1133 Tasting Notes

90

I’ve had a sample pouch of this one tucked away in my stash since last autumn. It’s never been opened, so it’s still wonderfully fresh! The maple scent is sweet and distinctive, and there’s no hint of bacon at all. I have a feeling I’ve kept this one for so long out of fear of the bacon, but I wish I hadn’t now!

This was my breakfast tea on Sunday morning. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it four minutes in boiling water, after which there’s a slight oily film on the surface from the sprinkles. The rooibos brewed up pretty dark, so I added a splash of milk. The scent is still mostly maple syrup, and it’s a truly delicious thing! I’m not usually a breakfast person, but I could make an exception if it smelled like this!

To taste, this is pretty much pure maple syrup. There is a tiny, tiny smokiness that’s half reminiscent of bacon, but it’s not overpowering at all. I had feared it would be, but it’s actually a lot milder than many smoked or smoky teas. It’s also sweet, so it really is putting me in mind of bacon, waffles and maple syrup. Really delicious.

Rooibos isn’t usually the tea variety I’d choose for a morning cup, but I have to admit that it works well here. The slight woodiness fits with the sweet/smoky combo, and there’s a mild, almost spongy note at the end of the sip that appears out of nowhere and rounds this one off perfectly. I wasn’t expecting to like this one, but it’s actually pretty perfect. I feel a little sad that I only have a sample pouch now!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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65

Another one I pulled out at Halloween and then brought to work. It’s one of the older teas in my stash, and I figured it deserved an outing after it started to languish! This one has still retained a great deal of its rooibos woodiness, but the mint comes out well so that’s not too much of a complaint. A long brew time and a splash of milk help the vanilla to emerge, but it’s not a strong flavour. There’s not much in the way of chocolate to be found here, even though there are copious chocolate chips in the dry mix. Maybe a hint in the background.

On the whole, this one isn’t my favourite mint choc rooibos. It’s a little too woody for my tastes, but the mint is pleasantly fresh and there’s a touch of sweetness. It’s not all bad! I’m almost done with this one now, and it’s not one I’d look to repurchase, but I have enjoyed finding out! Again, not really a halloween tea, but the bat sprinkles are certainly cute!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
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I enjoy the Teavana blend so much more than this one, even if there’s a bit of oily residue. Have you tried that one?

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75

I pulled this one out of my stash around halloween, and I’ve been drinking it fairly steadily ever since. I actually think it’s got better with age. I can taste a lot more vanilla now than I could when it was new…a good long brew time really brings out a natural, sweet, almost ice cream like flavour. I typically add a splash of milk to this one, which I used to do primarily to tone the rooibos down. There’s not so much need for that now, but it does add an extra dimension of creaminess that I’m really enjoying!

I’m going to raise my rating of this one a little. It’s a lot less brassy/woody tasting than it was, and it makes for a delicious, comforting creamy treat. I’m not sure it really qualifies as a halloween tea, except in name (the little candy spiders help as well!), but it’s lovely all the same. “Yum” just about sums things up.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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90

This one cheered me up today, although sadly it is a sipdown. The whole office kitchen took on the fragrance of cotton candy; warm, sugary, vanilla loveliness. It’s even more of a joy to drink.

This one will be sadly missed. It was a wonderful afternoon pick-me-up, and the sprinkles are just too cute.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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60

I wasn’t sure about this one when I tried my first cup, but I think now that I’ve more or less recovered from my cold, I can give this one a fairer chance. I gave 1 tsp of leaf 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 180 degrees. The resulting liquor is a quite surprising yellow-orange. Unexpectedly vibrant!

To taste, it’s quite a savoury tea. I can taste an almost starchy baked apple, sharp rather than sweet, and a toasty undertone from the rice. It’s a pretty spot on recreation of baked apple, to be fair. The green tea base is sencha like, smooth and a little grassy. It complements the apple flavour well. There’s a tinge of bitterness right at the end of the sip that puts me off a little, because I usually gravitate towards sweeter teas. It’s nice to try something a little out of my normal range, though; almost a palate refresher! Another pleasing Bluebird tea.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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100

I’ve been drinking this one at home on a weekend, usually Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon. I’ve been aware that my cold has been affecting my taste buds, though, so I’ve waited to review it until I feel I really know what I’m tasting. The first thing I have to say is that it makes for a delicious cup, and never fails to bring a smile to my face. I think that’s why it’s a weekend only tea for me at the moment…it just makes everything feel somehow right, like all is well with the world.

