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Recent Tasting Notes
Last night was pretty epic! I played my first game of Dungeons and Dragons, yeah I think I lost a little of my geek street cred for waiting so long, but not for lack of trying to play, it just never worked out! In my defense I read Dragonlance as a kid and love it, especially Raistlin, hehe. Of course, because it is me, I managed to almost die and blow myself up in my first adventure. It is a theme in RPGs I am involved in, somehow I come up with a crazy idea and manage to either blow myself or something up, either using magic or explosives, and last night I wasn’t even trying! Maybe giving my Druid ‘Produce Flame’ as a cantrip was a bad idea, only time will tell (if I survive that is.)
So, ‘tis time for tea! Today we are taking a look at the Greek Shop Armenos and their tea, South Seas. It does not appear to currently be in their shop, but there is a note saying to contact them if you need anything, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get your hands on it. The little note that came with my sample of it states that it is made with Mango, Hawthorn, Pineapple, Papaya, and Resin, but examining the sample reveals one of my arch-enemies, Hibiscus. Eek. Ok, not true, I am starting to notice that my tolerance for super tart things is going up, I no longer run screaming from it (unless someone was going to just give me a pile of hibiscus) and can usually finish the cup, if it is mild on the tart, think Sweet Tart vs Warheads, not that I like either of those candies. So, the aroma of this pile of fruit and flower bits is not surprisingly, a bit on the tart side and a bit on the tropical fruit side, it is also a bit sour, like citrus and pineapple. You can certainly smell the papaya and pineapple, there is a hint of mango, and of course there is hibiscus.
Time to steep, one thing I will give hibiscus credit for, it steeps beautifully, if you have a glass vessel to steep in, you get to see little tendrils of red drifting down from the petals. The aroma of the now soggy tea stuff is a blend of tart hibiscus, tropical fruit, raisins, and citrus. I think the raisins notes are coming from the hawthorn, I am not sure since it is not something I have had on its own, I need to rectify that. The liquid smells surprisingly sweet, there are notes of tropical fruit, primarily the papaya and mango. There is also notes of raisins and honey, with a finish of metallic tart hibiscus.
Ok, this tea is not as vibrantly red as it could be, I have had hibiscus teas that turn insanely dark red, but this is fairly light, and I am ok with that. The first sip is a tart doozy, that initial tart kick fades pretty quickly to tropical fruit sweetness. I, at this point, set the cup aside to let it cool. I have found that my tolerability for tart things are pretty much zero when the cup is hot, I like it somewhat cool, though not cold. So after cooling the beginning of the sipping experience is still pretty intense, I find myself having a serious ‘tart twitch’ but that ends very quickly and is replaced with a fruity-splosion. It is a blend of cherry, lemon, papaya, mango, and raisins with a really wonderful honey finish that erases all the tartness away. I actually ended up kinda liking this tea and finished the cup (very rare with me and hibiscus, I really think it is starting to grow on me) I am not sure I want more of it, but I would not feel apprehension if someone placed a cup in front of me. That is the problem with me reviewing teas with ingredients I do not like, I can tell you what notes I taste and if the ingredients are of a good quality (seems so to me!) but giving it my seal of approval is harder since I am only just at the ‘I tolerate hibiscus in small quantities’ stage in it growing on me.
Everyone, today is my mom’s birthday! According to the Celtic Tree Calender her birthday gets its own tree…which according to whichever of the many, many, many (sometimes very poorly researched) sources you choose to read, this means she is either ruled by mistletoe, elder, pine, or nothing. I jokingly call this the non-day, that clearly she is a changeling and I am half fairy, anything to make my constant playing of an elf in RPGs plausible. So happy birthday mom! I am glad I am getting to spend it with her this year!
