1246 Tasting Notes

90

I’m half way through my Golden Tips samples now! While I love Assam, I’m trying to space them out between other teas as I try each one for the first time, so that I can get an accurate impression of the flavour, rather than just a comparison to the one I drank previously.

This is a second flush assam, harvested in June 2014. There looks to be about a 50/50 split between wiry, black-brown leaves and slightly downy golden leaves. There are also some golden tipped leaves. The scent is malty, maybe a little woody. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk.

The one thing the scent and appearance didn’t prepare me for at all was the flavour! Usually it’s possible to get a rough idea, but this tea was a complete dark horse. From my observations of the dry and brewing leaf, I was expecting a fairly generic assam, strong and malty but perhaps not with many distinguishing features that would really mark it out. I was totally wrong. The mild chocolate and smooth caramel notes are obvious from the very first sip. They’re not strong, in your face flavours, but they’re definitely what this tea tastes of. The ubiquitous maltiness emerges in the mid-sip, and adds a sweetness that helps to define the chocolatiness still further. There’s a light woodiness towards the end of the sip, so I wasn’t completely wrong, but it’s not at all the defining flavour of the cup. I’m pleased also with how smooth this assam is; there’s no hint of astringency, and neither is it particularly tannic. Just perfect for my tastes, then!

This is a tea I’d repurchase, if only for it’s beautiful chocolate and caramel notes. It’s certainly an assam like few others I’ve tried.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
donkeytiara

hard to tell the difference between the assams some time, but I also like this one!

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75
drank Tropical Dream by RiverTea
1246 tasting notes

I’ve had this one in my stash for a while. I only managed to place one order with RiverTea before they closed, and since then I think I’ve been hanging on to the ones I do have without really considering why. It’s time to drink up. Today’s a really warm summer’s day here, so a tropical-style blend was most appealing. I used tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. No additions. The resulting liquor is a medium red-orange, fairly typical of rooibos blends.

The first thing that strikes me about this one is how nice it smells while brewing. Pineapples and cream! It’s really putting me in mind of a pina colada, or some kind of floating island dessert, maybe. This tea is described as a pineapple vanilla blend, but it also contains papaya, mango and coconut in addition to pineapple, and a whole host of floral additives – rose petals, sunflower blossoms, jasmine, conflower petals, and safflowers. It makes the dry leaf look pretty, for sure – blue, yellow, red and pink petals scattered amongst the darker red-brown of the rooibos, and the yellow-gold of the pineapple chunks.

To taste, this is (thankfully) predominantly pineapple. I can also taste a hint of coconut towards the end of the sip, which rounds things off an a pleasantly tropical note. There’s a whole ton of creaminess in the mid-sip – it’s really quite startling given that vanilla is the only thing here that can really be causing that, and it’s quite far down the list of ingredients. It’s a truly delicious thing. As my cup cools, a hint of the floral emerges in the aftertaste. It’s not too heavy or cloying, though, so that’s fine with me.

I can see this working really well as a cold brew, so I’ll probably try that next. I’m back to work next week, so it can come along with me and brighten up my days a little. I think I’ve realised now why I started to hoard River Tea blends once I heard they’d closed – every time I drink a cup, I’m reminded what a loss their closure is to the tea world. I can only imagine what they might have gone on to blend.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
Christina

Yeah, I still think fondly about them. But I can also think of a bunch of reasons why their closure made sense: prices were a steal (probably not a lot of profit on their end), barely any social media presence, etc.

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85
drank Plum Crazy by Luhse Tea
1246 tasting notes

This is the only oolong I picked up with my Luhse order, but I’ve had so few plum teas that the sheer novelty of it appealed to me more than anything. The dry mix is quite chunky – equal parts oolong (black, think, reasonably wiry leaves, so I’m fairly confident that it’s a roasted wuyi or something along those lines) and schizandre berries (which look to me like rosehip). The scent is beautiful; fruity, ripe plum. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in water cooled to around 180 degrees. The resulting liquor is a pale golden colour.

To taste, it’s absolutely wonderful. Light, refreshing, and beautifully fruity. It’s just like biting into a ripe plum — so much so that I could probably mistake it for plum juice if it weren’t hot. It’s incredibly sweet and juicy, although also very natural tasting. The oolong base is hardly present in the taste, except perhaps for a slight mineral flavour in the aftertaste. This is a good thing in my book, as strong dark oolongs aren’t typically my thing. At least, they haven’t been historically. I do try and return to tea varieties I’ve more or less ruled out from time to time, though, as I’m aware my tastes are changing as I become more familiar with tea.

Although this is something I’d never have said at one point, I can safely say that this is an oolong I’d gladly repurchase. It’s so flavourful and fruity, it more than deserves a place in my cupboard. It’s truly delicious stuff! If you’re a fan of plum teas, be sure to give this one a try!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
Nichole

Their website is so fun!

