1718 Tasting Notes
A sample from Angel at Teavivre. I’m not the biggest fan of Pu’Erh, but I’m learning to tolerate/appreciate it as I continue exploring. These bags are certainly a convenient way of preparing pu’erh, which I usually brew western-style at work anyway. I used 1 bag (which looks to contain a generous 1 tsp of leaf) and gave it 1.5 minutes in boiling water. The guidelines specify between 2 and 9 minutes, but I’m afraid I’m just not that brave! The resulting liquor is a deep, dark brown (almost black), and smells (characteristically) of horse manure and earth.
To taste, it’s not as pungent as the scent would suggest. It’s definitely VERY earthy, but in a warm compost sort of way which is actually quite pleasant. It’s very spring-like and naturally wholesome in flavour, without the heavy, cloying notes that some Pu’Erhs possess. It’s also smooth, with no astringency whatsoever.
The scent is probably the most off-putting thing for me, but once I get past that I can actually find it in myself to enjoy a cup of Pu’Erh, particularly when the flavour is as clean and light as this. The very end of the sip verges on the almost-fecal, but it’s not a flavour that’s present throughout, and thankfully it doesn’t linger long.
I’m pretty convinced that Pu’Erh is never going to be 100% my thing. I think I have too much of a sweet tooth for that! I can happily drink the occasional cup, though, and this one is a good choice for those moments. Convenient to brew, not too strong, and lacking most of the more unsavoury flavours Pu’Erh can have. This would be a good introductory choice for those new to the variety, and those who are just plain scared (like I was!)
A sample from Angel at Teavivre. I’m making up for lost time with these samples today! I have tried this one before as part of a swap, and I remember really enjoying it. This cup is a little different from my recollection, with a slightly different flavour profile, but if anything it’s even better than I remembered! I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a deep golden brown. The leaf smells strongly wine-like as it infuses, and reminds me more of a darjeeling than anything else.
To taste, the wine notes are still fairly prominent. There’s something almost muscatel and grapey about the initial sip that’s actually very appealing. Given that I rather like darjeeling, that’s probably no surprise. I can also detect a sweet maltiness, and then a hint of leather in the mid-sip. It’s an interesting pairing with the initial wine notes – this cup is rather putting me in mind of a gentleman’s club! There’s the tiniest hint of smoke in the aftertaste, and then a light yeastiness rounds off the sip.
I really enjoyed this one, and it’s definitely a tea I’ll look to keep around once my current stash is a little more under control. It’s a very satisfying, flavoursome black tea, and another winner from Teavivre!
A sample from Angel at Teavivre, and fairly long overdue thanks to various winter illnesses. Apologies, Angel! I’m glad I reserved this one until I was feeling better, though, because it’s clearly a tea to be savoured. The dry leaf is thin and wiry, and the scent is beautiful; cocoa, grain and honey! I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 2.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium golden brown, and smells deliciously chocolatey.
To taste, I can immediately detect cocoa, which quite dry and almost powdery, and sweet malt which lingers beautifully. The mid-sip contains a hint of smoke, almost like burnt toast, but it’s by no means overwhelming. There’s also a touch of syrupy sweetness reminiscent of sugarcane. The flavours are quite heavy and “dark” tasting, but the tea itself is smooth and very easy to drink for the most part. A tiny bit of astringency creeps in as the cup stars to cool, but it remains entirely peripheral so it’s not too much of a bother. The flavours linger long in the aftertaste, which is very pleasant, and as they mellow out it’s possible to find the honey and a light floral reminiscent of orchid. It’s completely delicious!
I can see why Angel included this as part of a winter tea tasting pack. It would be the perfect warming cup on a cold, dark day. It’s equally pleasant on a cool, crisp spring day, though, and in actual fact it’s a tea I could happily drink all year round. Definitely one I’ll stock up on once I’ve finished my samples!
Another of my last few Della Terra blends, this time slightly more recent (Feb 2014, I believe). This was was also stored unopened, so it’s kept really well. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 180 degrees. The liquor is a medium yellow-green, and smells delightfully of strawberries!
