Samovar Tea LoungeEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
If you told me five years ago that I’d intentionally buy something called Hibiscus Bliss, I would have said you were living in an alternate reality.
I am not sure exactly when I turned the corner on hibiscus. I used to think it was evil, and made everything it touched intolerably bitter. But somewhere along the line, I think during a very hot summer day when I desperately wanted something cold and flavored and happened to be in a Starbucks, I ordered whatever they had without caffeine that was iced, and it was a hibiscus drink. At that moment, I got religion.
Most of the time hibiscus doesn’t bother me now, and sometimes I even crave it. My taste buds have adapted, or changed, or something so that now the bitterness (if present) just tastes earthy, like a root vegetable.
This smells generically fruity in the bag. A little like grape, a little like cherry. There’s the characteristic hibiscus aroma, too. I can see the lemongrass, but I don’t really smell it.
After steeping, this is a dark, wine red and quite pretty. Steeped, it smells pretty much like it smelled unsteeped.
Flavor wise, it has a lot in common with other tropical blends that have hibiscus in them. I’m reminded of Tazo Passion and Teavana Caribbean Breeze both of which I like quite a bit, but both of which pale in comparison to the amazing complexity of this.
The hibiscus in this is not at all bitter. It may be that the pineapple and natural sweetness of the rooibos is counteracting any tendency in that direction. The flavor has a creamy vanilla overtone that is likely from the rooibos and otherwise has a gentle warm fruit punch aspect.
Somehow the master blenders at Samovar have managed to make something with lemongrass and licorice root not taste like either, but be reminiscent of both. Samovar’s blends always taste to me as though they’re made with very high quality ingredients, and this one is no exception.
A really awesome rooibos I will definitely restock as long as they make it available.
ETA: The licorice root comes out as the tea cools and then I start to like this less. Note to self: drink while hot. Cool, I’d give this more like an 85.
Flavors: Cherry, Citrus, Fruit Punch, Grapes, Hibiscus, Pineapple, Vanilla
The best straight chamomile I ever had was Samovar’s back when they offered a straight chamomile. Everything else I’ve had, even the good ones, haven’t matched theirs.
What made it so good? For me, it was the creamy texture and the sweetness, that made the flowers seem fresh. I’ve had way too many chamomiles that taste sour, and the drink tastes like a bunch of old potpourri flowers accidentally fell into hot water.
So I was pretty excited to give this a try.
In the packet, I smell mostly spearmint and a hint of citrus. There’s the slightest, creamy smell that I hope is the chamomile.
The steeped tea looks just like its picture, and it has a wonderful minty/lemony smell that is intermingled with a sweet chamomile, green apple-like aroma.
Its a very nice rendition of chamomile with just enough going on to keep it me from dwelling on the chamomile aspect. It’s all the good things I remember about their straight chamomile, but with added interest that makes it a very relaxing option.
I kind of like it better than Yellow and Blue, and I liked that better than the straight chamomile.
Flavors: Green Apple, Lemon, Spearmint
Mostly what I smell upon opening the bag is mint. Very, very strong peppermint. If there is sage, spearmint, and lavender in there, I can’t smell it.
This herbal is a deep golden color, verging on rose gold and is clear. The aroma is minty, but also somewhat earthy which is the sage, I think. In the flavor, the sage is there around the edges, too — not overly strong, which is good because it would have been too savory for me.
I am puzzled as to why this is named spearmint sage instead of peppermint sage, though. I taste more peppermint than spearmint, though the aftertaste is more spearmint.
Like virtually every Samovar blend, this has a lot of complexity, but doesn’t come across as busy. It’s definitely got more and better flavor than many mint blends I have had. The mint isn’t too herby, and it isn’t fake tasting — the other ingredients keep it from being that way.
This also has a very refreshing coolness in the mouth that Samovar describes as menthol. I’d say the feel is menthol, but I don’t get the medicinal Vapor Rub-ness I get from methol, which is pretty remarkable.
I’d definitely keep this around for as long as they blend it. It’s the best mint I’ve had since Refresh, and while I adore Refresh, you can definitely taste the quality in this. Refresh makes an excellent every day choice, but this is something special.
Flavors: Earth, Peppermint, Sage, Spearmint
Sipdown no. 4 of 2021 (no. 624 total). Backlog from yesterday.
And it’s gone! The BF had asked about it, and I had enough for two cups left, so I made him some.
He really liked it. He described it as “sweet, but spicy.” Yeah, I guess it is that. And to be honest, it sort of grew on me. Enough that I’m bumping the rating some.
