117 Tasting Notes
Wow, its been almost a year since I first reviewed Golden Arrow and I still have the same packet in my desk drawer. I was a little nervous about its age. It hasn’t been touched since maybe January, but the pack has been sealed and its been living in my desk drawer the whole time.
I am so unbelievably ready for fall. Colder temps, rain (rain, rain, I love rain), longer nights. We’re still not quite there weather wise, but I just needed something to help me feel a fall mood.
As I opened the pack, I noted that the smoke scent seemed stronger than I remembered and the flavoring less so. I’m not completely surprised. The smoke seems to stand out more in the flavor then I remembered as well. I don’t know if this is just due to the age or if its just my perception. Its still enjoyable, just not as balanced as it seemed before.
Because I am not much of a smoke fan, I don’t see myself drinking this very often. if I buy it again, it will likely be in the sample packs so it doesn’t have to sit around too long as before.
But the smoke did make me think of fall evenings and a nice fire. Just me and my cup and nothing else.
I have friends who go wild in regards to Vanilla teas, so I thought I would go a head and give one a try.
Verdict, I’m just not wild about them. Or maybe I’m just not wild about this one. It just seems to be lacking something or, for that matter, everything. I can’t really get a sense of the base. The scent of vanilla is there but flavor wise, it doesn’t have much of a punch I guess. Like everything has been watered down. And I keep returning my steeping basket to my cup, thinking it needs more time. But its not helping much.
What vanilla I am getting just doesn’t seem to taste right, kind of artificial.
Its ok I guess, but I really just don’t see myself reaching for this one again.
So, since early spring 2020, I have been the only person consistently in the office. Which means I can spend days, sometimes even weeks, pretty much alone. As an introvert, this isn’t much of a problem other than I start to develop some very bad habits, such as cooking steaks in the breakroom’s toaster oven.
As I was dealing with the most recent crisis of the missing master key, I did a lot of searching in nooks and crannies of the office that I had never bothered to look through before.
(I actually spent a week on this futile task before someone finally approved a locksmith to come out and open the door. At which point I discovered that the missing key was not only inside that room, but it was also inside a locked fire proof safe. And I did not have a key to said safe and the locksmith couldn’t open it. Thus started the new quest to find the key to the safe. Wait a minute, has my life turned into an Adventure game?)
Among the interesting things I found was the cabinent where we keep our overflow of coffee beans and bagged teas that I usually ignore. But I was bored and frustrated and annoyed, so I just started looking through the offerings and there wasn’t much of a surprise in what I found. Primarily mint or green jasmine, a few other tisanes that I have no interest in. Mostly the usual office crap purchased from an offcie supply store by people who don’t actually drink tea but think they need to try to be inclusive to the tiny portion of weirdos who don’t worship at the shrine of the coffee bean.
And then I ran across a box of this in the back corner. I almost ignored it. While I love almost all of the usual masala chai ingredients, I really do not like clove. And most masala chai style teas contain massive amounts of clove. Blech. But, I was bored and frustrated and decided I would rather look at bagged teas over searching for a key that I suspected was inside the locked room.
And, much to my surprise, NO CLOVE!!!!!!!!
So today I decided to give it a try. (Man, what is it with me and long stories lately.)
And I can taste and smell cinnamon and cardomon and ginger. Not sure on the anise. I expected it to be stronger, but I don’t necessarily find that a bad thing. And there’s no clove! (Queue hysterical laughter)
The down side is that the spices really over power the base tea. I wish it stood out a little more, but its not a major deal breaker. And hey, it looks like you can buy this in loose leaf in units of, holy moly, one pound! I could drink nothing but this for a year and still not be able to go through an entire pound of it.
I can stick with bags. I don’t see this as a staple so much as something I will be drawn to when the rains come and the winds are wet and cold. Oh man I am so ready for the rains to come back. Seattle shouldn’t be as dry as a tender box.
Oh, and I stole the box of tea and put it into my desk drawer with all of my other teas. :D
I thought I had reviewed this tea, but apparently I never did. Going back through my order history, I’ve never actually bought this one.
But back a few years ago, I had to go back to the midwest to spend a few weeks taking care both my mother, who was going through chemo, and my brother, who she cared for.
