125 Tasting Notes

79
drank Frankenberry by 52teas
125 tasting notes

Tea no. 5 from the 12 Teas of Christmas set.

I wish these teas came with brewing instructions. Each cup I’ve had from the box has been guesswork, so I’m not sure I’ve gotten the best out of them that I could have. I had no idea what Frankenberry was until I read some of the other tasting notes on this tea – we are deprived of so much here in England, cereal-wise. Regardless, it was obvious from the smell (and of course the little bits of freeze-dried strawberries) that this was a strawberry tea. At first I though there were bits of ginger in the blend, and was super happy to find out that it was marshmallow root instead. Flavour-wise, this tea is 100% strawberry marshmallow fluff to me. The malty black base has a strong presence in the initial sip, so I initially wished for a more mellow base to allow the yummy fruity sweetness to shine more. However, after learning that this tea is based on a cereal, I think the combination is inspired. It might dominate at the front of the sip, but the other flavours do come through towards the back, and then the maltiness lingers in the aftertaste with the creamy marshmallow and strong strawberry, much more reminiscent of cereal. I am now satisfied with the base Frank has used, but I still can’t help imagining what these flavours might be like with a milk oolong base. I bet it would be delicious.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 250 ML
KittyLovesTea

A milk oolong base would have been delicious with this, strawberry and oolong go together very well. More so than a black tea base anyway.

Nattie

I agree. I’m hoping Frank will do a reblend with an oolong base at some point.

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72
drank Popcorn Tea by Teapigs
125 tasting notes

Recently sipped down, and now back in my cupboard thanks to my aunt and uncle! They bought me four Teapigs teas for Christmas, of which this was one.

The instructions on the packaging say to brew at boiling, but I ignored that and went for 80 as I have grown less fond of green teas recently, and higher temperatures usually lead to unwanted astringency. For the second time tonight, lowering the temperature of a tea was a good call! The popped rice is the focus of the flavour this way, with the mellow green tea present mainly in the background. And I don’t mind it! My mam, who actively dislikes the majority of my teas, agreed to try this after smelling it and even seemed open to me leaving her a couple of bags! Big success. I think this was my favourite way having this tea too, and I will likely follow these steeping parameters in the future.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 30 sec
Red Fennekin

80-85 is normally my preference for these teas, particularly for Teapigs greens. It really brings out the best in them :-)

Nattie

That’s what I’m going to stick to, too. (:

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83

Holy pony this is one tasty tea!

I am really glad that Frank included this as day four of the 12 Teas of Christmas box, because I considered adding this to my last 52teas order and in the end decided against it. I would definitely have missed out!

The last time I had 52teas Shou Mei, it was quite astringent. To avoid inflicting similar damage on this one, I brewed it at a lower temperature and left it a little longer to allow the flavours to develop without burning the tea. It seems to have worked, and I think that this will be my method with all 52teas Shou Meis in future. The colour when brewed is a deep golden colour, which surprised me since I had lowered the temperature and was half expecting the tea to be weak. The initial taste is of the beautiful white tea, and then the most amazing apple flavouring comes through in the aftertaste. I had no idea how sorely I was missing this from my collection until I tried it.

Preparation
150 °F / 65 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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67
drank Peppermint Bark by 52teas
125 tasting notes

Day 3 of the 12 Teas of Christmas 2014 set.

I won’t lie, I was a little disappointed in this one. I have never tried, came across or even heard of peppermint bark prior to this tea, so maybe I just lack the understanding, but from what I can gather from google it seems to pretty much be a combination of candy cane and chocolate? I have had many candy cane flavoured teas over the holiday period, and some just seemed minty whilst others captured the essence of a candy cane, vanilla sweetness and all. This, unfortunately, seems to capture peppermint and not much else. It is dominant in the sip and aftertaste, with the malty black base becoming prominent for a fleeting second in the middle, and possibly a very slight suggestion of chocolate at some point along the way. It is definitely not what I pictured when I searched peppermint bark online. That having been said, it is still a nice, and perfectly drinkable cup of tea! I actually would have been a lot happier with it if I hadn’t attempted to figure out what peppermint bark is between brewing the tea and drinking it. Maybe it tastes exactly like peppermint bark. I will never know.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 207 ML
cookies

Peppermint bark is usually dark chocolate covered with white chocolate topped with peppermint pieces. It’s quite yummy.

Nattie

Thanks (:
It sounds it!

