915 Tasting Notes

70

A surprise holiday sample from Sil! Even the thought of this tea makes my mouth water, so I gave in and allowed myself a cup last night. It’s pretty good. Definitely more truffle/chocolate than almond, but I can detect a smidge of almond flavour as it starts to cool. The chocolate is dark, with a dry, cocoa-like finish. It really is reminiscent of eating a truffle! My only real sadness is that the almond is a little hard to find. It is there, but it’s buried pretty deep under the chocolate and black tea flavours. The black tea is a little astringent, but nothing terrible. I enjoyed this more than I’ve enjoyed most dessert-type teas in a while — perfect for early evening sipping!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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90
drank Lady Grey by Twinings
915 tasting notes

A sample from KittyLovesTea. I have a migraine at the moment, so I’ve not really been drinking much tea today. Mostly just sitting in the dark feeling ill, irritated, and bored. I’ve perked up a bit now, though, and decided to look for something fairly simple from my box of swap teas. This one looked like a contender, so I went for it.

I actually don’t think I’ve tried a Lady Grey before, or at least not that I remember. Interesting, because I actually really like this. It tastes a bit like orange sherbet, or one of those orange cream ice lollies. The orange flavour is most prominent, followed by the black tea base, which is smooth and delicious. My brain isn’t up for much in the way of description at the moment, but there’s not much else to say except I’m really enjoying this. Lady Grey is one to investigate in the future! Thanks again to KittyLovesTea for sharing this with me!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 45 sec

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65
drank Spiced Winter by Teapigs
915 tasting notes

One of my leaving presents from my last job was a box of Teapigs, and I’ve just got around to starting them now. The first one I chose was Spiced Winter — it’s seasonally appropriate, after all. It’s one I pretty much always enjoy, too. The red base is slightly woody, but the orange, cinnamon, and clove spicing more or less covers most of that up. The flavours work together in any case, so it’s actually a pretty successful rooibos to my tastes. It’s probably not one I’d look to keep around other than at Christmas, but it’s a nice caffeine free Christmas tea, and beautifully spiced to boot. An enduring Teapigs winter favourite!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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80

Sipdown! Enjoyed the last two cups of this while watching Death Comes to Pemberly last night. I’m still pretty in awe of how much this actually tastes like Christmas cake. It’s fruity, rich, almondy and sweet. Just like the real thing! The snowflake sprinkles and light sprinkling of irridescent glitter make it look seasonal, too. My favourite of Bluebird’s Christmas teas, and a sad sipdown. Hopefully it returns to grace my cupboard again next year!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 45 sec

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50

On the twelfth day of Christmas, 52 Teas gave to me…Sugar Plum Shou Mei!

I’ve enjoyed the 12 Teas of Christmas sampler again this year — it introduces me to some teas I missed during the year, reminds me of a few favourites, and provides a new and unique treat for Christmas day. As soon as I scratched the label here, I was excited to try it. I actually only got around to this one early last night. It wouldn’t be Christmas without family troubles, and it’s been pretty grim so far. I’m glad I’ve had this box to keep me going, in a way. It’s cheered me up when nothing else has. Anyway. I’m going to promise myself that next year will be different, and say no more about it.

So. The tea. I’ve never tried a sugar plum before…is there even such a thing? I imagine it’s a crystallised dried plum…a prune, then? I let the water cool and gave this about 2.5 minutes, maybe a shade over. There’s very little plum/prune flavour, other than a generic sugary sweetness. There’s a hint of it lurking in there somewhere, but it’s by no means obvious. My first thought would be to try a little sugar, although I’m pretty sure it’s sweet enough already. Hmm. The white base is nice, though. Very smooth, slightly floral. Mostly, though, I can only taste sugary water, which is a bit of a disappointment. It smells so nice dry, too! One to experiment with a little more, perhaps.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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35
drank Napalm Ferret by 52teas
915 tasting notes

On the eleventh day of Christmas, 52 Teas gave to me…Napalm Ferret!

This is one I was interested to try this year, but which I ultimately kept away from due to the cayenne pepper. I like 52 Teas Smaug, as the cayenne in that is quite gentle, overall. I really did not like Mayan Chocolate Chai, though (what a disappointment that was!), and I was worried my experience would be similar here. I’m glad to have the opportunity to try it, though.

