1088 Tasting Notes

55

Second cup of the day. I followed KS’s advice and brewed this one for only 15 seconds. It has turned out a sort of dark ruby, and the flavour is much, much lighter. It’s still got the distinctive damp, mossy, earthy notes, but there’s less horse. I consider this a good thing.

I still don’t think I can be persuaded to try many more pu’erhs. I might have to accept that they’re just not for me — or at least, not at the moment. They’re certainly a unique drinking experience, though!

I should probably also say that this is a sipdown. I have been saving my last one-cup servings up for a mega sipdown session while I’m off work next week, but I figured I’d probably lose my nerve with this one if I didn’t just get on with it. I have less tea to choose from at work, so I pretty much have to drink whatever I’ve got with me. It gets me past my tea inhibitions sometimes! Anyway — say yay for one less in the cupboard!

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec
K S

E for effort. A for attitude. I’m kind of that way with most oolongs. I want to love them but the best I can usually muster is a mild like.

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85

I was a bit worried about this one last night, as I couldn’t smell any orange, or taste any in the tiny sip I took. I also thought I might have overdone the steep a little as I got distracted. I brought it to work anyway, and I actually needn’t have worried because I was REALLY WRONG.

I took a tentative sip and discovered that this is actually insanely creamy. It tastes just like vanilla ice cream! The orange is pretty subtle, which is probably why I couldn’t taste much of it, but it does remind me of a thin orange ice lolly shell around a thick, creamy, vanilla ice cream interior. It’s a creamsicle through and through! The black base is a tiny bit intrusive, but that’s pretty much my fault because I went over the three minutes a little. It doesn’t ruin the overall tea, though, so it’s all good. This one had the standard treatment — 3 minutes in boiling water, topped up to 2 litres with cold, and into the fridge overnight.

A delicious summery SBT — this one makes me want to go on the zoomdweebies website and place an order for MOAR right away. I am trying to resist, though — there are a good few still sitting in my cupboard waiting to be tried, and I don’t want to neglect them unduly. SBTs make going to work in the summer bearable. I don’t know what I did before I discovered them.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
52teas

Comments like this are what keep me going! Thanks for the kind words. I’m so happy you are enjoying the teas.

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70

This was a sample with my first Whispering Pines order. The dry leaf smells strongly of cinnamon, and actually reminds me of christmas cake. I know it’s summer, and this is another tea that’s hopelessly inappropriate for the season, but I have a sore throat (STILL), so I’m more or less pleasing myself.

I used about 2tsp of this (the packet says 1/2 tbsp, but I don’t have a tablespoon measure with me so I’m guessing a bit!). I’ll have enough for another cup left if I use this quantity of leaf, so hopefully I have the right idea. I’m using a pretty big cup to boot.

I gave this the recommended 5 minutes in boiling water. When I returned to retrieve it, the whole of our office kitchen smelt of cinnamon, and the liquor was a surprising dark brown. Somehow, I wasn’t expecting that!

This is an interesting tea — probably the most interesting I’ve tried in a while. The flavours are pretty complex — the first sip reminded me strongly of chai, but it’s actually quite different in style even though some of the flavours are the same. Cinnamon is the main flavour, followed by elderberry. There are other spices kicking around in the background, I think, but I’m finding it hard to identify them individually. A swirl of spicy heat finishes each sip, although it soon fades. At that point, the bitter-sweet, slightly tart elderberry returns. It’s a pleasant combination, although admittedly not one I’ve come across before. It would make a wonderful winter tea to sip before bed curled up by a fire! Although the ambiance is off at the moment, it IS making my throat feel better, so it’s a definite win with me. One I’d consider repurchasing come winter.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp
Sarsonator

I love teas with a spicy finish! I ordered this one last week, and now I’m really looking forward to it!

Cameron B.

One tablespoon is the same as three teaspoons, so keep that in mind when you don’t have a tablespoon measure around. :)

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70

Another first for today — I’ve never tried a Tieguanyin before! I figured that while I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone, I might as well stay there for a while. I had serious reservations about putting oolong in boiling water, but I did it anyway. It still feels odd to do that, but it makes sense to trust those with more experience. I gave this two minutes.

