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689 Tasting Notes

85

This is one of the samples that came with my first Bluebird order. I’ve tried a good few chocolate teas now, but this is my first chocolate orange experience. It’s a combination I like in reality (Terry’s are a favourite of mine), so I’m interested to see how the tea version works out.

The dry leaves smell just like the chocolate bar. There’s the initial milky smoothness, and then the zesty zing of orange. I’m not 100% sure on the ingredients, but it looks like some kind of petal (maybe marigold?), pieces of orange and orange zest, something that looks like a hazelnut shaving, chocolate pieces, and maybe a small amount of hibiscus and rosehip, as well as black tea. All I know at this point is that if it tastes anything like it smells I’ll be too happy to care!

And it does, so I’m over the moon! The liquor, without milk, is a red-brown colour. With milk, it turns the colour of a latte or a mug of hot chocolate. The first thing I can taste is creamy, milky chocolate, followed swiftly by the slight tang of orange. It is just like drinking a bar of orange flavoured chocolate. Creamy, chocolatey, orangey. It sounds simple, and it is, but it’s so, so yummy and not at all artificial tasting. I’m really glad to have tried this one — thank you Bluebird!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Sil

mmm this does sound tasty

yyz

excited to try my sample now!

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100
drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
689 tasting notes

Another sample from Sil. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this tea, so it’s one I’ve been eager to try for a while, particularly since black teas have always been my favourite.

And this tea is black. The dry leaves are some of the most solidly and uniquely black I’ve seen so far, and they’re quite long and sort of curly. The scent is intensely chocolatey and maybe slightly bitter. It’s a good kind of bitterness, though, of the kind I’d attribute to dutch-process cocoa powder, which is what I’m being reminded of most at the moment. Definetly intriguing so far!

Brewed, the chocolatey scent remains and pulls through into the flavour. There’s also a slight something that reminds me of driving past a malting barley processing plant in the summer, and a deeper scent that reminds me of molasses. This is so good. Probably my new favourite among the black teas I’ve tried so far.

The taste is a more intense version of the scent — it’s strong, chocolatey, rich, malty, and bittersweet all at the same time. It almost seems slightly smoky, but I think that might be an coincidence of the strength rather than an element of the flavour in itself. As it cools, the chocolatey notes develop in intensity and there’s even something spicy (peppery?) that lingers at the back of the palate. It’s certainly a complex tea, but a deeply satisfying one all the same. I’m not surprised this gets such favourable reviews, because it really is a spectacular black tea that I won’t hesitate to recommend. I’m off to try some more steepings now!

Thanks again to Sil for giving me the opportunity to try this one!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Sil

Yay! So glad you finally got to try it.

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100
drank Silver Needle by Adagio Teas
689 tasting notes

I’ve tried this before in a sample pack I had back when I first started drinking whole leaf tea. I didn’t write a note, though. It might actually have been before I joined Steepster. Anyway, Silver Needle is one of my favourite varieties of white tea. I love the creamy green, downy buds, the smoothly floral scent, and the honeyed texture. It’s a tea that appeals to my senses.

Dry, the scent is lightly grassy with a delicate floral edge, almost like honeysuckle. Just the smell of this tea makes me think of spring, which is why I finally broke it out tonight. I’ve had enough of winter, and it looks like it might (finally!) be over.

Brewed, the liquor is very pale champagne-yellow, and the smell is delicately equally delicately floral. There’s a slight grassy note as well, but I have to sniff deeply to pick that up. The taste is very similar. Dew-like honeysuckle, and a flavour I find unique to white tea, almost like an unripe banana.

I find this tea great for helping me to calm down and relax for some reason, maybe because it’s so subtle and gentle. I’m definetly taking some of this to work with me tomorrow — we’ve got a manic week ahead and I’ll need all the help I can get to survive it. All I can say to sum up this tea is that it’s simply sublime. I luffs it.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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85
drank Ceylon Sonata by Adagio Teas
689 tasting notes

Almost a sipdown on this one today — two cups worth left. This has been languishing in my desk drawer for a while, so I might take it home and finish it off this weekend. Then I can replace it with something new on monday. I always enjoy this one as an everyday black, but it’s definetly time to try something else!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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60

Finally got to try this, thanks to a sample from Sil! Marshmallow cereal bars are one of my favourite things, so I’ve been interested in trying this for a while. The dry leaves smell just as I expected; sweet, faintly of marshmallow, maybe slightly nutty. It’s put me in mind of a Rice Krispie Squares bar already!

