1622 Tasting Notes
Ah, Victoria Sponge. My favourite cake. Obviously when I found a tea that claims to replicate it, I just had to give it a try. Of all the people I’d trust to get it right, Bluebird Tea Co. top the list. The scent is right, for starters. Upon opening the pouch, I’m greeted with a waft of raspberries and vanilla. As ever with Bluebird, the dry leaf itself is a thing of beauty – fluffy green raspberry leaves, whole freeze-dried raspberries, smaller pieces of freeze-dried strawberry, and a scattering of desiccated coconut shreds. All on a black tea base, Ceylon specifically in this case. I used 1.5 tsp of leaf for my cup (the raspberries are so huge, they throw the measurement out a bit!), and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. No additions. The resulting liquor is a medium golden brown. The scent, like the dry leaf, is deliciously raspberry-vanilla. I really am thinking cake now!
To taste, the initial flavour is 100% raspberry. It’s quite a tart raspberry, but just sweet enough to stop it being jarring. What’s particularly nice is that it tastes like actual fresh raspberries – there’s no candy-like or artificial-tasting raspberry to be found here. Vanilla emerges in the mid-sip, and adds a pleasant creaminess and an extra dimension of sweetness that puts me in mind of the buttercream filling that usually accompanies raspberry jam in a Victoria Sponge. There’s a tiny hint of cake right at the end of the sip, but it’s a little fleeting. The coconut just starts to come through, and I think it’s this paired with the other ingredients that produce this effect, interestingly.
See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/06/21/vickys-sponge-cake-from-bluebird-tea-co/
This is a signature blend second flush Assam from Golden Tips Tea, picked in August 2013. The dry leaf smells sweet and malty with an undertone of spice, and the leaves themselves are fairly thin and wiry, mostly black but with some lighter, golden tipped leaves scattered throughout. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a bright reddish-brown, and I added a splash of milk.
Assam is one of my absolute favourite black tea varieties. It’s one of the first I tried when I was younger, and it’s probably fair to say that my enjoyment of it encouraged my interest in tea generally. It’s always with pleasure that I try a new Assam, and this one is no exception.
What I’m tasting here is fairly typical of the variety, I think. There’s an initial sweetness that becomes intensely malty in the mid-sip, and a hint of woodiness in the aftertaste. There are very mild cocoa notes, but they’re fleeting and by no means a prominent part of the overall flavour. It’s a full bodied tea, with a thickly textured mouthfeel, very smooth and almost creamy. The malt becomes more dominant with successive sips, which only increases this effect.
See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/06/19/assam-exotic-black-tea-golden-tips/
This is a flavoured genmaicha blend from one of the UK’s few independent tea mixologists – Bluebird Tea Co. This blend has been around since the inception of the company, so it’s one of their “original” teas, so to speak. It’s probably fair to say that they’ve come along in leaps and bounds since then, but this blend stands the test of time.
The dry leaf contains pretty much a 50/50 mixture of toasted brown rice and roasted green tea. The base tea is a blend of Chinese and Japanese greens; the Japanese being Bancha and the Chinese unspecified. The leaves are fairly small – some are darker and rolled into thin tubes, others are a lighter green and folded in appearance. There are some pieces of popcorn, although few compared to some genmaicha blends I’ve tried. There’s a generous smattering of apple cubes throughout.
I used 1 tsp of leaf and gave it 2.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a bright yellow-orange, and smells primarily of sugar puffs, but with an edge of seaweed. An odd combination if ever there was one!
See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/06/19/toasted-apple-green-tea-bluebird-tea-co/
It’s easy to get hooked on these iced teas. They’re just so flavourful and easy to prepare, there’s really nothing not to love. I’ve tried a couple of other “ice cream” flavoured teas, but this one is still by far the best. This one got the standard SBT brewing treatment from me – 2 mins in a 1/4 litre of boiling water, topped up to 1.8 litres with cold water, and into the fridge overnight. The main flavour I can pick out here is chocolate, followed by a creamy vanilla in the background. The strawberry is a little shy and fleeting, but it’s identifiable in the mid sip most of the time. The three combine beautifully in the aftertaste, to give the full neapolitan effect. Amazing!
See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/06/17/neapolitan-ice-cream-iced-tea-southern-boy-teas/
I had to work on Saturday (I do hate 6 day weeks), so this came with me in my Timolino to make my morning more bearable. I used 1.5 tsp of leaf, gave it approximately 3.5 minutes in boiling water, and added a splash of milk. I don’t usually try a tea for the first time in a Timolino, but I feel like I’m familiar enough with Della Terra’s flavoured blends to do that. This one is good – creamy from the vanilla, mildly minty, with a hint of chocolate smoothness rounding out the sip. It’s delicately sweet – not overpoweringly so, but enough to know that this is a dessert tea. There’s a hint of the base in the aftertaste, but it’s mostly malt and I can’t argue with that. Malty teas are my thing.
I enjoyed this one (although why it’s anti v-day, I’m not sure). My one real complaint is that it’s clearly a re-named version of an existing tea (or teas, actually). I’m thinking Swiss Mountain, Bats in the Belfry, Minty Cow…they’re all vanilla/mint/chocolate blends of one kind or another, and they all taste pretty much the same. So, while I enjoyed this one, I do feel like I’ve been here before. There’s nothing unique to be found. Still, sometimes familiarity is what I crave. Never more so than at 6.30am on a Saturday, when I should be in bed. Thank goodness for tea!
I’ve had two cups of this so far today, and while I admit that I’ve been at least a little distracted while drinking them, they’ve not actually made much of an impression on me. I used 1 tsp of leaf for each of my cups, and gave it around 3.5 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk. The resulting cup is sweet and malty, but it doesn’t have much to it (and certainly no depth) besides that. Assam and Ceylon are two of my favourite black varieties, so that is a little disappointing to me. I know that they can have a lot of character of their own, and I know from other breakfast blends they usually work well together.
