1723 Tasting Notes

90

The beginning of the cold weather pretty much always signals a return to Keemun for me, and it looks like this year is no exception. I think the rich dark chocolate and smoke characteristics are what pull me back towards it as soon as the mornings turn chilly. They’re not flavours I particularly crave in the summer, but now…

I started this year with the superfine fragrant, and now I’m trying this one. The leaves here are much shorter and a lot less tippy, but still thin and wiry in appearance. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water, splash of milk.

To taste, this is mostly cocoa-like dark chocolate, slightly drying, with a light undertone of smoke. There’s also an edge of juiciness that reminds me of Taiwanese black teas. It’s strong and malty, quite sweet after the richness of the initial sip has worn off. I’m not usually a fan of anything smoky, but on this occasion I’m actually a fan. I think without it this would be a pretty one-note tea, but as it is it’s adding an element of depth that I’m really enjoying, and it stops it from crossing the line into too sweet/cloying. A pretty solid keemun, all in all, and one I’d be more than happy to drink again.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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55
drank Earl Grey by New English Teas
1723 tasting notes

I wanted something simple this afternoon, and this fit the bill pretty perfectly. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk, because that’s what I do. Dry, it has the unmistakable scent of Earl Grey – slightly bitter citrus-floral. It’s a scent I find oddly calming, even though I’m not a particular fan of bergamot generally.

Once brewed, it’s a fairly tame beast. The bergamot is very light and really not much more than a background flavour, and the citrus-inflected sweetness of the ceylon base takes precedence. Of the trio of teas I received, this is the only one that’s not CTC, which I guess makes sense for an Earl Grey.

This isn’t a tea that’s particularly out of the ordinary, and it’s not the best Earl Grey I’ve ever tried, but it’s straightforward and easy to drink, and sometimes that’s really all I want. A middle-of-the-road kind of affair.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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30
drank Jasmine Rose by Waitrose
1723 tasting notes

This one came to me from a work colleague, who wasn’t sure about the “old lady/mothballs” flavour. To me, it smells like turkish delight…

This is a bagged supermarket tea, although it’s a silky pyramid get-up containing pretty sizeable green tea leaves and a decent smattering of dried rose petal fragments. I gave the bag 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees.

To taste, it’s pretty strongly floral – more strongly than I typically enjoy (and yes, I did the scrunchy face). It had a pleasant turkish delight undertone, but the level of flavouring could stand to be taken down a notch or two and it would still be good. Better, in fact, because it wouldn’t be so hopelessly overpowering. The jasmine is strong, the rose stronger, and there’s also a degree of initial bitterness that really makes this one a no-no for me.

If I were to try this one again, I’d give it a very short brew time, maybe around the minute mark. I think that’s the only thing that’d recuse this one for me.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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90

Dave and Solomons are a mother and son tea blending company, currently selling their indie creations on their Etsy store. I hadn’t come across them before this sample arrived with me, but it’s always nice to discover a new tea company, if a little dangerous for the bank account! Lavender Dream is a fruit and herbal blend, combining the sweet fruitiness of peach with the light floral of lavender.

Read my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2016/10/30/lavender-dream-from-dave-and-solomons-tea/

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
Memily

Oh cool! Etsy teas…

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90
drank Anxi Tie Guan Yin by teasenz
1723 tasting notes

I can’t remember the last time I drank a Tie Guan Yin, which is something of a surprise as it’s become one of my favourite oolong varieties. I was more than pleased when I came across this one, not least because it’s a good opportunity to reacquaint myself. This particular Tie Guan Yin is from the Anxi Nature Reserve in Fujian Province, a major Chinese tea growing region (although one I seem to associate more with black tea than with oolong, strangely enough!)

Read my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2016/10/26/anxi-tie-guan-yin-from-teasenz/

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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60
drank Catnap by Aka Tea
1723 tasting notes

I misread the name of this tea at first, and thought it said “Catnip.” Turns out I wasn’t far wrong, because this blend does actually contain catnip. It’s even more fitting when you consider that the company logo, and indeed the majority of their blends, are cat themed.

