1717 Tasting Notes
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.
A sample from Roswell Strange. I like Elderflower a lot, but it seems to be fairly rare in tea (maybe that’s just the UK?) It’s always nice to have the opportunity to try one, anyway. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 170 degrees. The resulting liquor is a happy, sunshiny yellow – very cheering!
To taste, elderflower is definitely the most prominent flavour. It’s sweet and delicately floral, with a kind of honeyed smoothness that’s exceptionally palatable. It reminds me a lot of elderflower cordial. The white tea base is perfect here, contributing mild hay-like notes but letting the elderflower shine. I can see why this one was part of the spring collection – it’s perfect on a warm afternoon!
A sample from Roswell Strange. Quite frankly, I’m scared by the amount of chili there is in this one. It’s not chili flakes, or chili powder, it’s actual rings of chili. I like spicy things, but I just have a feeling that this one might be more than I can really handle. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it a very conservative 1.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a murky brown, fairly typical of mate.
I took the tiniest first sip of this one, because I was expecting to be assaulted by chili. I’m actually pleasantly surprised, though, because it tastes a lot nice than I thought it was going to. There is heat, but at the moment it’s not too strong or overpowering. You can tell it’s chili, but it reminds me more of chipotle than anything. It has a mildly smoky, rich flavour, which combines well with the earthiness of the mate. A bigger sip yields a bit of a burn at the back of the throat, but (again) nothing overwhelming. I think the short brew time helped to make this one palatable!
The last very spicy tea I tried was 52 Teas Mayan Chocolate Chai, and even with a lot of milk that was too much for me. This one is much better balanced, despite the proliferation of chili. Nothing to be scared of after all!
At the moment I’m drinking a sample from my swap with Roswell Strange, which she described as a “mystery pu’erh”. It’s a tuo cha, with primarily green-black compressed leaves, and a couple of orangey patches that might be orange peel? I’m really not sure about that, though. It got a rinse in boiling water, and then an initial steep of one minute. There’s not much of a scent, other than a grassiness reminiscent of green tea, and the liquor remains fairly pale –a kind of golden-yellow. Intriguing.
To taste, this one is a little dank, and just a touch vegetal. It honestly tastes just like a green tea to me – I’d not have identified it as a pu’erh if it hadn’t been presented to me as such (and if it wasn’t a tuo cha). It’s smooth for the most part, although there’s the tiniest bite of astringency right at the end of the sip. There’s also a slightly “dusty” flavour, and a touch of lingering dryness. I can’t say that I either love it or hate it – it’s just an in-between kind of tea to me. I’m probably going to resteep once or twice, and then call it a day.
I’ve tried this one before, but I loved it so much I made sure to pick up another bag before Butiki closed. I’ve been hoarding it a little, but I finally pulled it out today. I wouldn’t want it to lose its flavour, after all! I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees. I’m amazed all over again at how pretty (and green!) the leaf is, at the size of the buds and their wonderful white downiness. It’s a quality white tea, for sure.
The liquor on this one is so pale, it’s hard to believe it’s tea at all. There’s a very faint yellow-ish tinge, but that’s it. The scent is pure watermelon juice, though, and so is the flavour. It’s pretty sweet, but with the slight “bite” watermelon can have and the perfect sense of wateriness. It’s just spot-on watermelon, really. None of your candy-like, haribo sweet-recalling watermelon flavour here – just natural, fresh tasting, true-to-life watermelon juice. If I didn’t know it was tea, I probably wouldn’t be able to guess.
Every time I drink a Butiki tea, it’s like saying a small goodbye. It’s sad to know I’ll never be able to get this one again once my bag is gone – all the more reason to treasure what’s left.