949 Tasting Notes

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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80

This is today’s cold brew of choice. It’s much, much better cold. The cola flavouring is still fairly subtle, and then rum subtler still. It’s very refreshing and easy to drink, though, and that’s an important consideration when it comes to iced tea. I’m surprised how mild the base stays, given that it was in the fridge for around 12 hours overnight, and I used two generous tablespoons for just under two litres of water.

It’s not my favourite cola flavoured tea, or my favourite 52 Teas tea, but it’s eminently drinkable all the same. On the whole, though, I think I prefer 52 Teas Cherry Vanilla Cola, or the cola flavoured SBTs. This is okay, but not quite up to those.

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more
TeaBrat

ugh, sounds like my morning :)

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80

I pulled this out to cold brew last night, and decided to have a cup hot at the same time. I probably don’t have enough leaf left to cold brew in bulk again, so it seemed a sensible option at the time. Predictably enough, though, this isn’t all that great hot. There’s just a fundamental wrongness about hot soda flavoured things, somehow. It’s not that it’s bad — I can taste a mild cola flavour and a hint of rum — it’s just weird. The base seems too prominent when this is brewed hot, too. Bitter and slightly astringent. I think I’ve tried this hot with sugar previously, and it’s better like that, but I’m trying to avoid using too much sugar if I can help it. Probably that means I should stick to cold brewing this one!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 45 sec 1 tsp

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70

I did well with this today, largely because I gave it a longer brew time than I usually have patience for. It’s deliciously creamy, with a strong vanilla note emerging first, and then a cooling hit of peppermint. I’m drinking this hot today as it’s dull and rainy, but I’m starting to think I’d really like to try it iced. I might take the bag home with me and give that a go. The only thing I’m not too keen on after letting this steep for longer is the tell-tale taste of stevia that lingers at the back of my mouth. It’s just a little too artificial. Otherwise, this is perfect! A great start to the morning!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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45

A sample from VariaTEA. I’ve got to admit that the green oily scum floating on the surface of this one was almost enough to put me off it without ever having taken a sip. It just didn’t look…nice. I closed my eyes and got on with it anyway, and I’m glad I did because it tastes pretty amazing! The first sip actually reminded me of 52 Teas White Christmas (I’m pretty sure that’s what the LE Christmas Day tea from the 2012 12 Teas of Christmas box was called. That’s the one I’m thinking of, anyway!) Mint is the initial flavour, followed by a gorgeous creamy, white chocolate, vanila flavour. I can see why this one would have been great during the winter…the flavours and the warmth just go so well together, it’s almost like drinking liquid peppermint bark. Why the pink peppercorns, though? I’m not sure what they’re contributing, if anything, and yet there are LOADS of them in my sample.

I’m glad I finally got to try this one, anyway. I read so many tasting notes about it last Christmas that I almost couldn’t bear not being able to try any. Thanks to VariaTEA, I got my chance at last. It’s not one I’d want to drink a lot, despite the flavour…the oiliness is a texture too far for my tastes. I can ignore it for a few cups though, if they all taste as good as this one!

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 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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