1088 Tasting Notes

30

A sample from Shmiracles. I saved this one until last because I was scared of it. Understandably so, I think…lapsang souchong, candy cane and ginger isn’t exactly an everyday combination. At least not for me. I’m up for trying anything once, though.

Brewed, this smells equally of smoke and vanilla. It’s an odd combination, and just as odd to taste. The main flavour is, of course, the heavy, beef jerky smokiness of lapsang souchong. The candy cane comes out in the aftertaste, adding a cooling, almost menthol-like, freshness. The vanilla also contributes a slight sweetness. It’s not exactly a natural pairing, but it’s actually not as disasterous as I thought it would be. As dragon themed teas go, I suppose it’s fairly appropriate — in terms of smokiness at least. What candy cane has to do with it, I’ve no idea. I can’t really taste the ginger at all, which is a shame. That I could see working quite well.

Of the two Smaug teas I’ve tried, I definitely prefer the 52Teas version. Smoky teas aren’t really my thing in general, although this was more drinkable than I’d anticipated. A totally unique tea, and an experience for sure! Many thanks to Shmiracles for sharing this one-of-a-kind blend with me! I completely agree that everyone should try it at least once.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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70

The second last of my samples from Shmiracles. I’m glad I saved the majority of these, because I know I’m better at brewing teas — especially oolongs and greens — now than I was last year. I’ve learnt from my mistakes! I was surprised how strong the tropical fruit scent was upon opening this pouch. I’ve come to expect quite subtle flavours from European teas in general.

To taste, this is reassuringly subtle. I was hoping the tropical fruit flavouring wouldn’t become too artificial tasting, and it hasn’t. It’s a little generic , but not terrible. It tastes to me mostly of sweeter tropical fruits — pineapple, maybe lychee, kiwi? A bit of peppery mango would have been nice to offset some of that, but it’s pleasant either way. The description mentions that this is floral — I got a little of that in the aftertaste, but it’s not overwhelming. The fruitiness is definitely front and centre.

As for the base, if I hadn’t known it was an oolong, I probably wouldn’t have been able to tell. It’s unobtrusive, making itself known only in the aftertaste. It’s delicate, sweet, slightly floral. It complements the fruit flavouring perfectly, and is light and palatable like a green.

A very pleasant tea to have tried, and perfect for a warm spring Saturday. Thanks to Shmiracles for giving me the chance to try this one!

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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75

A sample from Shmiracles. This isn’t quite what I was expecting, somehow. I don’t know why, but it isn’t. I think I was expecting a more “green” taste, maybe mint, but this is actually a ref fruit/berry tea. It’s strange what associations a name can conjour up!

As red berry teas go, this is really nice. It’s a natural tasting flavour, maybe a mixture of raspberry and strawberry? It reminds me a little of Marco Polo in some respects. The description says that this tea also contains spices. I’m not really picking much up in that respect, except maybe the merest hint of nutmeg. The berry flavouring is delicious alone, though, and doesn’t really need anything else, so it’s not a terrible loss.

The green base is pleasantly light and unobtrusive. It looks to me like sencha or dragonwell, but I’m probably wrong — I’m no green tea expert! In any case, it’s the perfect base for this tea, and carries the flavouring well without getting in the way. This is definitely a Mariage Freres tea I’d try again if the chance arose — thanks again to Shmiracles for sharing this with me!

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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60

This is a different oolong! I chose this as a sample with my latest Butiki order, as I was intrigued by the description. Oolong and fruit are not generally two things I associate, but they do sound good together. I still don’t really feel like I understand oolongs, so trying more of them is probably the only way to sort that out. I think on the whole I’m coming to prefer green oolongs, but I’m always willing to try something new.

This one smells delicious. It’s sweet, and does have a detectable hint of berry. It’s faintly purple tinged in the cup, which is a novel point. To taste, I can definitely detect plum, a little berry, a small hint of cherry. There’s a touch of cinnamon in the aftertaste, and a lingering sweetness that is reminiscent of apricot. There’s also a nuttiness underneath it all that I’ve come to associate with darker oolongs.

I really wasn’t expecting such a complex and intriguing tea — it makes for a really interesting cup. It’s a tiny bit astringent, although that might be my fault, but that’s my only quibble here. A real adventure for the tastebuds!

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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95

Sipdown! From one apple tea to another, and this one I do like. It’s pretty much spot on apple strudel flavour, and a great dessert replacement. One of my favourite teas from last autumn — I’d definitely be pleased to see this one return to my cupboard later this year. Yum!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 45 sec 1 tsp

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35

I’m not sure about this one. It’s not quite what I expected. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I don’t like it, but I don’t love it either. The apple here is somehow floral, and there’s a touch of bitterness in the initial sip that just doesn’t strike the right note. I wasn’t keen on my first cup — black with no additions — at all. Tonight’s second cup — with milk and a chunk of crystal sugar — is a little better but still not quite there.

