1623 Tasting Notes
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.
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!
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.
Today’s work iced tea. This one got the usual SBT treatment (3 minutes in 300ml boiling water, topped up to 2 litres with cold water, and then into the fridge overnight). I vaguely remember having tried the 52 Teas Pina Colada Honeybush quite a while back, and I’m sure I liked it pretty well. It’s certainly a day for tropical teas!
I’m impressed with this one. Coconut is, I’d say, the prevalent flavour, but there are quite strong hints of pineapple kicking around in the background. It’s creamy from the coconut and fruity from the pineapple, so a pretty nice combination all told. It’s light, refreshing, and quite juicy – perfect for a hot day sitting in front of a computer. Now all I have to do is pretend I’m not!
This is one I’d repurchase in future, assuming it’s still available. It’s a pretty true-to-life recreation of a pina colada, considering it’s actually tea and totally non-alcoholic. A summer time treat.
This was today’s iced tea for work. It got the usual SBT treatment.
I’ve tried this one before, and I noticed that this time the banana wasn’t as strong BUT it was more natural tasting. Less like banana runts, and more like an actual, slightly under-ripe, banana. Work is totally manic so I didn’t pay much more attention to it than that. Safe to say, I enjoyed it and it’s still one I’d repurchase once I’ve worked through my hoard. Great stuff!
This is the second of my Luhse white tea samples, and the only flavoured one I picked up. The dry leaf is an interesting prospect – black-brown white peony leaves, pink peppercorns, and yellow marigold petals. The really arresting this is the scent – it’s like liquid butterscotch. Very rich, with an almost alcoholic edge. 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 very pale yellow-green, the scent sadly diminished.
Possibly nothing can taste like this tea smells dry. I’m a little saddened that the intensity of the initial scent doesn’t match the flavour, but that’s nothing more than I expected. There is a sweet, caramel-like flavour to this one, but it’s not as strong as I’d have liked it to be. All the same, it’s a pleasant, lightly flavoured white tea, and makes for a refreshing sweet treat on a warm day.
Today I’m moving on to my Luhse white tea samples, and I decided to go with the plain one first – Boo. Boo looks to be a blend of silver needle and white peony; predominantly more white peony than silver needle. Most of the leaves are black or dark brown, and fairly twisted, but there are some that are silvery-white or slightly yellowy. It’s not the best looking white tea I’ve ever seen, but it does put me in mind of a dark, rickety haunted house. If we’re going with a ghostly, halloweeny theme, then it kinda fits. 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 very pale golden colour, but the scent is sadly not that appealing. It smells a little like a ripe pu’erh, strangely.
Sadly, I’m not especially struck by the flavour either. There are elements that remind me of white tea – a mild, orchid-like floral, a touch of grass and hay. These are somewhat offset by an undertone of what I can only describe as manure. Not really strong manure, like some pu’erhs, but strong enough to be distracting. It’s an odd combination.
I had hoped that I’d enjoy this one, but I suppose you can’t win them all. I don’t tend to drink too many plain white teas these days, so it’s not a terrible loss, but I’m a little disappointed all the same. Perhaps Luhse’s flavoured blacks are the only thing for me.
Today’s cold brew. I used 2 tbsp of leaf to 2 litres of water, and left it in the fridge for around 10 hours overnight. The resulting brew is a deceptively pale golden colour, and at first I worried that it would be too weak. Not so – the amount of flavour in this one is completely at odds with the colour. It’s delicious! The first flavour I can detect is vanilla, and it’s sweet and creamy – a lovely opening sip! This is followed fairly closely by the slightly tart, almost jammy flavour of rhubarb (which is more immediately identifiable, somehow than it was when I drank it hot earlier this week and thought initially that it was raspberry.) The hops are again less prominent than they were in the hot cup, but they add a slightly bittersweet, mildly floral, note to the end of the sip that stops the vanilla and rhubarb becoming overpoweringly cloying. It’s a great combination.
The only thing I’ve got to decide now is whether to finish my bag of this tea off with another cold brew, or whether to save it for hot cups. Decisions, decisions!
This is the one of two green tea samples I picked up from Luhse – the other was Getting Lei’d. Marrakesh Fresh is basically a Marrakesh mint blend (no surprises there!) It’s a blend of peppermint, spearmint and gunpowder green, although looking at the dry leaf, there’s actually very little green tea to be seen. It’s certainly fresh, though – the scent is one of the best things (both dry and once brewed). Minty and delicious. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees. The resulting liquor is a medium yellow-green.
To taste, it’s as good as the name suggests. The mint is sweet and fresh tasting, with the strong cooling sensation that’s so nice about mint tea in hot weather. The green tea base is fairly smooth, with only the slightest hint of astringency, and a touch of dankness in the flavour. I could probably stand to drink this one with a bit of sugar – that might just give it the edge I’m looking for.
I’m pretty happy with this one, although it’s not a great deal better or worse than any other Marrakesh mint blend I’ve tried. It’s probably not unique enough for me to want to repurchase, but I’ll happily finish up my sample. A pleasant cup on a hot day.
Continuing the Luhse theme today, I also have a sample of their Earl Grey to try. The blend consists of black tea (quite thick, twisted leaves of a uniform black colour), blue mallow blossoms and bergamot. The scent of the dry leaf is very strongly citrusy, which can only be the bergamot. Very strong Earl Grey with a lot of bitter bergamot doesn’t greatly appeal to me, so I’m a little concerned about this one. 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, and I added a splash of milk.
As it turns out, I needn’t have worried about the bergamot being too strong. To taste, it’s actually a pleasant balance between sweet, malty black tea and bittersweet, citrusy bergamot. It’s a tiny bit perfumey, but not terribly so. I think the milk has helped to calm this one down a bit, but I like the creaminess it adds even if it’s not the recommended way to drink Earl Grey. In any case, it’s deliciously smooth and well flavoured – one of the nicer Earl Greys I’ve tried in a while. I’d consider restocking this one.