943 Tasting Notes

80

A sample from VariaTEA. I surprised myself with this one, because I’m not usually a decaf kind of girl. If I want caffiene free tea in the evening, I usually got for a herbal. Last night I really, really wanted black tea, but I knew it was a bad idea. Then I remembered this one!

The smell of the dry leaf is A-MA-ZING. It reminds me of Starbuck’s Vanilla Nut Latte! It’s scented strongly of vanilla, with a nutty background note. I gave it about three minutes in boiling water. It brewed up pretty dark, so I added a good slug of milk.

It tastes almost as wonderful as it smells. Not quite, because probably very few things actually do, particularly when it comes to flavoured black tea. It’s better than I thought it was going to be, though. There’s a nice, creamy vanilla flavour, not too overpoweringly sweet, and a toasty nuttiness…hazelnut, I think. It’s a really delicious and well balanced combination, and it stands up well against the black base. I can taste “tea” quite strongly, but as it mostly confines itself to the aftertaste, it doesn’t interfere too much with the initial flavour of the sip, which is all vanilla-nut loveliness. A really nice evening treat — just the thing! Many thanks to VariaTea for sharing this one with me :)

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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70

I had another cup of this last night, just to try and firm up my opinion of it. On balance, I like it. It’s a mild chai, and it has wonderful creamy notes from the coconut. It’s a really nice treat with a dash of milk, on an evening when something warming is nice, but heavy “winter” spice levels would be too much. Tasty and fairly subtle! I love the pepper notes in this one, and I’m appreciating tasting the individual spice flavours. Usually they get buried under clove, but this one is gentle enough that the “milder” flavours like ginger, cinnamon and cardamom can really shine. A pleasing cup.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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70

Finished the last of my bag with another cold brew today. I really enjoyed it on Wednesday, and after yesterday’s disappointment with Cherry Vanilla Cola, I wanted something I knew would be good. I didn’t have quite enough leaf, but it doesn’t seem to have suffered for it. I’m still getting a fabulous creamy vanilla flavour, and then a cooling hit of peppermint. Liquid candy cane, and truly fabulous iced tea! This one had languished in my cupboard a bit, but I think I might actually miss it now!

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more

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60

Today’s cold brew of choice, which accompanied me to work. Last time I drank this iced, I was pretty happy with it. I don’t know whether it’s lost something in the meantime, but this time I’m just not getting much from it. It seems perverse to say it, but I actually prefer this hot. It has more flavour all round than the fairly uninspiring drink I’m faced with at the moment. I’m all the more surprised because I used a generous three tablespoons of leaf to just under 2 litres of water, and left it a good 12 hours overnight. It smells of cola, and it’s coloured strongly enough, but it just doesn’t taste of anything particularly. There’s a hint of very weak cola flavour lurking around in the background, but none of the cherry or vanilla amazingness I used to love. It’s been stored for a while, which I guess might have something to do with it…or maybe it just needs sugar to help it along? Too late now, either way! I’m not going to lower my rating just yet, because my memory of this tea is much better. I’m a bit disappointed, though — I was looking forward to a delicious treat to sip on all day :(

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more

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85

Last tea before bed last night. Judging from the scent of the dry leaf, I was worried that this one was going to be pure rooibos. I couldn’t smell anything beyond a deep woodsiness, even while brewing. Thankfully, I was wrong. I gave this three minutes in boiling water, and added a splash of milk.

Admittedly, my first sip was fairly rooibossy. That quickly faded, though, and left a rich, creamy flavour, absolutely reminiscent of vanilla sponge. It’s a flavour that seems to build with successive sips, to the point where there’s even a hint of buttercream frosting, highlighted with a touch of almond.

This is a seriously yummy tea, and is more than likely to become a fixture on my pre-bedtime rotation for at least a few successive nights. I really like cake tea, and this is a particularly good one!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 45 sec 1 tsp

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60

Another great cup today. I think bringing this one to work was the best thing I ever did, because I do actually and genuinely get carrot cake from this when I make it in my smaller work cup. I think I’m actually getting some papaya today, and it adds a fruity sweetness that fits nicely with the carrot. The cinnamon adds just a touch of spice, and somewhere in the middle of the two flavours a rich, sponginess develops that really does taste like cake! There’s even the tiniest touch of cream cheese icing, although it’s so fleeting I almost feel like I might have imagined it. I don’t think so, though. The green rooibos is pretty muted today, even though this had a pretty long brew time. I was worried that the flavour had faded due to me storing this one in its original paper packaging, but it looks like I needn’t have worried. I couldn’t have asked for a more carrot cake-like tea than this!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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70

This one really comes into its own cold. I guess because it’s a winter-flavoured tea, I’d never really thought of cold brewing it before now — I’m glad I decided to give it a go, though! After yesterday’s slightly weak Cuba Libre, I went for 3 tablespoons of leaf in 2 litres of water, and into the fridge overnight for around 12 hours.

It’s literally liquid candy cane. The initial sip is almost pure, unadulterated sweetness — the stevia, I guess — but it’s so much like the sticky glaze on a candy cane it’s almost unreal. A smooth, creamy vanilla flavour emerges next, and then the coolness of the mint develops in the aftertaste. It’s seriously yummy! Looks like I’ve found my new favourite way with this tea.

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more 1 tsp

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70

This is a reasonably good chai. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it surprised me, somehow. I drank it as a latte, so the first thing that struck me was its wonderful creaminess. I was expecting milky, but this tea has a dimension beyond that — I think it’s the coconut! It’s rich, smooth, silky creaminess with a hint of sweetness. I wouldn’t have said coconut automatically if I hadn’t known — it adds more of a texture than a flavour, imo.

The chai blend is relatively light. I can taste a mild spiciness, but it doesn’t have a lot of the depth I usually look for in a chai. Saying that, I usually drink chai in the winter, when strong, warming, homely flavours are the order of the day. This could be a wonderful spring chai, though — mildly spicy, with a creamy tropical edge! I get ginger, cardamom and pepper primarily. There are cloves, but few enough that they don’t overpower everything with their almost musty, occasionally overbearing flavour. I think that’s probably the key here.

As first cups go, this was an interesting experience. I think it might be a chai I could actually like a lot, but I’ll need to try a few more cups before I can decide one way or the other. Intriguing!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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65

I’m pretty sure I’m only drinking so much of this because it’s literally the only black tea I have at work with me right now. It’s not bad, but it’s probably not one I’d turn to quite so much for any other reason. I’m happy with the raspberry flavour, I’d love more chocolate, but the base is just a bit heavy for me to ever really be able to love it properly.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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25

I’m pretty sure this is only my third cup of this tea. I’m not sure why I don’t pick it out more often — I like white tea in general, although the flavouring here isn’t perfectly to my tastes. I guess I’m more drawn to black tea at work, and probably in general. Still — my tin of this one isn’t going to get any smaller if I just sit here looking at it!

A cup it is. It’s not actually as bad as I remember, so I’ve raised the rating a little. The white peony leaves are mostly black/brown, sadly, and the peach flavouring IS very artificial (like a gummy sweet rather than an actual peach…), but I’ve definitely tried worse. It’s delicately sweet and not too cloying, light and refreshing, so perfect for a muggy day like today.

This isn’t one I’d restock, but it’s okay.

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

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Bio

Hi :) I’m Sarah, 25, and I live in Norwich 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’ve also never really tried pu’erh, and that’s something I’m just starting to explore.

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

Norwich, UK

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