1718 Tasting Notes
I ordered a bunch of samples from Luhse a while back, because I’d long been curious about the company and their tea. Their branding is fairly unique – I like the 20s, prohibition theme, and the use of characters to give their teas a backstory. It’s definitely different! The samples contain enough tea for 2-3 cups, depending on leaf type, and are packaged in square foli-lined pouches with a brown, Kraft paper exterior. They’re not resealable, but as they’re so tiny that’s not really a problem.
Getting Lei’d is a green blend with pineapple flavouring. I love pineapple, so I pretty much had to give this one a try. The tea leaves are a fairly uniform dark green, folded and flat, but fairly small. I’d say Sencha, as an educated guess. There are blue cornflower and red safflower petals scattered throughout, which gives this blend a really pretty appearance, and one or two chunks of freeze-dried pineapple. The scent is beautifully tropical, with strong notes of pineapple. I have high hopes for this one!
As per the recommended parameters, I used 1 tsp of leaf and gave it 2 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees. The resulting liquor is a medium yellow-green, and the scent is faintly tropical. Unfortunately, faint is probably the operative word as far as this tea is concerned. The pineapple flavouring is just about discernible, but sadly nowhere near as strong as I’d like. Saying that, I can taste it throughout the sip, and it’s obvious what it is, so they’re both points in its favour. I can also taste the green tea base, which is a touch floral and a touch grassy – it suits the image of the Lei in that respect! There’s no bitterness or astringency here, which are also favourable points. I’m just left feeling that I’d like a lot more punchiness, and I’m a little underwhelmed by this one as a whole. This is a pleasant tea, and while I wouldn’t turn down the occasional cup, it’s not one I’d look to repurchase in quantity.
This is a first flush Assam from Golden Tips Tea, picked in March 2014 on the Harmutty Tea Estate. I’ve only tried one first flush Assam in my life before, so I’m interested to see how this one compares. The leaves are fairly small and wiry, mostly a uniform black-brown, but with some lighter (milk chocolate) brown leaves scattered throughout. The scent is heavily malty, with a moderately strong spiciness. I used 1 tsp of leaves for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk.
To taste, this is the mildest Assam I’ve tried for a while. It doesn’t lack flavour, but it seems somehow softer and more gentle on the tastebuds, unlike some of the very punchy, tannic Assams I’ve been drinking recently. It’s sweetly malty, and there’s still a bit of a kick lurking there, though. Golden Tips do some of the maltiest Assams I’ve come across yet, and this one is no exception! A wonderful treacle-like flavour emerges in the mid-sip, maybe not quite as deep a flavour as molasses, but along those lines. The aftertaste is remarkably savoury after the intensity of the malt, veering more towards potato or yam like notes. This is a very smooth tea, very easy to drink, and makes for a good mid-morning pick-me-up.
I like the variation it’s possible to find between Assam from one estate and Assam from another. It’s like there’s one for all seasons, and for all times of the day. I’ve been impressed with those I’ve tried so far from Golden Tips – it’s certainly a site worth checking if you’re looking for a new Assam, or for another Indian tea. The 10g sample size is enough for 3 or so cups, and is just perfect for trying something new! I’ll certainly be looking to repurchase a selection of their Assams in the future, and maybe to broaden my horizons still further.
Bluebird Tea Co. kindly provided a 2-cup sachet of this tea as a sample with my last order. Naturally, I was instantly curious! It’s a fruity Earl Grey with Ceylon as the base tea, and I can imagine the citrus notes Ceylon can possess working well here. The dry leaf is in reasonably small pieces, and mostly a fairly uniform black although there are a few lighter, reddish-brown, leaves scattered throughout. The fruit here is papaya and strawberry, and I can see tiny freeze-dried pieces of both in the dry mix, although not in quantity. It’s literally just a piece here and there. There are also a few lime leaf pieces, which add an extra hint of colour. Dry, the scent is typical Earl Grey, with sharp notes of bergamot. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium red-brown. I made no additions, although judging from the colour of the brew, I can imagine this one standing up well to milk after perhaps a 3 or 4 minute steep.
