1652 Tasting Notes
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/
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/
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.
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/
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!)
A sample from Angel at Teavivre. I’m making up for lost time with these samples today! I have tried this one before as part of a swap, and I remember really enjoying it. This cup is a little different from my recollection, with a slightly different flavour profile, but if anything it’s even better than I remembered! I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a deep golden brown. The leaf smells strongly wine-like as it infuses, and reminds me more of a darjeeling than anything else.
To taste, the wine notes are still fairly prominent. There’s something almost muscatel and grapey about the initial sip that’s actually very appealing. Given that I rather like darjeeling, that’s probably no surprise. I can also detect a sweet maltiness, and then a hint of leather in the mid-sip. It’s an interesting pairing with the initial wine notes – this cup is rather putting me in mind of a gentleman’s club! There’s the tiniest hint of smoke in the aftertaste, and then a light yeastiness rounds off the sip.
I really enjoyed this one, and it’s definitely a tea I’ll look to keep around once my current stash is a little more under control. It’s a very satisfying, flavoursome black tea, and another winner from Teavivre!
A sample from Angel at Teavivre, and fairly long overdue thanks to various winter illnesses. Apologies, Angel! I’m glad I reserved this one until I was feeling better, though, because it’s clearly a tea to be savoured. The dry leaf is thin and wiry, and the scent is beautiful; cocoa, grain and honey! I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 2.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium golden brown, and smells deliciously chocolatey.
To taste, I can immediately detect cocoa, which quite dry and almost powdery, and sweet malt which lingers beautifully. The mid-sip contains a hint of smoke, almost like burnt toast, but it’s by no means overwhelming. There’s also a touch of syrupy sweetness reminiscent of sugarcane. The flavours are quite heavy and “dark” tasting, but the tea itself is smooth and very easy to drink for the most part. A tiny bit of astringency creeps in as the cup stars to cool, but it remains entirely peripheral so it’s not too much of a bother. The flavours linger long in the aftertaste, which is very pleasant, and as they mellow out it’s possible to find the honey and a light floral reminiscent of orchid. It’s completely delicious!
I can see why Angel included this as part of a winter tea tasting pack. It would be the perfect warming cup on a cold, dark day. It’s equally pleasant on a cool, crisp spring day, though, and in actual fact it’s a tea I could happily drink all year round. Definitely one I’ll stock up on once I’ve finished my samples!
Another of my last few Della Terra blends, this time slightly more recent (Feb 2014, I believe). This was was also stored unopened, so it’s kept really well. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 180 degrees. The liquor is a medium yellow-green, and smells delightfully of strawberries!
To taste, this is pretty nice. The strawberry flavour is front and centre, but it’s quite candy-like and not entirely natural-tasting. The cream flavouring adds a wonderful silky smoothness, and the whole thing tastes pretty much like one of those strawberry Campino sweets I used to have when I was young. The green tea base is smooth and fairly unobtrusive, although it’s possible to detect little flashes of grassiness at times, especially as the cup cools. They don’t work super well with the strawberry/cream dynamic, but thankfully they’re not too distracting.
I can see why this one was released as a Valentine’s blend. It’s sweet and delicious, and it tastes lovely to boot. The little hearts on the label are a cute touch. I’ll not have any trouble finishing off my sample pouch. It’s pretty perfect for summer!
This is one of the last Della Terra blends I have left over from my Autumn 2013 order – kind of old now, but it’s been unopened so it’s come to no harm. The dry leaf smells intensely sweet and fruity, and I’m reminded of tropical fruit cordial. I’m not really acquainted with persimmons, but this to me seems like a cross between mango and pineapple. Not quite what I was expecting, but juicy, fruity and enticing all the same. I used 1.5 tsp of leaf for this cup (my first cup with 1 tsp turned out a little weak). No additions.
To taste, this one is pretty much as it’s scent suggests. It’s very sweet, and has a fairly generic, juicy “tropical fruit” flavour. I’d say mango and pineapple if pressed, in a rather candy-like, artificial sort of way. I’m not really sure that it’s persimmon, but my limited acquaintance might be at fault there. It’s refreshing and very juicy-tasting, though, so it’s hard to pick faults. The rooibos doesn’t make much of an impression on the overall flavour, either, so that’s another point in its favour.
This one’s easy enough to drink, and I can imagine it making a good cold brew. It’s not especially distinctive in the way I’d hoped it would be, but it’s pleasant nonetheless. A tropical treat!
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!