I had thought this was the sort of thing I’d only drink if I needed it as medicine, but I think I was being unfair. Particularly since last night I moved on to the Paris Herbal from Harney which I inexplicably rated a 78. Bumping that one down.
Maybe my tastes changed? Or maybe I remembered the Paris as having more oomph. But it was heavy, heavy on the rooibos last night.
I went back to this last night because for two nights in a row, I cooked with turmeric and it seemed (whether this was placebo effect or not, hard to say) to really make my knees feel better.
One of the side effects of the pandemic and associated shutdowns is that I’ve discovered I don’t hate cooking. I actually like it, as long as I have all the ingredients I need. Not having the ingredients stresses me, as does going to the grocery store. Long story, but as an only child I spent a lot of time in grocery stores alone while my parents did the weekly shopping. I would go to the toy aisle (they had those back then) or the pet aisle and pretend I had a dog, and make a mental list of all the things I’d get for the dog. I never got a dog, but in an ironic twist, we just put down a deposit on a basenji puppy!
As an aside, having the ingredients makes me think of one of my recent Netflix love affairs, Midnight Diner. Really lovely little series.
Anyway, I hate the grocery store. I was pretty excited back in the 90s when Web Van came along, and I thought it was a gamechanger, but like a lot of tech startups it failed and nothing really came along to replace it until Instacart. Which is my new best friend. Yesterday I had them deliver a can of coconut milk, a can of tomato sauce, some cilantro, and a tin of baking cocoa (not for the recipe below, for no. 2’s mug cake obsession). It doesn’t get better than that.
Which allowed me to make this:
The day before, I made this:
So right. Turmeric overload. I love Skinnytaste in case it isn’t obvious — really tasty recipes that aren’t highly caloric but are filling. The only thing I love more is Home Chef, which I credit for my new found love of cooking — thanks, Home Chef, for measuring everything for me and packinging up all I need, with clear, easy to follow instructions. And for not being delivery flakes and having recipes that taste healthy and nothing else, like Sunbasket, or that taste great but all taste the same, like Blue Apron. OK, that last comment might be unfair because my son was the one who picked the recipes for Blue Apron — he wanted to learn how to cook, but every recipe he picked was Chinese or Thai and after a while I associated Blue Apron with the flavor of soy sauce. End digression.
Start another digression. What is so hard about pronouncing turmeric? TUR-MER-ic. There’s a commercial that drives me nuts by pronouncing it tu-MER-ic. No R, accent on the second syllable. What?
In any case, I thought I would continue in the turmeric vein. My knees feel a lot bettter, but I still don’t love the taste of this blend, which given my love for all things Samovar pains me to admit. It’s not terribly flavorful except for a licorice note that sort of masquerades as mint. The citrus isn’t overly noticeable with age or luck of the spoon, but the turmeric is, and on its own, it’s not my favorite flavor. I feel the same way about cumin. It’s good with other things, but on its own, not so much.
The combination of a long weekend and a respite from the summer heat (it may be turning to fall, not that we really have fall — but we do have a cooler wind) made me excited to do some serious tea drinking this weekend. I could have waited until tomorrow to start, but I figured there was no time like the present.
When I started exercising regularly again, I initially tried to spice up my Peloton workouts with runs because that’s really my favorite form of exercise. But alas, my knees, and even my hips, have not weathered the aging process well, and I was pretty regularly finding myself too much in pain to run. Given that, I started taking a few supplements that are supposed to be good for reducing inflammation in the joints. One of those is turmeric.
Initially, I thought I saw a pretty significant improvement, though I’m not sure whether that’s attributable to the turmeric, the SAM-E, the fish oil, or a combination of all of them. I started taking a brand with peperine in it to help with absorption, but then I decided to try another preparation. Honestly, I think the peperine worked better so I’m probably going to go back to that.
But in any case, since I had turmeric on the brain when I did my last mega order of herbals, I decided to try this. The dry mix looks a little like a spice medley meant to use for cooking. I can see the lemongrass and orange peel. It’s all a rather orange/yellow/beige/khaki color scheme that’s attractive in its own right.
It steeps to a pretty intense golden yellow/orange color (just like the picture) that’s opaque. It smells a little like orange flavored dirt.
Fortunately, it doesn’t taste like dirt. But it’s not what I expected. I expected it to taste a little like Indian food spices, but that is not what I am getting. The licorice is fairly prominent, as is the citrus, with ginger in there somewhere. It’s an interesting flavor but not really something I’d drink for non-medicinal purposes. However, I would drink it for medicinal purposes without complaint.
And it could be so much worse in the hands of a lesser tea blender. I give it a solid 70.
I made this by the book except for the water temperature. I used 206F water because that’s what I had handy in the Zojirushi.
