1617 Tasting Notes


Sipdown! Finished this one off last night – one of my favourite of the Adagio Sherlock fandom blends. I didn’t like Cream much when I tried it alone, but it’s a great supporting note in this blend, and works really well with the Chocolate Chip and Vanilla Chai. It’s especially good with milk. This one is definitely restock material, if I ever get my cupboard under control!

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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drank Jasmine by Whittard of Chelsea
1617 tasting notes

Warm and spring-like weather, to me, is perfectly suited to Jasmine tea. Hence, today was the perfect opportunity to give these tea bags a try! I used 1 bag (which looks to contain maybe 1.5tsp of leaf), and gave it 2 minutes in water cooled to around 180 degrees. While tea bags have the advantage of convenience, they can suffer in terms of the quality of the leaf. This looks to be the case here, as the bag contains primarily very fine-shred fannings. No variety is specified for the green tea, either, so I can only assume it to be a blend. The resulting liquor is a medium yellow, the scent lightly floral.

To taste, this one comes across as a very mild, light, jasmine flavoured green tea. The initial sip is a primarily a smooth, slightly buttery green. There’s a tiny bit of bite towards the end of the sip, almost verging on bitterness, but it’s actually quite pleasant in that it gives what is a very mild-tasting tea a little texture and depth. It doesn’t impact on the overall flavour, which is fairly sweet and floral, too much.

The jasmine emerges in the mid-sip, and adds a sweet, floral accord. It’s not a heavy, perfumey jasmine, and it’s by no means overpowering. It’s still possible to taste the green tea base underneath, and it really just gives a taster of what jasmine as a flavouring can add to a tea. It fades fairly quickly and doesn’t leave much of a lasting impression.

Read my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/05/01/jasmine-green-tea-whittard-chelsea/

180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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Drinking my second (and last) of these today. I’m currently on my second steep, and it’s just as I remember from last time. The only thing I’m noticing this time is a greater amount of…something at the bottom of the cup. Some kind of residue that looks reddish-black and cloudy? I did give this a fairly generous rinse to start with, so I’m not sure what that’s about. Either way, it doesn’t seem to be affecting the flavour (although I am trying not to drink to much of it, as it’s a little gritty and odd).

I don’t often find a Pu’Erh that I genuinely like, but this is one of them. I’d happily purchase more of this one once I’ve cleared out my stash a little more!

Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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This is the last of my untried Della Terra samples, I do believe. I think the only unopened Della I have now is a full bag of Anti V-Day treat, which I’ll probably dig out next. I really ought to make some progress on my older 52 Teas, though. They should really be next by rights! I used 1.5 tsp of leaf for this cup (my work mug is quite big…) and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium golden-brown, and a little oily from the melted chocolate chips. It smells wonderfully of caramel.

To taste, it’s pretty good in the way of most Della Terra “cake” blends. They’re certainly fabulous dessert teas, without a doubt! This one reminds me quite a lot of Red Velvet Delight, which was chocolatier, but which shares the same cake batter notes and broad overall flavour.

This blend tastes mostly of caramel and toffee, with a hint of chocolate. There are both white and milk chocolate chips in this blend, which add a deliciously creamy overtone. It would make a pretty good sauce for sticky toffee pudding, if only it were thicker…The distinctive “cake” flavour shared by many Della Terra teas is also kicking around in the background, although it’s not as prominent here as it sometimes can be. This one is all about the caramel! Sweet, smooth, delicious caramel, with a light coating of milk chocolate. It’s pretty amazing to drink, and the rooibos barely makes itself known. Win-win! I’ll be a little sad when this one’s gone.

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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One of my last few Della Terra blends, which I’ve been hoarding for far too long! These were actually the last few blends that I purchased, so I’ve done a pretty good job of using them up in order. I’m finding that I’m drinking more white and green tea as the weather continues to warm up, and as a white/green blend this one perfectly fits that trend. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 180 degrees.

