1655 Tasting Notes
Well, I officially have a cold. Just in time for my interview on Thursday, when I’ll doubtless be unattractively snotty and hopelessly croaky. Is it self-sabotage? Sometimes I wonder. I’m not drinking much tea, anyway, simply because I can’t taste it. I made up another cold-brew for my parents, though, and I sneaked a glass after lunch just to see whether my taste buds really are on holiday or not.
I can taste this, and I actually think the blueberry comes out more cold than it does hot. That’s always a bonus in my book, because I love blueberry. The orange is there, but it’s not as tangy as I remember from my hot cup, and it’s a lot more muted – more of a background flavour than anything.
I’m back at work next week (I’m always ill when I’m on leave, just in case anyone hadn’t noticed before now), so I’ll probably make up some more of this and take it with me.
I also bought more tea, because I’m bad, and also because I just had a shock (that really shouldn’t have been a shock, if I was being honest with myself). It made me feel better for a bit, and then I went back to worrying about my interview again. While unrelated to the shock, it’s equally unpleasant to dwell on.
Ever had one of those weeks you wish would just end?
This was the first white tea I ever tried. It was before I joined Steepster, before I really started drinking tea “properly” or “seriously” or whatever I should call my relationship with tea these days. I was studying for my MLitt in Scotland, and staying in a B&B for 2-3 nights a week. They weren’t particularly generous with the tea in the rooms, and the local (tiny) supermarket didn’t have a particularly huge selection, but they had a couple of things other than the normal bagged black, and they’re the ones I went for. The obsession was starting, even then. I remember picking this up mostly on a whim, maybe because Roland drinks it in Stephen King’s Wizard and Glass, and so the phrase “white tea” was in my brain anyway.
It came back to the hotel with me. I steeped it in boiling water for 4 minutes, and added milk. Poor tortured tea. Needleess to say, I didn’t really like it. In my defence, the box didn’t provide any helpful guidance, and actually suggested boiling water to begin with. The milk, I admit, was my mistake.
I think about it now and want to hit my previous self over the head, but we all started somewhere with tea. Some of our starts were possibly rockier than others. I’d like to go back and revisit this tea one day, just to see if I can make a better job of it. I’m sure I can, but this one deserves at least 75 for the pain I put it through.
I made this one up as a cold brew for my family, since they’re really into their iced tea these days. I managed to grab a glass after lunch before they hoovered it all up, though! I enjoyed this one hot, but it really shines when it’s cold. The strawberry is front-and-centre, sweet and spot-on flavour accurate. The mango is much less prominent, but recognisable as a faint, peppery “orangeness” in the background. I like that the strawberry really comes into its own here, though – it was the flavour I bought the tea for in the first place, if I’m honest.
White tea seems to cold brew really well, which came as a surprise to me for some reason. I guess I’m usually all about the black teas, but white might be moving into second place, particularly during the summer. I remember vividly the first white tea I ever tried, and what I did with it, but that’s another story. Maybe noteworthy, actually.
I did the usual with this – 2 tbsp of leaf in 2 litres of water, into the fridge for 10 hours overnight.
No notes for this one? I find that kind of difficult to believe, but there you go. I picked this one up a while ago, as far as I can remember? I think it was from one of last year’s collections, but I might be wrong about that. Anyway, I think my body is craving anything with a passing resemblance to vitamin C, since it’s the second orange-inflected blend I’ve picked up in the last 12 hours.
The combination of orange and mandarin really appealed to me, and it’s on a black base so that also made it a winner this morning. The Ceylon is perfect here – lightly cirtussy and brisk, and the perfect companion for the sharp, juicy orange and sweeter mandarin flavours it has going on.
There are a lot of other ingredients in this one – apple, hibiscus, blackberry leaf, lime leaf…the list goes on. None of them really seem to make an impression on the flavour, though. This is a straight-up, solid, bright, sunshine-y orange tea! Definitely one to try iced.
This was last night’s pre-bedtime cup. I was impressed enough with Tea Rex to want to try the rest of the sampler pretty much straight away, but I was trying to get back under 200, and then I went on holiday, and it just basically never happened. Now that I’m back, it was first on my list to try!
I never expect all that much from Adagio, but these honeybush/rooibos blends are actually really good. I didn’t get much in the way of blueberry from this one, but I did get a nice tangy orange, a little sharp and a little sweet – just perfect really! I was also pretty impressed with the green rooibos in the base. I haven’t liked it all that much previously, but it actually worked really well here, adding a slight “pithiness” that helped to enhance the orange. Impressed! I’ll definitely be trying this one cold-brewed when I’m back at work.
