1637 Tasting Notes

75

So that interview I had. I waited over an hour and a half at reception, before I finally gave up and walked out. No-one I spoke to was able to explain what had happened, or seemed to be able to contact anyone who might feasibly know. I came back home to a half apologetic, half rude email saying that organising interviews in a busy building is very complicated, and that it was my fault anyway for not confirming that I’d be attending. I had confirmed, and have since provided a copy of my email, but despite making several complaints (including one half rational, half pissed-as-hell burst of eloquence that I’m quite convinced would inspire abject sorrow in an inanimate object) I don’t feel I’m getting anywhere. This from Cambridge, one of the most well-known and respected Universities in the world. I just expected better. And not to make a 100 mile trip purely to sit in a reception and stare at a wall for the better part of the morning. I don’t know what to think or do at the moment, but I am sure that this has been quite a week.

This tea was today’s cold brew. I used up the rest of my sample to make it – just over 2 tbsp of leaf in 2 litres of cold water, into the fridge for 10 hours overnight. Despite the slight overleafing, I actually think this one came out a bit on the weak and watery side. It wasn’t bad exactly, but it definitely had less flavour than I was expecting. Mostly, it reminded me of citrus fruit pith, but there were brighter bursts of orange towards the end of the sip. It’s a shame they didn’t really linger. This is definitely a tea I prefer hot!

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more 4 tsp 68 OZ / 2000 ML
Fjellrev

Oh god, I am so sorry they wasted your time and are trying to turn it around on you like it’s your fault. The freaking nerve. And to travel that far to deal with that too. Unbelievable. I really hope something better will come up.

Super Starling!

What a nightmare. I vow to flip a table on your behalf. Unacceptable.

Scheherazade

Your comments are the first things that have made me smile since it happened :) All I really want from them now is for them to admit that they screwed up and apologise, which I think the situation more than merits. I’m glad it’s not just me that thinks it was unacceptable – it was really starting to feel that way!

Kristal

Wow, that’s ridiculous!! This reminds me of an article I read recently that said if an organization is terrible in the interview process then it’s most likely an organization you probably don’t want to work for anyways. Still though, what a piss off!!

rosebudmelissa

One of the things that I found most frustrating about the fact that universities are run like businesses these days is that as the student, I was the product. The staff are employees, the parents who are usually paying for some of your schooling and the future employers who will enable you to pay back your student loans are the customers, so people care about their opinions, but even if you are paying your own way your opinion tends not to count for much so long as the “customers” are happy.

rosebudmelissa

One of the things that I found most frustrating about the fact that universities are run like businesses these days is that as the student, I was the product. The staff are employees, the parents who are usually paying for some of your schooling and the future employers who will enable you to pay back your student loans are the customers, so people care about their opinions, but even if you are paying your own way your opinion tends not to count for much so long as the “customers” are happy.

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85

Birthday tea! I’ve been hanging on to this sample pouch for a while, probably because it was a limited edition, and sounded like the kind of tea I might really like. Today is a “special occasion” (i.e. my birthday, which is depressing, so I needed cheering up with tea…) I felt like I’d waited long enough on this one, so I pulled it out to try! I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk, because ice cream, dairy…it seemed to fit the bill (and it would have felt odd not to add any.)

I’m pleased to report that it’s delicious! Super creamy, with a definite ice cream flavour. It’s not artificial ice cream, either, but a lovely, rich, “real vanilla” ice cream that you’d either make yourself with actual cream and vanilla pods, or pay a fortune for ready made. There’s also a definite root beer aspect, which really makes this into more of a root beer float than an ice cream float in my opinion, but since it’s lovely I’ll not complain about that too much. I can taste the chicory/medicinal-herbal flavour that’s so reminiscent of root beer for me, plus a fairly hefty dose of cinnamon that really helps to round things out. There’s also just a touch of smooth, sweet caramel towards the end of the sip.

Overall, I’m really pleased with this one. I hope Bluebird bring it back some day!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
Evol Ving Ness

Happy birthday to you!

caile

Happy birthday! :)

mrmopar

Happy Birthday!

Rui A.

Happy birthday. I hope you have sipped many great teas today.

Fjellrev

Have the happiest of birthdays! Sounds like the perfect tea to celebrate.

Super Starling!

Happy birthday!!!! I hope it turns around. :)

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80
drank Rocket Fuel by Adagio Teas
1637 tasting notes

Well, I officially have a cold. Just in time for my interview on Thursday, when I’ll doubtless be unattractively snotty and hopelessly croaky. Is it self-sabotage? Sometimes I wonder. I’m not drinking much tea, anyway, simply because I can’t taste it. I made up another cold-brew for my parents, though, and I sneaked a glass after lunch just to see whether my taste buds really are on holiday or not.

