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Recent Tasting Notes
B is for… Bourbon Street Vanilla Rooibos!
Was at my MIL’s earlier today and forgot to bring any tea selections; I have a small amount there (maybe 10 different teas?) and by some luck, there was one that started with B!
This tea is not my favourite, but it’s ok for a rooibos. No scratchy throat. Uncertain if there was much vanilla (it’s on the old side too, a few years at least), but it did have a pleasant flavour. I only bought it for my caffeine-sensitive MIL, but she prefers her decaf coffee much of the time.
Possibly the most annoying this about this tea is how much it made every other tea it was shipped/packed with smell and taste like black licorice and, as I’m drinking it right now, how little it actually tastes like black licorice itself. It’s refreshing and vaguely sweet but soooo mildly black licorice. I’m actually kind of shocked.
This is from the batch of teas that my mother sent a few months ago in a care package; they were shipped in ziploc bags and one of the blends has such an intense watermelon flavouring that it leeched into all of the other teas – causing this tea to taste very strongly of licorice and Jolly Rancher style watermelon. On one hand, it’s a pro that I now have a caffeine free watermelon rooibos. On the other hand, I’m really bummed out that my beloved black licorice rooibos doesn’t taste like it should…
Tastes like lightly toasty and roasty oolong with soft floral oranges, but with the top note of juicy watermelon candy from the scent contamination this tea went through during shipping (from my mom – not the company, to clarify). Ironically the watermelon and orange probably would be very tasty together if this was deliberate, but I don’t exactly love the watermelon with the roasted oolong base.
Sadly still tainted with the taste of watermelon, from the other oolong that it was shipped in close proximity with – that’s the nasty side effect of using crappy sample bags for your tea. Oh well; at least floral notes of orange actually taste pretty decent with melon – so it’s still a nice enough (re: average) tasting fruity cuppa…
As I mentioned earlier this week, recently my mom really kindly sent me a care package that included a bunch of teas (some I requested and some I didn’t) from Saskatchewan. This is from a tea shop in Saskatoon, and it’s a little nostalgic not because I’ve had the tea before but because it’s a shop that I used to go to pretty regularly back when I was still living in Saskatoon…
Sadly they pack their teas in what are basically ziplocs and when my mom mailed everything she just sent them in a Canada Post box shoved together. I had another tea in the box that has some INSANELY potent watermelon flavouring and now the rest of the ziploc teas taste a bit like watermelon. So, the “bones” of the tea here definitely have that heavy mineral oxidized oolong flavour profile and note of citrus oil and orange rind/peel but it’s just kind of over-arched by that watermelon flavouring that got in everything else.
So… an okay tea overall? Even without the flavouring contamination it’s a bit rough around the edges and astringent/choppy but it’s a drinkable enough blend for a mindless type of cuppa.
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKtVan-btVM
This had almost zero aroma, so I figured it would be a total bust – but it actually tasted okay once brewed up! Light, but nice bergamot and other citrus flavours, with a medium black base without too much astringency. Definitely has lost some flavour at this point, but it might be better a little bit milder.
A sample from Roswell Strange. Quite frankly, I’m scared by the amount of chili there is in this one. It’s not chili flakes, or chili powder, it’s actual rings of chili. I like spicy things, but I just have a feeling that this one might be more than I can really handle. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it a very conservative 1.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a murky brown, fairly typical of mate.
I took the tiniest first sip of this one, because I was expecting to be assaulted by chili. I’m actually pleasantly surprised, though, because it tastes a lot nice than I thought it was going to. There is heat, but at the moment it’s not too strong or overpowering. You can tell it’s chili, but it reminds me more of chipotle than anything. It has a mildly smoky, rich flavour, which combines well with the earthiness of the mate. A bigger sip yields a bit of a burn at the back of the throat, but (again) nothing overwhelming. I think the short brew time helped to make this one palatable!
The last very spicy tea I tried was 52 Teas Mayan Chocolate Chai, and even with a lot of milk that was too much for me. This one is much better balanced, despite the proliferation of chili. Nothing to be scared of after all!
A sample from Roswell Strange. I’ve had quite a fraught weekend when I’d hoped for a calm, relaxing one, so now it’s nearly over I figured I’d at least end on a positive note with a cup of Assam. Assam has been – and still is – my favourite variety of black tea, and I’m always happy to try a new one. As an added bonus, this is also my first McQuarries tea too! I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk.
The first thing I noticed about this one is that the scent is nice – rather like dried fruit. It’s a good beginning. The first sip is equally nice – a touch of raisin, and quite a lot of walnut. Fruit and nut is a great combination for an assam – very rich tasting, and not too sweet. The mid-sip is moderately malty, with a little more sweetness starting to come through, and the sip ends on a slightly dry note, again recalling walnuts to mind.
