1617 Tasting Notes
This is today’s back to work iced tea. I’m trying to stick to my no-buy, and the choice of this tea is testament to that. I went through my bag of SBTs and picked out this one because I suspect it’s the oldest (except Maple Bacon, which, frankly, I’m terrified of). It’s always tempting to jump straight to the newer teas, but I’m trying to be more systematic about things. I’m also trying really hard not to buy any new tea until I get my cupboard down to a reasonable level (under 50, at least). There’s a long way to go yet, and it’s extremely difficult (with not a few close calls), but I’m succeeding so far.
Anyway, the tea. I’ve had this one before, and it was another SBT that gained a perfect 100 rating from me. It’s still by far the best “ice cream” tea I’ve ever tried, and today’s cup only confirms that my original opinion on this one holds even now. I know my tastes have changed over the last year, so I did wonder what I’d think of this one now, but I’m pleased that it’s something I can still enjoy.
This one got the standard SBT brewing treatment from me (2 mins in a quarter litre of boiling water, topped up to just about 2 litres with cold water, and into the fridge overnight). The main flavour I can pick out this morning 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. I’m actually finding it hard not to gulp this one down – it’s so refreshing, and the flavour is absolutely fitting on a warm, just-about-summer day. I have enough with me for two cups, so I’ll drink one this morning and one later this afternoon. One thing I do notice with SBTs is that I get palate fatigue and can’t taste them anymore after a cup or two. Having a gap in between should help with that!
I think this one’s still available, and it comes highly recommended. It’s one I’ll look to repurchase if I allow myself to buy tea again at some point this century.
I first tried this one just before Christmas, I think, from the EU TTB. I drank it hot on that occasion, but I made a note to keep some back for cold brewing in the warmer weather.
Today is that day. I made this up last night to bring to work with me today, using one litre of cold water and 3 tea bags. It went into the fridge overnight, so it had about 10 hours in total.
I remember this one fairly well from the first time I tried it, largely because I was so impressed! It’s even better cold (if that’s possible, since I rated it 100 at the time). I mean, it worked hot, but it’s flavouring is obviously suited to cold brewing. No-one I know eats hot melon.
The black base here is apparently ceylon, but from flavour alone I wouldn’t know this was a black tea at all. It tastes just like melon juice. The flavour is so exact, it’s actually hard to believe that this is tea at all. The fact that it’s cold really helps this impression, because it’s just like a slice of cantaloupe melon straight from the fridge. Completely delicious, and very, very refreshing! It’s certainly the best melon tea I’ve tried, bar none.
You need some of this. Trust me.
This is my first iced tea of 2015! I picked this one out for a couple of reasons – it’s one of my old favourites, and I’ve got a 2oz pouch of the black version of this tea tucked away, so it won’t really be gone from my cupboard until I can place another order. Given the quantity of tea I actually possess, I won’t need to place an order for a serious amount of time. So that accounts for the choice.
I gave this my usual SBT treatment. The bag gets 2 minutes in 1/4 pint of boiling water, which is then topped up to 1.8 litres with cold water and put in the fridge overnight. I really do think in mixed metric and imperial like that, too. It’s one of my peculiarities.
Half of the jug came to work with me this morning, so there’s some left in the fridge at home for tomorrow. That’s a good thing, because the flavour is out of this world! The sherbet is creamy, fruity, and even a little effervescent tasting. I can detect flavours of raspberry, orange, lemon and lime by turns, although they’re not particularly distinct. Just tiny flashes that skip across my taste buds and are gone. I wouldn’t have thought it possible to replicate sherbet in tea form (or liquid, come to that) but Frank has somehow managed to pull it off. I’ve gushed about this one before, so I’m going to stop now and round off by summing up my thoughts about this tea:
You need to try some.