In other news, I gave up on my no-buy, and on staying under 200, and bought more tea. The teas I bought on holiday pushed my count back up anyway, and I basically sat down this morning and thought “in for a penny, in for a pound.” So I have orders with Liquid Proust and August Uncommon , and I’m considering a Bluebird order because I’ve pretty much convinced myself that I need new Timolinos and it would be wrong not to get some tea at the same time, obviously. I also think I might be getting a cold (in July?) because my throat is awfully scratchy, and I have a big job interview this week that I’ve managed to totally stress myself out over. I needed tea therapy, and I got it. I’ll deal with the repercussions for my cupboard…later :)
I’ve been away in Scotland this week, hence the lack of tasting notes! I didn’t take a lot of tea with me, purely because it wouldn’t have been especially practical and I was limited in terms of luggage capacity (read: one small holdall for five nights away). I did buy some tea to bring home while I was there, though, and I took every opportunity to sit down in a cafe and buy a cup, naturally.
The Waterstones Cafe in Edinburgh has the best view of the castle in the whole city, as far as I’m concerned, so I went in there often. They serve the Suki Breakfast blend by default unless you specifically request something else, and I’m writing this primarily because I was a lot more impressed with it than I expected to be.
At first I thought it was going to be a bit thin, based on the very light liquor colour. It’s not, though. It brews up to a beautifully vibrant orange-red, and it takes milk really well but is equally palatable without. I thought it made a really refreshing cup; lightly citrussy, a touch brisk, with just a hint of malt lurking in the background. Unexpectedly, a really good cup!
This is really good cold, but I’m finding that with a lot of white tea blends recently. I went with my standard preparation method – 2 tbsp in 2 litres of cold water, into the fridge for around 10 hours overnight. The flavour of the orange is more prominent that it is in the hot cup, the cinnamon less so. Running right through the middle of the whole thing is the sweet, slightly thick, frangipane-esque taste of almonds. Delicious!
I first tried this one on Saturday in my Timolino, but it didn’t make too much of an impression for reasons I don’t quite understand. It smells amazing! Rich chocolate, mint, and vanilla. Made in a cup, it also tastes great. This is the second time I’ve said it recently, but I think I’m getting to the stage with my Timolinos where they just need to be replaced.
Anyway, the tea. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and left it for 4 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk, just because it’s first thing and it brewed up pretty dark. I can actually see tiny black vanilla seeds on the surface of the tea, and the flavour of the vanilla is very prominent in the initial sip. It’s so creamy and rich, it’s actually reminding me of very high-end vanilla ice cream, or maybe even creme anglaise. So intense.
The chocolate is largely a flavour contributed by the Fujian black base, as far as I can discern. It’s a very cocoa-like chocolate, a little on the dry side, but not at all artificial. It’s also quite gentle, but it pairs well with the vanilla to create a very decadent, dessert-like effect. The mint is also very subtle, but it’s identifiable as a fresh, cooling sweetness in the background.
Chocolate, vanilla and mint are flavours that work well together, and I don’t think that can be disputed. Most of the debate comes down to whether the tea in question balances them well, and I think here it’s a definite yes. It’s pretty heavy on the vanilla, so it’d definitely help if you like your tea rich and creamy, but it certainly makes for a delicious cup! Another win from Liquid Proust.
I was talking about Kenyan black teas the other day, and then I went through my stash and found that this one has a Kenyan tea as part of its base – along with Ceylon and Assam. It’s also an Earl Grey, like the tea that triggered the revelation, so obviously I had to try it next.
Much like Teapigs Earl Grey Strong, the strength of this blend is in the base rather than in the prominence of the bergamot, and in many ways that makes it a more suitable EG for me. I’m not the biggest bergamot fan, and although the dry leaf seems to suggest that it’s going to be STRONG here, it’s actually very subtle. I gave 1 tsp of leaf 4 minutes in boiling water, and it’s the base tea that I can taste most clearly. It’s deliciously, sweetly malty, with an underlying crisp citrus note attributable to the Ceylon but amped to a certain extent by the bergamot. It’s a well balanced blend, at least to my tastes.
If you like Earl Grey, but aren’t a bergamot fan, this one’s worth a try. I’d say it’s quite a delicate blend, as they go. If you like a good smack of bergamot, you might want to steer clear.
Sipdown! Finally under 200 – now to see how long I can keep it that way :)
I finished this one off as a latte this morning. I’m feeling totally knackered at the moment, but matcha seems to improve my energy levels at least a little. More to this point, this one is delicious, and makes for a great start to any morning.
Thanks again to Roswell Strange for sharing this one with me!