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666 Tasting Notes

85

First tea of the day today. I do honestly think Teapigs have changed some of their teas a bit since I last tried them. This one has smaller leaves than I remember, not like bagged supermarket tea, but not entirely whole leaf either. That’s fine with me, as I like the strength that chopped leaves can help to contribute on a morning, and I used to find this one a little on the thin side. In any case, though, I’m not sure all of their changes are for the better.

Still, on to the tasting. This is a breakfast blend, composed of ceylon, assam, and a rwandan. It smells more or less like any plain black tea, but with maltiness and a slightly citrussy note that actually complement each other pretty well. I brewed this for four minutes, and easily got the strength I was looking for, which pleased me more than it should have, probably.

I found this unexpectedly light to taste, given that there is assam in the base. The dominant tea, I felt, was the ceylon. There’s a definite zestiness about this, almost like orange or grapefruit peel. Second among the flavours are the assam and rwandan, which I do think help to give this blend some depth and sweetness. There’s a definite malty, almost molasses-like undertone, which develops into an almost chocolate-like intensity in the aftertaste. The first time I tried this tea, I wasn’t all that impressed, but this definetly has a lot more complexity than I remember it having. Perhaps my tastes have changed a little, but I think this is definetly one of those teapigs teas which were altered for the better.

I could happily drink this as my staple breakfast blend for a good long time. As it stands, I have enough for about two weeks. It’s everything I want on a morning, and then some. Really good stuff.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

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70

Tried this again. More leaf (nearly two teaspoons), longer brew time (closer to 5 minutes), and I made sure to stir it well both while brewing and after. I also added a piece of crystal sugar. I was rewarded with a much clearer caramel taste, rich and creamy. Definetly worth the effort!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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70

I’ve just sent some of this out in a swap, so I figured now was as good a time as any to get my act together and write a tasting note. Scent wise, this is fairly subtle in the bag. I can smell the black tea base and a sweet, caramel note, but that’s all. It’s a pretty tea, with relatively large, wiry black-brown leaves, scattered throughout with white chocolate hearts and caramel cubes.

Brewed, the caramel scent comes out much more clearly. It smells almost like fudge. The black base is pretty light — I don’t recognise it explicitly as a keemun, but it isn’t identified outright as such on my bag. I added a little milk, because that’s how I roll.

This is nice, but I think the nicest thing about it is the scent. It doesn’t quite carry through to the taste. It’s hardly unpleasant, I just wish it was a bit stronger. There’s a sweet, creamy taste, which I think is at least partly the melted white chocolate, but it’s just not quite caramel. Almost, but not quite. Maybe a beefier base would have helped? I’m not sure. I might try this black next time, use a bit more leaf, or leave it to steep for a little longer to see if any of those help.

I don’t dislike this, but it doesn’t quite live up to its scent or my expectations at the moment. There’s a little more experimentation to be done before I cast my final decision, though, so I’m not going to rate it for now. I’ll happily drink the rest of the bag, but I so wish it tasted more like it smells. I guess I’ll have to see what can be done about that!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

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65

Felt a bit under the weather last night, so I went all out with this one. Large cup, two bags of chocolate flake tea, and a decent chunk of crystal sugar. Add a book and a packet of chocolate digestives, and you can’t get better than this. Heaven!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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65

Chocolate Flake. I’ve had this a number of times previously, but have somehow always managed to avoid logging it. Anyway, it’s an assam base, with cocoa beans and chocolate pieces. It smells deeply, darkly chocolatey, with an equally deep background of strong, malty tea. Assam has always been one of my favourite black tea varieties, so I generally always enjoy this one. I’ve found the key to developing the chocolate flavour (and avoiding the watery hot chocolate taste) is to use a smaller cup than usual, so that’s what I’m going to do.

Anyway, enough of my ramblings. I find this a pretty subtle tea, certainly not as chocolatey as 52Teas Double Chocolate Decadence, for example. I don’t mind that, though, as it’s quite versatile in return. It smells and tastes very chocolatey black, but mellows with milk into a flavour more reminiscent of chocolate digestives. The assam is a pretty dominant flavour, too — it’s certainly not beaten down by the chocolate. Instead, I can initially taste the strong, malty base, and then the dry, almost powdery cocoa flavour.

