1658 Tasting Notes

65

Mao Jian has become one of my favourite green tea varieties over the last year or so, and I’m always pleased to try one that’s new to me. This Hunan Mao Jian from Harney and Sons looks pretty much as I’d expect – thin, wiry leaves that are a little curly and twisted, a fairly uniform dark green in colour, and pretty long (most around 2cm, but some more like 5-6cm). Dry, it doesn’t seem to have a great deal of scent. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 170 degrees.

See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/12/29/hunan-mao-jian-harney-sons/

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

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85
drank Pomegranate Detox by Tea Drift
1658 tasting notes

The first thing to say about this one is that it smells so, so good. Strong, rich, fruity pomegranate, as soon as you open the bag! The leaf itself is a pretty thing to look at, too, with whole golden chrysanthemum flowers plus a few stray petals, and tightly rolled oolong pellets. The scent, though! I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in water cooled to around 180 degrees.

See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2016/01/01/pomegranate-detox-tea-drift/

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

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80
drank Pyin Green Tea by Shan Valley
1658 tasting notes

Although I drink a lot more green tea than I used to, I still consider myself a learner when it comes to my familiarity with different types. This green tea looks like none I’ve seen before.

See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2016/01/05/pyin-green-tea-shan-valley/

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

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80

Well, I’m still alive. I was so sick over Christmas, with proper fully-signed-up flu. I had 10 days off work, which I’d been looking forward to all year, and I spent most of them either in bed or staggering around the house like a zombie looking for tissues and more medicine. I think I only drank one “proper” tea – this, which I took with me in my timolino on the one day I did feel well enough to venture out. It was a very sorry state of affairs. Now I’m back at work (of course I’d be well enough in time, because that’s how it works), not feeling very rested, but at least I can make up for some lost time in tea terms.

I started the morning with another cup of this one. My pouch is actually from the year before last (2014), but it hadn’t been opened before December this year so it was still fine. I’m really enjoying this one as a Christmas Cake tea. It’s got strong dried fruit flavours, a touch of nutmeg spiciness, and a good dose of vanilla to sweeten things up and add a deliciously creamy overtone. I adore the snowflake sprinkles even though they stick fast to the bottom of my infuser, and the glitter adds a little festive sparkle too. The pine needles are an inspired touch – this really is the best of Christmas in a cup. All the better for those of us who feel like they didn’t really have a Christmas this year, I guess! Maybe next year.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
teaqueen

I’m glad you’re feeling better. The flu is the worst and its timing is always impeccable… for messing up fun plans.

Christina / BooksandTea

That sounds awful. I’m glad that you’re on the mend. (Impeccable timing regarding your holiday, huh?)

tigress_al

Glad you are feeling better!

__Morgana__

Glad you’re better!

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50

Ugh, I am ILL. Not only that, I’m at work. At work and ill is a bad, bad combination. It’s also nearly Christmas, which makes it all doubly rubbish because I was hoping this might be the year when I actually managed to escape being ill on Christmas Day. Probably this will not be the case. In an effort to try and make it the case, though, I’ll be drinking this tea on repeat all day. My first choice would have been Bluebird’s Kung Flu Fighter, but I’m out of that and it’s a bit late to be ordering any now. So I have this. It actually has a reasonably high proportion of Echinacea (20%) which is better than most similar teas I looked at in the supermarket yeterday (5%, for the most part). I’m hoping it’ll do at least a little bit of good.

Taste wise, it’s not too bad. It’s mostly hibiscus, and it’s a little tart and sour in the way of most Twinings fruit infusions. There’s the tiniest hint of raspberry, but it’s mostly drowned out except in the scent. The Echinacea is a little earthy and helps to augment the tartness a bit, but I have to be honest and say that I’m not drinking this for the flavour. If I was, I wouldn’t be particularly impressed.

I think it’s fair to say that I wouldn’t drink this one if I wasn’t ill, but as something that’s currently making me feel better it deserves a reasonable rating.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more
rosebudmelissa

Hope you feel better!

Veronica

I’m sorry you’re sick. :( Here’s hoping you feel better soon.

