1723 Tasting Notes

90
drank Hong Yun Black by Butiki Teas
1723 tasting notes

This week I’m going to try and work through my last few teas from Butiki and River Tea before they officially become really old. I know why I’m hoarding them, even if it doesn’t make a great deal of sense; it’s because I’m worried about them being gone. Still, there’s no help for that. I read the descriptions for each of the teas I’ve got with me, and I chose this one for my first of the afternoon. My primary motivation was the fact that this one is Taiwanese, and Premium Taiwanese Assam is still fresh and wonderful in my memory. I’m intrigued by the fact that this is described as a cross between wild Assamica and Keemun, two of my favourite black tea varieties. I followed the recommended parameters for my first cup, and gave 2 tsp of leaf approximately 3 minutes in boiling water. No additions. I’m struck by the resemblance of the leaf to PTA – thick, twisted, long, coal black leaves. One of them is SO long it wouldn’t even fit in my infuser – about 3 inches! The resulting liquor is a pale golden brown, the scent mildly fruity (stone fruit) and a little woody (cedar).

To taste, it’s totally delicious. The initial flavour is apricot, and it’s sweet and delicate with a defining malty backdrop. The mid sip bring some honey into play – both in terms of the mouthfeel, which is smooth and syrupy, and the flavour. The end of the sip and the aftertaste are a bit of a contrast – the flavour becomes drier, with deeper notes of raisin and wood. On the whole, though, it’s a light-tasting tea, and very refreshing. It’d make a great black tea for warmer summer days, but I’m not so fussy that I can’t enjoy it in the depths of winter! Another amazing tea from Butiki, always sadly missed.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp
Christina / BooksandTea

I have some RiverTea blends still. Maybe I should drink them down too. Really wondering how I’ll replace the “Mountain Herbs” one – it’s one of the only savoury teas I’ve got.

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100
drank Winter Fire by Butiki Teas
1723 tasting notes

This is the last sample I’ve got left from the EU TTB. I picked it out in late summer and put it to one side, thinking I’d save it for an appropriate day. Since I’m drinking wake up-warm up teas this week, I figured the time had finally come! I used the recommended 1.5 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it about 5 minutes in boiling water while I walked to the vending machine and back (popcorn, yo!) The dry leaf made me sneeze when I sniffed it (that’ll teach me), but I was struck by how much like Christmas it smells. I guess that’s the cinnamon, rather than me actually feeling festive, but who knows?

To taste, this is probably the perfect spicy tea. The initial sip is beautifully cinnamony and a little sweet, then the cayenne and chili step in and really take things up a level. There is a burn at the back of my throat, but it’s the best kind. It lingers a little, which is nice given my current on-off relationship with a cold, currently manifesting as a scratchy throat. It’s warming and delicious, sweet to begin with, then mostly savoury, with the earthiness of the guayusa underlying. It has a serious spicy kick, for sure, but it’s not overwhelming – what strikes me most is how drinkable this one is, and how well balanced the flavours. Will there ever be a spicy tea as perfect? Some days I really miss Butiki.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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90

It’s winter, and it’s cold, and I’m completely worn out. That’s why I picked this one out of my sample box today. It came to me courtesy of Miss B back in early summer, and I’ve been saving it for just such a day. I used 1 tsp for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. I was all ready to add milk, but I didn’t in the end because the resulting brew doesn’t get darker than a soft golden brown. I didn’t want to drown it, so I decided black was the way forward.

To taste, I’m pretty impressed. The main flavour is chocolate, and it reminds me mostly of smoked mexican-style hot chocolate rather than the over-sweet, creamy stuff we’re used to in the UK. It’s a deep, rich dark chocolate flavour, accented initially with hints of sweet red pepper and just a touch of smoke. My complaint initially was that I couldn’t taste any chili, but it starts to emerge as my cup cools. It’s not hot hot, but it’s definitely got a spicy kick by the end. I felt it mostly on my lips to begin with, and then as a warmth at the back of my throat, before it became all-our roaring chili. Delicious stuff!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
rosebudmelissa

You make this sound really appealing

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75

The urge to drink Pu’erh comes and goes with me, perhaps largely because I initially found it a very acquired taste. Even though I’ve now tried a significant variety of different Pu’erhs, I still feel that I’m learning about the variety and discovering new things. This tea, for instance. I’ve never tried a floral Pu’erh before, or any variety flavoured with honeysuckle, come to that. It’s a real first!

