1623 Tasting Notes
I can’t believe no-one else has tried/reviewed this tea before now! I picked it up a while ago and have been saving it for the winter, and today seemed like the perfect day to finally give it a chance. It’s a cold, crisp, chai day!
The dry leaf is really interesting to look at. The three varieties of tea are easily discernable, from the golden, slightly downy Bi Luo Chun, to the wiry black Fujian, through to the rolled, slightly greenish pearls of Brandy Oolong. Then there are the cloves – so many cloves! – and the red streaks of safflower. It really is a beauty. The scent dry, and while brewing, is very chai-like. Spicy, with hints of ginger and orange, and the slight dankness of clove. I used 2 tsp of leaf, and gave it 5 minutes in boiling water. No additions.
Brewed, the liquor isn’t as dark as I was expecting — it’s actually a red-brown, and the scent is both spicy and chocolatey. It really is reminiscent of spiced hot chocolate! It actually reminds me in scent along of both Bluebird’s Dark Choc Chilli Chai, and 52 Teas Mayan Chocolate Chai. I didn’t really care for either of those, but perhaps this will be an exception. I’ve not had a bad experience with Whispering Pines yet, after all.
The first thing that struck me about this tea is how smooth it is. It tastes almost glossy. It’s also deliciously chocolatey, and it’s pleasant to know that this flavour is a natural aspect of tea varieties used, rather than an artificial addition. It’s a dark chocolate flavour, and slightly dry in the way of cocoa nibs, beautifully complemented by the spice notes (which are actually second to emerge in the flavour). I can pick out cinnamon, ginger, cardamon and clove, with maybe a touch of orange zest right in the background. At the end of the sip, there’s a definite baked apple note, and just a touch of vanilla sweetness. As this one cools, it develops a distinctive barely or grain flavour, but retains a sweet cocoa-tinged maltiness.
This is a perfect cold-weather tea – beautifully warming and comforting! I can imagine taking this one with me on a long walk – it may become a future timolino companion!
Final Butiki of the “morning” (even though it is now after 12pm, it’s still before lunch). First thing – this one smells divine while brewing! I used 1.5 tsp of leaf, and gave it 2.5 minutes in boiling water. As soon as the leaves hit the water, I was greeted with a wonderful creamy, caramel-vanilla scent. I stood for a few seconds just inhaling the steam, it was so good – it actually reminds me a little of Butiki’s Caramel Vanilla Assam.
I’ve heard a lot about this tea, so I’m going to go with the recommendation of drinking it hot. The first sip is wonderful – very creamy, tasting strongly of vanilla, with a coffee-like bitterness lurking just underneath the surface. It’s extremely rich, and it does remind me a little of Irish Cream. I’m even getting a bit of biscuitty, cheesecake-esque flavour right at the end of the sip, although it’s rather fleeting.
I can taste the darjeeling base quite prominently – it has that grapey, slightly metallic flavour that I associate with second flush. As my cup cools, I can taste the beginnings of astringency, and the flavour does seem to fade a little. Having said that, I’m not sure I could drink an entire cup at the initial level of rich creaminess. I think it would end up being too cloying. I’m at the stage (about half way through my cup) where the touch of bitterness is actually reasonably welcome, since it’s stopping what’s currently gorgeously tasty become overpowering. I’m also getting more buttery biscuit at this stage as well, and it makes this into a seriously yummy cup.
I’m really happy with this one, although I do appreciate that I drank it with the benefit of other people’s hindsight and advice. I think it captures both the sweet, rich, creamy vanilla, irish cream flavoured aspect AND the buttery biscuit base aspect of cheesecake superbly, IF it’s caught at its peak point. Now that I’m coming to the end of my rapidly cooling cup, I’m mostly just tasting a slightly astringent darjeeling. Although it’s pleasant darjeeling, for all that.
Second Butiki of the morning! I followed the recommendation again with this one, and gave 1 tsp of leaf 3 minutes in boiling water. While brewing, the scent is distinctively bready. It reminds me of an assam in some ways, although not as sweet or malty.
