911 Tasting Notes

90

I had my first cup of tea just before leaving the house at 6.00 this morning. My second cup, unknown to me, wouldn’t pass my lips until gone 11.00. It might just have been sheer thirst, but I swear this tea seemed like the best thing I’ve ever tasted. I gulped it down as soon as it cooled enough, and I felt better almost instantly. I must have known, subconsciously, to pack such an auspicious tea, because I did need a kick to revive me once I got back to the office from setting off my interview sessions. I thought it would take 30 minutes, but I was actually there for 3 hours. Without my bad, as I hadn’t thought I’d be that long. Silly me. Anyway, making a cup of this was the first thing I did when I staggered back in.

I can’t taste a whole lot of mate, and I can’t see all that much among the leaf, either. I actually think this is mostly lemongrass, but it tastes deliciously fresh and vibrant, very lemony with a more generic citrus aftertaste. There was probably some mate, but it doesn’t contribute much to the flavour of the blend. I certainly felt a little more awake, though, so maybe it helped a bit.

I have another sample of this waiting in my stash, so I’ll have to try it again when I’m not so rushed and chronically thirsty. I’m sure it’s as nice as it seemed, hence the high rating – I’d give it that just for being pleasant and refreshing in my time of need, though, so there you go. A very successful morning tea, for a not-so-successful morning.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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85

On the third day of Christmas, 52 Teas gave to me…Banana Pudding!

This is another one I have an unopened pouch of in my stash, so it’s familiar to me but untasted. The dry leaf smells spectacularly of banana. It’s quite an artificial banana, but banana all the same. Add some water, and a very strong coconut scent comes out. It’s actually a little over-sweet, and a little nauseating as it’s quite strong, but hopefully the tea itself won’t be quite as in-your-face.

Brewed, this tea is actually fairly subtle and actually quite delicious. I added milk, which seems to be the recommended thing with this one, and was rewarded with a tea that really does taste like pudding. The coconut is probably stronger than the banana, but it is a close thing, and both are equally flavourful. Not in a sweet, sickly way, though. Just really perfectly.

I was worried about this when I smelt it brewing, but it’s actually much more palatable than I thought it was going to be. It makes me glad I’ve got a whole pouch tucked away. I can definitely see myself coming back to this one from time to time.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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100
drank Beet It by Bluebird Tea Co.
911 tasting notes

There aren’t actually all that many fruit teas I’ve liked all that much recently, so this one came as a rather pleasant surprise. I was actually thinking I wouldn’t like it…real beetroot isn’t something I enjoy eating, so I wasn’t all that sold on the idea of it in tea. It’s actually surprisingly nice, though.

There’s quite a lot of hibiscus here, I think, although they’re fairly unavoidable in this kind of blend. It hasn’t made this one too sour, though…possibly the earthiness of the beetroot has helped to balance out some of the tartness. The other fruit flavours are also remarkably prominent. I can taste orange and lemon, and they add a pleasantly citrussy overtone to what would otherwise be a fairly conventional fruit tea. The apple is the only thing that’s a little lost, although it might be helping out the beetroot in its fight against the hibiscus a little. Either way, this is a genuinely interesting and fairly unqiue autumn/winter tea. I’m glad I’ve got a full bag in my stash, because I can see myself drinking this well into the new year. Well done, Bluebird!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Courtney

I’ve been obsessed with beets lately. The amount of beet smoothies I’ve been drinking has gotten out of hand.

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85

On the second day of Christmas, 52 Teas gave to me…Rootbeer Float!

This is actually a new one on me, although I have a whole unopened pouch in my stash. I was saving it for next summer, but I guess now I get to try it anyway.

The dry leaf smells a little odd…it’s a pretty genuine rootbeer scent, I think, although there’s something a little musty about it. Hopefully that won’t translate into the taste!

Fortunately, it doesn’t. The root beer taste is actually really accurate, if hard to describe. Liquoricey? Chicory? The marshmallow root adds a lovely, thick creaminess that really does put me in mind of ice cream. The combination is wonderful — sweet creaminess, with the underlying root beer flavour. I drank it black, and I think it’s probably best like this, although I’d like to try it iced in the summer. Fortunately, there’s plenty in my stash to do just that! Probably one of my favourite 52 Teas in a while!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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45

On the second day of Christmas, Della Terra gave to me…Fireside Spice!