The resulting liquor is a medium yellow-green, and the scent is sweet and enticing. The flavour is mostly raspberry, as far as I can discern. It’s a candy-like, sweet, very slightly tart raspberry. A little artificial, but not terribly so. I can’t really taste any white chocolate, which is a disappointment, but it’s possible that I just need to adjust my parameters a little. I have enough leaf left to experiment with my next couple of cups. The base was also a little more prominent that I would have liked. The green tea was okay – fairly unobtrusive – but the white tea tasted dusty and quite drying. I liked the raspberry, though, so it’s not a huge problem. Adjusting my parameters may help with this as well.

This one reminds me quite a lot of 52 Teas Hindbaersnitter Shou Mei. The raspberry flavouring is similar, as far as I can recall it. I like my raspberry teas (even if nothing will ever replace 52 Teas Raspberry Cream in my heart), and this one is enjoyable and pleasant for the most part. Hopefully I can improve on my brewing for my next cup!

180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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This is one of Cara McGee’s Sherlock fandom blends, created to represent the character Irene Adler – otherwise known as The Woman. The description is perfectly suited to the character; beautifully sweet with a fruity edge, trailing a puff of smoke. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. No additions. The resulting liquor is a medium brown, and smells like a mild Lapsang Souchong.

Upon taking a sip, the first flavours to emerge are the cherry and vanilla. It’s a sweet beginning, maybe even a little cloying (although only momentarily). It’s saved by the smoke, which emerges in the mid-sip and takes the sweetness down a peg or two, adding a slightly acrid, sour note that isn’t at all unpleasant. I say this as someone who’s not usually a fan of smoky teas, so it’s a big compliment coming from me! It’s possible to detect the woodiness of the honeybush slightly at this point, too, and that again helps to mediate the sweetness of the cherry and vanilla. It makes the whole cup more layered and complex, too – rather like the character herself. The cherry and vanilla emerge again right at the end of the sip, once the smoke fades. This time the sweetness is more welcome, and it’s possible to appreciate how flavour-accurate the cherry is (no pseudo cough medicine here), and the light creaminess contributed by the vanilla. It’s actually a pretty delicious combination, and it reminds me a little of ice cream.

As a fandom blend, I think this tea emblematises Irene pretty well. She is beautiful and alluring, with a sweet, decadent edge. The smoke is characteristic. The combination of the two hints at something more complex, a little darker and more dangerous. Irene isn’t straightforward character, and this isn’t a straightforward tea. So far, they’re equal.

See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/04/25/woman-custom-blend-adagio-teas/

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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This is one of Cara McGee’s Sherlock fandom blends. It’s the one I was most hesitant about, since Gunpowder and Pu’Erh are both (to my mind) acquired tastes. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it approximately 2.5 minutes in boiling water. Water temperature with black/green blends is always something of a trial and error process for me, so I went by eye and took out the leaves once the liquor was a medium brown. The scent is typical Pu’Erh – earthy, with a slight whiff of horse manure.

To taste, the first thing that makes its presence known is (of course) the Pu’Erh. It’s milder than I anticipated, but still a distinctive flavour. The earthiness is its most prominent feature, and it’s reminiscent of compost after it’s been warmed in the sun. A wholesome, natural kind of flavour, and deeply savoury. There’s also a smooth nuttiness, which complements the earthiness really well. The Gunpowder is far less of a feature than I thought it might be. There’s a slight dankness in the aftertaste that I’ve come to associate with this variety of green tea, but it’s mostly absent on the whole. As the cup cools, it develops a light astringency.

As a fandom blend, I’m fairly happy with this one. Greg comes across as a wholesome character, keen to see the best in people. His job seems to weigh on him a bit. The Pu’Erh does a good job of capturing the wholesome aspect, brightened by the hazelnut, and the dank, almost damp-tasting Gunpowder could suggest something troubling underlying. I appreciate the thought that clearly goes into these blends; the choice of teas, the flavours, and the meanings they might have. It makes for an interesting drinking experience, especially if you’re familiar with the Sherlock series.

