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“An Ode to Tea” Alphabet Challenge – A
So Mastress Alita’s sipdown theme for April is “An Ode to Tea”, and the challenge is to drink a tea starting with each letter of the alphabet. So I’m starting today with the letter A, and this tea sample from a recent swap!
The aroma is tantalizingly apricot, but I’m getting a lot of ginger in the taste. So much that really, the ginger is the main flavor for me, with the apricot acting in a supporting role. So, it ends up tasting quite earthy as opposed to fruity, thought there is a nice tartness from the apricot.
Drinkable, but not something I would choose, not being that big on ginger. But it was fun to try, and yay easy sipdown to start the month! :D
Flavors: Apricot, Dried Fruit, Earth, Ginger, Tart
Wow! This is good. I don’t usually dig herbals / tisanes, but this has a perfect balance of sweet and tart flavors and just the right amount of cinnamon. One can discern each and every voice in the choir, and relax with the beautiful melody. This gift makes me smile every time I brew it. Time to order more!
Pretty sure this is the same tea as Adagio’s green rooibos bonita. It has a light green rooibos and fruit flavor, which is just lovely. It’s like a soft orange peach. I love Adagio’s green rooibos. I actually have a 3 oz bag of Adagio’s green rooibos bonita, which I was planning on saving for a few months before drinking, but my cat bit some holes in its bag, so I’ve transferred it to a tin, and now I’ll be able to make a direct comparison sooner than I thought.
Work tea #1
This is nice. The base tea is a bit woody, but it does have substance and body. The blueberry flavor is a bit odd. Some sips it’s right there, a delicious juicy blueberry flavor. Sweet and fruity. Other sips… nothing. I’m not sure why it’s that way, but if this tea were more consistent I’d be tempted to pick some up for myself. As it is, I’m glad I got to try it from the stash of teas they keep for us at my work. I think I’ll leave it at that.
Firstly, I will note that the preparation instructions say 1 TBSP (aka 3 tsp) loose tea to 8 ounces of boiling (212˚F) water. As soon as I poured that boiling water over my tea infuser stuffed with that TBSP of loose tea, I noticed an immediate colorful cloud leave the infuser and quickly darken the water. I was to let it steep and sit for 5 minutes, which I did, and then removed the infuser.
The brewed tea smelled less strongly than the dry loose tea. The dry loose would make an excellent potpourri, by the way, but that wasn’t what I had selected it for. The brewed tea tasted … like hot water. I expected, at a minimum, to taste rooibos. But no. Just the flavor of hot water. I was confused.
But I’d had a similar problem with a sugar cookie tea that smelled fantastically of sugar cookies but also tasted to me of hot water. I wondered if my tongue was broken for this realm of teas-that-attempt-to-duplicate-baked-desserts.
Perhaps, thought I, what I need is to add a sweetener to this tea. I normally take my tea black. So I hunted down some honey and added the honey. And then it tasted like hot, thin honey. So no, the honey didn’t help the tea flavors appear. Again, it still smelled fantastically, but I have this habit of halting my inhalations as I’m pouring my sip of tea into my mouth, too many aspirated drinks as a child, so the smell didn’t carry over to mask the lack of taste.
Then the strangest thing happened. I declared the tea a failure and let it cool to (I didn’t have a thermometer) lukewarm (cooler than I typically take tea, slightly above room temperature). And then the flavors appeared. All of them. Correctly.
I looked at the packaging: no mention is made of this. I looked at the website for this tea: no mention of this. So I came here to Steepster and put the tea into the database specifically so that I could make mention of this.
Brew according to the directions, but then let it naturally cool. If you still want it somewhat warm, you’ll have to figure out the exact point of lukewarmness that it is still as warm as it can be while still being flavorful. If you don’t mind a room temperature cuppa you are guaranteed flavor when it reaches that temperature.
So this tea is no longer a warm-me-up tea. It has become, instead, a “drink”. And I will enjoy it as such. And I hope you will as well.
Flavors: Sweet, Whiskey
So my insomnia has been pretty bad lately, even after cutting back on tea. Wanting to avoid going the melatonin route, I decided to look into tisanes. Internet research consistenly turned up chamomile and valerian as effective sleep aids. Since I like chamomile on its own, I decided to try it first.
My stash of Rishi chamomile medley had more herbs than chamomile flowers left so yesterday I set out to procure some organic loose leaf chamomile. However, Whole Foods only carries the bagged variety and the giant 1 lb bags sold on Amazon are overkill. Luckily I was able to get half an ounce of pure chamomile from the Spice & Tea Exchange.