The bready flavour is retained quite strongly in the initial sip. There’s a cake-like aspect to it also, but it’s more reminiscent of banana loaf than traditional sponge. Flavours of walnut and cinnamon emerge in the mid sip, rounded off with a vanilla sweetness that really does make me think of frosting. The base tea is the perfect choice – it’s not too obtrusive, but I suspect that it’s responsible for the bread/cake flavour, which is such an essential and integral part of the tea as a whole.
I’ve only tried a couple of carrot cake flavoured teas before, but if I’d never tried any I’d still have said that this one is spot on. It’s as close to carrot cake as it should be possible to get in liquid form, and I particularly enjoy the progression between flavours; bread/cake, walnut, cinnamon, vanilla. Just like eating an actual slice, I suppose!
I really admire Stacy’s ability to create flavoured tea like this, and I’ll certainly miss this one when it’s gone. I’d actually like to have tried it with a cream cheese frosting flavour – if any company could pull that off, Butiki could have. Since that’s not going to happen, I’ll content myself with vanilla. Either way, it’s sheer brilliance.
Slowly working through my untried Butikis. This one is a double win for me – the name makes me smile, because I love Douglas Adams, and a smile from me at work is a rare thing these days. Black licorice is also one of my favourite things, and to have it replicated in tea form is something out of my dreams. Usually licorice in tea is in root form, and I just don’t get along with that. Anyway, we started off an a good foot, as this tea has given me TWO reasons to be cheerful this morning!
So. The tea. As per the recommended parameters, I gave 1.5 tsp of leaf 3.5 minutes in boiling water and added a splash of milk. While brewing, the scent is primarily chai like, with very prominent spice notes. The initial flavour is also predominantly chai, and I can pick out cinnamon, clove, cardamon and fennel. In a way, this is a tea of two halves, because as the initial chai flavour fades it leads naturally into a delicious, almost chewy, black licorice flavour. There’s a hint of aniseed sweetness, but it’s not really a particularly sweet blend – a hint of sugar might make this one more candy-like. I’m happy with it as is, though. Licorice isn’t a particularly sweet flavour to my mind, and I like the almost tarry, molasses-like depth of flavour that it adds to this blend.
This is another Butiki stunner, and pretty much the perfect chai blend in my estimation. Just the thing for a chilly January morning.
Back from my Christmas break today, and time to be brave once again. I mostly drank teas I was familiar with over the holidays – old friends I knew wouldn’t let me down. Now that reality has set back in, I’m back to my usual routine.
I picked this one up with a Butiki order a while ago, and it’s languished in my cupboard ever since. That’s because I’m more afraid of pu’erh than I like to admit. My last one wasn’t so bad, though, and that’s given me the confidence to continue my journey today.
I gave this one 2 minutes in boiling water for a first steep, and the resulting liquor is an orangey-red-brown. It smells typically pu’erh like, earthy with a hint of sweaty horse.
The taste, on the other hand, couldn’t be more different. It’s fresh, sweet, and far more reminiscent of a forest after a rain shower than a pig sty or horse’s stable. There’s an earthiness in the initial sip, but it’s a grassy-earthiness rather than a muddy-earthiness; very clean and green-tasting, if not quite what I’d call vegetal. The mid-sip is cooling and little camphor like. It puts me in mind of mint, but there’s no mintiness in the flavour. I can taste leaves and herbs more than anything – I’m thinking maybe basil or oregano with a hint of chlorophyll in the aftertaste.
This has been a completely unexpected cup, and by far the most pleasant experience I’ve ever had with a pu’erh. I probably could have left this one to brew longer, and I would definitely feel happy to go with the recommended 7 minutes for subsequent steeps. As it’s nearly time to go home, though, I’m not going to get to try this today. Definitely one to revisit, though.
A sample from KittyLovesTea. Another bagged green, this time just plain. I let the water cool to around 175 degrees, and left it approximately 2 minutes. The resulting liquor is medium yellow, with a very faint vegetal aroma. The taste is similar; a smooth, sweetish, mildly vegetal green. It’s nothing amazing, and it doesn’t have a great deal of flavour, but it’s pleasant to drink nonetheless with not a hint of bitterness or astringency to be found.