Sencha is one of my favourite varieties of green tea, so I was interested to try these tea bags from Whittard of Chelsea. I used 1 bag (approx. 1.5 tsp of leaf), and gave it 2 minutes in water cooled to around 180 degrees. As with many bagged teas, this one looks to contain primarily fannings. They’re a very dark green (almost black) in colour, which seems odd for a Sencha, but the resulting liquor is a more characteristic medium yellow-green. The scent is mildly vegetal and a little musty.
To taste, this one comes across as a smooth, mild green tea. There’s a hint of pepperiness in the initial sip that’s very pleasant and distinctive, but this fades quickly to a light, sweetly vegetal flavour. There are hints of fresh cut grass, and a vague hint of spring greens, but the overall flavour lacks definition. A longer brew time doesn’t solve this problem; one cup I left for 3 minutes to try and eek out some extra flavour, but it resulted in bitterness and astringency. This one is clearly on the mild end of the flavour spectrum by nature.
See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/05/07/sencha-green-tea-whittard-chelsea/
Mao Feng is one of the few varieties of green tea I really, really enjoy. This is the Spring 2014 harvest, so I’m a little behind the times, but I have huge confidence in Teavivre’s packaging, so I’m not too worried at this stage. I used 2 tsp of leaf, and gave it 3 minutes in water cooled to 180 degrees. The resulting liquor is a clear pale green, and the scent is mildly grassy. The scent of the dry leaf is stronger – fresh green vegetables with a light floral edge.
The overall taste is a lot lighter than I expected, and I think for my next cup I might use a little more leaf and leave it for longer (possibly up to 4/4.5 minutes). That’s unusual behaviour for me with a green tea, but I’m glad I underdid things first time in any case. The flavour savoury, with mild hints of buttered green vegetables; green beans and sugar snap peas primarily. There’s a slight pepperiness to the initial sip that’s really rather pleasant, but the cup as a whole is very, very smooth. I’m glad I’ve managed to prove to myself that not all green teas are strong and bitter, because at one point it would have been very easy for me to give up on green tea entirely. I would have missed out on this, had I done so, and on discovering that there are varieties that I do really enjoy. That’s probably been the biggest revelation of my tea journey so far, and it makes me glad that I persevered.
I would happily purchase Mao Feng from Teavivre again – their green teas are among the best I’ve tried, and this cup only confirms that I’ll soon be back for more!
This is the Spring 2014 harvest of this tea, so I’m more than a little behind with my stash currently. I think I picked this one out today because I’ve been drinking a couple of Butiki teas, and the last Bi Luo Chun I tried was a Butiki also, and I loved it. Good memories, I suppose. I’m not a fan of all green teas, but Bi Luo Chun is one I really, really like. The dry leaf is very thin and wiry, and a little tangled. It’s quite a dark green in colour, although with some paler, and some almost white, tips. The scent is absolutely amazing – very savoury and vegetal, like spinach and green beans. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it approximately 2 minutes in water cooled to 180 degrees. The resulting liquor is a pale yellow, and (again!) smells wonderful. Not as strong as the dry leaf, but still savoury and vegetal. I love it.
To taste, it’s just as lovely as the scent led me to believe. It’s not a strong or heavy flavour, like some green teas have, but it’s not watery or a struggle to taste either. It strikes the perfect balance in my estimation – clear, clean, mid-strength flavours. It’s also perfectly smooth, with no hint of astringency, which is something else I’ve come to love about this variety. The main flavours, as in the scent, are vegetal – green beans, still, and freshly cooked spinach. A very green, very clean flavour. There’s almost a slight saltiness about it, and the tiniest hint of sweetness at the end of the sip that puts me firmly in mind of buttered green vegetables. Not that there was any doubt about that, but it’s a wonderful final flourish.
I’m really enjoying this one, and I’m glad to have found a green variety that I can really and truly say I appreciate. This is definitely one I’ll come back to in the future – hopefully with a more recent harvest! It’ll be interesting to compare and see how the harvests differ, but I like this one so much I can only hope there’s not too much difference.
