107 Tasting Notes

drank Organic Chai by Tazo
107 tasting notes

Wow, didn’t realize this site would create an “empty” log for me if I even clicked on the log link. Well then.

So this is the second Tazo tea I’ve tried at school after the Darjeeling. I finished off the Yunnan I brought from home this morning (turns out my work travel mug does only a minimalist job at keeping liquids hot…or contained in the mug), and wasn’t in the mood for the flavoured black in my backpack, so I went to Starbucks again. I decided on this one because I’ve always been a fan of chai masala, so I figured this one was an even safer bet than the Darjeeling.

(While I was in line, I noticed that SBUX apparently sells a white Tazo tea. SBUX and white tea, really? What a predictable disaster.)

I have to say, first of all, that this one smells absolutely wonderful. It may be that my nose isn’t especially sophisticated, but it smells like what I know to be chai masala. I can pick out the cinnamon and cloves, the anise, a bit of cardamon if I concentrate…very nice. Warm and comforting.

The taste, initially, left a lot to be desired. The spices were fairly strong but indistinct, and the tea base was far too weak, resulting in that rather distinctive bad-chai “toasted water” taste. Yuck. And on top of that, it was quite astringent (do I detect a pattern with Tazo?) which left me with the overall impression of drinking unbuttered toast dipped in black pepper…not quite as awful as I’ve made it sound, but certainly not very pleasant, either. I had to think that I liked the Darjeeling better!

About half-way though the cup, however, I added a bit more raw sugar, and this somehow transformed it. It seemed to bring out the spices in a more balanced way, and the prominent notes became the cinnamon and cloves rather than pepper and toast. Much nicer, which resulted in my mentally bumping up the rating by 10. I still think the base is too weak, though.

Not bad, certainly drinkable if you have enough sugar on hand. I pretty much no longer take tea with milk, but I can see milk mellowing this one into something very pleasant for a quick cup.

(I will have to fix steep time/temperature later, because Steepster apparently hates my aunt’s laptop touchpad mouse, but it’s probably around 82 degrees…and this time I actually saw when the bag hit the water, so 3 and a half minutes.)

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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drank Organic Darjeeling by Tazo
107 tasting notes

Having this one at school right now, as I’m too lazy and too busy to make my own tea, and what the heck, it’s less than two bucks. Also, my digestive system was protesting the sudden re-introduction of grape pop into my regular diet, and I figured I’d be better off stashing the rest of the bottle in the fridge when I get home tonight and drinking some tea instead… So I’m guessing a bit about the steep time and water temperature, and I added a fair bit of honey in anticipation/dread that this wouldn’t be drinkable (much like my experiences with Mighty Leaf here).

Well, it’s drinkable. It’s not bad, actually. The only solid impression I get is that it’s a bit astringent. Other than that…a “black tea” taste, maybe slightly nutty. It steeps up much darker than the Tazo site claims it should, which somehow doesn’t surprise me.

Meh. There’s nothing objectionable about it, and I would drink it again. Perhaps I would even pick up bags of this for a trip or something. It’s not bad at all. It’s just very meh. I think I might even try the other Tazo teas over the semester, since I’m stuck here away from home and all my bags of tea – the only tragic part of being at school again.

Edit: I feel like I should add that after a few sips of this, I got up and ran to grab some Old-Fashioned Glazed from Timmies. I think that pretty much sums this one up…not good enough to get much enjoyment out of it on its own, but certainly good enough to warrant donuts on the side.

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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drank Orange Blossom by DAVIDsTEA
107 tasting notes

For all the people who’ve had this one hot and wondered if it would taste even more orange creamsicle-y cold: yes, yes it does.

Cold brew this one with a TON of sugar (I used white) and ample amounts of milk (I actually made the cup one-third milk and two-thirds tea) and voila. It’s lacking just a bit of that artificial sugar-sweet orange taste, but otherwise…orange creamsicle in a cup.

Iced 8 min or more

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…Oh dear GOD, the smell.

A friend of mine who works at Teaopia recommended this one to me. And after reading about it, I was quite excited to try it. I love smoked meats and cheeses, and so thought – hey, why not smoky tea? Sounds intriguing.

When I stopped by the store to pick it up, I asked an associate if I could smell it first. Whoa. I have been told that I have quite a sensitive nose (finding scents overpowering from across the room that others standing over the source could barely detect), and the scent of this one nearly put me on the floor. I was honestly expecting the smoke in the scent to be more subtle, but this is like standing over the smoking ashes of a wood fire…in an enclosed space. I recoiled, and the associate said, “Yeah, it’s pretty strong,” and immediately put it back on the shelf without a further word from me. I had to tell him that, no, I would take it!

Perhaps that was a mistake. When I steeped this, I could barely breathe through the awful reek of smoke. I questioned the idea that I’ve ever liked smoky foodstuffs in the first place. It smells like my house burned down and there were no survivors!

Now, the taste…it’s honestly hard to evaluate the taste of something that is so overshadowed by its own scent. It tastes like smoke of course, warm like winters in the ski lodge. My first impression of it was, “delightful!” and I only wish it had stayed that way, but the smoke taste was so much stronger than I would have preferred. A few sips seemed to scratch my throat much like, well, breathing in smoke would. But the next sip would be incredibly smooth, so I never knew quite what to expect. At certain points I started coughing – I’m not sure whether it was the aroma or the tea itself, but something was setting off my asthma slightly (something I foolishly never considered, even after smelling it). Luckily, mine is not too severe, but NOTE – asthmatics beware!

