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Recent Tasting Notes
Geek Steep S3E16 – Downton Abbey
This is the tea I drank while watching the episodes we’d selected. I knew pretty much immediately when we put this fandom in our season three outline that whatever tea I chose would be consumed out of a fine china teacup – and I held true to that.
As for the tea, I wanted something that had a strong “British High Tea” kind of vibe to it and this mash up of Earl Grey and Darjeeling was so strongly on the nose that I couldn’t dare pick something else. As someone with an almost embarrassingly large teaware collection, I know intellectually that very rarely is it the teaware itself that makes a tea good; it’s all just an accessory to a moment. But even still, there’s just something about drinking a good cup of Earl Grey from an antique teacup that just feels more correct. The bergamot is more aromatic and perfumed, and the black tea is more brisk and full-bodied. Plus, adding in handful of blackberries so perfectly ripe that they practically melt in your mouth certainly doesn’t hurt either.
Tea Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CwawdKqu5gJ/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COxBC7WkuIc
I picked up a blueberry pie with my groceries over the weekend and, ever since, I’ve been really craving teas with that same thick, jammy blueberry note. I’m actually drinking this one currently, and it’s a little bonkers how eerily similar this blueberry taste is to that pie I so gleefully gobbled down. It’s not just that the blueberry flavour has the right amount of sweetness and that it lingers so nicely after each sip but that there’s a hard to explain thickness to the mouthfeel that almost makes the taste feel even more jammy – and it goes past the normal full body I’d expect from the black tea.
Lemon Lily is a company that I’ve kind of had in my peripherals now for a few years, but no one has ever recommended them to me and I haven’t seen enough reviews to spark an order. They were at the festival though and I got to smell a bunch of their teas, so I decided to give them a shot and try the one that smelled best to me (this one) and the one that they identified as a best seller; review on that one at a later date…
We all know I’m a simple bitch who loves a blueberry blend, but I think the things that caught my attention with this one in particular was that is smelled shockingly sweet and juicy for an organic blend. In general, organic blends tends to have more “mellow” flavours because of the restrictions in organic compliant flavouring – among other factors that only add to the problem. The other thing I found interesting was the inclusion of butterfly pea flower. Not for the colour it adds to a blend (which makes sense thematically for a blueberry tea) but because they’re also so notoriously hard to source in organic…
I steeped up a mug last night, and I actually thought it was pretty dang good! I know I got some butterfly pea flower in the leaf I measured out, but I didn’t really see a significant impact in my steeped colour. Not that I particularly care, personally. The taste was nice. Definitely on the sweeter side, and not nearly as bright as I’d expected given the intensity and freshness of the aroma – but certainly not lacking in flavour.
It’s hard for any blueberry black tea to beat out Blueberry Jam, which is a DT blend that I just love but this would be a pretty suitable back up for me if I ever found myself in the highly unlikely situation where that tea was no longer available to me.
A little bit brisker than I recall it being the last time I steeped this up, with a lightly astringent finish. Still a drinkable cup though; relatively average in terms of quality and more of a generic fruity sweetness over “cherry” or “vanilla” specifically – but it doesn’t taste bad! Thanks for the share VariaTEA!
This is the other tea that I brewed up when I got home from work tonight. A caffeinated pick to try and help with the whole staying up late/sleeping in tomorrow thing. Also just because I haven’t had this one in close to literal ages…
I definitely did that thing where I made my tea then set it aside and forgot about it for a while, so when I did get back to drinking it the temperature was weird and lukewarm. Flavour wise, it’s… interesting? I mean, I guess that’s the best word. The big thing that’s throwing me off is the fact that it tastes like under ripe bananas to me. I mean, that’s not a bad flavour but it’s just so far off from what it’s meant to actually taste like. Apart from the weird banana thing, it’s got malty cereal(ish) notes, a hint of grenadine, some malt, and a bread-y finish. It’s just so, well, weird.
Many, many thanks to VariaTea for sending this to me… ages ago!
I’m sorry it’s taken so long to get around to; all my ziploc samples are in a different box/part of my cupboard and because of that they so frequently get forgotten about. I should really do something about that!
Anyway, my thoughts!
- A little bitter/astringent
- I get both the cherry and vanilla though!
- Probably would have assumed this was a sort of wonky Monk’s Blend though…
- Had I not read the ingredients, anyway
- Hmmm, maybe a little cough syrup-y as it cools down though?
