1295 Tasting Notes

95

I recently ordered a sampler of Spring 2015 green teas from Teavivre, so I’m currently working my way through the remainder of my Spring 2014 pack, in the expectation that I’ll have finished them before the new stuff arrives. That’s the plan, anyway.

The leaf here is fascinating. They’re larger than I would have expected, flat and folded in appearance, and a fairly uniform grass green with some lighter speckles and some dark (brown-ish) patches. The wet leaf isn’t much different in appearance, except that some of the leaves have unfolded a little. The scent is vegetal, rather like spinach, and also a little chestnutty. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it a.5 minutes in water cooled to around 175. The brewed liquor is a pale yellow-green.

To taste, this is another green I’ve found myself unexpectedly enjoying recently. I never would have thought I’d enjoy green teas as much as I do now. In fact, it’s probably time I stopped saying that in general I don’t like them. I’m not sure that that’s true anymore, which means that continuing to try different types has been more than worthwhile.

This is a delicious cup. It’s smooth and buttery, with a sweet, fresh vegetal flavour and an underlying nuttiness. It tastes to me like steamed green vegetables – spinach, perhaps, and green beans. There’s some sweetness that I associate typically wish freshly shelled peas. The nuttiness works really well with those flavours, and pine nuts specifically are what this one brings to mind.

This is another variety that I’ll be adding to my list of “likes”, and another one I’ll look to explore some more. I’m pretty sure Teavivre’s green teas are among the best there are; I’ve never found a run of pure green teas that I like as much, or that have such clear, fresh flavours. This would be a potential repurchase for me, and I don’t say that often about a green tea! Perhaps that’s about to change.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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55
drank Midsummer Night by RiverTea
1295 tasting notes

Another cup last night, this time hot with no additions. I went back to basics and followed the recommended parameters – 2 tsp of leaf in boiling water for 5 minutes. There’s still not all that much in the way of lemon – certainly nowhere near as much as I’d like – but I could taste it just slightly in the background. A mildly bitter, slightly waxy, lemon peel kind of flavour. Mostly, though, this one’s hibiscus. I’ll probably finish this one off cold brewed tomorrow. It’s not terrible, but I won’t be all that sad once it departs my cupboard.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp

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70
drank Teatoxy Energize by Teatoxy
1295 tasting notes

I was initially attracted to this tea due to its reputed energy-giving properties, and I’ve been drinking it fairly regularly since first receiving it a few months ago. The first thing that stood out about this blend was the quality of the “leaf”. Although this blend is herbal so there’s no actual tea, leaf seems an appropriate term to describe this particular mixture. The pieces of lemongrass are some of the largest I’ve ever seen – minimum 1cm square, with whole rose buds, whole bluechai flowers, and large, curly pandan leaves. The lavender is the only small thing here, with a generous smattering of buds throughout. It’s a really beautiful blend to look at – pink, blue, green, yellow, and purple. A true feast for the eyes.

When brewing a cup, I’ve been following the recommended parameters and using 2 heaped teaspoons of leaf. It would be difficult to measure much less than a heaped teaspoon in any case! This can be left for up to 8 minutes in boiling water, but in this case I went for a more conservative 4.5. I’ve found that this gives the most pleasant flavour (more on that in a moment), and means that the tea hasn’t cooled too much before it’s even finished brewing.

The second thing that stands out about this blend is the colour of the liquor. It’s bright blue. This is due to the inclusion of the bluechai flowers, which give this tea its energising properties. As an added novelty, lemon juice will turn the liquor from blue to purple. Lemon has the added bonus of lifting the flavour a little, making it sharper rather than sweet, and more refreshing, which might be quite welcome depending on your personal taste.