Tastewise, this was a delicious tea on its own. Sweet, citrusy, and honeyed with a bright yellow color. Normally I steep chamomile for 5 minutes but I decided to brew it extra strong and steeped for 10 minutes. Even then it was soft and very soothing.
A couple of cups of this and some classical music on Spotify definitely helped me sleep better last night. Hopefully it’s not simply a placebo effect because it’s such a lovely and relaxing bedtime tea. I will experiment tonight by upping the quantity of chamomile and maybe blend in some dried lavender.
Flavors: Citrusy, Honey
Autumn Harvest! This pumpkin tea has a soft spot for me, because it was pretty much the first loose leaf tea I purchased that got me into tea, back when I was on a vacation Labor Day Weekend back in 2016 (I think the other tea I bought that vacation was a Cinnamon Plum herbal full of hibi that pretty much everyone on here would hate, but that cemented me as a hibi lover for life… I’ve just about sipped that one down, too!) It’s simply time for these oldest teas to go, even though they hold dear memories for me.
The tea steeps up a lovely rich amber color and has a lovely spicy scent. This is one of those pumpkin teas that actually has a savory, squashy pumpkin note, which I really like. The black base is medium bodied and there is a notable cinnamon spiciness that is left on the tongue and creates a warmth and sense of coziness. It isn’t too overbearing, as there is a natural sweetness to the cup from the maple crystals that balances the cinnamon nicely.
This is a pumpkin tea that is far less “desserty” than others; the whipped cream and caramel flavorings just don’t really pop in the cup, and it doesn’t really have a “pumpkin pie” flavor, so if that is what you are looking for, this isn’t really the pumpkin tea for you. To me, this tea tastes a bit more like pumpkin squash roasted in cinnamon and sweetened with just a hint of maple, and the taste it leaves on my tongue just makes me think of autumn… that spicy, warm feeling just reminds me of fires and fall leaves on a cold morning, somehow.
It does have “latte” in the name, and does hold up to making latte style quite well! When making this tea as a latte, I like going in with extra leaf, and using vanilla almond milk. Personally, the tea evokes such strong feelings of autumn to me when drunk plain that I actually prefer it sans milk. It’s a bit stronger, spicier, and just has a unique savory flavor profile that I haven’t quite found in any other pumpkin tea. But it’s all a matter of personal taste!
It’s a nostalgic tea for me. The closest taste match I’ve found to this one is 52Tea’s Pumpkin Chai, which is equally nom, but also comes and goes sporadically. I try to avoid Spice and Tea Exchange these days because their prices are highway robbery (as a tea newb I didn’t know better!) but maybe next fall I’ll restock this one, just for old time’s sake.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Malt, Maple, Pumpkin, Spicy, Sweet
This is my first and long overdue first review for this website. This was the first tea I tried from the spice and tea Exchange and have fallen in LOVE with this tea. It’s the perfect combination of black tea and chocolate. I usually steep this tea for 5 minutes.
I normally prefer my teas very strong, so the flavor was almost too subtle for my taste. Even so, the aroma was strong and the flavor was still pleasant. I didn’t taste the strawberry and rhubarb very much, but it was more present in the aroma. The grassy and floral aspects were more present in the taste.
Flavors: Floral, Green, Rhubarb, Strawberry
This is one of my favorite peach teas. It has a rich peach flavor, with a lot of fruity flavor notes. There is a bit of a subtle citrus-orange flavor beneath the peach in the aftertaste. I prefer to drink the tea sans sweetener as the tea has a lot of natural sweetness, but do find that adding just a touch tends to bring out some very subtle berry notes in the tea, which I didn’t really notice otherwise. The green rooibos is a nice base which is very light and takes the fruit flavors well; there are no lingering grassy or vegetative flavors like you might find in a similar green tea fruit blend. This is a great caffeine-free option for a strong peach-flavored sweet tea. It also makes a great iced tea! I find I can’t stand red rooibos iced (I love it warm, but something about icing it brings out a certain flavor to my palate that is cough syrupy to me!) but I have no problem at all with green rooibos as an iced drink, and this blend is very refreshing as an iced tea!