Yeah; bottom line is that this one smells really good but when it comes down to taste it leaves me a little unimpressed. I don’t dislike it though, and I think with some tweaking it might be redeemable. My first thought is that it could be a sweeter iced tea, and if it works well with milk that might take the edge of some of that astringency/bitterness?
I’ll have to see what I end up doing, though.
Hmm. This is ok. Woke up this morning in an adventurous frame of mind. Usually, I want my first tea of the day to be a sure thing, something truly worth waking up for. Today I was prepared to take a risk.It’s raining here and the sky is muddled. As it turns out, the flavours with this black tea base are muddled too. Both the cherry and vanilla are bits of fly by, faint whispers of each on the tail end of the sip. I am enjoying this cup. That said, I think I would enjoy this cup far more had I not had greater expectations of the flavours that would be present. For me, this tea needs more experimentation.
Thank you, VariaTEA, for adding this to the box.
Flavors: Cherry, Cocoa, Vanilla
This makes me think of Cherry Vanilla coke, but without the coke under taste. I don’t know what it is about this one, but I absolutely love it. I added some milk and rock sugar because I prefer it that way. I find the sugar pulls out the cherry flavour much better. And I like the milk to just smooth it all out and bring it all together. This tea is just such a lovely blend.
Made this as a teapop. I think this is the best prep method so far but still not my favourite. It was actually sort of weird because when I poured it over the ice, it had a coffee with milk color to it despite me simply brewing the tea and adding nothing to it. I have no idea what is in this that would do that since I was expecting a clear liquid.
Tastewise, I’m still having trouble coaxing out the cherry and vanilla. I get the base and maybe some creaminess I can blame the vanilla for but cherry is completely MIA. Perhaps next time I’ll toss in sweetener or grenadine to help this out because so far it has been a miss for me.
I ended up waking up very early this morning so I had time to brew a teapop and between the cherry, vanilla, and grenadine, I thought this would be awesome. Turns out I was wrong. It’s not bad but it is not great. I’m find the flavors, though present, are really flat. I get notes of vanilla sweetness and a cherry/grenadine mix (think maraschino cherries) is probably the most prominent flavor and yet these flavors should be bright and sweet and dessert-like but they just aren’t. It is almost as if there is flavor deterioration but since this is stored properly and purchased fairly recently that should not be the case. I will continue to explore though and hopefully find a way to coax out the flavors.
Got this from the Toronto Tea Festival as I’m trying to cut coffee derived caffeine on work day mornings (really not a morning person…) and switch to tea derived caffeine instead. This looked promising, since it had a combination of coffee and tea. It has loose leaf puer and coffee beans, mixed with brown granules that I would guess is sugar and perhaps some other flavours. Trying this now just brewed in water, but I think this could work nicely as a latte. Taste-wise I find its still more puer than coffee, and thats probably because the coffee beans are still kept whole in this blend, so I can’t imagine a lot of coffee extraction going on.
I also found that because the leaves and coffee beans are quite light relative to the sugar granules, it takes a bit of work to scoop out a nice even blend of the tea, coffee and sugar. The one improvement suggestion I’d have is to have the sugar separately added which avoids this problem from happening – I think it’ll be quite uneven once I approach the end of the blend.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Leather, Molasses
I figured i should try this as a straight tea before i finished up so i brewed this one according to the instructions in just water. The result very much reminds me of a latte – toned down. I get little to now caramel but i DID remove all the sugar from this package so maybe that’s what brings the caramel to teh yard – er tea…. Not a bad cup. but nothing i need to restock, especially given the amount of sugar that was added to this blend. :(
after dinner latte – though tonight i used a sifter to get rid of all the sugar in my bag before i brewed it…HOLY CRIPES there was a lot of sugar in this. Lemon Lily – that is a vote against you since at the rate i was looking at, at least 20% of the bag’s weight was that sugar. and really? if i want a tea that is sweet, i can add my own. but you know what? this tea doesn’t need it.
Final Count: 155 which is up, but not so bad since i added teas to my cupboard today AND managed to sip some down!
Cavocorax and i split this one at the tea festival. As i was pulling this one out to brew it, i realised that there was a bunch of granules in the bag that i hadn’t remembered seeing when we divided the bag. When i looked at the ingredients though, i suspect that these are the palm sugar. i brewed this up anyway, though as i suspected it’s a little too sweet for my tastes. I made it in latte form to add to the creaminess but the sugar is a little much. I may see if i can filter the sugar out of the bag. Cavo – if you try this and it could benefit from some sugar let me know hahaha.