Catnap is purportedly a relaxing blend, containing chamomile, mint, lemon verbena, lemon balm…and catnip. In my head, catnip isn’t something I typically associate with relaxation – it conjures images of bright-eyed, mischief-making kittens. Maybe in humans the effects are different.

Read my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2016/10/22/catnap-aka-tea/

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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80

A sample from Roswell Strange. It’s taken me a while to get around to trying this one, for various unrelated reasons, but today’s the day! I find I drink more matcha in autumn/winter, anyway, because that’s when my energy levels typically tend to slump. I don’t think I drank any matcha this summer, which is surprising now I think about it.

Anyway. This one. I made it up as a latte (because I’ve worked out pretty conclusively now that that’s the only way I can drink matcha and enjoy it.) I used 1/4 tsp of powder, whisked it into about 1.5 inches of boiling water, and then topped off with hot milk. For reference, this is the basic grade matcha with the distinctive level flavouring.

I should probably say upfront that pistachios are my favourite nut. I found the initial sip a lot sweeter than I was expecting, for some reason, but then there’s a distinctive creamy nuttiness that’s almost identifiable as pistachio. It falls a tiny bit short in terms of flavour definition, but it’s definitely nutty, and it’s really almost there, so I’m going to say it’s good with me. It’s more of a pistachio flavoured puddingey, custardy effect than just straight pistachio, but it turns out that’s a delicious thing. I’m pretty sure I have an almond matcha sample tucked away somewhere, so it’ll be interesting to compare when I try that one.

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85

First tea of the morning! Like English Afternoon, this one also appears to be a blend of Ceylon teas. It’s actually very similar to English Afternoon, maybe a touch maltier, and with slightly more muted citrus notes. On the whole, though, I’m not sure I’d be able to tell them apart. They’re both CTCs, both very strong, and they have similar flavours.

It’s pleasant to drink, and it doesn’t require any particular thought or concentration, but I’m not sure it’s different enough from English Afternoon to warrant a different name. They’re basically the same tea.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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85

My tin of English Afternoon only mentions that it’s a blend of Ceylon teas, so it’s not the Ceylon/Kenyan blend that a few others have tried…My tiny tin was part of the Alice in Wonderland themed set, but I don’t know whether that alone accounts for the difference.

In any case, it’s a pretty solid CTC black. It brews up a wonderfully inky black-brown, so I added a decent splash of milk to round things out. It’s malty with a crisp citrus edge, so just what I’d expect from a Ceylon, really. Nothing complicated, just good, plain black tea. I’ve been drinking it after lunch to help me deal with the inevitable 3.00pm slump, but it’d also be a good wake-up blend, it’s that strong. For a CTC, not bad.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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25

Unlike this morning’s Gurana Chai, this one really is minty. A lot minty. I’ve never had a mint-chai blend before, so I’m not entirely sure what to expect. It’s a black base – assam and darjeeling – but with less spices than you’d normally expect – just ginger, lemongrass, and cardamon. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water.

The result is…interesting. Straight off, I’m not sure I’m a fan. I did the scrunchy nose thing, which generally tells me everything I need to know before I even take a second sip. The black base and the mint work. That’s a thing. It’d work even better with some vanilla, and if the darjeeling was removed from the equation. But even with the darjeeling, it would work. Black tea, mint, and chai spices…doesn’t work. It clashes. In all kinds of odd ways. It sounds like it should work well enough. If I think of ingredient pairings in my head, I’m not immediately disgusted. I wouldn’t even question most of them. Mint and ginger, okay. Black tea and caradmon, fine. Ginger and black tea, ginger and lemongrass…it’s all fine. In practice, though…just no. I want this to be either a mint and vanilla black, or a chai. As it stands, it’s a weird halfway and I’m not enjoying it. I wanted to like it…but I don’t. Sorry Bluebird!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp
Super Starling!

Oh, no, it doesn’t even sound good in my HEAD. But I like your openness to new experiences. Thank you for taking the fall for us. Insert us holding up the Katniss Everdeen 3-finger salute of the rebellion in your honor.

Nicole/Tea-Historic

I love the pudina chai I’ve tried from another company. The one I had was only mint and darjeeling. The chai spices don’t even sound appealing. :(

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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.

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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