Sadly, I don’t think this is a tea I’d repurchase once I’ve finished my sample tin. There are much better breakfast blends out there, and this one is simply too bland and one-note for me.
Today’s work cold brew. It’s not often that I try a tea for the first time cold, but I’ve made an exception for this one because it seems like a flavour combination that would work well cold, and because the weather is so warm I’m drinking a lot more cold tea than hot anyway. This is probably the second oldest 52 Teas blend in my cupboard, so it’s high time it had an outing. I used 2 tbsp of leaf, added it to 1.8 litres of cold water, and left it in the fridge for around 10 hours overnight. The resulting brew is a fairly bright yellow – very summer appropriate!
To taste, this is absolutely magnificent! The peach flavouring is strong and natural-tasting. No artificial peach here. It tastes like very ripe, juicy peach – the kind you might put in a cobbler because they’re almost too soft for eating. The cardamom really makes this, though, adding a deep earthy flavour, and a mild edge of spice. It also takes down the sweetness a notch or two, and makes this a much more fragrant blend than it otherwise would be. It’s a slightly unusual paring, but I like it a lot better than some of the more typical combinations, like ginger or cinnamon.
Based on my recent experiences, I think I’ve concluded that I prefer 52 Teas green blends to any of their blacks. As a lifelong black tea fan and a green sceptic, that comes as a huge surprise to me. The green base here adds a grassy undertone that works really well with the peach/cardamom, and there’s not a hint of bitterness or astringency. I don’t say this often, but this really is a masterful blend, capturing the best elements of each flavour while making sure they’re well balanced and complementary. I’ll be sad when this one disappears from my stash. It’s a real peach!
I’ve finally started to work through my stash of 52 Teas, and as I know coconut isn’t the best keeper, I rooted out any coconut-based teas to try first. This was the reblend version from…about a year ago now? It’s been in my cupboard unopened since then, and when I did finally open it today, I was greeted with a strong, alcohol-like scent. I’ve noticed this before with 52 Teas though, so I’m not unduly worried. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. It brewed up quite dark, so I added a decent splash of milk.
The scent is a little generic – black tea with a hint of coconut, and the taste, sadly, is rather the same. The initial sip is a fairly bold, malty black tea with an edge of sweetness. There’s a hint of coconut in the mid-sip, and it reminds me of desiccated coconut rather than fresh. I say that because it has the rather concentrated flavour and then slightly odd, dusty aftertaste that desiccated coconut can have. There’s an element of creaminess, but that might be at least partly due to the full-fat milk I’ve added, rather than anything especially inherent in the tea. Either way, it works. Coconut cream – nice. What I don’t get is PIE. Not a single crumb. There’s no pastry, buttery or otherwise, to be found here. That’s a bit of a let down, but not the end of the world.
As a coconut tea, this is good enough. The coconut maybe isn’t as strong as I’d have liked, but it’s there and you can’t argue with that. As a coconut cream tea, okay. As a coconut cream pie tea, this fails. Not badly, but at least in the sense that it doesn’t live up to its promise. I’ll finish the pouch, but this isn’t a tea I’d restock (not that that’s possible now, but even if I could). I just feel that there are better teas out there.
Over time, this has become one of my favourite Adagio teas, and it takes a lot for me to say that. This is a green tea blend, part of the Sunlit Blooms collection, containing lemongrass, citrus peel, and lemon and vanilla flavourings. The dry leaf is primarily green tea, and the leaves are medium to dark green, fairly long and folded. No specific variety is given, but I’d say Dragonwell as an educated guess.
There’s also a generous scattering of sunflower petals, which I assume are there to carry the lemon and vanilla flavourings. Lemongrass and citrus peel are less in evidence, although it’s possible to find the occasional piece if you stir the leaf up and look hard. This hardly sounds encouraging, but as this one actually turns out to be a great tea I’m going to refrain from further comment.
I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 180 degrees. The resulting liquor is a bright golden yellow, and smells mildly citrusy. To taste, it’s a different story entirely. Lemon cream, in the best bakery sense of the words! Although the green tea is a large proportion of the mixture, it’s completely unobtrusive in the finished cup, and super-smooth to boot. This means that the flavours really shine through, with lemon the first flavour to emerge, followed by a wash of vanilla and cream in the mid-sip. It’s truly wonderful, and sipping on this is putting me in mind of a huge lemon sponge coated in light, fluffy vanilla buttercream.
See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/06/16/tisket-tasket-green-tea-adagio/
I love the inspiration behind this blend from Bluebird Tea Co. The dry leaf looks like something right out of Narnia, with its whole pink rosebuds, additional rose petals, plentiful cocoa shells, lemongrass pieces and the fluffy, mossy greenness of the raspberry leaves. It’s so pretty, the White Witch of Narnia might well use it to tempt Edmund away. I used a generous heaped teaspoon of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. No additions. The resulting liquor is a medium golden brown, and the scent is faintly herbal, maybe a touch floral.
To taste, this one is pure liquid turkish delight, although the variety that comes coated in chocolate rather than dusted with icing sugar. The rose is the most prominent flavour; sweet with a hint of perfume. The flavour of milk chocolate emerges in the midsip, adding a creamy, almost vanilla-like sweetness that really complements the rose. Although cocoa shells are responsible for the flavour, there’s none of the dry bittersweetness cocoa can sometimes add to a tea. This is liquid milk chocolate over rose-flavoured turkish delight; sweet, smooth, and perfectly befitting a fairy tale.
See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/06/15/enchanted-narnia-herbal-tea-bluebird-tea-co/