940 Tasting Notes

90

This was my iced tea for work yesterday and today. It got the usual SBT treatment (3 mins in a quarter pint of boiling water, topped up to two litres with cold and into the fridge overnight). The dry bag smelt like a freshly opened bag of campino sweets, which was a real flashback from my childhood. I like strawberry things, so I was looking forward to bringing it out mid-morning.

It’s another awesome SBT, especially fridge cold. It has a wonderfully accurate strawberry flavour, and the custard/creme anglaise is also spot on. It’s somehow thick tasting, and very creamy, with a beautiful vanilla sweetness. The strawberry flavouring is also sweet, but the fruitiness it provides is enough to ensure this doesn’t become overwhelming.

I have a pouch of the normal 52 Teas version of this, which I picked up last time it was reblended. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m certainly looking forward to on the strength of the SBT version. This is an SBT I’d definitely repurchase. It’s like liquid dessert! Definitely enough to cheer up a dull day at work.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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65
drank Hunny by Empress Tea House
940 tasting notes

A sample from ashleyelizabeth! She was kind enough to send me three or so Empress Tea House offerings, and I’ve found them all to be quite light, delicate teas. This one is no exception. I gave 1 tsp of leaf 4.5 minutes in boiling water, and added a splash of milk. The liquor is a warm honey-gold, which obviously softens once the milk is added.

The main flavour is rooibos, and it’s a slightly woody, slightly sweet flavour. It actually provides a pretty good base for the honey flavouring. The honey flavouring itself is rich and almost thick tasting. It comes across very naturally, almost as if a teaspoon of honey had been added to a cup of plain rooibos. This one reminds me strongly of Bluebird’s Honey Bee Beautiful, which had a similarly accurate flavour. The Empress version isn’t as strong, but as I said right at the beginning of this note, light flavours are what I’ve come to expect from these teas.

It doesn’t knock my socks off, but it’s a pleasant caffeine-free cup with light notes of honey. No sweetener required!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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75
drank Coconut Grove by DAVIDsTEA
940 tasting notes

I had a much improved cup of this tea today. It was, as I suspected, all about the patience. I let the water cool properly, and was rewarded with a much stronger creamy coconut taste. The vanilla was more in evidence, and the white base less prominent and “thick” tasting. It just goes to show what difference a few degrees can make. I liked this before; now it’s inching up into the “really likes”. A very lovely summer cup.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 45 sec 1 tsp

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75
drank Coconut Grove by DAVIDsTEA
940 tasting notes

A sample from ashleyelizabeth! I completely forgot this was a white, so I reckon the water was a little hotter than it should have been when I added the leaves. Having said that, I couldn’t discern any notable effect on the tea, other than the white base being maybe just a little more prominent that it would otherwise have been.

I used 1.5 tsp of leaf, and water probably around 190. I gave it three minutes. The white buds are beautifully fuzzy, and there are quite long, thin strands of coconut scattered throughout. There are some darker leaves, too. Once brewed, the liquor is a pale yellow, which deepens slightly as it sits. There’s a slight oily residue on the surface of the cup, but nothing too terrible.

The flavour is pure coconut — it’s almost exactly like drinking coconut water, although with a creaminess from the vanilla. The white base adds quite a thick mouthfeel, and a slightly floral aftertaste, but I think that might be because I had the water too hot. I’ll let it cool more next time! For a first cup, on a hot summer Saturday, I found it very refreshing. It’s quite a light tea, and the coconut flavour is wonderfully tropical. I’ll enjoy experimenting with my next couple of cups! Many thanks to ashleyelizabeth for giving me the opportunity to try this one!

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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70

This is today’s iced tea, for the hottest day of the year so far. I picked up these iced tea sachets from Harvey Nichols, when I placed my order for a tin of Wedding Imperial. Got to make the postage worthwhile! It was also a MF blend I’d not had chance to try (although I now have samples of the ordinary version of this tea), so I decided to give it a go. The box contains 6 individually wrapped linen pouches, each containing about 1 or 1.5 tsp of leaf. The box recommends using two pouches to 1 liter of water, and cold brewing overnight in the fridge for 12 hours, so that’s what I did.

When I removed the jug from the fridge this morning, I couldn’t detect much in the way of scent, so I thought it might be a little weak. I needn’t have worried, though — the taste is just strong enough! It’s not a heavily flavoured tea by any means; it’s quite delicate and subtle. For a spice tea, though, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The main flavour I can detect is cinnamon. I want to say there’s a little orange, maybe a touch of clove and cardamom. The flavour is so light it’s quite hard to pick out specific spices — suffice to say that it fits its billing of “oriental” very well. I did have my reservations about drinking a spice tea on a hot day, but this works surprisingly well. Partly it’s the lightness of flavour — it has none of the heaviness that might typically be associated with a chai, for example. It’s all light, airy swirls of flavour on a mild black tea base.

