1699 Tasting Notes

90
drank Lady Grey by Twinings
1699 tasting notes

My latest Bluebird order arrived yesterday, so now I’m on a serious mission to reduce my cupboard in the hopes that it can be back under 200 before…too long? The easiest way to achieve this seems to be to focus on smaller samples and things I only have one of, and this teabag from a Twinings pick n’ mix fitted the bill.

I think I’ve only tried this once before in my life, which seems quite odd given that I pretty much grew up on Twinings. I’ve drank a lot more Earl Grey, but if I’m totally honest I think I actually prefer Lady Grey because the orange is more “actual orange” than slightly bitter bergamot, and it generally tastes like a creamsicle which is never a bad thing.

Today’s cup is no exception. I gave the bag 2.5 minutes in boiling water, no additions. The black base is light and bright tasting with mild citrus notes – probably a Ceylon. Of the added orange and lemon peel, orange is definitely the dominant flavour. It’s sweet, kai-ora like orange, maybe a bit over-ripe in terms of taste but it works well enough. There’s just a hint of slightly bitter lemon right at the end of the sip, but mostly this is a smooth and almost creamy tasting tea, perfect for a gentle start in the morning. I’d not rush out and buy loads, but an occasional visit to my cupboard would be no bad thing. As bagged tea goes, it’s one of the better ones.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 sec

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85
drank Tuscan Sun by RiverTea
1699 tasting notes

Apparently drinking this means I know what the sun tastes like in Tuscany. Who knew? This is another tea I’ve drank more than a few times now, but not logged more than once, so I’m all set to remedy that now. This one is described as a strawberry mango white. Today’s cup (slightly overleafed at 2.5 tsp, given that the leaf is so huge that 1 tsp is virtually nothing) is mostly strawberry – sweet, a little candy-like, but mostly reminiscent of strawberries that are a touch overripe and maybe a little on the soft-side. Kind of tart like that. The mango is more or less overwhelmed this time, but there’s a pepperiness to the aftertaste that reminds me it’s supposed to be there. It’s a good combination – I just wish the mango was a little bit more prominent.

I like this one a lot. While it’s great hot, I’m going to try and save some leaf for summer cold brewing, because I at least half-suspect it might truly shine that way. Roll on the warmer months!

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

Is River Tea still open? Their website has $0 for all their teas. :(

Roswell Strange

Sadly it’s not :(

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50

A sample from Chi Whole Leaf. I remember these arriving a while ago, but for some reason I never got around to trying them, and then stuff happened and I’m only just getting back on track. It’s pretty cold, rainy and miserable today, so I figured ginger chai would be a good thing to have. I’ve never tried powdered tea before, other than matcha (and that only recently), so I’m intrigued to see how it works out. I used 1/4 tsp of the powdered leaf, and used an electric whisk to mix it into a cup of hot water. I added a splash of milk to round things off because, well, it’s chai!

The dry powder smells wonderful – very cinnamon-heavy and reminiscent of those lebkuchen biscuits my family typically buy at Christmas. To taste, it’s thinner somehow than I was expecting. The hot water seems more prominent than it would with a normal loose leaf tea, which surprises me a bit. I was expecting maybe a thicker mouthfeel if anything, given that the powdered leaf is actually in the cup as opposed to just infused and removed…

The flavour is interesting, too. I’m not sure that I really get ginger, per se. I definitely get cinnamon – and quite a sharp cinnamon at that. It’s not as sweet or mellow as I would have liked. There’s a lingering spiciness/heat at the back of my throat that could be ginger, but it doesn’t really taste like ginger usually does. The most prominent flavour, for me, is rooibos. It’s a little woody and earthy, and while it pairs pretty well with cinnamon/ginger in my head, it’s kind of taking over things here. I’m going to be honest and say I’m a little half-hearted about this one. The flavour isn’t quite what I wanted it to be, although the spiciness comes out more and more with successive sips so it’s not a total fail. I liked trying something new, and the whole leaf powder is definitely an easy and convenient concept. No waiting around, no infuser to clean and wash. It’s perfect for a busy morning. I wouldn’t add this particular flavour to my cupboard in any quantity, but I have four other Chi samples left to try, so I’m hopeful that one of those might be more my thing.

ETA: One thing I did realise as I got towards the end of my cup is that the powder doesn’t stay mixed. Most of it, in fact, appears to be sitting at the bottom of my mug in a kind of waterlogged sludge. Not good if you happen to inadvertently swallow a mouthful, let me tell you.

Preparation
Boiling

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95
drank Vanilla Matcha by DAVIDsTEA
1699 tasting notes

Sipdown! Finished off the last of this one as a latte this morning. I’ve really enjoyed experimenting a little and working out my likes/dislikes when it comes to matcha. I’m also glad that I got over my intial fear of it, and this one made that easier than it would have been otherwise for sure. A great introductory matcha, and a tasty morning treat!

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70
drank Yuzu Temple by Mariage Frères
1699 tasting notes

Clearly I’m going through allllllll my older stuff and having another try. This is, I think, the third oldest tea in my cupboard? Something like that. It’s another casualty of the time when I didn’t really like green tea, and it scared me a bit. I’m a lot braver now, though, and I actually quite like this blend. It’s a touch on the bitter side, with the yuzu peel, but the green tea is quite light and bright in flavour. It’s a good contrast. I really must remember not to let things languish!

