1321 Tasting Notes
From the EU TTB
I like a good chai, and as today is fairly cold and autumnal it seemed like a good fit. Even though I live in Norwich, I’ve not tried many Wilkinsons teas, which is an obvious oversight on my part. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4.5 minutes in boiling water. It brews up strong and dark, which I think is a good thing in a chai, and I added a good splash of milk.
To taste, this is a solid, traditional chai. The black tea base is malty and sweet, and the spices swirl nicely through it – cardamom and clove, a touch of cinnamon. It’s not a hugely strong blend on the spice front, but it’s a pleasant balance. A conforting, classic chai blend, and one I’d definitely look at purchasing in the future.
From the EU TTB
I’m a bit of a sucker for a chocolate tea, so I was pleased to see this one in the box. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk.
To taste, it’s pretty good. There’s chocolate, all right, although it’s a little on the artificial side. The base is a little overpowering, I’d say. I can taste more ceylon, with its classic citrussy notes, than I can flavouring. It’s like a chocolate biscuit dipped in tea. The more I sip, the more I’m reminded of Adagio’s Chocolate Chip, which also has a ceylon base and a slightly artificial chocolate flavour. It’s nice, but not the best chocolate tea I’ve ever tasted.
From the EU TTB
I picked this one out as my first try, largely because it’s a colder day today and I feel like something a little more autumnal. Plum says autumn to me! I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk.
To taste, this is pretty much a standard black tea. It’s sweet and malty, with just the slightest bit of astringent bite at the end of the sip. There’s a hint of something fruity and plum like in the aftertaste, but it’s fleeting and barely there. Still, it’s nice while it lasts! I could have taken a lot more plum flavour in this one, but it’s still a pleasant, straightforward black tea for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
A sample from Roswell Strange. I was really curious to try this one, as gingerbread teas are typically among my favourites. This one smells good to start with – just like a freshly baked gingerbread man. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 5 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk.
The flavour is spot-on wonderful! It’s sweet, but not overbearingly so, with a pleasant edge of ginger and a touch of almond. It’s definitely “gingerbread” more than “ginger” – it has that wonderful cake-like quality that’s so difficult to capture in a liquid (and equally hard to describe!) The ginger is sticky and sweet rather than strong and sharply spicy. I’m really enjoying this one — I only wish I had more!
I’m hoping I have more luck with this Bluebird choice, and I have a feeling I might be lucky. The dry leaf smells strongly of cherry and almond – almost to the point of being a bit sickly, if I’m honest. The dry leaf is the prettiest thing, though; red and blue cornflowers, chunks of cherry, burgundy and cream hibiscus, cubes of dried apple, almond slivers, the odd currant, and the green and cream white tea leaves. The scent actually reminds me a little of Christmas cake – but I’m thinking that might be the almonds more than anything. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to 175 degrees. The resulting liquor is a pale, pale pink and smells just perfectly of fresh cherry bakewell!
To taste, this is as good as I’d hoped. I was a touch concerned that it was going to be overpoweringly sweet based on the dry scent, but it turns out that’s not the case at all. This one really is like liquid cherry bakewell – there’s the sweet, slightly tart, jammy cherry in the initial sip, followed by quite a strong almond flavour, just like frangipane. There’s even a lingering sweetness at the end that reminds me of water icing. I’m so pleased with this one; it’s just as I hoped it would be.
I’m slowly working through the last of my Butiki teas, and it seemed like high time this one got an outing. The scent upon opening the bag is overwhelmingly lemony, with a background sweetness that totally puts me in mind of cupcakes, pastries, and macarons. It’s high-end bakery tea! As ever with Butiki, the dry leaf is absolutely gorgeous. The silver needles are very long – some up to 4cm – and a beautiful creamy pale green. They’re perfectly soft and downy, and the little pink and white puffs scattered throughout (I’m guessing these are the Amaranth and Calendula), only adds to this effect. There are a few almond slivers, too. I followed the recommended parameters and gave 2 tsp of leaf 3 minutes in water cooled to 180 degrees. The resulting liquor is a medium yellow-gold.
