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691 Tasting Notes

50

On the twelfth day of Christmas, 52 Teas gave to me…Sugar Plum Shou Mei!

I’ve enjoyed the 12 Teas of Christmas sampler again this year — it introduces me to some teas I missed during the year, reminds me of a few favourites, and provides a new and unique treat for Christmas day. As soon as I scratched the label here, I was excited to try it. I actually only got around to this one early last night. It wouldn’t be Christmas without family troubles, and it’s been pretty grim so far. I’m glad I’ve had this box to keep me going, in a way. It’s cheered me up when nothing else has. Anyway. I’m going to promise myself that next year will be different, and say no more about it.

So. The tea. I’ve never tried a sugar plum before…is there even such a thing? I imagine it’s a crystallised dried plum…a prune, then? I let the water cool and gave this about 2.5 minutes, maybe a shade over. There’s very little plum/prune flavour, other than a generic sugary sweetness. There’s a hint of it lurking in there somewhere, but it’s by no means obvious. My first thought would be to try a little sugar, although I’m pretty sure it’s sweet enough already. Hmm. The white base is nice, though. Very smooth, slightly floral. Mostly, though, I can only taste sugary water, which is a bit of a disappointment. It smells so nice dry, too! One to experiment with a little more, perhaps.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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35
drank Napalm Ferret by 52teas
691 tasting notes

On the eleventh day of Christmas, 52 Teas gave to me…Napalm Ferret!

This is one I was interested to try this year, but which I ultimately kept away from due to the cayenne pepper. I like 52 Teas Smaug, as the cayenne in that is quite gentle, overall. I really did not like Mayan Chocolate Chai, though (what a disappointment that was!), and I was worried my experience would be similar here. I’m glad to have the opportunity to try it, though.

The cayenne is quite strong. It catches the back of my throat on first sip, although there’s not quite enough of it to really burn. I like spicy things, so possibly we will get on after all. The banana is a very clear flavour, and that I like. Frank is good at banana, and it tastes natural and sweet here rather than artificial or candy-like. It tempers the cayenne a little, too, cutting off some of the sharpness of the spice and rounding out the sip with sweetness. I’m not really getting cinnamon, or green tea — the cayenne and banana almost completely mask those. I did brew this quite conservatively, though, mostly out of fear, so possibly a longer brew time would bring those flavours out. Something to try next time.

On the whole, this isn’t one I’d look to restock. I can’t help but think that a banana cinnamon tea with a green base would have been more to my liking, but then it couldn’t be called Napalm Ferret. I don’t mind cayenne, but it seems pretty unnecessary here. All of the other flavours have to compete with it, and naturally they ultimately lose. This is undoubtedly an interesting tea, though — and a brave choice for a Christmas box! Totally unique, great name — there are a couple of things to love, at least.

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

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90

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Della Terra gave to me…Figgy Pudding!

I didn’t get chance to drink this one yesterday, so I’m a bit belated with this note. It made for a wonderful breakfast treat this morning, though! I’ve not had a fig tea before, I don’t think, although figs are something I’m really fond of. I was making ice cream this morning while brewing this, so it had a good 4 minutes to brew. I added a splash of milk because the liquor was pretty dark by that point.

It works really well, I think. I almost want to say that this is my favourite tea from the box, but I’d have to go back and think about the others first — I feel like I’ve forgotten a few when making that assertion! It’s one of my favourites, let’s say. The fig flavour is strong, rich and heady. There is something puddingy about this, and it does put me in mind of Christmas pudding, in an odd sort of way. Texture and mouthfeel, I suppose. I love the flavour of warm fig here, though. It’s makes for a really fabulous, and slightly unusual, Christmas tea. A welcome break from heavily spiced blends, too! This is one I really would consider keeping in my cupboard around Christmas — it’s not one I’m going to forget in a hurry, that’s for sure!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Sil

sounds wonderful!

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70

On the eleventh day of Christmas, Della Terra gave to me…Christmas Tradition!

This isn’t hugely different from the other mint and vanilla teas I’ve tried so far, but it is pleasant to drink. It’s very creamy, especially with milk added, and this combined with the peppermint give a kind of candy cane flavour. There is something buttery here that I’m not 100% keen on. Maybe it’s the popcorn? Either way, it makes it just a little bit too rich for my liking. I’ll try this one without milk next time, because I think that’s how I’ll ultimately prefer it. When there’s a silver ball in the mix, I’ll be able to admire the shimmer, too! A pleasant treat for Christmas Eve, even if it’s probably not one I’d restock.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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80
drank GenmaiCHAI by 52teas
691 tasting notes

On the tenth day of Christmas, 52 Teas gave to me…GenmaiCHAI!

This is another one I’ve been curious about for a while, although not quite enough to spring for a whole pouch. I like chai, but genmaicha is something I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with, along with green tea generally. Still, I’m glad I found it here, because it’ll let me satisfy my curiosity.

