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Recent Tasting Notes
Happy Ampersand Day! Today the prompt is to drink a tea with the word “and” in the title!
Managed to find one of my 2018 stash that fit the bill. The dry leaf looks like Gunpowder Green (though TCT’s website doesn’t specify), which isn’t my favorite, but I’m hoping the spices might cover up the “smoky” taste I don’t like. It has a heavy fennel/clove aroma to the nose from the dry leaf, which is quite inviting.
The brewed tea also has a lovely fennel/clove peppery aroma, with some deeper almost earthy smells from the green tea. It tastes quite pleasant; earthy/dry grass flavor lacking the smoke, a touch of mint without it being strongly minty like a Moroccan Mint, and a strong fix of fennel and clove in flavor, leading to some citrusy and peppery notes. It really ties together well.
Flavors: Citrus, Clove, Dry Grass, Earth, Fennel, Mint, Pepper, Spices
I’m fairly certain I’ve had Tea Chai Te’s Lady Londonderry before, but I don’t seem to have a review of it, only one for English Tea Store. I got a sample of this in an order last year, and it was the last flavored black tea sampler left in my stash, so I figured I should just finish it off.
They recommended a 2 minute steep, but I did my typical 3 minute steep in 350ml 205F water for half the sample (about 2.8g). The other half of the sample was brewed the same for the work thermos. The tea has a nice aroma; a jammy strawberry scent, but something about the smell sort of reminds me of Red Vines or cherry cola. Though I didn’t get it on the nose, taking a sip the lemon citrus note is very forward, and it has a very juicy feel to it; like freshly squeezed lemon juice. There is a touch of tanginess from it, but mostly that is mellowed by the sweeter strawberry note that comes in later in the sip and sort of lingers on the tongue in the aftertaste. The strawberry is definitely a more subtle flavor than the lemon, and I get a vague, sweeter strawberry lemonade sort of vibe from the taste. The black tea is very smooth prepared this way, and I don’t have any astringent aftertaste.
This seems to be pretty spot on to my impressions on the English Tea Store version, re-reading my notes, and I would be tempted to believe maybe they both source from the same place, except I did notice mild astringency from the other version, leading me to think this might be a slightly higher quality base tea. Regardless, this is a lovely cuppa and one I probably wouldn’t mind having in my cupboard again at some point, especially for iced tea season.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Candy, Citrus, Fruity, Jam, Lemon, Smooth, Strawberry, Sweet, Tangy
Happy National Peach Cobbler Day! Today is the day to drink a tea with peach flavor notes!
I found this one for my Ode to Tea J entry… and I can’t believe it has sat, untouched, in my cupboard since March of 2018. Sigh…
The aroma wafting off my steeping cup is very compelling! I smell a strong tart/pithy orange citrus aroma, mixed with a peach/nectarine aroma which smell so inviting together!
On the tongue, I get a lead of hibiscus; the tea is a bit tangy but it doesn’t have the typical “hibiscus pucker” to it, it’s much sweeter. I’m mainly just getting the fruity sort of taste of the actual flower, and when I get that taste combined with the pithy tangerine note, it creates the feeling of biting into a very juicy orange or mandarine. As the tangier notes mellow on my tongue, I taste sweet peaches; I can detect the particular sweet note of licorice root, but there isn’t enough here to leave that “sticky” feeling on the tongue after the sip, only a mild flavor. The blend of rooibos and honeybush itself is magic, as I’m not getting any of the off-notes I often find in each (medicinal for rooibos, pepper for honeybush); it’s really smooth and sweet.
This may be one of the nicest rooibos blends I’ve had in a while! There are a lot of polarizing ingredients in it, but they happen to all be polarizing ingredients that I personally love, so this mix just works perfectly for me. This is just juicy citrus, sweet peach, and slightly floral honey-tasting nectar of the gods to me.
Why did this sit in my stash untouched for so long…?
Flavors: Citrus, Fruity, Hibiscus, Honey, Licorice, Orange, Peach, Smooth, Sweet, Tangy
Ninth tea for March Mad(Hatter)ness! (What happened to #3-8? I’m having to skip around a bit depending on how my work schedule falls and the way tea and the time involved for different types of tea brewing, caffeine vs. no caffeine, etc., fall into that schedule). This is for the pu’erh tea round, going against Tea Etc.’s Chocolate Covered Strawberry.
