1620 Tasting Notes

85

A sample from Roswell Strange. I’m drinking quite a lot of white blends at work at the moment, primarily because it’s so hot. This one looks to be a white peony, with plenty of twigs and a predominance of green leaves. Green, wow. The last white peony with actual green leaves I tried was from Teavivre – mostly, they seem to be black/brown, or perhaps I’m just unlucky with the White Peony blends I try. Who knows. Anyway, I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 170 degrees. The resulting liquor is a pale yellow-green.

The first thing I have to say is that it’s really good. Really, really good. I’m a fan of tropical teas in general, but so often the flavour is at least a little lacklustre. Not the case here – the mango is sweet and a little peppery, very juicy-tasting. A true-to-life flavour and absolutely delicious! I can’t taste the pear at all when hot, which is okay by me as pear isn’t really my thing. My last sip was cold as I’d got distracted with a phone call, and the pear was more noticable, but only barely. It’s a mildly floral pear, but sweet and ripe tasting. It pairs well with the white base, which is completely unobtrusive except for some light honeysuckle notes.

I really enjoyed this one – it was the perfect cup for a warm morning at work, very fresh and refreshing! One of the better mango teas I’ve tried.

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

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85

A sample from Roswell Strange. I’ve had quite a fraught weekend when I’d hoped for a calm, relaxing one, so now it’s nearly over I figured I’d at least end on a positive note with a cup of Assam. Assam has been – and still is – my favourite variety of black tea, and I’m always happy to try a new one. As an added bonus, this is also my first McQuarries tea too! I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk.

The first thing I noticed about this one is that the scent is nice – rather like dried fruit. It’s a good beginning. The first sip is equally nice – a touch of raisin, and quite a lot of walnut. Fruit and nut is a great combination for an assam – very rich tasting, and not too sweet. The mid-sip is moderately malty, with a little more sweetness starting to come through, and the sip ends on a slightly dry note, again recalling walnuts to mind.

This is a solid black tea with a considerable amount of strength a decent amount of body. I agree with Roswell Strange’s sentiment that it would make a good everyday kind of black tea, as it’s a flavoursome but no-nonsense blend. A good tea to end the weekend on.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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95

A sample from Roswell Strange. I’ve never tried a Silver Oolong before, so she’s certainly pushing my tea boundaries with the samples she included! That’s the joy of swaps, though. I love getting to try new things, and especially things I’d never have thought of! I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it approximately 2 minutes in water cooled to around 170 degrees. The resulting liquor is a very pale green, almost colourless.

The leaf is an intriguing prospect. It’s a little twisted and downy-looking dry, and the buds are a fairly variagated grey-white-green. Wet, they’re a much lighter, brighter green in colour, with a flash of orange at the stem, and the odd touch of brown on the leaves themselves. It’s actually possible to unfurl the leaves to see their full extent. They’re on the small side, but it’s intriguing to observe how they’re twisted up to form the dry version of themselves. The wet leaf smells absolutely amazing – very “green”, almost in a seaweedy sort of way, with a touch of pine and a strong mineral undertone (like wet stone).

To taste, this is an entirely different prospect. The first thing I noticed was the spiciness, which tingles on the tongue. It’s not quite cinnamon, but that’s the closest I can get in terms of description. It’s a felt spiciness – a sensation – more than a taste, if that makes sense. Warming, rather than hot. I’m also picking up strong notes of hay, a touch of floral (which puts me in mind of pears, as I associate those with a floral flavour), and a whole lot of maltiness. That’s odd to me, in such a pale tea that’s mostly reminiscent of green in many respects. I can taste pithy, mildly bitter orange zest at the very end of the sip, and a touch of white grapefruit. It’s interesting to end on such a tangy, fruity note after the sweetness of the mid-sip. It’s a vibrant contrast, and one I actually like a lot more than I could ever have anticipated. If I saw it written down, I might think “ugh”, but in practice it’s strangely poetic. I can feel a warming spiciness at the back of my throat long after I’ve taken my last sip. It’s a truly intriguing cup.