Overall though, not a bad cup, and one i’ll likely to keep brewing as a latte. It’s a nice coffee/tea blend as far as coffee/tea blends go. I’m not the worlds largest fan of that sort of thing, but it’s a nice thing to have occasionally!
Tried this cold-steeped (are you noticing a pattern here? I am, in fact, trying to get rid of tea samples I was less fond of by cold steeping them). This is still just the weirdest flavour combination ever. It smells and tastes quite spicy, lots of ginger and also some cinnamon. But then there’s the tartness of the hibiscus, which is just a really odd thing to mix with those spices. I don’t detect any maple, and the honeybush is also pretty mellow this way. Weird weird weird. Anybody want the rest of this sample?
Another weird one! Postal Teas / Lemon Lily, you’re not impressing me. This one also has a powder visibile in the bag, though the powder is sweet and obviously maple. The ingredient list has “Canadian Maple Flakes”, so I guess if you beat those up you get Canadian Maple Dust. Steeping instructions were “2 tea spoons @ 200F for 4-6 mins”. I measured out a level (1.5) tsp and then topped it up a bit to make 4g for my 10oz mug. Water at around 90C, steeped for 4min.
Ok, in the bag, this smells extremely gingery. So I was ready for it to be a ginger-honeybush tisane, and then… huh, the steeped liquid smells mostly kind of earthy or plant-y (is that the honeybush?). The taste is slightly tart from the hibiscus (it’s not overdone, but… I’m still not sure why it’s there in the first place?). I’m only getting ginger in the aftertaste, with a slightly warming quality. There’s a very slight sweetness from the maple. I don’t detect any cinnamon. I don’t understand this tisane at all! Like, it’s not terrible, I’ll drink it, but I do not see what the point was of combining this particular set of ingredients. I’m just stting here, sipping, going “but… WHY?”.
Flavors: Ginger, Hibiscus, Rooibos
This is a weird tea. In the bag, with the black tea leaves, safflower petals, and citrus peel, there’s this granular, powdery substance. The lemon lily website has “pomegranate powder” in the list of ingredients they use, so I’m guessing that’s what it is. I tasted some of the powder left behind on the scale, and it… didn’t really tast like anything. Weird. Steeping instructions on the label were “2 tea spoons @ 212F for 4-6 mins”. I measured out 1.5tsp (one level “tea spoon”) and it was 3.4g, which seemed like plenty for my 9oz mug. Steeped for 2 min, tasted, it was kind of bland. Steeped for one more min, tasted, it was starting to get a bit tart/bitter, so I figured it was time to stop. This brews into a dark orange liquor. It smells like… red fruit, could be pomegranate I guess. It actually smells like it has hibiscus in it, though it doesn’t. It tastes mostly citrusy and slightly sour/bitter from the orange and lime peel. Where is the black tea hiding in all of this? If I were tasting it blind I would assume this was a tisane. Bizarre.
Flavors: Citrus, Red Fruits, Sour
From this month’s Postal Teas box. I may have a problem with this tendency to try out new subscription boxes. ;) The steeping instructions on the package were “1-2 tea spoons @ 200F for 4-6min” which seemed a bit crazy to me, so I went with 3.5g in 10oz @ 80-85C for 2min (3min on the second steep). Worked fine, definitely didn’t taste like it needed a longer steep! Anyway, this is a pretty unremarkable fruity green tea. Solid sencha (I’m assuming) base, kind of artificial-tasting cherry flavour. I don’t taste the rose petals at all. It’s not unpleasant, but I have fruity green blends in my cupboard that I like more.
This was the third and final tea from my 8th edition box from Postal Teas. I really enjoyed this box and discovering the white teas from Lemon Lily.
Even though these teas all seemed to share a common thread (beyond being all from the same company and all sent in the same sampler box from Postal Teas) – they were all very visually stunning and seemed to have a lot of flowers in them – I enjoyed that I found them all to be unique. They were all quite floral but I liked that I was not only tasting the flower but the other flavors of each blend.
This one is even more floral than the first two were. This blend focuses on the rose and I like the flavor combination of rose and white tea. It’s a soft and subtle combination. Mild fruit notes.
A really lovely tea – not just to look at but also to sip.