This is going to be a landslide victory, considering that despite multiple efforts pu’erh tea just “isn’t my cuppa” no matter how hard I try… though, on occassion, I do find some flavored blends using it as a base alright. So when a pure pu ended up randomly selected against a flavored pu it almost seemed unfair to keep that randomizer… but you know what they say, all’s fair in love and tea…
Like all the teas in my bracket, this was purchased in 2018, from Tea Chai Te in Portland (though obviously they are sourcing it). I believe the copy writing at the time indicated the pressing on these tuos was 2008. I guess of all the tea in this bracket, this round is the one that should be least phased by the old age…
I used one tuo for 350ml 205F water, steeped for 5 minutes. I didn’t have time for a rinse prior (I barely had time for such a long steep before draining it into the work thermos and heading out the door!) and the tuo did have issue breaking up properly. That was entirely on me.
Has that strong, familiar earthy potting soil dirt smell. But, for a puerh, I’m doing alright with the flavor. It will never be my favorite type of tea, but this one has come out very smooth, and sweeter than I’m used to. I wonder if the tuo being unable to break up well left the steep “weaker” but, consequently, with a flavor that is far more appealing to me personally. It’s earthy, but doesn’t feel overwhelmingly so. There is a slight, but pleasant, minerality on the sip, which leans into a wet rocks/wet earth flavor. There is a slightly mellow and sweeter finish, while the liquor is that satisfying thick and rich mouthfeel that really coats the throat and stomach.
I am super surprised by this one! I doubt it is going to beat out Chocolate Covered Strawberry (I have very fond memories of that tea!) but it is putting up a hell of a fight to stay in the race. This is probably the highest rating I’ve given to an unflavored pu’erh.
Flavors: Dirt, Earth, Mineral, Sweet, Thick, Wet Earth, Wet Rocks
Day 24 of Sara’s Old Tea came with a big sachet of Hoji Matcha Chai!
No longer available from Tea Chai Te, this can still probably be purchased if you make a phone order, as they still have everything needed to make it.
I brewed it and added a bit of almond milk, just enough to cool it down to my preferred temperature.
The chai flavors blend together so well, that I had to take several sips to try to tease out what’s in there. I taste clove, ginger, and licorice, with a bit of woody flavor from the houjicha near the end of the sip. It tastes like… sitting and talking with Sara with a pot of tea at Tea Chai Te in Portland, the one on NW 23rd Avenue, a block from Salt & Straw ice cream.
I finished my glass before finishing the review.
Flavors: Clove, Ginger, Licorice, Wood
Day 6 of Sara’s Old Tea!
The dry… pu-erh puck smells like sticky rice!
I brewed it western style, which probably isn’t ideal, but that’s my setup.
I like the flavor, plenty of sticky rice and some wet leaves. The sticky rice flavor really makes it for me.
Flavors: Earth, Rice, Wet Earth
Simmered 9g of this in 3 cups water/1 cup vanilla oat milk on the stove and served it in a big pot this morning for myself and sister before we headed to breakfast and then she had to get back on the road. I think if I made this again, I’d use even more leaf, as even at 3 parts water/1 part milk the flavors were a bit more muted than I like in a chai.
There was a lot left over in the pot so I’ve had it chilling in the fridge all day now as an iced latte! It’s very sweet, with a more forward vanilla flavor (perhaps the fact I use vanilla oat milk enhanced the vanilla notes?) The rose is present but not overwhelming, at least when made as a latte. The spices aren’t very strong here either, the most prominent is cardamom (which I think pairs nicely with the rose flavor) with a more subtle hint of ginger.
I need to experiment with it a bit more (plain, varying amounts of milk) and see what that does to the flavor. This brew felt a little overwhelmed, but I think this could be amazing with some tweeks.
Flavors: Cardamom, Cream, Floral, Ginger, Rose, Sweet, Vanilla
After listening to Jenni King rave about this tea for years (literally!) I finally caved and got my hands on some. And she wasn’t wrong…this is one of the best vanilla teas I’ve ever tried! Not quite as good as Whispering Pines Golden Orchid, but perhaps a close second. The vanilla flavor is rich and natural and compliments the base tea well. It’s delicious straight, but milk takes it to the next level and I’m betting it would make a pretty awesome sweetened tea latte as well, though I haven’t tried that yet. I’m down to the last couple teaspoons of my 2oz tin and will almost certainly be restocking.
