1623 Tasting Notes

90

A sample from Angel at Teavivre, and a long overdue tasting due to various winter illnesses. At least now I’m fully recovered and able to appreciate tea once again! I used 1 tsp of leaf for today’s cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. No additions.

The liquor is a medium brown with a reddish cast, which I suppose is par for the course with a western style brewing. The scent is baked bread with a hint of chocolate -absolutely delicious, and so enticing. I was a little surprised by my initial sip, which held more sourness than I was expecting. It reminds me a little of sourdough, actually, and complements the baked bread note that’s also detectable. The mid-sip is where the chocolate lives, and it’s a bittersweet, high-cacao sort of chocolate flavour. There’s a strong kick of malt here, too, which helps to sweeten things up a little. The maltiness lingers into the aftertaste, where it’s joined by a light grain flavor. My overall impression is of a full-bodied, bittersweet tea with strong bread and chocolate notes – cups like this remind me of how I came to love Chinese black teas so much! There’s so much depth and flavour here, it’s impossible to be disappointed.


Yesterday’s cup of this tea was brewed similarly – 1 tsp of leaf for around 4 minutes in boiling water – the exception being that I added milk. Based on today’s cup, I can safely say that milk isn’t required – it’s such a smooth tea, with no astringency whatsoever. It does change the flavour profile a little, though.

With milk, this makes for an equally wonderful cup. The initial sip holds the same bread and chocolate notes, but they’re rounded and smoother. The malt is more prominent in the mid-sip; this and the creaminess of the milk make this into a slightly sweeter cup, with the chocolate coming across more as a high quality milk, rather than the darker, more intense chocolate of the cup left black. There’s also a light smokiness in the aftertaste that helps to replace some of the depth that the milk erased.

I’m happy to drink this one either way, as both work equally well. Milk isn’t required by any means, and possibly it’s a little surplus, but it makes for a sweeter, creamier cup and sometimes that suits my mood. Today’s black cup is just as fulfilling, though, proving that this is a versatile and forgiving tea with plenty of flavour to go around. I’d recommend this to anyone, and it’s certainly one I’ll look to repurchase in future!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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30

A Cara McGee Sherlock fandom blend, and the only white tea in the range. The leaf of this one is particularly pretty to look at, with the downy white Snowbud buds, the odd brown leaf, whole yellow chamomile flowers, red cherry pieces, and a scattering of burgundy hibiscus and rosehip. The dry leaf smells mildly fruity and a little herbal. I used 1.5 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2 minutes in water cooled to 175 degrees. The resulting liquor is a rather unusual grey, the scent sweet and primarily chamomile.

To taste, this somehow isn’t quite the blend I expected. The white tea is most prominent in the flavour, and it’s quite floral and a little dusty-tasting. It’s also quite drying on the palate. The chamomile emerges in the mid-sip, and adds a honey-like sweetness to the cup. It’s actually not a huge improvement, because it now tastes like sweet floral dust. The cherry emerges only towards the very end of the sip, and adds another layer of sweetness. I had hoped that the fruitiness would rescue this one, but it really just tips what was already a sweet tea into the “unbearably cloying” category. Sadly, there isn’t much in the way of cherry to be discerned, and the overall cup tastes mostly like warm sugar-water to me.

Sadly, this one is a disappointment to me. It comes as a surprise, because I’m usually a fan of white tea. I also know Adagio’s Dewy Cherry blend to be a wonderfully fruity concoction – sweet, yes, but with strong, natural tasting cherry to boot. For some reason, it just doesn’t work here. Perhaps the chamomile isn’t the best partner – it’s just too sweet when added to the already-sweet white base.

Although the taste of this blend isn’t for me, there are aspects of it that do suit Molly’s character. She’s sweet, for sure. Too sweet, maybe, when it comes to Sherlock. She’s also self-effacing and a little shy, and for those reasons I think a white tea blend is the right choice for her. I even like the idea of chamomile/cherry, but perhaps not in combination. One or the other probably would have been enough, perhaps with a touch more hibiscus to cut through the sweetness just a little bit.

I’m sad about this one. It’s not undrinkable by any means, but it is ridiculously sweet and fairly one-note, and I don’t feel the flavours work very well together. In theory, a great blend to characterise Molly. In practice, not so much.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
Shae

I’ve heard so many good things about this show. I really need to start watching it!

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65
drank Tropical Potion by Tealux
1623 tasting notes

I’m feeling much better today, and it’s also warm, summery and lovely outside. Time for a tea suited to warm summer days, then! I’m still working my way through a few Tealux samples from my first order, and this one seemed well suited to my mood this afternoon. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium brown, and the scent is herbal and a little earthy.

