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Recent Tasting Notes
Strange VariaTEA TTB – Tea #26
This one sounded interesting – chamomile and cacao? Cinnamon and lavender? Sure, why not.
To be honest though, I mostly just get chamomile. There are little hints of the other ingredients – a slight roastiness from the cacao, a touch of warmth from the cinnamon, and a whisper of citrusy floral from the lavender. If you didn’t tell me what was in this tisane, I would guess chamomile and maybe apple? But certainly none of the other ingredients.
Anyway, it’s pleasant but not as interesting as I’d hoped.
Flavors: Apple, Chamomile, Cinnamon, Honey, Musty, Roasted, Sweet
This was a chance discovery at Aldi. The list of ingredients here – sencha, strawberries, regular and holy basil, and hibiscus – was unusual yet intrigued me enough to pick up a bottle. It turned out to be a terrific flavor combination. It has a natural fruitiness and a sharp but pleasant tang that complements the strawberry. The basil adds a subtle herbaceous tone. I couldn’t really taste the sencha though and I suspect the hibiscus is just there to add color. Really refreshing and has just enough sweetness without being too sweet. I can definitely see myself chugging this stuff down during the warmer months.
Flavors: Herbaceous, Strawberry, Tart
A simple, mild green (a mao jian?). The description on the can seems pretty accurate – I’d give it a very mild nuttiness, not terribly vegetal – more sweet and green. The tea tin mentions this is “brighter and milder than Gunpowder,” but I wouldn’t use gunpowder as any sort of comparison – there are no ashy or roasted notes (I don’t like gunpowder).
I think it would be great for introducing people to green teas.
The first brew offered mild creamy notes. Soft, inoffensive, but nothing remarkable. I laid out the leaves to dry overnight, and did a second brew this morning. Wow! First note was a light, bright mintiness. Successive sips brought out hints of rose and lemon balm. I don’t mean that nasty fake lemon balm smell from Pledge, but fresh, wild lemon balm. It’s clean, bright, and redolent of springtime.
Brewed at 195F; 3 minutes for first steeping, 4 minutes for second.
A surprise! My small town has a townshend’s Tea…..I made a badly steeped cup of (not townshend’s) Tea to take with me to my sons tutoring and it was terrible, so I walked up to the shop and the girl
Behind the counter recommended this. I usually don’t gel very well with fruit tea but it smelled great…..just a hint of strawberry and lemon with a deep back tea scent. I’m very pleasantly surprised by the taste and yes I added sugar….the sugar makes it smell almost like pink cotton candy but the flavor isn’t super sweet. Perfect for waiting around on this fall day!
I ordered this at the Bend location last Thanksgiving break, and it was so amazing (yerba mate energy + spicy chai = YES PLEASE) I bought a few ounces to take home with me to Chicago. WELL, that only lasted a week because I drank it every day and a mug of this will run you a whole Tbsp. So then I proceeded to tell my husband for about the next 9 months how much I missed this tea…and he got me 20 oz for my birthday! Good man. I now have a HUGE bag of this tea, and it’s a perfect warming, spicy chai for fall and winter.
Make sure to brew it WITH warm milk, as instructed. I tried adding milk in after, as I do with many black teas, and found that it ended up bitter. I think brewing it with the milk mellows it out a bit.
Color: the drink starts off a light brown and turns green if it sits for awhile (from the mate).
Flavors: Anise, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Ginger
Flavors: Cinnamon, Orange
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Flavors: Sweet, Vanilla
This is one of my all time favorite teas. I often make it latte-style (after having it that way a few times at Townshend’s tea house). I add 1/2 tsp of sugar and 1/2 tsp of honey to 8 oz of double-strength tea and fill the rest of the mug with frothed warm milk. It’s my favorite part of my weekend morning.
I highly recommend visiting one of the Townshend’s tea houses if you’re ever in Oregon!
Flavors: Bergamot, Cream, Vanilla
This the best coconut flavored tea I’ve had – I think because it uses flaked coconut and not coconut oil flavor. I’ve found other coconut flavored teas to taste somewhat fake, even though I’m sure their flavor is usually from real coconut.
This tea really shines in the second steep, so I recommend re-steeping if you haven’t tried it already.
I usually add whole milk and raw cane sugar to this tea. It’s delightfully smooth, yet with that sharper breakfast tea flavour that I’ve come to appreciate. Definitely not as malty as other Assam teas that I’ve tasted, but it’s not a bad thing in this case. I knocked a few points off my rating because the flavours are not as complex as I’d prefer.
This is by far my most favorite way to consume Yerba Mate. This is quite a spicy chai – one of the spicest, in fact, so if you do not like spicy, I don’t recommend this tea. The yerba mate flavors are fresh and well-accented by the array of spices. This makes a phenomenal latte – in fact, that is my preferred method of consumption.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Dark Bittersweet, Spices
Townshend’s is a tea house local to Portland and Bend. I go there about once a month to get enough loose tea to hold me over between orders, but otherwise try to avoid it. They are much more of a hipster hangout spot, and mostly deal in the blasphemy known as “tea lattes”. That being said, they have some acceptable loose-leaf to be had in a pinch.