I made this a week ago for an early morning staff meeting when my stomach felt awful… my stomach felt awful because, as it turned out, I was getting a migraine. I went home at my lunch break and never had a chance to log the tea. I still had about two more servings left in the (rather generous) sampler Tea Chai Te included of this in my last order with them, so I decided to brew it up again this morning. I’ve been migraining a lot this week, but working through it so my job won’t hate me. Mint is really soothing on the GI migraine symptoms, I’ve found.
This is pretty nice for a mate. I normally don’t like mint teas where I can tell they are heavily flavored with peppermint oil, and the ingredients don’t state this uses oil, but the peppermint is so strong I suspect it is using peppermint oil of some sort. Since I don’t really like the smoky notes in mate and the really strong peppermint flavor from the oil covers those notes up entirely, I’m actually kind of digging this. I’m still getting a bit of a grassy/hay herbaceous note from the tea, but the mint in this has a strong menthol flavor that is cooling, refreshing, sweet, and soothing. The mint hits early in the sip and the mate notes are a more subtle aftertaste. I’m actually really liking this; it isn’t as good as their macademia nut mate, but it is soooooooooo soothing on my stomach with a more interesting flavor then plain peppermint leaf tea. I could probably get behind having more of this, at least to combat morning migraine nausea, since the caffeine in the mate does make it a bit impractical for all-hour usage.
Flavors: Grass, Hay, Menthol, Mint, Peppermint, Sweet, Vegetal
I’m surprised I haven’t reviewed this one yet, since I’ve had it since my Portland birthday trip in March 2017, when I visited Tea Chai Te. It’s their take on the famous Cinnamon Orange tea from Market Spice in Seattle, only on a rooibos base. I normally don’t like that artificial “Red Hot” cinnamon candy flavor used in these sorts of spice teas; they don’t claim to be using any flavoring, but it certainly has that “cinnamon flavoring” taste which makes me think of cinnamon candy or Big Red chewing gum that I don’t associate with teas that are only using cinnamon spice. That said, the rooibos base adds a lot of natural sweetness which helps temper it a lot, so I find it much less cloying and obnoxious than I usually find that flavoring. It’s actually kind of pleasant, reminding me of the sweet, satisfying counter-balance to the strong spicy cinnamon flavoring I get from the one cinnamon candy that I actually like, chocolate-covered cinnamon gummy bears.
The result is a tea that is more mildly spicy than overbearingly hot; the sip has a sweet rooibos and strong cinnamon candy flavor, with a very subtle sweet orange note in the rooibos base. It’s a bit hard to make out beneath the spice, though. A bit of clove is present toward the end of the sip. Mostly, it’s a strong cinnamon rooibos, and it’s the artificial, candied sort of flavor. But it at least isn’t hot, creating pleasant warmth during the sip but not leaving a long spicy lingering unpleasant tingle. It’s a safe choice for spice-weenies like me.
Flavors: Artificial, Candy, Cinnamon, Clove, Orange Zest, Rooibos, Sweet
This is probably the best smelling tea from the tea box, so I had to try it! It reminds me of Harney’s hot cinnamon sunset flavor, but with a bit more complexity. The flavor is mostly cinnamon. Sugar makes the flavor pretty pleasant. While it’s tasty, it’s not really special enough to keep around. I think the Harney version is a little bit better, but I don’t even keep that one around anymore since I haven’t gravitated toward spicy teas lately.
23rd day of Sara’s Advent Calendar!
It’s Christmas Eve Eve, and this is a nice spiced tea that reminds me a bit of Hobee’s tea, a blend they serve in their restaurants and also offer in loose leaf. The cinnamon and clove waft off the cup and are the prominent flavors. I can also taste the rooibos and a subtle note of the orange peel. It tastes sweet too. I like it hot, and I’ll bet it would work great as an iced tea too.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Orange Zest, Rooibos, Sweet
It’s already the 20th day of Advent! Thanks again to Sara for the custom calendar!
This one smells like pumpkin in the cup, not just spice! Since this is a chai blend, I brewed it in water and added enough vanilla almond milk to cool it down so I can drink it right away. It’s probably not to most people’s taste, but I like doing it that way.
