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Recent Tasting Notes
March Sipdown Challenge Prompt – a favorite herbal tisane
It’s a sipdown! We make this one iced by the pitcher. It is a purple-ish-and-tea color and not super attractive if you were expecting blue/purple tea, but as a sweet iced tea it is quite refreshing. Ashman really enjoys it, and I like it very well, too.
Just noticed I never posted a tasting note and I have had it for at least two years but probably three, or more. I reviewed it for Sororitea Sisters long ago so that is probably why I didn’t put a note here.
I have two teas sipped down this month, but just received an early birthday gift of three new ones and there is one arriving Monday. And I bet I am getting tea from someone else for my birthday, too! (Insert laughing face with tears!) I need to get moving on the sipdowns!
I reviewed this for Sororitea Sisters and it has posted, so now I can share the tasting note!
I first tried this tea about seven years ago and I continue to pick it up now and then because it is really good to have on shelf. It is so easy to like and appeals to people who already love tea as well as people who are just starting on their tea journey. It pairs well with desserts and is lovely as a stand alone cup.
Although this came from Tin Roof Teas, I am 99.9% sure that it is sourced from Teageschwendner.
My excuse for buying this when I already have tons of tea is that my husband loves strawberry flavored teas, and he doesn’t like as many teas as I do, so I keep this on hand FOR HIM. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.
The green base is a blend from three countries – India, Japan, and China. I think Indian green must be excellent for aroma teas because I am pretty sure Harney and Sons uses a lot of it in their flavored greens. It is pretty mild and very smooth, and has just enough briskness to make this go really well with food. If tea is too mild, food flavors can overwhelm it so you taste pretty much nothing, like drinking a cup of hot water.
The strawberry flavor is fresh and the tiniest bit tart like a real strawberry. This is all smoothed over by the lovely hint of warm vanilla.
I like to steep this at 175F for three minutes and resteep right away, combining the two for an economical pot. It works really well.
Tin Roof Teas is in Raleigh, NC. They do ship and some of their teas are available on Amazon.
Their Moroccan Mint is blended in house and is my hands down favorite of the type. And their Tung Ting is mouthwateringly good. There is a 15% discount for your first order after signing up for their newsletter, so go wild!
Now, not related to the tea but a funny tale about the Ashman that I wanted to share!
We had mild weather last Saturday so middle daughter hung her blankets out to dry. Unbeknownst to her, a little bee nestled on the fabric and as temps dropped toward evening he fell asleep. (This has happened before with both bees and lizards.) She brought the blankets in and left them in the laundry basket where the bee woke up due to the lovely warmth! Bee flies into den, Ashman gets an empty granola bar box to catch it because he doesn’t want to kill it. The bee practically flew right into the box, which he covered with a magazine and carried outside.
He comes in and I ask him if he released the bee and he said….he put it on the fleece blanket over the back of the porch rockers. BUT he tucked it into a fold so it wouldn’t get eaten by a bird in the morning before it has a chance to warm up.
Y’all. He tucked in a bee.
Sunday morning, he checks his bee and it is still sleeping peacefully in the blanket. So he pulls the rocker into a sunny spot and turns it so the bee is facing the sun. Hours later, he reports that he checked the fold of the blanket and his bee has flown away.
I hope this summer to have a story about jars of honey mysteriously appearing on our doorstep.
I love your story about the bee. ❤ Bees are so important, so protecting them where we can is awesome!
Your husband just earned some major karma points or something! Glad the bee lived to make honey another day. :)
That is sweet… bees are the only thing I’m deathly allergic to so I tend to run away from them, but I do know they are important and do enjoy honey so I totally understand if not allergic to keep them alive. :)
Tiffany: I tolerate bees but if it had been a wasp, I would have killed it without a second thought. My eldest brother died of anaphylactic shock from Yellowjacket stings when I was 23. All wasps are fair game to me, but bees get a pass!
ashmanra Oh Lord! What an awful way to lose a sibling! (Not that there’s a ‘good’ way…) I’m with you on killing wasps. In my home no spider is ever harmed, but ants, silverfish and centipedes are not tolerated. Fortunately, the cats make short work of the harmless but ugly waterbugs that arrive in spring and summer.
In my house, spiders must follow the Ninja Code… as long as they aren’t seen, we can both live in harmony. If they break the Ninja Code and are seen, they must die an honorable death, so theier ancestors will understand the importance of keeping to the Code.
