1701 Tasting Notes
I’m working a lot of extra hours this week as it’s Clearing, and so it seemed like the perfect time to pull out a Guayusa blend. Cola tea still strikes me as a rather odd thing, but I’ve had reasonable experiences with the ones I’ve tried, so I was fairly optimistic going into this. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium golden-yellow.
Unfortunately, I REALLY don’t like this one. There’s this kind of scrim on the surface that I thought was just oil at first, but it’s actually very slightly crunchy, and it catches the back of my throat. The flavour is also dubious – there’s the merest hint of flat cola, but it’s nowhere near as strong as I would have liked it to be. The main flavour is actually lime, which is okay, but even that’s not especially prominent. It’s clear enough to be identifiable, but I was hoping for a lot more punch. The guayusa is there in the background, slightly dank tasting but not unpleasant. The whole thing just strikes me as a bit “blah”. There’s not much flavour, and what there is isn’t great. I feel a bit let down, although maybe my expectations were too high.
I’m going to use the rest of my sample as a cold brew, and perhaps that will work better. Cola should be cold, after all! At the moment, though, I can’t recommend this one.
Today’s work iced tea. This one got the usual SBT treatment (3 minutes in 300ml boiling water, topped up to 2 litres with cold water, and then into the fridge overnight). I vaguely remember having tried the 52 Teas Pina Colada Honeybush quite a while back, and I’m sure I liked it pretty well. It’s certainly a day for tropical teas!
I’m impressed with this one. Coconut is, I’d say, the prevalent flavour, but there are quite strong hints of pineapple kicking around in the background. It’s creamy from the coconut and fruity from the pineapple, so a pretty nice combination all told. It’s light, refreshing, and quite juicy – perfect for a hot day sitting in front of a computer. Now all I have to do is pretend I’m not!
This is one I’d repurchase in future, assuming it’s still available. It’s a pretty true-to-life recreation of a pina colada, considering it’s actually tea and totally non-alcoholic. A summer time treat.
This was today’s iced tea for work. It got the usual SBT treatment.
I’ve tried this one before, and I noticed that this time the banana wasn’t as strong BUT it was more natural tasting. Less like banana runts, and more like an actual, slightly under-ripe, banana. Work is totally manic so I didn’t pay much more attention to it than that. Safe to say, I enjoyed it and it’s still one I’d repurchase once I’ve worked through my hoard. Great stuff!
This is the second of my Luhse white tea samples, and the only flavoured one I picked up. The dry leaf is an interesting prospect – black-brown white peony leaves, pink peppercorns, and yellow marigold petals. The really arresting this is the scent – it’s like liquid butterscotch. Very rich, with an almost alcoholic edge. 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 very pale yellow-green, the scent sadly diminished.
Possibly nothing can taste like this tea smells dry. I’m a little saddened that the intensity of the initial scent doesn’t match the flavour, but that’s nothing more than I expected. There is a sweet, caramel-like flavour to this one, but it’s not as strong as I’d have liked it to be. All the same, it’s a pleasant, lightly flavoured white tea, and makes for a refreshing sweet treat on a warm day.
Today I’m moving on to my Luhse white tea samples, and I decided to go with the plain one first – Boo. Boo looks to be a blend of silver needle and white peony; predominantly more white peony than silver needle. Most of the leaves are black or dark brown, and fairly twisted, but there are some that are silvery-white or slightly yellowy. It’s not the best looking white tea I’ve ever seen, but it does put me in mind of a dark, rickety haunted house. If we’re going with a ghostly, halloweeny theme, then it kinda fits. 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 very pale golden colour, but the scent is sadly not that appealing. It smells a little like a ripe pu’erh, strangely.
Sadly, I’m not especially struck by the flavour either. There are elements that remind me of white tea – a mild, orchid-like floral, a touch of grass and hay. These are somewhat offset by an undertone of what I can only describe as manure. Not really strong manure, like some pu’erhs, but strong enough to be distracting. It’s an odd combination.
I had hoped that I’d enjoy this one, but I suppose you can’t win them all. I don’t tend to drink too many plain white teas these days, so it’s not a terrible loss, but I’m a little disappointed all the same. Perhaps Luhse’s flavoured blacks are the only thing for me.
Today’s cold brew. I used 2 tbsp of leaf to 2 litres of water, and left it in the fridge for around 10 hours overnight. The resulting brew is a deceptively pale golden colour, and at first I worried that it would be too weak. Not so – the amount of flavour in this one is completely at odds with the colour. It’s delicious! The first flavour I can detect is vanilla, and it’s sweet and creamy – a lovely opening sip! This is followed fairly closely by the slightly tart, almost jammy flavour of rhubarb (which is more immediately identifiable, somehow than it was when I drank it hot earlier this week and thought initially that it was raspberry.) The hops are again less prominent than they were in the hot cup, but they add a slightly bittersweet, mildly floral, note to the end of the sip that stops the vanilla and rhubarb becoming overpoweringly cloying. It’s a great combination.
The only thing I’ve got to decide now is whether to finish my bag of this tea off with another cold brew, or whether to save it for hot cups. Decisions, decisions!