To taste, this is pretty nice. The strawberry flavour is front and centre, but it’s quite candy-like and not entirely natural-tasting. The cream flavouring adds a wonderful silky smoothness, and the whole thing tastes pretty much like one of those strawberry Campino sweets I used to have when I was young. The green tea base is smooth and fairly unobtrusive, although it’s possible to detect little flashes of grassiness at times, especially as the cup cools. They don’t work super well with the strawberry/cream dynamic, but thankfully they’re not too distracting.
I can see why this one was released as a Valentine’s blend. It’s sweet and delicious, and it tastes lovely to boot. The little hearts on the label are a cute touch. I’ll not have any trouble finishing off my sample pouch. It’s pretty perfect for summer!
This is one of the last Della Terra blends I have left over from my Autumn 2013 order – kind of old now, but it’s been unopened so it’s come to no harm. The dry leaf smells intensely sweet and fruity, and I’m reminded of tropical fruit cordial. I’m not really acquainted with persimmons, but this to me seems like a cross between mango and pineapple. Not quite what I was expecting, but juicy, fruity and enticing all the same. I used 1.5 tsp of leaf for this cup (my first cup with 1 tsp turned out a little weak). No additions.
To taste, this one is pretty much as it’s scent suggests. It’s very sweet, and has a fairly generic, juicy “tropical fruit” flavour. I’d say mango and pineapple if pressed, in a rather candy-like, artificial sort of way. I’m not really sure that it’s persimmon, but my limited acquaintance might be at fault there. It’s refreshing and very juicy-tasting, though, so it’s hard to pick faults. The rooibos doesn’t make much of an impression on the overall flavour, either, so that’s another point in its favour.
This one’s easy enough to drink, and I can imagine it making a good cold brew. It’s not especially distinctive in the way I’d hoped it would be, but it’s pleasant nonetheless. A tropical treat!
A sample from Angel at Teavivre, and a long overdue tasting due to various winter illnesses. At least now I’m fully recovered and able to appreciate tea once again! I used 1 tsp of leaf for today’s cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. No additions.
The liquor is a medium brown with a reddish cast, which I suppose is par for the course with a western style brewing. The scent is baked bread with a hint of chocolate -absolutely delicious, and so enticing. I was a little surprised by my initial sip, which held more sourness than I was expecting. It reminds me a little of sourdough, actually, and complements the baked bread note that’s also detectable. The mid-sip is where the chocolate lives, and it’s a bittersweet, high-cacao sort of chocolate flavour. There’s a strong kick of malt here, too, which helps to sweeten things up a little. The maltiness lingers into the aftertaste, where it’s joined by a light grain flavor. My overall impression is of a full-bodied, bittersweet tea with strong bread and chocolate notes – cups like this remind me of how I came to love Chinese black teas so much! There’s so much depth and flavour here, it’s impossible to be disappointed.
Yesterday’s cup of this tea was brewed similarly – 1 tsp of leaf for around 4 minutes in boiling water – the exception being that I added milk. Based on today’s cup, I can safely say that milk isn’t required – it’s such a smooth tea, with no astringency whatsoever. It does change the flavour profile a little, though.
With milk, this makes for an equally wonderful cup. The initial sip holds the same bread and chocolate notes, but they’re rounded and smoother. The malt is more prominent in the mid-sip; this and the creaminess of the milk make this into a slightly sweeter cup, with the chocolate coming across more as a high quality milk, rather than the darker, more intense chocolate of the cup left black. There’s also a light smokiness in the aftertaste that helps to replace some of the depth that the milk erased.
I’m happy to drink this one either way, as both work equally well. Milk isn’t required by any means, and possibly it’s a little surplus, but it makes for a sweeter, creamier cup and sometimes that suits my mood. Today’s black cup is just as fulfilling, though, proving that this is a versatile and forgiving tea with plenty of flavour to go around. I’d recommend this to anyone, and it’s certainly one I’ll look to repurchase in future!
A Cara McGee Sherlock fandom blend, and the only white tea in the range. The leaf of this one is particularly pretty to look at, with the downy white Snowbud buds, the odd brown leaf, whole yellow chamomile flowers, red cherry pieces, and a scattering of burgundy hibiscus and rosehip. The dry leaf smells mildly fruity and a little herbal. I used 1.5 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2 minutes in water cooled to 175 degrees. The resulting liquor is a rather unusual grey, the scent sweet and primarily chamomile.
