with a natural berry sweetness, and a taste of strawberry right in the finish! It reminds me of dipping strawberries into a jar of Nutella! The tea has a robustness to it that makes me enjoy it in the mornings when I really need a pick-me-up, but it is smooth, contains no astringencies, and is naturally sweet and requires no extra sweetening unlike most black breakfast teas. It’s one of my favorites!
Flavors: Chocolate, Earth, Hazelnut, Nutty, Smooth, Strawberry, Sweet
Another entry for Love You Oolong Time! I had this one last night gongfu-style in my 150 ml beginner gaiwan. I am very much a beginner to Asian-style brewing… even with the beginner-style gaiwan I am still having trouble with the heat of the gaiwan against my fingers while pouring! Once I’m better at it, I’ll move up to purchasing the real deal, hahaha! This is only the third time I’ve done a gongfu session. I’m still very new to the process, but am really enjoying gaiwan brewing when I have the time to sit down and enjoy my tea at a more leisurely pace.
This is a tea sample from the Here’s Hoping Teabox (thanks tea-sipper and participants!) for an oolong I’ve never tried before, the Mi Lan Xiang Phoenix Dancong from Zen Tea Life (and from what I can tell, that site now only sells teaware, not tea). I used 200 degree F water, and my first infusion after rinsing the leaf was 30 seconds, and each subsequent infusion was increased by 15 seconds.
The first infusion was the most unpleasant for me. It had a malty sort of flavor with some lovely honey notes, but there was this smokiness to it that I found very off-putting; I am not a fan of smoky teas or flavors. But that was, thankfully, the only infusion where I got that particular flavor note, as the second infusion brought out some floral notes, and a slight bit of stonefruit, with a pleasant lychee aftertaste. By the third infusion the tea had become very sweet, and I was really getting the honey and orchid notes, with the fourth infusion very similar, with the sweetness tasting a bit like brown sugar or molasses. Sadly by the fifth infusion this tea was already losing steam, and my remaining infusions were a sweet, waning honey flavor with some subtle floral notes.
I had just a bit of leaf leftover, so I decided to just make this a sipdown and used it up with a western-style brew, sipping on the cuppa while watching the new episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I used 200 degree F water and a two minute steep. The cuppa had a very smooth base with a malty, honeyed flavor. There was a brown sugar-like sweetness to the liquor, and just the faintest hint of lychee right in the finish, but I couldn’t pick out any floral notes when brewing the tea this way.
I really enjoyed the flavor of this tea, particularly when brewed Asian-style and getting to the sweeter infusions with heavier floral notes, but I was pretty unimpressed with how little stamina the tea had, and how quickly the flavor gave out, making for a fairly short gongfu session. Perhaps that could be to blame on me being such a beginner and needing to adjust and shorten my infusions (I’m still working at it!), or maybe it’s just not the best tea of this sort… who knows? What I do know is I definitely want to explore other Mi Lan Xiang Dancong oolongs in the future, since I really enjoyed the taste of this type of oolong and am very happy I got a chance to sample one!
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Floral, Honey, Lychee, Malt, Orchid, Smoke, Stonefruit
Love You Oolong Time! This one is an old favorite. To me the leaf has such a wonderful aroma, akin to dark chocolate and strawberries, which really draws me in! Brewed up, the tea is smooth, slightly sweet, and has a lovely rhubarb flavor with a mild tangy finish to the sip. The tea has a grounded fruitiness in some very subtle earthy notes from the oolong base, and it just all comes together wonderfully. I enjoy this tea warm, as a refreshing iced tea after an overnight cold brew, and yes, even after my cup has gone tepid! This is easily one of my favorite teas, and a permanent mainstay in my kitchen cupboards.
Flavors: Earth, Rhubarb, Smooth, Sweet, Tangy
I decided to have another bagged tea revisit, and this seemed a perfect choice since “ward off the plague” mode means I’m trying to up my Vitamin C intake, and hibiscus is great for that! I had four bags of this left, so I decided to make this a sipdown and make a quart of this iced. I remember enjoying this well enough as a hot brew in the past, but in general tend to prefer my hibiscus teas more iced (and hey, a sipdown!)
This tea is just as good as I remember! It is a really strong hibiscus tea, that packs quite a punch in the tart ‘n tangy notes, and I realize that a large percentage of folks out there aren’t going to be into that. My tongue happens to be quite happy with tart flavors while it winces back in fear at anything spicy, so I can take this tea plain without much problem — I think most hibiscus fans will probably need to sweeten this one, though! (Perhaps even generously). This tea, particularly iced, has a very nice fruit punch flavor, with a lot of hibiscus and citrus notes, and just the slightest subtle floral touch right on the finish. I can pick up a very distinct lemon zing, with a more subtle and sweeter orange flavor in the hibiscus base. I find this tea really refreshing, with a nice punch appeal. Perhaps sometime I’ll add sweetener to my iced brew and properly make it like a punch, but this just tickles my tongue’s tart happy place so satisfyingly!
Flavors: Citrus, Floral, Fruit Punch, Hibiscus, Lemon, Orange Zest, Pleasantly Sour, Tangy, Tart
Love You An Oolong Time! I’m continuing my month-long exploration of the oolongs in my collection, and this one I picked up at Snake River Tea in Boise last May. After a bit of reference librarian skills, I believe I’ve tracked down that they wholesale the blend from International Tea Importers. I’ve sampled it a few times since then and quite like it, and since I’m still in “ward off the plague” mode, I’ve been craving citrus and ginger flavors.
