1701 Tasting Notes
A sample from Miss B! The target is, once again, to get back under 200, so I’m finishing up some samples and smaller quantities this week. I’ve been drinking tea for a while now, and I’ve yet to find a chai blend that really sums up chai for me. Some have come close, though.
This one is another that comes close. It’s a good blend of spices – LOTS of fennel seed (always a good start, in my book), some cardamon pods, orange peel, a little bit of ginger, the odd clove. The cinnamon here is what really makes it, though, and I’m glad I finally tried a blend that uses sweet cinnamon as opposed to the more typical stuff. It’s so much better, sweeter, more fragrant…and it doesn’t have that sort of dusty, drying quality that lots of cinnamon sometimes has for me.
The spice blend is a good one – it’s definitely the heart of the tea, but it’s not overpowering. I’d have liked there to be a little more actual black tea just to provide a touch of extra malt and a little more substance – it turns out a bit thin with milk, and since I drink chai with milk almost exclusively, that’s pretty important to me. Otherwise, it’s a good ‘un! Another chai I’d happily drink again, and that’ll probably make it to my list of potential repurchase contenders if I ever get to a point where I’m choosing long term prospects and not just buying all the tea.
I’ve had this one a while, but I guess I’ve just been waiting for the right day. It’s warm and sunny this afternoon, and it’s my first day back at work, so a little bit of tropical fruit didn’t seem entirely uncalled for. I brewed this one western style – 1 tsp of leaf for 1 minute in boiling water. I wanted to be conservative with the steep time for my first cup, because frankly I just don’t know what to expect.
The initial sip is a little odd. I get tropical fruit – sort of a pineapple/mango like flavour, sweet and juicy. I also get mushroom, which just has to be the raw pu’erh, and a touch of earthiness in the aftertaste. I’m thinking a lower brew time might be better, although I’d have to try that to be sure. I don’t find it unpleasant as it is, though, and that’s the biggest surprise. It’s odd, yes, but also…delicious? It reminds me of Hawaiian pizza, if I’m honest, and that’s something I never thought I’d say about a tea…
A sample from Miss B! (Yes, I’m still working my way through the box.)
I’ve found the older 52 Teas to be a bit hit and miss, but it turns out I needn’t have worried about this one. The first thing I love about it is the HUGE chocolate and peanut butter chips that are plentifully scattered throughout the blend. They melt really easily, which is another plus, and although they leave a bit of an oily scrim it doesn’t seem to affect the mouthfeel too much.
The flavour is pretty spot on, too. Chocolate is the more prominent flavour, but there’s a definite peanut butter vibe in the mid-sip, and the two flavours work together really well. The black tea base is maybe a little on the thin side for my tastes, but I can’t really complain too much. It’s nicely malty, and it helps the flavouring along rather than getting in the way, so it’s a win-win.
Glad to have tried this one, and glad to have the rest of the pouch to finish off. Thanks again to Miss B, without whom I’d probably never have tried this one!
So that interview I had. I waited over an hour and a half at reception, before I finally gave up and walked out. No-one I spoke to was able to explain what had happened, or seemed to be able to contact anyone who might feasibly know. I came back home to a half apologetic, half rude email saying that organising interviews in a busy building is very complicated, and that it was my fault anyway for not confirming that I’d be attending. I had confirmed, and have since provided a copy of my email, but despite making several complaints (including one half rational, half pissed-as-hell burst of eloquence that I’m quite convinced would inspire abject sorrow in an inanimate object) I don’t feel I’m getting anywhere. This from Cambridge, one of the most well-known and respected Universities in the world. I just expected better. And not to make a 100 mile trip purely to sit in a reception and stare at a wall for the better part of the morning. I don’t know what to think or do at the moment, but I am sure that this has been quite a week.
This tea was today’s cold brew. I used up the rest of my sample to make it – just over 2 tbsp of leaf in 2 litres of cold water, into the fridge for 10 hours overnight. Despite the slight overleafing, I actually think this one came out a bit on the weak and watery side. It wasn’t bad exactly, but it definitely had less flavour than I was expecting. Mostly, it reminded me of citrus fruit pith, but there were brighter bursts of orange towards the end of the sip. It’s a shame they didn’t really linger. This is definitely a tea I prefer hot!
Birthday tea! I’ve been hanging on to this sample pouch for a while, probably because it was a limited edition, and sounded like the kind of tea I might really like. Today is a “special occasion” (i.e. my birthday, which is depressing, so I needed cheering up with tea…) I felt like I’d waited long enough on this one, so I pulled it out to try! I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk, because ice cream, dairy…it seemed to fit the bill (and it would have felt odd not to add any.)