This is a solid black tea with a considerable amount of strength a decent amount of body. I agree with Roswell Strange’s sentiment that it would make a good everyday kind of black tea, as it’s a flavoursome but no-nonsense blend. A good tea to end the weekend on.
I passed along most of this tea in swaps, and then gave the last of it to Chef Darcy since he’d been asking for a recommendation for a solid everyday black tea – and I kind of specifically said that about this one, and then never seemed to get around to drinking it. So for me at least, this is a sipdown and now the remainder of my 50g has been passed along to a home where it’ll get drank more quickly.
I finished this off as a latte; it was something different to do with it. Even with the amount of milk in it, I found it had a dryness/astringency to the mouthfeel that was odd and disconcerting but I think I may have over steeped it and that’s the root cause of that whole unpleasant mouthfeel. Regardless, the taste was spot on! It was a bit of a dry cinnamon flavour mostly, with nutty and malt notes and a sweetness to the finish that reminded me of brown sugar! Mmm!
Also; something I found really cool – when I first got this tea I only had a foggy idea of what the grading meant and where the region within assam was and I’ve definiely, in those short three months, learned so much about both! It’s very cool being able to go back and see old tasting notes and track the progress I’ve made.
I’m slightly sad to see this tea go; but I learned a lot from it so I’m thankful for that.
This is a queued tasting note.
Cold Brew! This one actually upset my stomach a lot, but I’m thinking that’s more because I was drinking it on an empty stomach and less so a reflection on the tea itself.
This was pretty good though; very sweet and malty with nutty walnut, cocoa and maple notes. There were also maybe some fresh baked bread notes, but less strong than the other flavors. I loved how rich the taste was, though the mouthfeel was very thin.
I had to buy a minimum 50g of this one, so I can definitely play around – I bet it’d make a great hot cup or a good latte. It’s definitely not anything overly fancy. I feel it’s more just something to drink every day or when you don’t have time to steep that precisely. Probably a good one to take in a timolino as a ‘travel companion’ when you just want black tea.
Picked up a single bloom of this one at McQuarrie’s when I was there earlier in the month. It’s been a little while since I had a bloom tea, and when I was skimming the selection there this was the only one I noticed with a black base, so I figured I’d give it a shot since blooms with black bases don’t seem to be a super common thing.
Like I usually do with bloom/flowering teas, I made it in my 25 oz. mason jar from DT. It’s the only brewing vessel I have other than a DT Perfect Mug that’s clear/glass which is important given that I wanted to actually get to see what the bloomed tea looked like. I did take a picture of the bloom, but right now I’m at this awkward ‘in between’ feeling of tired and awake, and I don’t really feel super up for uploading it. Maybe later tonight or tomorrow? I have tomorrow off too…
This was actually pretty decent as far as bloom teas go; a lot of the lavendar in the flower didn’t seem to stay “attached” and sort of ended up as floaties in the mason jar which I then drank. But because of that, the lavender didn’t get too strong overall but still had a presence. Other strong flavours were malt, stewed fruit and raisin from the black base and then quite a bit of rose from the actual rose in the blend. It tied in together pretty well. Given most bloom teas are just a pretty aesthetic this had some solid flavour to match.
It was a bit bitter by the end; but given that it was sitting throughout all of Bridget Jone’s Diary with me just slowly sipping on it as I watched the movie I think it held up remarkably well. I mean, it was essentially “steeping” for like an hour and a half? Or however long that movie is, anyway.
Today’s word of the day is: Engross.
Engross means “to take up the whole interest or attention of; absorb”. So, you could say the only thing stopping me from getting engrossed in the movie was drinking this tea.
EDIT: Picture of the bloom… Hopefully you can all see it!
Well, I’m having a pretty good Sipdown Saturday. How are you doing Sil?
Finished this one off today cold brewed; we spent all morning out shopping (groceries, pet store, and a Chinese herbal shop) and this was my faithful companion. It had such yummy banana and cinnamon notes, but still maintained a slight exotic nature. It’s actually grown on me a lot and I’ll miss having it around. But at least I know that if I’m back in Saskatoon I have the option of stopping at McQuarrie’s and getting more.
It’s only three hours away. That’s not so bad…
PS. I bought some teaware at the Chinese herb store while I was out! A gaiwan, actually! I might post pictures lately so someone can hopefully translate the Chinese on it for me. It’s the smallest Gaiwan I’ve ever seen in person and I absolutely adore it. I have REALLY tiny hands and it fits in them just perfectly!