This tea is really nice… it doesn’t have that strong, spicy ginger heat like the orange ginger tea I tried yesterday. It’s actually very smooth, with just a touch of sweetness. The orange flavor tastes more of mandarin than orange to me, and mixed with the mellow ginger, I’m reminded of a sweet Chinese sauce. The base has this lovely subtle earthy taste which compliments the orange ginger flavor very nicely. I’m really enjoying the gingery flavor without the spicy heat!
Flavors: Earth, Ginger, Orange, Smooth, Sweet
Last night I had all the telltale signs of a sinusy cold coming on — pain between the eyes, drippy nose, horse throat, exhausted by 7 pm — so the tea I decided to bring to work today is one I picked up at the Tea Chai Te teashop in Portland on vacation last spring when the rainy Portland weather was also getting to my throat. I’m a very “spice-sensitive” person and just looking at the leaf is a bit intimidating, as it /looks/ very ginger-heavy, but a tea full of Vitamin C-rich hibiscus, rosehips, and citrus, and spicy throat-soothing ginger and licorice root was exactly what I was feeling.
I’m always amused when I brew hibiscus teas at work, because they come out purple instead of red (and I use the filtered water here! I seriously have to wonder about the water quality at the library sometimes…) Color aside, though the tea does have a nice heat to it, it wasn’t near as off-putting as I was fearing. I can’t taste the licorice root, but I think it adds enough natural sweetness to help tame some of the spiciness, and the hibiscus and rose hip give the tea a rich, tart base which grounds it a lot as well (and I have one of those tongues that takes tart flavors very well). There is a distinct orangey citrusy flavor to the base, followed by a burst of gingery heat. It’s a bit like an orange version of a lemon ginger tea, but more punchy due to the hibiscus, and the ginger notes are a lot stronger than I tend to find in most lemon gingers. It’s a bit spicy for me to drink this as a daily drinker, but this is a good, strong “throat tea” for a cold. Chock full of Vitamin C and herbs good for a sensitive throat.
Flavors: Citrus, Earth, Ginger, Hibiscus, Orange, Spicy, Tart
This is a light, refreshing tea. I enjoy my fruity greens when they don’t have a thick, heavy, overwhelming taste, and this tea does that nicely. It has a somewhat softer touch of citrus than most lemon teas, and the sweet pineapple flavors take off some of the tangy edge. The tea is very smooth, and I pick up just a hint of a minty note in the aftertaste. As a warm tea, it is a pleasant enough sweeter lemon tea, but I definitely prefer this tea as an iced brew; cold brewing the tea gives it a very crisp, clean, refreshing flavor, and I really enjoy the citrus/pineapple flavor combination.
Flavors: Citrus, Lemon Zest, Mint, Pineapple, Sweet, Tangy
This is a tea I was gifted from an online friend; she said it was her favorite tea and she wanted to share it! What I received came from the Encore Teas tea shop in Olympia, Washington, but looking at the ingredients in the blend, I believe they wholesale the blend from Davidson’s Tea. It is one of the nicest of the “lemon ginger” variety of teas I’ve tried. It has a very full lemon flavor, and I quickly found that I much prefer the rich lemony brew of lemon myrtle to the more commonly used lemongrass. I also like that this tea isn’t too ginger-heavy; there is a nice warmth, but I’ve tasted a lot of blends that just feel way too strong on the ginger notes, while I prefer a nice lemon flavor with the ginger being a little more subdued. This blend also adds tulsi, and there is a very /slight/ pleasant sort of cooling, slightly minty flavor beneath the lemon. It is very subtle, but adds a little depth to what would otherwise be a simple lemon ginger tea. It comes together really nicely. This is also my go-to tea for blending with my Headache Tea, which is so ginger-heavy I find the flavor of it a bit unpalatable, but it is one of those herbal blends that is really great for my chronic migraine condition. The lemon flavor in this is so rich that adding a teaspoon with my Headache Tea nicely masks the “earthy herbal” flavors and also calms down some of the ginger notes in that tea. It’s my “spoonful of sugar” that helps the medicine tea go down, so it’s very useful, too!
Flavors: Citrus, Ginger, Lemon, Mint, Spicy
These instant Thai tea packets are such a guilty pleasure. I know, I know… (Instant tea? That’s like, a step lower than bagged tea! Burn the witch!) Hey, even I was skeptical! I am a huge fan of iced Thai tea when I go to Thai restaurants, and an online friend who enjoys these gave me one last year to review on my blog. I was certain it would be pretty subpar, but despite being essentially like an instant cocoa packet of “just add hot water and stir” to get a drink that tastes like Thai tea… I really liked it! I had never even tried the drink warm before, and found it so rich, sweet, and creamy!
When this winter rolled around, I kept thinking back to this stuff. I actually missed it. I live in an area that doesn’t have much cultural diversity, so something like this is hard to come by locally. So I finally broke down and ordered some of these packets online. Now I’m sitting down with my first cuppa of this instant Thai tea since last April. It is a really relaxing thick, warm, creamy drink, and I’m really enjoying this before bed. It really reminds me of a vanilla cocoa; it has such a sweet, creamy vanilla flavor, with a hot cocoa mouthfeel.
Does it hold up to actual Thai tea? Of course not (I still plan to try to get some Thai tea leaf and learn to prepare that with some fresh condensed milk on top at some point!). It doesn’t really taste of the actual tea in Thai tea, but rather has taken the flavorings, sweeteners, and condensed milk elements from the drink to make a delectable hot indulgent cocoa-like dessert drink that would appeal to sweet-tooths (and I unabashedly fit in that category). I find it entirely enjoyable for what it is, and will likely keep guiltily enjoying these packets for some time to come!
Flavors: Cream, Creamy, Sweet, Thick, Vanilla