The cayenne is quite strong. It catches the back of my throat on first sip, although there’s not quite enough of it to really burn. I like spicy things, so possibly we will get on after all. The banana is a very clear flavour, and that I like. Frank is good at banana, and it tastes natural and sweet here rather than artificial or candy-like. It tempers the cayenne a little, too, cutting off some of the sharpness of the spice and rounding out the sip with sweetness. I’m not really getting cinnamon, or green tea — the cayenne and banana almost completely mask those. I did brew this quite conservatively, though, mostly out of fear, so possibly a longer brew time would bring those flavours out. Something to try next time.

On the whole, this isn’t one I’d look to restock. I can’t help but think that a banana cinnamon tea with a green base would have been more to my liking, but then it couldn’t be called Napalm Ferret. I don’t mind cayenne, but it seems pretty unnecessary here. All of the other flavours have to compete with it, and naturally they ultimately lose. This is undoubtedly an interesting tea, though — and a brave choice for a Christmas box! Totally unique, great name — there are a couple of things to love, at least.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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90

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Della Terra gave to me…Figgy Pudding!

I didn’t get chance to drink this one yesterday, so I’m a bit belated with this note. It made for a wonderful breakfast treat this morning, though! I’ve not had a fig tea before, I don’t think, although figs are something I’m really fond of. I was making ice cream this morning while brewing this, so it had a good 4 minutes to brew. I added a splash of milk because the liquor was pretty dark by that point.

It works really well, I think. I almost want to say that this is my favourite tea from the box, but I’d have to go back and think about the others first — I feel like I’ve forgotten a few when making that assertion! It’s one of my favourites, let’s say. The fig flavour is strong, rich and heady. There is something puddingy about this, and it does put me in mind of Christmas pudding, in an odd sort of way. Texture and mouthfeel, I suppose. I love the flavour of warm fig here, though. It’s makes for a really fabulous, and slightly unusual, Christmas tea. A welcome break from heavily spiced blends, too! This is one I really would consider keeping in my cupboard around Christmas — it’s not one I’m going to forget in a hurry, that’s for sure!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Sil

sounds wonderful!

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70

On the eleventh day of Christmas, Della Terra gave to me…Christmas Tradition!

This isn’t hugely different from the other mint and vanilla teas I’ve tried so far, but it is pleasant to drink. It’s very creamy, especially with milk added, and this combined with the peppermint give a kind of candy cane flavour. There is something buttery here that I’m not 100% keen on. Maybe it’s the popcorn? Either way, it makes it just a little bit too rich for my liking. I’ll try this one without milk next time, because I think that’s how I’ll ultimately prefer it. When there’s a silver ball in the mix, I’ll be able to admire the shimmer, too! A pleasant treat for Christmas Eve, even if it’s probably not one I’d restock.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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80
drank GenmaiCHAI by 52teas
915 tasting notes

On the tenth day of Christmas, 52 Teas gave to me…GenmaiCHAI!

This is another one I’ve been curious about for a while, although not quite enough to spring for a whole pouch. I like chai, but genmaicha is something I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with, along with green tea generally. Still, I’m glad I found it here, because it’ll let me satisfy my curiosity.

A good thing, because it’s actually a nicer combination that I would have thought. The genmaicha provides a wonderfully nutty background, while the chai spices provide the majority of the initial flavour. I do like 52 Teas Chai blends, so it’s perhaps not surprising that I really like the balance of spices here. This is one I’ll be glad to have in my stash well into the new year — perfect for cold days when I want something a little different to drink!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 45 sec

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80

On the tenth day of Christmas, Della Terra gave to me…Winter Nog!

There haven’t been all that many rooibos teas in either of my 12 Teas Christmas samplers this year. I prefer black tea on the whole, so that’s okay with me, although I do like to have a few non-caffiene options around. That’s why I was pretty pleased to find this one, in the first instance.

I brewed this up as a mid-morning treat, and, despite initial reservations, actually really liked it. My fear at first was that the rooibos would be wholly overpowering, as it’s all I could smell both dry and while brewing. I gave it about 3.5 minutes, added a splash of milk, and took a sip. That’s where I was rewarded. The eggnog taste here is pretty good. There’s a lot of rooibos, too, but it kind of complements the slightly alcoholic flavour and the sweet creaminess that are present here. As eggnog teas go, this probably isn’t my favourite, but it’s not half bad. The snowflake sprinkles are cute, too!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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Bio

Hi :) I’m Sarah, 25, and I live in Norwich 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’ve also never really tried pu’erh, and that’s something I’m just starting to explore.

I’m still searching for the perfect fruit tea. One without hibiscus. That actually tastes of fruit.

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

Norwich, UK

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