1697 Tasting Notes

30

I’ll admit it. I’ve been scared of this one. It’s only getting a chance today because I have no milk and somewhat limited options at work, otherwise it would have stayed firmly consigned to my “too terrified to drink” pile. I’m not nervous, just cautious.

The dry leaf is an interesting prospect. It’s mostly beige chunks, that I assume are chicory. There are also three freeze-dried raspberries (in a 20g sample), plus a fair helping of cacao nibs. At the bottom of the bag are some very finely shredded brown and green leaves, which I guess has got to be the yerba mate. It’s not how yerba usually looks, though…and if some of it’s green then it’s not all roasted. Unless the green is something else? The ingredients list is out of ideas. There’s no coconut to speak of.

The scent, dry, is bitter and very reminiscent of coffee. I get that. Chicory is a coffee replacement/alternative, so fair enough. I’ve had a few chicory blends of late, although they’re mostly dressed up as root beer/butterbeer style blends. I’m not sure what this one is supposed to be imitating. Raspberry and coconut make me think of cake, and yet something tells me I’m not going to get cake from this one.

It doesn’t smell quite as coffee-like once brewed. Instead, it takes on a nuttiness that reminds me of cashew or macadamia. There’s also a fair hint of chocolate, so that’s reassuring. I was fairly conservative with my brew time – a scant 3 minutes. The scent made me wary, and I don’t like my yerba-based blends over-brewed in any case.

To taste, it’s not quite as bad as I was expecting. It has an edge of bitterness, but the main flavour is dark chocolate and that helps to smooth things out. There’s a touch of coffee, although it’s not particularly strong. If you made a cup of instant with too few granules and too much water, you’d get something like this I imagine (minus the chocolate, sadly for you.) Overall? Chicory and chocolate. Which is fair enough, given that this one’s called Chicory…Choc. I have no idea where the raspberry and coconut went, though. They’re MIA. The yerba isn’t making much of a contribution either, except maybe to round out the earthy roastiness. Let’s say it’s doing that. For argument’s sake, it might be.

I’m not really enjoying this one. It’s not that it’s unpalatable, just that I don’t like it very much. I don’t really understand it, as a blend. If I wanted coffee, I’d drink coffee, and it wouldn’t be anything like as thin and watery as this tastes. It’s not like there’s a shortage of decent chocolate teas, either, although I’m grateful that the cacao nibs bring some redemption to this blend. It needs it.

I would have liked to have been able to taste the raspberry and coconut, because that’s what sold this blend to me. I’ve also come to the conclusion that chicory should only be used in root beer tea, and not for any other purpose. It’s the natural order of things.

Did I like drinking this tea? Not really. Did I learn something from it? Yes.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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45

A sample from Miss B (and one of my final two…I eventually found the bottom of the box!) This one is bagged, which is convenient today since I’m covering reception (boo!) for the morning and can’t “faff around with infusers and shit” as is my usual modus operandi. I also don’t have any milk, so it’s really a good thing all around.

This one brews up a pretty spectacular yellow/orange, very reminiscent of saffron. It smells sweeter than I thought it would, given that the main ingredients are saffron, lemon verbena, and sage. I’m thinking maybe honey/mead?

This is backed up by my first sip, which is sweet and very honey-like. I can taste lemon, although it’s not a strong flavour. The combination of honey/lemon is putting me in mind of throat sweets and/or that glycerin medicine that you get for a tickly cough. I can’t taste sage at all, which is a shame. I was hoping that would be a more prominent flavour, and that maybe the overall effect would be kinda savoury…not so, sadly.

This is enjoyable enough, but I’d not be in any particular hurry to drink it again. Maybe my tastes are changing, but it’s a little too sweet (and medicinal) for my liking.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 45 sec

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100

How is it that I’ve not tried this one yet? I literally have no idea how that happened. Anyway, better late than never. I’ve also kind of come to the conclusion that I really need to work on reducing my cupboard to a more manageable level before I buy any more tea (how many times have I said that before…) because there’s some good stuff getting neglected and it’s not right. At least I’m back under 200. I’d like to get down to 50 before I really consider stocking up again. That would be a much more comfortable place for me.

I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup. It’s kinda hard to measure because the leaves are so big they won’t fit happily in my measuring spoon. To be expected, I guess, given that this is the full leaf version. The leaves themselves are a variagated brown-black-gold-cream, some more than an inch long, most with beautiful downy tips. I gave it 3 minutes in boiling water, and added a splash of milk because it brewed up so dark. That in itself was unexpected.

To taste, this has all the malty, sweet potato wonderfulness I was hoping for. It’s quite robust in terms of flavour – no watery black tea here! The initial sip is sweet and thick-tasting, there are some chocolate/cocoa notes (albeit fairly fleeting), and then in the mid-sip it’s really all about the yam/sweet potato, and that’s a flavour that lingers well.