White Antlers and Mastress Alita: Spiders are welcome here, but also they do have to follow the ninja code to an extent! My kitchen spiders (I have two) are allowed to come out as long as they stay “at home.” They MUST NOT be seen in my bedroom. They are quite large.one lives in the sink over the sink and the other lives in the bricks of the fireplace, occasionally visiting the plant window.
Ashmanra sent a little sample of this tea our way, not for me, but for the hubster. Now, you have to remember that his oolong gold standard is bagged supermarket Bigelow Oolong, oversteeped until it can stand up without the cup. Set the pricey stuff in front of him, and he generally fusses because it is too fruity or too flowery.
So I was surprised at his reaction to this one: “I’m getting honey. Or maybe honeysuckle.” And while it wasn’t quite a rave review, he didn’t politely “forget” the cup until it was too cold to be useful. Baby steps.
I got honey, too, but with a little toasted homemade bread underneath. Very gentle, very nice. Looking forward to a rerun cup shortly.
July prompt – a tea from an American company.
This is a sipdown today, and wouldn’t you know it? I have been hammering away at it trying to get one more thing out of my cupboard and today it tastes just about the best ever, making me want to purchase more. I will not do so until the cupboard is under better control but it may be a re-purchase someday.
The floral notes really stood out today and I am a sucker for floral notes.
I bought this at a shop just two hours away. Once upon a time, all of their were sourced from Teageschwendner, but around the time I started going they began to get a few from other places. They do their own Moroccan Mint blend and it is THE BEST. But I digress.
The first time I drank this I was disappointed. I was expecting it to taste like a similar tea I had tried around that time and it I didn’t drink it again for a while.
Now I have had it several times more and I wonder what was wrong with me? This is really good!
This is a green oolong, not roasty toasty like Dong Ding (they sell a very good one of those) or Da Hong Pao. It has a nice floral high that rises at the outset, nice in the aroma, and there is a bit of minerality, too.
Even though it is a green floral oolong, I served it with our late breakfast of cinnamon raisin bagels in the rockers out back. It went well and had enough flavor not to drown under the cinnamon and schmeer. We kept sipping until the ants found us. It was getting too hot out there anyway.
What’s left of my packet had woogled down to the bottom of the odds and ends basket (you have one of those, don’t you?) so I didn’t expect too much in the way of flavor and freshness when I steeped a tumbler this morning. Not so—it was still pastry-like and tasty, even more so when I iced it. Makes me think of a cream puff that’s been in the fridge. Oh…now I AM thinking about cream puffs…and frosting…and cookie dough…and…
Marzipan…wouldn’t that be a good name for a gold-and-white cat?
This was also a little surprise from Ashmanra. I proceeded extremely cautiously this morning, because I’ve had many almond teas that go bitter very easily. So I pulled it at 3 minutes (recommendation was 2—4) and ended up with a very mild, sweet, drinkable dessert tea. The marzipan/pastry character and scent is detectible, but faint enough I think we can add that extra minute when I try again.
I like this, and it is a almost local! About an hour and fifteen minutes away but we go to Raleigh a bit for this and that anyhow. They used to carry only Teaschwendner but now they source from different places.
I went through the whole package (~25g?) before reviewing because I was determined to give this a chance, as it’s from the closest thing I have to a “local” tea shop (at least an hour away)…but I couldn’t get it to work for me. Package directions for western brewing are 1 tsp/8 oz/ boiling water/3-5 min. All I could taste this way was roast; not “roasted something,” just…roast. Fortunately it didn’t quite cross over into straight-up carbon, but it was close. If I focused really hard I could sometimes get an ambiguous nutty aftertaste. I tried more and less leaf, different infusion times, and cold brewing – but no improvement. Finally I tried brewing at 90 C, and that helped a little. I could make out a bit of earthy/wet foliage taste in the front, a little cocoa powder in the finish, but still the almost totally dominant flavor is roast. Really can’t recommend.
This green tea has a wonderful grapefruit scent before brewing. The tea itself only has a mild grapefruit flavor, but it is delightful. I like how the green tea really shines through, and it is quite smooth and fairly delicate. I would recommend this tea to anyone who wants to enjoy a more mildly flavored tea.
There is a tiny spice and tea store next to one of our favorite diet-compliant (i.e., vegan) restaurants in Charlotte. When my wife and I finally decided to “dry out” after eating many NON-diet-compliant items during the Christmas/New Year holidays, we launched our return to sanity at the restaurant, with the side benefit of a trip to the spice and tea store.
