1558 Tasting Notes
This one came from my Kusmi sampler, in one of the cute little tins they use for those. I’ve had no problem with the others, but I couldn’t open this one, try as I might. I had to get my Dad to take a look, and in the end he managed to pry it off with a spoon. It was a struggle, though, and a little odd. Anyway, this is actually the third time I’ve tried this one now. The first two were in my Timolino, and I didn’t log them because I was rushed and harassed when I drank them, and because I couldn’t recall the flavour very well later.
My third cup is getting a fairer reception. I was expecting an Earl Grey with a combination of citrus flavours, but that’s not really what it’s like. The base tea is a pleasant Ceylon, with its own citrus notes, and it brews up quite strong. I added a splash of milk to make it palatable. To taste, the main flavour I’m picking up is a fresh but slightly bitter lemon. After that comes the bergamot, but not as strongly as I expected, followed by a semi-sweet orange blossom flavour that’s actually very pleasant. There’s apparently supposed to be lime, but I can’t taste it at all.
While I like this one well enough, and find it a drinkable tea, I’m also a little underwhelmed. I wanted stronger, brighter citrus flavours on an EG/Ceylon base, and that’s not really what this is. It’s a half-hearted EG at best, and a little too bitter for my tastes. The initial lemon is nice, as is the orange blossom end note, but it’s fairly blah in between. It’s a tea I could drink any time of the day, but it’s not especially remarkable. There are definitely other Kusmi blends I prefer, not to mention other EGs, other citrus teas…
Forgot to mention that I drank a cup of this – the oldest tea in my cupboard! – yesterday afternoon. My rating suggests that I wasn’t particularly impressed when I last drank it, but possibly it’s improved with age. My cup was pleasantly sweet with clear notes of apricot and a touch of vanilla. It’s probably one I shouldn’t overlook so often, and might make a good cold brew candidate this summer. I’ve increased my rating from 40 to 60 because it’s actually really quite nice.
Matcha latte this morning. At the moment, lattes seem to be the only way I can really drink matcha without feeling nauseous. The irony of that isn’t lost on me, either, because hot milk is sweet and maybe not particularly well suited to early morning drinking. Still, it seems to be working for me. I actually quite like the flavour of plain matcha when it’s mellowed out with milk.
A sample from Miss B! I seem to be in the mood for sweetish things this morning, so my second cup of the day is this one. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, which seems to be about a 60/40 mix of peppermint and black tea, with a few marigold petals and a scattering of white chocolate chips. I gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water, and added a splash of milk which I hoped would help to notch up the creaminess.
I’m not disappointed! This is a pretty perfectly balanced blend of mint and white chocolate, so it more than lives up to its name. The initial sip is sweet and creamy, very reminiscent of white chocolate and not at all cloying or oily. The peppermint comes out as a coolness in the mid-sip, and then as a more distinctive mint flavour in and of itself towards the end.
I’m happy with this one. It’s another great dessert tea, sweet and flavourful without being too rich or overdone. I’m glad to have had the opportunity to try it.
A sample from Miss B. I’m still working my way through the exceptionally generous box she sent me a while back now – it just seems to keep on giving! I used 1 tsp of leaf for today’s cup, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. It brewed up a nice dark amber, so I added a splash of milk. From the dry leaf, it looks like this one is a mixture of CTC and larger black tea leaves, with generous pieces of chestnut and smaller cacao/chocolate fragments.
To taste, it’s absolutely 100% delicious. The flavour is on the delicate side, but it’s the kind of flavouring that seems like it’s part of the tea and not an addition, so I’ve no complaints about that. It’s lightly nutty, with deeper dark chocolate notes, fairly sweet and creamy, and wonderfully smooth. I couldn’t have wished for better for my first “proper” cup of the morning. It’s deliciously dessert-like without being cloying or overpowering, the perfect “comfort” cup for a cold winter’s day.