I’m pleased to report that it’s delicious! Super creamy, with a definite ice cream flavour. It’s not artificial ice cream, either, but a lovely, rich, “real vanilla” ice cream that you’d either make yourself with actual cream and vanilla pods, or pay a fortune for ready made. There’s also a definite root beer aspect, which really makes this into more of a root beer float than an ice cream float in my opinion, but since it’s lovely I’ll not complain about that too much. I can taste the chicory/medicinal-herbal flavour that’s so reminiscent of root beer for me, plus a fairly hefty dose of cinnamon that really helps to round things out. There’s also just a touch of smooth, sweet caramel towards the end of the sip.
Overall, I’m really pleased with this one. I hope Bluebird bring it back some day!
Well, I officially have a cold. Just in time for my interview on Thursday, when I’ll doubtless be unattractively snotty and hopelessly croaky. Is it self-sabotage? Sometimes I wonder. I’m not drinking much tea, anyway, simply because I can’t taste it. I made up another cold-brew for my parents, though, and I sneaked a glass after lunch just to see whether my taste buds really are on holiday or not.
I can taste this, and I actually think the blueberry comes out more cold than it does hot. That’s always a bonus in my book, because I love blueberry. The orange is there, but it’s not as tangy as I remember from my hot cup, and it’s a lot more muted – more of a background flavour than anything.
I’m back at work next week (I’m always ill when I’m on leave, just in case anyone hadn’t noticed before now), so I’ll probably make up some more of this and take it with me.
I also bought more tea, because I’m bad, and also because I just had a shock (that really shouldn’t have been a shock, if I was being honest with myself). It made me feel better for a bit, and then I went back to worrying about my interview again. While unrelated to the shock, it’s equally unpleasant to dwell on.
Ever had one of those weeks you wish would just end?
This was the first white tea I ever tried. It was before I joined Steepster, before I really started drinking tea “properly” or “seriously” or whatever I should call my relationship with tea these days. I was studying for my MLitt in Scotland, and staying in a B&B for 2-3 nights a week. They weren’t particularly generous with the tea in the rooms, and the local (tiny) supermarket didn’t have a particularly huge selection, but they had a couple of things other than the normal bagged black, and they’re the ones I went for. The obsession was starting, even then. I remember picking this up mostly on a whim, maybe because Roland drinks it in Stephen King’s Wizard and Glass, and so the phrase “white tea” was in my brain anyway.
It came back to the hotel with me. I steeped it in boiling water for 4 minutes, and added milk. Poor tortured tea. Needleess to say, I didn’t really like it. In my defence, the box didn’t provide any helpful guidance, and actually suggested boiling water to begin with. The milk, I admit, was my mistake.
I think about it now and want to hit my previous self over the head, but we all started somewhere with tea. Some of our starts were possibly rockier than others. I’d like to go back and revisit this tea one day, just to see if I can make a better job of it. I’m sure I can, but this one deserves at least 75 for the pain I put it through.
I made this one up as a cold brew for my family, since they’re really into their iced tea these days. I managed to grab a glass after lunch before they hoovered it all up, though! I enjoyed this one hot, but it really shines when it’s cold. The strawberry is front-and-centre, sweet and spot-on flavour accurate. The mango is much less prominent, but recognisable as a faint, peppery “orangeness” in the background. I like that the strawberry really comes into its own here, though – it was the flavour I bought the tea for in the first place, if I’m honest.
White tea seems to cold brew really well, which came as a surprise to me for some reason. I guess I’m usually all about the black teas, but white might be moving into second place, particularly during the summer. I remember vividly the first white tea I ever tried, and what I did with it, but that’s another story. Maybe noteworthy, actually.
I did the usual with this – 2 tbsp of leaf in 2 litres of water, into the fridge for 10 hours overnight.
No notes for this one? I find that kind of difficult to believe, but there you go. I picked this one up a while ago, as far as I can remember? I think it was from one of last year’s collections, but I might be wrong about that. Anyway, I think my body is craving anything with a passing resemblance to vitamin C, since it’s the second orange-inflected blend I’ve picked up in the last 12 hours.
The combination of orange and mandarin really appealed to me, and it’s on a black base so that also made it a winner this morning. The Ceylon is perfect here – lightly cirtussy and brisk, and the perfect companion for the sharp, juicy orange and sweeter mandarin flavours it has going on.
There are a lot of other ingredients in this one – apple, hibiscus, blackberry leaf, lime leaf…the list goes on. None of them really seem to make an impression on the flavour, though. This is a straight-up, solid, bright, sunshine-y orange tea! Definitely one to try iced.