141 Tasting Notes
This was my first experience with guayusa. The blend is made of uniformly cut plant material of varying shades of green. The fragrance is very subtle and is close to a mix of spearmint and oregano. Once brewed, the aroma is of caramel with an impression of sugary-mint underneath.
The prepared drink is surprisingly sweet but in a light, mellow way. It tastes like a weak cola with a hint of mint. There’s also a slight woodiness. As the cup cools, it develops a suggestion of malt. There isn’t any lingering aftertaste, but instead a continuing sense of sweetness.
Shui Tea includes a caffeine meter on each package (kind of cool feature) and their Swagger line shows 5+ bars. This indicates that the caffeine content is higher than that of coffee. This probably leads to more of a bounce than a swagger, but it works!
The fragrance of this tisane is immediately calming and soothing. My first impression was “Grandma’s House;” not in a bad Ben-gay way, but instead her garden, kitchen and little mint candies all rolled into one.
What I really like about this blend is that the mint isn’t overpowering. Actually, the chamomile (with a lot of big, fluffy blooms present) takes center stage. This may be the first time that I could truly discern the chamomile from the other components in a tisane.
Once brewed, this takes on a completely different fragrance character. The citrus notes rise to the top and and the mint is very subtle. As the cup cools, it takes on a bit of a bubblegum appeal.
I was really surprised by the taste. This is one of those masterful blends where there’s just the right amount of each piece coming together to make a better whole. The chamomile is prominent and there’s the slightest cooling from the mint. Next, the citrus sneaks in and the finish is just a very slight warmth from the cinnamon. The aftertaste of chamomile and anise is very pleasant.
Yep, this one goes on the reorder list!
A small shot of caffeine before and an iced herbal after has become a workout routine for me. I decided to try this one because what guy doesn’t want to feel like Zeus after a hard workout?
Out of the package, there’s a strong fragrance of ginger and cinnamon and a slight citrusy note. Before it even brewed, this just seemed like it was going to be “hot.”
Once prepared, you have a bright yellow liquid (it’s almost fluorescent) that continues to smell strongly of ginger. In flavor, this proved to be much more mellow than expected. The chicory and mate help tame this down a bit, but the aftertaste is warm.
The proportion of spice to herb must be fairly high because this really does result in quite a zesty concoction. I brewed some double strength and put it over ice and it was a great pick-me-up. Now I just need a reason to throw lightning bolts to give it a full test.
This isn’t too bad when you want something warm with no caffeine. The raw herbal is bright with reds and yellows flecked with the light brown cocoa nibs. It smells strongly of chocolate and berries with a touch of chili.
When you prepare this, the chocolate fragrance in almost overpowering. The appearance is the one great downfall of this tisane; it looks like dirty dish water. The taste is a nice combination of chocolate and berry and the heat of the chili sneaks up on the aftertaste. As the cup cools, the berry flavor starts to take over and gets just a little tart.
One thing I don’t like about this blend is that I find it to be a bit wasteful. You have to use a lot of the mix to get a decent flavor profile. It takes three times the amount recommended by the merchant and you’re left discarding a hefty pile of mushy fruit bits.
This tea looks like shiny green orzo in the bag and smells of green veggies; something close to fresh peas.
I’ve never made a yellow tea before and the merchant didn’t provide any brewing suggestions, so I had to guess on preparation. I decided yellow was half-way between white and green, so I split the difference and used water around 180 degrees.
The final product was a very nice champagne color but the taste was slightly bitter over a light cereal and sweetgrass flavor.
Experts, help me out here. What’s the proper way to make yellow teas?
The dried, dark leaves are quite long (1 to 2 inches) so it would have been easier to prepare this by weight versus spoon. The tea has a really unique fragrance- cereal and fruity, like graham crackers and stone fruit.
The prepared tea is on the darker side for an oolong with a slight red tint. The malty cereal notes are prominent in both fragrance and flavor. This is subtly sweet, leaning more towards fruit than honey. As the cup cooled, it developed a very slight tannic quality making it similar to a very weak black tea.
I really like the fragrance on this one. As soon as I opened the bag, I had the imagery of Teddy Grahams holding peaches. I like when there’s an immediate connection. The flavor was enjoyable, but there wasn’t anything that set this apart for me.
I had to go with decaf because of the late hour, but I didn’t want to compromise on flavor.
Next to lapsang, Earl Grey might be my favorite style of tea. This one is nicely balanced in fragrance. The citrusy bergamot doesn’t overpower the tea base. From a visual perspective, it could use a little more peel and cornflower petal but this doesn’t impact the flavor.
Even though this is a decaf version, it is full bodied and brews to a hearty black with a lot of flavor. I don’t do additives, but I imagine a bit of cream and sugar probably wouldn’t hurt. If you have to do decaf, this one is worthwhile.
I haven’t been a fan of white teas in the past because they’re simply too delicate. From past notes, you can gather that I’m big on bold flavors.
However, this white tea had a lot going for it. First, the leaves were an incredibly uniform pale green with the typical silver needle white hairs. It was as if they had been hand picked and matched for size, shape and color. White teas don’t typically present a lot of fragrance, but this was hearty with notes of cereal, malt and alfalfa.
Once prepared, the tea was a pale gold and the rich fragrance remained. The taste is of malt and honey and there’s a very slight floral essence.
This tea kept my attention and it will stay on my shelf until gone-which won’t be long.
This offered some pleasant surprises.
The tea starts as very bright green “nuggets” with a literally sweet, mouthwatering fragrance of honeydew, cucumber and very subtle sweet hay.
After brewing, the leaves were completely unfurled and had expanded to fairly impressive proportions. (My gaiwan runneth over.) The tea was more golden than I’ve seen in other oolongs and was subtly floral and grassy in fragrance.
In taste, it was very light and I picked up buttered squash and a touch of vanilla. The first infusion had a slight tartness, but I think I went too long. Next time, I’d probably start with only a minute or so and work back up.
I liked this one. It had a lot to offer and was really enjoyable. I seem to be building quite an affinity for Taiwanese teas as I haven’t really found a bad one yet.
The leaves on this are large, vibrant green and mostly whole. The fragrance is clean and very sweet.
When brewed, the fragrance is grass and hops, but there was also an unpleasant very slight bleach-like note. I even did a “do over” on this and had the same result the second time.
In taste, this was light and sweet with a mild and lingering fruit and honey aftertaste. I would have scored this higher if it wasn’t so difficult getting past that off-note on the fragrance.
(Yes, my prep gear was clean and has never been in contact with anything resembling bleach.)