1623 Tasting Notes
This came as a sample with one of my Della Terra orders from a while back. I’m not sure why it languished, but it did. As with many languishing teas, I brought it to work knowing that my limited desk selection would end my procrastination. I’m not having a great time at work at the moment, and yesterday I finally made up my mind to leave. I’m going to use the weekend to take stock and apply for some jobs (I also have a PhD application in the works), so hopefully things will start looking up soon. In the meantime, I have tea to cheer me up.
Dry, this one smells gorgeous. Honey, fruit, and grain. It reminds me of some of the breakfast cereals I used to eat when I was younger. Sugar puffs, maybe? I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but it also reminds me of Special K cereal/breakfast bars.
I gave 1 tsp of leaf about 5 minutes in boiling water, and the resulting liquor is a golden brown. The base here is blend of green honeybush and green rooibos – I’ve tried both plain previously, and I definitely prefer them flavoured! They do lack some of the woodiness of the red versions, though, so that’s a definite point in their favour.
The main flavour here is apple. It’s the baked apple flavour that Della Terra do so well, rather than their odder floral-apple. After the initial fruitiness, there’s an almost toasted nuttiness. I can accept it as Hazelnut, as per the ingredients, but it’s a little generic tasting if I’m honest. The final flavour is honey, and it adds a smooth, rich sweetness that rounds out the sip perfectly and brings the apple and nut flavours together. If I’m looking for a cereal bar in a cup, this is the tea I’ll turn to! My only complaint is that it’s quite a strong flavour, and by the end of the cup it’s almost a bit much for me. A smaller cup would no doubt help with that, and that’s how I’ll approach it in the future. A unique blend among the teas I own.
Tried this one with a little crystal sugar this morning, and I believe it did enhance the creaminess. I think on the whole I prefer it plain, but I’d have to try another plain cup to be totally sure. Either way, it was deliciously creamy, vanilla wonderfulness. Everything I said in my previous note stands.
This will be my second go with this tea. I wasn’t at all sure of it the first time I tried it, but my tastebuds may have been off as I got the flu fairly soon afterward. That’s the reason I haven’t been around here much lately. It just seemed to linger and linger, and I didn’t feel up to drinking anything but “plain” (read: Twining’s English Breakfast) tea for a long time. Anyway, I’m back now.
This one got a rinse in boiling water, prior to the first steep proper. The dry leaves were fairly dark, long and wiry. There were some silvery buds evident. Once rinsed and steeped, the leaves are a lot greener in colour, and a lot larger across now that they’ve unfurled. No wiriness here any more! The main scent I’m picking up is mushroom, and a little fresh-turned earth.
First steep: I went with the sachet parameters again, and gave the whole sample 5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is an orangey-amber, and smells brothy, like mushroom soup. It also tastes like mushroom soup, and is heavily astringent. Nigh on undrinkable, actually. I really do feel like I’m doing completely the wrong thing with this one, so I’m going to try something different for successive steeps. A much lower steep time, at least.
Second steep: Right, so. I let the water cool a little this time, to around 180 degrees, and I used a much shorter steep time (40 seconds). I at least feel like I’m not abusing the tea this way, and I get a cup that I can actually drink.
The liquor this time is a medium yellow-gold. The mushroom scent still remains, and mushroom is still the main flavour I can pick out. There’s a slight earthiness, too, like freshly dug compost. There’s a flavour in the background that I can’t quite put my finger on, but it’s almost sweetish. I’d like to say vanilla, but I don’t think that’s quite right. I’m not horrified, though, and this one at least is a cup I’ll be able to finish.
Third steep: Again, 40 seconds in water cooled to around 180 degrees. The liquor is yellow-gold again, and lighter in flavour than the previous steeps. Mushroom is still the most prominent flavour, although it’s more subdued now. I can also pick out apricot in the background (I think that’s the sweetness I could detect before, but it’s clearer now that the mushroom has faded a little).
I still think this one is an odd duck, and I’m going to stop my steeps here once again. Life’s too short to drink tea that doesn’t make you happy, and while this one doesn’t make me unhappy, exactly, it doesn’t make me smile much either. I’ll stick to mushroom soup for my funghi fix in the future! Rating unchanged.
The last of the neglected tea I brought to work with me today. I think in all honesty I’d just forgotten about these during the summer…they’re not exactly summery teas, after all. Now that the weather is cooler again, they’ve come back into their own.
I followed the recommended parameters and gave 1.5 tsp of leaf four minutes in water cooled to around 180 degrees. It smells gorgeous. Fruity, cinnamon sugary, with a hint of eggy vanilla cream. There’s a light floral in the background, which I suspect is from the oolong base. I’ve not much experience with Nilgiri Frost, although judging from the colour of the liquor it looks to be a roasted oolong.
To taste, it’s quite mild. I can taste plum, but I have to concentrate. I can also taste a touch of orange zest, a pinch of cinnamon, and a soft background creaminess. The base is pleasantly complementary; smooth, a tiny bit buttery. I put the leaves back in about half way through just to try and amplify the flavour a little, but it got a little astringent. On the plus side, there’s a little more tart plumminess in the initial sip now. Judging from others’ notes, though, this one is a mild tea in general, so I’ll be content with that.
Successive sips show me that it’s a flavour that builds a little. The fruity plum notes fade quite quickly, but I can taste the creaminess at the back of my throat for a while after each sip. It’s not a knockout tea, but it is quietly brilliant. Another pleasing cup for a cold winter morning!