I’m enjoying this one. When I next place a Teavivre order (which may not be for a while, but it’ll happen…) I’ll doubtless repurchase this one. I’d happily have a large bag in my cupboard as a staple black – it’s that good.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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90

Sipdown! I have a cold at the moment (again), so I’m sticking to teas I’m familiar with for the next few days. This one’s a classic. I adore Dian Hong style teas generally, but this is still one of the best I’ve tried. It brews up a beautiful red-orange-brown, works well with or without milk, and has delicious bread, chocolate, and malt notes to boot. I’m sad to see this one depart my cupboard, but I’m sure it’ll soon be back :)

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
mrmopar

Hope you feel better soon!

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90

The beginning of the cold weather pretty much always signals a return to Keemun for me, and it looks like this year is no exception. I think the rich dark chocolate and smoke characteristics are what pull me back towards it as soon as the mornings turn chilly. They’re not flavours I particularly crave in the summer, but now…

I started this year with the superfine fragrant, and now I’m trying this one. The leaves here are much shorter and a lot less tippy, but still thin and wiry in appearance. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water, splash of milk.

To taste, this is mostly cocoa-like dark chocolate, slightly drying, with a light undertone of smoke. There’s also an edge of juiciness that reminds me of Taiwanese black teas. It’s strong and malty, quite sweet after the richness of the initial sip has worn off. I’m not usually a fan of anything smoky, but on this occasion I’m actually a fan. I think without it this would be a pretty one-note tea, but as it is it’s adding an element of depth that I’m really enjoying, and it stops it from crossing the line into too sweet/cloying. A pretty solid keemun, all in all, and one I’d be more than happy to drink again.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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55
drank Earl Grey by New English Teas
1697 tasting notes

I wanted something simple this afternoon, and this fit the bill pretty perfectly. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk, because that’s what I do. Dry, it has the unmistakable scent of Earl Grey – slightly bitter citrus-floral. It’s a scent I find oddly calming, even though I’m not a particular fan of bergamot generally.

Once brewed, it’s a fairly tame beast. The bergamot is very light and really not much more than a background flavour, and the citrus-inflected sweetness of the ceylon base takes precedence. Of the trio of teas I received, this is the only one that’s not CTC, which I guess makes sense for an Earl Grey.

This isn’t a tea that’s particularly out of the ordinary, and it’s not the best Earl Grey I’ve ever tried, but it’s straightforward and easy to drink, and sometimes that’s really all I want. A middle-of-the-road kind of affair.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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30
drank Jasmine Rose by Waitrose
1697 tasting notes

This one came to me from a work colleague, who wasn’t sure about the “old lady/mothballs” flavour. To me, it smells like turkish delight…

This is a bagged supermarket tea, although it’s a silky pyramid get-up containing pretty sizeable green tea leaves and a decent smattering of dried rose petal fragments. I gave the bag 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees.

To taste, it’s pretty strongly floral – more strongly than I typically enjoy (and yes, I did the scrunchy face). It had a pleasant turkish delight undertone, but the level of flavouring could stand to be taken down a notch or two and it would still be good. Better, in fact, because it wouldn’t be so hopelessly overpowering. The jasmine is strong, the rose stronger, and there’s also a degree of initial bitterness that really makes this one a no-no for me.

If I were to try this one again, I’d give it a very short brew time, maybe around the minute mark. I think that’s the only thing that’d recuse this one for me.

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

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90

Dave and Solomons are a mother and son tea blending company, currently selling their indie creations on their Etsy store. I hadn’t come across them before this sample arrived with me, but it’s always nice to discover a new tea company, if a little dangerous for the bank account! Lavender Dream is a fruit and herbal blend, combining the sweet fruitiness of peach with the light floral of lavender.

Read my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2016/10/30/lavender-dream-from-dave-and-solomons-tea/

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
Memily

Oh cool! Etsy teas…

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90
drank Anxi Tie Guan Yin by teasenz
1697 tasting notes

I can’t remember the last time I drank a Tie Guan Yin, which is something of a surprise as it’s become one of my favourite oolong varieties. I was more than pleased when I came across this one, not least because it’s a good opportunity to reacquaint myself. This particular Tie Guan Yin is from the Anxi Nature Reserve in Fujian Province, a major Chinese tea growing region (although one I seem to associate more with black tea than with oolong, strangely enough!)

Read my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2016/10/26/anxi-tie-guan-yin-from-teasenz/

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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60
drank Catnap by Aka Tea
1697 tasting notes

I misread the name of this tea at first, and thought it said “Catnip.” Turns out I wasn’t far wrong, because this blend does actually contain catnip. It’s even more fitting when you consider that the company logo, and indeed the majority of their blends, are cat themed.

Catnap is purportedly a relaxing blend, containing chamomile, mint, lemon verbena, lemon balm…and catnip. In my head, catnip isn’t something I typically associate with relaxation – it conjures images of bright-eyed, mischief-making kittens. Maybe in humans the effects are different.

Read my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2016/10/22/catnap-aka-tea/

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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Profile

Bio

Hi :) I’m Sarah, 28, 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 my latest challenge!

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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