New Tasting Notes
Happy National Day of Unplugging!
Lately I’ve been unwinding in the evening with sakura lattes, made using Lupicia’s Cerisier tea and a bit of frothed vanilla almond milk. It’s a decaf black tea so I can still drink it in the evenings, and making it as a latte curbs some of the “brassiness” of the decaf leaf.
But, something about this prompt brought back the memory of this tea, which I reviewed three years ago (here: https://steepster.com/mastressalita/posts/375194 ). Seemed a good opportunity to refresh my memory of it. It has been my “sleepy tea” of choice since I grabbed it on a whim during American Tea Room’s OOB sale, and I’m still not sure what I will replace it with once I sip it down.
For me, valerian root is the magic sleepy herb that “works” to relax me. And that herb can smell/taste horrible if not blended right. This tea has such a strong fennel presense that it is hard to smell anything else on the nose but the spicy/peppery/slightly licoricey fennel. A bit of a floral rose note also appears on the nose.
The flavor is very strongly fennel; there are more subtle notes of an herbaceous citrusy/pine flavor, floral rose, and a light mintiness that comes out toward the end of the sip as the spice fades a bit from the tongue. I really like fennel, so this is a really easy-sipper for me, and I usually find after two cups my eyelids are quite heavy!
All that said, I had this rated very high back in the day, and I wouldn’t rate it that highly anymore. While I enjoy the flavor and especially enjoy the functionality, I wouldn’t say there is anything particularly special about it compared to similar herbal blends. For that reason I’ve lowered the rating to be more in line with where I’m gauging teas today.
Flavors: Citrus, Fennel, Floral, Herbaceous, Licorice, Mint, Pepper, Pine, Rose
Latte Sipdown (291)
This was always alright as a plain tea and while coffee teas always go awry for me as lattes, I wanted to give this a try. It’s actually pretty good. I always worried about the rooibos base because that seems to be what causes issues, but as a plain tea the rooibos wasn’t problematic and same goes for the latte. This is a lot of mocha flavor but with vanilla notes as well. The sweetness of the maple comes through nicely without being overly maple. I think as a latte this actually captures tiramisu well and I regret not making it this way from the start. It’s a great goodbye though and I’ll be upping the rating from 61 slightly.
Sipdown! (12 | 142)
Milk tea sipdown! I added a bit of a Vahdam first-flush Darjeeling as well, because I didn’t quite have enough of this left.
I was surprised by how much I could taste the Darjeeling, to be honest! Given that I only added a little bit. There were clear floral/muscat sort of notes going on, and I honestly liked the all-Assam milk tea from a few days ago better.
I’ll have to try out the second-flush Darjeeling from my advent leftovers and see how I feel about it…
I also had some fun this evening making some simple syrups out of raw sugar, brown sugar, and honey! So those will be fun to experiment with. Maybe I’ll pick up some dark brown sugar this weekend and try that out as well…
Mastress Alita’s Sipdown Challenge Friday, March 5th: National Day of Unplugging Tea #2
Another comforting flavor profile for me. Sweet fruits! But to be honest, Harney’s Vieux Paris is probably a better choice for a comforting tea. Maybe one day I’ll have that around. This is a short tea note sooo… With unplugging/favorite tea day I feel like I should mention some other things that have helped during these crazy times:
Comedies and especially watching any Marx Bros movies I haven’t seen yet.
Cheez-Its! I am president of the Cheez-It fanclub, if there is one, and that Covid commercial with that guy eating Cheez-Its in the empty bathtub? YUP. I get it. I eat them almost every day. Also, POPTARTS.
edited: and “comedies” also includes The Guild reuniting to online game (check it on Youtube)… they are all a hilarious group of people together.
This smells amazing! Like toasty rice and caramel! I love making this one as a latte! :) It definitely has a savoury, sweet quality to it. And I also believe the toasted rice gives it a pancake or baked good feeling!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Caramel, Pastries, Popcorn, Salt, Savory, Toasted Rice, Toasty
Another outstanding hojicha blend by Deb! I hope she continues to make hojicha blends in the future, since it is something I have not seen other companies do as well as she does! <3
This tea smells like chocolate and coconut, and then you get some of those warmer hojicha notes!
I had this without milk, and it was delicious! Sometimes cacao powder can be grainy; however, with this tea, it was extremely smooth! The chocolate notes really complimented that warm, roasted, nutty hojicha notes so nicely!
I still prefer hojicha cinnamon raisin bread pudding to this one, but I still enjoyed it a lot! I cannot wait until this becomes a permanent part of Deb’s collection!
