1589 Tasting Notes
A sample from Miss B! I pulled out the Simpson and Vail blends first because I’ve experienced a degree of flavour loss in the past with their flavoured blends. These samples are stored in plastic ziploc bags, but they’re not really air tight and I didn’t want to leave them longer than I had to. I should have got around to starting these samples much sooner, but stuff happened and life got in the way, and somehow I just never got round to it. I’m on a more even keel now, so better late than never!
Having said that, I have had quite a day. This week I’ve worked six days, which I never enjoy because I get so tired, but which are essential during open day season and usually at least reasonably fun. I work in a University Admissions department, so my role is pretty much focused on being welcoming and answering queries on entry requirements, course content, and the like. One girl didn’t like what she was being told, and had A TANTRUM on the floor, kicking and screaming, crying and shouting. She was 18, so should have known better, but obviously used to getting her own way. Honestly, I was embarrassed for her. Also annoyed, when one of the academics came up to me later and told me that she’d wanted her to “go home happy, with a smile on her face”, and so had told her that her low grades would be acceptable after all. Helpful, right? That doesn’t make us look unprofessional at all. All I can say is, I’m glad today is over.
Now I’m home, I really wanted a comfort tea. Chai is that to me, especially during the colder months. Chocolate is good, too, obviously. Hence, this one called to me quite strongly. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it approximately 4 minutes in boiling water. I added a decent slug of milk, so it’s kind of a proper chai, without as much fuss.
It’s really delicious. The chocolate and the spices are pretty much perfectly balanced, so that both can be tasted and neither is overpowering. The chocolate comes across as a dark, cocoa-y kind of flavour, perfectly suited to the warmth of the cinnamon and ginger, slight dankness of clove, and the beauty that is cardamon. The black tea base is smooth and a little sweet and malty, and the overall combination strikes me as a really great one. I’m enjoying my cup, now that I can finally start to relax a little.
It’s been a while since I tried a Nilgiri tea, so I’m hoping this will be a pleasant re-acquaintance.
See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/10/23/nilgiri-blue-black-tea-tao-tea/
This was a sipdown today, after all, and probably the last one I’ll manage this weekend. I’m working tomorrow, sadly, so I won’t be drinking as much tea as I usually would on a weekend. I really hate 6 day weeks, and I’m so tired – it’s totally horrible right now. This tea cheered up my Friday, though. It has creamy undertones with a strong hit of sharp lime right in the foreground. I’m sure it helped to keep me awake this afternoon!
This was a sipdown today. I had the choice between two weaker cups and one stronger one, and in the end I went for the stronger option and threw in all of the remaining leaf. I’ve enjoyed this one for its caramel flavour, but I was hoping for at least some sesame maybe some of the time. I got none. Still, you can’t win them all.
This tea is actually one of three sipdowns I’ve achieved this morning. The others were River Song (also from the Adagio Doctor Who fandom tea sampler) and David’s Organic Egyptian Chamomile. I’m going to try and finish my sample of ESP Emporium’s Lime Deluxe (from the EU TTB) this afternoon as well. At least it feels like I’m making some progress on my cupboard, even though it’s grown again recently!
Yesterday’s post contained another two tea orders – one from 52 Teas (inspired by the Marshmallow Treat Genmaicha I drank last Friday) which contained 8 taster pouches, the other a David’s box set that I picked up on Ebay – so another 8 in there. I’ve got one more order en route, from Liquid Proust, which is probably the one I’m most excited about. My cupboard will explode if I go over 300 (I will not allow this – I think it’s only happened once!), but that order was inevitable. I might sneak in another Bluebird before Christmas, but I have to promise myself that I really will stop there.
I really will stop there.
I’m super excited at the moment, because my Bluebird Tea Co. order arrived yesterday, and this tea is now officially back in my cupboard. It’s been too long! I also picked up samples of their other autumn blends (Kung Flu Fighter!, Nuts About You, and Pudina Chai). Of these, Pudina Chai is probably the one that has me most intrigued, because I’ve never tried a mint-based chai before. There’s always a first time. The other exciting thing about my Bluebird order was that they also put in a sample of this year’s Christmas Cake blend. That got me running back to their website to see if the rest of the Christmas stuff is available yet – seriously, they have the cutest hampers this year! They’re not in stock yet, which is probably a very good thing for my bank account, but I’m eyeing one up as a present to myself.
This was yesterday’s pre-bedtime cup. I nearly reached for a black tea again, and then thought the better of it. That’s probably not a habit I should get into on a week night, for the sake of my sanity. I’ve no complaints about this one though, I mean it smells totally delicious when all you do is open the bag. Last night it put me in mind of apple pie, that wonderful autumn staple. I think it was the apple/cinnamon combination that did it. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. No additions.
Steeped, this tastes less of apple pie and more of cider. Excellent news! I think it’s the sharpness of the apple, contrasted with the mild but warming spices that differentiate it. Apple pie would be mushier, sweeter apple flavour. I didn’t get much in the way of champagne at first, but as I sipped I did start to notice a sort of heady grapey flavour that did remind me of sparkling wine. It’s not effervescent, obviously, but it’s one of those rare teas that manages to seem like it is, even if only lightly.