Today’s tea is part of the quest for holiday teas, Armenos’s Christmas Song Tea Blend! This is a rather coloful blend of Rooibos, Apple Pieces, Pineapple Pieces, Cinnamon, Star Anise, Pink Peppercorn, and Hawthorn, two of my favorite ingredients (pink pepper and star anise) and one I confess to never having in tea before (hawthorn) so fun fact, the berries of hawthorns are called haws (I sound immensely Southern while trying to say that word) actually reading about it, hawthorn is used in Chinese tea blends sometimes, so maybe I have had it? Who knows, time for a tea adventure either way. This is a nice spicy tea, for me one of the most ‘Christmasy’ things is a spicy tea, because my mom would always break out the spices for both tea and her simmering potpourri, very much so a comfort thing for me. The aroma is very much so Christmas spices with cinnamon and anise and a very mild bit of pepper. There is also a touch of citrus and fruity and a nice sweet, woody finish (hello Rooibos) to the tea.
Oh I do love this smell! It steeping has set my little tea corner up as a nice spicy, warm, area. It feels like a warm cuddly blanket for the nose. The leaves once they have been steeped still bring about a nice spice to the area, the anise and pepper shine supreme and the cinnamon and apple bring up the rear, it is like a very mild and slightly unusual cider. Note to self, use star anise and pepper in my next mulling spice blend. So, the liquid without the spices, fruits, and such, is very much the holiday Rooibos, you can certainly pick up the caramel and woody notes I always associate with Rooibos, but mix that with a slightly citrus fruitiness (not exactly citrus, you know how pineapple and apple for that matter have a citrus tone to them at times, at least they do for me) and spices and you have a pretty neat smelling blend.
The name of this tea is Christmas Song, now I am trying to figure out which of my favorite songs I can visialize while sipping it…pretty much all of my favorites are tree and snow themed, so, if anyone has any spiced themed songs they want to share with me that would be awesome! If you have ever found yourself deeply in love with Christmas spiced teas and wanted one without caffeine and black tea to sip before bed, this could be a great choice, that is, assuming you like Rooibos. The taste starts out with cinnamon and star anise, this moved to a distinct creamy sweetness with apple and pineapple notes, not sure where the creaminess is coming from but I rather like it. The finish is a blend of woodiness and pepper, there is no dry mouth sensation from the Rooibos, I believe the fruit took care of that.
Why can’t I have backup dancers? Maybe I watch too much Indian Cinema, and just expect that when I break out into spontaneous song and dance that a color coordinated group of backup dancers will just appear and then immediately disappear once I am done. Is that really too much to ask out of life? It certainly would make my life a lot more interesting when I go shopping and decide to sing along with the store’s radio. Play music at your own peril!
Today’s tea is pretty neat, it holds the distinct honor of being the first package I have received from the country of Greece, from Armenos, a family owned herb shop that has been around since 1875, so cool! What can I say, Greece is REALLY high in my list of places to visit, I have been studying its history and mythology since I was four-ish. Fun little ‘me fact’ I used to strongly consider majoring in classical mythology, especially after many times infuriating my high school mythology teacher for trying to teach her things, I was a jerkish kid, but her lack of knowledge made me sad! Anyway, tea! Kayinari Style Tea Blend is a colorful blend of rooibos, black tea, sunflower petals, vanilla, cloves, and cinnamon, and it smells just like orange jam! Seriously I had to wonder if someone opened a jar of jam near my head, add a touch of spice and woodiness and you get a delightfully warm smelling tea. One of the joys of spices and oranges, they smell like warmth and sunlight, so on a chilly winter (almost) day this is a perfect smell.
Brewing the tea and I find myself really wanting something to spread that jam like aroma on, seriously, I need some crumpets or something because yum. It actually is reminding me more of marmalade now, with a tiny bit more of a sour citrus along with the sweet citrus. There is a tiny bit of spice as well. The liquid is rich and malty along with orange jam and a bit of caramel sweet rooibos. These notes work really well together and reminds me of the tea my mom would make for us at Christmas.
The taste of this tea is gentle in all aspects, the spice is present and warming, but not overwhelming. The orange taste is mild, like a splash of sweet orange jam dropped into tea (remind me to try that, I am curious if the texture would be weird.) Again, I say orange jam, but really it reminds me of marmalade, blending sour and sweet really well. The black tea base is mellow and bright, the woody qualities of the rooibos adds a bit of depth to it. It very much so reminds me of orange spice tea I would drink as a kid at Christmas, except better, the tastes are very clear and not at all muddied, which I like!
Flavors: Jam, Orange, Spices, Wood