19 Tasting Notes
Well, this sure is lemongrass and ginger! I can taste both the citrusy flavor of the lemongrass and the heat of the ginger, so it certainly delivers what it advertises, although the flavors are not particularly pungent.
I’m drinking this happily enough, but I’m not sure what its niche in my cupboard would be. If I were really looking for just lemon and ginger flavors, I think I’d find it more satisfying to slice a lemon, grate some fresh ginger, and make a tea with fresh ingredients.
I do wonder how this tea would be with a tiny bit of coconut milk added … but my curiosity is not strong enough for me to order more and try it.
I’ve had cream Earl Grey teas before. I’ve had teas with natural creamy notes, like good milk oolongs. But I’ve never had a tea that was just “cream” flavored before!
I’m of two minds about this tea. It smells lovely dry, and some sweet-ish vanilla-y notes come out in the scent while it’s steeping. That makes for a pleasant preparation, but when I actually tasted it, the cream flavor was not a match for the natural bitterness of the black tea itself. It’s not that I don’t like the flavor of black tea, but it was a little jarring that the bitterness was still so pronounced alongside the creamy, sweet scent.
On the other hand, after I added a splash of whole milk, the cup was very pleasant, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But then, I generally prefer teas that don’t need additions to be enjoyable. Hmm! Ponder, ponder, ponder. The jury’s still out on this tea.
I was at work so late today. It wasn’t that I was under a deadline or anything, only that I was so close to being done with a big project, and I had that sense that if I could just push through to the end today, I’d be able to start next week with a clean desk, and isn’t that a better feeling for a Monday morning than starting a new week with the tail end of the last one? Well, success! I got it done, but it was a pretty long day.
I think that’s why I picked this tea sample for tonight, hoping that the chamomile would help me wind down quickly. And I have to say, it’s working! But I’m not sure if that’s from the chamomile or just from the pleasure of really enjoying a new tea. This is a good one.
The dry tea smells like York Peppermint Patties, which is weird because I could swear there’s a chocolate note in there even though there’s nothing like chocolate in the blend. It’s an enticing scent, though, for someone like me with an incorrigible sweet tooth at night.
Once the tea is brewing, that sweet note starts to smell more like the vanilla in the blend, and the floral-herbal scent of the chamomile comes out. That floral flavor is the first one that I taste, followed by the peppermint. The finish is a creamy, cool vanilla. I don’t taste the rooibos distinctly here, but I don’t miss it.
I’m into it! This is in the running for a proper order. I’d put it in the same category of tea as David’s Tea’s Valerian Nights, not because the flavors are the same, but as a sweet, desserty chamomile blend. And I loved me some Valerian Nights back in my pre-hiatus days.
For about the last year and until I joined Steepster a couple weeks ago, I’ve been on a tea hiatus. I took my tea supply down to almost nothing — by which I mean, I had one black tea, one oolong, and a couple of herbals in my cupboard … and that’s all. My goal was always to come back to tea-drinking but to be more intentional about it and enjoy it more by starting with a clean slate.
Well, the slate is clean! Now comes the fun part! I call it “Operation Build My Cupboard”: order a couple samplers from a given supplier, sip my way through them, and pick the best few to reorder. The goal is to create a collection of teas that’s limited to the ones that I most enjoy. I’ve started with Adagio because their samplers are single-serving and affordable. Forty-three samples came in the mail today. I’ll let myself reorder a maximum of five, the best of the bunch. Wish me luck!
Okay, so here’s the first note: Berry Blast. (Terrible name! It sounds like a sports drink.) This tea smells impressive while steeping. It’s jammy and sweet, but with a slight tang in the background: it smells like when you’re making a blueberry pie and you’re cooking down the filling and you’ve just added the lemon juice. Mouth-watering!
The flavor is a little different and, unfortunately, not quite as satisfying. The tartness overpowers the berry flavors, which are more on the order of a diluted juice than a thick jam. Of the berry flavor that does come through, I taste more blackberry than blueberry, which surprises me given that there were so many blueberries in my one-teaspoon sample! I was hoping the flavors might balance out as the cup cooled, but they didn’t. The hibiscus just became more pronounced.
I enjoyed this cup, but I wasn’t in love with it. Probably not a contender for re-ordering. On to the next cup!
