949 Tasting Notes
With my sense of smell still not at 100%, I haven’t been drinking my oolongs. That’s a real bummer for me, since oolongs are my favorite type of tea, along with Japanese greens. So my new thing is looking for strongly-flavored oolongs in my collection, both because that flavor and aroma will break through and because strongly flavored teas tend not to be made with the highest quality base so I won’t feel like I’m wasting it by drinking it now. I brewed this one up in my zojirushi travel mug yesterday. The good news is that the mint is so strong that I did indeed smell and taste it, without having that intense lingering menthol sensation that I found in DT’s Watermelon Mint. The bad news is that I made a seriously bad judgment call by brewing a strongly-scented tea in a travel mug! Now I can’t get the mint smell out of the silicone parts of the lid. I feel like a lot of my tasting notes lately have been “here’s a rookie tea-related mistake I made, please learn from my silly mistakes!”
Another old tasting note that I somehow forgot to post but seems apropos!
Sipdown of Calabash Tea’s Lemon Ginger Oolong. This one took a long time to finish because I mostly drank it when I wasn’t feeling well. So it tracks that I finished it off when I had a sore throat. I added manuka honey to help with my throat, and the sweetness of the honey complemented the flavors of the tea well. It tastes exactly as advertised. The ginger is mild, while the lemon is more assertive, and the base oolong is fairly hearty. I usually go with Calabash’s Triple Goddess when I’m sick/migrainey/hurt, but this one’s nice when I want a caffeinated option.
An old tasting note that I somehow never posted, but that seems apropos!
Drinking Healtheries’ Ginger Kiss. This one’s so old I couldn’t even find a picture online, and the listing is gone from the company website. I picked it up years ago on a trip to New Zealand. This was back when I was blissfully unaware of stevia as a sweetener, before it was readily available and in everything, so I didn’t know to back away slowly when the box listed it as an ingredient. It’s not the most egregious use of stevia I’ve ever experienced, but there’s enough here to give it that very particular sweetness/flavor that I’m not a huge fan of. As a result, it has taken me a really long time to finish this off. The apple, caramel, and ginger flavors make it enjoyable enough – but only on occasion. So, finally, many many years later, I can call this a spidown!
Another sipdown and counting this as a limited edition or seasonal tea for ashmanra’s sipdown challenge. My sense of smell wasn’t doing too great on Friday, so I opted for teas that I already know I don’t super love. Even before covid messed with my smell, I remember finding myself struggling to enjoy this one. I got a watermelon blend from 52teas around the same time and found that to be juicier and more on-point flavor-wise by comparison. I also remember that this is better iced, though, so I brewed this up and waited for it to cool. Weirdly, I think having a weakened sense of smell helped me pinpoint why I didn’t love this tea to begin with by making me more sensitive to the sensations it produced. It leaves a very strong menthol sensation in the mouth that lingers long after the sip, along with an overly thick and sweet watermelon flavor. The overall effect is both very candylike and skews too heavily mintward. However! The bottom-of-the-bag steeps are different – more of a proper watermelon juice flavor and not as heavy on the menthol. So maybe if I had mixed the bag up I would have enjoyed this more.
Sick tea, sick tea, sick tea! Recovery chugs along, but I’m definitely still leaning into sick teas – ginger, mint, lemon, and ginseng, with dollops of honey to soothe my throat. This one’s a sipdown! I picked it up during T2’s North America closure sale. Unfortunately the ginger is very weak here. I made the last of it with a very long steep (about an hour). That’s what it takes to get the ginger to come out. It’s just a very lemongrass-heavy blend, as I noted when I first got it. But a long steep does get me that nice ginger burn that I want. Leaving rating the same from my original tasting note. Counting this as a tea with a three word name for ashmanra’s sipdown challenge – yes, I know that counting punctuation as a word is weak sauce, but I’m being loose with the rules, particularly since so much of my stash is effectively off limits until my smell is fully back.
Another sick tea I brought back from Taiwan! I can’t really taste any ginger in this, but I quite like the lemon. It’s sweet, gently tart, and juicy in a way that I just realized reminds me of a very robust lemon water. Not sugary enough to be mistaken for lemonade. More of a natural fruity sweetness. The black tea base is completely inoffensive and barely noticeable. I actually literally didn’t realize that this was a black tea at first, because the lemon overpowers the base and the box only says “ginger lemon tea” in English, not that it’s caffeinated or has black tea in it. Another lesson to use translation apps early and often!
So somehow I don’t think I knew amber oolong existed until this recent trip to Taiwan? I grabbed a bottle of Family Mart convenience store brand amber oolong because a) there’s no sugar in it and b) it has actual tea leaves in the bottle, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen in the states. It’s definitely a nice medium amber color, so I can see where the name comes from. It’s got a sweet honey note and is a bit dry at the end of the sip. I meant to take more notes but I was really thirsty and drank this faster than planned!
Among the many wonderful meals we ate in Taiwan was hotpot at Tianwaitian Hot Pot. They’ve got a vegetarian soup base option and a dizzying array of ingredients to choose from. Plus great desserts, including ice cream, soft serve, and so much fresh fruit! Taiwanese pineapple is sweeter and less tart than what’s generally available in the U.S.; it’s so so good and I ate it at every opportunity. I didn’t even see the hot tea station until we were leaving, but I had iced jasmine green tea. Honestly it was probably one of the lowest-quality teas I had during my trip. It had that weird taste on the back end that’s present in jasmine teas that are flavored rather than scented. It was a totally adequate complement to a meal full of strong flavors – sometimes the tea doesn’t need to be the centerpiece – but in retrospect I would have gone with a hot tea or the iced oolong instead.
Second sipdown of the day! I’m still coughing, so sick teas remain in heavy rotation. I had the last cup of this one intentionally oversteeped for maximum effect, plus I added a whopping dollop of manuka honey. So it came out tart and a bit medicinal from oversteeping the licorice root, with a cooling, menthol-like effect after the sip. Not ideal from a flavor perspective but somewhat helpful in soothing my throat!
Sipdown! I didn’t actually plan to finish this off today, but I had too much leaf for one cup and not enough for two so I made a large mug as an oat milk latte. The dry leaf smells of cinnamon and brown sugar. For some reason I also sensed something spicy, like clove, but there’s nothing like that in here. Brewed up, it tastes of cinnamon, brown sugar, and a bit of maple. It’s got an almost chewy creaminess that feeds into the cookie butter effect. I think that’s coming from the interplay of the oat milk and the coconut. Huge thanks to Cameron B. for sending me this! I wouldn’t have bought it myself but I’m really glad that I got to try it.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Maple