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678 Tasting Notes

50

A sample from Courtney. This is the second tropical green I’ve tried, and my second Harney and Sons. There’s a poetry to all this somewhere, isn’t there? Dry, it smells amazing. It’s a pretty generic “tropical” scent, and it reminds me of Five Alive or something like that, but it’s mouthwatering all the same. I’m assuming from looking at the leaves that this is sencha. They’re folded, but quite broad and flat, and a fairly dark green. I’ve had some good experiences with sencha, so I’m looking forward to this!

Brewed, the liquor is a very pale yellow-green, and it smells delicately fruity. There’s a slight underlying grassy note from the green tea, and the overall effect is pleasant and encouraging. Not many flavoured greens I’ve tried have been anything but a deep yellow verging on brown, so this makes for a welcome change.

To taste, the tropical flavouring isn’t quite as strong as I’d hoped it would be. It’s there, but it’s pretty delicate. The green tea base is equally subtle, though, so I’ve no complaints on that front. I can taste tropical fruit in the initial sip, but it’s not a lingering taste, and soon gives way to the grassy sweetness of the sencha. It’s very smooth and not at all astringent, but I had hoped for a little more punch.

While not bad, as flavoured greens go, it lacks the depth of flavour to really make it in my estimation. Not bad by any means, though.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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60
drank Mango by Harney & Sons
678 tasting notes

A sample from Courtney. Dry, this smells soooo much like fresh, juicy mango. Mango is a first for me when it comes to flavoured black tea. I’ve had one before, I think, in a Whittard’s sampler, but it was really no great shakes. This is my first Harney and Sons tea too, do a double first.

Brewed, this retains the sweet, juicy scent that it has dry. It’s not screaming mango as much as I felt it did initially, but it’s still decidedly fruity. I have added tiny splash of milk, though, so that might account for the slight dulling. Fortunately, the mango returns in the first sip. It’s juicy, slightly peppery, and seems to bob along on the surface of the black tea base, so you get a kind of two-tiered taste. Initially there’s the mango flavour, and that slowly gives way to a fairly robust black base. It’s pleasant without being overpowering.

As flavoured blacks go, I think this is a pretty successful one. I can definitely taste mango, and it seems pretty natural which is what counts when it comes to fruit flavouring. I only have the one cup, but it’s definitely one I’d try again if the opportunity arose. Thanks again to Courtney for sharing this with me!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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75

This is a bit of a backlog, as I actually drank this at work on Tuesday afternoon. It was included in the sample pack I bought last year as a counterpoint to the first flush darjeelings, and it’s easy to see the differences when you put them side by side.

The leaf here is noticably darker, more black brown than green/white. I brewed this for just under 3 minutes, I think, although I probably wasn’t paying the closest attention. It brews to a much darker liquor than any of the first flushes, a sort of golden caramel colour. The taste is still amazing, though. I can immediately see that, where the first flushes are peachy and grassy, this second flush is floral and grape-like. It’s a really deep, complex, interesting flavour. There’s a very, very slight astringency, but it’s actually quite welcome with a flavour so rich.

I’d be hard pressed to say which flush I prefer. They’re both so different, and I like them equally for the different qualities that they have. I’m glad to have had the opportunity to try these four darjeelings — it’s really broadened my experience of this tea variety.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 45 sec

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60
drank Momo (Peach) by Lupicia
678 tasting notes

A sample from Queen of Tarts. I’ve only had one peach flavoured tea before, I think, and that was Adagio’s peach oolong. I wasn’t overkeen on the flavouring in that one, because it seemed hugely artificial, but it did make me reconsider oolongs. Anyway, this tea is much better on the peach flavouring front, I think. It tastes sweet and delicate, much like an actual peach, and the black tea base remains firmly in the background. I’m not 100% sure whether the flavouring is wholly natural, and it was maybe a touch too sweet for me this morning, but I’m looking forward to trying it again another time. As flavoured blacks go, this is a pretty good one!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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85

Sipdown! Finished this off last night after I arrived home from a day in Southwold. I think I always appreciate good tea more than usual after a long car journey, but this was probably one of the best tasting cups I’ve had in a while. It’ll be sadly missed.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 45 sec

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90

My last two darjeeling samples from 2012 have been languishing in my stash for a while now, so I dug them out last night and brought them to work. Immediately upon tasting, I can say that this is my favourite of the three first flushes. It’s far, far peachier in both scent and taste. It’s just somehow really juicy, and tastes almost as if it’s been mixed with actual peach juice. It hasn’t, but I’d really think that if I didn’t know better.