It is finally spring after a very erratic and generally miserable central Oregon winter. It is time for green tea. Japanese greens are about as “fresh” and “spring” as you can get, and they are calling to me. This is a celebration, and so I will opt for the more expensive gyokuro over the basic sencha.
I walk up to the counter and ask for an ounce of gyokuro. The guy at the counter suggests I go instead with the sencha because “it is the same thing and much cheaper”. I struggle to contain my annoyance and insist that I want the gyokuro. $14 for an ounce (not a terribly expensive gyokuro, but almost this particular one is almost certainly not worth that much). I take a look at the leaf through the clear plastic bag, already a bit disappointed. It seems that this was the very last of what was in the tin. It is about 50% powder, with the rest composed of broken leaves and stems. It’s probably been sitting in the giant storage container for way too long to be fresh, too. Oh well, can’t expect perfection from a place such as this.
Once home, I immediately begin brewing it. I pre-warm my six ounce cast-iron pot. I opt to use one tablespoon of leaf, careful to use the most whole leaf pieces. I heat the water to 160 degrees, steep for 40 seconds, and pour my first cup. The liquour is a very faint green, verging on clear. I sit on my porch and soak in the sunshine, and shift my full awareness to the aromas, textures, and flavors to come as I lift the cup towards my mouth. The smell is what you might expect: veggies. The texture has a bit of “umame” thickness to it, but I have to concentrate to pick it up. I think silky is a better word to describe this particular cup. An overall light an airy profile, but with a touch of buttery thickness. The flavor is nothing to write home about. It is unmistakebly a Japanese green. Extremely vegetal and fresh, with a nice mineral quality. It is much more bitter than expected, especially considering the delicate manner in which it is brewed. The sweetness I had hoped for is not there, not even a little bit. Overall it just tastes like a mid-level basic sencha. It is brisk, refreshing, and suits the spring season well…but this is not what I want/expect from a gyokuro. I would take a $7, 4-ounce tin of Harney & Sons sencha over this any day.
I do two more steepings, each a bit longer than the previous. Not much changes. Same flavor profile to a smaller degree. By the third steeping, the leaves have no more to give. I think this tea will be much better suited as a cold-brew iced tea.
Flavors: Bitter, Mineral, Vegetal
This one!! It’s sweet and kind of fresh tasting, I think it’s got mint in it maybe? Anyway, it was a great balance of warmly spiced and sweet. My favorite from last night for sure. Seems I’m always underwhelmed by Townshend’s Earls but enthusiastic for their chais. Yum!
Stovetop 10 to 20 minute milk n’ honey dance, per their instructions I used water and milk (and I do the stovetop warming with the sweetener instead of adding after, because in my experience it’s always better that way). Worth it!
I ordered this tea out of pure curiosity. I’m glad this tea doesn’t smell the way I thought it might smell, it has an earthy scent and I note a minty undertone. The brewed tea smells vegetative and earthy.
This isn’t so bad. It has an earthy taste (from the Yerba Mate) but it’s not overly earthy. There is some sweetness to it and a warmth that tastes like a cross between ginger and cinnamon. Peppery like ginger, sweet/spiced tone of cinnamon. Pleasant.
The Kava gives it a hint of grassiness, and while I’m not usually particularly crazy about Kava, I’m not minding it here.
Not bad. Better served hot than chilled.
This smells so yummy steeping. It’s a tad finicky for late night (I am so lazy about heating milk for some reason, always have been…my husband can’t drink normal hot chocolate and the kind I buy him, Dagoba’s Xocolatl, is really good but best with hot milk so we only have it when it’s snowing out ha) and I’ve never made chai before that used both hot water and hot milk, just one or the other, so it’s new to me but man. LiberTEAS is right that it smells a whole lot like a cinnamon sugar cake donut. It tastes delicious too. I have a couple more no-caf chais to try from my sample stash before I come to a decision about which will be this winter’s bedtime treat, but right now I have serious doubts any will smell this good. The convenience factor’s a bit ehhh but I haven’t bothered to see if the others need hot milk too so that point might be moot anyway. And besides, something that smells this good can definitely motivate me to heat some milk. Oh so good. Decadent! To be honest after some ok-but-not-astounding samples of their Earls months ago I was kind of hoping to be able to write off Townshend’s as a fond memory of my first trip to Portland (including the story of how a customer another table over tipped me off all friendly-like about Naked Bike Night, whee) but not amazeballs enough to reorder from (I’m trying to whittle my vendors list, it cuts down on shipping and all that) but this could well be Very Necessary (Salt n Pepa reference, har), which means I can get more Soaring Crane (a nice tasty undemanding green) in the process.
Delightful, plenty of flavor with little fuss (smooth without being wimpy, has enough lovely taste without calling a lot of distracting attention to itself with loud notes or complicated flavor interplay), ideal for reading on the couch after dinner. It’s so nuts how much I love green tea now when I’m in the right mood for it.