Flavors: Ginger, Lemon, Licorice, Orange
Going through my tea backlog and reviewing stuff I’ve drunk since I had neglected Steepster for several months…
I was in San Francisco for one night only and I had dinner and tea with some friends at Samovar Tea Lounge, which was an adorable little cafe where we had the option of sitting on pillows at low tables or in chairs at a regular table. We opted for chairs though in hindsight, I would have loved to have sat on pillows. But then we would have had to share a table with others.
It was late so I didn’t want anything with caffeine. Most of the other herbal teas had ginger in them, which I try and avoid since I don’t like it. So cacao mint it was.
I think I would have enjoyed this more if I had the ability to try different steeping times and temperatures. I think the temperature was a bit too hot and/or it was steeped for too long since the mint turned bitter. I had to steal honey from an appetizer to sweeten the tea (no sugar provided) to try and cut the bitterness and bring out the other flavors.
This tea tastes thick to me, like it’s not flavored water anymore. If you look beyond that, it tastes pretty good. It tastes yellow, even though it’s not. It smells much more citrusy than it is. I did a series of very short steepings, probably thirty seconds or less.
Flavors: Citrus, Orange, Orange Zest
This is one of three teas I take something with: I put in about a teaspoon of strawberry jam. On its own, the smoky flavor is really overpowering. I’m the only one in my family who drinks it because they all complain that it smells awful. It doesn’t smell particularly fabulous, but it tastes good. I also let it steep for more than ten minutes, and it doesn’t turn bitter. I just sort of get it when I think about it.
I received this tea from MissB’s tea sale back in January. Thank you!
I had a bunch of this back when I received it, but it looks like I didn’t write a note. Tonight I believe I over leafed or over steeped. It was a bit on the sour side. I get a bit of cacao, mint and then a bit of lavender. Some nights I enjoy this tea, other nights it just doesn’t sit right. I am glad to have experienced this combination, but I am not sure I would consider buying again.
Drank this the other night, the lavender tasted peppery to me. I enjoyed it, it was definitely different, but I reached the conclusion that I would have liked it way more if it was just cacao mint. Which is why I plan to buy that flavor from Herbal Infusions at some point to try.
I’m not big on spicy/peppery teas, and for whatever reason the lavender overwhelmed my tastebuds to that extent.
So, nice to try, that’s it, goodbye!
Thanks for the sample, OMGsrsly! :)
I went to Samovar Tea Lounge at Yerba Buena Gardens today with Casey. It was really a great place, but I guess I will save my review of this venue for that other part of Steepster.
Casey ordered this tea. It was really nice. I think the redwood forest description was pretty accurate, but Casey said it was a stretch, and he grew up literally in a redwood forest. The earthy/mossy flavors blended nicely with the citrus blood orange, grapefruit, and ginger flavors. The only problem with this tea that was by the end of the pot, the citrus rinds had contributed an overwhelming amount of flavor. Overall, I was really impressed. I’m not usually that fond of the puerh and citrus combination.
Flavors: Earth, Orange Zest, Peat Moss
The only mint tea in my cupboard is now, sadly, gone.
I really really liked this one when I was in the mood for mint and didn’t have to worry about minting up my apartment (BFF is seriously allergic).
The mint, the lavender, the deliciousness. Mmm…
Perfect night time treat.
(Eee!!! 201! I’m almost below 200 teas!)
IDK why I love this tea so much, but I do. Even with the mint. It’s just SOOOO good. And lavender-y. :D
Sipping on it plain today, since I want the last of my milk for my morning tea. I’ve also baked a bajillion cookies tonight in preparation for decorating them like eyeballs for Halloween, and not having sugar in this tea is a nice accompaniment to the cookies that weren’t quite perfect. Yes, that’s right. They weren’t perfect and also I needed to test them. Yup.
Anyways, if you like mint and chocolate and don’t mind lavender, definitely check this one out. It’s expensive, and hard for me to get, and also my BFF is hideously allergic to it, so I won’t be getting more. But you should! :)
This is SO GOOD. Thank you, MissB!
It’s helping my breathing because of the mint, and the flavour is just divine. Especially with some honey.
This might be the only mint tea I ever want to keep stocked. It’s not the best for my tummy (mint makes me nauseous), but right now it’s amazing.
Flavors: Chocolate, Flowers
Hot damn. I love this.
That is something I never thought I’d say about a mint tea.
But this is superb.
I get mint-chocolate, with lavender. It smells in the order of chocolate-lavender-mint, though. The mint is SO fresh. I definitely have different taste buds from MissB, and I do love lavender.