The store’s tea stock was almost wiped out after the Christmas shopping season, but a few bags of this one remained on the shelf alongside a sample “sniffer” of the leaves to smell what the tea might taste like after brewing. I love smoky teas and the aroma of this item in its unsteeped state was quite potent and alluring.
When I opened the package to prepare the tea for drinking, the smoky aroma was much stronger than the already powerful odor in the store’s sniffer. It was so controlling that I hoped it was all natural. The last time I encountered a smoky smell that powerful was from my boy scout uniform after a weekend of camping and sitting by the fire.
I steeped the short black leaves for five minutes at 212 degrees. The label suggested brewing for two to four minutes but I let it steep for one more minute for good luck.
The finished product had a golden amber color. The smoky aroma had greatly settled down after it met the hot water.
The taste of the tea was quite pleasant with the smoky characteristics in line with a lot of other teas of this type. There was an additional flavor attribute that was minty, like the wild mint plant leaves I used to find and chew while walking home from junior high school. The two flavors worked together amiably. The overall effect was smooth without astringency. The aftertaste was not obnoxious.
I did like this tea and will not have trouble finishing the entire package. Once I got past the three-alarm fire smell of the unbrewed leaves, the final result was a tasty, genial, and smooth concoction.
Flavors: Mint, Smoke
(Staying close to pkg directions: 3g/8oz/180/60 sec first steep, 15 for second)
Dry leaves smell lovely – grassy & very fruity, sweet. Wet leaves bring out the cooked greens scent, but still fairly sweet. First steep (60 sec) smells a little sweeter and a little less vegetal than the wet leaves, also with a buttery/creamy note in the aroma. Pale golden/green brew. Taste is somewhat thin but very pleasant – sweet, grassy, some mild baby spinach- like notes. Just the barest hint of butter in the taste, not quite what the aroma suggested. Second steep (15 sec), I reduced to 6 oz. Color brews up the same despite the shorter steep time. Taste is similar, a little stronger (prob from reduced water amount). Maybe a touch more buttery flavor? Third (6oz, 30 sec) is pretty washed out. Used spent leaves with 8 oz water for one good (though light) cold brew infusion.
Rates 65 prepared to pkg directions. Would like to try again with adjustments. Try gongfu-style ratio for one thing, plus Tin Roof’s website has very different directions for this tea – lower temperature and longer brewing. Also would like to try fresh cold brew.
Update: Cold brew (1g/100ml) is powerful but refreshing. Intense, fresh grassy flavor with a good hit of bitterness & sweetness, and a tiny bit of savory nuttiness adds some interest. Rates 75 as cold brew.
(4g/100 ml/200?/20 sec steep +5 sec following) (Suspect kettle, which was set for 200, was actually at 205 for first few infusions)
Dry leaves smell sweet & a tiny bit smoky. After 5 sec wash, wet leaves have much stronger smoky tobacco scent. Lid of gaiwan, however, has a nice sweetness. Steeps 1-3 have a deep golden color; a sweet scent with a hint of smoky tobacco. Flavor is close to a black tea, with savory notes up front, touch of dryness on tongue, a little sweetness on the finish. Strong roasted/smoky flavor notes on aftertaste really set this apart from the Tieguanyin I had from Verdant. I don’t like this one as much, but I’ll have to give it another try since I think my water temperature was too high. Rates about 60.
Update: Tried cold brew (1g/100ml, chilled overnight), and it is lovely – the light toasty flavor hits first, savory & crisp. A little grassy, nutty, buttery in the middle, and finish lingers grassy sweet. Very refreshing! 70 rating is from this preparation.
(4g/100ml/175/20 sec +10 following)
Dry leaves are sweet & grassy with a whiff of tobacco. Wet leaves are similar but stronger. Steep 1 (20 sec) tastes almost like it smells – sweet, grassy, green with a hint of tobacco. Package describes this as “straightforward without anything extra…just good, pure green tea taste,” and that’s about right. Aside from the tobacco note, there is no complexity. Steep 2 (30 sec) starts some bitterness, and the tobacco is a little more pronounced. Steep 3 (35 sec) has a little less tobacco & bitterness, so it tastes just slightly sweeter. Since not much interesting is going on, I’ll try the leaves in cold brew. (Rates 60 in gaiwan.)
Update: After 3 infusions, dropped leaves in ~12 oz water for cold brew. Iced is mild, uncomplicated, but very pleasant green tea taste. Might be best use! Prepared this way rates around 70.