To taste, this somehow isn’t quite the blend I expected. The white tea is most prominent in the flavour, and it’s quite floral and a little dusty-tasting. It’s also quite drying on the palate. The chamomile emerges in the mid-sip, and adds a honey-like sweetness to the cup. It’s actually not a huge improvement, because it now tastes like sweet floral dust. The cherry emerges only towards the very end of the sip, and adds another layer of sweetness. I had hoped that the fruitiness would rescue this one, but it really just tips what was already a sweet tea into the “unbearably cloying” category. Sadly, there isn’t much in the way of cherry to be discerned, and the overall cup tastes mostly like warm sugar-water to me.
Sadly, this one is a disappointment to me. It comes as a surprise, because I’m usually a fan of white tea. I also know Adagio’s Dewy Cherry blend to be a wonderfully fruity concoction – sweet, yes, but with strong, natural tasting cherry to boot. For some reason, it just doesn’t work here. Perhaps the chamomile isn’t the best partner – it’s just too sweet when added to the already-sweet white base.
Although the taste of this blend isn’t for me, there are aspects of it that do suit Molly’s character. She’s sweet, for sure. Too sweet, maybe, when it comes to Sherlock. She’s also self-effacing and a little shy, and for those reasons I think a white tea blend is the right choice for her. I even like the idea of chamomile/cherry, but perhaps not in combination. One or the other probably would have been enough, perhaps with a touch more hibiscus to cut through the sweetness just a little bit.
I’m sad about this one. It’s not undrinkable by any means, but it is ridiculously sweet and fairly one-note, and I don’t feel the flavours work very well together. In theory, a great blend to characterise Molly. In practice, not so much.
I’m feeling much better today, and it’s also warm, summery and lovely outside. Time for a tea suited to warm summer days, then! I’m still working my way through a few Tealux samples from my first order, and this one seemed well suited to my mood this afternoon. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium brown, and the scent is herbal and a little earthy.
To taste, it’s pretty much tropical fruit all the way! It’s juicy, which I like about Tealux’s fruity blends, and the flavours are fresh and natural tasting. The main flavour to my mind is pineapple, but there’s a hint of orange lurking in the background. It makes me think of tinned mandarins, more than anything. It’s a very sweet, light, delicate orange, and it makes for a good combination with the pineapple.
The second thing that strikes me about the flavour of this one is the yogurt. It emerges mostly in the mid-sip, and adds a slightly sour creaminess to the overall cup. Now that I’ve identified it as yogurt, I know what this tea reminds me of – Butiki’s Mango Lassi. The yogurt here is less prominent, and the fruit flavouring stronger and jucier, but it’s a similar flavour profile.
The rooibos is hanging around a little in the background, but it’s not too much of a bother. A little woody, perhaps, but nothing terrible. There’s a mild pepperiness right at the end of the sip that I would usually attribute to the rooibos also, but this blend contains pink peppercorns, so it could also be that. They don’t add much except a hint of heat right at the end of the sip, so it’s an odd inclusion but not unwelcome.
I can see this one being really good iced in the warmer months ahead, but it’s also pleasant hot. It’s a slice of sunshine ahead of summer!
I’m still recovering from the bout of flu I had over Easter. It’s really lingering, and of course now I’m back at work and that’s not helping. Sad faces all round. I’ve graduated from Clipper to this, so I know I’m nearly on my way to proper recovery. I’ve also had the odd cup of flavoured tea (Adagio’s Anderson, a couple of cups of Tealux Orange Lemonade), but I’m still nothing like my usual self.
This is a reliable, if plain tea, but it’s about all I can stomach at the moment (and I wouldn’t really be able to taste anything else!). It’s strong, malty and comforting, and that’s really all I’m asking right now. Hopefully I’ll be back properly soon. Being ill is grim.
I’m currently mired in the second worst bout of flu I’ve ever had in my life. It’s awful, and it’s not going anywhere with anything resembling speed. This means that, other than Lemsip, I’m just drinking bog-standard Clipper Organic Everyday. I can’t taste, and wouldn’t enjoy, anything else right now, but this is plain, strong, straightforward stuff (and great with milk). While it’s not what I’d normally choose, it’s being my friend while I’m ill.
Hopefully I’ll be back to normal soon sigh