969 Tasting Notes

80

I was sure I’d written a tasting note for this one, but apparently not. I know I’ve tried it at least a couple of times before. Still, better late than never! Usually, green tea is not my thing. That’s probably why I wasn’t hugely encouraged when I opened the tin and saw how dark the green tea leaves are. In my mind, dark green tea leaves equates to bitterness, although obviously this isn’t a reliable rule of thumb as I’ve proved to myself on more than one occasion. This time is no exception.

I used 1 tsp of leaf, and allowed the water to cool to around 170. I gave the leaves 2.5 minutes, and the resulting liquor is medium yellow-green. The taste is surprising. It’s so creamy, it’s hard to actually taste the green tea base at all. The main flavour is sweet, candy-like lemon, with a strong, creamy overcoat of vanilla. It’s like eating cheesecake, or some kind of delicious lemon cream dessert. It’s not often that I really, really enjoy an Adagio tea, and seemingly less often that I really, really enjoy a green tea. This one has defied all my expectations, however, and is actually very pleasant. I can see myself coming back to this one a lot in the future. I may even take some home for icing, as I suspect it would work just as well cold. A surprise hit!

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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45

I have no milk at work right now, so I’m drinking this black. I gave 1 tsp of leaf 2.5 minutes in boiling water — I didn’t want to overdo things, because Adagio blacks can be a little finicky at times. This one is okay. It’s a little thin tasting, so I might be able to increase the brew time a little bit. Usually I give it between three and four minutes, and then add a healthy splash of milk (which obscures a multitude of sins, apparently). My main problem here is that I’ve tried Mighty Leaf’s Orange Dulce which is the pinnacle of an orange jasmine tea in my estimation — rich, creamy, a nice flavour, and an edge of heady jasmine. This one is also orange jasmine, but it’s nowhere near as nice in comparison. I get orange, but it’s more orange rind than orange juice, and a little “dry” and bitter tasting. The jasmine is faint, which works for me because it’s not my favourite thing, but then stuck right in the middle is chamomile. It adds a honey-like sweetness, which helps to offset the orange, but it’s just not right somehow. Overall, I’m left with the feeling that the flavours here just don’t come together very well. They’re all there separately, and it’s like drinking an oddly divided cup. There’s too much going on, and not a lot of cohesion.

This is one of the few black teas I have at work right now, so I will drink it. On the whole, though, I prefer it with milk. It brings things together a little more, adds a pleasant creaminess, and hides some of the odder notes. Not having many teas at work is a conscious decision on my part — I’m trying to get myself to finish up some old blends, some larger quantities, and some teas that have languished because they’re just not favourites. It’s working, so far, but I may have to go out and buy some milk if I’m going to get through it!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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50
drank Om by Yumchaa
969 tasting notes

I’m still drinking this one. It’s probably one of the oldest teas I have left, and it languishes at work most of the time. It’s not that I don’t like it…most of the times I drink it, I’m reminded of how much I DO like it. I think sometimes I find it a little thick and cloying — the base is white peony, and fairly heavily floral, and the blackberry flavouring is quite tart. The nutmeg adds another layer of sweetness. There is supposed to be mint, which might help to take the edge of some of the sweetness, but it’s not really coming out in the flavour anymore. Perhaps because it’s a little on the old side now. Hopefully I’ll finish this one off relatively soon. It’s just a little too sweet for my tastes, these days, and has probably seen better days itself.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 tsp

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65
drank Midsummer Night by RiverTea
969 tasting notes

This is my second attempt at cold brewing this tea. First time, I used 1.5 tbsp of leaf in 1 litre of water, and left it for around 10 hours overnight. The resulting brew was very weak, and didn’t really taste of very much at all. A disappointment. This time, I used 3 tbsp of leaf in 1 litre of water, again for around 10 hours. I’m much happier with the result.

Looking at the dry leaf worried me a little when I spotted pieces of liquorice root. Liquorice has become my nemesis recently (it ruined Bluebird’s Aniseed Balls for me, in the end, and also their All Things Nice blend). Fortunately, I can’t taste it at all in the actual tea. Relief! What I can taste is lemon, quite sharp and fresh tasting, and a background tartness from the hibiscus and rosehip. It’s a combination that works fairly well, and I can completely see this being a wonderful drink on a hot summer evening, with plenty of ice and some slices of fresh lemon, maybe a sprig of fresh mint. The mint is what I miss here, I think. Spearmint is listed as an ingredient, but I can’t taste it at all. I think it would help to augment the sharp tartness this one has with a touch of natural sweetness, so I’m sad that it’s not really making itself known.

I’m going to try this hot next, to see whether that makes a difference to the dominant flavours. I doubt it will, somehow, but you never know. I might try adding a little honey or crystal sugar, maybe some fresh mint leaves, depending how I get on. This is the second RiverTea blend I’ve tried from my first order (other than samples) and I’m fairly encouraged so far. This is a pleasant summer blend, and I like the accuracy of the lemon flavouring. No bathroom cleaner, no artificial sweetness. I think I’m a fan!

