1657 Tasting Notes

70
drank SBT: Maple Bacon by 52teas
1657 tasting notes

I’ve been avoiding this one for ages, because frankly I’m scared of it. I mean, bacon. In tea. I must have been feeling pretty brave yesterday evening, though, because I bit the bullet and made this one up for work today. It got the usual SBT treatment – 3 minutes in ¼ litre of boiling water, topped up to 2 litres with cold water, and then into the fridge overnight. I’m back to being scared this morning.

I took my first sip very tentatively, and was surprised to find that I’m actually okay with this one. It’s mostly maple – and the maple is so strong it’s almost like drinking maple syrup. I love maple syrup, so that’s more than fine with me. There is a tiny hint of smokiness and something a little like those bacon salad crispies, or just bacon-flavour crisps, right in the mid-sip, but it’s fleeting and really just barely there. I’m a little relieved about this, but actually it works rather well with the maple and as I drank more I found myself thinking that I could take it a little stronger. A surprise if ever there was one! On the whole, I’m pleased this is mostly maple. Maple tea I can understand! I had to try this one just for the novelty value, but I’m happy that I ended up enjoying it as well. Wonders never cease.

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more

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80

A sample from Roswell Strange. Apparently I’ve tried this one once before, but I only have the vaguest of recollections so it’s nice to have an opportunity to refresh my memory. I gave this one 4 minutes in boiling water, and added a decent splash of milk. I do love a decent latte-style chai!

To taste, this one’s so creamy it’s almost unreal. I’m sure the milk has helped, but it’s also the vanilla, which is by far the strongest flavour. It’s rich, sweet, and smooth with that characteristic vanilla bean stickiness. The spices emerge mostly in the mid-sip, and stop the sweetness from becoming cloying. It’s a nice balance between the initial hit of vanilla and the warming cinnamon, ginger and clove. The black tea base is pretty perfect – unobtrusive, with no astringency, but with enough body to support some milk, and to avoid tasting thin. Beautiful! This one would make a great cup on a snowy day – I might have to try and source some of this for just such occasions! Yum!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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90

A sample from Roswell Strange. I’ve not tried many fig teas before, largely because they seem to be a relative rarity in the UK. I think I’ve maybe come across one or two before, but certainly no more than that. I like figs, though, so I’m always glad to have the chance to translate that into tea form! I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it three minutes in boiling water. No additions. The resulting liquor is a medium golden-red-brown; the scent sweet with notes of dried fruit.

To taste (and as I’d hoped) the fig is the real star! It’s so true-to-life, and very fresh tasting to the point of juiciness. It’s hard to describe fig as anything other than “fig”, but I suppose raisin or fresh date come into it a little, although milder and sweeter. It makes for a great mid-morning cup! The black base is very smooth, with absolutely no astringency. It’s a tiny bit malty (although not overpoweringly so), and really just lets the fig flavour shine. This one’s a real winner with me.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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60

A sample from Roswell Strange. I don’t think I’ve tried a tea quite like this one before – it’s a bit of an odd duck. It’s bagged, so it’s hard to see exactly what’s inside, but it looks to be thin, narrorw strands of leaf. Some are red, and evidently Rooibos, but there are also a multitude of other colours; green, yellow, cream, some a pinky-purple. Interesting, to say the least! I gave the bag approximately 3.5 minutes in boiling water, and the resulting liquor is a medium golden-toned yellow-green. This one is truly as unusual as it sounds. The scent is very grapey, so I can see where the muscat in the name comes from. I’m intrigued.

To taste, this one reminds me of nothing more or less than grape flavoured hard candy. It’s pretty sweet on the whole, but with that slightly sour edge grape can give things. It not “muscatel” in the way of Darjeeling – more “muscat” in the way of grape Kool Aid. I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but I am pleasantly surprised by this cup. It’s a pleasant, low calorie treat on a summer afternoon!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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85

A sample from Roswell Strange, and another first. I can honestly say I’ve never tried a Lady Gaga inspired tea before! I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in water cooled to around 180 degrees. I crushed the juniper berries a little, as recommended! The scent of those is so good, and as close to gin as I can get on a miserable Tuesday afternoon. At least I have tea!

The dry leaf is an interesting thing to look at. Twists of Laoshan Green, a generous quantity of whole juniper berries, black, white and brown strands of wild rice, marigold petals, and the odd piece of saffron. Really pretty and rustic-looking.

Brewed, the liquor is a bright yellow-green, the scent beautifully vegetal in the way of wet grass. The green tea is definitely the most prominent flavour in the taste, but it’s sweet and grassy in the way fresh spring green teas can be, with a light nuttiness (I’m thinking pine nuts), and a touch of asparagus. It’s so smooth and buttery, it’s almost unreal. The juniper is also recognisable, coming out mainly in the mid sip. It lingers beautifully on my tongue long after the sip is over, with mild gin-like notes, and just a touch of warmth and sharpness. The toasted wild rice adds a certain genmaicha-like flavour, but it’s really mild and mostly just in the background. It really helps to give this tea depth and body, though! There’s a lot to think about when you take a sip, and a lot to taste. It’s so well balanced and blended, though, that that’s a treat more than anything.

I’m really impressed with this one, and I’m so pleased I got chance to try it – many thanks again to Roswell Strange for providing the opportunity. I’ve got enough leaf left for another cup, which I’m going to make sure I enjoy thoroughly when I’m not at work!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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55
drank Coconut Cream Pie by 52teas
1657 tasting notes

This one is at work with me at the moment, and as one of few black teas I have in my desk, I’m working through it fairly steadily. I’m still not massively taken with it. It’s quite finicky – sometimes I get a pretty decent cup with strong coconut cream notes (albeit mostly in the aftertaste), and sometimes I get a cup of plain black tea. It’s tricky to get right, and I’ve never yet got pie.

Today’s cup starts off as a plain black, but there’s some pretty good coconut right at the end of the sip. It’s not especially creamy today, even with added full-fat milk. I appreciate that this is a reblend, and that they weren’t always so good, but I have to admit that I’m a little disappointed with this one. Coconut, yes. No cream, and no pie. Sad face.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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85

A sample from Roswell Strange. I’m a big red velvet cake fan, so it’s nice to have the opportunity to try a tea inspired by it. I think I’ve only tried one or two before now. I gave this bag 4 minutes in boiling water, no additions. The liquor starts off a beautiful pinky-red while brewing, but ends up more of a brownish colour with a red tint. I do wonder what this would look like with a splash of milk, so I’ll definitely be adding some to my second cup just to see!

The scent of this one is really nice – primarily raspberry, sweet and a little tart. The flavour, though, is more chocolate (in a dry, mildly dusty, cocoa sort of way). There’s also a creamy, almost thick-tasting cream cheese flavour going on, that’s surprisingly flavour accurate in a cool, tangy sort of way. The raspberry from the scent is less prominent in the finished cup, but it is there in the background. I can taste little sparks of hibiscus, but by no means overpowering so it’s not a problem. This is a surprisingly rich, flavourful cup, and I’m enjoying sipping on this while I tidy up a few loose ends at work this afternoon. A definite winner.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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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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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.

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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