1553 Tasting Notes
This was a sample with my last Bluebird order. I think I’ve only tried it once before, and that was also a sample if I remember correctly. While I like the idea of herbal bedtime blends, floral teas aren’t usually my favourite so I just tend not to buy them often (or at all).
I’m pleased to be able to give this one a second chance, though. While brewing, it smells strongly of lavender. It’s a very calming, reassuring scent, at least to me, but it’s too perfume-like for me to want to drink regularly. Fortunately, the lavender doesn’t really translate into the flavour. To taste, this is mostly chamomile (with all the thick, sweet hay-like honey notes that implies), with a hint of rose water. The lavender lurks around the edges as a sweet, floral background note but it’s not massively prominent. As the cup cools, I can begin to taste a touch of lemon – the sharper citrus helps to brighten things up, and is a refreshing counterpoint to the otherwise heavily sweet and floral flavours.
I liked this one more than I was expecting to, which seems to be the same experience I had last time too. It’s not something I’d drink regularly, but it would make a really good stress-busting blend, and it puts me in mind of summer which is instantly cheering on a dull-ish day. As ever with Bluebird blends, it’s also a very pretty tea. The pink rose petals, lilac lavender, yellow chamomile and green lemon verbena are very much reminiscent of a wildflower field in summer, and that added just a little extra touch of wonderfulness as I watched this one brew. A pleasant reacquaintance!
A sample from Miss B. I made up a cup of this hot today, because I’m odd like that. It struck me as a bit perverse at the time, but I really wanted something summery and peachy, and it’s warm out, so I decided to go for it. I’ll really have to start bringing cold brewed tea to work again now it seems like summer is finally here, and potentially to stay. This is a strong candidate for one of my first cold brews – I have three teabags left, so I’m going to save those for that. I can see it working well!
This is just fine hot, though. The initial sip has a strong, sweet, fuzzy peach flavour. It’s a touch artificial, but not outrageously so. The mid sip is mostly orange (I’d say blood orange, if I had to pin it down). Again, it’s not entirely natural-tasting – more like sour orange candy. There’s a tartness at the end of the sip that makes me suspect there might be a touch of hibiscus at work, but it’s pretty subtle so I’ve no real complaints about that.
The colour of this one is the most surprising thing, to me. It’s bright orange! Usually, fruit teas with hibiscus are either a tell-tale pinky colour, or outright deep red. This is neither, which is novel if nothing else. Artificial colouring, though? How else would it be so orange?
I know this is Tetley, and bagged, but I actually like it a lot more than I expected to. It does taste like a Bellini, without the alcohol or grenadine, and although it’s a little on the artificial side it tastes pretty good. I’m looking forward to trying this one iced in the days ahead.
ETA: GINGER! I knew I could taste something in the background, and then it occurred to me in a fairly blinding glimpse of the obvious. It works pretty well with the orange, so I’m happy. Even though ginger isn’t one of my favourite things, it didn’t stop me enjoying this one!
Sipdown! I had enough leaf for two weaker cups of one slightly overleafed, so I went for the overleafed with a bit of additional sugar and a splash of milk. I’d rather have one memorable finale, rather than two lackluster ones! Fortunately, that’s what I got. The root beer and vanilla/ice cream flavours are both present and correct, meaning that I leave this one with good memories. I still have an unopened reblend pouch of Butterbeer, so I’m not too sad to see this one depart for the moment.
I’m SO tired this morning that I honestly feel close to dead. I’m not even sure why I’m tired – I had an early night, decent sleep, sit-down office job…I’m still shaking off the last remnants of my cold, but the worst is definitely over. I think there’s probably some underlying heath issue, but the doctor is being no help whatsoever in helping me determine what that might be. They’ve put me on gluten free food for three months to see if it’s a wheat allergy, but somehow I don’t think that’s going to cut it. I can’t go on feeling like this long term, though, because it’s awful.
The only thing I could think of to help this morning was matcha, which I’ve had some success with before. It doesn’t solve the problem, and I’m not expecting it to, but it does seem to provide a welcome energy boost. I’ve stayed away from the flavours because of my lingering sore throat, and this morning’s cup is plain instead. It reminded me that I’m not scared of plain matcha anymore, if nothing else. It’s quite vegetal, but it also has an underlying nutty but lightly floral flavour that’s more palatable than I recall. This morning’s cup seems a little salty, and overall quite savoury. A good experience.
