139 Tasting Notes


This was supposed to be a sipdown, but I did a silly thing. I was brewing up the last of my sample of this tea from MissB to share with a visiting friend, who asked me to pick out his tea for him. I had roughly 2.5 teaspoons left, so the plan was to brew 2 of that in my IngenuiTEA to make us a cup each, and then make a small cup with the remaining half a spoon to fill my travel mug up. I have to go into university as I have a lot of work to do which involves many late-night library sessions, and I thought one final big mug of this would be nice company.

BUT then I did the silly thing. When I’m making 2 cups worth in my IngenuiTEA, I often find that the first cup pours out really strong and the second pretty weak, due to the settling of the leaves in the pot. To counteract this, I’ll pour the cups back in so that they mix and then refill the cups right away. I usually do this over the sink, to avoid messy spillage, but today I was in a hurry so I thought what the heck, what harm can it do to pour it over the bench? There’ll maybe be a few drips to wipe up, so what. Only I wasn’t paying enough attention to what I was doing, and I ended up pouring the first cup back in while the IngenuiTEA was still sitting on top of the second cup. Of course, this meant that the mechanism which releases the tea was open, and the tea I poured in just came flooding straight back out, and ended up all over the bench and floor, including under the microwave D: so I ended up having a really tiny cup and saving the also tiny remaining leaf to make a final cup which I can properly concentrate on for my sipdown. Sigh.

Briefly, though, I am still loving Cara’s fandom blends. They are seriously inspired. This one is just like Moriarty – seemingly sweet and delicious at first, with a kick that isn’t discovered until he’s already got you hooked. I prefer this to the ‘Moriarty’ tea by Cara, as there’s a lot less ginger, but it’s definitely still present. I am very glad MissB was kind enough to include in in my mystery box, as it was a wishlist tea I didn’t have too much hope of trying, seeing as the UK Adagio store doesn’t stock it. (I seriously hate how limited it is compared to the US one). This tea actually reminds me a lot of the ‘Mycroft’ blend, which I love. Despite not containing any of the same teas, when combined their ingredients are very similar. Both start off with a chocolatey, sweet chai flavour which translates as spiced cake (I believe it’s meant to in the Mycroft blend). Only where Mycroft finishes with vanilla and cream notes which evoke frosting, Science of Destruction lures you in and then hits you at the end of the sip with a spicy ginger kick. Super yummy, and great for these cold winter nights. I wish I hadn’t wasted nearly a whole cup. ):

tl;dr – I temporarily disengaged my brain and poured tea everywhere, and I wish I hadn’t because this is tasty.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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Another one down, and this time no waste! This is my favourite SBT to date, albeit out of only three, and the only one I have managed to finish fully before it started to taste of fridge. As with the others I’ve tried, I brewed the teabag for 3 minutes in boiling water then topped it off with cold water and left it in the fridge. I added four teaspoons of brown sugar, but I don’t think that did much, as the resulting tea was not very sweet. I think if I had added more sugar the syrupy pop taste might have came out more.

As it was, the black tea base was more prominent than the cola and lime. From the strength of the scent from the teabag, I thought it would be stronger, and I personally would have preferred some stronger flavouring, so I think I will cold brew next time I make an SBT, but I know that Frank wanted the focus to mainly be in the tea, with the flavours enhancing it in the background rather than taking over, and so for that I think he’s done a good job. It does make sense really – if you want to taste lime cola and no tea, you buy lime cola. If you want iced tea with a hint of lime cola, this is the one to go for.

The black base is a touch astringent, but nowhere near as bad as it was when I oversteeped the last time, and it has a nice malty note which is interesting with the cola. Both the lime and cola come through together at the end of the sip, and it’s quite an authentic lime cola flavour. The scent is more ‘cola bottles’ but the taste is not as artificial. I managed to finish off the quart of tea in two days, which is saying a lot for someone who rarely drinks iced tea. I wanted to make another quart but the teabag, although kept in an airtight container, went mouldy overnight ):

Sipdown 24/304

Boiling 3 min, 15 sec 64 OZ / 1892 ML

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Final tea from the 12 Teas of Christmas 2014 box.

