Almost Tea

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Sipdown (2307)!

Yesterday was my first day back at work and it was really busy what with all the catch up I had to do. So, I mostly stayed glued to my desk for the day and I honestly took it really easy on the tea that I made myself. I did, however, remember to check and see what was up with this one. Turns out I was totally wrong with what I’d thought while on vacation and there actually still was one more of the sachets in my little teabag cube at my desk. So, I finished it off and now it’s actually a proper sipdown.

Definitely still all almond and no croissant. I do love the almond flavour a lot though! It’s like Alpine Punch, but more stripped down without the addition of stuff like cinnamon, rose, or coconut. Sweet and nutty and pretty enjoyable. Still, I wish they delivered a little more on the croissant part of the blend.

…also, it looks like maybe Almost is shutting down?? They sent out an email about a week ago saying they were merging with their parent company and wouldn’t be doing the monthly boxes/selling on their own site anymore and have put pretty much all of their teas aggressively on sale.

That’s a little surprising and disappointing to me – I thought their subscription box concept was so fun and the box flavours are always really fun and innovative IMO! I guess they just weren’t drawing in the amount of people they wanted or, like me, they had a lot of drop off in subscribers – whether than be for the shipping issues several people (like myself) experienced or for the sometimes tendency to be repetitive in their flavour choices. I did feel like, in the last few months, they’d really done a lot to be less repetitive though.

Less than a year, folks. Less than a year…

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I thought this was a sipdown because, if I remember correctly, I only had a single sachet of this before I packed it to come with me on vacation – but it doesn’t look like I have a prior tasting note for it, and since these boxes come with two that either means I forgot to log a tasting note at some point or I missed seeing the other teabag in my box at work…

I guess I won’t know until Monday when I’m back at work and can check.

Anyway, it was a pretty good cup of tea. I had it with dinner a few nights ago, and it was strong and sweet enough to hold up to the spicy Indian food I was noshing on. Definitely a very sweet and almost Amaretto-like almond note, which I personally love but I do think can be a bit polarizing. Marzipan-ish too. I don’t get croissant at all, but I think that’s because I just expect croissants to be a little more light and airy and a whole lot more buttery. Some type of almond pastry though, sure. I can see that.

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Had this one last night and it was fine but I definitely thought it was a little bit disappointing for the namesake. It tasted like cinnamon and white chocolate which makes sense since that’s what’s in the ingredient list. However, cinnamon and white chocolate are not exactly synonymous with French Toast so, while it was nice tasting, it just didn’t really meet my expectations for the blend. Where was the custard-y brioche type notes? The maple syrup?

Idk – I have one more bag of this at home that could change my mind, but I’m gonna guess that in the grand scheme of things this ends up being pretty forgettable.

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Geek Steep S3E11 – Studio Ghibli: Kiki’s Delivery Service

This is the tea I drank while watching the movie!

Every few episodes of the podcast, we hit a fandom where the content is so rich that you’re just absolutely spoiled for options and directions you can go with pairing and that’s how I felt here. I had nearly a dozen more witchy themed teas in my shortlist of options, but ultimately I went with this one because one of the few things in the movie (I’d actually watched part of this movie years ago) that stood out in my memory was the bakery!

This tea is a chamomile base which, bluntly, I don’t love. Chamomile and I just don’t really get along all that well. However, there’s also a really nice vanilla custard/burnt sugar type note to this blend that captures the egg custard tart inspiration really well. It seemed like a great nod to the bakery in the movie, but the fact it’s a traditional Asian baked good just also felt like the perfect nod to the studio itself and all of the different Asian references/themes that are always folded into each Ghibli story.

Plus, as we say in the episode, this is very much a lighthearted and whimsical movie that really screams “curl up with a giant blanket late at night for cozy feels” and that’s pretty on point with chamomile.

I definitely felt like I knocked this pairing out of the park, even if I didn’t love the tea itself.

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Definitely not the best Almost blend I’ve tried, especially from this mini collection, but I did find myself pleasantly surprised given how skeptical I was.

There’s just an overall light alcohol/boozy quality to the cup from the flavour, but it’s not terribly intense. Certainly not as bad as I’ve found many of the Almost blends have been. It does taste like brown sugar, but just slightly thin – both in taste and body. To be fair, though, when I saw this was a green tea base I knew the body would be lighter and I think this is an impressively rich blend given that it’s pretty much just green tea and flavouring. Plus, I’ve had steamed brown sugar cake and it’s actually not as rich as you might except it to be. More like a sweet bread than, like, something drenched in a brown sugar syrup or with some kind of streusel topping. I did like that it almost had a coating sensation on the palate because that felt very akin to, say, the brown sugar syrup used in a bubble tea…

I guess we’ll see if the second cup pushes me further into the “yay” or “nay” camp as right now I feel pretty smack dab in the middle.

