1641 Tasting Notes

70

I started this morning in my favourite way – with a matcha latte! Grace & Green kindly sent me a sample of their Morning Organic Matcha to try, and as a matcha fan, I was very keen to give it a try!

See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/07/13/morning-organic-matcha-grace-green/

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100
drank SBT: Bubblegum by 52teas
1641 tasting notes

This is today’s iced tea. I first tried this one last year, I think, and I enjoyed it so much I picked up another bag pretty much straight off. It’s as good as I remember – I’m still surprised by how accurately this one reflects the flavour of bubblegum! I mean, it’s tea. It’s also sweet, mildly fruity, with that inimitable “bubblegum” flavour that’s difficult to describe accurately in any other way. In short, a delicious treat on a humid work day. I’ll definitely be repurchasing this one in future.

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more

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75
drank Tropical Dream by RiverTea
1641 tasting notes

Sadly, this didn’t work as well as a cold brew as I’d hoped. I used my usual ratio of 2 tbsp leaf to 2 litres of water, into the fridge for around 10 hours overnight. It was very woody and slightly medicinal in flavour (100% rooibos, basically), with hardly a hint of the tropical fruit flavours I’d hoped would show up well. Definitely one I’ll be finishing off hot!

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more

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70

Finally pulled out my box of Dr Who teas to try! I was looking for a fairly straightforward black tea last night, and the description on the tin fitted my mood perfectly. The eleventh doctor was probably my favourite – we graduated from the same University, after all, so I’m allowed to be biased.

Anyway, the tea. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and have it approximately 3 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk. To taste, I’m picking up mostly a very smooth, sweet, malty assam. The coconut and vanilla emerge after a couple of sips, and add a delicious creaminess to an otherwise plain cup. The apple is a little more shy, but it does appear in flashes right at the end of the sip, and lingers just a little in the aftertaste. It’s not especially apple-y apple. It tastes more baked or caramelised; sweeter than I was expecting, and not as tart. A little like the apple in apple pie filling, perhaps. It’s a tasty cup, although I would have liked the flavouring to be a little stronger and more immediate. It feels like I have to search for them a little bit.

As for the fandom aspect of this blend, I’m not entirely sold. Sweet, fruity? Hmm. I’m struggling a little. It’s a pleasant cup, though, and a sample I’ll have no trouble finishing off!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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60

Today’s Assam of choice from my remaining Golden Tips samples. This one is a second flush assam, picked on 27th June 2014. It’s a single-estate variety, from Mankota. Looking at the dry leaf, I’d say it’s about two thirds black-brown leaves, reasonably thin and twisty, and a third golden leaves. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk.

To taste, this is a fairly ordinary assam. It’s malty, for sure, but not as malty as some I’ve tried. It’s delicately sweet, with a grain-like flavour lurking in the background. There’s just the slightest hint of molasses, but it’s not strong or particularly defining. It’s a very smooth cup, for the most part, although a little tannic towards the end of the sip.

This makes for a solid, everyday kind of assam. It’s not particularly unique, I don’t think, but there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s tasty, if a little forgettable.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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90

I’m half way through my Golden Tips samples now! While I love Assam, I’m trying to space them out between other teas as I try each one for the first time, so that I can get an accurate impression of the flavour, rather than just a comparison to the one I drank previously.

This is a second flush assam, harvested in June 2014. There looks to be about a 50/50 split between wiry, black-brown leaves and slightly downy golden leaves. There are also some golden tipped leaves. The scent is malty, maybe a little woody. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk.

The one thing the scent and appearance didn’t prepare me for at all was the flavour! Usually it’s possible to get a rough idea, but this tea was a complete dark horse. From my observations of the dry and brewing leaf, I was expecting a fairly generic assam, strong and malty but perhaps not with many distinguishing features that would really mark it out. I was totally wrong. The mild chocolate and smooth caramel notes are obvious from the very first sip. They’re not strong, in your face flavours, but they’re definitely what this tea tastes of. The ubiquitous maltiness emerges in the mid-sip, and adds a sweetness that helps to define the chocolatiness still further. There’s a light woodiness towards the end of the sip, so I wasn’t completely wrong, but it’s not at all the defining flavour of the cup. I’m pleased also with how smooth this assam is; there’s no hint of astringency, and neither is it particularly tannic. Just perfect for my tastes, then!

This is a tea I’d repurchase, if only for it’s beautiful chocolate and caramel notes. It’s certainly an assam like few others I’ve tried.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
donkeyteaarrrraugh

hard to tell the difference between the assams some time, but I also like this one!

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75
drank Tropical Dream by RiverTea
1641 tasting notes

I’ve had this one in my stash for a while. I only managed to place one order with RiverTea before they closed, and since then I think I’ve been hanging on to the ones I do have without really considering why. It’s time to drink up. Today’s a really warm summer’s day here, so a tropical-style blend was most appealing. I used tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. No additions. The resulting liquor is a medium red-orange, fairly typical of rooibos blends.