Flavors: Cacao, Chocolate, Coconut, Cream, Nutty, Roasted, Smooth
Steepster Freeze 2021 #4: 03/05/21
Happy National Day of Unplugging! Today is the Sipdown Challenge day to drink a favorite tea for relaxing; for me, those mostly fall in the tisane category, which I drink after work. During the work day, I drink caffeinated tea. So, I won’t be posting my tea choice until this evening (and once again Steepster is broken on a prompt day… I swear it is a planned effort at this point…).
So now onto… French Friday! This was the tea I randomly grabbed from the sampler bag from Dustin today. Thanks Dustin! The dry leaf has a very alluring smell of juicy pear, stonefruit (I’m getting a bit of the Mirabelle plum aroma that is present in Lupicia’s “Kotobuki”), and a florality that I can’t distinctly pinpoint. I brewed the full 6.4g to 500ml in 205F water for 3.5 minutes.
Brewed tea is a pretty burnt sienna orange. The aroma smells pretty much spot-on for the dry leaf — a floral/perfumy mix of pear and stonefruit. The mouthfeel is giving me a bit of a strong syrupy/coating feeling, which I remember I had from Marco Polo as well; I’m suspecting I may have either used a bit too much leaf for the amount of water or steeped a little longer than necessary, producing a quite strong cup. My personal preferences on this sort of “perfumy/fragrant” French teas seem to be a softer/more gentle brewing than a heavy-handed cup. It’s also just a tad astringent/drying toward the end of the sip, backing up that theory. Ah well, sometimes you just have a bad-steep day…
That aside, the flavor itself it mostly a sweet, succelent pear note. I’m still tasting a bit of the stonefruit, not as strongly as the pear, though; on the tongue it is reading more as apricot or peach than Mirabelle plum, though. The floral note is really strong, but I don’t know how to describe it… my botanical knowledge is not great. It reminds me of jasmine because it is thick, coating, and strong on the nose, but it doesn’t taste like jasmine. Cheating and looking at the flavor notes from the manufacturer, it appears the floral is lotus… which I really have no experience with, so I’m not surprised I couldn’t peg it (I’ve only had one lotus tea before, and it was so old the scenting wasn’t that potent). It’s a very pretty aroma, even if I can’t describe it. I just don’t like the coating/drying feeling that sticky florality is leaving on my tongue.
I think, if I could brew this again using slightly altered parameters, I’d find a cup in my “perfect” zone and be really into this flavor combination.
Flavors: Astringent, Drying, Floral, Peach, Pear, Perfume, Plums, Stonefruit
I’m a huge rooibos fan, but I have to say that this one is a bit too rooibos-y for me. It’s a flavor that’s difficult to describe, but it’s super there. I’ve added a lot of milk to my cup to try to mute it, but this rooibos will not be tamed! Not completely, at least. There’s not too much vanilla either. On subsequent cups, I’ve shortened the steep time, and that’s definitely helped. There are just way better executions of this flavor elsewhere.
Second tea of the battle of the caramel teas. Check out my review of the other tea, Caramel by TeaG here: https://steepster.com/rachel12610/posts/416011
This one and the other are actually quite similar. This one, however, has a bit more of the black tea base coming through. I don’t love Bird and Blend’s base, though its not bad so it doesn’t ruin the tea. What it does do is take away slightly from the caramel notes at times. Other times it heightens the caramel. Honestly it was a close call but with the base peaking through, it can get a touch astringent sometimes and that’s why this one lost.
Today’s battle is between this tea and Butter Brew by Bird and Blend. Essentially a battle of the caramel teas and if I am being honest, these two are both delicious and super similar so its a hard call. They both have a dark caramel sweetness. This one has a little less base coming through than Butter Brew which gives it a slight edge, thus winning the battle. Check out the review for Butter Brew here: https://steepster.com/rachel12610/posts/416012
Thank you for sharing this with me Sil! I know you love it so I am grateful you were willing to part with some.
Mastress Alita’s Sipdown Challenge Friday, March 5th: National Day of Unplugging Tea #1
Well, hilariously enough for “Unplugging Day” Steepster is frozen again? Anyway… when I think of a comforting tea, this is most definitely one at the top of that list. (Another probably would have been the recent tea Reichenbach Recovery!) This is a perfect tea. I would buy ten pounds of this stuff. It’s just chocolatey, dark, malty and sweet enough with that touch of marshmallow. Aging amazingly. (The chocolate has lost that alcohol quality…) sigh. I love it. The base alone would be perfect. I must raise the rating YET AGAIN from 94. Two more tournament books on the way in the mail, so I really need to get reading, which is the perfect excuse to “unplug” and also, you know, Steepster is down anyway.