The overall combination is, I think, a really good one. Cider and champagne are two things I probably wouldn’t have thought to put together, but it’s a flavour combination that works. I like the warming, wintery spices, the sharpness of the apple, and the almost-bubbly sweetness of the champagne. It’s a truly great thing. I’m going to try and save a cup of this for new year – or, failing that, to drink as my last ever cup of Butiki tea. It’s a true celebratory tea.
I drank this one just before bed yesterday evening. Under normal circumstances, it would have been a stupid thing to do, but I was so tired anyway that the extra caffeine didn’t keep me awake. I think I’m pretty immune anyway, but still. I used 2 tsp of leaf for my cup, and was reminded all over again how difficult it is to measure PTA. The leaves are so HUGE! My measuring spoon was never really in the game, so I just kind of guessed. It worked out fine, thankfully. I left it for four minutes, returned to a kitchen that smelled like melted Terry’s Chocolate Orange, and added a splash of milk just because.
To taste, it’s simply gorgeous. The way this week’s shaping up, I needed a treat and this turned out to be exactly the thing. The orange flavour is the strongest, and while there are the juicy, slightly sharp edges I’d expect from an orange, the overall effect is pretty candy-like. I think the chocolate helps with this, because it adds a smooth, creamy sweetness to the whole thing so that it’s basically like drinking a Terry’s Chocolate Orange. One word: yum!
I’ve tried Three Friends in the past, with the alternate base and additional marshmallow, but I think in all honesty I prefer this version. It seems a little more straightforward (there’s less going on, I guess, so that’s an obvious thing to say), and the chocolate/orange pairing really gets a chance to shine. PTA is delicious whichever way you look at it, so I’ve no complaints there either.
I love this one, and I’ll be sad when it’s finally gone from my cupboard. I know this Butiki sipdown thing is for the best, but it feels pretty grim all the same.
I tried this one with a couple of pieces of crystal sugar last night. It certainly increased the vanilla, strawberry and cake flavours, but I completely lost the coffee/espresso. It almost becomes a different tea, and I suppose that’s the point.
On balance, I think I enjoy this one without sugar more. I like the chocolate/coffee/strawberry playoff, and the way it culminates in a kind of strawberry mocha heaven. That’s too good to lose, even for stronger cake flavour!
I’ll confess to being a little scared of this one, because it has a roasted oolong base and roasted oolong is my nemesis. I can smell it upon opening the packet – just oolong, and no caramel apple. It’s nutty and a little metallic. Hmm. I followed the recommended parameters and used 1.5 tsp of leaf for my cup, for three minutes, in water cooled to around 180 degrees.
In practice, I needn’t have worried. This is a gentle flavoured tea, it’s true. The sweetness and caramelly smoothness seem to come as much from the oolong base as from any added flavouring, and it’s a more natural taste as a result. I’m not getting much in the way of apple, although there’s a hint of red apple sweetness and a tiny bit of fresh, appley sharpness during the initial sips. As this one cools, though, it becomes mostly just oolong. There’s none of the metallic awfulness I was expecting, thankfully, but there is quite a strong roastiness that’s a little bit at odds with the sweeter flavours. I can totally see how it works as toasted nuts after having read the description, though.
This isn’t my favourite of the flavoured Butiki teas I have left, but perhaps it was never going to be. I don’t dislike it, and I’ll easily be able to finish my 1oz bag, I just think on balance the base tea is not for me. I might try a little crystal sugar next time just to see what effect that has.
The dry leaf smells of very little now, so I was half expecting the flavouring here to be past its best. WRONG! It’s delicious. The dry leaf itself looks really pretty, with its blue cornflowers and red safflowers, and the spindly, twisty leaves of the Purple Sunset Oolong. Once brewed, the leaf does smell like plum juice to me. Not strongly, but enough to be identifiable. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees. I made no additions for my first cup, but I might experiment with a little crystal sugar next time. The resulting liquor is a medium golden brown.
In the initial sip, I’m getting mostly plum juice. It’s a sweet and a little tart tasting, but pretty flavour accurate for actual plums. The brandy is there too, but it’s more an “impression” of brandy, rather than an actual alcoholic flavour. There’s a warming fruitiness that’s maybe a tad grapey, but it’s not as harsh or as strong (or overpowering) as brandy itself would be. Probably what I’m trying to say is it’s like brandy after the alcohol has been burnt off – as it would be if you poured some over your christmas pudding and then set it alight. I’m not getting much in the way of cheesecake, but there is a clear background creaminess. It reminds me of the “cream” in some other Butiki teas – Nutmeg Cream and Traditional Plum Pudding spring to mind. The main impression this one leaves me with is a deep, intense fruitiness. I’m guessing the base tea has a lot to do with that – I remember trying it on its own and enjoying its strong stone fruit flavours.
I would have liked more of a cheesecake flavour, but this one’s still a winner with me. The plum flavour is like no other I’ve tried – so true-to-life and juicy tasting – and the brandy/cream notes add a pleasing depth and uniqueness. I’m sad this tea is no more.