It’s actually more pumpkin than spice! I can taste a little cinnamon and clove or allspice. I checked the ingredients, and no allspice. So it must be clove. Oh hey, now I found a ginger note at the end of the sip.
I think it would be fine w/o any milk too.
If you like your chai to have a big kick of spices, you might not like this one so much, but I love it. It’s warm and soothing.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger, Pumpkin
I received an early Christmas gift in the mail yesterday: the black tea gift set from Tea Chai Te! I’ve been wanting to try their “Mount Hood Vanilla” blend for ages and I’m so excited to finally own it, along with several others. This is the one tea in the gift set that I wasn’t quite sure about and sadly it isn’t for me. The description is accurate…this is like drinking melted red hots! Way too much cinnamon for me. I’m sure there’s someone out there who loves cinnamon and will adore this tea, so I’ll be popping it in the Discovery TTB for someone else to enjoy. :)
Flavors: Cinnamon, Spicy
The smell is very vanilla! Like the vanilla coffee is sometimes scented with.
Hmm, I feel like I’m tasting the vanilla and then the mate, but not together. Or something grassy. There’s a very slight note of macadamia, but I wish it had a little more of that.
It’s not bad, but after smelling it, I’m a bit disappointed by the taste.
Edit: Okay, I tried it again cold, and I like it much better! I moved it up from 65 to 81. I also now taste a coffee note.
Flavors: Coffee, Grass, Nuts, Vanilla
Phew, I have finally worked through sipping down a lot of the teas I’ve been working on over the last few days, so now I’ve moved a new set of alphabet letters over into my focus area. I pulled this one for my Ode to Tea V entry! I reviewed it before, two years ago (here: https://steepster.com/mastressalita/posts/383379 ) but figured it had been long enough to give it a proper revisit.
I absolutely love the smell of this stuff. If you separate the herbaceous quality of the mate base beneath, the scent does remind me of a warm Macademia Nut sugar cookie. Has a very sweet vanilla aroma, with a somewhat nutty quality. On the sip… I can tell age has not done this tea any favors. I remember the flavor being a lot richer than I’m getting now. The mate is coming forth a bit more strongly, with that herbaceous hot hay note, and a hint of smokiness; not nearly as smoky as I have had yerba mate get in the past. The tea is still quite sweet, with some vanilla and nuts. I noted before it tasted like coffee to me, but I’m not really getting that now; perhaps one of those sweet and nutty coffee creamers, but not actual coffee beans.
I’m not going to slide my rating down though, as I remember this tea being an absolute standout in an area that isn’t well represented (flavored yerba mate) and think my neglect hasn’t done the flavorings any favors. All the more reason why it’s good I grabbed this one to sip down! Would do far more good to get rid of this less-than-steller tea and replace it with a fresh, tastier batch.
Flavors: Herbaceous, Hot Hay, Nutty, Smoke, Sweet, Vanilla, Vegetal
Autumn Harvest! Going nutty again today, though this is my only macademia nut tea (honestly, I don’t think I’ve even seen any other macademia nut teas!) and it’s on a rather unique base — yerba mate (another rarity, as yerba mate blends in general are rather rare). The smell is interesting to me, because I’ve had plain yerba mate and it tasted just like gunpowder green tea to me — vegetal and like tobacco smoke — but this smells just like a nutty coffee with a bit of vanilla creamer from the dry leaf. It’s soooooo appealing! I usually only get roasted mate because I don’t care for that tobacco smoky taste, but this doesn’t even have a hint of that from the aroma.
Steeped up the tea is lightly golden, and the tea tastes very similar to the aroma. It isn’t a strong coffee flavor by any means (nothing like roasted barley) but I’m getting it. It’s a bit vegetal too, a bit like dry hay, but I’m not getting that smoky tobacco taste that turned me off so much from plain, unroasted mate before. The flavoring of vanilla and macademia nut oils is wonderful! It’s not overwhelming, but it really does seem to bring out that sweet, nutty coffee feel, and it’s so natural, too. The nut is very forward on the sip, and the vanilla just adds a sweetness that sort of lingers at the end, and the two flavors compliment each other well.
This is probably the best unroasted yerba mate I’ve ever had. Will definitely be keeping this one around!
Flavors: Coffee, Hot Hay, Nutty, Sweet, Vanilla, Vegetal