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Recent Tasting Notes
Our final tea of the night was actually a tisane! This was a straight sage from the spice shop owned by Marika’s family and it was easily the best sage I’ve ever had steeped. It was so intense and aromatic, and you could just tell from the first sip that it was insanely fresh with all of its natural oils still… intact? That’s not really the word, but you know what I mean. After a night of heavy tea drinking it was really great to end on something so fresh and cleansing feeling, and I think it was just the perfect cap to a great dinner/evening.
Sampled from the TTB, and I might have to keep some of it! This is so tasty. I wasn’t expecting much because the scent of the dry leaf was verging on that almost artificial vanilla cake scent that can be a bit cloying, but happily the tea itself has a much more refined vanilla flavor. It’s a light but true vanilla, subtle but present.
I don’t think I’ve ever had osmanthus before, and I’m not quite sure I can pinpoint the flavor in this blend—I guess it’s the kind of floral note? Regardless, it works very well with the vanilla. Yum!
Flavors: Floral, Vanilla
Shae Advent Day 20
I’m not home, so I made this using water of an unknown temperature, and I steeped it for longer to try to make up for that, but that may have been a mistake because it tastes a little oversteeped now. Luckily Shae sent extra so I can try again later! The scent reminds me of marzipan, and that’s the flavor I’m getting most strongly too. I’m not fancy enough to recognize saffron when I taste it, but I do taste something unfamiliar, so maybe that’s the saffron! This one is interesting and different, and I’m enjoying it with some milk.
Geek Steep S2E25 – The Music of John Williams
This was my pairing for Hedwig’s theme from the Harry Potter series.
This pairing was definitely one that came immediately to mind when we decided on this episode. As one of the compositions that truly defined my childhood, there were a lot of emtions that this pairing would need to touch on. The song practically starts like a lullaby with a sort, airy gentleness to it and from there the pace crescendos and descrescendos and exploring more of a whimsical (or dare I say “magical”) playfulness to more mysterious intrigue, drama, and even a little bit of a dark wickeness.
So why a vanilla tea? We say at work a lot that vanilla has “suffered the Breyer’s effect” where now most people think of vanilla as this default or neutral flavour that’s very creamy and custardy. However, actual vanilla isn’t creamy or custardy at all (because with Breyers and any other ice cream brand that flavour is coming from the ice cream and not the “vanilla”) and it’s really not a simple or neutral kind of flavour. Instead, vanilla is aromatic and floral and also indulgent and complex with a wide breadth of top notes and undertones, and it builds on your palate as you consume it.
All of those things – the general dynamacism of vanilla – are why I knew I wanted the best authentic vanilla tea that I owned and that is handidly this blend. To me, as I sipped it, the flavour morphed and progressed at almost the same pace as the music does. Light and aromatic to complex and coating and full of depth. It. Was. Perfection.
This is definitely one of my favourite vanilla blends; it’s just simple but so well balanced and authentic. Highly aromatic with the soothing and just a little floral taste of true vanilla. Not vanilla custard or vanilla cream, but real vanilla – no flavouring. Don’t get my wrong, I do love my creamy vanilla teas, but they’re so easy to come across while this tea feels like a hidden gem. One I’m so happy to have discovered.
Tea Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CbYJiSkOh9Z/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWDtE7RfAts
V is for… Vanilla Osmanthus!
Ok, now this is proper vanilla tea. Not really sweet/creamy/custardy like the way you so typically see vanilla flavoured things presented to North Americans but an authentic and aromatic vanilla! I have nothing against that style of vanilla – but it is definitely weird to me that the sort of vanilla flavour of vanilla ice cream has become the default for so many people – and it’s just refreshing having this level of high quality, realistic vanilla in my tea rotation…
I learned this term from my good friend/coworker Marika a few years back – but the “caviar” (the small black “speckles” that you scrape from the inside of a vanilla bean) of the vanilla bean used in my measured leaf actually formed a ring around the interior of my mug because there’s that much vanilla actually in the tea blend. It’s impressive – vanilla is one of the most expensive spices in the world and this tea is just so full of such high quality vanilla. It infuses alongside the deep, darker cocoa, malt, and red fruit notes of this black tea really, really well.
I know I say this about pretty much every tea from this shop, but the level of detail, quality and authenticity they put into everything they do… mind blowing!
This tea is really cool! It’s really like you are sipping all the scents in the forest! It’s a little bit of pine, maybe some spruce… cedar? I have no clue, but it’s really great! The scent is very light and deceiving when it comes to the flavor that comes through when I taste it. It’s strong, but smooth and vibrant. The finish is slightly sweet. It’s also a really magical looking tea, meaning that it’s made up of little bits of green plants that all have different shapes and textures. It’s pretty to look at! I can totally imagine while sipping this tea walking through a forest and nibbling on little bits of the various greenery I come across. I’m really taken by this tea!
Thanks so much to AmandaStory for the sample of this!