1/4 tsp, boiling water. Prepared as a latte.
A sample from Miss B. If nothing else, it certainly smells amazing! It’s another one that fills the whole kitchen with its glorious aroma. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it around 4 minutes in boiling water. It brewed up pretty dark, so I added a splash of milk. You can tell straight away that there’s chocolate in this one, because there’s an oily scrim that develops on the surface. It doesn’t affect the flavour or texture, though, so not a big issue. At least the chocolate melted!
To taste, there’s a very light irish cream flavour and a stronger, rich undertone of chocolate. It’s not nearly as flavourful as the scent would have me believe, which is a shame. It pleasant to drink, though – smooth, rich, and not overpowering, and it does taste of what it’s supposed to. The only memory I have to compare this one to is Butiki’s Irish Cream Cheesecake, which was a finicky brew but simply amazing when done right. This one isn’t quite on a par, but it’s a good contender. I’m finding that the irish cream flavour develops a little more as it cools, which is a welcome discovery. It’s a comforting cup of yum, no question!
A sample from Miss B. I can’t believe I’m still working through the box of samples she sent me, but I am. There seems to be no end to it! This one was lurking right at the bottom, or else I’d probably have got to it a lot sooner. I also feel like my cold has cleared up enough that I can try new things again, except for a niggly slightly-sore throat that I think is going to be around for a week or so yet.
I used a generous 1 tsp of leaf for this cup, and gave it around 4 minutes in boiling water. When I returned to the kitchen, it had filled the whole room with the scent of chocolate cake. Looks like I’m going to be popular at work today! I added a splash of milk.
The first sip tells me that the taste more than lives up to the scent. It’s very chocolatey straight away, with vanilla/cream notes in the mid-sip and a deliciously cookie/fudge finish. I’m guessing it’s the dates that are responsible for that – they’re rich and slightly sticky, and I can sort-of pick them out in the aftertaste. I love dates, though, so I’ve no problem with that.
Taken as a whole, this tea does remind me of oreo cookies. The initial sip is a lot more like chocolate cake than anything else, but it comes together remarkably well and by the end of the sip it’s definitely “biscuit” rather than “cake”. I appreciate that it doesn’t taste watered down in the way that some chocolate teas can – it’s not like hot chocolate with too much water added, and that’s always a bonus.
I actually have some cookies to eat with this one – not oreo because I’m on the gluten free these days and I can’t have those anymore. They are triple chocolate, though, and rather delicious, so I’m going to sit and eat those with my cookie tea and pretend I’m not at work for a while. It’s a plan.
I know for a fact that I’ve drank this one more than once, so it was a bit of a surprise to find that I’ve only logged one tasting note. I guess it could be accurate, but there’s a little niggle at the back of my mind that doesn’t quite believe it. Anyway, I’m drinking this one today because I’ve still got a cold and it’s FAMILIAR. I don’t need to be able to taste everything to feel like I’m doing it justice, and it’s not my last one. It’s tea I can drink and enjoy drinking, and I can reinfuse it throughout the day so it’s a winner all the way. We also just found out that one of our work colleagues died overnight, so I was also looking for something comforting. This one ticks a lot of boxes for me.
I used one tuocha and gave it a 1 minute rinse in boiling water. My first steep was then for 30 seconds in boiling water, no additions. The resulting liquor is a medium red-brown, and the scent is rich and earthy. When I first started drinking pu’erh, that earthiness was something that really put me off. Now, it’s one of the things I love most about it. To taste, I’m reminded mostly of warm compost. The earthiness here is very “natural” in the best way possible – it reminds me of freshly ploughed sun-warmed fields, the forest floor after a heavy rain storm, damp animal fur. It’s rich and supremely earthy.
Second steep also for 30 seconds in boiling water. This time, the liquor is a much deeper red-brown, actually almost black. The scent is again deeply earthy. The flavour this time has the same compost-like earthiness, but it’s stronger than the first steep. There are also hints of leather.
Third steep for 30 seconds in boiling water. The liquor is pretty much identical to the second steep; a mahogany red-brown that’s really almost black. The flavour this time is mostly unchanged. It’s perhaps a little less intense, but there’s still the dominant flavour of compost and background notes of leather. There’s also a burgeoning sweetness towards the end of the sip that reminds me a little of honey.