To taste, this one is deceptively fruity! It’s hard to imagine, from the scent and appearance of the dry leaf, but it is the case! The initial flavour is all strawberry, and it’s deliciously creamy. It almost reminds me of strawberry milkshake! It’s a fairly candy-like strawberry, and not as natural tasting as some, but it steers well clear of artificial. There’s a hint of jasmine in the mid-sip which adds a heady richness, although fortunately it remains on the right side of floral for my tastes. The bergamot emerges mostly towards the end of the sip, and it is quite sharp. This is not a tea for bergamot haters, by any means! There’s also a bite of astringency from the Ceylon base, and together the combination is rather jarring, especially when contrasted with the sweet, creamy, fruitiness of the initial sip. That’s a slight disappointment to me, because I rarely have trouble with astringency when drinking Ceylon – it’s one of my favourite black tea varieties for that reason. As the tea cools, however, some of the astringency wears away and it becomes more palatable. This being the case, I’m starting to think that Earl’s Paradise might work better as a cold brew. At the very least, it needs to cool a little before drinking for the best experience. Possibly milk would help to smooth the edges on this one, although some Earl Grey purists might disagree. The other disappointment with this one is the lack of papaya – I just can’t taste it at all. The strawberry is so nice that it’s not a huge problem, but it is a little one-note. More so than perhaps it was intended to be.
See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/07/01/earls-paradise-black-tea-bluebird-tea-co/
This is a second flush Assam from Golden Tips Tea, picked in June 2014 on the Halmari Tea Estate. The dry leaf smells sweet and malty with a rich, nutty undertone, and it’s a treasure to look at. The leaves themselves are fairly thin and a little curly, mostly dark brown but with some lighter golden tipped leaves, and some pure golden leaves, scattered throughout. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a bright reddish-brown, and I added a splash of milk.
When I read the name of this tea, I was hoping that it would be a “Golden Lion” variety. These Assams have a lot in common with Chinese Yunnan black teas, which I absolutely adore. Judging by the scent of the wet leaf, it looks like my wish has been granted. Sweet potato and chocolate notes abound!
To taste, this one is an absolute delight. The initial sip is quite strong – very, very malty, with a strong squashy, yam like flavour. It’s also quite tannic, so perhaps to be avoided on an empty stomach. Successive sips show this to be a very smooth tea, although I’m pretty sure the milk is helping to round out what might otherwise have been quite rough edges. The chocolate notes emerge towards the end of the sip, and add an extra layer of sweet creaminess to what is already a sweet, smooth, malty cup. This is certainly a full-bodied tea; rich and flavourful, and immensely satisfying as a mid-afternoon pick me up.
See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/06/30/halmari-gold-assam-golden-tips-tea/
This is the Crush-Tear-Curl (or CTC) version of Golden Tips Tea’s signature blend Exotic Assam. For those unfamiliar, CTC is a method of mechanised tea processing, during which the tea leaves are passed through cylindrical rollers lined with tiny “teeth” which shred and roll the leaf into tiny pellets. The dry leaf smells very strong – malty with an edge of bitterness. It’s a smell I associate with the supermarket tea bags of my childhood. The leaf itself is a uniform black, formed into tiny balls.
I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it a scant 1.5 minutes in boiling water. This one brews FAST, and the resulting liquor darkens to a deep chocolate brown mere seconds after the leaf is added to the water. The scent at this stage is powerful, too – it’s readily identifiable as “tea” in the best builder’s sense of the word. Like the dry leaf, it’s malty with a bitter edge. I added a good splash of milk.
To taste, this one seems a little generic. It’s sweet and malty, as Assam typically is, and it has a thick, almost syrupy mouthfeel because of that. There’s a tiny hit of bitterness right at the end of the sip, although this intensifies as I continue to drink until it’s ultimately a little drying and astringent. My teeth actually feel a little “furry” after about half a cup, assumedly from the high tannin levels. This is definitely a full-bodied tea, but it’s a little one-note, and lacks some depth and complexity. It’s malty, for sure, but that’s about all I can really say.
See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/06/25/ctc-assam-exotic-black-tea-golden-tips/
This is an herbal tea from Adagio’s Sunlit Blooms collection. It’s a floral blend, containing whole chamomile flowers, lavender and rose petals. It also contains peppermint, hibiscus, and blackberry leaves. Judging by the dry leaf, the main constituent is blackberry leaves, which are green and fluffy, rather like raspberry leaves. The other ingredients seem rather sparse.
I used 1.5tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is yellow-green, which is doubtless testament to how little hibiscus is actually in this blend. The scent is deeply herbal – predominantly chamomile and lavender as far as I can discern.
To taste, this is a mild, lightly floral blend. Rose is clearly there, and lavender, although both are less pungent than might be expected, and don’t make the cup taste “perfumey” in the way they sometimes can. Half of me appreciates this, as teas with heavy perfume-like flavours can be rather cloying. The other half is wishing for a bit more flavour, as the overall effect is rather thin-tasting. The chamomile emerges a little towards the end of the sip, adding a honey-like sweetness that works well with the floral flavours. It’s a pleasant enough cup, if a little bland and weak. It’s like this tea is lacking in personality.