A sample from VariaTEA, and my final tea of the evening last night. I think maybe I’m drinking a different tea from everyone else, because I found it quite palatable. I used 1 tsp of leaf and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk.
To taste, I’d say it’s more caramel than maple. There is an element of maple here, but it’s like it got stirred into a thicker, sweeter caramel sauce. It’s nice, though. Caramel-maple is okay with me. I knew this one reminded me of something, and as I sat there sipping it finally came to me: 52 Teas Weeping Angel. That’s what this tea tastes like! If I remember correctly, that was a caramel tea also. I enjoyed it, though, and I’m guessing that’s at least partly why I like this one.
As a maple tea, I’d give it half marks. There’s a little something there, but it’s neither strong nor distinctive. As a pleasant-tasting tea to drink, I’d give this closer to 80. I like caramel, and it’s deliciously smooth and sweet here; almost like the filling of a caramel chocolate bar! The base tea is okay, being neither bitter nor astringent. If I’m honest, I didn’t really notice it underneath the caramel. Taking the average of my two scores, I’m going to give this one 60. It tastes nice, and I’ll happily finish up what’s left, but it’s not really maple. Maybe I was spoilt in that regard by Della Terra’s An Autumn Breakfast. Still, it’s yummy. Sometimes, that’s all I want from a tea.
Another one I have neglected, and another one I brought to work today. It’s my second cup of the morning, and I’m sticking with a broadly “Christmas” theme. As per the recommended parameters, I used 2 tsp of leaf, and gave it 4 minutes in water cooled to around 180 degrees. Measuring out the wiry Mao Feng leaves was a challenge, but I was mollified by the sweet, creamy scent coming off the dry leaf. I knew it would be worth persisting, and I was right.
As with Potato Pancakes & Applesauce, the Mao Feng base is simply perfect here. It’s smooth and mild, with just a tiny bit of vegetal flavour poking through. Mostly, this one is all about the cream. Very smooth, vanilla cream, with just a tiny dusting of cinnamon. It’s slightly eggy, and in some ways it’s making me think of freshly-made custard (of the kind I’d use in an ice cream base). It’s not thick enough, of course, but it’s that kind of flavour. Cream, egg, sugar, vanilla pod.
I made this cup without any additions, but I may try a little crystal sugar in my next one just to see what that does. It’s not Christmas yet (it’s still November, for one), but this is a lovely tea to sip on a cold winter morning. Today is definitely one of those!
Wow. So, this is another one I’ve neglected. Again, probably because it’s a little odd in concept. I figured it was time to stop being a baby, though, so I brought this one to work with me and made it my first proper cup of the morning.
For my first cup, I followed the recommended parameters and gave 1 tbsp of leaf 4 minutes in water cooled to around 180. It smells mildly cinnamony while brewing, with an almost soupy/brothy note. Very unique!
To taste, this is as smooth as can be. I like Mao Feng in general, and it’s the perfect choice here. Mild, buttery, with a light “green” note that works with the savoury theme of this tea. The initial flavour is apple and cinnamon. The apple has a baked flavour, sweet and a little mushy (rather than crisp and sharp), and tastes as if it were dusted with cinnamon prior to going in the oven. The cinnamon is fairly mild, but adds a warm spiciness and complements the apple perfectly. No surprise there – apple and cinnamon are long-established friends. The potato comes out in the mid-sip, and adds a thick, starchy flavour that really does remind me of pancakes. Right at the end of the sip is a smooth butteriness, very rich in the way of actual melted butter, and it does become more prominent with successive sips.
I didn’t make any additions this time, but I would like to experiment with salt and sugar, to see how that changes the flavour profile. I’m definitely looking forward to working out what tastes best to me, although to be perfectly honest I’m happy with it as is. A beautifully unique tea that brings home to me just how much I will miss Butiki once they’re gone forever.
This was Saturday morning’s breakfast tea. It reminds me A LOT of Della Terra’s Chocolate Pumpkin Pie, which I really enjoyed earlier in the year. I think this one lacks the chocolate, but the spicing is pretty much identical, and totally yummy.
I gave 1 tsp of leaf 3.5 minutes in boiling water, and added a splash of milk. I almost did without the milk, but I find breakfast hard to face if there’s no dairy involved. If I were drinking this one during the day I probably wouldn’t bother, but it’s nice to have the option.
I don’t taste a huge amount of “pie” or pastry in this one, but the “filling” is so perfect I honestly don’t mind. The pumpkin is smooth, mildly sweet, and has that “squashy” flavour that’s exclusive to orange vegetables. The spicing is just right — not so mild that it’s lost, but not so strong that it becomes the main component. I can pick out cinnamon and clove readily enough, and something that’s reminding me a little of almond. I guess that’s where the pastry flavour would come in.
I really enjoy teas like this one during the colder months, and it’s definitely one of the nicer pumpkin teas I’ve tried so far. A potential future repurchase, should it be available.
I haven’t been drinking this one as often as I thought I would, so I made an effort to pull it out on Friday night, and I’ve tried a few cups over the weekend. I think this is as close as I’m going to get to my beloved 52 Teas Raspberry Cream, barring a reblend. The raspberry flavour here is pretty spot on; fresh, fruity, a little sweet/tart. There’s a sweet creaminess that’s reminiscent of meringue at its best; cloudy, soft and sugary. My only real complaint is that the base is a little on the weak side for milk, which helps the creaminess along, although it will just about stand up to it. A tasty, sweet treat of a cup. I shouldn’t neglect it!