From last week! I was craving rose, and the delicious rose flavour and undertone of anise in this blend stood out in my mind as the perfect solution to that craving. Yes, there are other flavours happening here – namely aromatic cardamom and a nice peppery undertone – but the full bodied black tea with that lovely medium astringency paired with those two aforementioned dominant flavours kind of made my heart sing as I was sipping on the mug.
This is my current cuppa and it’s suiting me pretty well. There’s an almost brothy quality to the mug as a whole, especially at the top of the sip where I’m hit with a wave of more savory spices and fennel. The body is rounder and sweeter though, with distinct notes of heady thick rose coming through. I can’t honestly say that I’m 100% loving it because it’s still a little too spiced to be my jam and the combo of rose and savory things is a little strange to me but there are a lot of elements of this that are working well for me.
This tea came up in a conversation with Marika earlier this week and that prompted me to steep it up and give it another taste. I remember my main thing with the last cup was that the flavours were all excellent and the tea felt very balanced/well crafted for the average consumer but I personally wanted more rose…
Well, with this cup I felt like it actually struck the perfect level of rose in the taste. It was sweet and fresh and brought a lightness and delicate/elevated nature to the more ginger and fennel forward mix of spices. Rose and ginger is not something that I’d have really thought of together, but I liked the weird mix of the two – with the sweetness of the fennel acting as the bridge flavour!
Like the rest of my Epices de Cru teas, this was a Christmas gift from Marika!
It makes sense that a company like this, which is an artisan spice shop, would carry a bunch of Chai – and I have no doubt that all of them are exceptional quality. Marika has, for a long time, been on a hunt of find a “perfect chai” for me since there are literally THOUSANDS of Chai out there. This was one of those attempts, and it’s honestly not a bad one given that I love rose and rose teas – and this is a Rose chai.
It’s honestly very good, but I will say that it’s probably my least favourite tea I’ve tried from them. Like everything they do, the quality is exceptional – and I can tell that all of the many spices in the blend as just so well balanced and thoughtfully curated. It’s just too much of them for me, without enough rose to compensate. Like, if I want a rose tea I want to be slapped in the face with it – and this is delicate rose undertones to a complex and entrancing chai…
But I will keep playing! Because it is still a very good tea.
Holy shit! That’ll put hair on your chest!
This was something that Marika very thoughtfully gifted to me around the holidays – with the intent that I would use it to make stovetop mulled cider. I actually did that around the holidays but I got the ratio wrong and it was pretty weak, so this was my do-over after getting a recipe from Marika for how it was intended to be made.
It’s spicy y’all! I mean, hella sweet too because I did make it into cider and so there’s a VERY LARGE amount of apple juice in this – but it’s also a fuck ton of really spicy ginger that makes the hairs on the inside of your nose tingle, lots of warming cinnamon, and then just a punch of mace. I actually like the taste of mace a lot, especially with fruit, but I’m used to having it in more moderation. This is peppery and aggressive, which is not to say that I don’t like it – but it’s the kind of cider with a substantial enough kick to it that I feel like it should have booze in it.
Also – orange! Delicious notes of cooked down orange! I learned from Marika that this Mulling Spice blend, which she helped develop with her Dad, uses 10 year old aged Chinese orange peel – and I have to say this is the bougiest I’ve ever felt drinking cider. Everything I drink from their family store makes me feel like my taste level and sophistication is waaayyyy higher than it actually is.
They’re just so good at what they do.
Well…this tea is perfect.
It’s an herbal blend consisting of tamarack, cedar, balsam fir, and labrador tea. It truly tastes like a Nordic forest. Earthy, green, and absolutely stunning. I was surprised by how sweet it both smells and tastes.
This is the cedar/fir tea that I’ve been searching for. I can’t believe how perfect both this and the Vanilla Saffron are.
I can thank Roswell Strange for inadvertently leading me to this tea. Their post about this brand led me to investigate their website, which then led me to placing 2 orders in a week. I only ordered 2 teas, and this is one of them.
The dry leaf scent is truly one of the best things I’ve ever smelled. It’s the most beautiful, pure vanilla extract. The scent continues when the tea is brewed. Absolutely incredible. The vanilla flavor is delicate and subtle. The saffron balances the vanilla wonderfully.
This is the ultimate vanilla black tea.
Only gripe about this tisane is that because all the ingredients are such different sizes and densities it’s challenging to get a scoop with a little bit of everything in it. This one was pretty strongly Greek Mountain Tea and sage heavy which resulted in a soothing but rather savory aromatic cup with strong basil and sage flavours. Still light and refreshing, though!
Part of my Christmas present from Marika!
Not only is this one of the teas from her family store, I know that this is one of the last teas that she did the R&D for before coming to work at DT. She told me the story behind it a while ago, and I’m going to poorly paraphrase here – but basically they actually went to Greece and spoke to as many people in the area to find the most authentic/traditional recipe for a Greek herbal tea blend, and to source the different herbs used in the mix! Eventually they came across someone who gave them this recipe and, after MUCH insistence that they pay for it the recipe & name the tea after the man or his family the guy basically wouldn’t let them do it.
