79 Tasting Notes

94

I have not posted a tasting note for TEN DAYS! :O
I am so ashamed. I apologize profusely, even though I’m sure most of you don’t care. Life has been just crazy lately (and will continue to be for the next month or so) and I just haven’t been able to find the time for Steepster, which is so sad. I have been drinking a lot of teas, I just haven’t had time to blog about it what with uni work and all, followed by my internet giving up on me for like 4 days (which was hell) followed by yet more uni work which I am now panicking about! I am definitely going to make an effort to post on Steepster if and when I get any free time, though, as I’ve missed it so much! Plus I really don’t want to lose touch with what’s going on.

Anyway, to the tea.
I received this a few days back in a package from VariaTEA which contained the Celestial Seasonings tea she so kindly sent me, as well as a bunch of samples, of which this was one. I meant to come on here and thank her right away, but as I said, life got in the way. The whole package smelled of apples and cinnamon, so I searched for the source (this) which smelled so heavenly I had to brew it up. It reminded me of an apple pie slice, and brewed smells exactly like apple strudel. I had high hopes for it, but still didn’t believe that the taste could live up to the smell. I am pleased to report, however, that it did, and has earned its place amongst my absolute favourite teas. I wish I had more of this, as the sample was only enough for two cups, but I’m sure I can use this as an excuse to place an order with Della Terra in the future!

Sweet enough to not need any additives – I added half a teaspoon of sugar after a few mouthfuls and regretted it. Definitely best plain. This tea is delicate and juicy and ridiculously tasty, with the spices and sweetness perfectly matching with the apple flavour so much that I would basically kill for a slice of hot apple strudel right now. I bet this would be great iced in the summer, and may have to try that if I manage to get my hands on any more of it.

So so yummy.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML
VariaTEA

I am so glad you liked this one. Hopefully the other samples are this popular as well.

Nattie

So far, I have loved every single one of them. I’m probably almost half way through them now! I’m going to really try to be better at logging when I try new teas, but, life. :/

Your package should be sent tomorrow, by the way! I tried to send it on Friday but the place that sells Teapigs was shut.

VariaTEA

Oh wow. Haha. I am glad you have been enjoying them.

And no rush. I won’t receive it until April 27th (the earliest) anyways since that it when I will be back home.

meldc

Hello Nattie, could you send me your address for the travelling box ? Thanks

Nattie

Oh okay, I might hang on until they have more of the rooibos creme caramel I’m stock then (:

Nattie

Meldc I’ve sent it (:

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72
drank Popcorn Tea by Teapigs
79 tasting notes

This is my first time trying a genmaicha, and I am very much looking forward to trying and comparing Kittylovestea ’s genmaicha from the Traveling Tea Box when it gets to me! (:

At first, I did not care for this at all. It both smelled and tasted exactly like a toasted rice cereal (I can’t think why…) from my childhood, which I absolutely hated. The smell was bugging me because it reminded me so much of something that I couldn’t place, and as soon as I first sipped it I figured it out. Blech. Only the reason I didn’t like the cereal was that it was just toasted rice, with no additional flavours and no sweetness. It was just so bland. This tea is different, though – grassy, deep green tea flavour with the toasted rice background adding a lovely warmth to it, and an almost floral aftertaste which I can detect, too. I don’t think it was the flavour of the toasted rice in itself that I didn’t like, because I like it just fine in this.

If anything, I would have preferred a little more green tea, as it wasn’t too strong a flavour and in the bag, there was roughly a 50/50 split between tea and rice.

Overall, I enjoyed this as a pleasant lunchtime tea, although I could tell it was rice rather than corn, and wouldn’t market it as ‘popcorn’ tea as I think it is a little misleading, and doesn’t actually taste much like popcorn. It grew on me throughout the cup, and by the end I was wishing I had a couple more bags. I can’t wait for the TTB to try the version Kitty has made!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 6 min, 15 sec

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49
drank Yerba Mate by Teapigs
79 tasting notes

Sipdown. Kind of. My local teashop sells single bags of teapigs tea, as they have a Café upstairs which you can buy them from. I bought just one of these to try, as I had previously had Yerba maté a grand total of once (in Bluebird’s Morning Kick blend) and I’m not so sure I could taste it at all in that. So out of curiosity, and the need of energy, I brewed it up this morning. As frequently happens, I forgot about my cup and let it brew for about 20 minutes. I don’t know if it was a product of this oversteeping, but I found this tea incredibly astringent, which I was not expecting from a blend without black or green tea in it. It was also very earthy, and reminded me of a pu’erh.