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85
drank Cocoa Bananas by Luhse Tea
1246 tasting notes

This is the last of my Luhse rooibos samples, and my favourite of the four I’ve tried. For starters, it’s the best tasting chocolate banana tea I’ve tried in a good long time. It tastes delicious! This is just a straight rooibos blens – no honeybush here – and I honestly think that’s how I prefer it. Small pieces of freeze dried banana (and apple, strangely) are evident among the dry leaf, along with some chocolate flakes, cocoa nibs, and a generous smattering of whole pink peppercorns. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. No additions.

To taste, banana is the most prominent flavour. It’s a little candy-like in the way of banana runts, but that’s no terrible thing in a sweet, dessert style blend like this one. The chocolate emerges in the mid-sip, and adds a creamy, rich depth to the overall cup. It works really well with the banana – a great, well realised combination if ever there was one. There’s a slight saltiness towards the end of the sip that’s a little out of place, but I can overlook that since the rest of the flavour is so spot on. It’s barely there, anyway.

This is a Luhse rooibos blens I’d consider repurchasing. It’s tasty and flavour-accurate, and that’s exactly what I want from a flavoured tea. It’s nice to have a sweet, decedent caffeine-free blend on hand, too. I finally feel like I’ve struck gold with Luhse!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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30

For a tea with “cherries” in the name, this blend lacks anything remotely resembling, well, cherries. It’s a rooibos-honeybush blend, with blackcurrants, small pieces of which are evident among the dry mix. The scent is pretty much 100% rooibos, with only the tiniest hint of berry fruit of any description. Hmm. I gave 1 tsp of leaf 4 minutes in boiling water for my cup. No additions.

To taste, this is (as you might expect) mostly rooibos, underscored with the honey-like sweetness of honeybush. It’s a little woodsy and drying on the palate. There is an underlying flavour, but it reminds me more of cough syrup than anything else. It’s certainly not cherry, or even blackcurrant, sad to say. I’m not particularly struck by it.

I think perhaps Luhse’s rooibos blends aren’t for me. I have one or two more to try before I strike them off my “to try” list completely, though — I’m ever hopeful! I’ll be moving on to the black tea samples I picked up soom, and hopefully they’ll be more to my liking.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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50

Another sample from my recent Luhse order, this one an orange flavoured rooibos. The rooibos is very fine here, but interspersed with somewhat “chunkier” honeybush leaves. They’re not particularly huge in real terms, but they do stand out when compared to the almost powder-like rooibos. Scattered throughout are red safflowers, and a generous smattering of orange peel. There’s apparently hibiscus in this, but I can’t see any and it’s certainly not detectable in the liquor colour, which is a medium red-orange. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. No additions.

To taste, this is a fairly ordinary orange rooibos, no better or worse than any I’ve tried before. The orange flavour is clear – perhaps a little artificial in the way of orange squash, but definitely identifiable. It fades by mid-sip, though, and gives way completely to the woodsiness of rooibos. That’s a little disappointing, but it’s still a pleasant enough cup so I can’t complain too much. It’s just not really very memorable. It’s a little drying and astringent by the end of the cup, to boot.

This isn’t my favourite of the Luhse teas I’ve tried so far, but I’ve got plenty of others to be getting on with. Still, this kind of discovery is the whole point of samples! Oh, well. On to the next one!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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45
drank Bella Granata by RiverTea
1246 tasting notes

I’ve had this one in my stash for a while, and I’ve drank it before, but for some reason I’ve never got around to writing a note about it. Now is the time! River Tea have gone the way of the dodo, sadly, and this perhaps isn’t the tea to remember them by. It’s very tart, although I can taste raspberry very clearly. The raspberry is completely natural-tasting, too, and almost exactly like eating actual raspberries. Sweet, sharp, sour, and intensely fruity. The pomegranate is less of a feature, although it’s there in the background. It helps with the sweetness a bit, although it doesn’t contribute massively to the flavour otherwise. The main player here, though, is hibiscus. The liquor has that tell-tale bright red-pink colour, and it’s noticeable as soon as you take a sip. It’s very tart; tarter than any raspberry has a right to be, and it takes the sourness just a notch too far.

I used 2 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. The leaf is as per the recommended parameters, but I gave it less time (6-10 minutes is the suggestion). It’s by no means a bad tea, but it’s not a very subtle one. I can’t help but think that it could only have been improved by the removal of the hibiscus. With the already tart/sharp/sour raspberry, it’s sadly just a step too far.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp

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70
drank Nice Coconuts by Lushe Tea
1246 tasting notes

Another Luhse sample from my recent order. Nice Coconuts is a white blend, flavoured with coconut. The dry leaf smells amazing – strongly of coconut, with an undertone of creaminess, and a hint of something almost rum-like. Alcoholic, at the very least. The dry leaf looks to be a mixture of silver needles, which are white and downy, and white peony, which is blackish-brown in appearance and not particularly fresh looking. There’s a predominance of broken leaves and twigs. Scattered throughout are red safflower and blue cornflower petals, and a smattering of dried coconut shreds. There’s enough leaf in the pouch for about two cups, although if your cup is larger than average you might want to use the whole sample (about 3 tsp), as per the recommended parameters. My cup is on the smaller side, so I went with 1.5tsp of leaf, and gave it 2 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees. The resulting liquor is a medium yellow-green; the scent mildly coconutty with a floral undertone.