I hated the shop itself though; it’s right next door to the specialty tea store in town and the owner kept suggesting we go to that store instead of his while we browsed the teaware. Can’t you just accept the business? As I picked up the Gaiwan I bought, he walked me through how to use a Gaiwan properly in the most dumbed down language I’ve ever been spoken to as a tea drinker…
Hmm, this cold brew didn’t have as much banana as I wanted. Instead it was more cinnamon and pineapple which are flavours that don’t particularly mesh well without something banana to bridge the flavour gap between them.
Anyway, this tin is next up on my list of stuff that needs to get sipped down. I have too many open bags of black tea right now that aren’t in tins, so expect me to pick out a few kinds of black tea that’ll be drunk pretty frequently from here on out until they’re sipped down.
This is a queued tasting note.
This was the ‘tea of the day’ in my mom’s advent calendar and I decided that since it felt like I while since I’d drank this one I’d join her and make a cup for myself too. She asked if it took milk well, and I’ve never tried it with milk so I said I didn’t know but we could find out.
Turns out, it takes milk really well. Sometimes this tea tastes a little ‘soapy’ and the milk masks that perfectly! It’s actually like drinking a very creamy, silky smooth cup of under ripe banana tea. I say ‘under ripe’ ‘cause that slight sharpness/greenness of an under ripe banana is still a little present, though it for whatever reasons adds a lovely kind of ’exotic’ quality. Also, the pineapple was lovely! Creamy pineapple either works well or not at all; and this is working in the same way that Camellia Sinensis’ One Night In Rio! worked with the creamy Pina Colada type pineapple flavour. The little touch of soft cinnamon does wonders for adding lots of dimension to the flavour of the tea very quickly as well.
First tea of the morning! I was looking for another black tea in my cupboard, actually, and found this and changed my mind about what I was going to brew up! Then I opened the tin…
The smell was off, to say the least. It smelled like suspicious gas station bathroom hand soap. I almost didn’t brew it up, but figured that before writing the tea off I should give it another try. I’m glad I did. Not sure what was up with that awful dry smell, but the tea itself tasted perfectly fine: notes of marula, pineapple, banana (mostly banana) as well as a gentle cinnamon note to finish the sip on. Definitely pleasant!
So, weird tea experience overall though. I was so scared I’d be drinking suspicious gas station bathroom soap tea…
This one came out really sweet, but not overly. The banana notes really stood out; they ere somewhere between a natural banana flavor and a candy flavor. If I’m being honest, I picked this for a soda because I really expected to be able to be able to taste the banana; but what I didn’t expect was that, as much as the banana notes stood out, there would be an even stronger flavour – marula?!
It definitely has a very light vanilla and mildly spicy taste to it; however I’m not sure if that’s more of an “Amurula” (the popular liquor) flavour than a true marula flavour; everything I’ve read about the actual fruit describes it as sour/tart and that’s absolutely not what I’m getting. I definitely taste more of the liquor flavour.
Regardless, it really adds to the flavour of the tea and makes it taste really exotic. It’s a very interesting, and refreshing flavour of soda and I could very easily see this bottled and marketed as a quirky “alternative” hipster type soda. If we sold it in the store all the “trendy health food nuts” would see that it has tea and an exotic fruit and eat that shit up.
Maybe when I finish up my Sommelier courses I’ll look into whether it’d be feasible to do some kind of tea/soda type store…
I picked this one up in person; it’s always kind of nice shopping in person because you don’t have to blindly purchase something just based on the description or other people’s reviews. I got to see and smell this before hand! The smell was definitely very banana and that certainly made me excited because it’s been a while since I’ve had a good banana tea with a black base – right now 52Tea’s Butterscotch Banana is sticking out in memory but it’s been an awfully long time since having it. The marula was very interesting too; other than knowing it’s an exotic fruit I have no experience or familiarity with it so that absolutely caught my attention.
It seemed, overall, like a very interesting find from my local store!
I cold brewed my sample – someone recently called me the ‘Queen of Cold Brew’ and that may be pretty accurate. I will cold brew just about anything, especially at this time of the year.
This had a very interesting flavour! The banana was the dominant note; it was almost sickly sweet and tread a thin line between realistic, overripe banana and banana candy. It struck up fairly vivid recollections of two things. The first was the banana liquer that I currently have in my fridge, which is very sugary and sweet. The second thing was Khao Tom Mad which is a Thai dessert made of banana, sticky rice and coconut milk served in either a banana or coconut leaf. I’ve only had it once, but it was pretty amazing – maybe even life changing. I definitely think some of the sweetness of the banana comes from the blackberry leaves; my experience with them has been that they tend to made fruit flavours really, really pop.