The resulting liquor is medium yellow-green, and smells quite toasty. To taste, it’s very buttery and very smooth. There’s a strong nuttiness — chestnut is probably fairly spot-on — and a wash of floral flavour towards the end of the sip. The oolong is slightly grassy — I have to keep reminding myself that it’s not a green! It’s quite a heavy tea in terms of flavour, but it’s so smooth that it doesn’t really become an issue. It’s not over-cloying, and I’m glad for that. The flavours dance across the palate, and the floral edge lingers momentarity — it’s like walking through a summer garden. Based on this experience, Tigguanyin is something I’d like to learn more about, and would seek out again. I think I may be coming around to green oolongs more than I ever thought I would!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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80
drank Superstar by RiverTea
1088 tasting notes

This sample came with my first RiverTea order. It was another I’d considered while putting my order together, and another I finally decided against as I was trying to limit myself a little. My cupboard is out of control, after all. Still, it worked out because I got to give this one a try anyway!

I gave this 5 minutes in boiling water. The liquor was a medium honey brown-gold, and something in the scent reminded me a lot of 52 Teas Strawberry Pie Honeybush. A good omen, because I loved that one!

To taste, this one is very fruity. Grapefruit is the main flavour, and it adds a sharp, almost bitter, tang to the overall flavour. The strawberry is mild, but it’s there, adding a sweet and juicy undertone. The honeybush is also sweet, but otherwise remains an unobtrusive base. There’s no woodiness here. I wasn’t sure about this one at first, but as it cooled I got more of the fruit flavours, and it actually turned into a pretty successful cup. The grapefruit is a nice counterpoint to the sweetness of the honeybush and strawberry, and the combination works really well. I have a three-cup sample, so I chose to brew this hot to start with, but I’m pretty sure it would work equally well cold brewed. If I add it to a future RiverTea order (and there’s a good chance that I will!), I’ll definitely be trying it cold. A genuinely lovely, caffeine free option, and a welcome addition to my pre-bedtime rotation.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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55

I’m pretty scared of pu’erh in general, but as my throat is still sore this morning I decided I could probably risk giving this one a go. If I don’t like it, at least I can hope I missed some of the finer nuances! This is the first plain pu-erh I’ve ever tried, so I’m a little apprehensive. I haven’t been overawed with the flavoured versions I’ve tried so far — in general, the base is just too much for me.

Anyway, I put aside my reservations and gave this one 2 minutes in boiling water. I stopped at two because of the colour the liquor had already turned — black, basically — and because the smell coming of it was fairly pungent. I might have lost my nerve if I’d gone the extra minute.

First sip was actually okay. I tried not to focus on the scent so much, because that inevitably puts me off. It does remind me of mucking out stables when I used to keep a horse as a teenager. Fortunately, there’s not too much of that present in the taste, although there’s a tinge of it in the initial flavour. Mostly, I get a musty, damp flavour with a certain something that reminds me of wet, freshly turned earth. It does put me in mind of caves or a forest after a rain shower. It’s more palatable than I thought it would be, although I suspect this kind of tea will never be a favourite. It’s just too pungent for my tastes. I will admit to enjoying this as a morning cup, though. The strength alone helped to wake me up! Definitely a valuable experience to have had, even if it’s only really cemented the fact that my journey into pu-erh will probably end soon.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec
K S

A lot of us, especially western drinkers, steep puerh until it is inky black but really if you cut the steep down to 15-20 seconds the brew will be more of a ruby red (or lighter) and easier on the senses.

Scheherazade

I’ll try that this afternoon! I have one of these left :)

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70
drank Boatsman by RiverTea
1088 tasting notes

I received this as a sample with my first RiverTea order. I’ve had two cups so far, with a third remaining in the bag, so a pretty generous sample! I did actually think about adding 50g of this to my order, but I decided against it at last minute. Based on the sample, that was probably the right decision for me. It’s nice, but it’s not quite as punchy as I’d hoped.

The dry leaf contains huge pieces of cinnamon stick, and equally huge whole chamomile blossoms. The chamomile blossom actually unfurled while brewing, and it was pretty to watch all of the petals folding back. I was slightly concerned that the cinnamon would overpower everything else, but it didn’t. I gave 1 tsp of leaf approximately three minutes in boiling water and added a splash of milk.