To taste, this one is deceptive! I wasn’t convinced at all by the scent of the brewed liquor, but it’s actually very pleasant. The initial sip is all coconut cream; sweet, tropical amazingness! It has remarkable depth of flavour, with just a hint of rum rolling around the mid-sip, and an almost thick mouthfeel. It’s like a decadent dessert – rum babas, maybe, with a side of coconut ice cream. It’s possible to taste a little of the white tea towards the end of the sip, although it’s by no means prominent. Just an edge of floral, hay-like sweetness. Mostly, the white tea seems to contribute most towards the mouthfeel, and doesn’t at all overpower the sometimes-delicate flavour of coconut. This really is a delicious, summery cup. I’m impressed with this blend, and it’s definitely one I’d consider repurchasing in the future.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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55
drank Getting Lei'd by Luhse Tea
1246 tasting notes

I ordered a bunch of samples from Luhse a while back, because I’d long been curious about the company and their tea. Their branding is fairly unique – I like the 20s, prohibition theme, and the use of characters to give their teas a backstory. It’s definitely different! The samples contain enough tea for 2-3 cups, depending on leaf type, and are packaged in square foli-lined pouches with a brown, Kraft paper exterior. They’re not resealable, but as they’re so tiny that’s not really a problem.

Getting Lei’d is a green blend with pineapple flavouring. I love pineapple, so I pretty much had to give this one a try. The tea leaves are a fairly uniform dark green, folded and flat, but fairly small. I’d say Sencha, as an educated guess. There are blue cornflower and red safflower petals scattered throughout, which gives this blend a really pretty appearance, and one or two chunks of freeze-dried pineapple. The scent is beautifully tropical, with strong notes of pineapple. I have high hopes for this one!

As per the recommended parameters, I used 1 tsp of leaf and gave it 2 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees. The resulting liquor is a medium yellow-green, and the scent is faintly tropical. Unfortunately, faint is probably the operative word as far as this tea is concerned. The pineapple flavouring is just about discernible, but sadly nowhere near as strong as I’d like. Saying that, I can taste it throughout the sip, and it’s obvious what it is, so they’re both points in its favour. I can also taste the green tea base, which is a touch floral and a touch grassy – it suits the image of the Lei in that respect! There’s no bitterness or astringency here, which are also favourable points. I’m just left feeling that I’d like a lot more punchiness, and I’m a little underwhelmed by this one as a whole. This is a pleasant tea, and while I wouldn’t turn down the occasional cup, it’s not one I’d look to repurchase in quantity.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
Roswell Strange

Out of curiosity, how much did you pay for shipping?

Scheherazade

I can’t remember the exact figure, but I don’t think it was more than $15-$20. I only ordered $35-ish of tea, and I don’t think I’d have gone ahead if the shipping exceeded the cost of the tea.

Roswell Strange

Oh wow, I think that’s actually a better shipping price than what the Canadian shipping works out to. I put together a mock cart that was about $50 and the shipping was $36… :/

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65

This is a first flush Assam from Golden Tips Tea, picked in March 2014 on the Harmutty Tea Estate. I’ve only tried one first flush Assam in my life before, so I’m interested to see how this one compares. The leaves are fairly small and wiry, mostly a uniform black-brown, but with some lighter (milk chocolate) brown leaves scattered throughout. The scent is heavily malty, with a moderately strong spiciness. I used 1 tsp of leaves for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk.

To taste, this is the mildest Assam I’ve tried for a while. It doesn’t lack flavour, but it seems somehow softer and more gentle on the tastebuds, unlike some of the very punchy, tannic Assams I’ve been drinking recently. It’s sweetly malty, and there’s still a bit of a kick lurking there, though. Golden Tips do some of the maltiest Assams I’ve come across yet, and this one is no exception! A wonderful treacle-like flavour emerges in the mid-sip, maybe not quite as deep a flavour as molasses, but along those lines. The aftertaste is remarkably savoury after the intensity of the malt, veering more towards potato or yam like notes. This is a very smooth tea, very easy to drink, and makes for a good mid-morning pick-me-up.

I like the variation it’s possible to find between Assam from one estate and Assam from another. It’s like there’s one for all seasons, and for all times of the day. I’ve been impressed with those I’ve tried so far from Golden Tips – it’s certainly a site worth checking if you’re looking for a new Assam, or for another Indian tea. The 10g sample size is enough for 3 or so cups, and is just perfect for trying something new! I’ll certainly be looking to repurchase a selection of their Assams in the future, and maybe to broaden my horizons still further.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 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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