See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/04/27/greg-lestrade-custom-blend-adagio-teas/

Boiling 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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A sample from Angel at Teavivre. I feel like I’ve said this a fair bit recently, but Pu’Erh is a variety of tea that’s very new to me, and which I’m still learning about. I’ve tried a good few different ones now, and some common characteristics have emerged – probably enough to know that it’ll never be my favourite type of tea, but by no means enough for me to rule it out completely. Some Pu’Erhs I’ve loved, some I’ve hated. In any case, the adventure continues!

This is the latest installment. I used one tuocha, discarded the first steep as a rinse, and then gave it approximately 3 minutes in fresh boiling water. 3 minutes sits right in the middle of the recommended parameters, so I figured it was a fair place to start. The scent is of earth with a slight hint of manure, and the resulting liquor is very dark brown (almost black), and I feared for a moment that the flavour would be far too intense for my tastes. Not so, apparently. This Pu’Erh is actually fairly mellow, with an initial soil-like earthiness (I’m thinking wet soil after a heavy rain shower), which intensifies a little towards the end of the sip and then fades away. A mild orchid note emerges in the aftertaste, lending this tea a fresh and fragrant profile. It just goes to show that a strong-looking dark liquor doesn’t necessarily equate to overpowering flavour, which was a useful lesson for me when it comes to Pu’Erh. Another small piece of my Pu’Erh fear has been dispelled! The thing I like most about this is its almost soft-tasting smoothness. It’s so silky and easy to drink – a real pleasure.

Second steep, again for 3 minutes in boiling water. The liquor is, again, a very dark (almost black) brown. While brewing, it took on a brothier scent (almost reminiscent of beef oxo, although obviously nowhere near as strong!) The underlying earth/manure scent is still present. The taste is much the same, although marginally milder – wet earth, a light orchid floral, but this time with a hint of nuttiness and a fleeting flash of caramel. The second steep is as smooth as the first, but with an even creamier mouthfeel. It’s absolutely delicious, and it’s not often you’ll hear me say that about a Pu’Erh!

Third steep, again for 3 minutes in boiling water. The liquor is a dark golden-ish brown this time, so noticeably paler than previous steeps.The scent while brewing is less pungent now as well – hardly there at all, in fact. The taste is very mellow, with hardly any earth/manure notes to be found. There’s a lot more orchid-like floral in the mid-sip, and an almost camphor like coolness in the aftertaste that I can feel at the back of my throat. An interesting progression from steeps one and two.

Fourth steep, again for 3 minutes in boiling water. The liquor is paler still at this stage, now a medium orange-brown. The scent is about level with the previous steep, barely there but still mildly earthy with a hint of manure. The taste is broadly similar to steep 3, although with stronger cooling notes. I’m thinking peppermint rather than camphor now, although very mild. The orchid note is still there in the aftertaste, although it’s fainter and less noticable overall.

Fifth steep, this time for 4 minutes in boiling water. The liquor is again noticeably paler – a medium red-orange with only mild notes of earth and no manure! The taste this time is really barely there. There’s still a coolness, although even that is less intense than previous steeps. The earth, manure and floral notes are all but gone as well, although there’s a mild nuttiness that sets this apart from just warm water. I’m impressed at how smooth this one has remained throughout all of my steeps, including this one. There’s absolutely no bitterness or astringency, even though the leaves have been dunked in boiling water for a combined total of 16 minutes.