(4g/4oz/175; wash, then 30 sec infusion, +10 following)
Dry leaves have very savory green vegetable aroma, not sweet at all. Wet leaves after wash add roasted/smoky scent. 1st infusion (30 sec) is dark gold, almost brown. Taste is of savory broth, almost meaty, with a hint of smoke on the nose. Just a touch bitter, and finishes with a very slight astringency; not unpleasant, though, as it balances the savory notes. Taste of infusions 2-4 remain consistent. Flavor is interesting but not especially complex.
(4g/4 oz/195/30 sec, 15 sec resteep)
Dry leaves smell sweet from the green tea, but wet smell primarily of toasted corn. Tea smells buttery & toasty. First steep (30 sec) is light gold in color, nice blend of mostly savory & a touch sweet in the caramelized roastiness. Very soothing & pleasant. Scent of lightly buttered popcorn is delicious. Second steep (15 sec) is similar with just a tiny hint of astringency at the end. Third steep (30 sec) still good, maybe just starting to lose a little flavor. Easily did 5 infusions without serious loss of flavor.
I’ll have to remember this one when cold season starts – it would be very comforting.
(Gongfu, 3.5g/5oz, 175, 10 sec +5 following) Dry leaves smell sweet & lightly vegetal. Wet leaves bring a touch of toasted spinach aroma.
Steeps 1-3: Aroma is of lightly buttered cooked green vegetables. Flavor is delicate, sweet, & vegetal, with a slightly thick & buttery texture. After first infusion, sweetness recedes a little while vegetal flavors grow more prominent. Remains smooth, no bitterness or astringency. After third infusion becoming a little weak.
Steeps 4-6 (30, 60, 120 sec): Not much different but definitely less strength. Longer steeps still smooth & pleasant. After 6, put leaves in ~8 oz to cold brew.
Update 1: not much left in leaves for cold brew, so iced tea was refreshing but fairly washed out.
Update 2: (Western style by pkg directions: 2.5g/8 oz/175/3 min)
Definitely not as interesting as gongfu. Aroma is similar (sweet, vegetal, pleasant), though muted. Flavors overtaken by strong green vegetable aftertaste with fair amount of (not totally unpleasant) bitterness. Prepared this way rates about 65.
Update 3: Tried cold brew from fresh – this was the best by far. Sweet & grassy refreshing, but also with umami notes of cooked green vegetables & nuttiness. Delicious – rates 90 this way.
Shortly after a cup of this delicious blend I was reading an article proclaiming green tea is effective in “…Prevention of all causes of death”. As you might expect, I’m planning to drink a few cups before heading out for my next gang war.
This tea is a hands-down winner in direct comparison to another Moroccan Mint blend. I was anxious to try this and taste the difference with the addition of Egyptian Mint to the blend. The difference is pleasantly significant.
Steeped in a gaiwan, the liquor was a light amber and lightly sweet. The spearmint in a clear and pleasant note, and lingers well beyond the cup.
I really like this, and plan to play around a little with temps and methods to see what all I can get from it. Many thanks to ashmanra for the generous sample. (And the use of a gaiwan to expand my repertoire!)
Flavors: Mint, Spearmint, Sweet
I did a head to head comparison of four Moroccan Mint teas once, and nobody, I mean NOBODY, has ever beat this one for me. I can pick up some more for you next time I am in Raleigh, if you like. So glad you enjoyed it!
Another lovely gift from Grandma. I hope she knows how much I appreciate this, especially since this obsession with tea is far from practical.
Again, I recommend the tea shop and I highly compliment the staff. I also have three more teas I need to write about.
Now, I have had MANY milk oolongs over the past few year, flavored and unflavored. I might have said this before for other teas, but this one is basically the standard of what you should expect. It has the general profile I like about these types of teas: creamy, sweet, floral, buttery, a little coconut-y, and a touch complex. It is undeniably savory and dessert like.
The first steep was the sweetest, and was better Western with slightly less than a teaspoon at 2 1/2 minutes. Short steeps do work for this tea at 15 sec with a little more leaves, but since the flavoring of the tea is stronger than the natural notes of the tea, it can be tricky to find it’s right balance. This is drinkable straight, but a touch of honey or sugar is recommended.
It can rebrew well; however, some sessions were better than others. If you get butterscotch in the smell, than you’ve done it right. The vegetal qualities of the oolong can unfortunately contrast with the flavoring and make the tea seem a little more artificial. The flavoring/tea leaf balance is my main criticism, and this would be easier to sell to tea newbies or those who are not afraid of stronger flavored teas. The more experienced snobs might think it’s slightly too artificial.
