Posts Tagged ‘Flavors’
Category of Tea: Herbal
Tea Company: Tea Forte (website)
Ingredients: hibiscus, rosehip, apple, blackberry leaves, raspberries, orange peel, flavoring, citric acid
Vendor Suggested Preparation: Steep for 5 minutes, 208°F For stronger flavor, steep longer
Preparing to try out this herbal blend, the first thing that I notice in the smell of the dry leaves is “Hmmm, hibiscus.” After boiling some water, I steep one pyramid infuser in a cup of water for five minutes to prepare to taste the “nectar”! The steeping brew still smells a lot like hibiscus, but the raspberry and orange peel smells are noticeable as well.
The first sip of this herbal tisane is a massively juicy explosion of flavor. Tea Forte’s website had listed the ingredients as “rosehip, hibiscus, apple pieces, blackberry leaves, raspberries, orange peels, flavoring” and there is so much going on in the taste that I believe it has all those things and more. Thankfully, since this blend is called “Raspberry Nectar,” raspberry is one of the dominant flavors. The sweetness of the apple does come out quite nicely, albeit subtly. This would be a decent desert drink, especially if one is looking for something low in caffeine. On my personal enjoyment scale, I rate it a 72/100.
You can purchase Tea Forte Raspberry Nectar directly from their website.
Tea Company: Boston Tea Company (website)
Ingredients: Chinese Sechung Oolong Tea, Almonds, Calendula Petals, Natural Vanilla and Almond Flavors
Vendor Suggested Preparation: 1 teaspoon per cup, water just before boiling, 2-5 minutes
If one doesn’t have the proper word to describe something, inventing one is always an option. Therefore and herewith, I christen this tea nuggety.
Dry, the rolled oolong leaves are nearly as big as granola bits; the almond slivers fully as big as your fingernail. The scent is all almond–the vanilla is just along for the ride. Nice apricot-colored calendula leaves add a little contrast, both visually and flavorfully.
A three-minute window of opportunity seemed a little generous (prep instructions suggested anywhere from 2-5 minutes), so I tried to hit the steep time right in the center. Doing so resulted in a beautifully pale cup that was sweet and subtly nutty. The variety of oolong chosen for this blend is so close and complementary to the almond flavor, it’s hard to separate them as you sip.
The tea label suggests that milk, lemon, or sweetening is appropriate. A splash of milk didn’t completely overwhelm the tea’s delicacy, but Vanilla Almond Oolong is best enjoyed on its own.
You can purchase the Vanilla Almond Oolong directly from the Boston Tea Company website.
Tea Company: Grand Tea (website)
Ingredients: Green Tea
Vendor Suggested Preparation: 85 Degree Celsius Water, steep 1-2 minutes
Sometimes, I get a tea for review, and I go through the entire sample trying to figure out what the heck to say about it. Usually, I’m having problems coming up with something nice about the tea, or just something interesting to say.
I drank through the entire sample of this tea while coming up for the review, but for a pleasantly different reason. It was because I was a LOT more interested in drinking the tea than in writing any silly words about it. It was such a pleasant drinking experience I just didn’t want to stop.
It had plently of the slightly masculine, vegetal flavors, but it’s missing the astringency that can often come with dragon well teas. It’s a light, flavorful, and very sippable. The flat green leaves were not as as large and bright green as some other dragon well teas, but they were fragrant and brew up wonderfully.
Good overall tea, a nice example of this category. Have a cup!
You can purchase the Xi Hu Premium Dragon Well directly from the Grand Tea website.
Tea Company: Tea Forte (website)
Ingredients: organic green tea
Vendor Suggested Preparation: Steep for 2-4 minutes, 175 degF
There are two types of tea lovers. Type T’s are thorough and scientific. They have scales, multiple varieties of steeping paraphenalia, accurate thermometers, and know how to use use them all. Their measurements, as well as their tasting notes, are rational, objective, consistent, and precise. Green tea was made for Type T’s. There is an infinite spectrum of flavor out there for those who are willing to coddle and fuss with their tea.
Then there’s the rest of us–type L’s. We’re loose and a little lazy and perpetually too distracted to measure leaves carefully, to time teas precisely, or to rate them objectively. Type L reviews often include rambly, stream-of-consciousness comparisons to memories, pieces of music, or articles of clothing rather than clearly defined flavors. Our measurement technique: “Eh, that’s about right.” Our timing habits: “Oops! When did I put that on?” Green tea isn’t usually Type L friendly–there’s just too much that can go wrong in the preparation.
Finally…a green tea that even a Type L can’t ruin! Tea Forte’ has made it easy with their lovely pyramid bags (takes measurement inconsistencies out of the equation). Leaves are medium sized and a nice dark green. The care I took during steeping amounted to running water through the Hot Shot and giving it about a minute to cool and (not my usual groove) setting a kitchen timer for 3 minutes and actually making it to the kitchen when it beeped instead of finding myself elbow-deep in another chore.
The reward for my efforts was a nice, pale gold cup that was pleasantly light. The Tea Forte’ website uses “vegetal notes” and “lightly nutty” as this Sencha’s key descriptors, but I’m getting some sunny citrus vibes, like lemon and lime zest. The second steep, prepared with no more care than the first, was nearly as bright and fruity as the first.
Someday, when I have time, I will measure and compare and chart my tea findings and discover all the sensory subtleties of rare and excellent green tea. But until then, I am grateful that Tea Forte’ has made a green tea for a harried and distractible type L…light and luscious!
You can purchase the Sencha directly from the Tea Forte website.
Tea Company: East Pacific Tea Co (website)
Ingredients: not listed online
Vendor Suggested Preparation: 3 minute steep time
My first experience with a British East India tea was highly positive, so it was with great anticipation I opened up my packet of what is advertised to be “a wonderful warming tea combining the spice of cinnamon and a subtle sweetness of apple.”
Thus, it was with great deflation and dejection I discovered this variety … well, just isn’t as advertised.
It sounds promising. It looks tasty–big, thick tea leaves, outnumbered by chunks of apple and spice; a nice rosy red when steeped the prescribed number of minutes.
And that’s where the positives, unfortunately, end. The dry mix smells musty and vinegary–it’s making me hearken back to unwelcome trips to Grandma Schubert’s basement to retrieve stored goods.The tea itself tasted tart and stale…I didn’t pick up tea, apple, or cinnamon flavors. Just vinegar.
It is possible that this particular sample wasn’t up to par. (That’s likely.) It is possible that this particular blend was crafted to appeal to the British palate, which I know differs in some ways from the average U.S. tea taster. (Less likely, but I’m trying to be diplomatic.) It is possible that another packet on another day might have yielded completely different results.
But today’s result, I’m sorry to say, was blecch!
You can purchase the Golden Apple and Cinnamon directly from the East Pacific Tea Co website.