949 Tasting Notes

80
drank Adventure by Yumchaa
949 tasting notes

I last drank this long enough ago that I don’t actually remember it at all. High time for another try, then! As this is the last of the Yumchaa reds in my stash for now (except Red Christmas, but I’m saving that for…Christmas), I’ve moved it to my tea drawer at work. I usually go for teas I don’t need milk with at work, as I don’t trust our old and ancient fridge. As I’m so cold today, perhaps this is just what I’m looking for.

Brewed, it smells spicy and hibiscussy, and for some reason it’s made me think of mulled wine. I guess it was a good choice after all, in that it feels like winter has suddenly returned. The taste is similar. I can detect the hibiscus (what is it doing here anyway?), but it is thankfully quite subtle. I can also taste cinnamon, and something like caramel. The kiwi plonks itself down right in the middle of the sip. I remember thinking last time I tried this that it really was like an adventure for the taste buds. This tea brings together all sorts of random ingredients and somehow makes them work. It’s not like any other tea I’ve ever tried, and, surprisingly enough, it’s nice. For all that, though, it’s not memorable. I’ve never drawn a complete blank on a tea I’ve tasted previously before, and yet I did here. Maybe the ingredients are too diverse? Maybe I just haven’t tried it enough compared so some others? I’m not really sure at the moment. It’s definitely a nice, welcome drink on a day like today, though. One I’ll have to try and get to know better over the coming weeks and months.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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75
drank SBT: Lime Jello by 52teas
949 tasting notes

Today’s iced tea choice for work. I probably made a mistake with this today, as it’s not actually all that warm. It’s so stuffy in our office usually, I think I’ve just fallen into the habit of assuming I’ll be too hot. I haven’t taken my hoodie off yet, though, so it’s definitely on the cool side.

It doesn’t really matter, though. I don’t have any actual ice, so this is really just chilled tea. It’s convenient, because it means I don’t have to keep getting up and going to the kettle, which is at the other end of the office. It’s while I’m on these jaunts that someone inevitably comes in to reception, and I miss them. Still, it’s monday, I need caffiene, and I don’t care whether it’s hot or cold.

I’m a Lime Jello Salad fan, so this is another of Frank’s SBTs that I was eager to try. The first thing I can say is that I still prefer the green version. I miss the marshmallow in this, and the sweetness that perfectly balanced the tang of the lime. This is definitely limey, though, and it pairs so well with the black base. The smell of this both dry and brewed reminds me of actual Lime Jello, which I suppose is the point. It’s kind of sour and tangy, and it makes me think of summer. The taste is similar, with the Lime Jello peeking out from under the black tea and adding a fruity, zesty tang to each sip.

I forgot my sugar again, so I can’t experiment (when will I learn?), but I think my enjoyment of this would be hightened if it was a little sweeter. It’s lovely and refreshing and palatable as is, but I am looking for just a little more sweetness than it has naturally. While this probably isn’t my personal favourite of the SBTs, it’s certainly another good one. If I’d known it was this easy to make iced tea, I would have been doing it for years. Another excellent creation!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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80
drank Smaug Tea by 52teas
949 tasting notes

Tried this for the first time on Saturday, so this is a bit of a backlog. I held off drinking this one for a while, possibly out of a kind of fear? I like cinnamon as a flavour, but I’ve had too many bas experiences with cinnamon tea blends for me to approach this with anything other than trepidation. I needn’t have, though.

This tea really is a little bit magic, isn’t it? Drinking it makes me think of the glowing embers from a fire (or from a dragon’s fiery breath, maybe), and the spice almost makes it seem like it might spark in my mouth. My brain was expecting a sensation a bit like popping candy, but, of course, I didn’t get that :P Not to worry, though, because it’s fabulous anyway. For a tea to be so evocative is a thing in itself, whether or not the sensations live up to it!