The first thing that strikes me about this one is how nice it smells while brewing. Pineapples and cream! It’s really putting me in mind of a pina colada, or some kind of floating island dessert, maybe. This tea is described as a pineapple vanilla blend, but it also contains papaya, mango and coconut in addition to pineapple, and a whole host of floral additives – rose petals, sunflower blossoms, jasmine, conflower petals, and safflowers. It makes the dry leaf look pretty, for sure – blue, yellow, red and pink petals scattered amongst the darker red-brown of the rooibos, and the yellow-gold of the pineapple chunks.

To taste, this is (thankfully) predominantly pineapple. I can also taste a hint of coconut towards the end of the sip, which rounds things off an a pleasantly tropical note. There’s a whole ton of creaminess in the mid-sip – it’s really quite startling given that vanilla is the only thing here that can really be causing that, and it’s quite far down the list of ingredients. It’s a truly delicious thing. As my cup cools, a hint of the floral emerges in the aftertaste. It’s not too heavy or cloying, though, so that’s fine with me.

I can see this working really well as a cold brew, so I’ll probably try that next. I’m back to work next week, so it can come along with me and brighten up my days a little. I think I’ve realised now why I started to hoard River Tea blends once I heard they’d closed – every time I drink a cup, I’m reminded what a loss their closure is to the tea world. I can only imagine what they might have gone on to blend.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
Christina / BooksandTea

Yeah, I still think fondly about them. But I can also think of a bunch of reasons why their closure made sense: prices were a steal (probably not a lot of profit on their end), barely any social media presence, etc.

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85
drank Plum Crazy by Luhse Tea
1641 tasting notes

This is the only oolong I picked up with my Luhse order, but I’ve had so few plum teas that the sheer novelty of it appealed to me more than anything. The dry mix is quite chunky – equal parts oolong (black, think, reasonably wiry leaves, so I’m fairly confident that it’s a roasted wuyi or something along those lines) and schizandre berries (which look to me like rosehip). The scent is beautiful; fruity, ripe plum. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in water cooled to around 180 degrees. The resulting liquor is a pale golden colour.

To taste, it’s absolutely wonderful. Light, refreshing, and beautifully fruity. It’s just like biting into a ripe plum — so much so that I could probably mistake it for plum juice if it weren’t hot. It’s incredibly sweet and juicy, although also very natural tasting. The oolong base is hardly present in the taste, except perhaps for a slight mineral flavour in the aftertaste. This is a good thing in my book, as strong dark oolongs aren’t typically my thing. At least, they haven’t been historically. I do try and return to tea varieties I’ve more or less ruled out from time to time, though, as I’m aware my tastes are changing as I become more familiar with tea.

Although this is something I’d never have said at one point, I can safely say that this is an oolong I’d gladly repurchase. It’s so flavourful and fruity, it more than deserves a place in my cupboard. It’s truly delicious stuff! If you’re a fan of plum teas, be sure to give this one a try!

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

Their website is so fun!

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85
drank Cocoa Bananas by Luhse Tea
1641 tasting notes

This is the last of my Luhse rooibos samples, and my favourite of the four I’ve tried. For starters, it’s the best tasting chocolate banana tea I’ve tried in a good long time. It tastes delicious! This is just a straight rooibos blens – no honeybush here – and I honestly think that’s how I prefer it. Small pieces of freeze dried banana (and apple, strangely) are evident among the dry leaf, along with some chocolate flakes, cocoa nibs, and a generous smattering of whole pink peppercorns. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. No additions.

To taste, banana is the most prominent flavour. It’s a little candy-like in the way of banana runts, but that’s no terrible thing in a sweet, dessert style blend like this one. The chocolate emerges in the mid-sip, and adds a creamy, rich depth to the overall cup. It works really well with the banana – a great, well realised combination if ever there was one. There’s a slight saltiness towards the end of the sip that’s a little out of place, but I can overlook that since the rest of the flavour is so spot on. It’s barely there, anyway.

This is a Luhse rooibos blens I’d consider repurchasing. It’s tasty and flavour-accurate, and that’s exactly what I want from a flavoured tea. It’s nice to have a sweet, decedent caffeine-free blend on hand, too. I finally feel like I’ve struck gold with Luhse!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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30

For a tea with “cherries” in the name, this blend lacks anything remotely resembling, well, cherries. It’s a rooibos-honeybush blend, with blackcurrants, small pieces of which are evident among the dry mix. The scent is pretty much 100% rooibos, with only the tiniest hint of berry fruit of any description. Hmm. I gave 1 tsp of leaf 4 minutes in boiling water for my cup. No additions.

To taste, this is (as you might expect) mostly rooibos, underscored with the honey-like sweetness of honeybush. It’s a little woodsy and drying on the palate. There is an underlying flavour, but it reminds me more of cough syrup than anything else. It’s certainly not cherry, or even blackcurrant, sad to say. I’m not particularly struck by it.

I think perhaps Luhse’s rooibos blends aren’t for me. I have one or two more to try before I strike them off my “to try” list completely, though — I’m ever hopeful! I’ll be moving on to the black tea samples I picked up soom, and hopefully they’ll be more to my liking.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 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.

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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