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Recent Tasting Notes
Sipdown 2020! 4/365
A quick sipdown tonight, as I attempt to log a couple things I’ve had recently at home (the work pile is hopeless at this point). This tea was never a favourite, but tonight’s cup is pretty decent – a tad more astringent than I’d like, but quite drinkable. It’s up against some stiff competition tonight though, so it’s my least favourite of the 4, but that’s just fine.
(It just occurred to me that I’m drinking 4 cups of strong black tea at 10:45pm. After having a fairly epic amount of napping today, given I have a small child. I feel like I won’t be sleeping tonight…)
A sample from Sil – thank you! I see you cold-brewed it, and perhaps that’s what I will do with the rest. I found it to be a fairly standard assam – nothing overly special, but quite drinkable – but I actually don’t think I’ve done much cold-brewing of black teas that aren’t Laoshan in quite a few years. Maybe once the Christmas leftovers are cleared out a little more…
Mmm yummy. After the barrage of chamomile last night I was worried, but this is such a just damn good cuppa. It’s a black tea first and foremost, a little smoky, a little astringent. The fruit, vanilla, cinnamon, etc add a pleasant little sweet back-end to it, but the black base is really the star.
Also I desperately need to do dishes – this used our last clean DT perfect mug and infuser. Ooops.
So, it’s been ages since my last review. There’s a lot of reasons for that, but mostly: my parents got a divorce and my mom and I moved out. Everyone is fine and they’re mostly working together on it, but it has been a big change. The good thing about all this is that I was able to get my tea out of the cabinet where it lived at the house and put it into…a new cabinet. My collection is a bit ridiculous and I hope to use a lot of it up within the next few months. The new Breville tea maker we got will help with that, too!
We’re still in the process of unpacking, so Mom and I ordered Indian food last night (curry for her, sabaz for me) and I chose this to go with it. I quickly found that I only had enough for one pot, but because the Breville had been doing so well up to that point I decided to risk it. I wasn’t disappointed! Hot this is a moderately spicy chai with a lovely fruit/spice smell. It works much better at room temperature, which I found by accident when I got distracted unpacking. It becomes a bright, fruity apricot tea with lots of cinnamon and the creaminess I would expect from milk. Once I’ve tamed my stash this is definitely one I would reorder, and so would Mom—she told me several times how impressed she was with it, and she’s not really a chai person.
Flavors: Apricot, Cinnamon, Cream, Peppercorn
Really enjoyed this tea today. I can see why Christina loves this tea. Thanks for the sample Christina.
I just brewed it up in a mug today. Dry it smells so good- like a cake , but I’ve had many flavoured teas that smell great and fall short in taste. Not this one. It reminded me of my aunt’s homemade spicy molasses cookies. It was a little bit like a date bread too. The anise brought a nice sweet dimension to it. Maybe the raisins added that too. All the spices blended together nicely but what stood out was the chocolate, vanilla, cardamom, & cloves.
I am pretty sensitive to any added flavourings but was able to enjoy the whole cup with no problem. It really took me back to my aunt’s great baking. What a great cup!
Flavors: Anise, Cake, Cardamom, Molasses, Spicy, Sweet, Vanilla
This is really good cold, but I’m finding that with a lot of white tea blends recently. I went with my standard preparation method – 2 tbsp in 2 litres of cold water, into the fridge for around 10 hours overnight. The flavour of the orange is more prominent that it is in the hot cup, the cinnamon less so. Running right through the middle of the whole thing is the sweet, slightly thick, frangipane-esque taste of almonds. Delicious!
This. Is. Amazing.
Oranges, almonds, and a touch of cinnamon.
It didn’t strike me as a “dessert” style tea when I bought it, but it tastes fairly decadent in the cup. It has a natural sweetness and quite a heavy flavour, but it’s so spot-on flavour accurate that I really don’t mind that at all. This is another RiverTea blend I’ll be sad to see the end of. Tea this good should exist forever.
I think I was guilty of buying this one for its name. I mean, who doesn’t want to know what a night in Toronto would taste like? What I do know is that River Tea’s white blends are probably the best quality, leafiest white teas I’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking. This one is actually a white/green blend, but it’s the white peony aspect that really stands out in terms of appearance, at least to me. The leaves are huge and actually green still (unlike some white teas I’ve tried, where it’s all broken up, black and scrawny looking). There’s a good proliferation of silver buds, and some twigs. I can spot a few green tea leaves running through, but I think there’s definitely less than there is white tea, which gives me at least some idea what to expect. The base teas are not the only impressive things about this blend. There are also huge pieces of cinnamon stick, and I mean HUGE, slices of dried orange, slivers of almond, and a decent scattering of long lemongrass strands. I know appearance isn’t all, but these teas are really attractive to look at. They make me actively want to drink them, which is always nice, except when I’m thinking I should maybe frame them instead.
