1717 Tasting Notes

This random steeping is alternatively known as “Free Tea #3” from Liquid Proust. It’s a Japanese green from 2015, with added flavouring (described as oh so mild). The first thing that struck me about it is how finely ground it seems to be – almost like powder. I’ve only had one tea like this previously that I can recall. The recommendation was for 2 minutes at 170 degrees, so that’s what I went with. Dry, the leaf isn’t giving much away. It smells grassy, vegetal, with maybe a hint of “orange” fruitiness. Mango? I could be imagining that, though.

To taste, I’m getting a mildly vegetal green tea (a LOT milder than I expected), very smooth, with a pleasant grassy flavour. It’s very fresh and spring-like. In terms of flavour, I’m sticking with “orange” or “tropical” fruit. It’s not quite peppery enough for mango, I don’t think, but not sharp or citrussy enough to be orange. It could be peach, or apricot…along those lines, anyway.

Despite not knowing exactly what I’m drinking, I’m enjoying this one. It’d be perfect for warmer weather, but it’s certainly cheering me up on this cold December day.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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85
drank Imperial Label by Kusmi Tea
1717 tasting notes

I’m forcing myself to try “new” old teas today, and it helps that I haven’t actually got much at work with me at the moment so it’s try things or have no tea. It doesn’t help that they’re mostly green teas in my untried pile, because they’re never my favourite. I say that, but I think it’s really a historical hangover from when I thought all green tea was bitter and horrible. I know for a fact now that that’s not the case, but somehow I still have a bit of a prejudice about green tea, even though some of my best friends are green tea…I never said I wasn’t odd.

So. This one. The reviews seem a bit mixed, and I’m not much liking the sound of soap as a descriptor. Otherwise? Orange, cinnamon and vanilla sounds okay (I probably wouldn’t have put it with green tea, though…) Sea buckthorn I’ve never tried. What even is it? I’m okay with sencha, although it’s not my favourite green. I’d happily say that no green is my favourite, but that’s a lie. I actually really do like Bi Luo Chun.

I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees. The leaf is pretty, lots of yellow and green. It smells spicier than I expected, a little bit like chai. But also a little bit like a Lush soap I had once. Sea Vegetable? Not encouraging.

To taste, it’s thankfully not too much like soap. There’s a strong initial creaminess that’s really nice and almost thick tasting. I’m assuming that’s due in large part to the vanilla, and it has a lovely heavy dairy cream vibe that’s just perfect on a cold day. The orange comes through second, mostly pith and zest to begin with but followed by a sharp, clean, bright splash of orange that’s more reminiscent of freshly squeezed juice. The cinnamon rounds things off, adding a warming spiciness that’s actually makes me think of Christmas – just right for December! My only complaint about this one is the liquorice, because it’s horribly over-sweet and cloying, and it coats the back of my throat with its artificial sweetener-like stickiness. Otherwise, I get along just fine with this blend. I can’t taste the sea buckthorn, and I still don’t know what that actually is. I can’t taste the green tea base, either, which is fine with me. It’s smooth and unobtrusive, just how I like it. I’ll probably drink a fair bit more of this one before Christmas – it’s a surprise win. If it wasn’t for the liquorice, we could be the best of friends.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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85

This has to be one of the older blends in my cupboard…it’s been there more than a year, maybe closer to two? The fact that I can’t remember isn’t a good sign. I think I bought it off the back of a 52Teas cucumber blend that I really enjoyed a couple of summers ago…and then promptly forgot about it. It’s been sealed, though, and the scent is still good, so today it finally sees the light.

The dry leaf looks a little crusty, but at this point I’m really not surprised. There are pieces of dried lime zest and small cubes of freeze-dried cucumber, a lot of peppermint, plus the green tea base (apparently both straight green – sencha? – and jasmine green). It’s pre-sweetened with stevia, which I’m usually against, but if it helps to create a mojito kind of vibe then I might be on side…

I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees. This blend reminds me a lot of Bluebird’s MojiTEA, which is a good thing because I like that one. On the other hand, they’re not sufficiently different for me to want to keep both around, and I wouldn’t replace the Bluebird with this one because (for me, in the UK) Bluebird is more readily accessible anyway.

This one has strong lime notes, followed by cool, dank peppermint. There’s an edge of sweetness from the stevia, but it’s not overdone and it doesn’t strike me as “artificial” in any way. It’s just a touch of (welcome) background sugariness. The green tea base is smooth, a little vegetal. I can’t taste the jasmine at all, which is a bonus for me because I’m not over keen on floral greens. I’m guessing this one would be better iced or cold brewed, but it’s hardly the season for that at the moment. I might try and hang on to some leaf for next summer…but then this one really will be an antique by then, so maybe not.

I’d like to get to a place with my cupboard where most of my tea is less than a year old, and where the amount I’ve got around seems manageable rather than overwhelming. I’m conscious that I’m neglecting stuff, which makes me feel bad, and I don’t want it to be like that. I’ve been pretty good at not buying anything new lately, but the temptation is growing as it always seems to once my cupboard gets under 200. I’d like it to be under 100…maybe within the next year? I guess we’ll see! And at least I know what my New Year’s Resolution is going to be…

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp
Nattie

Haha good luck! We seem to have the same issues.

Kristal

Good luck! I have a similar goal with wanting my stash to be circulating and fresh.

ashmanra

We are perpetually trying to drink up the oldest teas! Best of luck! I don’t know if I will ever get under 100 teas truly. I don’t even add small samples or swaps to my cupboard and still it stays over 100. I would love to figure out thirty teas and pare down to that many and stay around that mark.