I was hoping to end the box on a high note, but sadly that was not the case. I’m not loving Frank’s green tea base (and green isn’t my favourite in any case) and ginger is one of my most hated flavours. So really, this tea was never going to be for me.

My first cup was surprisingly alright. Toasty rice flavour pairs quite nicely with the ginger to turn it more into a ‘gingerbread’ kind of flavour, it turns out, but the base went bitter quickly. I had another cup today to refresh my memory prior to writing up the note, and oddly I got a super strong cola smell from it. It was more ‘cola bottle sweet’ than actual cola drink, but it was unmistakably cola nonetheless. The cola translates into the flavour, too. This time around, all I could taste was cheap cola bottle, and didn’t get any gingerbread at all. There was a hint of popped rice in the background, and the base was just as bitter as before even though I was extremely gentle with it.

I’m starting to wonder if there’s something off with Frank’s ginger flavouring or ginger pieces as I’ve noticed this misplaced cola note with several of his teas now, and ginger seems to be the connecting thread – this, ginger pumpkin cheesecake, and witches’ brew chai. Odd. Has anyone else experienced this?

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Day 11 in the 2014 12 Teas of Christmas sampler.

I had a second cup of this this afternoon to refresh my memory, as it’s been a couple of weeks since the last time I drank it. Inexplicably, something rather drastic has changed in those two weeks. It’s a good job I remember really enjoying this tea the first time round, or I would be rating it pretty low. I thought I had steeped it the same both times, so I’m not really sure what has caused the difference…

So the first time around, this tea was delicious. Even my little brother loved it. It was fresh strawberries, with vanilla and cakey flavours. It reminded me more of cake and ice cream than custard, but who’s going to complain about that? I was expecting more of the same when I brewed it up today. The scent of the dry leaf was how I remembered, but when I added the water I recoiled a bit. Almost straight away, there was a strong smoky odour which became more powerful than the strawberry smell. First sip confirmed that the smoke was also in the taste. Yuck. Who wants smoky strawberry? The creamy cakey flavours has disappeared, too, so I was left with a very disappointing cup. I still don’t understand why. At first I assumed the sample must have been contaminated, but that’s not possible – it’s in a sealed pouch, and was stored with the rest of the twelve teas sampler, none of which have been contaminated. I read through a few of the tasting notes from other steepsterites before writing up the note, and noticed that Kittena has noted a similar smokiness, which leads me to think it’s just a feature of the tea which I managed to avoid with my first cup. I will definitely have to experiment with steep times, amount of leaf and water temperature to try and coax out the deliciousness that I got first time around.

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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Woo! Upping my rating for this massively. I am so glad I ordered an ounce of this before it ran out. My first sample was definitely ruined, because this one is way better. It is absolutely delicious. Bold Assam with caramel and vanilla flavours melding together beautifully. Yummy. So so happy I ordered more of this.

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drank Coconut Peppermint Patty by 52teas
139 tasting notes

So I think that this was tea 10 from the 12 Teas of Christmas box. The label just said ‘peppermint patty’, but I can’t find that in the system and the one I have definitely has coconut in it – there are huge shavings in the dry leaf.

Dry, the tea smells coconutty and minty and is quite strong. This mutes quite a bit after brewing, and the malty base takes over with the coconut and mint taking a back seat. The taste is very similar – a strong, malty base with a fair amount of astringency (will try steeping below boiling next time), with a mild minty flavour. After adding a sweetener and a little milk, the base mutes and doesn’t hide the flavours as much. It’s actually pretty nice. Creamy mint in the sip, with a nice coconut aftertaste. Still, I get no chocolate. That’s not specific to this tea, though. I hardly ever get chocolate in tea, so don’t hold it against it.

I’ll finish my sample, but don’t think I’d buy more if it was available.