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90

I swear today is getting worse by the minute. At least I had the foresight to bring good tea with me today! I’ve had this one many times before – it’s a bit of a winter staple for me – but it’s good to be drinking it again. It really does taste exactly like gingerbread, and there’s a nice warming spiciness from the cinnamon and ginger. Great for a sore throat. It’s rich, not too sweet, and with a really nice dessert-like vibe that sets it apart from other chai/ginger teas. Always a winner with me.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
Fjellrev

Sounds absolutely scrumptious. I just hope your day turns around!

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90
drank Snowball by Bluebird Tea Co.
1658 tasting notes

It’s only mid-morning and I’m already totally harassed. I HAVE TEA THOUGH.

To cheer myself up, I went for the most temptingly delicious sounding Bluebird Christmas tea – Snowball! Anything with three kinds of chocolate, two kinds of coconut, marshmallows and pink flowers has to be a good thing, right? And it’s tea as well. This totally reminds me of those Tunnock’s marshmallow snowballs, as I expect it’s supposed to. The intial sip is mostly chocolate (quite dark, rich chocolate I might add), followed by the sweetness of coconut, and then the creamy over-the-topness of sticky marshmallow. It’s liquid deliciousness. It’s another pretty blend, too, with the pink cornflowers and white coconut – tastes like a snowball, looks like a snowball. Is this perfection in a cup?

I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and left it approximately 3.5 minutes. I added a splash of milk just because, really. I figure it only helped with the creaminess. I think next time I might give this one a slightly shorter brew time, because it’s really quite sweet and borderline overpowering by the end of the cup. It’s an amazing dessert tea, though.

Really enjoying this one :)

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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85
drank Candy Cane by Bluebird Tea Co.
1658 tasting notes

No notes for this one? It’s Christmas jumper day at work today, so I figured I might as well make it Christmas tea day also just to add an extra festive touch. I feel so far from Christmassy at the moment, I need all the help I can get.

I’m a fan of candy cane tea any time of the year, really, but I’ve been saving this sample pouch for a suitable occasion. Turns out that’s today! I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. I was thinking maybe milk, but in the end I went with no additions.

To taste, it’s actually pretty good. Spearmint is always a winner with me – it’s sweeter and more gentle than peppermint, and it does a good job of recreating a “candy” mint flavour. The vanilla adds a creamy touch, which is totally delicious in this context. I really am thinking candy cane as I sip this one. I’m not 100% sold on the ceylon base – it’s a little citrussy for my tastes, and then with the added lime leaves and pomegranate flowers it’s just a little confusing and muddled in the aftertaste. The initial hit of spearmint and vanilla is excellent, though. I’m not usually a fan of stevia in teas, but I will say that it works quite well here to create the candy cane effect. It’s not too cloying and artificial, either, so clearly it’s been added with a light hand.

The last thing to say, as with pretty much all Bluebird blends, is that it looks fabulous. Pink cornflowers, red pomegranate flowers, green mint, black tea. It does recall a candy cane, and it’s lovely to look at. The biggest joy is in the drinking, though. It’s pretty much liquid candy cane, and it’ll surely make this work day more bearable.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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100

I opened my last bag of this one this afternoon. It’s Frank’s re-blend version this time. I have to say that I was encouraged when I opened the bag. It smells right – sweet, marshmallowy, with the rice adding a crisp edge of toastiness. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to 170 degrees.

It’s pretty good, but now I’ve been spoilt by Anne’s recent reblend, I’d have to say not AS good as that. The toastiness is there, and there’s an underlying sweetness that hints at marshmallow, but it’s a little bit weak and wishy-washy if I’m being brutally honest. It’s heading in the right direction, and there’s definitely a suggestion of what it claims to replicate, but it does fall short. An enjoyable cup, though. I’ll have no problem finishing my pouch.

I should probably say that my official rating is for Anne’s reblend version. For those who are curious, I’d give this one a 65.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp
Fjellrev

Wow, you make me want to try Anne’s! I loved the original.

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65
drank Kenya Obsidian by Butiki Teas
1658 tasting notes

This was a surprisingly speedy sipdown, considering that I wasn’t all that sold on my first cup. I actually started to enjoy this one quite a lot after my third attempt – it’s not so intense with a shorter brew time and a slightly heavier hand with the milk. I found myself appreciating the strength in the end, because it’s kept me awake these last few afternoons. I’ve increased my rating a little to reflect the more successful time with this one during later steeps.

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.

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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