After about 5 exhausting days, my mother had to go into the hospital due to a non existent white blood cell count and a low grade fever. Two days later, I ended up taking my brother in for his own set of infections that would eventually lead to amputations.
I would get up early so I could take care of what needed doing at the house, be at the hospital by 8am. I would then spend the next 14 hours running up and down two flights of stairs (OMG the elevator was so slow) and I could never be in one room for more than 30 minutes before the other would be calling for me.
I once got sent to the cafeteria for cornbread. Cornbread had been ordered and we had been told they didn’t have any. So I got sent down to go chew someone out because they used to have corn bread 20+ years ago, so they had to have it now and the person taking the order was just lying.
That night I was making cornbread at midnight so I could bring it back with me the next morning. About 3 bites of that cornbread was eaten before it was thrown away.
Why do I mention this story? Because down in the main hospital lobby there was a coffee shop. And that coffee shop carried some of the Harney and Sons flavors and the only one that didn’t sound like I would dislike was Paris. And they opened at 8am. And the lady there was very sweet and she would give me one sachet in my mug (instead of the normal two) and give me the second one unopened.
I’d then carry that cup of tea with me all day. When I had drank it down, one of the nurses would refill it with hot water from their break room. About mid day I’d toss the first sachet and start using the second.
While Paris is not a flavor combination I am wild about, it kept me going through about 9 days of constant running, stress, and exhaustion. Did I mention neither of them were good patients?
So why am I reviewing this now? Well because a couple of Harney orders ago, I received a free sample of Paris. And its been sitting in my drawer for about a year and a half. And my mother died a few years ago and yesterday was her birthday. So I dragged it out this morning. I was worried it would have lost any punch it would have had, but the scent was very obvious the second I opened the packet, even through my mask.
Well what does it taste like? Honestly I can’t really say. All those years ago at that hospital, I was too tired to be able to think of it more than “I need hot caffeine and yay there’s a better option than coffee”. And today? Well today is a typical Monday at work, which frankly often reminds me of those days at that hospital, minus the stairs. I got bergamot and . . . other stuff.
In a goal to clean out some of these subscription teas that I just didn’t love, I’m giving this one another try.
Instead of my usual bung some leaves in a steeping basket in a cup, poor in hot water, and let it steep until I decide its done, I went letter perfect.
185 degree water
steeped 3 minutes
A mug full of tepid blech.
Seriously cold and utterly unappealing yuck.
In an attempt to clean things up in my tea drawer, I’m tossing this one.
I really need to clear out a bunch of these teas from the subscription box so I can reclaim some space.
Again this is pretty good, though in all honesty it doesn’t re-steep very well. The 2nd is a little lacking, and the third just gave up the ghost.
I’m ready for fall to get here. I’m starting to crave something spiced.
Well it looks like I did it again. I put in a note right after my first time trying this and never made a note again. Its basically been a staple of mine since 2016. If I don’t have this in stock its because I am either waiting for an order to come in or I am waiting for it to get back in stock so I can make a new order.
I would not call this tea sweet. It has a very savory, almost maybe bready taste to me. Don’t have a better description for it. Warm and smooth. It can become astringent, especially if over steeped, but is quite smooth for my usual parameters is boiling water for around 2ish minutes. (I don’t time anything. I just look into the cup to see if the color looks about right.) I don’t notice much in the way of bitterness, but that is one of my blind spots, so no promises.
I can get a good 3 resteeps on the same leaves, though I will start noticing a loss of flavor on the third.
Well its happened twice in a row now. I pour the water into my cup, walk back to my desk, and a shipping company shows up with a crate and the guy wants to argue with me about how a Suite 200 doesn’t have a loading dock.
And you know what? This stuff is still smooth, and I needed it after dealing with the shipping guy.
Ever have one of those days?
Yesterday something in my left hip area went boing, my knee buckled and I ended up on the floor. Its only luck that I still have my cane for my right ankle that made it so I could get up and get back to my desk. Climbing the three steps to get into my home last night was really painful.
Then this morning I had physical therapy.
I’m dealing with a bug that the developers can’t reproduce, but everyone else can.
And I just found out my husband is loosing his health insurance coverage come the end of the month.
If only I could just curl up in a position that doesn’t hurt, drink this tea, and wish the rest of the world away.