I imagine this one could probably go on a bit longer, although I suspect it’d need much longer steeps to really eek out any flavour. This one tuocha has lasted me all day, though, so I’m happy to leave it here for now. There comes a point in the day when I really just want to drink something different, anyway! I’m impressed with this one, though. It’s a great quality tea, and the resteeps make it excellent value. There are very few Pu’Erhs that I can say outright that I enjoyed drinking, but this is one of them! Another excellent offering from Teavivre.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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drank Summer Solstice by Tealux
1617 tasting notes

It’s not quite the Summer Solstice yet, but the weather is definitely getting warmer! Perhaps that’s why this particular blend really spoke to me today. It’s hard to tell from the description exactly what you’re going to get, so I jumped right in and brewed up a cup. The first thing of note is the size of the fruit pieces contained in this blend. There are whole raspberries, generous slices of freeze-dried strawberry, and large pieces of apple, pineapple and papaya (about 1 inch square.) There are smaller pieces of hibiscus, small flakes of nettle leaves, and a scattering of sunflower blossoms. The blend as a whole is bright and colourful – very summery-looking. It smells quite rich and fruity, rather in the manner of fruit cake.

I used approximately 2 tsp of leaf, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. It’s by no means easy to measure, due to the large leaf size, but I did my best! The resulting liquor is golden brown, and the scent is mildly fruity – I’m picking up blackberry and coconut primarily.

To taste, the raspberry and strawberry are a lot more prominent than I thought they might be. They’re juicy and natural-tasting, sweet initially and then a little tart. The more “tropical” flavours develop in the mid-sip; a lot of coconut, a hint of pineapple, and a slight pepperiness from the papaya. It’s a slightly odd combination, like two halves of two different teas have been unexpectedly brought together. It’s not unpleasant, but the transition from summer berries to tropical fruit is a little jarring. The fruit flavours linger well into the aftertaste, and I can detect a splash of blackberry at this point. It’s tart and a little sour, but again incredibly juicy, and I could see this working well with the initial strawberry/raspberry combination. Somehow, though, it’s not quite what I wanted after the tropical explosion that preceded it.

You can see my full review at: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/04/22/summer-solstice-herbal-tea-tealux/

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp

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A sample from Angel at Teavivre. I’m not the biggest fan of Pu’Erh, but I’m learning to tolerate/appreciate it as I continue exploring. These bags are certainly a convenient way of preparing pu’erh, which I usually brew western-style at work anyway. I used 1 bag (which looks to contain a generous 1 tsp of leaf) and gave it 1.5 minutes in boiling water. The guidelines specify between 2 and 9 minutes, but I’m afraid I’m just not that brave! The resulting liquor is a deep, dark brown (almost black), and smells (characteristically) of horse manure and earth.

To taste, it’s not as pungent as the scent would suggest. It’s definitely VERY earthy, but in a warm compost sort of way which is actually quite pleasant. It’s very spring-like and naturally wholesome in flavour, without the heavy, cloying notes that some Pu’Erhs possess. It’s also smooth, with no astringency whatsoever.

The scent is probably the most off-putting thing for me, but once I get past that I can actually find it in myself to enjoy a cup of Pu’Erh, particularly when the flavour is as clean and light as this. The very end of the sip verges on the almost-fecal, but it’s not a flavour that’s present throughout, and thankfully it doesn’t linger long.

I’m pretty convinced that Pu’Erh is never going to be 100% my thing. I think I have too much of a sweet tooth for that! I can happily drink the occasional cup, though, and this one is a good choice for those moments. Convenient to brew, not too strong, and lacking most of the more unsavoury flavours Pu’Erh can have. This would be a good introductory choice for those new to the variety, and those who are just plain scared (like I was!)

Boiling 1 min, 30 sec

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Hi :) I’m Sarah, 27, 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’m also beginning to explore pu’erh, both ripened and raw. That’s my latest challenge!

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

In addition to Steepster, I also write for the SororiTea Sisters. My reviews there will typically be posted here also, although typically in a shorter format. Any teas I’m sent specifically for review will only appear in full on the SororiTea Sisters website, with only a short introduction and link to my review here.

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.


Norfolk, UK

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