2499 Tasting Notes
I was ordering White Christmas for one of my students and on impulse threw in some of this loose leaf. I hadn’t had it in years.
Days later, i was notified that it was sold out in loose leaf and asked what I wanted to do. I told them I could switch to bags, and they ended up refunding part of my money for the inconvenience and sent me three boxes of the teabags. I gave away a couple of boxes and kept one.
I made this today mostly for Ashman who worked outside cleaning and refreshing the shrub beds and putting out straw all day. It was chilly and so overcast that it felt rather dismal. A day more suitable for hibernating than anything else!
Like most chai blends, the base seems watery and weak to me and the spices are sharper notes than I want when it is made with plain water. Made in milk and topped with whipped cream and sprinkles, this is nice enough and drinkable but doesn’t hold a candle to Parker’s Caramel Apple Chai. He enjoyed it very much, as did I, but I will probably spend a little more and get something I really really like instead.
I had purchased a tin of this because my husband really liked it. Somehow I have managed to miss posting a tasting note every single time we had it and now it is gone and I can’t even enjoy announcing a sipdown fully because I didn’t add it to my cupboard! Or a Steepster glitch took it out? Who knows?
Anyway, this is a lovely looking dragonwell with soft, gentle green, fuzzy peapod-like leaves that smell so chocolate-y. The steeped tea is more assertive than the dry aroma gives away, richer than I expected it to be. This is one of my husband’s favorites so once I get my cupboard under better control I will have to seek out more.
Once Christmas is over, my mind goes to pink and red and frilly and lacy VALENTINE’S.
Nichole at Cuppa Geek mentioned that she was doing a special Valentine gift bag called the Valen-Tea Party, and this will be the featured tea, although there are others you can choose and honestly that Vanilla Rose Cake is taunting me from afar because it sounds so ever loving good! I will be getting some of that for my friend who loves green teas!I already have some Chocolate Covered Strawberry tea and honestly just seeing the name in print made me want the tea AND the strawberries, so last night I finally bought some strawberries and this afternoon I dipped them in chocolate to serve as dessert for the Ashman and myself.
The first time I served Chocolate Covered Strawberry tea was with brownies and strawberries. I don’t usually serve like-with-like and Ashman even questioned it, asking if I thought it would be too much together? But once he sipped the tea, he declared it a perfect pairing.
You may have had this in your advent calendar teas, or you may have had the Vanilla Black or Peach Vanilla Black. This seems to be the same base. I would call this a very adult tea, that is dessert-like without being candy-ish. There are a few teas that seem like they would be delightful for a little tea party with children, and others that make me feel like a very dignified grown-up (now there’s a laugh) and this one has the grown up feel. It isn’t astringent, but lightly brisk, assertive, and resteeps very well. The flavors seem natural and not overdone.
We had our tea by the fire on this chilly, rainy night and ate our strawberries, saving the green tops for the bunnies who frequent our yard. We drink it sans additions but you could add milk and sugar if you like it that way. It can definitely handle it.
But this afternoon I needed a tea break and wanted something to dunk my lemon biscotti in, and I chose this.
It was really good, and at first I thought it might have been because I was mostly tasting my yummy current favorite biscotti. But I drank it even after, and it was still really good. Later I made another cup to have with Quality Street Orange Creams. Rahr.
The black tea base is really serviceable. I won’t claim it is complex and layered but it was definitely satisfying and nice with the flavors. The flavoring doesn’t get tart or unpleasant at all. I would not have identified it as apple. I would have said it was an unidentified fruitiness. I MIGHT possibly have figured out the rosehips, but at one point I actually thought I tasted a little raspberry.
Thank you, Martin! It was a nice surprise to receive the tea package from you! I enjoyed trying these teas!
I haven’t had this tea in a really long time and the best by date on the tin is last May. I think I bought at least 100 grams last time I bought it and I love it and really should drink it more often. Now that it has come back to my attention, perhaps I will.
I have tried one other ginseng oolong and I really didn’t like it. I bought it at Tin Roof Teas and they source most of their tea from Teageschwendner. I don’t know if that is where they get this one, but it doesn’t hold a candle to Teavivre’s.
This is pretty hearty oolong. I drank a super light somewhat floral flavored oolong earlier today. This one has more heft and the ginseng leaves an incredible lingering sweetness that I love. I have asked if there was licorice root in it and was told no (by Teavivre) but that is the sort of throat feel it has.
Tea review stops here and cooking hacks start. Fair warning!
The reason we had this was that I got the late hungries. I didn’t want sweets or chips but I was not in the mood to do any elaborate cooking. We have some warehouse club frozen potstickers and what I was really craving was something with dipping sauce.