Dustin

Did you get the subscription for this month yet? They sent me a repeat, which was weird and last I checked they weren’t promoting a new set of teas.

Roswell Strange

I did, it was the Brownie Points box… again. It’s actually the fourth time I’ve gotten it now since they’ve incorrectly shipped it to me a few times prior to this. I saw that there didn’t seem to be a box it should have been instead though, so I can’t help but feel like they’re going to loop the themes now… :/

I actually cancelled my subscription this month though – the teas have been so fun to taste through and the themes/inspos are on point but the amount of shipping issues I’ve had (delays, repeated boxes, etc) has been a nightmare to try and resolve and I’m just kinda tired of trying to do it.

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Had this in the evening after our second Vancouver Day! Definitely a simple blend, but I liked the semi-sweet lemon notes and the fresh, natural taste of the zesty lemongrass. I’ve not really had the “citrus jelly” that the tea is inspired by to compare, but I thought there was a sort of lemon candy meets limoncello type of quality to this blend that was nice albeit simple.

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I continued my tradition of on flight tea by steeping this one up on the plane during my trip to Vancouver. I normally brew these teabags in about 10-12 oz of water, but what I was served on the plane could have only been about 8 oz max. So, stronger than usual. Still, I didn’t feel like it created a less desirable cup by being overly potent. It had a slight film to the surface from, surely, melted chocolate but the deep dark chocolate and zesty orange notes were pleasant and a nice delight after being several hours into my flight. I didn’t get “scone” from this at all but as a chocolate orange it was solid IMO!

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I found myself really pleasantly surprised by this one! The mango note was very fresh and ripe with a beautifully soft, creamy finish and almost a hint of coconut? Definitely super refreshing, and given that Almost seems to have this weird penchant for over flavouring their fruit blends (to the point where they taste a bit alcoholic) I thought it was a refreshing change of pace that I wasn’t experiencing this quality. Almost a mango lassi vibe, in fact! Though maybe not quite that thick or creamy.

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In my personal opinion this is the coolest flavour that Almost has released yet!

For those who don’t know I’ve wanted to make a black sesame tea blend for years now, but just because I want something to exist doesn’t mean I get to make it – so thank you Almost for making one of my dream flavours a reality. It’s also the only “black sesame” flavoured tea I’ve ever seen that actually has black sesame in it, so that’s very cool as well.

Obviously there was a lot of pressure on this tea to live up to years of my own self imposed hype. So, does it? I feel like it’s close, but ultimately I thought this was a very weak and watery tasting infusion. The rich and nutty notes of black sesame and creamy peanut butter (from the added “drops”) were there, but just not impactful enough. It needs to be at least twice as strong in my opinion.

Something I didn’t anticipate, though, was the colour it would steep! I was drinking this in a very pale grey mug, but it really appeared like it had genuinely steeped black which was so cool to look at! When I make the last bag of this I’m going to try and remember to steep it in glass so I can see the unadulterated liquor colour.

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I have never had a hawthorn berry before. This is the first time I’ve even heard of them. This tea could taste like a totally different fruit and I wouldn’t know the difference, so I have to take them on their word about this flavor. It almost seemed cranberry like for a second, but it doesn’t have the puckering tartness and has a sweeter way about it. There is a very airy perfume like taste in the sip. It’s bright and enjoyable on green rooibos. It’s interesting, but I’m not super taken by the flavors. Little bit of rooibos dry mouth after each sip. Overall it’s a fun quick experience of a new flavor for me.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec
AJRimmer

They sell dried hawthorn fruit roll-up type things at Asian groceries. My sister brought me some back from China, and I’ve been buying them for myself ever since. That’s the only format I’ve had hawthorn in, but it’s delicious!

Dustin

I’ll have to keep an eye out! I frequent Asian groceries stores.

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This month’s Almost theme, which is all Taiwanese treats, is probably my favourite one yet in terms of concept – we’ll see where they land with flavour, though…

I’ve only had Candied Hawthorn Berries once – at my friend Helen’s house. She’s Chinese and Hawthorn in general is one of her favourite childhood snacks; Hawthorn jams, cakes, pastries and – yes – the candied berries on a stick too. I actually thought they were really good! Sweet, for sure, but no more than a candy apple and the crack of the glossy candy shell was so satisfying. And much like a candy apple, Hawthorn has this interesting taste that rides the balance between sweet and tart quite well though it’s definitely a more dense and bordering a jammy kind of flavour despite any tartness.