There’s definitely an underlying sweetness to it, and I taste the saltiness that Asiaticfox mentioned as well. I feel like there’s a lot to this tea that I’d like to explore in further cups, but the smell keeps making my head spin and scattering my ability to focus on the taste. It smells like a forest fire devastated Banff, and wounded deer are limping from the smoldering ashes! I think I can smell their burnt fur and flesh now. God, stomach-churning, and now I also have a headache. Oh, and my eyes sting.

So I just don’t know what to do with this tea. I have 50g left (minus one cup). Continue to try to drink it in the hopes I acquire a taste for it? A shorter steep, perhaps? Use it for cooking? Throw it out? Donate to charity? Does Teaopia have a return policy for tea? I’m going to have to go drink something as far from this as possible…like a flavoured rooibos, maybe. This may very well have ended the obsessive “straight black” kick I’ve been on recently.

And to think I was so snobbily convinced I’d like a tea with such a strong taste note to it. I feel like a boob, really.

But dear GOD, the smell…

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec

There are a few people who say they like to use it like a dry rub when they cook their meat. I’ve never tried it myself, but it is an idea if you still don’t want to throw it out and really don’t want to drink it.

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180 °F / 82 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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drank Pina Colada by Teaopia
107 tasting notes

Odd that this should be the first tea I review, because I haven’t had it in ages…

Let me start by saying that I’ve had phenomenally bad luck with iced teas. Either that, or iced tea is awful, and everyone who’s ever liked it is crazy. Which I’m perfectly willing to believe, because the only iced “tea” I’ve ever liked has been that stuff where you scoop the mix out of the container and add cold water.

I’ve tried icing teas at home, and every time I’ve attempted it, they were simply awful – bitter (suggesting I’d steeped them too long before icing) and strangely tasteless (suggesting I hadn’t steeped them long enough). Puzzling. I have been using Teaopia’s suggestion to steep “twice as strong” before icing, and to add sweetener before steeping, and still, they have come out weak and tasteless.

Believing this all to be my own error, I tried tea-to-go iced from the store. Wow. Bitter, tasteless and AWFUL! Blech! Who drinks this stuff?! Tea was clearly meant to be hot only!

Still, after listening to people continue to rave about how some teas are better iced, I’ve been feeling as though I’m missing something. So I decided tonight to try to ice this one. Since it is a fruit tea, I could hardly worry much about over-steeping…although I actually only steeped it for about 4 minutes because I got bored waiting for it. I used about 3 teaspoons, boiled the water just beforehand (which mean 85 degree water where I live) and made sure to add a ton of honey. Then, when I’d removed the infuser, I stuck it in the fridge to cool rather than icing it.

And maybe that’s the trick? Because when I pulled it out and tried it, it was actually, well, GOOD. The pineapple and coconut aren’t as distinct with the tea cold as they are warm, but that may be because I think I added too much honey (anticipating bitterness). That being the case, it’s quite difficult for me to give a fair review of the flavour, although I vaguely recall from drinking it months ago that the fruitiness of it was very strong in it hot. Perhaps I will write another review of it hot (my usual preference) shortly, so that I have an actual review of the tea up, rather than a review of the process of preparing it.

It was actually quite like drinking fruit juice, albeit with an underlying flavour to it that betrays it as a steeped drink and not juice – although once I realized that, I had the stunned realization that it had taken me an hour to make something that tastes like some sort of fruit juice, which I’d had to leave in the fridge beside the giant container of, um, fruit juice. Whoops. Seems a bit silly now. BUT, I may have hit upon a better way to make iced tea (leave it in the fridge to cool rather than icing it), so I may actually have to try to ice more teas in the future.

Iced 4 min, 0 sec

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I’ve always been a tea drinker – I grew up drinking Tetley’s Orange Pekoe and their Chai, and considered myself to really like tea.

I’ve been working various retail jobs to put myself through higher education. One day at my store, a customer left a newly purchased bag of loose-leaf behind. We waited for three days for said customer to return, but they (likely not realizing where they had left their bag) did not return to claim the would-be brew. Too bad for them; lucky for me! I claimed the bag, took it home, and awkwardly made my first cup of loose-leaf tea with the only strainer we owned which was small enough.

I haven’t bothered with Tetley since. For the most part (and due to convenience), my patronage is limited to David’s Tea and Teavana. I also order from 52teas and Verdant Tea.

My rating system – hah, I don’t have a rating system. I rate teas a lot like Ebert rates movies. Everything’s relative.

I may often forget to mention it, but you can safely assume everything I drink is sweetened in one way or another – most rock sugar, or honey for green and white teas. I have not yet achieved drinking most tea clear. The few teas I drink unsweetened include milk oolong and genmaicha so far.

The guy in my avatar can be bought at Teaopia or here: http://www.jas-etea.com/products/Jingdezhen-%22Easy%22-Gaiwan-%22Blue-on-White-Phoenix%22-100ml.html

I currently work for Teavana. But I just work there, and my opinions about any of their teas are entirely my own and not meant to be reflective of the views of the company.

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