The potstickers recommend boiling and then frying them and I was not into the idea of cooking again tonight. I boiled them, and to give them that toothy texture instead of serving them “slick” as they are when just boiled, I threw them under the broiler for a few minutes until they had that little browned streak. No oil and no frying pan to clean.
Instead of the five or six ingredient dipping sauce I usually do, I stared in the fridge and realized that bbq sauce has lots of the same ingredients, so I whisked a teaspoon of Sweet Baby Ray’s into a little soy sauce and it was almost identical to the packets that come with the potstickers.
I made a quick faux yum yum type sauce, too. And the ginseng oolong went nicely with it. Definitely ordering more when this runs out.
I rarely post a review here that I did for Sororitea Sisters, because I figure I already wrote it a while back and not today, and I feel inept at posting them here! I don’t like to just do the link because then the people reading have to work too hard, clicking a link and going to another page and all. Ha ha! But this was a gift from Martin Bednar so I wanted to post it! I just copy/pasted so you don’t have to click a link! I will include the link anyway, but here it is!
A friend sent some samples for me to try from far across the sea! This is my first time drinking Bird and Blend as far as I recall, and this is the B&B tea I was most excited to try! I generally enjoy floral teas very much and violet seems so exotic as violet flavored things are rare where I live.
I am “one of those people” who likes violet candy. The first one I tried was very strong and I didn’t like it. It felt like I ate a bath bomb. But then I somehow missed that flavor. I tried another brand and I don’t know if it was milder or sweeter or if I just developed a taste for it, but I could eat a whole pack in one sitting if I didn’t use restraint. (I don’t, by the way, always use restraint.)
I was so madly excited to try this that I took out my most foofoo china and sat at the dining table with pink camellias in front of me in a silverplate gravy boat and fetched a fancy cookie. I am going for the whole experience here.
Mmmmm, the aroma is divine! This is a soft, sweet violet and somehow like sniffing a very fine, delicate talcum, in the best sort of way. The scent is very dreamy and creamy. It doesn’t assault my senses like cheap bubble bath.
I did not get a strong chocolate aroma, but I have never had chocolate covered violets, so maybe this is spot on. In fact, I wondered where the chocolate was. It seemed to actually smell of cream, not just have a creamy mouthfeel.
The chocolate part of this blend is (hallelujah!) cocoa nibs instead of chocolate flavoring. I dug through my infuser basket and found a nib and ate it. Ah, yes, this is what I thought was the cream. Sometimes cream is really just vanilla added to a blend, but this was legitimately creamy tasting and smelling and now I see it somehow came from the cocoa nibs!
All in all, a wonderful elevenses today and this is a blend I would definitely purchase.
A gift from Martin Bednar!
My husband only likes chai type and spiced teas as lattes usually, so I was saving this one to drink by myself. Also, I am not the world’s biggest fan of spiced teas except exactly as he likes them – made with milk and deffo some whipped cream on top! I like my spiced teas milder or appley with a really good, smooth base and not too much clove. (Hi, Kiki!)
But today for lunch I was having (canned) beef with barley soup, which is a fairly strong flavor profile and a half peanut butter sandwich with it. I thought it was just the right time to try this.
It was just perfect for that meal. The soup has a pretty strong aroma but I kept getting whiffs of the tea over it. The strength of the tea was perfect, and hearty enough to pair just beautifully. The color was nice and deep and it is quite fragrant. It may have oversteeped a little bit as I decided I wanted to build a fire to sit by during lunch and I was minimally delayed pulling the steeping basket. It didn’t seem to hurt it at all.
I don’t think there could have been a better tea for pairing with a strong soup on a cold day.
Well, cold by NC standards. It was in the forties! Ha ha!
Thank you, Martin! It really was the perfect tea for lunch!
Okay, so I was hunting about for something to drink with my lunch of homemade faux egg drop soup. I wanted a green and wasn’t sure what to have and I saw that I hadn’t even opened this one yet. I figured my soup would be pretty bland and something with flavor would be nice with it.
This was soooo good. It is definitely vanilla up front and not lemon first for me, even though I saw a good bit of lemongrass in my strainer. It was perfect, too. Waves of nostalgia were hitting me so I knew it was reminding me of a tea I haven’t had in a long time. And after searching a bit, I found it. It reminds me of Wedding Tea by Harney and Sons, which is a white tea blend. Honestly, I think I prefer this one as the green base is every bit as smooth as their white, but I think this resteeped a lot better. It was….smooth, delightful, comforting, soothing…wow, it was just what I needed to slow me down and make me feel peaceful today.
Cuppageek Advent New Year’s Day Tea
I was lazily reading tasting notes in front of the fire when I saw one that said something about the final Cuppageek tea. The final tea! I forgot there was one more left! I drank the others but lost momentum posting notes the last fews before Christmas. I hope to figure out what I had and review them, but I do remember that several of them were teas I already owned and have reviewed.