The leaves of this one are evidently very young, and a high proportion of them are a very pale creamy green. There are also a lot of downy tips, as you’d expect from a white tea. Probably that’s why this seems more like a white tea than anything to me, and probably that’s also why I like it so much. White tea is a favourite of mine.

Anyway, surprisingly enough, the liquor is actually darker than the other two Twinings first flush darjeelings I tried, even though the leaves are paler. It’s a golden amber, which somehow made me think it would be quite strong and astringent, but it’s not at all. It is stronger in taste, by which I mean peachiness, than the other two, but on the scale of tea strength, it’s actually still very light and delicate. It just seems to have a more definite and decided flavour, which is no bad thing at all. It’s initially very peachy, then there’s a more generic sweetness, and then something slightly caramelly comes out in the aftertaste. A wonderful, wonderful tea. There won’t be any problem finishing this sample, that’s for sure!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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95

Had another of these last night, probably the second or third cup from my sample bag. I’m still finding this one of the most enjoyable chocolate rooibos blends I’ve tried, and I really like the freshness the mint adds here. I’ve got a good few cups to go yet, but this is one I’d definitely repurchase. The balance of flavours is almost perfect, and the rooibos isn’t at all overpowering. Yummy stuff.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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95

My headache last night turned into a full blown migraine, and by the time I got home I was craving something chocolatey and comforting quite badly. A cup of this hit the spot, along with some of my normal pain killers. I think this is one of those teas that I’m going to notice more about each time I drink it. Unless it was just my imagination, I think the tea base itself has something a little chocolatey about it. I added a splash of milk about half way through the cup, just to compare, and I think that definitely helped the highlight the creaminess of the marshmallow. An intriguing tea, and one I know I’m going to look forward to drinking time and time again!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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85

This is a tea I’ve definitely got better at brewing as time has gone on. The first time I tried it, I could taste mostly the tea base, and the berry only really emerged in the aftertaste. These days, I can make a cup of this and know that the berry flavouring will the main feature. I think it’s probably partly trial and error, and having found the amount of leaf and the brew time that suit my tastes. Part of it might be that it’s been open a while now, and maybe it’s benefitted from being aired a little.

I’ve only got a couple of cups worth of this left now, so it’ll soon be a sipdown. It’s a tea I’ve thourghly enjoyed, though, and one of the best berry flavoured blacks I’ve tried in a while.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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80
drank Adventure by Yumchaa
678 tasting notes

I last drank this long enough ago that I don’t actually remember it at all. High time for another try, then! As this is the last of the Yumchaa reds in my stash for now (except Red Christmas, but I’m saving that for…Christmas), I’ve moved it to my tea drawer at work. I usually go for teas I don’t need milk with at work, as I don’t trust our old and ancient fridge. As I’m so cold today, perhaps this is just what I’m looking for.

Brewed, it smells spicy and hibiscussy, and for some reason it’s made me think of mulled wine. I guess it was a good choice after all, in that it feels like winter has suddenly returned. The taste is similar. I can detect the hibiscus (what is it doing here anyway?), but it is thankfully quite subtle. I can also taste cinnamon, and something like caramel. The kiwi plonks itself down right in the middle of the sip. I remember thinking last time I tried this that it really was like an adventure for the taste buds. This tea brings together all sorts of random ingredients and somehow makes them work. It’s not like any other tea I’ve ever tried, and, surprisingly enough, it’s nice. For all that, though, it’s not memorable. I’ve never drawn a complete blank on a tea I’ve tasted previously before, and yet I did here. Maybe the ingredients are too diverse? Maybe I just haven’t tried it enough compared so some others? I’m not really sure at the moment. It’s definitely a nice, welcome drink on a day like today, though. One I’ll have to try and get to know better over the coming weeks and months.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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Bio

Hi :) I’m Sarah, 25, and I live in Norwich 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 not 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

Norwich, UK

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