This is definetly a pleasant tea. Perfect for times when I want something more indulgent than a plain black, but not too rich, overly flavoured, or fussy. As much as I enjoy this, it’s been a staple in my cupboard for a while now, so it’s probably time I took a little break from it so that I can come back refreshed. I can’t see it being a long break, though. It’s too easy to drink for that!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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95

Following on from last night’s success, I decided to try another of my first flush darjeelings. This one is from the Chamong estate, and is a first invoice.

It’s another fabulous first acquaintance. The scent of the dry leaves is amazing. It’s slightly more subtle than yesterday’s Badamtam, but it smells similarly of peach and apricot, with a touch of lemoniness about it. It’s less perfume-like. The leaves are, once again, quite long and wiry. There’s a slightly higher incidence of downy white buds, although they’re otherwise very similar in appearance. I brewed it similarly to the Badamtam, 3 minutes in just boiling water.

The liquor is much lighter in colour, more of a champagne yellow-gold than the deeper amber I’m used to. The peachiness comes out wonderfully now, and is mouthwateringly juicy. To taste, this is very, very subtle. There’s a sweetness to the initial sip, which quickly develops into a lightly grassy taste. It’s not at all drying or astringent, just delicately sweet, slightly fruity, and very refreshing. I don’t think there could be a more fitting drink for a spring evening. It’s still a bit cold out yet, but I can see this being a wonderful late afternoon drink a couple of months down the line. Definetly worth a try, and it’s more than convinced me to continue experimenting with first flush darjeelings — I may have found my tea nirvana!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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95

I wanted to choose something fitting for my 100th tasting note, so I decided to give this a try. I’ve kind of been treasuring it, since I only have a sample sized bag and I adore my first flush darjeelings. In any case…

Man, this smells good. It’s very sweet, with a definite peach scent, and a slight perfume-like undertone. The leaves are mostly green, although a few are brown and quite wiry in appearance. Some are creamy-white and slightly downy.

I’m following the instructions on this one to start with, as I have so little I want to try and get the best from it. One heaped teaspoon, in just boiling water, for three minutes. What do we get?

Heaven in a cup, approximately. The liquor is pale amber, and the peachy scent carries through beautifully into the flavour. There’s a delicate muscatel note, and a very, very slight astringency. I love this. There are no other words for it. This is a fine, delectable tea that I’m really going to savour before it’s gone.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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85
drank Ceylon Sonata by Adagio Teas
666 tasting notes

I thought I’d done a proper tasting note for this, but it turns out I haven’t. This was actually one of the first teas I bought from Adagio early last summer, when I really started buying whole leaf tea in earnest. It came in the same order as White Peony, which I have logged, and Assam Melody, which I notice I also haven’t. Very strange, given that I’d also just joined Steepster. Anyway…

This is still one of my favourite blacks to drink as an everyday tea. It’s not flashy, but it is reliable, and it’s one of the only Adagio teas I own a big bag of. Dry, the leaves are a uniform chocolatey brown-black, and slightly twisted. It smells like a conventional black; slightly toasted and lightly malty. Brewed, it’s a different story. The citrus notes I like so much in Ceylon start to come out. It still smells like a black tea, but slightly citrussy and vaguely like orange peel. I like that it’s versatile enough to drink with or without milk, depending which end of the recommended 3-5 minute steep time you remove the leaves. I felt like a strong black today, so I went with milk.

It’s in the taste that the citrus flavours really come out. There’s a very slight maltiness at the start of the sip, and then a decidedly grapefruity flavour takes over. It’s very pleasant and refreshing — perfect in the afternoons when I’ve had a difficult morning at work. Somehow, it just seems to revive me, which is one of the reasons I’ve been keeping it around.

It’s not flashy, as I said, but I think it’s pretty spectacular in its own quiet way. Who doesn’t need a tea like that?

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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65
drank Jasmine Pearls by Teapigs
666 tasting notes

Sipdown! Thankfully, as this one isn’t a favourite. Jasmine just doesn’t really do it for me, I’m afraid. I can see this being pleasant occasionally, in the right kind of weather, but it’s never going to be a staple in my cupboard. Still, I had to try it to know!

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

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75
drank Pina Colada by Adagio Teas
666 tasting notes

Sipdown! Drank the last of this with honey today. Another success — it seems to smooth the whole thing out and highlight the pineapple flavour, which I can actually taste this time. Not bad at all!

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more

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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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