The flavour changed up as the cup cooled, getting less earthy and a little more perfume-y, although not in a floral way. The astringency didn’t let up at all, but it wasn’t too bad with the overall flavour, considering I’m not a fan of astringency at all, and prefer a smooth cup.

This wasn’t exciting enough to drink on it’s own, and not too pleasant although not awful either. I don’t dislike it enough to avoid blends which use it, but I wouldn’t choose to drink it plain again.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more

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73

Yummy bedtime sipdown. My daddy works away a lot, and one time brought me back several sachets of tea he snuck out of his hotel room, this being one of them. The envelope just says ‘cranberry and raspberry’ but I’m pretty sure I can both smell and taste elderflower in there. The cranberry is very present in the smell, but I cannot taste it at all. I made Frank taste it too as he is more versed in cranberry than I am, but he couldn’t taste it either. I’m not complaining, though, as I’m not a huge fan of cranberry if I remember righty, although this would be disappointing for a cranberry fan. Instead, it has a mainly ‘red berries and elderflower’ taste, which is quite delicious, and the raspberry taste can be picked out pretty easily. Not too tart, either, making it easy to sip on.

I enjoyed this, and would have liked a couple more sachets, but not enough to buy an entire pack.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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54
drank Redbush by Tetley
79 tasting notes

In my last tasting note on this, I said it wouldn’t be a chore to finish the remaining teabags. I have changed my mind. It’s not that the tea has gotten worse – it’s still an average, basic rooibos which is inoffensive to the tastebuds – it’s just that my tea collection has expanded ridiculously over the last couple of weeks (thanks to Hapatite and MissB mainly, as well as a slight indiscretion on my part in a tea shop yesterday) and I want to drink all of those instead of these.

I flash-iced two bags of this last night as I was incredibly thirst and needed something to gulp. Also my tea habit means that tea is the only available drink in the house. Two teabags in 1/3 of a mug of boiling water for around 5 minutes, topped up with water as cold as I could run. The smell is amazingly honey-like, but unfortunately this is not reflected in the taste, which is a one-note woodsy flavour. A good choice to drink iced quickly when you can’t really taste what you’re drinking much, as I wouldn’t want to waste my good tea this way! I was also curious to try an iced rooibos, and it was better than expected.

Still have better teas by a long margin, and am now quite bored of this. Not going to mark it down, though, as my ratings are based on the best experience and this was definitely not it.

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 0 sec

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95

I am currently enjoying my first ever matcha(ccino) courtesy of my mystery box from MissB! I’d first like to say that she was brilliant with it, and very generous and I’m sure she must have scrolled through my wishlist to pick out all of the teas I wanted, including this one, when I didn’t even ask her to. So thanks, MissB!

I’d secondly like to say that this is completely delicious and where has it been all my life?! I made it up this morning as soon as I was dressed (after having hopped out of bed half an hour earlier than I usually manage at the thought of trying this) using 250ml of cold milk and 14g of matcha powder, which I whisked in a jug and then poured into a glass. I underleafed and overmilked (?) ever so slightly, because I had a feeling that I would love it and even an extra mouthful would be appreciated. Which it was. The caramelly taste is lovely, and just sweet enough that you don’t need added sugar – MissB added a note saying that this is pre-sweetened, and for me, they’ve got it just right. There is a slight grassy undertone which i can detect at the end of the sip if I really think about it, but as I’ve never had matcha before I don’t quite know what I’m looking for.

I have enough matcha left to make one more drink before it’s gone, and on one hand I really want to try this as a hot latte, but on the other, it’s so good as it is that I don’t want to risk it! So torn.