I used 2 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in water cooled to around 160 degrees. This is described as an orange almond white tea, and that’s pretty much how it comes across. It’s not strong orange or almond, but there’s an almost-sharp, deliciously citrussy flavour that somehow reminds me of kia-ora. The almonds add a pleasantly nutty undertone, and a touch of bittersweetness, which I think is helped a little by the green tea. What I didn’t expect was the creaminess, which is quite intense and totally wonderful. It makes this taste like a decadent orange dessert, maybe one of those really nice, high quality orange sorbets, or a mousse of some kind…
I believe “Yum” is the technical term for this one.
MJy final RiverTea, gone forever. I used the last of this leaf up for today’s cold brew. I’m glad I tried it this way, because the flavours come out much more clearly than they do hot. Wonderful, sweet, strawberry awesomeness. A very sad sipdown :(
I made this one up as a cold brew for my family, since they’re really into their iced tea these days. I managed to grab a glass after lunch before they hoovered it all up, though! I enjoyed this one hot, but it really shines when it’s cold. The strawberry is front-and-centre, sweet and spot-on flavour accurate. The mango is much less prominent, but recognisable as a faint, peppery “orangeness” in the background. I like that the strawberry really comes into its own here, though – it was the flavour I bought the tea for in the first place, if I’m honest.
White tea seems to cold brew really well, which came as a surprise to me for some reason. I guess I’m usually all about the black teas, but white might be moving into second place, particularly during the summer. I remember vividly the first white tea I ever tried, and what I did with it, but that’s another story. Maybe noteworthy, actually.
I did the usual with this – 2 tbsp of leaf in 2 litres of water, into the fridge for 10 hours overnight.
Apparently drinking this means I know what the sun tastes like in Tuscany. Who knew? This is another tea I’ve drank more than a few times now, but not logged more than once, so I’m all set to remedy that now. This one is described as a strawberry mango white. Today’s cup (slightly overleafed at 2.5 tsp, given that the leaf is so huge that 1 tsp is virtually nothing) is mostly strawberry – sweet, a little candy-like, but mostly reminiscent of strawberries that are a touch overripe and maybe a little on the soft-side. Kind of tart like that. The mango is more or less overwhelmed this time, but there’s a pepperiness to the aftertaste that reminds me it’s supposed to be there. It’s a good combination – I just wish the mango was a little bit more prominent.
I like this one a lot. While it’s great hot, I’m going to try and save some leaf for summer cold brewing, because I at least half-suspect it might truly shine that way. Roll on the warmer months!
I’m down to my last two untried River Tea blends now. This one I’ve been wanting to try for a while, it’s just the getting around to it that’s a problem these days. Anyway, it happened. I used 2 tsp of leaf for my cup, and that’s more of a challenge than it sounds because the leaf is so huge that measuring was a problem. A good problem, out of all those I could have, but a problem nonetheless. There are some whole black/brown leaves, a good proportion of downy silver buds, and some twigs/stalks. Then there are the olive leaves, which are similarly huge and a lot greener. Small cubes of apple, small raspberry pieces, absolutely HUGE chamomile flowers, and yellow-orange sunflower petals. It’s a joy just to look at.
Once I got my 2tsp sorted, I gave this one 2.5 minutes in water cooled to 160 degrees. The initial flavour is strawberry, and it’s sweet, delicate, and pretty natural-tasting. I’m not getting a whole lot of mango, except in the background where it’s just about discernable. The white base is a good choice here. It’s pretty unobtrusive, although it does come out a little in the aftertaste. It’s mild with a slight edge of bitterness, although I’m thinking that might be the olive leaf rather than the white tea? It’s not a flavour I’ve come across before in white tea, and it’s too sharp to be anything else.
I’m enjoying this one, mostly for its delicious strawberry flavour. If there’s any left come summer, I can see it making a good cold-brew. For me, River Tea are as sadly missed as Butiki.
Today’s work cold brew. This one had been in my desk drawer for a while, and while I’ve enjoyed drinking it hot this past winter, I feel like I’m done with that method of preparation now. My last cup was a little underwhelming, with less of the cranberry I’ve come to expect. Probably it’s getting a little old.
Anyway, cold brewing gave it a new lease of life, and also used up the last of the leaf, so a win either way. I used 2 tbsp of leaf in 2 litres of cold water, and it overnighted in the fridge for around 10 hours. This morning’s result is a pale-ish straw colour, which completely belies the fact that it has tons of flavour. I’m getting lots of cranberry again, and there’s an underlying juicy sweetness that reminds me a lot of pineapple (which I’m sure I’ve never tasted much in this blend before). It helps to cut some of the tartness/sourness from the cranberry, anyway. The green tea base is very subtle and smooth, with no bitterness or astringency (which is always my biggest worry when I cold brew green tea overnight).