I’m really impressed with this one, and I’ll certainly be having a good look at What-Cha on the strength of this sample. It’s good to know that there are still teas out there than can surprise and delight, even after having tried so many over the last few years. This is the best journey I’ve ever been on. Thanks again to Roswell Strange for sharing this with me.

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

This sounds super interesting!

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95

A sample from Roswell Strange. I’ve read a lot about Liquid Proust’s teas on here, and I’ve been intrigued by them for a while, so it’s great to have the opportunity to try one! I’m not a particular fan of Earl Grey purely because bergamot scares me a bit – but I do like peach. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium golden-brown, the scent strongly peachy.

I have to say that I’m really impressed with this one. The initial sip is almost entirely peach, and it’s a fresh, natural, realistic-tasting peach. I’d be hard pressed to tell this from peach juice initially, truth be told. The bergamot emerges in the mid-sip, and fortunately it’s at a really pleasant level. Not too weak, not too strong. A kind of goldilocks bergamot for me! I like the pairing of peach and bergamot much more than I thought I would – the bitter orange vibe contrasts really well with the sweet peach, and takes this tea to a whole new level. It’s neither bitter nor sweet, orangey nor peachy, but somehow wonderfully suspended between the two.

The other surprise here is the formosa oolong base. I’ve never tried an Earl Grey with an oolong base before, so this is a new experience for me. My first impression is favourable, though; the fruitiness of the oolong works well with the peach, and provides an extra depth of flavour without being overpowering. I think on balance I actually like the pairing of bergamot and oolong more than I do bergamot and black tea, which is a bit of a revelation.

In my opinion, this one is really well done. It’s an inspired pairing, and so unique – I’ve never come across anything like it before, and I doubt I will again. Pure tea alchemy! On the strength of this one, I’m definitely up for trying more Liquid Proust blends – thanks again to Roswell Strange for introducing me!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
Liquid Proust

Hey, I know the owner pretty well… he said I can send out free samples of his teas, just let me know what you’d like to try if you’re interested.

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30

Today’s cold brew. I used my usual method for preparing this one – 2 tbsp of leaf in two litres of water, into the fridge for around 10 hours overnight. The resulting brew is a very pale peach colour, and I have to say that my expectations were fairly low.

Again, I was wrong to doubt. There’s no doubt that this tea is better cold brewed than it is hot – the cola flavour is still very, very mild, but it’s there. It’s a flavour that seems far better suited to cold brewing IMO, so I’m happier with that. Interestingly, the lime seems to have diminished significantly, which is sad. It’s lost the little punch it did have (and that wasn’t much start with).

Although I’m not overwhelmed by the flavour of this one, it is a pleasantly light, refreshing blend. It’s nice to have a cola flavour without all the sugar and carbonation. My only real complaint about this one is that there’s still something gritty about it that’s catching the back of my throat, and I filtered it through muslin as well. Strange.

I’m pleased that this one is better cold brewed, but it’s not one I’d repuchase. I’ve had cola teas I’ve preferred, and the grittiness is hard to get past. I’m not a huge fan.

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more

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65

Tried this cold brewed, and I was much more impressed than I was with my hot cup. I used 2 tbsp of leaf in two litres of cold water, and left it in the fridge for around 10 hours overnight. The resulting brew was very pale, and I wasn’t expecting much in the way of flavour, but fortunately I was totally wrong about that!

I still wouldn’t say watermelon was the main flavour, but it was definitely more of a player than it was when I tried this hot. It reminded me quite a lot of those Haribo watermelon sweets, rather than actual watermelon, but at least some of the promised flavour was there. It turned out quite sweet even with no additions, too, so the candy-like element was quite strong. I would still say that peach was the more dominant flavour, but that’s pleasant and summery enough, and it tastes good, so I’m more than happy with how this one worked out. I’ve increased my rating a little to reflect that the cold brew worked out better than the hot.