This taste amazing – it’s on the savory side, for sure, because a lot of the ingredients in the mix just have those savory notes – piney rosemary, peppery thyme, crisp mint, and a bit of soft lavender with just a whole lot of sage. It’s just so herbaceous and cozy/comforting, and IMO just one of many examples of how incredible Marika’s family’s spice shop is. The quality is just unmatched, but the care and attention to detail to make everything as authentic and sourced at origin… just… WOW.
As has sort of become a holiday tradition, I joined my roommates last night for some hot pot! This is the tea I steeped for myself to sip on in between with the addition of a spoonful of carrot honey as a splash of eggnog. I think the eggnog was a step too far but I really loved the taste of the thick rich honey with this very dominant and spicy/earthy ginger profile. That was a killer combo!
Sipped on this on, I think, Sunday?
I had a very off weekend, as I think I mentioned in another tasting note, where I just hadn’t slept in days and then also had a headache and a bunch of nausea – I wasn’t really sure if they were connected or if one of the three led to the other, but I picked this one out for the walloping punch of ginger to sort of address the nausea. Not sure if it was placebo or not, but it helped!
Welp, that’s a ginger tea.
This was a Christmas present from my lovely friend and colleague, Marika.
I can’t remember if I brought this up in a tasting note closer to Christmas, but she and her family actually drove to my apartment this Christmas for a quick socially distanced present drop off and ‘Merry Christmas’ exchange. We’re on a pretty strict lockdown here in Montreal and, because of the pandemic, I didn’t fly home for Christmas this year so I was spending Christmas alone for the first time in… years. So it was just an extra nice thing that she did to make the day feel that much less lonely.
Added bonus to the sweetness of all of that – this tea is actually from the store that her family owns! It’s almost shameful to admit, but prior to this tea the only teas I’ve had from what they carry are some avocado leaves – which really aren’t meant to be tea, but are just something that I enjoyed steeping as a tisane.
I’m normally not at all about ginger teas and I fully expected to not love this one because it is an INTENSE amount of veeerrryyy fresh and veeerrryyyy high quality ginger used in the blend. Like, when I open up the package of it and give it a smell the amount of ginger immediately makes my eyes still a little bit and I can’t help but sneeze a little. That said, it’s not half bad. If I actually liked the taste of straight ginger I would probably love it, but I don’t and so instead I feel more of a deep respect for the quality of the ingredients used and the level of freshness. It’s such a punch of spicy, tingly ginger that really opens up your sinuses in a profound way.
I should ask Marika what specifically the three types of ginger in the blend are – I can see large chunks of ginger and finer threads of it mixed throughout the black tea base but I’m not educated enough on ginger varieties to be able to identify all of the types at a glance. I would wager, however, that one of them is probably Galangal. The punch and intensity here sort of comes across in a way that I’ve almost exclusively experienced with Galangal – at least when it comes to Ginger…
Just finished off my last two giant leaves of this “tisane” while doing some very late night data entry. I don’t mind grinding so late at night though – I feel most productive in the evening, and if it means I get to sleep in a little longer in the morning than I’m especially find with that trade off.
This is such a beautiful flavour – light, refreshing anise and a hint of citrus. I’ve definitely fallen in love with avocado leaves (especially Grandpa style) through finishing off this bag, and while I don’t need any more herbal teas right now (my sample drawer is too full to close) I will definitely keep a restock of this in mind, and look for other places I might be able to find avocado leaf tea. It’s truly unique!
Had two mugs of this one yesterday – one straight up and one with lime wedges!
Nearly sipped through all of my avocado leaves now; they were a gift from a coworker (from her family’s spice shop) and they’re the perfect tisane for grandpa brewing because you can just shove a leaf or two in a cup and they’ll steep this softly sweet anise flavour that is refreshing and coating/soothing. They’re easy to drink around and never get bitter either, so it’s a very no fuss thing to steep!! Lime or lemon slices optional, but definitely a nice touch…
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4y9LJU6BGA
So this is kind of an oddball – I got these avocado leaves from the spice store in the Jean Talon market that a coworker’s family owns. Avocado leaf tea was making the rounds this year and various tea festivals, and I was really curious about the concept so I asked her to bring me a bag of avocado leaves so I could try steeping them to see if the taste was pleasant or not. Normally, I believe, these avocado leaves would be used for cooking – kind of like a basil leaf!?
For starters they’re huge – I picked two medium-ish sized ones from the bag and tossed them into a Nordic mug with near boiling water and just drank the infusion grandpa style. However, even the medium ones were about the length of the Nordic mug! Crazy! Kind of to my surprise, I really enjoyed the taste – and so I kept the rest of the bag. They’re pretty delicate, but not flavourless – just like having a softer mug of a soothing/calming herbal tea. The taste is probably best described as a gentler type of anise/black licorice note? Which I’m on board with – I love anise/black licorice. It’s also a little, tiny bit citrusy – like having hot lemon water with black licorice.
I loved them – and I really like the idea of having another herbal-y tea for evenings in my rotation.