This one is so much sweeter than I thought it was going to be. I guess it’s the vanilla. I brewed this as a chai latte as an afternoon treat, with plenty of warmed milk and a sprinkling of cinnamon. I can taste ginger, clove, and cinnamon, which are wonderfully Christmassy and warming. I just wasn’t expecting there to be so much sweetness from the vanilla – after a couple of sips it almost becomes a bit cloying. I think next time I’ll brew this as I would black tea; quite strong, with just a little milk. I think I’ll prefer it like that. Otherwise, I’ll just have to use a smaller cup! A nice afternoon treat for the second day of Christmas, anyway!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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45

This was probably the Bluebird Christmas tea I was looking forward to the most. I like mint, in general, and I really like milk oolong. In practice, though, it was a bit of a let down. It certainly smells like a peppermint cream, and it tastes like one too. Fry’s, to be exact, and just as I remember from…too long ago. It’s actually the oolong I have the problem with, because it’s rather bitter and not a little astringent. Surprisingly, because I couldn’t actually see much oolong in the dry mix. It’s mostly chopped mint leaves. Anyway, I was expecting a base tea that was milky, creamy and sweet, based on previous experiences with milk oolong, but that’s not what I got. It’s a shame, because the flavour is otherwise spot on. I’ll check my parameters and try again, but I have a feeling this is actually going to be my least favourite of the three, based purely on the bitterness and astringency of the base tea. Still, can’t win them all.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 30 sec
KittyLovesTea

I wasn’t too impressed with this tea either.

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60

I think Bluebird really came up trumps with their Christmas teas. This is the second I’ve tried, and I’m as equally impressed with this one as I was with Christmas Cake. Largely because this does taste almost exactly like Mulled Wine. The fruit and mulling spices are the strongest flavours, but I’m also convinced that there’s a wine-like flavour lurking in the background. Something grapey and deeply fruity, with a slight tannin-like astringency, anyway.

Clove is probably the strongest flavour here, followed by cinnamon. I’m beginning to discover that they’re Christmas tea stalwarts. I think there’s a fair bit of hibi here, too. Probably most of the red fruit/wine flavour is coming from that, now I think about it. It’s pleasant, though, and a change from the usual run of fruit teas. It’s insanely Christmassy, too. Just the thing to drink while wrapping presents!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Mike Turner

Hiya, just wandered what brought the score down on this one compared to the Christmas Cake? (useful for future creations!)

Scheherazade

Am I not being very consistent? It wouldn’t surprise me — I do things in such a hurry these days!

I think it’s probably my preference for black tea, and the fact that hibiscus is not really my friend. I like both a lot, but Christmas Cake was more up my street. I’ve yet to find a fruit tea where hibiscus doesn’t dominate the flavour to a greater or lesser extent. It’s not so bad here, but enough to ensure that I definitely prefer Christmas Cake!

Mike Turner

Ah, fair enough!

People definitely aren’t loving hibiscus on here!

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100

A sample from KittyLovesTea.

This is gorgeous! Of the few candy cane teas I’ve tried so far, this one is hands down the best. The main flavour is sweet creamy vanilla sugar, and then the mint comes through gently in the aftertaste. It’s more a cooling sensation than an actual flavour at first, but it does build in intensity with successive sips. It’s never overpowering, though.

This is a black tea, so I added a splash of milk which I think helped to bring out some of the creamy vanilla flavouring. There are actual fragments of candy cane in the dry mix, so it’s not too surprising that this tea captures the flavour so accurately. A really great pre-christmas tea! Many thanks to KittyLovesTea for sharing some with me!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec
KittyLovesTea

Glad you liked this one :)

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90

I actually think this is far and away the best of the Twinings Sensations range. It’s the one that tastes most like it promises, and no hibiscus in sight! There’s a bonus if ever there was one. Mint and vanilla is a good combination, though — the flavours complement each other perfectly. It really does taste like a butter mint, and I think it would be great iced. One to remember for the summer.

The bag is primarily chopped mint leaves, and it heralds a very dark brown, murky liquor, as bagged mint teas generally do. There’s enough vanilla to add a wonderful creamy sweetness, though, and it actually makes a pretty perfect winter tea. This is possibly one of the few bagged teas I’d consider keeping around. Definitely worth a try.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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70
drank French Toast by 52teas
911 tasting notes

If Pankcake Breakfast has been my morning tea this week, French Toast has become my afternoon pick me up. The two are relatively similar, I think, but the cinnamon in this one sets it apart. It’s a little sweeter, too. I’ve almost given up on trying to fit much tea in between arriving at work and getting back from lunch — that just resulted in too many cold, abandoned cups. Hopefully things will find a more even keel soon, but for now I don’t feel I’m doing too badly. These two teas are keeping me pretty much sane, anyway!

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 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

Norwich, UK

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