See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/06/20/pocketful-posies-herbal-tea-adagio-teas/
Ah, Victoria Sponge. My favourite cake. Obviously when I found a tea that claims to replicate it, I just had to give it a try. Of all the people I’d trust to get it right, Bluebird Tea Co. top the list. The scent is right, for starters. Upon opening the pouch, I’m greeted with a waft of raspberries and vanilla. As ever with Bluebird, the dry leaf itself is a thing of beauty – fluffy green raspberry leaves, whole freeze-dried raspberries, smaller pieces of freeze-dried strawberry, and a scattering of desiccated coconut shreds. All on a black tea base, Ceylon specifically in this case. I used 1.5 tsp of leaf for my cup (the raspberries are so huge, they throw the measurement out a bit!), and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. No additions. The resulting liquor is a medium golden brown. The scent, like the dry leaf, is deliciously raspberry-vanilla. I really am thinking cake now!
To taste, the initial flavour is 100% raspberry. It’s quite a tart raspberry, but just sweet enough to stop it being jarring. What’s particularly nice is that it tastes like actual fresh raspberries – there’s no candy-like or artificial-tasting raspberry to be found here. Vanilla emerges in the mid-sip, and adds a pleasant creaminess and an extra dimension of sweetness that puts me in mind of the buttercream filling that usually accompanies raspberry jam in a Victoria Sponge. There’s a tiny hint of cake right at the end of the sip, but it’s a little fleeting. The coconut just starts to come through, and I think it’s this paired with the other ingredients that produce this effect, interestingly.
See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/06/21/vickys-sponge-cake-from-bluebird-tea-co/
This is a signature blend second flush Assam from Golden Tips Tea, picked in August 2013. The dry leaf smells sweet and malty with an undertone of spice, and the leaves themselves are fairly thin and wiry, mostly black but with some lighter, golden tipped leaves scattered throughout. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a bright reddish-brown, and I added a splash of milk.
Assam is one of my absolute favourite black tea varieties. It’s one of the first I tried when I was younger, and it’s probably fair to say that my enjoyment of it encouraged my interest in tea generally. It’s always with pleasure that I try a new Assam, and this one is no exception.
What I’m tasting here is fairly typical of the variety, I think. There’s an initial sweetness that becomes intensely malty in the mid-sip, and a hint of woodiness in the aftertaste. There are very mild cocoa notes, but they’re fleeting and by no means a prominent part of the overall flavour. It’s a full bodied tea, with a thickly textured mouthfeel, very smooth and almost creamy. The malt becomes more dominant with successive sips, which only increases this effect.
See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/06/19/assam-exotic-black-tea-golden-tips/
This is a flavoured genmaicha blend from one of the UK’s few independent tea mixologists – Bluebird Tea Co. This blend has been around since the inception of the company, so it’s one of their “original” teas, so to speak. It’s probably fair to say that they’ve come along in leaps and bounds since then, but this blend stands the test of time.
The dry leaf contains pretty much a 50/50 mixture of toasted brown rice and roasted green tea. The base tea is a blend of Chinese and Japanese greens; the Japanese being Bancha and the Chinese unspecified. The leaves are fairly small – some are darker and rolled into thin tubes, others are a lighter green and folded in appearance. There are some pieces of popcorn, although few compared to some genmaicha blends I’ve tried. There’s a generous smattering of apple cubes throughout.
I used 1 tsp of leaf and gave it 2.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a bright yellow-orange, and smells primarily of sugar puffs, but with an edge of seaweed. An odd combination if ever there was one!
See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/06/19/toasted-apple-green-tea-bluebird-tea-co/
It’s easy to get hooked on these iced teas. They’re just so flavourful and easy to prepare, there’s really nothing not to love. I’ve tried a couple of other “ice cream” flavoured teas, but this one is still by far the best. This one got the standard SBT brewing treatment from me – 2 mins in a 1/4 litre of boiling water, topped up to 1.8 litres with cold water, and into the fridge overnight. The main flavour I can pick out here is chocolate, followed by a creamy vanilla in the background. The strawberry is a little shy and fleeting, but it’s identifiable in the mid sip most of the time. The three combine beautifully in the aftertaste, to give the full neapolitan effect. Amazing!
See my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2015/06/17/neapolitan-ice-cream-iced-tea-southern-boy-teas/