1697 Tasting Notes

80

A sample from Roswell Strange. It’s taken me a while to get around to trying this one, for various unrelated reasons, but today’s the day! I find I drink more matcha in autumn/winter, anyway, because that’s when my energy levels typically tend to slump. I don’t think I drank any matcha this summer, which is surprising now I think about it.

Anyway. This one. I made it up as a latte (because I’ve worked out pretty conclusively now that that’s the only way I can drink matcha and enjoy it.) I used 1/4 tsp of powder, whisked it into about 1.5 inches of boiling water, and then topped off with hot milk. For reference, this is the basic grade matcha with the distinctive level flavouring.

I should probably say upfront that pistachios are my favourite nut. I found the initial sip a lot sweeter than I was expecting, for some reason, but then there’s a distinctive creamy nuttiness that’s almost identifiable as pistachio. It falls a tiny bit short in terms of flavour definition, but it’s definitely nutty, and it’s really almost there, so I’m going to say it’s good with me. It’s more of a pistachio flavoured puddingey, custardy effect than just straight pistachio, but it turns out that’s a delicious thing. I’m pretty sure I have an almond matcha sample tucked away somewhere, so it’ll be interesting to compare when I try that one.

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85

First tea of the morning! Like English Afternoon, this one also appears to be a blend of Ceylon teas. It’s actually very similar to English Afternoon, maybe a touch maltier, and with slightly more muted citrus notes. On the whole, though, I’m not sure I’d be able to tell them apart. They’re both CTCs, both very strong, and they have similar flavours.

It’s pleasant to drink, and it doesn’t require any particular thought or concentration, but I’m not sure it’s different enough from English Afternoon to warrant a different name. They’re basically the same tea.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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85

My tin of English Afternoon only mentions that it’s a blend of Ceylon teas, so it’s not the Ceylon/Kenyan blend that a few others have tried…My tiny tin was part of the Alice in Wonderland themed set, but I don’t know whether that alone accounts for the difference.

In any case, it’s a pretty solid CTC black. It brews up a wonderfully inky black-brown, so I added a decent splash of milk to round things out. It’s malty with a crisp citrus edge, so just what I’d expect from a Ceylon, really. Nothing complicated, just good, plain black tea. I’ve been drinking it after lunch to help me deal with the inevitable 3.00pm slump, but it’d also be a good wake-up blend, it’s that strong. For a CTC, not bad.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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25

Unlike this morning’s Gurana Chai, this one really is minty. A lot minty. I’ve never had a mint-chai blend before, so I’m not entirely sure what to expect. It’s a black base – assam and darjeeling – but with less spices than you’d normally expect – just ginger, lemongrass, and cardamon. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water.

The result is…interesting. Straight off, I’m not sure I’m a fan. I did the scrunchy nose thing, which generally tells me everything I need to know before I even take a second sip. The black base and the mint work. That’s a thing. It’d work even better with some vanilla, and if the darjeeling was removed from the equation. But even with the darjeeling, it would work. Black tea, mint, and chai spices…doesn’t work. It clashes. In all kinds of odd ways. It sounds like it should work well enough. If I think of ingredient pairings in my head, I’m not immediately disgusted. I wouldn’t even question most of them. Mint and ginger, okay. Black tea and caradmon, fine. Ginger and black tea, ginger and lemongrass…it’s all fine. In practice, though…just no. I want this to be either a mint and vanilla black, or a chai. As it stands, it’s a weird halfway and I’m not enjoying it. I wanted to like it…but I don’t. Sorry Bluebird!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp
Super Starling!

Oh, no, it doesn’t even sound good in my HEAD. But I like your openness to new experiences. Thank you for taking the fall for us. Insert us holding up the Katniss Everdeen 3-finger salute of the rebellion in your honor.

Nicole/Tea-Historic

I love the pudina chai I’ve tried from another company. The one I had was only mint and darjeeling. The chai spices don’t even sound appealing. :(

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90

CHOCOLATE! MALT! RED BERRIES!

Today I love this tea.

That is all.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp
Sil

yes! haha

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95

It’s cold today, and I’m feeling totally grim for a variety of reasons, so I figured a warming, energy-boosting (apparently…) chai would make for a better start to the day than the one I’m currently having. I don’t think I’ve ever tried a chai quite like this one before – the base tea is yerba mate, but there’s also a lot of gurana (large, shiny brown balls…?) I used 1.5 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water.

The resulting liquor is a medium green-brown, quite swampy looking. It smells just like a regular chai – spicy, heavy on the cinnamon and ginger. It tastes more savoury than the chai I’m typically used to – more like curry powder dissolved in water than anything else. I’d been expecting a lot of cinnamon/ginger based on the scent, but it’s the cardamon, corriander, and black pepper that are most prominent. I quite like that in a chai, so it’s a happy cup so far for me.