I can taste this, and I actually think the blueberry comes out more cold than it does hot. That’s always a bonus in my book, because I love blueberry. The orange is there, but it’s not as tangy as I remember from my hot cup, and it’s a lot more muted – more of a background flavour than anything.

I’m back at work next week (I’m always ill when I’m on leave, just in case anyone hadn’t noticed before now), so I’ll probably make up some more of this and take it with me.

I also bought more tea, because I’m bad, and also because I just had a shock (that really shouldn’t have been a shock, if I was being honest with myself). It made me feel better for a bit, and then I went back to worrying about my interview again. While unrelated to the shock, it’s equally unpleasant to dwell on.

Ever had one of those weeks you wish would just end?

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more 4 tsp 68 OZ / 2000 ML
Kittenna

I, too, have a cold, and wish this week was just over. I don’t have anything like an interview, but it’s just so unpleasant…

Fjellrev

Oh no, I hope you’ll be able to make at least a semi-recovery by then so it won’t completely sabotage you!

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75
drank Organic White Tea by Clipper
1637 tasting notes

This was the first white tea I ever tried. It was before I joined Steepster, before I really started drinking tea “properly” or “seriously” or whatever I should call my relationship with tea these days. I was studying for my MLitt in Scotland, and staying in a B&B for 2-3 nights a week. They weren’t particularly generous with the tea in the rooms, and the local (tiny) supermarket didn’t have a particularly huge selection, but they had a couple of things other than the normal bagged black, and they’re the ones I went for. The obsession was starting, even then. I remember picking this up mostly on a whim, maybe because Roland drinks it in Stephen King’s Wizard and Glass, and so the phrase “white tea” was in my brain anyway.

It came back to the hotel with me. I steeped it in boiling water for 4 minutes, and added milk. Poor tortured tea. Needleess to say, I didn’t really like it. In my defence, the box didn’t provide any helpful guidance, and actually suggested boiling water to begin with. The milk, I admit, was my mistake.

I think about it now and want to hit my previous self over the head, but we all started somewhere with tea. Some of our starts were possibly rockier than others. I’d like to go back and revisit this tea one day, just to see if I can make a better job of it. I’m sure I can, but this one deserves at least 75 for the pain I put it through.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Rui A.

Also in early spring try to get some fresh Longjing and Mao Feng green teas or White Peony white tea directly from China. My wife makes me get those every year. They are so yummy and aromatic.

Rasseru

Rui, Where do you get your peony from?

rosebudmelissa

White Peony is amazing.

Rui A.

We got it from a friend when we were last in Hong Kong. It was excellent.

Rui A.

Teavivre also has a couple of good ones.

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85
drank Tuscan Sun by RiverTea
1637 tasting notes

I made this one up as a cold brew for my family, since they’re really into their iced tea these days. I managed to grab a glass after lunch before they hoovered it all up, though! I enjoyed this one hot, but it really shines when it’s cold. The strawberry is front-and-centre, sweet and spot-on flavour accurate. The mango is much less prominent, but recognisable as a faint, peppery “orangeness” in the background. I like that the strawberry really comes into its own here, though – it was the flavour I bought the tea for in the first place, if I’m honest.

White tea seems to cold brew really well, which came as a surprise to me for some reason. I guess I’m usually all about the black teas, but white might be moving into second place, particularly during the summer. I remember vividly the first white tea I ever tried, and what I did with it, but that’s another story. Maybe noteworthy, actually.

I did the usual with this – 2 tbsp of leaf in 2 litres of water, into the fridge for 10 hours overnight.

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more 68 OZ / 2000 ML

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75

No notes for this one? I find that kind of difficult to believe, but there you go. I picked this one up a while ago, as far as I can remember? I think it was from one of last year’s collections, but I might be wrong about that. Anyway, I think my body is craving anything with a passing resemblance to vitamin C, since it’s the second orange-inflected blend I’ve picked up in the last 12 hours.

The combination of orange and mandarin really appealed to me, and it’s on a black base so that also made it a winner this morning. The Ceylon is perfect here – lightly cirtussy and brisk, and the perfect companion for the sharp, juicy orange and sweeter mandarin flavours it has going on.