On the strength of this experience, I’d definitely purchase MF iced teas again. It’s also made me curious to try the “ordinary” tea this iced version is based on, just to see how similar they actually are! Time to break out the samples, perhaps :)

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more

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40

I gave this another go yesterday evening with a longer brew time, and added some milk. The milk really helps this one, and brings out the vanilla much more than when I tried it without additions. I can also taste a little more fruit — I wouldn’t identify it as mango outright, but definitely orange tropical. It’s just a little mild and generic tasting to really shine. The main flavour is still rooibos, so I have to confess that I’m a little disappointed with this one.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 30 sec

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70

I have a pouch of this from when it was called Monkey Bread, and a pouch of Cinnamon Bun. Today I’m drinking the older of the two — the Monkey Bread. I added 1 tsp of leaf to boiling water, and gave it approximately 3.5 minutes. It brews up a fairly light golden brown, and so I went without additions. I’m glad of that, because I think milk and sugar might have obscured the wonderful yoghurty notes I’m getting from this. That alone puts me in mind of a cinnamon bun drizzled with yoghurt/cream cheese icing. The fact that there’s a big smack of cinnamon helps too, obviously! Cinnamon is the main flavour, as would be expected, but there’s a good dose of chai-style spicing, too. It’s not too heavy, though — it reminds me of the spice you might find in a banana loaf cake, or something like that. Not the main flavour, nor intended to be, but a firm background note. With the chai, icing, and cinnamon notes taken together, this is like cake and tea complete! A seriously good dessert replacement! I’m glad I have two sample pouches now — I can save one for autumn/winter, when this will definitely come into its own!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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70

I’m trying to make more of an effort to drink my greens, so I picked this out to try this afternoon. I’ve tried a few tropical greens, and this is admittedly one of the nicer ones despite being bagged. I was surprised to see strawberry in the ingredients list, as I don’t tend to think of strawberry as a “tropical” fruit. I couldn’t taste is at all, either, although I wasn’t concentrating too hard due to being at work. So distracting! I did get pineapple and guava, though, both very easily identifiable and beautifully juicy. The temperature has been approaching 30 again today, so this was a pleasantly refreshing afternoon cup. No bitterness or astringency from the green tea base, either.

The back of the sachet claims that I’ll be “whisked off into the ease of life sans care” while drinking this tea. I won’t go so far as to say that I was without care (work, ugh!), but it certainly cheered up what might have been a miserable afternoon at work (on my own, having to deal with everyone’s phone and emails as well as my own workload, on a hot day, with plenty of complaining going on). A little tropical brightness really was just the thing!

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 45 sec

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90

Coconut teas can be hit and miss for me, which is probably why I’ve put off trying this SBT for a while. I also have a pouch of the reblended 52 Teas version, which I’ve not opened yet either. The scent of this one dry worried me a little, too; I got suncream from the scent! I’m guessing it’s that artificial coconut type smell some of them have. It was a pretty chemically scent, though, and not encouraging.

That was why my first sip this morning was a revelation. I think I’ve got brewing these down to an art now. I always use a timer so they get exactly three minutes, and I don’t squeeze the bag too hard when I’m taking it out. That seems to help avoid any bitterness, or losing the flavour among an over-strong black base. This one got the usual treatment; 3 minutes in a quarter pint of boiling water, topped up with cold water and into the fridge over night.

This one is pretty much liquid coconut cream. I’m hesitating about adding “pie” because I’m not getting too much that would make me think of pastry or pie crust. Definitely the coconut cream filling, though! The most prominent flavour is coconut, and it tastes toasted. There’s nothing fake-tasting here, despite the scent while dry. There’s also a fairly strong vanilla/cream flavour, which pairs really nicely with the coconut. Together, they’re totally reminiscent of coconut cream pie filling! This is naturally quite a sweet tea, so quite a contrast with yesterday’s Cucumber Melon SBT. I’ve got into the habit of always trying these without additions first, and it’s definitely proved worthwhile. This one is so spot on, it needs nothing else to help it shine.

I guess that makes it another inherently satisfying SBT. It’s HOT today, so this has made my day of work infinitely more bearable so far, especially when fridge cold. It’s flavoursome and beautifully refreshing. Everything you could want in an iced tea, really!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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80
drank RadioactiviTEA by Man Teas
940 tasting notes

This is one robust tea! I made a cup for myself on Sunday afternoon to try and galvanise myself for the week of work ahead. I was feeling pretty stressed at the prospect, and so a strong, plain, dependable tea was just the ticket.

I gave 1 tsp of leaf 3 minutes in boiling water, and added a splash of milk. I was expecting a fairly generic black CTC, but this actually tastes remarkably distinctive. It’s malty with a slight edge of sweetness, a touch of honey, and a little baked bread. I’m going to say rye bread, because it’s a dark kind of taste. There’s a tiny bit of astringency in the aftertaste, but it’s actually reasonably pleasant. To be fair, I was expecting it in a tea so strong.

I do want to try this with cream at some point, because I think that would really turn it into something special. Maybe a little sugar, on occasion, although it’s malty enough to not really need that. This is a straightforward, easy drinking tea, but it’s also flavourful and delicious. I confess myself very pleasantly surprised! This may become my go-to “stress” tea.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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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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