I’ve settled on 1 tsp of leaf in boiling water for approximately 4 minutes. This yields a reddy-orange brew, to which I’ve been adding a splash of milk. The scent is divine — very malty, with notes of fresh baked rye bread. I’ve not really been a yunnan drinker until recently, but once I tried a couple of good ones, I was a convert. There’s no going back now!

To taste, I initially get a strong, almost slightly starchy, sweet potato flavour. It’s underpinned by the malt, which is similarly sweet, and a touch of honey. Then come the yeasty, bread-like notes, which add another layer to the flavour. Finally, I get a darker, earthy, almost molasses-like flavour, and a hint of very dark, very bitter chocolate. There’s a tiny bite of astringency at the very end of the sip, but it actually complements the flavour experience so I don’t really mind.

This is by no means a simple-tasting tea. I love how the layers of flavour emerge and build into the final, complex whole. I’m more than glad that I have a whole tin of this — it’ll certainly be savored! A beautiful Yunnan, and my new favourite black tea. Gorgeous.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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55

Finished this one off at work this morning. I’ve actually been drinking it fairly steadily at work over the last few weeks, and it’s fair to say that it’s grown on me. It’s not THE best orange jasmine tea ever, but it’s very smooth and drinkable, and works equally well both with milk and without. It’s not something I’d repurchase, but it’s been an easy finish all the same. I’ve raised my rating a little.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 45 sec 1 tsp

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65

Tried my second cup’s worth with a splash of milk. The flavour is a little muted, but still there. I’m not really sure which I prefer – the stronger flavour is nice, but the milk augments the creaminess and tones down some of the dry, flat generic “black tea” flavour I was picking up in the aftertaste. An enjoyable cup, all the same.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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90

A sample from VariaTEA! I’ve tried a few honey rooibos blends to date, and I’ve enjoyed pretty much all of them. Some more than others, it has to be said, but I’m pleased to say there’s not been a real dud so far. I’m encouraged by this one, because the dry leaf inside the bag smells very strongly of honey, and it’s not even touched water yet! I gave one bag 5 minutes in boiling water, and added a splash of milk.

To taste, this one has a strong initial hit of thick, syrupy, runny honey! It’s almost like drinking a cup of the real thing, only conveniently less sticky and viscous. The rooibos is fairly mild, and I think the milk helps with that a little bit. It’s very smooth and easy to drink, and the honey flavouring really shines.

This will probably be my last cup of the day at work, and it’s a good note to end on. The perfect sweet afternoon treat, and nicely calming and relaxing too. Sometimes I don’t realise how tense I am until I take a minute out, making teas like this a necessity. Yummy stuff!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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65

A sample from VariaTEA. Dry, the leaf smells so sweet and meringue-like, so I’m hoping that some of this translates into the flavour. I gave 1 tsp of leaf 3.5 minutes in boiling water, and the resulting liquor is a medium golden-brown. No milk.

Brewed, the scent is still sweet and meringue-like, with a hint of strawberry. The initial sip of this one reminds me of a strawberry refreshers bar – sweet, candy-like strawberry, almost a little sherbet-y. There’s a underlying sugary creaminess that does remind me of meringue. The black base makes itself known at the end of the sip, where it stops the flavouring lingering for very long. It’s not bitter or astringent at all, but it does round the sip off a little abruptly. I’d been hoping that the strawberry-sherbet-meringue flavour would stick around a little, but instead it ends almost on a dry, flat note.

I’m glad I didn’t add milk to this one, as I’m not sure I would have been able to taste the flavouring as well. It’s not that it’s subtle, but I do think milk would have drowned this one a bit. As it stands, I’m enjoying this one a fair bit. I like the flavour, although it’s a little artificial tasting, and I’d happily drink another cup if the opportunity arose. It’s not world-changing, but it’s a sweet, pleasant afternoon treat.

Thanks again to VariaTea for sharing this one with me.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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Bio

Hi :) I’m Sarah, 26, and I live in Norfolk 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

Norfolk, UK

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