I might not buy it in bulk, but I enjoy a small amount of it. I would not say no if I were offered a single drink of it.
The store is definitely up to date in all of its gadgets and blends. The coconut pouchong has been my personal favorite so far, and their herbals aren’t bad. This milk oolong tea falls right in the middle in terms of quality. Lighter steeps makes it shine, though I personally do not recommend brewing it past steep 4.
This was a gift from my gma while I was in Raleigh. Tin Roof Tea’s had a nicely organized and filled shop with a few new tea gadgets, wears, and a comprehensive collection. The customer service was also top notch.
This tea looked interesting online, and the aroma was great. The tea is naturally sweet and fairly tropical without sweetener, but more balanced with a little bit of honey. I noticed the dragonfruit, kiwi, and rhaspberry fairly easily though the Sencha was a tad bit grassy. Sometimes it tasted natural while other times it was a little bit artificial. I preferred brewing it at 2 minutes. I could rebrew it, but the later steeps had a weird balance. The flavorings fluxed while the fruit remained strong and the tea getting a little bit grassier and slightly drier, never mind I do not think this is a dry tea. The sencha was my only complaint. I’m glad to try it and my fruity liking tea friends enjoy it, but it’s not a must have for my cupboard.
Thank you Grandma!
Here I am with the third and last of the Tin Roof Teas that I purchased a little while back. The first two were outstanding. Let’s see if this one maintains that record…
When I unfastened TRF’s signature package, with its unsealed but clamped down opening, the smell that greeted me was very much like the smell of tobacco in a freshly opened pack of cigarettes. Since I have never been a smoker, I wasn’t sure if that was a good or bad sign.
The brewing instructions said to steep this blend for three minutes. That seemed insufficient for the punch I wanted it to pack, so I brewed the medium-length dark brown leaves for four minutes. (Just call me a tea rebel.)
The finished product was a bright amber in color. The unbrewed cigarette tobacco odor was gone and replaced with a slightly sweet malty aroma.
This tea had a really rich flavor from the very first sip until the end of the cup. The taste played no other flavor notes except tea with a hint of malt. It was unmistakably Darjeeling, but amplified, almost like Darjeeling on steroids. In spite of the supercharged flavor, it was remarkably smooth. The aftertaste was no burden on my palate for the few minutes it remained.
I have to admit, I am not a huge Darjeeling fan. The main reason is I find the typical flavor a little blah when compared to other black teas. However, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Somehow a simple flavor was made complex. The taste was like a symphony of violins. They are all playing the same instrument but the harmony makes the music beautiful.I’m starting to see a pattern with the Tin Roof Teas that I have tried so far. In my experiences with the three I have sampled, they have all contained simple, yet very powerful, full flavors without astringency. Usually just one very dominant flavor exists, but you are not disappointed and you don’t yearn for more.
This is another winner from TRF. I will definitely look for more selections to take for a spin!
Flavors: Malt, Tea
This is the second of three Tin Roof Teas I bought recently. Since its name is “vanilla,” my sweet tooth started itching when I saw it.
When I opened the silver pouch (which, by the way, is closed and fastened with a gold wire clamp instead of sealed), a very pleasant and fragrant vanilla aroma spilled out. This made me even more excited to get the brewing underway.
I steeped the full dark leaves at 212 degrees for five minutes. The package recommended up to four minutes but I like my black tea as robust as I can get it without bitterness. Five minutes of brewing has never failed me yet.
The brewed aroma of the tea was also very vanilla. It was strong but not fake or obnoxious. The color was golden brown.
The flavor was interesting. The vanilla taste was so striking that there was no room for any other flavor accents. As powerful as the taste was, it somehow wasn’t overwhelming. I found it to be quite enjoyable for the entire duration of my cup. I also was surprised that the booming vanilla flavor produced no astringency. It was actually smooth and the aftertaste never wore out its welcome on my palate.
This is another one of those teas for which I have no criticism. The entire experience was delightful through four cups this morning. I’ve started brewing my own tea at work using my little handy-dandy infuser. This vanilla tea will definitely help launch my work days off to a cheerful start.
My problem with most vanilla & the majority of flavored teas is the artificial taste (and some are worse than others). I am glad you noted a more natural vanilla flavor-this sounds like a vanilla tea I might like.