See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/06/09/energize-herbal-tea-teatoxy/

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec 2 tsp

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40
drank Sweet Nothings by Adagio Teas
1295 tasting notes

This is a white tea from Adagio’s Love Petals collection. It’s a fruit-floral blend, containing sunflower petals and lavender buds on the floral side, and apricot and peach on the fruit side. The base tea is a white peony, composed mostly of brown-black stalks and leaves, but with a few downy silver buds in evidence. It’s not the best looking white peony I’ve ever seen, but appearances can be deceptive.

I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 180 degrees. The resulting liquor is a medium golden-yellow, and the scent is mildly fruity. To taste, the fruit is the primary flavour, and the floral ingredients are mostly absent. I was hoping this would be the case, as (with a few rare exceptions) fruit/floral combinations usually strike me as rather odd. The main flavour I can detect is peach, and it’s a reasonably natural tasting approximation – mildly sweet, with that pulpiness that ripe peaches have. The apricot is present a little, but it’s definitely second fiddle here. As peach and apricot are reasonably similar flavours, however, it hardly seems to matter.

See my full review here: http://steepster.com/teas/adagio-teas/25167-sweet-nothings.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 0 OZ / 0 ML

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55
drank Midsummer Night by RiverTea
1295 tasting notes

I tried a cup of this hot last night with a spoonful of honey. I think the sweetness helped to cut through some of the hibiscus tartness (which is stronger and A LOT more dominant hot than it is when cold brewed…). I still couldn’t taste much in the way of lemon, however, although it did soothe my throat fairly effectively. Mostly, it reminded me of glycerine cough syrup flavoured with lemon and honey, only less thick and sticky. It’s by no means bad, but I’m still mostly underwhelmed.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp

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100

This is today’s work cold brew, and it’s as enjoyable as ever. I’ve been really impressed with this one, and I’ll certainly miss it when it’s gone. I have three bags left, though, so that’s not an imminent threat. I’m not sure how this one manages to taste so much like melon juice without actually being melon juice, but there you go. I’ll definitely be looking to try more from English Tea Shop in the coming months.

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more 3 tsp

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85

This one came to work with me this morning in the timolino. I’m working in a different office until 1.00pm, helping a short-staffed team, and I’m not familiar with the kitchen arrangements. It seems odd to other people that the thing that concerns me the most when I’m going to a different office is how I can make tea, but it’s such a huge part of my life that I can’t imagine being without it for 5 hours. I’d get a headache, anyway. Besides, everyone needs a drink! Rather than go without, I filled up my two timolinos this morning and here I am. This one I chose because I know it plays nicely in a flask, and it’s just as good as ever. Sweet and malty, with a wonderful starchy potato note. The other flask contains an Assam, so along the same lines but with slightly more of a pedigree! Enough to keep me happy until lunch, just about.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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100

This is another of the older Butiki teas in my cupboard, but it finally got its chance today! As with a lot of Butiki blends, it’s a beautifully pretty thing. The rose buds are a bright, vibrant pink, and very fresh-looking. They could have been picked yesterday, but I know they weren’t. The silver needle leaves are a creamy green in colour, and very downy. The scent is heavy on the rose, in a way that’s almost reminiscent of perfume. Thick and sultry, very fragrant. It’s a beautiful beginning.

I used 2 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in water cooled to around 180 degrees. Even though floral teas aren’t usually my bag, I’m in love with this one from the first sip. If parma violets were rose flavoured, they’d taste like this tea. I’m going to find it fairly hard to explain that now, but it’s how I felt immediately upon taking a sip. The rose is obviously the most apparent flavour, but somehow it doesn’t dominate the blend. It’s sweet, and tastes almost sugared, with just a hint of something powdery. It’s also truly, madly creamy, as if I’d added actual cream to my cup. Smooth, with a dairy like mellowness that complements the rose so, so well. Like rose milkshake, if such a thing existed. There’s the tiniest hint of champagne in the aftertaste, which adds a heady richness to the overall cup. It lingers beautifully, as does the rose, for a good few minutes after each sip. All together, the flavour, the smoothness of the mouthfeel, and the scent combine to make this a real sensory experience. Very few teas have this sort of impact on me, so I’m doubly sad I didn’t try this one sooner. My bank account is pleased, but that’s little consolation.