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85
drank Tiramisu Oolong by 52teas
125 tasting notes

Day 2 of 52teas 12 Teas of Christmas

Okay yum. I was a bit iffy about this one when I scratched the panel to reveal what it was, because I dislike actual tiramisu. I needn’t have worried, though, because this tea is delicious! I am a fan of oolongs, and prefer them plain, but I think I will add a little sweetener next time to fully bring out the dessert aspect of it. The flavour is initially similar to a milk oolong, which then leads to the cream flavour becoming more prominent and full-bodied. The marshmallow root really works here, and I think the cocoa nibs, while they do add a mild chocolatiness, mostly contribute to the tang which makes me translate the flavour as sweet mascarpone rather than just cream. The espresso is mild but definitely present, and hits you while the cream still lingers, along with something boozy. I’m not much of a drinker, but I would guess at rum? Just when you think that it’s over, the final lingering note is of vanilla cakiness. I am amazed by how well this captures a tiramisu, and by how much I actually enjoyed it! I don’t think my pouch will last very long at all.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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66

Merry Christmas everyone! This is the first of the 12 days of tea 2014 set.

I drank it blind at first, without scratching the panel, and assumed some sort of pumpkin white tea. I brewed it accordingly, at a fairly low temperature (no way to check exactly here at my parents’ house), and still found it very astringent and drying after only a couple of minutes of brewing. This surprised me when I scratched the panel and found out it was a green, so theoretically should have been able to take the temperature much better than it did. Next time I will try only brewing it for 90 seconds.

The pumpkin flavour comes through very well, and tastes pleasantly natural, which I think is helped by the dragonwell base. I do think, though, that maybe a different base would have helped the toffee come through more, which as it is I get only as a faint butteriness, and only after I’d read the name and discovered that I was supposed to taste it. I did quite enjoy it, despite the astringency, and think I might actually really enjoy it after a little bit of tweaking.

Happy holidays, everyone! (:

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 2 min, 15 sec

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71
drank Afternoon Infusion by Graze
125 tasting notes

Super quick note on this one as I’m meant to be writing an essay! I had this at work with the banana bread it came with (which was pretty yummy) and was pleasantly surprised. It paired really well with the cake, and was more bold than I expected. I also detected some citrus notes, and to me it almost seemed like a very light earl grey. It definitely brightened up my afternoon.

Preparation
Boiling
gmathis

I’m doing “homework” today, too. (Freelance writing project.) What do you have to write about?

Nattie

That sounds fun! Good luck (:

I’m writing about Renaissance plays and society.

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65
drank Lavender Earl Grey by Ovation Teas
125 tasting notes

Sipdown! (19/254)

This sample came from the EU Travelling Tea Box Round 2, courtesy of KittyLovesTea. This was actually Frank’s pick from the original box, I think mainly because I was badgering him to go outside of his usual straight black or earl grey comfort zone, and this was the least outside of it he had to go to get me off his back. He turned out to really love it, and I was originally going to put the samples back ater one cup but he asked to keep it. I kept enough back to have my own cup at the end of the sample to satisfy my curiosity. Honestly, I think it must have been contaminated since, because if not, I don’t understand why he loved it so much.

I have since bought him some lavender earl grey from Adagio,which I have tried myself and really enjoyed. I assumed that this would be similar, but it turns out not really. The lavender scent is very powerful, and the whole kitchen smelled like my grandma’s garden right away when steeping. The bergamot was also present I a light, citrusy way. The smell was super good, but unfortunately the earl grey just didn’t translate into the flavour. The lavender is EXTREMELY strong, and completely drowns out the other flavours. For my first few sips, I found this enjoyable, although as my cup went on I started to find it cloying and was actually quite sick of it by the end of the cup. I also started to notice a sort of stale taste part way through, which I will attribute to the fact that I haven’t kept it entirely well, and the sample has been open for quite some time now. I can’t mark it poorly, though, as I did enjoy the first quarter of the cup, and Frankie’s opinion should be taken into account, too. It’s only fair. Plus I also seem to remember sneaking a sip each time I made it for him, and enjoyed it considerably more than I did today.