So does this tea approximate the real thing well? Kinddaaaa. I guess it’s about as accurate as I thought it would be, to be fair. So expectations were met but also weren’t the highest in the first place? It definitely tastes very fruity with a distinct red fruit note that has some brightness to it. Relatively sweet, but not enough to be upsetting. Mostly I think the brightness is actually the more crisp and lively apple that’s in the blend than the hawthorn or any of the flavourings used. It’s a smidge boozy tasting from the quantity of flavouring used (I could see it swirling in my cup as the sachet steeped) and just how fresh it is. I can see it as Candied Hawthorn, but it’s a bit of a stretch and I think also generic enough that it could probably just as easily be described as a great number of other profiles – maybe even Candy Apple among them.

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Buttery blackberry pancakes you say? I don’t get the butter or pancake part. What I do get is a chocolate berry flavor that is less than exciting. I don’t think this is even quite blackberry. It reminds me more of raspberry chocolate teas. There may be a hint of syrup long into the finish. The tea it’s self was more finely ground than any other tea I’ve seen, almost a powder in the bag. It’s not horrible, but it’s far from interesting.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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drank Strawberries & Cream by Almost Tea
1638 tasting notes

I’ve had several great green strawberry teas that were bright and full of flavor. Kusmi and Lupicia both come to mind. This was not one of them. I kept searching for the fruit and just got the ghost of it instead. I do get a little bit of cream, but it isn’t interesting without the strawberry there. The instructions do say to steep this in almost boiling water, which I just can’t bring myself to do to a green, so maybe it is user error. I did steep it for 3 minutes like the instructions say. Still, hard pass on this one for me.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Kaylee

yeah I’m also always skeptical of instructions that want me to boil a green tea (other than hojicha)!

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This smells really fruity when I open the bag. Like artificial fruit, just like breakfast cereal. I expected it to be sickly sweet, but it’s actually a fairly nice fruity flavor. It has an underlying citrus flavor that brightens each sip. I can’t pick out any of the other flavors individually because they all merge into a fruit loops flavor. This looses a little magic as it cools, so drinking it hot is best IMO, but I do wonder how this would be cold steeped. This tea is fun and I kinda like it!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Shae

I’ve been curious about this company since I first heard about them. I really like their packaging here!

Dustin

Their teas have been very miss, miss, hit for me. It’s been fun having a few new teas arrive each month tho. Last time I checked they weren’t offering the 12 teabags a month subscription any more and I don’t know that I’d feel the larger subscription would be worth the cost.

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drank Almond Croissant by Almost Tea
1638 tasting notes

I kinda like this one! It’s a green rooibos, so very little dry mouth feeling or woody taste. I think they really nailed the flavor of almonds on a croissant. Not so much the croissant part, but that particular flavor of almond, which is almost extract tasting. It doesn’t have too much depth to it, more middle and high notes in the flavors, but it’s tasty anyways. It reminds me of a David’s tea I had long ago that was on an unusual woodchip like base and had a very strong almond taste. I’m enjoying this cup and would happily drink another, but isn’t something I’d buy and stock.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
gmathis

Where has green rooibos been hiding all these years? One of my favorite ingredients of late.

Roswell Strange

For a long, long while there was a major drought impacting the rooibos productions in South Africa. Since green rooibos is (frustratingly) significantly less popular than red rooibos, not a lot of it was produced. It’s a bit like if you owned a cupcake shop but were short on baking supplies; you probably wouldn’t use the supplies you did have to make a less popular recipe which wouldn’t sell well. South Africa’s situation is a bit better now though, so we’re starting to see more green rooibos again.

gmathis

That makes sense!

Dustin

I’m glad it’s making a comeback because I enjoy it SO much more than the red!

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In the bag this smelled like fresh orange juice. It had that intense juicy scent to it. Once steeped the chocolate scent comes out. It’s a lovely rich scent balanced with the higher notes of the orange and reminds me of Butiki’s Three Friends. A few sips in and I think this might by my favorite Almost tea so far. The orange and chocolate are really well balanced with the puerh base hiding in the background while providing depth. I don’t think scones so much as I think Terry’s chocolate oranges. It gets a little sharper as it cools, but it is still really good. I’d almost consider buying this tea. If the price was lower and they sold it loose leaf I think I’d be in.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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71

I love Cranberry Pear flavoured teas so I’ve been nervous about trying this one. I just feel like the potential for disappointment for me personally is so high…

The dry leaf wasn’t off to a great start as it smelled potently of alcohol. Just such intense and fresh flavourings which clearly hadn’t been given enough time to air out and settle. Steeped up most of that boozier punch did dissipate, thankfully. It was still pretty artificial tasting once infused but I did sort of like it. The pear was almost like the Juicy Pear flavoured Jelly Belly candies but with a floral undertone, and there was a very nice light tartness from the hibiscus. I will say, I definitely got more “red fruit” than cranberry but I liked the duo of generic red fruit with this sweeter pear note.

It does kind of fail at being a baked good inspired blend. Like, there’s just nothing in the cup that reads that way aside from maybe potentially the rooibos base itself but that definitely feels like a stretch. Better cranberry pear blends exist, though…

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This one made my brain hurt a little.