Brewed, this is no disappointment. I haven’t had a genmaicha in a while, so I’ll be interested to compare this to some of the others in my stash. Maybe at the weekend. For now, though, this tastes pretty much as I expected. Initially, it tastes almost exactly like every other genmaicha I remember. In other words, a little bit like sugar puffs. The marshmallow taste is subtle, but it does come out pretty well in the aftertaste. Sweet, squidgy — it is remarkably like the real thing, only with a much stronger nutty-tasting start.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to try this, as I’d have always wondered about it otherwise. It’s not quite as marshmallowy as I hoped, at least when it’s hot, but it’s not bad. Cold, though, as I discovered by accident, the marshmallow taste is much more prominent. Something to remember for next time! Thanks again to Sil for sharing this with me!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 30 sec
Sil

YAY! Happy to share in the madness :)

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75

Enjoyed a few more cups of this today, thanks to a sample from Sil! It’s been a nice day here, well suited to this tea’s refreshing lime zestiness. One of my favourite green teas — yum yum!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 30 sec
Sil

YAY! glad you’re digging in to those :)

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85
drank Raspberry Vanilla by Yumchaa
689 tasting notes

Tried this with milk last night, and I was pretty impressed. It’s rather like drinking raspberry milkshake, but warm. Creamy and pleasing.

That’s all I really remember, as I didn’t finish the cup in the end. Some stomach bug I picked up at work expressed itself, and I spent the rest of the night feeling awful and being sick. Not a good evening.

Nice tea, though. Shame it was so rudely interrupted.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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60
drank Courtesan by Yumchaa
689 tasting notes

Sipdown! Drank the last five cups worth of this today at work, with a little honey added. It’s pretty good stuff, but I could do with a break from it now! I guess it might make a reappearance in my stash in the summer, but I’m content for it to be a memory for now :)

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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80
drank Adventure by Yumchaa
689 tasting notes

My third and final Yumchaa red for today. I have to say that these are taking me by surprise quite a bit. The ingredients I think I’m least likely to be able to pick out are the ones that seem to come across most strongly. This tea is a case in point. It’s got a lot of ingredients, some of them, like hibiscus and rose hip, quite powerful in terms of flavour. Despite this, it’s the caramel and apple that I can pick out most clearly in the brewed tea. It’s no bad thing, I’m just surprised that they come across so well in quite a complex blend.

Anyway, that said, the dry mix is another busy, pretty one. There are quite large pieces of apple, kiwi, hibiscus, and rosehips, and generous fragments of almond. The smell is quite spicy — mostly cinnamon or nutmeg, I think, although neither are explicitly identified. It’s quite a clean and refreshing scent despite this, though, and if I inhale deeply I can definetly identify the apple and kiwi.

Similarly when brewed, the spice is the first thing I can smell, and then a slight frutiness. The biggest surprise is the taste. Looking at the ingredients list, it’s the kind of tea that shouldn’t work at all. Somehow it does, though. There’s a mild, background tart sweetness from the hibiscus and rosehip, and then a decided frutiness from the apple and kiwi. It all ends with a savoury, nutty twist from the almonds, and the deep richness of the caramel. All of which is held together by the spiciness that runs over and above it all.

I’m glad I saved this one until last, because it’s certainly an odd, complex tea. There are a lot of facets to the flavour, and I feel like it’s taking me a lot of time and concentration to absorb and appreciate them all. It’s so aptly named, because it absolutely is an adventure for the tastebuds. A unique and interesting tea, this is one I’m going to take the time to get to know properly. A great, if intriguing, first acquaintance!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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85
drank Raspberry Vanilla by Yumchaa
689 tasting notes

The second of today’s Yumchaa reds, and a relatively simple taste profile this time. Just raspberry, vanilla, and rose petals. Dry, the scent is much as you’d expect. A slight brassiness from the rooibos, a whole lot of raspberry, and a creamy sweetness from the vanilla. There are a fair few rose petals in the mix, but they’re not contributing much at this stage.

This actually brews pretty quickly to a deep red-brown liquor, so I immediately considered adding milk. I’m resisting that impulse for the minute, though, as I’d like to know what it tastes like au naturel before I start on any additions. The scent, as with the dry leaf, is creamy raspberry, with a tinge of rooibos round the edges. Flavour seems to be the central thing with these teas, and I’m glad about that.

The scent does nothing to prepare you for the taste, though. This is pure, strong raspberry from the very first sip. Initially, it’s just very fruity, but the creamy sweetness of the vanilla creeps in afterwards to give this a smooth, thick taste that belies its appearance. It’s definetly one I’ll try with milk at some point. Another winner from Yumchaa!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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Profile

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 not 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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