Nattie

Ashmanra – that’s ambitious! My goal is 100 and I’m still almost 330 teas off target :’)

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55
drank Jungle Pleasure by Tealux
1717 tasting notes

Finally got around to trying this one today. It’s a slightly odd blend, I think. Dry, it looks very…beige. The bag is basically cubes of various things in shades of brown and yellow – date and pineapple primarily, I think, although there’s also some cherry pieces (still brown) and elderberries (brown, surprisingly). Everything’s covered in – guess what colour? – brown dust, which settled at the bottom of my cup. I’m convinced it’s powdered ginger, but it’s not listed in the ingredients…

To taste, this is sweeter than I was expecting. It’s mostly pineapple, but dried pineapple (you know, with a ton of extra sugar that makes it all candy-like…) rather than fresh. There’s an undertone of tartness (thanks, hibi), and a whole lot of ginger. I can’t taste much of the other ingredients really at all, because those three dominate pretty much totally. I was hoping the date and cherry would be more prominent, but sadly that’s not the case.

It’s an odd combination of things, but it doesn’t taste bad. It’s not my favourite tropical blend, or even my favourite fruit blend, but it’s drinkable. It wouldn’t be a repurchase for me, though, even if I could get hold of more. Which I can’t. Can you tell I’m feeling a bit meh about this one?

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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90

Another of my older Teavivre samples. I’m not sure why it’s sat neglected for so long, because all of Teavivre’s black teas are absolutely amazing, and this one’s no exception. I gave 1 tsp of leaf (very long and fine, with beautiful golden tips) 4 minutes in boiling water, and added a splash of milk.

To taste, it’s pretty much everything I’d want in a black tea. There’s a strong chocolate note up front, very reminiscent of dark chocolate (rich, strong) but not in a drying, cocoa kind of way. The mid-sip has a more yam-like flavour, along with baked bread towards the tail end. It’s very smooth and creamy, very easy to drink.

I’m enjoying this one. It’s one of the sweeter black teas I’ve tried from Teavivre, but wonderful just the same. I’ll be repurchasing this one in a hurry!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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55
drank Jasmine by Whittard of Chelsea
1717 tasting notes

Another of these this morning, from my somewhat newer supply. I keep getting these as presents from people, and I’m not over-keen if I’m honest. Today’s cup was okay. It’s pretty smooth green tea (I assume sencha…), with a fairly light floral/jasmine overtone. It’s not too cloying or perfumey, but neither is it rocking my world. I’m kind of “meh” about this one.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 45 sec

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65

My final sample from Miss B! I think I left this one until last because ginger and liquorice are pretty much my nemeses, at least when it comes to tea. Green tea isn’t always a favourite, either, although I’ve warmed to it over the last few years. It’s very much about the variety for me, now. Anyway, this one (finally) gets to see the light of day.

This one is bagged, so there’s no measuring, but I gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees. It brews up to a pretty vibrant yellow-orange, which I’m guessing is the saffron again rather than just the green tea. To taste, it’s actually a lot gentler than I expected. I can taste the green tea/saffron first, and it’s a thick, rich, very smooth, and almost honey-like texture. The ginger emerges in the mid-sip, and while it has a bit of a spicy kick, it’s pretty fleeting. The liquorice isn’t as cloying or over-sweet as I’m used to, but it does lend a sort of saccharine sweetness that I’m not over-keen on. It’s not too bad, though, and fortunately it doesn’t catch the back of my throat.

I quite like this one, surprisingly. It’s pretty delicate, not over sweet, and it has a unique mouthfeel that I’m actually fairly sold on. A surprise win, if ever there was one!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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75

f I had to choose between dark oolong or green oolong, for me it would be green every time. I find them characterful and unique, with more variation in flavour than I’ve typically found (at least so far…) among their roasted counterparts. And that’s coming from a habitual black tea drinker.

Himalayan Shangri-la is a Nepalese Oolong from 2015. It’s a first flush, or spring, oolong comprising highly graded leaves taken from a single estate.

The leaf here is pretty impressive – they’re long and twisty, with a high predominance of downy buds, and vary from a dark khaki to the palest green-silver. The scent is lightly vegetal and just a touch floral, in the way of orchids.

http://sororiteasisters.com/2016/11/15/himalayan-shangri-la-from-teabox/

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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80

I’ve not come across many Oolongs from Darjeeling in the years I’ve been drinking tea, but the ones I have tried have always been something special. This one is no exception.

It starts with the leaf, which in appearance reminds me a lot of a first flush darjeeling (although it’s actually a second) crossed with a very fresh white peony. The are a high predominance of downy silver buds, some verging more on silver or pale green, plus some brown-ish-copper leaves. The scent is sweet and lightly jasmine.

See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2016/11/15/uper-fagu-darjeeling-oolong-from-the-tea-shelf/

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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90

This tea came as a sample with the last Illumicrate subscription box I received. I didn’t know about PostTea prior to this, so that’s another new discovery that’ll be bad for my bank account. This blend is inspired by a book (obviously, given that Illumicrate is primarily a book-focused subscription box…), in this case Alice In Wonderland. It’s supposed to be strawberry, raspberry, and papaya on a sencha base, but it also contains rose petals, pieces of vanilla pod, and hundreds and thousands. It’s pretty, to say the least! And it smells good.

I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees. One thing I did notice pretty quickly – it’s sparkly! I know it’s a gimmick, but I still love it. Fortunately, it tastes as good as it smells. Creamy strawberry, like a Campino sweet (which I wish they still made…). There’s a background sharpness from the raspberry, and a hint of tropical fruit-ish flavour, but the main player is candy strawberry and that’s more than okay with me. The green tea base is smooth, with no bitterness or astringency, and it allows the sweet, fruity flavours to shine.

This would have made an excellent summer tea (I’m thinking cold brew…), but it’s brightening up this wintery day just perfectly. I’ll definitely be taking a closer look at PostTea once my no-buy is over!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 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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