First sip didn’t taste of much to me — the honey-like sweetness of chamomile, a swirl of spice, generic black tea. I left it to cool a while, and when I returned to it the flavours I was looking for really came through. There’s definitely mango, and there’s also quite a lot of banana. I wasn’t expecting to be able to taste the banana at all, so it was a pleasant surprise! The vanilla adds a touch of creaminess and a sweetness to the overall cup, but it’s very much a background flavour. There’s a lot going on in terms of flavour…maybe a little too much at times. I do wish the mango was a little stronger and jucier, but it’s a pretty nice cup as it stands. I’m definitely glad to have had the opportunity to try it! A good first experience with RiverTea — on the strength of this one alone I’m looking forward to trying the rest of my order!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
Roswell Strange

This makes a nice cold brew :)

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60
drank Afternoon Infusion by Graze
1088 tasting notes

This tea bag came with a piece of carrot cake in my Graze box. According to the label, it’s a blend of assam and kenyan tea. Work is such at the moment that I’m seriously considering jumping off the nearest tall building. Hopefully tea and cake will be suitable deterrents.

I gave this one 4 minutes in boiling water, and was rewarded with a dark, malty smelling brew. I added a splash of milk. It’s conventional shredded tea bag leaves, so I wasn’t expecting too much, but it’s actually reasonably tasty. It’s relatively light bodied, but it has a strong flavour. The assam is the dominant leaf, and it contributes the expected sweet, malty overtones. The kenyan tea adds something in the background that’s a little hard to discern. I want to call it smoke, but it’s not really that. A slight bitterness? Maybe a tiny metallic hint? It pairs with the assam pretty well, giving the overall cup an edge of difference that can be a nice thing in a blend. It’s very smooth, and not at all astringent, which makes it easy to drink, and it’s nicely refreshing — a good palate cleanser to pair with the stodgy spiciness of the carrot cake!

I’m struggling to pick out any distinctive notes, but then my tastebuds are still a little wonky after my bout of flu, which I’ve still not fully recovered from. I’m sure the “guilt free high tea” snacks will reappear in my graze box before long, so I’ll have another chance to try this one at some point. For today, I’m going to settle for saying it’s an enjoyable cup, and rate it accordingly.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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60

A sample from VariaTEA. I couldn’t work out last night whether I liked this one or not. The first sip made me think not, but then the second was really nice. Towards the end of the cup I started to feel a little overwhelmed by it, and began to wonder whether it just wasn’t for me. I suspect it’ll take a few more cups before I can really decide one way or the other. Maybe a smaller cup, too, because it’s quite a rich tasting tea.

The first sip was very, very almondy. Almost like ground almonds when you open a fresh packet. The second sip was more cookie-like, with a buttery, sweet, baked biscuit flavour coming through really well. It really did remind me of an iced sugar cookie, which is another Christmas-related treat I enjoy immensely. When the combination works, it works really well. I felt at times though that all I could really taste was almond, and that’s not such a favourite flavour. It’s also quite rich and cloying, as you might expect liquid biscuit to be, and so (as I’ve said already) by the end of the cup I was struggling a little. I’m pretty sure I like it, but I’ll definitely give this one a couple more chances before I firm up my opinion. Thanks again to VariaTEA for sharing this with me — I’ve been curious about it for some time!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
K S

I love this one. I even add sweetener – cause its sugar cookie. I love the addition of orange, unexpected and delicious.

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75

A sample from VariaTEA. I’m slowly coming out of my flu-fug, and beginning to return to my tea stash. I wanted a herbal last night, and this one just called out to me. I like candy cane — it’s a flavour that cheers me up, for some reason. Maybe because it reminds me of Christmas, and I like Christmas? Something like that.

I gave this one four minutes in water just cooler than boiling. When I returned to the kitchen, the whole room smelt of candy cane. It brought a smile to my face straightaway, and lately they’ve been in short supply. I was very, very slightly concerned about the cinnamon in this, but it’s actually a combination that works really well. Mint was the dominant flavour, but the vanilla and cinnamon swirl around and make this a surprisingly accurate, and Christmassy (!) treat. Totally the wrong time of year, I know, but I’m ILL. I can do what I want when I’m ill, and to hell with seasonal appropriateness.

I’ve tried a few candy cane teas in my time, and this is one of the nicer ones. The flavours you’d expect are there, and it’s a delicious tasting cup. This shall be in my evening rotation for a good few days to come! Thanks again to VariaTEA for sharing this with me.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec
K S

I stocked up with enough to carry me through the year. One of my favorite late night sips.

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Profile

Bio

Hi :) I’m Sarah, 26, 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’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

Norfolk, UK

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