1723 Tasting Notes
A sample from Miss B. This has got to be one of the more intriguing teas I’ve tried in a while, and I think only the second whiskey flavoured tea I’ve ever come across. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. When I returned to the kitchen I really could smell whiskey, so it’s probably a good thing that I was the only one around at the time. There might have been raised eyebrows, given the conservative nature of the office I work in. I don’t need shock and scandal with my tea on a Friday morning, thanks. It had brewed up pretty dark in any case, so I added a splash of milk.
To taste, it’s actually pretty nice. It’s a lot less harsh in flavour than I was expecting, given the scent. The whiskey is very prominent, with oaky, grain-like notes, and it lingers in the form of a delicious warmth – almost a glow – in the aftertaste. The base tea is smooth and very lightly malty, with maybe just the tiniest hint of citrus. It works really well with the much stronger whiskey, creating a very mellow vibe overall. I’d seriously consider keeping this one around, especially during the winter. A surprise hit!
A sample from Miss B! It’s still cold out today, despite the forecast predicting warmer weather for the end of the week. I arrived at work frozen, so chai seemed to be the order of the day. I used my usual western-style preparation method – 1 tsp of leaf, 4 minutes in boiling water, and a splash of milk.
As chai goes, this seems to be a pretty mild one. The main flavour I’m picking up is actually vanilla, and while it’s sweet and creamy it’s not quite what I was expecting. There’s an underlying “chai” flavour in the mid-sip, mostly cinnamon, clove and orange, but it’s not hugely prominent. While pleasant and drinkable, I think this one really need something to give it some body and zing – maybe some pepper or ginger. As it stands, it’s just a little too mild for my tastes.
The third of my four stray Twinings bags. I actually feel like I’m having a pretty good time with these today, despite them being of the “fine shred” variety. I’m not the biggest ginger fan, but I do love rhubarb, so I’m guessing that’s why I added this one to an order sometime in the distant past. I gave the bag 3.5 minutes in boiling water, and the scent when I returned to the kitchen was pretty amazing – rhubarb and custard sweets!
To taste, this is initially more rhubarb than ginger, which scores it major points with me. The rhubarb is on the sweet side, and just a little bit tart. The ginger emerges in the mid-sip, but more as a warmth and kick of spicy heat than a flavour in itself. The major letdown for me with this one is the liquorice root. It wasn’t listed in the ingredients, but I know it’s around because I can taste its sweet stickiness at the back of my throat. It’s not as overdone as it’s been in some teas I’ve tried recently, but it’s still there and I HATE it.
If it wasn’t for that, this would have been a pretty high scorer with me. I don’t feel I come across a rhubarb tea that often, so when I do it’s a pleasant novelty. I wouldn’t say this was a particularly fiery blend, so it’s not living up to its name in that respect, but it is rhubarb and ginger and that would have been enough. As it stands, I wouldn’t repurchase this one. The liquorice is a complete no-no as far as I’m concerned.
Second stray Twinings of the day. I can’t actually remember when I picked these up? The fact that I only have one of each must mean I was filling in an order to get free postage or something like that, but I can’t actually recall doing it. In any case, this one was a surprise instant hit with me.
The first thing I feel I should point out is that the liquor is a gloriously bright pink. I gave the bag 3.5 minutes in boiling water, no additions, and it cheered me up just to look at it. The second thing to say is that it’s actually beetroot and blackcurrant, which isn’t really reflected in the name. The final thing is that I would happily go out and buy every box of this I could get my hands on (right now, if I wasn’t at work) because it’s the most delicious fruit/herbal tea I’ve tried in a long, long time.
The initial sip is very blackcurrant-heavy, but it tastes just like the actual fruit. I was expecting a more ribena-style flavour, but it’s nowhere near as sweet or artificial as that. There is a natural sweetness, to a degree, but there’s also a touch of sharp/sour in the mid-sip that I’m really enjoying. So flavour accurate! The beetroot plays second fiddle to some extent, but it’s there in the mid-sip contributing an earthiness and maybe even some of the sweetness that the blackcurrant itself lacks. It’s a great pairing, and the two flavours work fabulously together with no tartness (or hibiscus!) in sight. I’m impressed that it strikes such a good balance – I’m not used to getting that from bagged teas in general, or from Twinings in particular, so this one’s a bit of a revelation.
So much for narrowing down my cupboard. I’ll definitely be drinking this one again, not least because I think it’ll make a fabulous cold brew this summer!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.