Fourth steep for 40 seconds, and the liquor is a little lighter this time. Still red-brown, but without the blackish tint of the previous two infusions. The flavour is less pungent this time, too. There’s still compost (I think maybe always, in the case of this tea), but the leather has disappeared and the honey is a touch stronger. The overall level of sweetness is higher than in previous infusions, too.
I’m sure this one has the potential for a good few more infusions, but I’m stopping here purely because I’m running out of time at work and I don’t typically keep leaves overnight. My throat is also telling me it’s time for more lemsip – when you look forward to that, you know you’ve got it bad.
So the cold I thought I’d got rid of came back for a second swipe, and this time it’s a fair bit worse than it was originally. Yesterday I had a conference at work between 11.30 and 4.45 (with only a 10 minute tea break and no lunch), so I drank virtually nothing all day and unsurprisingly felt like crap when I got home. After a shower, which made me feel at least 1/4 human again, I made up a cup of this one. On its own it restored another 50% – the rest won’t come back until I finally shake this off.
I don’t usually drink my “better” teas when I’m sick because often there’s just no point. I found that I could taste this, though, maybe because the chocolate and fruit notes are so strong, or because it’s so thickly malty. Either way, it was A-MA-ZING. I’ve gone into the specific taste of this one a couple of times before (once very recently) so I won’t do it again here. The point of this note is purely to say “I drank this one and it rocked” and the fact that I felt better as a result is just a happy bonus.
This has to be one of the oldest teas in my cupboard? Fortunately, it’s stored in a tin that’s pretty airtight, and then in a box, so it doesn’t seem to have deteriorated much (if at all, really) in the 2+ years I’ve owned it. I revisit this one periodically, and I’ve found it interesting to track how my impression of it has changed. Today’s cup has the same citrus fruit “somewhere in the middle of lemon/orange” (i.e. yuzu!) flavour it always has, but I don’t find it as bitter as I used to. There’s a strong pithy flavour towards the end of the sip, and a pepperiness in the mid-sip that I’ve not really noticed before. It really reminds me of crushed black pepper and lemon rind, and in that respect it’s quite a savoury tea. The green tea base carries that a bit further – it’s reminiscent of seaweed and saltwater, so definitely on the “marine” side.
I’m actually enjoying this more than I ever have before – having greater tea experience has definitely improved my appreciation of this one! I’m going to try and finish it off soon mostly because it’s pretty old and I feel bad that it’s still hanging around in my cupboard. It could be a candidate for a future repurchase, though, if I ever get to a stage where I can really consider buying tea in larger quantities.
It was good to come back to this one today. I’ve increased my rating a little to reflect my new-found enjoyment.
1 tsp, 2m30s, 180 water. No additions.
It looks like winter has returned, which is disconcerting because last week it was hot and sunny and my mind had turned to cold brews. Not so this week – it’s actually snowing. Not heavily, but small showers on and off. Needless to say, I’ve gone back to my warming winter teas.
I had a cup of this one yesterday that I really enjoyed. I used 1 tsp of leaf in boiling water for about 2 minutes, no more. No additions. I pretty much always get root beer from this one, in a slightly woody, medicinal way, but yesterday I actually got root beer float – a delicious thick, creamy, sweet vanilla flavour (totally reminiscent of melted vanilla ice cream). That made my day, because my previous trials with this reblend pouch haven’t lived up to my memory of the 12 Teas of Christmas version I originally tried. That was spot on delicious.
Anyway, today I decided to try the other end of the spectrum. I used 1.5 tsp of leaf, and gave it more like 4 minutes in boiling water. I added a few pieces of crystal sugar and a splash of milk. It’s so good. The initial flavour is vanilla (ice cream!), quite sweet but that’s okay. Underneath is the root beer – herbal, a little chicory-like, a touch woody. Interestingly, it seems to be the reverse of yesterday’s “lighter” version, which had the root beer first and the vanilla second to my tastes. Both were excellent.
It’s good to know that I can make this up two ways and get a great taste from either. I felt like I was foundering with this one a little, but I finally discovered what works. Now I just have to replicate it for future cups! It’s fussier than I remember the 12 Teas of Christmas version being, but I don’t mind so much when it can taste this good.
Maybe when summer finally returns, I’ll try this cold brewed. Sadly, I can only dream of that today!