The flavour, as expected, is divine. It’s lemony, but in a primarily candy-like way with just a touch of sharpness. I’m thinking candied lemon peel at this point. Underlying the lemon is an intense creaminess, very reminiscent of sweetened pastry cream. The final flavour is a light almond nuttiness, very reminiscent of macarons. The white base is perfect for the delicate cream and macaron-shell notes, mildly sweet and a touch buttery without being overpowering. I’m totally and utterly happy with this one – it’s an amazing flavoured tea. It also means that I miss Butiki more than ever, but such is life.
I tried this one hot a couple of evenings ago, and I wasn’t all that impressed because it mostly tasted of rooibos with just the slightest hint of floral pear. I figured I’d use the rest of my sample for a cold-brew, in the hope that that might bring out the pear flavour a little more. I was totally wrong, and, if anything, I like the cold-brew less than I did the hot. And that’s saying something. The reason I dislike this one so much is primarily because of one thing – STEVIA. It’s so strong and artificially sweet, and it’s sticking in the back of my throat so that I can taste it even though I’ve stopped drinking. There’s also no pear. Just rooibos. Wood-shaving rooibos, and stevia. Urgh shudders. Down the sink this one goes!
I’m usually pretty impressed with Bluebird teas but sadly this one wasn’t a hit with me. I love pear drops, but all I got from my cup of this one was a rather woody, drying rooibos. There’s the tiniest bit of floral pear-like flavour lurking in the background, but it’s barely there and I often wondered whether I wasn’t just imagining it.
I really wish the flavour here could have been stronger. It’s such a delicious idea, but sadly not even close to realisation. A rare Bluebird flop.
My second Bluebird tea of the day, and probably the one I was most doubtful about. I’ve tried Tulsi a few times and it’s not really been my thing. Still, worth a try. For a tea that’s called “Mango Tulsi” there’s a suspicious lack of mango actually in evidence. The ingredients list specifies pineapple and papaya, both of which I can see cubes of in the dry leaf. There’s also fluffy green tulsi, and some (really pretty) sunflower petals. Bluebird teas are always so visually appealing! The scent of the dry leaf is primarily pineapple, just like a freshly opened bag of those sweetened, dried pineapple pieces. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a telling red-pink. Hello, hibiscus. The scent is amazing, though – orange ice pops! It’s so deliciously summery.
To taste, this isn’t (sadly!) quite as good as it smells. I get papaya, rather than mango, with a touch of sweetness that could be the pineapple, or could be the sugar I see has been added to the mix. There’s a fairly strong herbal flavour that I guess is the tulsi, and it’s not a great pairing with the tropical fruit vibe. The hibiscus is also too strong for my tastes, contributing a sour tartness that’s just not really very nice. I feel let down by this one. It sounds promising, and it certainly smells good. It just somehow fails to deliver in the flavour. Not a Bluebird day for me, sadly.
A sample from Roswell Strange. I’ve tried this one once before, if I recall correctly, again as part of a swap. I remember enjoying it, although I think I only had enough for one cup so my recollection isn’t all that clear. I’m pleased to have the chance to try it again! I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a very pale yellow, and smells mildly fruity. It actually puts me in mind of Froot Loops, to tell the truth.
To taste, this is a very mild, juicy-tasting strawberry-pineapple delight. The strawberry adds a sweet tartness, while the pineapple contributes most of the “juiciness”, and a lovely tropical edge. This is my last day at work before I have a week’s leave, so it’s the perfect mid-afternoon cup to think happy thoughts with.
The bamboo base is the most intriguing thing about this one, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve not come across that many bamboo teas before, but it reminds me mostly of a white tea. It’s light, refreshing and gentle in the same way, with only a mild flavour of its own that really lets any additions shine.
I’m enjoying this one, and I’m glad to have had another chance to try it.