I jumped up and pulled out the last packet. Serendipity! It is caffeine free which is great because it is after 10 pm. and it sounds like a festive flavor one would drink…well, maybe more for New Year’s Eve than New Year’s Day but I didn’t really do anything last night and we are kind of celebrating tonight by having pizza and watching Taskmaster. We are wild. Off the chain.
I wondered if it would be hibby heavy cuz other people would have done that to us, but not Nichole. The coolest part to me was when the water hit the blend and I sniffed and said, “oooo strawberry and then ROSE!” I love love love that rose was the second strongest for me in this.
Sipping it, it really is strawberry-ish. Kiki described it well when she said it was like strawberry jello when you are making it and it is still warm. I also taste a bit of apple-y flavor and then the rose, and the rose is sticking around in the aftertaste for me. The apple and hibiscus comes across as that feeling on your teeth when you bite a strawberry and it is a little tart, more a tooth feel than a taste or mouth puckering tartness. I bet this would make an awesome summer iced sweet tea. Again, I can see this in pretty glasses with little girls gathered around me having cookies.
Edit to add: i made three steeps so it took a while to finish, and as it cooled the mint comes out more. Very fresh!
A very pleasant ending to my Advent calender! Thank you, Nichole!
I had nightmares last night. I had a really, really bad morning. And I hurt my back and it has been getting steadily worse all day. Also, it has been raining for two days and it isn’t supposed to stop soon and I really, really need sunlight. It was just an all around bad day. Did I say bad day yet?
Until shortly after lunch.
The mail was delivered. And there was an unexpected envelope from overseas. The Czech Republic to be precise! It was tea and a postcard and a letter from Martin! Steepsterites to the rescue! Even though it was still raining outside, the sun came out in my kitchen! The teas were this one, two from Bird and Blend which is a company I have never tried before, and another called Kali Laska.
Well, it is New Year’s Eve so of course I am going to try Martin’s favorite black tea, Guria Likhauri! This will be my NYE celebration! Cuz I am wild like that.
Youngest gave me some Champignon cheese for Christmas – a delicious soft cheese with mushrooms, so I made a plate of that, crackers, Hickory Farms turkey summer sausage for Sam the King of Dogs, mozzarella which was pretty bland and hardly worth mentioning, and some Bon Maman cherry preserves to try to make the mozzarella interesting.
I measured the leaves and determined that there was enough here to make a small pot.
But oh those leaves! I rarely see black tea leaves that look like this. They are thick and twisted, sinewy, and so shiny – really glossy black and beautiful. They exude character – the life of the tea bush is almost palpable. I think I had a tea from Old Ways Tea that looked like this. Just looking at leaves like this makes me feel awestruck with the miracle of tea and the beauty of nature.
The aroma was complex and layered with a deep woodiness and fresh, sharp grapes, like muscatel. The muscatel aspect was like the scent in darjeeling but not as sharp and high as darjeeling. As I start to sip I inhale and the aroma floods my senses before I even get any tea and it is fruit – stewed, rich, dark. Stone fruit?
There is no bitterness and no astringency, and I can see why Martin says he drinks this grandpa style. You surely could. It’s that smooth. While the tea sits in your mouth, I would say it has medium body with a touch of creaminess or oiliness like the texture of some ripe puerh. After you swallow, woody notes linger. And something else….minerals! Definitely minerals.My husband sips and says, “This is fruity.” Normally he says, “This is hot and has tea-like qualities” when I ask if he likes a tea, so the fact that he pointed out a specific impression from the tea means it made him take notice. (Maybe he can take review lessons from Kiki!) He drank A LOT of it.
There is no way I am wasting any of this, so I steeped it again. We finished our cheese and I am now sitting alone drinking the third steep as I type and while it is lighter than the first steep, it still has way more interest and flavor than many teas have on their first steep.
And wow, as it cools, it has different notes. Some teas get so astringent as they cool that you really have to reheat the cup to finish it, but not this one. The minerality is increased, the muscatel has decreased, and the stewed fruit – plums with a pinch of brown sugar maybe? – is still present but light. Mostly minerals and woody flavor here at the end.
Still good and I still want more, so fourth steep here we come. Paler now, minerals and a more noticeable sweetness. Well, that was unexpected. Almost like a licorice root sweetness so I guess this may be what they call hui gan? Was it there before and I missed it?
A delightful tea, and I see why it is Martin’s favorite.
Many thanks, Martin. It made my day.
Many thanks to the Steepster community for being who you are. May 2021 be blessed and filled with hope, joy, peace, fellowship, and good tea!