It’s not every time I make tea that I really let myself enjoy the sensory experience of it. When you drink several cups a day, even of teas that you love, it can start to get a little mechanical, you know? Steep, strain, drink, repeat. But I guess I was in a more leisurely frame of mind this evening, because this tea was such a beautiful experience.
What says “get cozy” like that mellow, reddish-brown liquor? It helps that this tea smells just like fresh apple cake. I was pleasantly surprised that it’s not overly sweet beyond the natural sweetness of the rooibos, and the flavors succeed each other beautifully: cinnamon up front, apple sweetness and slight tartness in the middle, and then the earthy rooibos flavor lingers slightly. I enjoyed every sip of this and only wish I’d brewed it a little stronger. Just beautiful.
I like to believe that there’s a way to make every tea into something you can enjoy, no matter how unimpressed you are when you steep it as directed. Maybe that’s just because I can’t bear to throw away tea when I know that I’ve spent (mumbles) on the collection.
Anyway, I couldn’t get this to a point where I was enjoying it steeped in a mug, so I made the rest of the bags into a concentrated chai syrup with a little sugar. Delicious chai latte this morning! The dominant flavors are still cinnamon and clove, but the ginger did come through a little more clearly, and the milk helps balance those strong spice flavors.
Okay, hear me out: this tea plus pineapple-flavored sparkling water over ice.
I steeped two bags in half a cup of water, then added it to large glass mug with a big handful of ice cubes and most of the can of sparkling water. It was fa-bu-lous. The pineapple flavor from the sparking water rounds out the tart finish of the tea itself by adding a little extra sweetness.
I know a lot of tea enthusiasts aren’t crazy about the hibiscus that’s in so many tart blends. If that’s you and you have some of this tea kicking around… I’m serious: pineapple sparkling water.
Resteeping is a fairly new concept to me. Until I started reading tasting notes here a couple years ago, I thought that tea leaves were all single-use, and the idea that I could add more hot water and keep drinking honestly blew my mind. So just imagine how I felt when I started finding teas that I actually like better on the second or third steep!
This is one of them, and actually I found the first steep undrinkable. It was so strong and tannic that I poured half of the cup down the sink. I have almost a whole ounce of the tea left, though, and I hate waste, so I had to give it another try.
The second steep was much mellower and more enjoyable. The flavor is mostly of the black tea itself. The apricot is there in the background, and it’s decidedly a dried apricot flavor rather than a juicy, fresh apricot — luckily, I like both flavors. Although the scent of the dry blend has a noticeable boozy note, the brandy flavor doesn’t come through in the brewed tea. I can’t say this tea lives up to its name as an apricot brandy blend, but it’s perfectly enjoyable as a nice black tea, at least after the first steep.
I’m not much of a black tea lover, so most chais are all about the spices for me. And a good chai is such a treat, but this one isn’t quite there. I’ve tried it several ways (different number of tea bags, different amount of water, various temperatures, milk and no milk) but I just can’t seem to draw out more than clove and cinnamon from this one. There’s also not a lot of heat in the spice blend — maybe a little from the ginger, but I agree with the review that mentioned peppercorns: some black pepper would go a long way in this tea.
I’m a little bummed, because it’s not like I expect Stash to be top-shelf tea, but I do feel that I usually get a solid cup from them. I’m not sure I’ll finish this box. Ah well. Some nights were just meant for hot chocolate instead, right?
This tea takes you places. There I was in my office, working away at my computer with a mug of this tea at my elbow. Then it was like I was sitting around a campfire, smelling smoke and sipping whiskey. This may not be my favorite tea ever, but I think I’m more impressed by it than any other tea I can remember.
Dry, it has a very pungent smoky scent with a hint of bourbon in the background. Brewed, the smoke is subtler, although still the dominant flavor. I slightly oversteeped my sachet, but the tea was forgiving and did not become more bitter or astringent than the bourbon and vanilla flavors could handle. There’s a slight mustiness to the flavor, but in a pleasant way, like the damp smell you get in the woods when it’s recently rained, and the sweetness from the bourbon flavoring comes through like burnt sugar.
If I made this an everyday tea, it would lose its ability to transport me, but I think it would pair well with certain experiences. Maybe I’ll drink it on my front porch one rainy morning. Maybe I’ll take it for a walk in the woods.