A good thing, because it’s actually a nicer combination that I would have thought. The genmaicha provides a wonderfully nutty background, while the chai spices provide the majority of the initial flavour. I do like 52 Teas Chai blends, so it’s perhaps not surprising that I really like the balance of spices here. This is one I’ll be glad to have in my stash well into the new year — perfect for cold days when I want something a little different to drink!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 45 sec

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80

On the tenth day of Christmas, Della Terra gave to me…Winter Nog!

There haven’t been all that many rooibos teas in either of my 12 Teas Christmas samplers this year. I prefer black tea on the whole, so that’s okay with me, although I do like to have a few non-caffiene options around. That’s why I was pretty pleased to find this one, in the first instance.

I brewed this up as a mid-morning treat, and, despite initial reservations, actually really liked it. My fear at first was that the rooibos would be wholly overpowering, as it’s all I could smell both dry and while brewing. I gave it about 3.5 minutes, added a splash of milk, and took a sip. That’s where I was rewarded. The eggnog taste here is pretty good. There’s a lot of rooibos, too, but it kind of complements the slightly alcoholic flavour and the sweet creaminess that are present here. As eggnog teas go, this probably isn’t my favourite, but it’s not half bad. The snowflake sprinkles are cute, too!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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95
drank White Winter by Della Terra
691 tasting notes

On the ninth day of Christmas, Della Terra gave to me…Winter White!

I was a little confused by this one at first. The leaves look so dark in the pouch, I was convinced it was going to be a black tea. Surprise, then, as I read the card. This one does brew up remarkably dark for a while tea, but you can tell that’s what it is upon tasting. I’m glad I stuck to a short brew time, as the base is slightly astringent. Maybe my water was still a touch too hot, but I can work on that for future cups.

Base aside, the flavour here is brilliant. I can taste white chocolate and coconut clearly, and there’s a hint of creaminess swirling around, too. I like that the teas in this box have been really well flavoured. One of the things that annoys me most about flavoured tea is weak flavourings, but that’s something that Della Terra seem to be able to avoid really well.

Anyway, this tea is a little different from the normal run of Christmas teas, which all seem to feature cinnamon, so it was a welcome find in the box today. One I’ll definitely return to!

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

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75

On the ninth day of Christmas, 52 Teas gave to me…Candy Corn!

Another one I’m glad to have a little bit more of. I had a whole packet of this back around Halloween, and I drank it all in record time. So, not a new one, but definitely a good one!

There are at least five big pieces of candy corn in my pouch, and not a whole lot of black tea. I think this altered the taste a little from when I was drinking cups from a 2oz pouch, where the ratio of tea to candy corn was a whole lot higher. A cup from this sample sized packet is a lot sweeter, thanks to all the melted candy corn, and a lot weaker. I didn’t actually put milk in this time, although I was previously. However I drink it, I still love the flavour. Sweet vanilla creaminess, a touch of black tea…fabulous! I thought this one might make an appearance after a couple of comments I read from Frank on here, and I’m glad it actually did.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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80
drank Butter Rum by 52teas
691 tasting notes

On the eighth day of Christmas, 52 Teas gave to me…Butter Rum!

This is one I’ve long thought about picking up a pouch of. I never have, for some reason, so I’m glad I’m getting a chance to try it now. The first sip is wonderful — I can definitely taste rum (and it’s a pretty accurate flavouring, too), and then comes a smooth buttery sweetness that really rounds the whole thing out. This brews up pretty strong and dark, so I added a splash of milk. I wasn’t sure if that’d be odd at first, but it actually suits this tea quite well. Something about the creaminess, maybe.

Anyway, this is a pretty perfect winter tea. I think I’m going to enjoy a cup on Christmas Eve, and maybe another with Christmas pudding on the big day itself! I was hoping desparately that I wouldn’t be disappointed with this one, and I’m thankfully not. I might actually get around to buying a full bag after all!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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70

A sample from Angrboda

I’d been curious about this one for a while, and I have to say it’s one of the most unusual teas I’ve ever tried. I’ve only ever tried one pu’erh, and never a while, so it’s been an interesting experience! I let the water cool a little, then added just over a teaspoon of the buds. They’re pretty well odourless, and the liquor remains a very pale yellow, really almost clear. I wasn’t convinced there’d be much flavour to discern, but it just goes to show that you shouldn’t judge a tea by the colour of the liquor!

I wasn’t sure what to expect on first sip. There’s something a little bit earthy in the taste…almost compost like, in a way, but very faint. There’s also something that puts me in mind of green tea, an almost vegetal note that reminds me somehow of asparagus. There are also aspects of the flavour that make me think of white tea…a sort of floral, hay-like sweetness. Some others have said sugar cookies, and I agree with that. It’s an overlying flavour, but definitely there, although subtle. Pretty much everything about this tea is subtle, actually. None of the flavours scream out or dominate, but they all occupy distinct layers of the flavour, and contribute something different to the whole. It’s a complex tea, and I got a lot from it. It’s certainly not a boring or straightforward cup, so I’m looking forward to trying this again. It’s probably not one I’d want all the time, but definitely worth a try. It’s an intriguing tea, that’s for sure! Thanks to Angrboda for sharing this with me!

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

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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 not 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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