I’m really pleased with how this one worked out, and it seems like a fitting way to say goodbye to a thoroughly lovely blend.
How have I only logged this once? I feel like I’ve been drinking quite a lot of this recently, partly because it’s one of my older teas, and partly because it’s just so good! I love the scent of the dry leaf – it’s hard to describe why, but it never fails to make me feel at least a bit more relaxed. There’s something very reassuring and just plain “tea” like about it, and please let’s all pretend that isn’t one of the most vague and unhelpful sentences I’ve ever written.
It tastes pretty much like you’d expect. Light, fresh green tea with a juicy, fruity, natural tasting side of berries. Cranberry is a big player, but I think also strawberry and maybe blueberry? It’s totally delicious anyway, and I’ll miss it when it’s finally gone from my cupboard. Fortunately, I’ve got a decent quantity left just yet!
Finally getting around to my last three River Tea blends (boo hoo!) I was going to go with my last Butiki this afternoon (Sourenee Black Blossom), but I felt like something fruity and wasn’t really in a black tea/darjeeling sort of mood. That’s why this one won the day. The thing I love most about this one straight off is the appearance of the dry leaf. There are HUGE fruit pieces in here – cranberries, pieces of papaya and mango, and equally huge peony petals. They’re also a really lovely pink and cream – so pretty! I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees.
To taste, I’m actually pretty pleased with this one. The initial (and dominant) flavour is cranberry, and it’s just a little sharp, a little sweet, and not too tart. Nicely natural tasting and flavour accurate. Underneath that there’s a hint of pineapple, although it’s not nearly so identifiable as the cranberry. It adds a tropical vibe to the whole cup, though, and an extra dose of sweetness. The green teas base pokes through a little, and is a tiny bit astringent, but the flavouring is the real star here so I don’t see it as too much of a problem. If there’s any left in my cupboard next summer, this could be a good potential candidate for a cold brew. Definitely a pleasant way to end an afternoon – a bit of summer warmth and brightness in a cup!
Another sample from Christina.
I found this one pleasant enough but sometimes I am in the mood for osmanthus and other times not. When I had this yesterday, I don’t think I was in the mood for it. The osmanthus seemed a little too cloying sweet. I think the green base was a basic green tea but I don’t remember any chestnut or buttery notes from it. It was more on the vegetal or grassy side.
Thanks Christina for the sample!
This was a very generous sample from Beorhthraefn. Thank you!
I enjoyed this before bed last night while attempting to read. Sensing sleep-ness sinking in fast I slurped this down and made it about 2 pages in my book. Oh well, better to fall asleep quickly and loose some reading time than to fight insomnia.
This was a tastey cup. Light and fruity. I couldn’t really pick out the distinct fruit flavors individually, but it all blended very well and was the perfect light cup before bed.
Yeah, so this tea is alright. It’s been languishing in my cupboard (though sealed) for about two years now, no maybe even longer than that, so I’m certain it’s lost some of its flavour, but I think it still at least hints of the taste it intended to have. 3 tsp in 12 oz of water in my curve mug today. I am hunting for teas that don’t require any additions, and although this one tastes…fine, I’m not lusting after it and am grateful, as rivertea is no longer around. I don’t really deserve to write a tasting note for this tea, because i don’t even know how to describe it. I can definitely taste the white tea base which has an unusual amount of heft here, and I suppose the rest of what I’m tasting is…hang on, let me sip again and see. yes! yes to the person who said this reminds them a bit of cantaloupe and cream from Butiki. Very much so, actually. I’m just dying to add a touch of sugar to this, and might actually do that next time i brew it up. I also don’t know what mulberries are supposed to taste like, so there’s that. The more it cools, the more delicious I’m finding it. But man oh man how a touch of sugar would transform this.
Made this in my curve travel mug, which I am currently loving but will review later, because I don’t want the ‘honeymoon stage’ to colour my perception.
I’m sad that river tea went out of business so soon after starting up, as I really did enjoy many of their blends. This one in particular got rave reviews, and so I pretty much filled my steeping basket with the trail mix and let it steep endlessly. I’m drinking it a few hours later, and it’s really like people are describing: liquified banana bread. I suspect that waiting for two years to drink it has not been kind to this tea, but I know it could be a lot worse. It’s begging for a bit of milk though, but even just like this, you can taste a ton of banana followed by the way your mouth feels after you’ve eaten dates, without the actual taste of date if that makes sense. Maybe a honeyed sensation more than anything else. It’s lovely to sip on and it’s helping to warm me up in my frigid office. And tasting better as it cools!