I don’t have a familiarity with marula, but I’m told by my roommate that it’s supposed to taste a little bit like guava. I don’t know if I necessarily got that with this blend – though I did get a little bit of tartness which the roomie says is probably from the marula. It was quite mild though and didn’t play much into the overall dynamic of the tea. I am a little bit sad the marula didn’t have more of an impact on the taste – I love when I get the chance to experience new flavours in tea.
The rest of the tea was supporting notes for the banana; both mild cinnamon and a bit of drier wood notes were present. The finish was the biggest let down for the tea though; there was a light sudsy/soapy flavour than was unpleasant and slightly lingering. I first thought that the wood was a little weird to have been coming from the rooibos in the blend, which was my initial assumption – but then I remembered that one of the listed ingredients is lapacho. Aha! I’ve had bad experiences with lapacho, including soapy notes and very dry hardly palatable wood notes. I definitely do NOT see the appeal of lapacho. Fortunately, it was quite mild here. It would certainly explain both the soapy notes and the off wood notes, though.
Overall this tea was pretty interesting, and a bit of a rollercoaster. It had an incredible beginning with some of the tastiest banana notes I’ve had in a very, very long time and the middle was pretty solid too but the weird lack of anything Marula, of which the tea is named after, and unfortunate presence of Lapacho made for a bit of a disappointing finish.
Still a worthwhile try though given how unique it is, and something I’ll continue to personally fiddle around with. I’m determined to taste some marula!
I know I said I wanted to finish this one my own, but that’s not going to happen. I honestly just can’t handle the hot spicyness of this one; so I’m sending the last bit to someone else in a swap in the hope that they enjoy it more and, at the very least, find it an interesting tea and enjoy getting to taste something I got locally in my boring ol’ Saskatchewan city.
This last mug. Euhhggg. My mouth is one fire, basically. Even with a SUPER light infusion of less than a minute, the chili is still far too intense. I wish I wasn’t such a wimp and got handle spicy things better.
I just saw Liquid Proust’s comment about wanting a Ghost Pepper though Carolina Reaper would be worse tea in this thread:
I actually thought to myself “I’d totally try that”, but then I instantly remembered that I drank this one cold brewed today at work and it was so hot that it made me want to both vomit and chug a 2L of milk at the same time. I don’t do spices at all. I’m too much of a wimp. So realistically, a Carolina Reaper tea would be a nightmare for me.
But I’d still totally try it just to say I had.
Oh well, at least that’s a little less of this blend in my cupboard. I refuse to throw it out…
NO NO NO NO NO!
Made this hot in a timolino for work today; I thought I’d need the caffeine boost (I was right; it was painfully slow at work – bad weather and May long weekend = no one getting groceries) and this was the most convenient mate/guayusa blend to grab in the kitchen when I was rushed.
I thought this was bloody spicy when it was cold brewed, but it’s so much worse hot! I tasted nothing but chili pepper, and it was making me cough and my eyes water. I don’t do spicy things! The vast majority was dumped out – I fear the level of creativity that’s going to be needed to finish off the rest of this bag…
If anyone wants a sample (or all of the rest), let me know – I can probably afford to send out a few letter mail type samples to a few people or send it all off to one person right now (fuck money). You’ve been warned, though!
I bumped my rating down.
Today’s word of the day is/was… Precipice!
The definition is: “a very steep and high face of a rock or mountain : cliff”
Holy mother this is a fucking spicy tea!
I mean, I shouldn’t have really expected otherwise because of the three ingredients in this is chili rings, and the last time I had a tea with those was that chocolate chili herbal one from RiverTea and it was almost too much for me. Visually, this has a hell of a lot more chili in it than that blend too. But I bought it anyway yesterday ’cause it seemed so unique and fun.
Unique, yes. Fun? Uhh…
I went with a cold brew to first try this one. Basically, the front of the sip is your regular roasted mate flavour; nothing out of the ordinary there. You kind of taste a bit of extra sweetness from the candied pineapple but it’s not adding a whole lot. But then. Man, then, BAM! Without the formality of a nice transition you’re just hit with the fires of hell all over your mouth.
It. Is. So. Damn. Hot.
But you know what? It’s bearable because it doesn’t linger much longer past when you finish your sip – and it’s certainly accurate to the name. So major points for that; I don’t know if they could get any more accurate in that department. I wont make the mistake of prepping it for something casual to sip on again; but I do think this will absolutely do the trick when it comes to being something loud, in your face, and highly caffeinated to drink for those early, early morning file maintenance shifts.
And spice lovers, you have to try this one! It’s exactly what it claims to be, and how often can you say that about a tea?
Thank you Roswell Strange for sending me yet another new tea to try. I made this as a latte because I figured a “spice” tea may be similar to a chai which definitely excels as a latte. Unfortunately, even the milk couldn’t help this. It tasted like mud. Sweet, cinnamony mud. This got dumped. 220.