I have milk this week, so I pulled this one out to try again. It’s much improved with a splash of milk, for sure. The base tea is smoother, and the creamy orange is allowed to shine. It really does taste like a dreamsicle now, and not just an astringent black with orange zest. I’ve improved my rating based on this cup, because THIS is how I wanted it to taste and now it does.
This tea and I had a misunderstanding, so the first thing I have to do is apologise; sorry tea! When I read “Earl Grey Strong” I immediately thought of a strong Earl Grey (i.e. lots of bergamot). Apparently, that’s not what was meant. The black tea base is strong, and the bergamot level is the same. Actually, the bergamot is less prominent than usual because the base tea drowns it out more than it usually would. So it turns out that this could actually be one of my favourite Earl Grey blends, because it’s not strong. Or at least, not in the way I thought.
So now we have an understanding. The base tea here is pretty good – a blend of Assam, Rwandan, Ceylon and Darjeeling. It’s malty, sweet, a little zesty, and it takes milk well. I’m a bit of a heretic and usually drink my EG with milk anyway, so this suits me well. The bergamot is barely a presence, if I’m honest. There’s a hint of it kicking around in the background but it’s not the main flavour like it usually is. I could actually take a bit more bergamot, which is a rare thing for me to say, because without it this is really just a breakfast blend. It strikes a pretty good balance, though, and I was happy to have straightened things out with this tea. It’s a good ’un after all.
While I’m chronicling my matcha journey, I might as well note for myself that matcha shots in hot water are an absolute no-no for me. I’m not quite sure what it is about them, but they just hit me all wrong and I end up feeling desperately nauseous. I thought it was just plain matcha at first, but flavoured matcha in shot form has the same effect. What I can drink happily are lattes and shots in cold milk, so I’m thinking maybe the milk makes it more palatable for me? I would like more variety than that, though, so I might try experimenting with different nut milks or maybe some fruit juices. The adventure continues.
I saved this Teapigs sample until second last (last will be Earl Grey Strong because I think I’ll need milk with it and I have none this week. Also because I’m just a tiny bit scared of it for reasons mostly unknown). The reason this one got bumped is because it’s ginger, which I’m not massively keen on, and it contains liquorice root which is my absolute nemesis. Why did I buy it, you’re thinking? Well, because new tea is like a challenge. I have to try it. And because if I never question my ideas about taste, I’d probably never try anything new…also, my tastes might have changed. I doubt it, but you just never know. I might only put myself out of my comfort zone with tea, but at the moment that’s absolutely enough.
So. The tea. I gave the bag 4 minutes in boiling water. As expected, I’m not really a fan of this one. The flavour is stem ginger and sticky sweetness, with an underlying chai-like flavour. I actually don’t mind the ginger too much. It reminds me a little of ginger cake, and it’s not too hot or overpowering. The cinnamon is pleasant, too, and the sweet/spicy aspect works well. What I hate with a passion is the liquorice root. For me, it absolutely ruins what could have been a nice cup. The ginger/cinnamon combo is up front and quite nice-tasting, and then the over-sweet liquorice hits me in the back of the throat and stays there in all its artificial sweetener-like glory. It’s just too much, and I rarely say that because I’m quite a fan of sweet in general. Liquorice root is the devil, I tell you. I wish it wasn’t in this one.
Sipdown! Finished off the last of this one at work today. I’m actually pretty surprised I’ve only got one note for it, because I’ve been drinking it pretty much every morning. I do feel like mate blends help to wake me up a bit, although I’m usually so tired that maybe I’m not saying much. Every little helps, though.
I’m quite sad to be out of this one. It has a really pleasant, almost soothing vanilla mint flavour, and while it’s not overpoweringly sweet/strong it’s sufficiently heavily flavoured that the earthiness of the mate doesn’t completely overwhelm everything else. I don’t actually think I have any other mate/guayusa blends left in my cupboard, so maybe this sipdown means I can stock up on a couple of teas soon – maybe from Bluebird. I feel like I could do with a refresh to make me feel inspired again.