To taste, it’s pretty much tropical fruit all the way! It’s juicy, which I like about Tealux’s fruity blends, and the flavours are fresh and natural tasting. The main flavour to my mind is pineapple, but there’s a hint of orange lurking in the background. It makes me think of tinned mandarins, more than anything. It’s a very sweet, light, delicate orange, and it makes for a good combination with the pineapple.

The second thing that strikes me about the flavour of this one is the yogurt. It emerges mostly in the mid-sip, and adds a slightly sour creaminess to the overall cup. Now that I’ve identified it as yogurt, I know what this tea reminds me of – Butiki’s Mango Lassi. The yogurt here is less prominent, and the fruit flavouring stronger and jucier, but it’s a similar flavour profile.

The rooibos is hanging around a little in the background, but it’s not too much of a bother. A little woody, perhaps, but nothing terrible. There’s a mild pepperiness right at the end of the sip that I would usually attribute to the rooibos also, but this blend contains pink peppercorns, so it could also be that. They don’t add much except a hint of heat right at the end of the sip, so it’s an odd inclusion but not unwelcome.

I can see this one being really good iced in the warmer months ahead, but it’s also pleasant hot. It’s a slice of sunshine ahead of summer!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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85

I’m still recovering from the bout of flu I had over Easter. It’s really lingering, and of course now I’m back at work and that’s not helping. Sad faces all round. I’ve graduated from Clipper to this, so I know I’m nearly on my way to proper recovery. I’ve also had the odd cup of flavoured tea (Adagio’s Anderson, a couple of cups of Tealux Orange Lemonade), but I’m still nothing like my usual self.

This is a reliable, if plain tea, but it’s about all I can stomach at the moment (and I wouldn’t really be able to taste anything else!). It’s strong, malty and comforting, and that’s really all I’m asking right now. Hopefully I’ll be back properly soon. Being ill is grim.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Sil

booo on the flu!

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60

I’m currently mired in the second worst bout of flu I’ve ever had in my life. It’s awful, and it’s not going anywhere with anything resembling speed. This means that, other than Lemsip, I’m just drinking bog-standard Clipper Organic Everyday. I can’t taste, and wouldn’t enjoy, anything else right now, but this is plain, strong, straightforward stuff (and great with milk). While it’s not what I’d normally choose, it’s being my friend while I’m ill.

Hopefully I’ll be back to normal soon sigh

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Nichole

Ugh! That stinks! Hope you get to feeling better soon!!

TeaBrat

feel better!

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95
drank Dance With Elephant by Tealux
1623 tasting notes

One of the last samples from my first Tealux order. I’d heard good things about this one, and it’s one of the rare fruit blends without hibiscus, so I was interested to give it a try. Visually, it’s an impressive sight. The pieces of fruit in this blend are HUGE! The banana chip in my bag was about three inches long and a centimeter thick, the orange a full half slice, and the mango/papaya pieces an inch square. There were also generous strips of coconut, and a scattering of rooibos. The bag says to use 2.5 tsp, but it was impossible to measure so I just dumped the whole lot in my infuser basket. It got about 6 minutes in boiling water, and came out about right.

The liquor is a bright orangey colour, with a slightly oily scrim on the surface. It smells beautiful, like a fruit smoothie, and it tastes equally strongly of fruit. It’s hard to believe I’m actually drinking tea! The main flavour is banana, followed by pineapple, and rounded off beautifully with the creaminess of coconut. The banana and coconut are quite sweet, but the pineapple provides a slightly tangy note that cuts through some of the “mushier” fruit flavours. Right at the end of the sip, there’s a touch of pepperiness that I typically associate with mango and papaya. All told, it’s a delicious combination.

The main thing that strikes me about this blend is how it’s so incredibly fruity – more so than any other “fruit” blend I’ve ever tried. It’s also by far the best “tropical” flavoured tea I’ve tried. High accolades from me! This is definitely one I’ll look to repurchase in the future. I can imagine it being wonderful cold-brewed in the summer.

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 0 sec 3 tsp

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80

I’ve been low on black tea choices at work recently. I think this is the only one I have with me currently, which is unlike me, but okay because this is my last full week of work before I get my long-awaited leave. These bags were actually given to me by a colleague, who professes that she has far too much tea at home (by which she means, more than one box of English Breakfast). Anyway, I’m always up for trying something new.

For this afternoon’s cup, I used 1 bag, and gave it 2.5 minutes in boiling water. This is a fairly standard black fannings base, so it darkened to a deep reddy-brown relatively quickly. The scent is of cinnamon and clove, quite strong.

