283 Tasting Notes

93

This was the big surprise of the final Butiki batch for me – I love it! So much of it, particularly for me, shouldn’t work… but it just does! First off, the base is a green, which is typically my least favourite, and on top of that it has anise, which, as a licorice-hater, I’m also not a big fan of. But somehow when combined with the pear and jasmine flavours this tea just really works for me! It’s even more surprising given that it doesn’t seem to be too popular with other Steepsterites. But that’s okay, more for me! Or there would be if this were still available…

The dry leaf of this tea is absolutely gorgeous. Butiki blends tend to be visually stunning, but this one more than most. There are whole jasmine flowers dispersed throughout the leaf, and whole pieces of star anise which, though I’m not usually a fan of flavour-wise, are pretty gorgeous to look at. Many reviewers have commented that they found the anise to be overpowering, but this wasn’t the case for me. The bi luo chun, pear, jasmine and anise notes are all pretty harmonious in my cup and none are overwhelming or jarring. This is a very relaxing cup of tea! It’s subtle in the right way; I think if the notes were stronger they would become overpowering and become more of a punch in the face, but it’s not lacking in flavour like I found the Irish Cream Butter Crisps to be. Perhaps the trick with this one was leaving it to mature for a couple of years until the flavours mellowed out! As usual I added a little under half a teaspoon of sugar, which, as Stacy said it would, really created a pear drop sweets kind of feel. Only this one is mature and better for you. The Jasmine notes are soft and natural – I suspect they come from the added flowers rather than additional flavourings – and add a sophisticated twist to something which otherwise could have been too sweet and fruity. The anise is mellow, too, and doesn’t remind me of licorice as much as peking duck (that sounds totally negative but it wasn’t meant to). Perhaps what I should have said is that it reminds me of five spice, in that the anise is more natural and ever so slightly on the savoury side, so that it pairs well with the green tea base. The pear note does not come across as artificial to me, or at least not in a bad way. It’s definitely reminiscent of sweets more than the fruit itself, but it comes across to me as deliberate, and the word ‘artificial’ to me conjures up (gustatory) images of plastic, chemical-tasting sting-your-mouth disgustingness, which this doesn’t have.

Of all the Butiki teas I bought in their closing down tea-blending frenzy, I knew there would be some gems I would struggle to part with, I’m just a little surprised to find that this is one of them! I’m relieved I picked some of it up, because I was umming and ahhing over whether to get any at all, but now I wish I has more than my measly half an ounce. Oh well, hindsight is a wonderful thing! I shall enjoy this while I have it, and savour as much as I can.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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88

Resteeped my leaves and was rewarded with a milder, lighter cup of the same deliciousness I had yesterday. Maybe a bit lighter on the coffee this time, but the pumpkin spice is still present and yummy.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 6 min, 0 sec 8 OZ / 236 ML

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60

This, though a nice enough tea, is probably one of my least favourites from the last Butiki release. I guess it’s unsurprising since I’m a lover of strong teas and this is very delicate. I love Irish cream, but I dislike butter, and unfortunately for me the butter is stronger than the Irish cream here, particularly in the scent. I suppose for people who like/don’t mind the flavour of butter it would likely be a good thing, but the scent of the tea once brewed is strongly buttery and makes me feel a little queasy. It’s milder in the actual tea, thankfully, and I do think the Irish cream is very mild, too. The main note is of cream, but I can’t pick up on much – if any – whisky, so I’m tempted to say that the creaminess might come mainly from the bai mu dan, which is a naturally creamy tea. I don’t really know what sugar crisps are, but it is a sweet tea… I added a bit of actual sugar and it intensified the creaminess. All in all it’s a nice tea, but that’s all it is: nice. I can happily sip it while spending the afternoon reading as I did today, but it’s not one which bowls me over with its flavour.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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82

Thank you to Janelle for letting me try this! It had been on my wishlist for a while.

None of my remaining Butiki drink-a-thon teas are really ‘breakfast’ type teas, so this morning I dug around in my sample box until I came across this. It didn’t smell of much, and I was worried I might have left it too long, but the flavours are still coming through and the scent when it’s brewing is much more appetising. It actually does smell like pancakes! Flavour-wise, there’s a pancakey ‘baked goods’ note which is strongest in the initial sip, and is followed by syrupy buttery goodness which adds a really lovely background sweetness. The base tea is malty, which I like in breakfast teas, but not as astringent as I’d expected. I don’t think I could have drank the whole cup without milk, but someone else who is less sensitive when it comes to astringency could have definitely drank this plain. I added a little bit of sugar (about half a teaspoon or just under) and the butter and syrup notes came out more. Milk got rid of the astringency but didn’t affect the flavours too much.