I googled gurana, out of interest, and it appears to be a climbing plant in the maple family, native to Brazil. The “brown balls” are seeds from its fruit, and apparently contain twice the amount of caffeine as a coffee bean. It’s used a lot in energy drinks.

I was expecting the base tea to be more evident in the overall flavour, but it’s actually not. I think the level of spicing is disguising it to some extent, which, when it comes to chai, is no bad thing. One thing I absolutely can’t taste is mint, and given that it’s the third ingredient on the list I was expecting to be able to taste it. Not so, although in all honesty that might be for the best. I’m not sure minty curry powder would be a good thing…

I’m enjoying this one. It’s got a nicely savoury vibe, which is unusual among the teas I drink, and as chai goes it’s deliciously spicy. This one’s a winner with me.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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90

So I’m really late to this party. I bought this one on the strength of some Twinings first flush darjeeling that I really liked, but apparently I let 2 years pass and didn’t get around to trying it. Shame on me. Today, though, is finally the day!

I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. The liquor is a medium orange-brown, the scent lightly malty with hints of stone fruit. To taste, it’s pretty much as I expected. I hadn’t tried a Rohini before, which is one of the reasons I picked this one out, and I was intrigued by the fact that it has a flavour profile more akin to a second flush. Muscatel notes, yay! Fortunately, they’re here in spades, so I’m not disappointed. It’s a really lovely grapey flavour, deep and rich, slightly on the dry side. Underneath is the sweet, juiciness of apricots, followed by light maltiness. It’s slightly brisk, but not what I’d call astringent. All in all, everything I want from a first flush darjeeling!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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70
drank Black Dragon Pearls by Tealux
1697 tasting notes

Finally getting around to these. They’ve been in my cupboard for a while, shall we say? I used 1 tsp of pearls for my cup (6, it turned out), and gave them 4 minutes in boiling water. They’d pretty much unraveled entirely by that point.

To taste, this is a pretty decent Yunnan. It’s not the best I’ve ever tried, and nowhere near as good as Teavivre’s dragon pearls. Having said that, it’s not bad either. It’s a touch on the thin side in terms of body (especially considering the number of pearls that went into this cup…), but it’s flavourful enough . There are some delicious dark chocolate and cocoa notes, a light maltiness, and a background hint of earthiness. I think I just wanted it to be more robust, and maybe somehow thicker. Too high on expectation, maybe. It’s tea, after all (but I’ve had some good tea…)

I’m finding this one enjoyable enough, but it probably wouldn’t be a repurchase for me.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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75
drank Casablanca by Mariage Frères
1697 tasting notes

I’m not feeling great this dull Friday, so I wanted something clean and refreshing to drink to try and alleviate things a little. This one shouted to me from the bag by my desk. I’ve actually had it ages, I think, but I’ve never tried it before today. I like Moroccan mint, but the idea of bergamot had kind of put me off…

I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees. To taste, it’s milder overall than I expected, although that might be a result of both its age and my conservative brew time. If I’m honest, it could probably take a bit longer (or maybe a touch more leaf).

The mint is fresh and clean-tasting, anyway, and the bergamot (although mostly a background flavour) adds a nicely citrusy edge. The green tea base is smooth and unobtrusive, with no bitterness of astringency in sight. I feel like I could take this one a touch sweeter, but I’m not sure how sugar and bergamot would pair. Maybe something to try next time!

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

I hope you’ll be feeling better tomorrow!

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90

Finally getting to the bottom of the sample box Miss B sent me literally ages ago. I think I’ve just got a couple of tea bags left now…

Anyway, this one intrigued me because I don’t think I’ve tried a white chai before…or come across one, even. Usually I’d cool the water quite substantially for a white tea, but the parameters for this one recommend 195 degrees so that’s what I went with. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and left it approximately 2.5 minutes.

The resulting liquor is a medium yellow-orange, the scent mildly spicy. To taste, it’s definitely the most interesting chai blend I’ve tried in a while. It’s fruity, first up, and quite tropically fruity at that – pineapple, coconut, a background hint of citrus. There’s also apple, and it’s a baked apple kind of vibe that I’m getting. Sweet, mushy…paired with the spices, it’s putting me in mind of apple pie!

The spices are the other side to the coin here. On the one hand there’s fruit, and then from the mid-sip onwards it’s all about the spicing. Ginger and cinnamon are the most prominent, but there’s also a good strong hit of pepper (which I adore in a chai), plenty of cardamon, and a touch of clove.

The white tea, which is the truly unique thing here, makes for a better base than I expected, in all honesty. It’s not thin or particularly sweet – it’s more of a thick, almost slightly dusty-tasting white. It allows both the fruit and the spices to shine without being particularly obtrusive, and it works well enough with both that it’s not a jarring contrast. It doesn’t feel like a tea of two halves – it tastes like it was meant to be, and I think the choice of base helps with that in a way that’s hard to express in words. It has to be tasted to be believed.

Highly recommended for all chai fans!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 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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