This is the one of two green tea samples I picked up from Luhse – the other was Getting Lei’d. Marrakesh Fresh is basically a Marrakesh mint blend (no surprises there!) It’s a blend of peppermint, spearmint and gunpowder green, although looking at the dry leaf, there’s actually very little green tea to be seen. It’s certainly fresh, though – the scent is one of the best things (both dry and once brewed). Minty and delicious. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees. The resulting liquor is a medium yellow-green.
To taste, it’s as good as the name suggests. The mint is sweet and fresh tasting, with the strong cooling sensation that’s so nice about mint tea in hot weather. The green tea base is fairly smooth, with only the slightest hint of astringency, and a touch of dankness in the flavour. I could probably stand to drink this one with a bit of sugar – that might just give it the edge I’m looking for.
I’m pretty happy with this one, although it’s not a great deal better or worse than any other Marrakesh mint blend I’ve tried. It’s probably not unique enough for me to want to repurchase, but I’ll happily finish up my sample. A pleasant cup on a hot day.
Continuing the Luhse theme today, I also have a sample of their Earl Grey to try. The blend consists of black tea (quite thick, twisted leaves of a uniform black colour), blue mallow blossoms and bergamot. The scent of the dry leaf is very strongly citrusy, which can only be the bergamot. Very strong Earl Grey with a lot of bitter bergamot doesn’t greatly appeal to me, so I’m a little concerned about this one. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium golden brown, and I added a splash of milk.
As it turns out, I needn’t have worried about the bergamot being too strong. To taste, it’s actually a pleasant balance between sweet, malty black tea and bittersweet, citrusy bergamot. It’s a tiny bit perfumey, but not terribly so. I think the milk has helped to calm this one down a bit, but I like the creaminess it adds even if it’s not the recommended way to drink Earl Grey. In any case, it’s deliciously smooth and well flavoured – one of the nicer Earl Greys I’ve tried in a while. I’d consider restocking this one.
The second of the Luhse flavoured blends I picked up with my recent order. Based on my favourable impression of Chocolate Boozer, I decided to make an evening of it and went straight on to Dorian Grey. Dorian Grey is an Earl Grey Cream, and it smells delicious from the moment I open the bag. Sweet, rich, and gloriously decadent. It’s a fairly unassuming blend to look at – just fairly small, uniform black-brown leaves. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. It brewed up pretty strong, so I added a splash of milk.
To taste, this is one of the creamiest Earl Grey Cream blends I’ve tried. The initial sip is full-on vanilla; sweet and rich, with an intense creaminess that reminds me very much of premium vanilla ice cream, or perhaps crème anglaise. The earl grey is very much second fiddle, but it’s possible to find the bergamot lurking in the mid sip. It’s not over-strong, which I appreciate in an Earl Grey blend, but it does manage to cut through some of the heady vanilla sweetness. It’s a pleasing, citrus-laced counterpoint, and adds a layer of depth to the flavour. The black base can hardly be tasted, but it’s smooth and unobtrusive, and it lets the flavours shine.
I’m really impressed with this one. It more than lives up to its promise, and it makes for a deliciously tasty cup. A definite repurchase.
On to the Luhse flavoured blends. I only picked up two full bags with my first order – this and Dorian Grey. I’m a fan of flavoured black tea in general, and I was pretty sure these two would suit my tastes. Thankfully, I was right. The first thing I noticed about the full bags is how unique and well thought out the branding is. Everything from the colouring (midnight blue), to the white, searchlight-like logo, through to little things like the font and bigger things like the slogans is spot-on for the 20s, prohibition-era theme. Luhse are really sorted from a brand perspective, and that’s a nice thing to see. The “story” somehow makes their blends more than just tea, and it adds a lot to the appeal, that’s for sure.
Chocolate Boozer is a chocolate and rum flavoured black blend, with absolutely huge chocolate chips scattered throughout. The black base is a mixture of CTC pellets and quite small leaves – possibly Ceylon or Assam. I was a little surprised to see the CTC, but it definitely adds body and strength to the cup without imparting a lot of overpowering flavour, so I’m not against it. Chocolate teas can sometimes seem quite thin and watery, so a stronger base perhaps isn’t a bad idea. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. It brewed up quite dark (no doubt thanks to the CTC), so I added a splash of milk.
To taste, this is almost how I imagined it would be. I’ve learned to be cautious in my expectations where chocolate tea is concerned, so perhaps that helped a little. The chocolate is rich and sweet, with a hint of bittersweet dustiness in the background – a taste I associate with cocoa. The stronger flavour by far is the rum, which adds a heady tang that works really well with the chocolate – almost like an expensive truffle. It’s hard to describe rum as anything other than rum, but it’s pretty flavour accurate and adds a pleasantly boozy edge. The black base is smooth with no astringency, and carries the flavours well. It’s fairly strong and substantial so the cup isn’t at all weak, thin or watery. At the same time, it manages not to overpower what could be fairly delicate flavours. It’s a good balance.
I’m impressed with this one. It’s one of the few chocolate teas I actively like, and I would definitely consider repurchasing if I were to order again from Luhse in the future. I haven’t been particularly struck by their rooibos blends or their plain black teas, but perhaps I’ve found my nadir with their flavoured range. A wonderfully decadent cup.