This definitely filled that breakfast-tea hole, and I’m happy it lived up to my expectations. Now onwards with the Butiki!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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88

Well, I ended up staying on a double shift at work. I knew that would happen! So my tea-drinking has been pushed back to tomorrow, or possibly later because I’m having to book an emergency appointment with the dentist to have my wisdom tooth removed. I hope they can fit me in, because I’ve been in agony for a week now and it only seems to be getting worse. I was determined to fit at least one tea in tonight, though, and I went with this one because it’s one I’ve been staring at for days now wanting to drink.

This is delicious. I am in total agreement with those saying it’s their favourite Butiki pumpkin tea. It tastes exactly like a pumpkin spice latte!! I can’t even begin to pick apart the notes because my brain is just screaming at me ‘pumpkin spice latte pumpkin spice latte pumpkin spice latte’ over and over again. I didn’t want to risk adding sugar, so I’m not sure how that might have affected the flavour, but I bet it would be sooo good. I want to try this tea so many ways. I want to cold brew it, make it into a latte, make tea syrup, add sugar, add honey, add maple syrup and golden syrup… I wish I had more than 1/2 an oz because I’m already sad that I won’t be able to try most of those things. The butterscotch is the least prominent note and adds a little syrupy sweetness, but the pumpkin and coffee flavours blend together seamlessly, neither outshining the other. Honestly if I closed my eyed and ignored how much thinner the liquid is, I would truly believe I was drinking a pumpkin spice latte. Happy sigh.

Basically, pumpkin spice latte pumpkin spice latte pumpkin spice latte.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 30 sec 8 OZ / 236 ML
greenteafairy

Good luck with the dentist! I hope you can get in tomorrow, and I hope it’s not too rough.

Amie

Hope you get the care you need at the dentist. I had a tooth extraction just before Christmas and it was painful but necessary. My husband was my saviour and made me a bunch of homemade soups and health shakes and got me all my favorite nut icecreams. Good luck to you:) I wish Butiki Teas was still in business – I keep seeing everyone post about how great they are and was sad to look on their website and see they had closed shop.

Nattie

Thanks greenteafairy and Amie! I have an appointment for tomorrow morning, so it’s not too bad. Amie you’re lucky to have such a wonderful husband! I hope I can coerce someone into doing the same for me, haha. Sorry about the Butiki posts! They are a huge miss. As far as I’m concerned no other company comes close to what they did. I’ve heard good things about A Quarter to Tea, but never tried them myself so I can’t speak for them.

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82
drank 1989 Suncha Blend by Butiki Teas
283 tasting notes

I was saving this for a day when I had an afternoon free to enjoy a relaxed gong fu session, but I’m running out of strong enough teas to have when I first wake up from my Butiki suitcase box, and I’m in work soon and needed the energy jolt, so western style it is. The western steep didn’t destroy it! It’s still a great tea. The smokiness is milder than I remember, but still the dominating top note. The earthiness lasts throughout the sip and gives it body, giving way to pine notes at the end of the sip. There’s a creaminess to it which tempers the heavy, woodsy flavours well, and a tang right at the very back of the sip which stops the creaminess from being too much, too rich. I think that this is to this day the only sheng/shou blend I’ve tried, but they work really well together, each playing off the other and enhancing the best of both. I added skimmed milk just to lighten the cup as it is pretty heavy, and the flavours hold up well. This is a strong puerh that isn’t going to be bothered by a little bit of milk!

This is a very special tea, even as somebody who doesn’t drink puerh on a regular basis I can see that. I will eventually – hopefully not too far in the future – have a gong fu session with it and write up the tasting note it deserves, but I’m very happy in the knowledge that it does just fine brewed western style if I’m in a rush or just feeling impatient! I know that I could easily drink down all 4oz I have of this, but I also know that there are puerh drinkers out there who would be very happy to be able to try this. Sharing is caring, after all; I think an ounce or two of this might end up in some people’s mailboxes in the not-too-distant future.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec 4 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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81
drank Coconut Cream Pie by Butiki Teas
283 tasting notes