See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/12/05/honeysuckle-puerh-persimmon-tree/

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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40

I think this one might be a little past its best. The coconut tastes a little soapy, and the main flavour is definitely just honeybush now. I don’t dislike it, but it’s not what I wanted this tea to be.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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80

It’s definitely a yerba mate week. I’m at work, it’s nearly 11.00 in the morning, and I’m not even convinced I’m awake yet. What happened to the weekend? Anyway, this blend is one of very few yerba mate teas I have in my cupboard at the moment, so it was chosen pretty much my default this morning. It helps that it’s one of my older 52 Teas, and I really should be getting to it anyway. This one is described as “mostly like a rich vanilla/maple mate with a whisper of licorice and peppermint–like the ghost of Christmas, unexpected and strangely haunting.” Intriguing, no? I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it approximately 3 minutes in boiling water. It smells delicious – the whole kitchen filled with sweet marshmallow root and mint.

I have to admit, I wasn’t sure about the flavour after my first sip. It seemed pretty smoky, although successive sips have made me think that’s maybe just the yerba. It’s earthy, really, and no so much smoky after all. The main flavour, to me, is marshmallow root, closely followed by peppermint. I’m actually reminded a little of Graveyard Mist, which I’ve also got open at the moment. It’s just not as sweet. I can taste a touch of maple, and there’s just a hint of black liquorice in the aftertaste. It’s quite a layered, complex tea – the initially sweet flavours give way to something darker, and the earthiness of the yerba gives it a stormy, brooding sort of quality. Pretty fitting, given the inspiration.

I’m enjoying my cup, and I think it’s definitely helping to sharpen me up a little. I feel a tiny bit brighter and more awake now than I did. This might just be my morning go-to for the next couple of weeks!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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80

In an effort to try and embrace Christmas (I just don’t feel Christmassy this year), I drank two cups of Bluebird’s Christmas Cake over the weekend. It came as a sample with my last order, and I kept it so that it wouldn’t be late summer when I was drinking it! I have to say, I really enjoyed it. It’s one of those novelty teas that’s so appropriate at Christmas, with its snowflake candies, iridescent glitter, and SPRUCE NEEDLES. I mean, how much more christmassy can you get? This is tea which contains ACTUAL CHRISTMAS TREE.

As if appearance alone wasn’t enough, it’s pretty good to taste, too. I tried this one the year before last, but this year’s version seems stronger on the vanilla than I remember. It’s deliciously sweet and creamy, with strong, rich, fruit cake notes underlying. There’s a lot of raisin, a touch of orange, a hint of spice. It really conjures up Christmas cake for me! I have a sample from last year lying around somewhere, so I’ll have to dig that out when I get home. This one was a real mood booster for me.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp
Sil

sounds tasty!

Fjellrev

Interesting!

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65
drank Kenya Obsidian by Butiki Teas
1723 tasting notes

Wow, this is strong. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my first cup, and then wandered off for a few minutes while it brewed. I came back to it and added a splash of milk, not really sure what to expect. The initial sip nearly knocked me over – this one is SO, SO malty it’s almost thick. It makes my mouth feel kind of furry and icky, if I’m honest. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a tea as malty as this one before. There are other flavours, too – baked bread, prominently, and it’s also kind of earthy and woody. It’s rich, though. Maybe too rich for me. Even though I had lunch recently, I feel like this one’s making me feel a little queasy. Definitely not a tea to drink on an empty stomach, for me at least! On the plus side, it is keeping me awake. Given that it’s Friday, and the end of a horribly busy 6-day week, I really need something to keep me conscious this afternoon. I’m not getting out of bed tomorrow, and that is a FACT.

Not sure about this one.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
Courtney

I know what you mean. This one is intense. I understeep it a bit hah.

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95

Sipdown! I’ve had three small colds over the last two months, all of which I’ve zapped with this tea before they really got hold. I was a little skeptical about the effect a tea could have on a thing like a cold, but I really do believe that drinking this has made a difference. It’s good for soothing a sore throat, and I’m convinced it’s helped me to shake off the ills more easily. It tastes pretty good, too! Super brilliant stuff, and a definite repurchase!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
rosebudmelissa

I know Echinacea makes a noticeable difference in how I feel when I’m sick

Fjellrev

That’s great to hear! Could use some right now haha. And the name is hilariously awesome.

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95

Sipdown! This one has been my go-to tea the last couple of days. I’m feeling a bit under the weather, and it makes a wonderfully hearty, comforting cup. More so with a splash of milk! I’ll miss this one from my cupboard now it’s gone, but I can say that I enjoyed every last tiny scrap. Even though it no longer exists, this is still the best Assam in the world.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 2 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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