A great way to start my day, particularly when I can’t stomach eating so early on, and also need a caffeine hit to wake me up. I can’t believe that a) this is actually healthy, and b) that I wasn’t drinking a really expensive smoothie! Thanks so much for sending me some of this, MissB, it looks like I’ll be ordering from Red Leaf pretty shortly!

Preparation
Iced 14 g 8 OZ / 250 ML
Cheri

My understanding is that with the matchaccino you can do it hot, but it is meant to be done iced in milk. (I haven’t tried it, so I can’t say for sure. This is just from my reading their product page.)

MissB

Much better cold, in my opinion – but it’s possible hot. This one is premixed, so all you have to do is add liquid and shake. I’m so happy you loved it – I have a bag I can send you, as I have to avoid sugar, sadly.

Nattie

I’ll stick with cold then, thanks for the info! (:

MissB :O could you really?! I would be forever in your debt if you did! I am so in love with this tea, it’s making me sad even thinking about drinking the last of it ):

I was actually thinking about buying another mystery box from you, I guess you could send them at the same time? I don’t know if that would help shipping.

Nattie

Also boo to the avoiding sugar! ): I don’t think I could cope, so I have a great deal of respect/awe for you for that!

MissB

I use stevia now, the kind without any sort of additives in it, which is working just peachy at this point. :)

Of course! I’ll put aside a bag for you now, just send me a note about the rest.

Nattie

Stevia’s always been kind of hitty-missy for me. I bought some vanilla flavoured Stevia once which was awful, and may be the reason I don’t like vanilla.

Thank you so much! (:

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88

I drank this with the last of my cream, and it was heavenly. Smooth, thick, creamy chocolate like the best hot chocolate in the world. A real chilli kick behind it too, along with the spices, especially the ginger, to remind you that it’s a chai and not just a common hot chocolate. This was truly decadent, and the best way to drink this tea so far. The spices play around and seem to change up a bit, tasting slightly different in each mouthful. The chocolate taste is somehow more ‘real’ and present than in a lot of chocolate teas I’ve tried, and the chilli kick is also a lot more powerful than I was expecting. I did have one bad mouthful – somewhere around the half-way point of my mug, I got a mouthful which was very strongly cardamom, a flavour I don’t really like. This was a shock, as although it is present in a lot of chais, it usually just complement the other flavours. This was like a full on cardamom whack to the face, and took me a minute or two to steel myself enough to drink any more (which thankfully did not have the same strong cardamom punch). My favourite way to drink this chai so far, although I’m now thinking I should do it as a latte.

Apologies for the probably incoherent and definitely rambling tasting note – I wrote the first couple of lines hours ago, and it’s now almost 3AM and I’m super tired but can’t sleep. I hate it when my brain does that.

A side note – my mystery box from MissB arrived today! I didn’t expect to see it yet so was happily surprised, and then even more so when I saw the contents (which basically consisted of all wishlist items). Bonny has put so much thought into it I was really touched, and seriously felt like a kid at Christmas opening all my new teas and inspecting and sniffing each one. I’ve already tried a few of the teas I received, and will review some tomorrow hopefully. I was planning to today, but I’m too tired to do it justice.

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 14 OZ / 400 ML

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69
drank Pomegranate Pizzazz by Bigelow
79 tasting notes

I got this in my recent swap with Hapatite

I made this as I wanted something sweet , and also wanted to not break my diet. Looking at the ingredients, this seemed to fit the bill – nice and fruity, with liquorice root which I hoped would make it sweet enough not to require sugar.

Dry, it smells… Nice. Not of too much, just nice. Vaguely fruity but I’m not sure I can pick out the pomegranate just yet. It could just be that it’s been a while since I had pomegranate. Steeping, the fruity smell is wonderful, and I can definitely pick out the pomegranate now.