Flavors: Berry, Fruity, Orange, Peach, Sweet
When I first reviewed this tea on my blog, I really gushed about it. I really loved how it reminded me of creamsicle orange-vanilla ice cream, and it really seemed to have wide appeal when I made it for non-tea drinkers. But over time I’ve sort of lost my taste for it. This was one of the earliest teas I had in my collection, and I think that as my tea collection expanded, I just came to find other herbal blends that also went with a “creamsicle” flavor profile where I just felt it came out much creamier and stronger in the vanilla notes, leading to a better balance in the orange and vanilla. This tea is much bolder in the orange flavor, which I suppose makes sense, considering it is called blood orange smoothie, and while I normally absolutely love the tart bite of hibiscus, I just think that after sampling the sweeter, more “ice creamy” creamsicle teas that going back to this tea, with its more citrusy, tart flavor and very subtle hints of vanilla it just couldn’t hold up for me anymore. I could still drink it, but I no longer preferred it, and definitely no longer felt the need to rave about it like I once had.
I will say that I do still enjoy it latte-style, made with warm vanilla-almond milk. Since the vanilla flavor of the almond milk enhances the weakness of the vanilla flavor of the tea, this gives the tea more of that creamsicle flavor that I enjoy… and the milk gives it a really nice creaminess, too!
Flavors: Citrus, Hibiscus, Orange, Tart, Vanilla
Drank two cups of this today. It was disappointing and even less enjoyable than the last time I drank it. Trying to drink up the last few teas I have that are about or over a year old. This one is about a year old and smells like a decadent chocolate truffle.
Prep: 1st Cup: Boiling water for 2:15 minutes
2nd Cup Just below boiling water steeped slightly longer than before.
Ended up tasting like a weak plain black tea. I changed the steeping parameters though to try to bring out the chocolate notes.
This is my third attempt at trying to bring out the chocolate flavor in this tea. I was so desperate that I actually added regular milk to it and regular sugar! If I add something to tea it’s always soy milk, Stevia, honey, or half and half. So hopefully that shows you how much I wanted this tea to live up to it’s name. I’ve never been a big fan of chocolate or chocolate teas but lately have been getting more into it.
Dry leaf: The smell is so rich and luscious reminding me of a chocolate truffle. This is what made me buy this tea to begin with.
Brewed: There is no chocolate to be found. This tastes like a decent black tea with milk and sugar but is far from special. I would not buy it again. Not much else to say about this tea. It is definitely a nice tea but doesn’t have that oomph of chocolate to call it a flavored tea.
I’m starting to think that this tea would work better as chocolate potpourri than chocolate tea. I have about enough tea left for one more cup.
Flavors: Malt, Smooth
I picked up this tea at a time that I needed to cut all caffeine from my diet, and as a fan of green tea, I was glad to find a decaffeinated flavored green tea option. I’ve since been able to reintroduce caffeine into my diet, but kept this tea around to drink around bedtime.
This didn’t taste so bad back when I was drinking only herbals and decaf teas during the period when I couldn’t have caffeine, but now that I’m drinking caffeinated teas again, I’ve revisted this tea and find it completely unpalatable! There is something that tastes bitter, metallic, and off-putting about the tea, and the mango flavor just can’t hide it. My initial impressions of this tea were that it was quite pleasant, with a fairly nice green tea taste and a very pleasant mango flavor, but now that I’m drinking regular green teas, my palate just can’t stand this! If you are used to decaf teas only, this might be fine for you, but I wouldn’t recommend it otherwise.
Flavors: Bitter, Mango, Metallic, Vegetal
This is the sort of tea that I love on cold winter nights. It is like a warm, thick fruit cider, but is wholly unique from the typical spiced apple cider. This tea has a rich hibiscus base with some plum-flavored notes, and a nice warmth added from spicy cinnamon. The tea has a bit of a tart and spicy bite to it, but is still naturally sweet enough to drink sans sweetener. A great tea if you like hibiscus teas and want a warm spiced fruit cider experience.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Hibiscus, Plum, Spices, Tart
This was one of my first looseleaf teas and I still blame it for starting my addiction into tea. It has a very unique spicy flavor; the rooibos base makes the blend less astringent and more sweet than black chais, and the spice is a bit less cinnamony with a nice full, husky taste of ginger, clove, and licorice! I’ve tried other rooibos chai blends similar to this one but they didn’t have the licorice root, and that really sold this blend as the cream of the crop for me. If you aren’t a fan of licorice, however, this may not be the blend for you.
Full review here: https://teatimetuesdayreviews.wordpress.com/2017/01/03/tea01/
Flavors: Clove, Ginger, Licorice