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more

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40

I brought this tin to work a while ago, but only opened it today. It’s not one that really screamed at me to be tried, it would seem. I’m trying to be good, though, and to drink my older teas up first, so its day finally came.

According to the tin, the ingredients are chamomile, peppermint, hibiscus, lavender and rose petals, on a blackberry leaf base. The dry leaf itself is light and fluffy, so I used 1.5 tsp when making my cup. I gave it about 4 minutes in boiling water.

The resulting liquor is medium yellow, and smells strongly of lavender. Heavily floral teas aren’t usually my thing, so it’s with trepidation that I approach this one. While brewing, the scent was more generically “herbal” by which I mean, I think, that it smelt of chamomile, mint, and vaguely “green”, like fresh hedgerow. I was actually expecting a much darker, reddish-pink, liquor given that there’s hibiscus in here. On second glance, there’s so little of it that it probably isn’t able to make much of an impression. For once, I’m a little disappointed. A touch of hibiscus might have brought this one over from being too overwhelmingly floral. But still, it is what it is.

To taste, the main flavour is lavender. It’s almost equally matched by the chamomile, though, so my overall impression is reasonably positive. I get along quite well with chamomile, and I do find it helps to calm me in moments of stress. It’s probably a good thing this one’s at work with me! I can’t taste peppermint, hibiscus or rose at all, and if it weren’t for the tin I don’t think I’d know they were even there.

This isn’t ever going to be a favourite tea. It is strongly floral, and after a few sips it becomes a little too much for me. Perhaps less leaf next time, or a shorter brew time. I’ll probably finish the tin, but it’s not one I’d look to replace. There are herbals I like a lot more than this one!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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95

I’m drinking this cold brewed at work today, and I like it. I suspect this is partly because it reminds me of my beloved Raspberry Cream, which I will never, ever forget. It’s also awesome all on its own. I used 1.5 tbsp of leaf in 1 litre of water, and put it in the fridge for approximately 10 hours overnight. The resulting liquor is a very pale yellow, and I half suspected it may have turned out too weak. I was really wrong.

It’s delicious. There are no other words for it. The raspberry is the main flavour, and it walks a line between candy raspberry and actual fruit. It’s sweet, and has none of the sharpness that fresh raspberries sometimes have, but it is undisputedly raspberry all the same. The shou mei base works well here — it’s mild, buttery, a little creamy. It’s not shortbread exactly, but it captures the right notes to give the impression of something shortbread-like. The lingering sweetness after the raspberry flavour fades away is pure confectioner’s sugar. I would actually quite like a raspberry doughnut right now. Or a hindbaersnitter, more to the point. Unless I try and make some, though, I can’t see that happening. Perhaps I’ll try and find a recipe when I get home tonight!

I would like to try this one hot in the near future, just to compare, but it works fabulously cold-brewed. I’ll be sipping on this happily for the rest of the day!

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more

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95

Tea of the morning, and the final sample from my last Butiki order. I came close to buying a whole bag of this, but in the end I couldn’t decide between this and Dinjoye Estate. I’ve tried a sample of the Dinjoye before, so I figured I’d also try a sample of this and then decide in time for my next order. I love assam, so I fear it may not be that simple. Perhaps both are required.

Anyway, the tea. I followed the recommended parameters and gave this 3.5 minutes in boiling water. It’s delicious – absolutely all of the things I love about assam in one cup! It’s very malty, so much so that it’s almost thick tasting and sort of chewy. The initial sip is quite savoury, but a strong underlying sweetness emerges in the aftertaste. It’s very, very smooth, with not a hint of astringency. It’s also strong in flavour — even with milk this was an excellent wake up kick! There are tiny, tiny hints of cocoa and bread, but they’re not prominent. That’s fine with me, though, because there are other teas that have those characteristics in spades if that’s what I’m looking for. I love this one for it’s wonderful sweet, strong, overwhelming maltiness. I can see it being a definite purchase.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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100
drank Sansia Black by Butiki Teas
969 tasting notes

I’ve liked the Taiwanese black teas I’ve tried so far, and I’ve been getting along quite well with Butiki’s leafhopper teas also. On the strength of these, I requested a sample of this one with my last Butiki order. I’m drinking it at work today, and it is DE-LIC-IOUS. I followed the recommended parameters, and gave this one 3.5 minutes in boiling water. The liquor is a golden brown, and smells sweet and malty.