This is more pleasant to taste than I thought it was going to be. It reminds me a little of Mariage Freres Mandalay, although this is sweeter and somehow more floral in the aftertaste. The initial flavour is quite dank, and very heavy on the clove, so it comes as a surprise when the almost sugary sweet cinnamon emerges in the mid-sip. It’s a nice counterpoint. I guess the vanilla accounts for the sweetness, which takes on a dark, almost molasses-like flavour towards the end of the sip. The black tea base is smooth and adds a light maltiness, but it’s very much second-fiddle to the flavouring. I’m just grateful it’s not bitter or astringent, because I have no milk to tame anything like that at the moment!

This is an intriguing tea. I was expecting a pretty straight-up cinnamon spiced black, but it’s actually a lot more than that. The cinnamon is there, definitely, but it works really well as a sweet counterpoint to the flatter, heavier taste of the clove. The vanilla is the real star of this cup, though. It changes what could be a fairly mundane cup into something that’s almost fudgey by the end of the sip. The only slightly odd note is the tiny hint of floral in the aftertaste, but that’s easily overlooked. I have a feeling this might have been stored near a floral tea (jasmine?) at some point, which would account for that.

I like this one much better than I thought I would, and I’m glad to have another couple of bags to finish off. This is an excellent cold weather tea, although it’s light enough that I’d try it in the summer too. Maybe even iced! A surprise hit.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 sec

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55
drank Orange Lemonade by Tealux
1623 tasting notes

Today’s mid-morning cup. I’ve been neglecting herbals a little bit lately, so I figured it was time to try a couple of new ones again. I’m always on the lookout for a good fruit tea – particularly one that actually tastes of fruit. I used 1.5 tsp of leaf for this cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium pink-red. Hello, hibiscus!

To taste, this is a very “herbal” blend. I can taste lemongrass, and the slight coolness of eucalyptus. Then it’s all hibiscus, pretty much, with an earthy hint of beetroot. The end of the sip is surprisingly sweet. Clearly this is where all the orange is hiding! There is a noticeable spark of orange at this point, although it reminds me most of tinned mandarins than actual fresh orange. The apple also adds a touch of sweetness, and is just about there to taste.

This struck me as a rather odd blend. There’s a little orange, but it’s mostly a hibiscus dominated herbal with a few too many additional flavours. I don’t really get the “lemonade” aspect at all. It’s a pleasant, mildly fruity herbal, but unfortunately it’s not entirely what I hoped it would be. One to try cold-brewed in the warmer months ahead.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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90

This tin has been at work with me for a while, but I don’t remember drinking a cup more than twice, and I have no real recollection of the flavour or what I thought of it. High tine for a revisit, then! I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 180 degrees. The resulting liquor is a fairly bright yellow, and smells mildly citrussy.

To taste, it’s a whole ‘nother story. Lemon cream! I’m finding it hard to believe that I can’t remember my last cup of this one, because it’s so lovely that surely I would? Apparently not. It reminds me most of 52Teas Sun and Cloud Mist, which was a lemon cream tea that I absolutely loved. If I recall correctly, this one might even be a little stronger on the creaminess than that one was. Sipping on this is putting me in mind of a huge lemon sponge coated in light, fluffy vanilla buttercream. A dessert replacement if ever there was one!

The green tea base is smooth and unobtrusive, and the flavours really shine through. My only complaint is that the lemon is candy-like and a little tart. I could probably take a tad more sharpness with all the creamy sweetness, but it’s so great I can’t say I’m all that concerned. This is lemon cream in tea form. It’s ace! I can say with absolute certainty that this is definitely a tea that will no longer be neglected. Here’s to many happy cups ahead!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp
teataku

Isn’t it just grand rediscovering great teas in your own cupboard? Score!

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70

I enjoyed Pineapple Upside Down Cake, from what I remember, so this one seemed like a sure win for a dull Monday at work. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. No additions.

The dry leaf smells gorgeous – very sweet and cakey! It’s the kind of scent that permeates the whole kitchen, and I find it rather cheering in a sugar-overload sort of way. To taste, this is mostly maple syrup and brown sugar. There are large pieces of cherry (some whole!) and small pieces of dried pineapple in the mix, but somehow they don’t seem to impact upon the flavour at all. I do get sponge and caramelised sugar, though, so I suppose that’s something.

I generally like sweet things, and I like cake, so a maple/sugar tea is probably always going to be a win with me. I feel mildly let down by the lack of pineapple and cherry, but it’s still a nice tasting tea so it’s not really too much of a problem for me. I just keep imagining how great it would be if I could taste the pineapple. What an awesome tea that would be!

I think on balance I prefer the black version of this one, but I’ll certainly have no trouble finishing off this sample. A sweet, uncomplicated, tasty treat!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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Profile

Bio

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.

Location

Norfolk, UK

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