The pomegranate is initially lost again in the sip – I taste fruits, maybe like a berry and apple drink, but no pomegranate. If I concentrate, I can tell the pomegranate is there, but it doesn’t shine through as the dominant flavour. I might actually make a comparison between the initial flavour and the filling of an apple and blackberry pie. It’s also a little tart, which is okay, but not as sweet as I’d expected with the liquorice root. The pomegranate taste does come through in the aftertaste, though, which is purely pomegranate.

I’m glad I got to try this, but my curiosity is now satisfied and I’m not sure I like it enough to buy more. If it was on offer at, say, a meeting, I wouldn’t turn it down.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 15 sec

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81
drank ButterBeer by Custom-Adagio Teas
79 tasting notes

Oh. My. God.

I’ve tried this tea from my HP potions sampler a few times and in a few different ways by now, but have yet to review it and I’m not sure why. Possibly because I usually only post one or two of the teas I have each day, and there are others I’ve had more to say about than this one. Today, though, this was the unquestionable star of my tea menu.

I made little melt-in-the-middle chocolate puddings for myself and my partner a couple of days ago, and bought a small pot of double cream to go with them. We finished most of it at the time, but there was a little left which I decided to add to tea. This was the first one I had this way, as I’ve often thought upon drinking it that it would go great with some cream (next on my list is coconut). It was so great that I broke my caffeine curfew for an extra cup.

The usual flavours of caramel and vanilla are present, and the cream flavour (which was already present) is merely enhanced and makes me forget that I am not actually sitting in the Leaky Cauldron drinking a real butterbeer, as it thickens it up and is almost exactly how I imagined it in the books. The aroma is amazing, and made my whole flat smell like a bakery. Drank with cream, this could totally replace dessert and actually con your stomach into thinking it’s had some.

Despite my complete awe at the even better than usual taste of this tea with cream added, my usual thoughts of ‘this should really have some rum flavouring to it’ are not diminished, if not heightened. At the moment, it is a wonderful “virgin” tea, but I always pictured butterbeer to have an alcoholic flavour without actually containing alcohol, and I think that this would make it taste more authentic. I still have around 1/4 of a shot of rum in a tiny bottle from when I was sick and used it to make a hot toddy, and I may just be tempted to make an exception to my no alcohol rule to try this theory out. There’s barely anything left, after all…

Maybe I should send some of this tea to the guys at the Harry Potter Studio Tours, with instructions to add a splash of cream, as this was better than the ‘real’ butterbeer that I drank there! I will note, however, that this was incredibly sweet and cloying, and I would not recommend it to people that aren’t big on dessert teas. I would also say that a small cup should be enough, as I feel a whole mugful would be too rich.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 15 sec
hapatite

Omg, would love to try this! Your description is great. I too did not enjoy the “butterbeer” at HP universal.

Nattie

Aw I wish I had have known, I would’ve included some in your swap package! Definitely try it if you can get your hands on some. So much better than the disappointing ‘proper’ butterbeer!

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89

When I had the Sweet & Spicy tea from Good Earth earlier, I got some hot water from the coffee shop to drink it with. They wouldn’t give me it by itself, so I bought this tea and asked for the bag separately, hoping to keep it for later. Unfortunately, the guy opened the little sachet so I couldn’t keep it and had to drink it today.

I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did the last time I had this tea, possibly because it was in the little pocket bit of my bag for an hour or two, which I suspect might have had an affect on the weaker flavour. The ginseng was still prominent, but this time around the raspberry wasn’t as strong and the fruity taste was definitely diminished.

Still a good tea, but not as great as I remembered.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec
Flyawaybirdie

How odd they wouldn’t just give you the water, with the exception of a couple of shops that charges for cups if you don’t bring your own… I think it’s mandated in the law for us that water is free unless you get it bottled. But I see you’re from the UK, do they not have that kind of law over there?

Nattie

I’m not sure to be honest. I know that a lot I places will give you hot water if you ask, maybe because it was a coffee shop they didn’t want to lose business?

I think there’s a law that if you ask for tap water they can’t charge you and have to give you it (as opposed to giving you bottled if you just ask for ‘water’ so they can charge you) but I don’t know if it applies to hot water or not.

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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 two 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/cilantro, cardamom, and liquorice

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 flatmate 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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