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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80

This is another of the oldest teas still in my cupboard. I’m not actually sure why it’s lingered so long – I wasn’t the greatest genmaicha fan at first, but I’ve warmed to it over the last couple of years. I think initially it was just so outside my range of experience, and I wasn’t the biggest green tea fan anyway. These days, I can appreciate it for what it is. I also like the heritage that it has – it’s interesting to think that brown rice used to be added to tea in Japan to make the leaves stretch further, now I suspect genmaicha is mostly consumed for the experience or enjoyment of the flavour.

I have more experience of various genmaichas than I did when I first tried this one, and it’s clear to me that this is a good one. There’s an initial hit of toasty rice, which has a slightly bitter bent but not excessively so. It’s more sugar puffs than burnt toast. The apple emerges in the mid-sip, and it’s also got a baked flavour, slightly floury and a touch floral in the way that some apples are. The green tea is mostly present at the end of the sip, and it’s a touch vegetal with mostly seaweed/marine notes. It’s clean tasting, and it works nicely with the apple.

I like to return to teas I tried at the beginning of my tea journey from time to time, because I know my tastes are changing and it’s often surprising to compare an older note with a more recent one. I’ve increased my rating of this one based on today’s cup because qverall, I’m pretty pleased with this one. It stays fairly true to the spirit of genmaicha (it’s about 50/50 brown rice and green tea to look at the dry leaf), but with a modern, accessible twist in the form of the added apple. Definitely worth a try.

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

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90
drank Caramel Apple Oolong by 52teas
1699 tasting notes

I’m not sure how it is that I’ve only logged this one once. I half-remember writing more than one note about it, but maybe Steepster has eaten them. I wondered whether I wrote them for Caramel Apple Honeybush, but apparently I only logged that one once, too. The mind boggles.

I’ve definitely drank this one more than once, but at the moment I still have half a pouch left. I’ve been ignoring it recently in favour of other things, but I figured it deserved to come out again this morning. It’s a pretty perfect tea for cold days, and today is still really cold after yesterday’s snow. Fortunately there were no disasters on the way to work this morning.

I didn’t used to be the biggest oolong fan, and in some ways I’m still not, but flavoured teas like this one helped to convince me that there’s nothing really to be scared of. The caramel here is sweet and light, the apple is crisp and almost a little sour. It’s a great combination! The oolong base pokes through just a little, but I think it helps to develop the slightly burnt note of the caramel, while adding a light floral that some apples actually do have. A deliciously satisfying cup.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 45 sec 1 tsp

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100

Last night’s after dinner cup! I pulled out a stack of Bluebird teas when I went through my tea box on Sunday, so it’s no surprise that I’m starting to work through them. As ever, I only wish I’d done it sooner because this one. Is. Amazing. It smells great as soon as you open the pouch, but I’m always slightly wary of building up hopes at that point because scent and flavour are two entirely different things. I’ve learned this the hard way when it comes to tea and expectations. It’s not the case here, though, because this tea actually tastes like black forest gateau in a cup! I used 1.5 tsp of leaf, gave it a good 4 minutes in boiling water, and then added a splash of milk.

The initial flavour is cherry – concentrated black cherry, and a little syrupy. Second comes the chocolate – dark chocolate, rich and creamy. It has a lightness that really reminds me of sponge cake, although I have no idea how that’s achieved. Last of all is a hint of vanilla, which puts me very much in mind of the whipped cream topping a black forest gateau would have. Altogether, it’s pretty well a spot-on recreation in liquid form. I wasn’t expecting to be quite so impressed, but I’m more than glad that I am. This will definitely be a repurchase once I have my cupboard a little more in order. I’ve just placed an order with Bluebird for their new Spring collection anyway, so it’ll be a while yet I suspect.

One thing that did stand out to me is the sheer amount of different berries that went into this one – elderberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and cranberries, but no cherry. I just found it interesting that the effect they create is so different from what they actually are, and that it took so many different berries to achieve it. There’s also apple and hibiscus, so go figure I guess. In some ways, Bluebird strike me almost as a smaller, UK version of David’s Tea. “All the ingredients”, huh? Given that it tastes this good, though, I’m not really complaining!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
Sil

Wow this sounds delicious!

tea-sipper

Thanks for your note on this one! I’ve wanted to try this since it was released!

Scheherazade

It’s well worth a try. Totally delicious!

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95

I picked up another sample pouch of this one with my last Bluebird order, really just to refresh my memory of it. I remember enjoying it, but hardly any of the specifics. I finally got around to opening it last night, and brewed up a cup as my pre-bedtime tea. It’s as good as I hoped, except to say that it’s more chocolatey than I remembered and less minty. Both are there, but the chocolate really dominates. It’s quite a sweet milk chocolate flavour, too, doubtless aided by the melting of those adorable chocolate hearts scattered throughout. If you like sweet chocolate things, this is for you. It’s an excellent caffeine-free treat.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 45 sec 1 tsp

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45
drank Turtle Cheesecake by 52teas
1699 tasting notes

This was on my list of teas to come back to as it had that alcoholic niff when I first opened the pouch, and it kind of pervaded my first cup. It still hasn’t faded entirely, but it was much improved this morning on what it had been. I tried another cup – 1 tsp of leaf for 3 minutes in boiling water, splash of milk. It’s a pretty decent chocolate caramel tea, but I’m not getting cheesecake at all. That’s a shame, but not entirely unexpected.

Preparation
Boiling 3 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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