A sample from KittyLovesTea
I’m making an effort to sip down all of my remaining samples before Christmas, so that next year can be a fresh start. This one appealed to me most this morning, so into a cup it went! It’s a bagged green, so I let the water cool to around 175 degrees, and gave it about 2.5 minutes.
My previous experiences with bagged green teas haven’t been amazingly positive, but this one is a pleasant change. The green tea base is smooth and mildly vegetal, and pairs well with the mild, peppery mango flavouring. The flavour here is making me think mostly of a slightly underripe mango – perhaps one that’s still a little green, and a touch on the hard side. I can’t taste as much of the fruit as I’d have liked, and there’s none of the sweetness I typically associate with mango. In any case, this is a decent bagged flavoured green. I can taste mango, albeit mild, and the green base is pleasant. A refreshing cup!
Yay! More mulberries. This came to me as a sample from KittyLovesTea, and fits perfectly with my current mulberry adoration. This is a herbal blend, containing mulberry leaves and macadamia nuts. As per the recommended parameters, I used 1.5tsp of leaf, and gave it about 4 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is yellow-green (pretty perfect considering that this is a Halloween themed tea!), and smells deliciously sweet and creamy.
To taste, it’s just as wonderful as I’d hoped. There’s the initial taste of sweet, rich caramel that I’ve come to expect from mulberry teas, which is perfectly augmented by the creamy nuttiness of the macadamia nuts. It’s one of those rare teas that tastes as good as it smells, and in this case that’s very good indeed.
I’d happily drink this for the rest of my life, but I had just a one cup sample that’s now gone. On the strength of those I’ve tried so far, Mulberry teas are definitely something I’ll seek out in the future. Absolutely delicious!
A sample from KittyLovesTea. I quite like orange in fruit teas, so I was interested to give this one a go. Interestingly, there’s a whole lot of chamomile in this blend. I can also see pieces of dried orange peel, cranberries, rosehip and hibiscus. Maybe good or maybe bad. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is an odd reddish-grreen, and smells distinctly herbal. It’s hard to pinpoint an exact scent, but I wouldn’t say orange or cranberry.
Similarly with the taste, which is mostly chamomile and hibiscus. The hibiscus comes our first, as it usually does, and adds a tart, slightly sour, overtone. Second to emerge is the chamomile, which is sweet and honey-like. Not a great combination with hibi. I can taste a tiny bit of orange right at the end of the sip, but it’s nothing like as strong as I was hoping. Mostly, drinking this one reminds me of berocca.
It’s not unpleasant, per se, but it’s not a winner with me either. I can’t taste cranberry at all, so it’s mostly a hibiscus-chamomile tea, with an aftertaste of orange. Drinkable, but disappointing.
A sample from KittyLovesTea. First flush darjeeling is one of my favourite things in the world, so I’m always pleased when the opportunity arises to try a new one! The leaf here looks fairly typical – small in size, variagated from dark to light green, with some downy silver buds. There are some tiny leaf fragments. I gave 1 tsp of leaf 1.5 minutes in boiling water, as this is the method I’ve found best suits my tastes. The resulting liquor is light golden brown, maybe a touch yellowish. The scent is fruity and a little woody.
There’s huge fruitiness in the initial sip – I’m thinking stonefruit particularly; apricot and peach. A wonderful muscatel grape note emerges in the mid-sip, and adds a richness and depth to the overall flavour. There’s a slight woodiness right at the end of the sip. While this isn’t an astringent tea, I’d say it’s definitely brisk, leaving a slight dryness in my mouth. The tea itself is smooth and almost honeyed in texture, so it’s a slightly odd contrast, but not unpleasant.
I like this one a lot, which makes me feel a little sad. I wish I’d had the opportunity to explore Tea Horse’s offerings a little more before they closed, but such is life. An excellent, intensely flavourful first flush darjeeling.