Drank with milk to tone down the punch of flavour, and a sprinkling of sugar to round it off.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 200 ML

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63
drank Chilli Chai by Teapigs
125 tasting notes

Sipdown (18/254)! So my cupboard may have exploded again… and there’s more coming

I went home this weekend for my mam’s birthday and have been too busy to post anything for a few days. This is a backlog from Friday night. This sounded really warming, so I had it on a cold night waiting for my dad in the rain. It was nice enough, although I got absolutely no chilli whatsoever. I brewed it for ages, too, as I left it steeping while I was making sure I’d packed everything. The cardamom was pretty strong in both the initial sip and aftertaste, which is probably one of my least favourite chai ingredients. The other spices came through a little after the initial whoomf of cardamom, but the chilli itself was nowhere to be found. I would probably have been happier with it if the ‘chilli’ was omitted from the name.

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 30 sec

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54
drank Jasmine Green Tea by Twinings
125 tasting notes

I took some teabags of this to work with me today for my first full day(!) as I noticed last week when I started that a lot of people kept teabags in their desks and I didn’t really want to be the weird new girl that brings in loose leaf tea right away… But I did hear people discussing different types of tea today, so I might ease into it! Lol.

Just to clue you guys in, as part of my course I am doing a work placement module. It was meant to be done in second year, but I didn’t find anything so am trailing it in final year. A lot of the reason I didn’t find anything is because I was so stubborn – I was adamant that I wanted one at a publishers, as that’s what I want to do and what good is it going to do me wasting 180 hours (the required minimum) doing something which is irrelevant when I could be studying? I was told several times to just get one at a library, or a charity shop, but I held out on the hopes of a publishing offer, which in the end didn’t come through. A lot of the major publishing houses won’t take anyone on for longer than a week, which means I would have had to find six separate placements. I was so frustrated with getting nowhere and worried about failing my degree than I almost caved and just worked in a library. I was about to send off that application when I got an acceptance email from the first placement I applied to this year – and the only publishers! The one I wanted the most!! So it’s more ‘experience’ than ‘job’ since I get graded instead of paid, but it’s a foot in the door and I’m super excited :D it’s amazing and scary being able to say that I’m going to work. I’m starting to feel like an adult, which I love, but it’s also making me wistful for childhood. So yeah, I started last week (I only do Wednesdays – my only free day) but only for 3 hours and mainly a sort of induction, whereas today I did the whole 9:30-5:30, getting up at 5:30 and reading on the commute (an hour each way). I was exhausted by the time I got back tonight after 7pm, having been gone for 12 hours, and I imagine it must get tedious when you get used to it, but for now I am loving it.

I made sure I was well-stocked tea wise, with a few bags of this in a zip-loc pouch, a graze box cake with an included afternoon teabag, and a travel mug of Butiki’s Killer’s Vanilla. I chose to review this as I was far too tired to pay enough attention when I was drinking KV this morning. I drank this while working, which (don’t laugh) I found amazing. The only “proper” work experience I’ve done before is in primary teaching, so you definitely can’t sip tea while you work there! Such a small thing felt like an amazing privilege. There weren’t any teaspoons so this oversteeped – I waited until it was cool enough to take the bag out with my fingertips. As a result, it was quite bitter and very astringent at the end. There was a sort of greasy sheen on the side of my mug from the top of the tea, and it moved when my tea sloshed around. This was disturbing, but I attributed it to the fact that the water from the kettle had been boiled a lot, came straight from the taps of hard-water Yorkshire, and that I was using the same mug I’d taken KV in earlier that day. The jasmine was a bit more muted than I’m used to, which allows the green tea to shine. I would have preferred a stronger jasmine flavour. And less of the green tea, but that’s just personal taste.

Disclaimer: I may be viewing this tea through rose-tinted glasses, since I was just super happy to have any tea at all.

darby

Congrats on the “job!” Love the note.

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Profile

Bio

I first got into loose leaf teas when a friend of mine showed me Cara’s Sherlock fandom blends on Adagio a couple of 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: a lot of different things, but my absolute favourites are caramel, chestnut, raspberry, coconut, blueberry and pumpkin

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

I am a 20 year old student, studying English Literature and hoping to go into publishing one day. Other than drinking, hoarding and reviewing tea, my hobbies include reading, doing quizzes and puzzles, TV quiz shows (about the only things I watch regularly, unless Sherlock or Doctor Who is on), basketball (NBA, both the video game and actual sport – Chicago Bulls fan, and playing with my university girls’ team. I also watch my parter play, as he’s on the men’s team) and football/soccer (just watching – a lifelong supporter of Sunderland AFC).

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

Huddersfield, UK

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