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more

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80

First tea of the day. I’m glad this week’s finally over – it’s been a long and difficult one for sure. I tend to gravitate towards Chai or Earl Grey when I’m tired – maybe it’s a comfort thing. This one was sitting out waiting to be tried, so it finally got its turn. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk.

The first thing I noticed about this one was the underlying sweetness. At first I thought cherry, but it’s not quite like that. Cranberry is more like it – just a little tarter. There’s also a distinctive creaminess, which is more than the milk I added. Vanilla maybe. There’s a touch of orange in the aftertaste, but it’s kind of “orange squash” artificial. The chai spices are fairly subtle here, but there’s clove, cinnamon and caradmom for sure. It’s not an overpowering blend, so it allows the fruit flavours to shine. A really nice, distinctive chai. Just the thing for a lazy summer Saturday.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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65

The second of the Bluebird samples I brought to work with me this morning. This one is a green/white blend, and smells beautiful as soon as I open the pouch – sweet and peachy, a touch vegetal in the way of cut grass. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in water cooled to around 170 degrees. The resulting liquor is a very pale yellow.

To taste, I’m mainly picking up pineapple, followed by coconut. The watermelon isn’t as prevalent as the name would indicate, but there’s a watery sweetness that somehow suggestive of watermelon kicking around in the background. There’s a hint of hibiscus tartness, although it doesn’t overwhelm the other flavours – it’s one of those rare occasions when the balance is about right. The green and white base is pretty much drowned out by the tropical fruit flavouring, which is fair enough given that it’s a flavoured tea. The pineapple and coconut are sweet and taste fairly true to life, and there’s a pleasant creamy edge that’s actually putting me more in mind of a pina colada than anything else. It’s a tasty cup, if perhaps misnamed.

This is another one I’m going to finish off cold-brewed. I’m hoping I’ll be able to coax a little more watermelon out before I write this one off.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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30
drank Lemon Dreams by 52teas
1620 tasting notes

This one has been languishing by the kettle at home for a while now. I thought it would be exactly my kind of thing when I bought it – lemon chamomile honeybush is just the kind of thing I like in a pre-bedtime cup. Sadly, we didn’t get on as well as I thought we would. My gaze fell on this one again the other evening, though, and I decided to give it another go. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. This time, I added a teaspoon of honey to the finished cup.

I will say that perhaps the honey made things a bit too sweet, but it was certainly an improvement on a plain cup. Maybe ½ tsp of honey next time. Either way, I could start to enjoy this one again!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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30

I’m working a lot of extra hours this week as it’s Clearing, and so it seemed like the perfect time to pull out a Guayusa blend. Cola tea still strikes me as a rather odd thing, but I’ve had reasonable experiences with the ones I’ve tried, so I was fairly optimistic going into this. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium golden-yellow.

Unfortunately, I REALLY don’t like this one. There’s this kind of scrim on the surface that I thought was just oil at first, but it’s actually very slightly crunchy, and it catches the back of my throat. The flavour is also dubious – there’s the merest hint of flat cola, but it’s nowhere near as strong as I would have liked it to be. The main flavour is actually lime, which is okay, but even that’s not especially prominent. It’s clear enough to be identifiable, but I was hoping for a lot more punch. The guayusa is there in the background, slightly dank tasting but not unpleasant. The whole thing just strikes me as a bit “blah”. There’s not much flavour, and what there is isn’t great. I feel a bit let down, although maybe my expectations were too high.

I’m going to use the rest of my sample as a cold brew, and perhaps that will work better. Cola should be cold, after all! At the moment, though, I can’t recommend this one.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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Profile

Bio

Hi :) I’m Sarah, 27, 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.

In addition to Steepster, I also write for the SororiTea Sisters. My reviews there will typically be posted here also, although typically in a shorter format. Any teas I’m sent specifically for review will only appear in full on the SororiTea Sisters website, with only a short introduction and link to my review here.

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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