I think of caramel apple as a sweet thing, and one of the problems here is that there isn’t enough toffee. I can only see two small pieces in the whole (sample) pouch. There are plenty of apple pieces, but, as previously mentioned, the overall flavour is somehow floral and a little weird. The spice, I think, is a step too far, and might be contributing to the initial bitterness. There’s quite a lot of clove, from what I can taste.

I like the idea of caramel apple tea, and I’ve tried a couple of nice ones in my time. This one, sadly, isn’t quite right to my tastes. Still — you can’t win them all. This is by no means a bad cup, but it leaves me feeling mostly indifferent.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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100

I was naughty and ordered more tea. Oops. That wasn’t supposed to be allowed until I was under 200. Still…hard week at work. I need something to cheer me up.

So anyway, in an effort to begin using up some of the tea I actually have, I pulled this one out to try today. I have a love/hate relationship with Earl Grey. In general, we get along very well, but I’m not a fan of very strong, sharp bergamot, especially when paired with an astringent base. That’s why, although it’s generally something I enjoy, I tend to approach each new EG with a little trepidation. It’s probably also why the idea of Earl Gret Creme appeals to me, although it wasn’t something that was even on my radar until I joined Steepster. How the world of tea has opened up to me. This was actually the first Earl Grey Creme I purchased, so it’s been waiting in my stash for a while. I was in the mood for something like this at breakfast this morning, though, so that’s why it was finally chosen.

It’s love at first sip. In my ideal world, EG would have bergamot, but it would be a mild, tame thing that added a bitter citrus edge but generally minded its own business. IT DOES THAT HERE! I think the cream flavour helps to tone it down, but it’s a slight thing. It’s not sharp, it’s not right in your face like it is in some EGs, it’s not screaming “I’m bergamot, hear me roar.” It’s just there, sitting still and minding its own business, adding a touch of flavour and nothing more. For me, it’s perfect.

Then there’s the cream. Oh goodness, don’t get me started on the cream. Again, it’s perfect. I was half expecting it to be quite an artificial taste, but it’s not at all. It’s deliciously vanilla-flavoured, soft, and adds a cloud-like fluffiness to this cup. It’s got the bergamot on a tight leash, and it’s toned down any astringency the base might have dared to have had. The base itself is pleasant, although I can’t really taste that much of it. It’s pretty hard to identify where the base ends and the flavouring begins, if you see what I mean. It’s just a really great combination.

This is my favourite Bluebird tea to date. We are officially friends, me and EGC.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 45 sec 1 tsp

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100
drank Hello Sweetie by Butiki Teas
1088 tasting notes

I love Premium Taiwanese Assam, and so I was really, really eager to try this one. I got it as a sample with my latest Butiki order, and as soon as I opened the box I could smell it — wonderful coconut banana creaminess! To taste, it’s just as fabulous as I’d hoped it would be. The coconut is beautifully toasty, and adds a slight nuttiness. The banana tastes natural (rather than artificial like those banana foam sweets…), and adds a creaminess and subtle flavour that really helps to round this out. The PTA is probably the perfect base — sweet, malty deliciousness. I added milk to this cup, and the whole thing is just a dream. I have enough left for another cup, but this is definitely one I will order more of!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec 2 tsp
whatshesaid

Want this so bad!

TastyBrew

Yeah, me too. The banana scares me a bi, but the banana flavor in the walnut one stacy does is really yummy, so I’m sure it’s ok. But I seriously HATE fakey banana flavor!

Sil

it’s not fakey TB…it’s like the banana in foxy roxy :)

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55

Sipdown! Finished off the last couple of these bags at work today. I was thinking this morning that I couldn’t really smell or taste much mate, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A closer inspection of the bag revealed that there actually isn’t very much actual mate to be found in this blend, so that explains that. There’s a lot of fruit and spice, however, and it produces quite a strong, heady scent while brewing. The taste is less pungent, but quite tart. I guess there’s a lot of hibiscus and rosehip in here, because that’s the main flavour I can detect. Clove is probably the second strongest flavour, with a touch of liquorice and mint to finish. It’s a slightly odd combination, but it more or less works. Not one I’d keep on hand all the time, but nice to have tried.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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55

Sipdown! Finished off my last couple of bags at work today. I drank them with milk added, and found I liked it much better this way. The milk tones down the rooibos, and helps the chocolate and mint to shine, as well as adding a pleasant creaminess. Milk is the way forward here.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 45 sec

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Bio

Hi :) I’m Sarah, 26, 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’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

Norfolk, UK

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