Not a bad example of an Assam, but not very complex either. Malty and astringent and a tiny bit smoky. It’s got a good kick to it that might stand up to milk, if I was a person that likes tea lattes. I’d rather drink it plain or add some spice to it like ginger. While I’ve enjoyed sipping down this bag, its not worth seeking out again, I’ve had other Assams I’ve enjoyed more.
Like all of Deb’s teas, this smelled so fragrant and fresh!
You can completely tell that everything is handmade and created with so much love. It makes it hard for me to try regular flavoured tea blends now lol, which often have artificial flavour added. Sometimes the artificial flavour works, but other times it is too strong for me and ends up tasting like chemicals!
I made this as a latte, stove-top style. I mostly taste coconut and cream? It tastes a bit like custard, but I actually think her ginger crème brûlée tea tastes more like custard? However, I will finish this up.
I think I just would have liked more complexity in this. It just tastes like a good coconut tea right now.
Flavors: Coconut, Cream, Creamy, Custard
Sipdown from my AJRimmer advent!
I overleafed the hell out of this cup, but I don’t regret that decision. I had the first steeping yesterday and returned to it today. It’s tasting very gingerbread like today! I don’t recall what I thought it tasted like yesterday. I noticed it has little pine like needles in it and I’m kind of bummed I can’t pick them out in the flavor, but maybe that is just a testament to it being well blended.
Trying to remember to relax as I sip this and unwind from shipping label/printer hell that I have found myself tangled back in. Sip. Breathe. Relax. Repeat.
Because (a) Turmeric is the first noted ingredient and (b) I got called away and left this on my desk considerably longer than intended, I expected it to burn my throat. Not so—it’s pleasantly peachy, and any bitterness from the moringa has been beaten into submission by the fruit flavor. I like it and will save a little to try iced…spring is coming, right?
Having another cup of this and I think I’m done. It’s going to the get rid of bag. It’s not that it’s a bad tea, it’s just not a great tea and I don’t have time or cupboard space for ok tea. There is a little bit of roasted coconut taste that merges in with something vaguely sweeter like a hint of caramel. Not getting any salt and I wish the flavors were more intense.
So yeah, Steepster frozen again, again on Friday. Oh well.
My oldest tea in my stash (aged); and sipdown 67. Soon I won’t have teas to sipdown I guess. No, just kidding, still lots of tea over here. But much less!
I drank this tea for last time when I was celebrating my 24th birthday. Like really? Does the time fly that fast? I was thinking I could finish those small puerh samples much earlier.
I used 8 grams, which was quite a lot! And my faithful, 125 ml gaiwan. I didn’t wanted to keep some funny amount worth grandpa brewing only… And there was approximately half of “loose leaf” and half in chunk. I did fast rinse and steeped with 10 seconds increments.
I have to say, this tea is thick. And I have to agree with Togo, its scent is interesting and I would say I have noticed the bell peppers in aroma after the rinse. Now, after first steep it’s indeed more raisiny, nutty and buttery; while taste is quite weak and not lasting much. It is fruity somehow though, with herbal undertone, but not impressive in any way. The rating I gave this tea almost 2 years ago, 96, is certainly too high, but I just hope I don’t have to lower it below my average. As for price… I can’t tell as it was sent to me for paying shipping only from France.
2nd steep, brought more of the herbals, and honestly very sweet, gaiwan is full of autumn leaf pile which started to decay. I noticed resin last time and maybe it’s that herbal note I declare with something added. It truly gets the vegetal note as well.
3rd steep and in gaiwan I feel I have truly bell peppers. It is certainly that. Kind of unfortunate they are in tea bowl as well. Yep, I completely get this note. Highly vegetal note. It’s smooth at least. No idea where I brought up the pine.
4th steep; honey-ish taste, sweet. Something lacking. Certainly I have been expecting a longer aftertaste, that is in this tea almost non-existent.5th steep, flavourful but without complexity. Pretty much boring.
6th steep. A nice cup, but nope, it is way too similar to previous. I am truly missing the aftertaste. There is almost none. And that is sad about this tea. It is tasty, completely unoffensive, but lacking that typical puerh note.
Result: Lowering rating from 96 to 88 as it certainly lacks some long taste; some steeps were indeed boring. Sad to see it go, but ageing doesn’t help and maybe I was just hyped about that tea back then. Certainly it doesn’t deliver any astringency or bitterness… as they say. Even 88 could be considered very high. I know and I have to agree. But as I had it just two times, and once I was truly amazed and now I am considering rating it around average (which is around 75 in my case), I would keep it this way.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Bell Pepper, Butter, Fruity, Nutty, Raisins, Resin, Vegetal