There are a lot of other ingredients in this one – apple, hibiscus, blackberry leaf, lime leaf…the list goes on. None of them really seem to make an impression on the flavour, though. This is a straight-up, solid, bright, sunshine-y orange tea! Definitely one to try iced.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 45 sec 1 tsp

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80
drank Rocket Fuel by Adagio Teas
1637 tasting notes

This was last night’s pre-bedtime cup. I was impressed enough with Tea Rex to want to try the rest of the sampler pretty much straight away, but I was trying to get back under 200, and then I went on holiday, and it just basically never happened. Now that I’m back, it was first on my list to try!

I never expect all that much from Adagio, but these honeybush/rooibos blends are actually really good. I didn’t get much in the way of blueberry from this one, but I did get a nice tangy orange, a little sharp and a little sweet – just perfect really! I was also pretty impressed with the green rooibos in the base. I haven’t liked it all that much previously, but it actually worked really well here, adding a slight “pithiness” that helped to enhance the orange. Impressed! I’ll definitely be trying this one cold-brewed when I’m back at work.

In other news, I gave up on my no-buy, and on staying under 200, and bought more tea. The teas I bought on holiday pushed my count back up anyway, and I basically sat down this morning and thought “in for a penny, in for a pound.” So I have orders with Liquid Proust and August Uncommon , and I’m considering a Bluebird order because I’ve pretty much convinced myself that I need new Timolinos and it would be wrong not to get some tea at the same time, obviously. I also think I might be getting a cold (in July?) because my throat is awfully scratchy, and I have a big job interview this week that I’ve managed to totally stress myself out over. I needed tea therapy, and I got it. I’ll deal with the repercussions for my cupboard…later :)

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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75
drank Breakfast Brew by Suki Tea
1637 tasting notes

I’ve been away in Scotland this week, hence the lack of tasting notes! I didn’t take a lot of tea with me, purely because it wouldn’t have been especially practical and I was limited in terms of luggage capacity (read: one small holdall for five nights away). I did buy some tea to bring home while I was there, though, and I took every opportunity to sit down in a cafe and buy a cup, naturally.

The Waterstones Cafe in Edinburgh has the best view of the castle in the whole city, as far as I’m concerned, so I went in there often. They serve the Suki Breakfast blend by default unless you specifically request something else, and I’m writing this primarily because I was a lot more impressed with it than I expected to be.

At first I thought it was going to be a bit thin, based on the very light liquor colour. It’s not, though. It brews up to a beautifully vibrant orange-red, and it takes milk really well but is equally palatable without. I thought it made a really refreshing cup; lightly citrussy, a touch brisk, with just a hint of malt lurking in the background. Unexpectedly, a really good cup!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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95
drank Toronto Nights by RiverTea
1637 tasting notes

This is really good cold, but I’m finding that with a lot of white tea blends recently. I went with my standard preparation method – 2 tbsp in 2 litres of cold water, into the fridge for around 10 hours overnight. The flavour of the orange is more prominent that it is in the hot cup, the cinnamon less so. Running right through the middle of the whole thing is the sweet, slightly thick, frangipane-esque taste of almonds. Delicious!

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more 4 tsp 68 OZ / 2000 ML
Evol Ving Ness

Someone has devoted a tea to my beloved city and the tea is a win—YAY!

VariaTEA

I miss RiverTea :(

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90

I first tried this one on Saturday in my Timolino, but it didn’t make too much of an impression for reasons I don’t quite understand. It smells amazing! Rich chocolate, mint, and vanilla. Made in a cup, it also tastes great. This is the second time I’ve said it recently, but I think I’m getting to the stage with my Timolinos where they just need to be replaced.

Anyway, the tea. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and left it for 4 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk, just because it’s first thing and it brewed up pretty dark. I can actually see tiny black vanilla seeds on the surface of the tea, and the flavour of the vanilla is very prominent in the initial sip. It’s so creamy and rich, it’s actually reminding me of very high-end vanilla ice cream, or maybe even creme anglaise. So intense.

The chocolate is largely a flavour contributed by the Fujian black base, as far as I can discern. It’s a very cocoa-like chocolate, a little on the dry side, but not at all artificial. It’s also quite gentle, but it pairs well with the vanilla to create a very decadent, dessert-like effect. The mint is also very subtle, but it’s identifiable as a fresh, cooling sweetness in the background.

Chocolate, vanilla and mint are flavours that work well together, and I don’t think that can be disputed. Most of the debate comes down to whether the tea in question balances them well, and I think here it’s a definite yes. It’s pretty heavy on the vanilla, so it’d definitely help if you like your tea rich and creamy, but it certainly makes for a delicious cup! Another win from Liquid Proust.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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Profile

Bio

Hi :) I’m Sarah, 28, 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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