Boiling 2 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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drank Pumpkin Chai by 52teas
139 tasting notes

Day 9 from the 12 Teas of Christmas 2014.

This is heavy on the clove and cardamom. A little too heavy for my liking. The pumpkin flavour is very natural, but it has a taste I would identify as ‘raw’, if that makes any sense. I prefer a sweeter, more ‘cooked’ pumpkin flavour, but that’s just personal. I bought this in my last 52teas order before I opened the sample from the box, so it will be interesting to see how the reblend compares to the original. I will write up a more detailed note next time I drink this, but I can’t really remember much more about it for now. I enjoyed it, but I prefer the pumpkin chai from DAVIDs.

Boiling 2 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 207 ML

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drank Witches' Brew Chai by 52teas
139 tasting notes

I’m not going to lie, I was confused and a little disappointed to see this as day 8 in the 12 Teas of Christmas box. Confused because this definitely doesn’t say ‘Christmas’ to me – it actually screams ‘Halloween’ – and disappointed because I already own this one. Oh well.

Right from opening the pack, I could tell that this reblend was way different to the original pouch I have. The smokiness is a lot more pungent, and there is no ‘cola’ scent which I noted the first time around. It smells very savoury.

The flavour is pretty similar to the scent, savoury chai with a fairly strong smokiness. It’s not really for me, but looking back at my previous tasting note it seems that this reblend is what I expected from this tea the first time around! A much better match for the name, but a much less enjoyable cup for me.

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

Oh yeah, what a strange choice for an advent calendar!

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drank Cinnamon Pear by 52teas
139 tasting notes

Day 7 of the 12 Teas of Christmas. I am reviewing these so late!

This was one of my favourites from the box. I tend to drink my black teas with milk, which mutes the astringency, but I did try it plain first and this tea was a little on the astringent side. I mostly tasted cinnamon when drinking it plain, too, but the sweet pear tones really come out when milk is added. The balance between the flavours of cinnamon and pear is spot on, and as other reviewers have mentioned it reminded me very much of a poached pear. I think I will drink this while the weather is still rotten, because it makes a lovely warming winter drink.

Boiling 4 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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drank SBT: Orange Creamsicle by 52teas
139 tasting notes

Sipdown! (23/288)

I will make it to 100 notes before my 1st Steepster-versary if it kills me.

I had this a while back, and hadn’t realised it was still in my cupboard unreviewed, so please forgive the patchy note. Luckily, these teabags make a beastly amount of tea, so I’ve drank it enough times to remember what it tasted like!

Being a poor little English girl, I had no idea what a creamsicle was, and therefore no frame of reference towards the accuracy of the flavours. However, my dad’s favourite ice lolly is one which is plain orange on the outside, and with ice cream in the middle. I take it that this is a similar deal? So that’s what I’m going with. If that it what it’s supposed to taste like, then it’s not too bad a job. The tea base is definitely dominant, and the Orange and vanilla flavours kind of play around in the background. I added four spoons of brown sugar to this while it was still hot, but the tea still ended up tasting bitter to me. Maybe I put too much hot water in, or left the teabag too long? I think I will cold steep the next time I make a batch of iced tea.

I have a bit of a confession to make – I drank most of this hot. My flat is a basement flat, so it’s pretty cold most of the time, and especially in winter in the north of England, it’s not the best time to drink iced tea. Apart from that, though, each time I poured myself a glass, the bitterness made me want to add milk. I tried doing that iced at first, but to me, iced tea with milk in it is just weird! So I almost always ended up warming it up in the microwave… So I know I didn’t drink it properly, but honestly, the milk brought out the vanilla more and somehow the flavours shone through a lot more when hot than when cold.

Currently, there’s a large batch of Lime Cola SBT in my fridge, which I’m much happier to drink cold. I was also fine with the butterbeer SBT iced. I don’t know what it is, but something about this tea just screams to me “I should be hot!!”

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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.


Huddersfield, UK

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