The second of the Butiki teas I brought to work with me this week. White Rhino is a tea I picked up pretty much as soon as it was released, if I remember correctly. I’ve liked white tea for a long time, and black tea is my all-time, all-consuming favourite, so I was naturally curious to try a white tea reported to share the characteristics of a black tea. I followed the recommended parameters for this one, and gave 2 tsp of leaf approximately 3 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a light golden brown, reminiscent of either a seriously overbrewed white or a very light-bodied black. The leaf itself is a most intriguing and beautiful thing – it reminds me a little of a dian hong, with long, tippy, golden-brown leaves that are a little wiry. Some of them have patches of bright white which makes me think of rhino horns. It’s certainly a clearer white than pretty much any other white tea I’ve ever seen, but the only other indication that this is a white tea is that some of the leaves are very downy. It’s safe to say that the dry leaf is very pretty and I found it interesting to contemplate while waiting for the kettle to boil!
To taste, this does remind me more of a black tea than a white, at least on the whole. There are significant notes of sweet malt and a touch of honey in the initial sip, with a touch of sweet potato soon emerging. It’s very smooth, with an almost creamy mouthfeel, and this texture works really well with the intensely sweet, almost marshmallow, note that rounds off the sip. It’s possible to detect elements of white tea in the flavour, such as a mild, almost hay-like, slightly dusty floral in the mid-sip, but these are by no means as prominent as I thought they might be.
I’m really happy with this one, partly because it’s so unique and a little unusual, and partly because it displays the flavours I love most in black teas with the body and characteristics of a white. It’s light, refreshing, and pretty perfect for a warm, spring day like today. Teas like this make me mourn Butiki more than ever, for the quality and variety of teas they stocked, and for their lack of fear in introducing something new and unusual. I can’t say the same about many other companies. This will be another tea I miss when it’s finally gone for good.
I pulled out a couple of untried Butiki’s to being to work with me today – this and White Rhino. I’m trying to resist the urge to hoard them, knowing that I can’t get anymore, but at the same time I don’t want them to get old and lose their flavour. I used 1 tsp of leaf for this cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 180 degrees. The resulting liquor is a pale yellow-gold, and the scent is lightly floral.
The flavour is another matter entirely. There is a hint of floral, yes, but mostly this is pure tropical fruit amazingness. I always knew Butiki’s banana was good (Hello Sweetie, anyone?), but it’s especially clear here. It’s tastes almost a little under ripe; not hopelessly so, but slightly green and still firm. It’s perfectly complemented by the coconut, which adds a sweeter overtone and a mild milky creaminess. There’s a hint of floral in the background, but it’s almost like breathing the air on a caribbean island. Beach flowers, local fauna and flora, caught on a passing breeze. The white base is perfect here. I think it enhances the floral flavour a little, contributing something all its own. To me, it’s almost peony or orchid-like, a gentle tasting but highly fragrant floral.
I’m not typically a fan of floral teas, but this is one I can get behind. It’s not too perfumey or overdone (even though the inspiration behind it was a perfume!), and the floral is an integral part of the experience, rather than an end in itself. The banana/coconut combination is stunningly delicious, and when combined with the other notes it’s just like a summer holiday in a cup! Beautiful and evocative. I’ll definitely be sad when this one is gone from my life.
Used 1 tsp of leaf today, and a slightly longer brew time (approx. 3 minutes). The raspberry is still great, if a little candy-like, but sadly no white chocolate. There were definitely a couple of chips with the dry leaf, though, and the oily surface scrim to prove it. Perhaps it’s more of a textural thing than a flavour with this one. I’m still enjoying the raspberry, either way, but it falls a little short of my (maybe grandiose) expectations without the white chocolate. Still, can’t win them all!
Sipdown! Also finished this one off last night – another of my favourite Adagio Sherlock fandom blends. I like the almond cookie flavour and the strong Assam base. No surprises there, if you know my preferences! Another that could be a repurchase, at some point in the future. It will be missed!