Firstly, I love the name/concept. A few year ago DAVIDsTEA released a Cereal Milk inspired blend, but it was more like Frosted Flakes instead of the Froot Loops/Fruity Pebbles route. I actually think this direction is actually way more on point for the whole cereal milk trend. It’s crazy how much the dry leaf aroma smells like Froot Loops too. Like, it’s dead on in a sort of eerily close way.

I 100% over steeped this which brought out a lot of bitterness and that’s fully on me. Not the fault of the tea at all. Despite the over steeping, there were elements I loved and some that just confused me. For starters, it tastes so much like Froot Loops with that kind of generic and slightly starchy mixed fruit note that ever so slightly tastes citrus-y. Sometimes bergamot tastes like this, and I wouldn’t at all be surprised to learn that one of the flavourings used to create this combination was a bergamot flavouring or oil.

Where Almost loses me is the inclusion of chocolate. I don’t know what their deal is with forcing chocolate into things, but it doesn’t work here. I mean, it really breaks the illusion that the fruitier notes was settling up so, so well. Like, you can 100% taste the undertone of chocolate and it fully just doesn’t work and it’s so out of place for the description/imagery used.

Like, make it make sense Almost! Make it make sense!

Dustin

I didn’t pick up on chocolate. I wonder if it’s included to give it some depth or bass notes?

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Another one that I was actually pretty on board with! It’s light to medium bodied with a pretty distinctly grassy green tea base, but the notes of strawberries and sweet cream are both indulgent and playfully fresh. Somewhere in between a more candy-like strawberry taste and the real deal, with a hint of tartness that alludes to the brightness of a strawberry without the use of hibiscus. There’s a nice floral undertone and I think it kind of helps push the more candy-like elements of the flavour away from that “fake” and cloying zone. If I’m nitpicking, then I feel like the “cream” could have been stronger but ultimately I think this was pretty good for the cost/format it comes in!

So far April’s box (which is breakfast themed) has had the best success rate of any of the month’s themes thus far…

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Sipdown (2312)!

Well, having very recently had some waffles with Saskatoon Berry syrup on them, I can confidently say that my initial impression of this tea as tasting a lot like saskatoon berries was preeettttyyy spot on. Not a lot of butter flavour to be found here, but the berry notes are delicious and pretty striking for a teabag. I think this may be one of my favourite Almost blends, but that it likely the nostalgia of it reminding me of home playing into that…

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Boo to another decaf black tea, but honestly… I kinda liked this one!

Blackberry is a very, very hard flavour to get right but I thought this was pretty solid. Definitely sweet, thick and syrupy in a way that I feel very much fits the evocative imagery on the sachet overwraps. Personally, it reminded me more of the Saskatoon Berry syrup I used to have on pancakes back when I was living in Saskatchewan. I miss that a lot (you can’t get it in Montreal) so it was very nostalgic for me. Flavour level was pretty good overall, and I just thought it was a pretty nice, approachable cuppa.

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I’m so confused. The package says green tea as do the leaves in the bag, but green tea isn’t listed as an ingredient and honeybush is. Proofread fail? The instructions for this tea say to steep at just under boiling for 3 minutes, which is a lot for a green. I did two minutes at 175 and probably should have only done one minute. The sip is flat with a hint of alkaline and the start of the finish is the same. Once that initial taste wears off I’m left with a nice caramel brown sugar like taste that was nowhere in the sip. Sometimes flatness will wear off a few sips in for some teas, but I’m not having that luck with this one. There is also something that leaves my throat feeling almost irritated. It feels a little weird. I’m dumping this cup.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Roswell Strange

Pretty sure all of the ingredients lists for this month’s teas are wrong on the website :/

Dustin

Oh! You are right! This was the only one with ingredients I had looked up before!

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drank Aiyu Citrus Jelly by Almost Tea
1638 tasting notes

Huh. I had a cup of Lupicia’s Natsukoi earlier today and this reminds me a bit of that. It has a lemony taste to it with hints of lemongrass. The sip is a little sharp at the start before it mellows out. The finish is nice with lemon lingering. There is an almost gelatin like taste to it which I’m guessing is supposed to add a jello type jelly flavor. It is a totally acceptable inoffensive tea that I can sip in the evening, but isn’t exciting enough to run out and buy.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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drank Black Sesame Bao by Almost Tea
1638 tasting notes

This was the one black tea in this month’s Almost subscription. It does have a very light black sesame taste, but I have to search for it a little. I let this cup cool, then reheated it and I’m getting a flat alkaline taste. It was better when it was freshly made, but it still wasn’t amazing. In the finish I can imagine a little of the bao bread flavor. I think this is a really interesting idea for a tea, but the execution needs more work. The flavors need to be more rich and present.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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