I love this blend, and I’ll cherish the little bag I have. It’s completely disproved my belief that I don’t like floral teas – clearly that’s not the case. This is a beautiful, fabulously tasty tea, and I’m honoured to have had the pleasure of trying it. Butiki may be gone, but they will always live on in my memory.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp

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90

This is one of the older Butiki teas in my cupboard, so even though it’s almost summer and not even remotely autumnal outside, I’ve brought this one to work with me today. It was calling to me, somehow. I guess I’m a year-round pumpkin fan, and not just seasonal one. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it approximately 3 minutes in boiling water. No additions. The resulting liquor is a medium golden-brown, and the scent is deliciously pumpkin-y, with a hint of cinnamon.

To taste, the first thing I can detect is the spicing. It’s very cinnamon heavy, with maybe a touch of cardamon or clove? It’s a little bitter right at the end, in the way that heavy spice sometimes is. The mid-sip is beautifully creamy, and it does put me in mind of a creme brulee. There’s a hint of slightly-burnt caramel as well, that really conjures up the crispy crust. The pumpkin emerges right at the end of the sip, almost an afterthought, and adds a squashy, sweet potato-y note to the overall cup that works really well with the other flavours. I wish it was a little more prominent throughout, but you can’t have everything. However you look at it, this is one delicious tea!

I added a couple of small pieces of crystal sugar at this point, just to see what the effect would be. After a couple of sips, it’s obvious that sugar really does help to bring out the creaminess, and it also seems to smooth out a little of the bitterness from the spices. Definitely a worthwhile addition!

This one is a little unseasonal, but as I’m just recovering from my latest cold it’s actually pretty well suited to the way I feel at the moment. It’s warming, creamy and sweet, with a spicy edge. A real comfort tea – delicious!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
teataku

I, too, am a year-round pumpkin fan. I have been known to make pumpkin scones in April…

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55
drank Midsummer Night by RiverTea
1295 tasting notes

This is today’s cold brew. I don’t have a great deal of leaf left now, which is probably a good thing since I’m not over fond of this one. I think when I bought it, I imagined it as a sharp, bitter lemon sort of tea – maybe reminiscent of lemonade. In actuality, it’s a lemongrass/hibiscus blend, and it’s just a little weak and not-really-lemon like for my tastes. I used 2 tbsp of leaf for today’s brew, added to 1.8 litres of cold water, and then into the fridge for about 10 hours overnight.

The result is okay, in a so-so average kind of way. I can taste a tiny edge of sour lemon, but it’s very fleeting and hardly as present as I’d like it to be. The sip ends with a flash of tart hibiscus, which is fine as far as it goes. I just find the whole thing rather tasteless.

I mention trying this one hot in one of my previous notes, maybe with some honey or crystal sugar. I had thought I’d tried this one hot already, but perhaps I haven’t. I’ll probably do that before I finish this one off for good, but I’m not convinced it’ll make much difference. River Tea did better than this, that’s for sure. I’m sad they closed, but this isn’t ultimately a blend I’ll miss.

In other news, I no longer feel like death warmed over. I’m not exactly better, but I think my cold is slowly disappearing. Other than the first two days, I haven’t actually suffered too much this time. It’s annoying when you want to drink new teas and you can’t, but hey ho! I’ll be back to it soon :)

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more 6 tsp

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Profile

Bio

Hi :) I’m Sarah, 27, 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’m also beginning to explore pu’erh, both ripened and raw. That’s ny latest challenge!

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

In addition to Steepster, I also write for the SororiTea Sisters. My reviews there will typically be posted here also, although typically in a shorter format. Any teas I’m sent specifically for review will only appear in full on the SororiTea Sisters website, with only a short introduction and link to my review here.

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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