To taste, it’s wonderfully bready. I’m talking fresh baked bread right out of the oven. It’s also highly malty, with all the sweetness that entails, with a note of caramel in the smoothness of the aftertaste. I can also pick up on the oak and plum notes mentioned in the description — they add a slightly savoury twist to an otherwise sweet cup, and end each sip beautifully, lingering a little on the palate. The star flavour here for me, though, is the initial hit of bread. It’s so clear and intense, it’s actually making me feel hungry! Definitely one I’ll be picking up with my next Butiki order!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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100

I requested this as a sample with one of my most recent Butiki orders. To be fair, I probably should have gone with a whole bag (because I knew I’d probably love it). Maybe I was hoping to give myself an excuse to place another Butiki order? Hmm. I wonder whether that was it. Anyway, I rather like guayusa, particularly for work mornings as the high caffeine helps to get me started. I generally need all the help I can get waking up!

I almost followed the recommended parameters for this one — I used boiling water, but only left it 5 minutes rather than 6. I pretty much always under do my guayusas on time, because I don’t like the earthy base to come through too much and either cause astringency or overpower the flavouring. 5 minutes is fine for this one to my tastes.

I can definitely taste blackberry – it’s very juicy and fruity, and wonderfully sweet; not at all tart or sour as actual blackberries sometimes can be. I can also taste the guayusa peeking out a little bit — it’s earthy and a little “green” tasting (but in a good way, like wet forest, rather than composty). I don’t mind being able to taste it a little, as it actually works well as a counterpoint to the sweet blackberry. I can’t really detect any lime, which is a shame, but the blackberry is such a great, clear flavour that I don’t really mind.

I’m a fan of Butiki’s guayusa blends. My favourites so far have been The Killer’s Vanilla and Good Morning Sunshine. It’s hard to say where this one sits on the scale — about equal with the other two, I think. Perhaps it’s time for a repurchase?!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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70

I’m not sure why this one has gone neglected in my cupboard for so long. One of life’s mysteries, I suppose! The first sip reminds me of Bluebird’s MojiTEA, only with a stronger and deeper flavour. I think the difference is partly in the base tea — this is black whereas the Bluebird is green. I also get lemon here and lime in the Bluebird, but both have the distinctive herbal-hay-citrus flavour of lemongrass, and both are drinks to be sipped in the sun! Bluebird on the beach, and the WP in a sunlight dappled forest on a warm spring day. I love that WP teas are so evocative. It’s obvious that a lot of thought and care goes into putting blends together, and that they’re inspired by strong, distinctive memories or occurences.

I used 1tsp of leaf for this cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in boiling water. Cautious, I think, but I like starting small and working upwards, especially with teas I’m uncertain of. The liquor is a golden brown, and the main flavour is, surprisingly, pine smoke. In my initial sips, I was picking up mainly lemon with a hint of citrus from the lemongrass. It was quite light and and very fresh tasting, with a strong hint of mint. Successive sips seem to build the flavour to more of a darker intensity, which is where the pine and smoke notes come out. The mint remains in the aftertaste, and offers a refreshing counterpoint to the heavier, more resinous flavours.

I’m not usually a fan of smoky teas, but this is another surprise hit with me. I think perhaps because the smoke is so well done in WP teas — it’s integrated well, never overdone or heavy handed, and it always sits well with the mood and atmosphere the overall cup is trying to generate. I think I’m officially a WP convert!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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Profile

Bio

Hi :) I’m Sarah, 25, and I live in Norwich in the UK. My tea obsession began when a friend introduced me to Teapigs a good few years ago now. Since then, I’ve been insatiable. Steepster introduced me to a world of tea I never knew existed, and my goal is now to TRY ALL THE TEAS. Or most of them, anyway.

I still have a deep rooted (and probably life-long) preference for black tea. My all-time favourite is Assam, but Ceylon and Darjeeling also occupy a place in my heart. Flavoured black tea can be a beautiful thing, and I like a good chai latte in the winter.

I also drink a lot of rooibos/honeybush tea, particularly on an evening. Sometimes they’re the best dessert replacements, too. White teas are a staple in summer — their lightness and delicate nature is something I can always appreciate on a hot day.

I’m still warming up to green teas and oolongs. I don’t think they’ll ever be my favourites, with a few rare exceptions, but I don’t hate them anymore. My experience of these teas is still very much a work-in-progress. I’ve also never really tried pu’erh, and that’s something I’m just starting to explore.

I’m still searching for the perfect fruit tea. One without hibiscus. That actually tastes of fruit.

You’ve probably had enough of me now, so I’m going to shut up. Needless to say, though, I really love tea. Long may the journey continue!

My rating system:

91-100: The Holy Grail. Flawless teas I will never forget.

81-90: Outstanding. Pretty much perfection, and happiness in a cup.

71-80: Amazing. A tea to savour, and one I’ll keep coming back to.

61-70: Very good. The majority of things are as they should be. A pleasing cup.

51-60: Good. Not outstanding, but has merit.

41-50: Average. It’s not horrible, but I’ve definitely had better. There’s probably still something about it I’m not keen on.

31-40: Almost enjoyable, but something about it is not for me.

11-30: Pretty bad. It probably makes me screw my face up when I take a sip, but it’s not completely undrinkable.

0-10: Ugh. No. Never again. To me, undrinkable.

Location

Norwich, UK

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