Well, I was almost finished my tasting note for this when Chrome decided to close all my tabs on me. Thanks, Google. I’m in danger of not making my drink-a-thon target since I’ve had a poor couple of days, so I’m going to post it anyway, even though it’s going to suck even more than the original note did. I’m tired, physically exhausted and in some not inconsiderable pain, and there’s no way I can be bothered to type the whole thing out again, so this is what I’m going with – I like this a whole lot better than I did when I first bought it, though I’m not sure if it’s aged well or just grown on me. I can taste the coconut, I can taste the cream, and I can even taste the pie. The last part might be coming from the rooibos more than the flavouring, but hey, if you can’t mask the rooibos, why not use it to your advantage? This is sweet enough that I didn’t feel the need to add any sugar, which is just as well, because I blew half my daily allowance of smartpoints on a Mcdonald’s chicken wrap on the way home from work and wouldn’t have had enough left to add any anyway. I added a splash of skimmed milk and it enhances the coconut and cream notes without diminishing the pie crust flavour at all. It has a lingering aftertaste of real, authentic coconut milk.

Yeah, I wasn’t keen on this when I first bought it, but I think it might be one of my favourite herbals at the moment.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
S.G. Sanders

I usually write my notes via Microsoft Word; copy & paste.

Nattie

That’s a good idea, I might have to start doing that

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60
drank Red Queen Cupcake by Butiki Teas
283 tasting notes

I didn’t have a single cup of tea yesterday because I was so busy (I was out ll day, and went straight from a shopping trip to work, only stopping at home for 12 minutes in between to get changed) and my wisdom tooth was playing up so much that I don’t think I would have been able to enjoy it anyway. I’d like to say I’m going to make up for it today, but I’m going straight from freelance work #1.5 to job #2, so I’m still pretty busy today. Tomorrow I’m back at job #1 for a few hours but then finally I’ll have a few hours when I get back to enjoy some tea. Unless they decide to keep me on a double shift…

I decided to have this one because of the chocolate, which I was craving and can’t have because of my new old diet. Sadly, the chocolate is the least prominent flavour. I’m a little bit gutted because I was really looking forward to Butiki’s chocolate flavour, and it just kind of gets lost in a sea of strawberry. It smells absolutely delicious while it’s steeping, and I can clearly pick out the strawberry, chocolate and espresso notes, but when I tried this plain all I got was a murky coffee/tea combo with a fairly strong strawberry note and not much chocolate. I added a tiny bit of sugar and it did bring out the strawberry more and make the base tea less murky-tasting, but there is still a mild astringency which is too much for me to drink a whole cup, since I’m quite sensitive to astringency. I added a splash of skimmed milk, just a touch, and it did help to balance the cup out a lot. The strawberry is no longer fresh strawberry, but more strawberry cream, like a milkshake sort of flavour, and the espresso note becomes more clear at the end of the sip, getting more prominent as the cup cools. I still don’t get much chocolate, though that’s maybe to do with the base tea. I’ve never tried this base on its own but I can’t help wishing Stacy had used something sweeter, with more natural dark chocolate and honey notes. The Sansia Black, for example, worked really well in the Chocolate Chili Truffle blend. It’s a shame that the chocolate didn’t come through for me, because I think it’s the note which ties the others together so that they make sense as a combination. Chocolate and coffee? Delicious. Chocolate and strawberry? A classic combination. Coffee and strawberry?… Not so much. Without that missing link of the chocolate it’s nice enough, but just seems a little bit odd and disjointed. I will have to play with the steeping parameters to see if I can make it work.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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87
drank Fu Shou Shan by Butiki Teas
283 tasting notes

I’ve left this off my spreadsheet, so not entirely sure how it came into my possession, but I’m like 90% sure it was in my Butiki mystery box. It’s one I never would have bought of my own volition, but one which I’m glad to have and that I really enjoy when I’m in the right mood. Maybe I should hold off on the review until I’ve had multiple steeps, but I have to get ready for work in around an hour and I didn’t want to be cutting it too close, so I’ll have to write up a separate tasting note another time for the additional steeps.

I really enjoy oolongs, both green and roasted, and this is among the greener of those which I enjoy. It is a full-bodied, sweet and mellow oolong, but I don’t pick up on any asparagus notes which Stacy has mentioned, not that that’s a negative for me. The predominant note is a sweet, floral grassy one at first, which develops into a lightly spiced note which honestly reminds me of cinnamon. I could smell a cinnamon note as the tea steeped, but assumed it was coming from something else, and was very surprised when it translated into the flavour of the tea. It can’t be from cross-contamination, but it is very clearly a cinnamon note in my mind. This then transitions into a fruity note in the aftertaste which tastes more like apple to me than melon. The whole while the grassy note continues, so that in the aftertaste it reminds me of wood sorrel and makes me think of the apple grass from Doctor Who. As it cools, the butteriness becomes more noticeable. This is about as close to an apple pie filling as a straight tea can ever get. I will definitely be on the lookout for something similar when I run out of this.

ETA: Even my little brother could taste the apple and cinnamon, and said this was really nice! Success!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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65
drank Chocolate Flake Tea by Teapigs
283 tasting notes

In an effort to use up some of these teabags, and also because I wanted a chocolatey iced tea, I cold-brewed 3 bags of this in my usual 20 oz water bottle overnight. I think I actually ended up leaving it two days by mistake, but it tastes fine. No astringency. I’m actually going to change my rating from 44 because for once I can taste the chocolate in this!! I wish I’d discovered this sooner because it’s much nicer this way. It’s still not the most natural chocolate flavour out there, but it’s not bad at all. The tea is a soft background and the chocolate dominates, which is what I expected from a cold brew. I drank this plain after my lunch to satisfy my chocolate cravings because I’m back on the diet, and it did help. I think it would have been a perfect chocolatey treat with some honey or maple syrup added, but I didn’t want to use the points and it was fine as it was. I’m actually fairly impressed!

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more 20 OZ / 591 ML

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Bio

I first got into loose leaf teas when a friend of mine showed me Cara’s Sherlock fandom blends on Adagio a good few years back, but they weren’t on sale in the UK so I started trying other kinds instead and have been hooked for almost three years.

Black teas make up the majority of my collection, but I am expanding my horizons and trying to include a variety of other teas, too. Flavoured blacks are my favourites, but I’m growing increasingly fond of unflavoured teas too. I will update my likes and dislikes as I discover more about my palate, but for now:

Tea-likes: I’m generally easily pleased and will enjoy most flavours, but my absolute favourites are maple, caramel, chestnut, pecan, raspberry, coconut, blueberry, lemon, pumpkin, rose, hazelnut and peach

Tea-dislikes: vanilla (on its own), ginger, coriander, cardamom, liquorice, pineapple and chocolate

I am a 22 year old English Literature sort-of-graduate and temporary bartender. Other than drinking, hoarding and reviewing tea, my hobbies include reading, doing quizzes and puzzles, TV watching (self-diagnosed geek and Netflix addict), football/soccer (I am a lifelong supporter of Sunderland AFC) and listening to classic rock.

I should probably also mention my tea-rating system, which seems to be much harsher than others I’ve seen on here. It’s not always concrete, but I’ll try to define it:

• 50 is the base-line which all teas start at. A normal, nothing-special industrial-type black teabag of regular old fannings would be a 50.

• 0 – 49 is bad, and varying degrees of bad. This is probably the least concrete as I hardly ever find something I don’t like.

• I have never given below a 20, and will not unless that tea is SO bad that I have to wash my mouth out after one sip. Any teas rated as such are unquestionably awful.

• This means most teas I don’t enjoy will be in the 30 – 50 range. This might just mean the tea is not to my own personal taste.

• 51+ are teas I enjoy. A good cup of tea will be in the 50 – 70 range.

• If I rate a tea at 70+, it means I really, really like it. Here’s where the system gets a little more concrete, and I can probably define this part, as it’s rarer for a tea to get there.

• 71- 80: I really enjoyed this tea, enough to tell somebody about, and will probably hang onto it for a little longer than I perhaps should because I don’t want to lose it.

• 81 – 90: I will power through this tea before I even know it’s gone, and will re-order the next time the mood takes me.

• 91 – 100: This is one of the best teas I’ve ever tasted, and I will re-order while I still have a good few cups left, so that I never have to run out. This is the crème de la crème, the Ivy League of teas.

I never rate a tea down, and my ratings are always based on my best experience of a tea if I drink it multiple times. I feel that this is fairest as many factors could affect the experience of one particular cup.

I am always happy to trade and share my teas with others, so feel free to look through my cupboard and message me if you’re interested in doing a swap. I keep it up-to-date, although this doesn’t mean I will definitely have enough to swap, as I also include my small samples.

I also tend to ramble on a bit.

Location

South Shields, UK

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