Whenever I’ve had cinnamon previously, it’s always been blended with other spices, like cloves and ginger. I’m not a fan of that kind of mixture — it just tastes like a museum apothacary I visited as a child smelt, and that’s not a good thing in my estimation. This tea doesn’t, though. The cinnamon is left to shine on its own, and it tastes just as it should, like its natural self. The cayenne pepper adds a wonderful spicy heat, and the two together make a pretty unique, special combination. There’s a very, very slight smokiness from the lapsang, but it’s really barely detectable. This is a good thing for me, as I’m not oven keen on smoked tea, but it’s there for a reason in this blend, and it adds just enough for me to be able to imagine I’m drinking something dragon-singed. The dragonwell base is smooth and not at all astringent. You have to admit that the name, if nothing else, made it absolutely perfect for this tea. It does a good job supporting the flavours, though, and doesn’t get in the way of the overall taste. I actually think it’s a better fit here than a black base would have been. It adds just a slight dankness that contributes perfectly to the overall effect.

I’m looking forward to trying a second cup of this. I do love it when a tea is more than just a drink, and becomes a sort of taste experience that makes you think about its name and origins, and how it was put together. It’s a rare tea that does that, but this is one of the good ones. Truly magical! Thank you, Frank, for creating such inspired blends!

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

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95

For some reason, I couldn’t think about anything but tea on the bus home from work. I think it’s because I have a headache, and I know tea (or caffiene, maybe…) will help to make it better. Anyway, I actually tried this for the first time yesterday, and only remembered just now. Safe to say, though, it’s the best chocolate tea I’ve tried so far.

Dry, it smells just like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange. The black tea leaves are soft and slightly downy, and range from golden to a chocolatey brown. I can see pieces of marshamllow root, orange zest and chocolate chips interspersed generously. Brewed, the scent is similar. It’s definitely still chocolate orange, which is a relief. After the divine scent of the dry leaves, I’d have felt let down if it had been lacklustre at this point! It’s not, though. Far from it, and anything but. It tastes just as it smells, with the chocolate, orange and marshmallow each contributing equally to the taste, and harmonising with the others. This is such an aptly named tea — the flavours really are three friends here. The base tea is wonderful, too. It’s smooth, and slightly malty, and it makes for a great accord with the other flavours. When I’ve got a tea like this, I don’t really need real chocolate!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

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85
drank Raspberry Vanilla by Yumchaa
949 tasting notes

Sipdown! Finished this one off last night. I don’t know whether it’s just me, but the last few cups of this took on a slightly smoky taste. I have no idea why — I don’t have any smoky teas stored near this, and I know it for a fact because I don’t think I have any smoky tea in my stash at all right now. Maybe one, in Smaug, but it’s not even in the same box. It’s been open a while and is a little old, so it might be that. Or it might just be me.

Whatever, though. This was a pleasant raspberry rooibos. With milk and a little sugar, it’s just like a raspberry milkshake. This is one I think I’ll be missing a little.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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70

I’m pleased how fresh this tea looks. It’s a lovely silvery-green, unlike some I’ve had recently, and it really is just silver needle. When brewed, the liquor is really, really pale. I didn’t think anything was actually happening at first, but obviously it was as the taste is there.

As I’ve come to expect from unflavoured whites, this is very light and delicate in taste. It’s a perfect spring/summer tea. Easy to drink and refreshing even when hot (or warm, considering I let the water cool substantially). It’s mildly grassy, maybe very slighty floral. This is one of those white teas that reminds me why I like them so much in the first place. Flavoured might be more interesting sometimes, but a plain white this good can be just as inspiring.

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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95

Opened my final box of this today. Once it’s finished, I won’t be buying any more for a while. Not because it’s not a nice earl gray, because it is. Just because I’ve had far too much of it recently. 14 more cups to go…

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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100
drank SBT: Cotton Candy by 52teas
949 tasting notes

These teas are just bloody awesome really, aren’t they? I don’t know why I held off buying some last year. It was plenty hot enough in my old office to merit iced tea, although I suppose I just wasn’t up to the tea tea-buying tricks I’ve developed these days.

Anyway, back to the point. I first tried the normal version of Cotton Candy in last year’s 12 Teas of Christmas sampler. I loved it. Given my success with Neapolitan Ice Cream recently, I decided to try another of the SBTs “converted” from a normal tea. (I’m not sure what it means when you start calling such oddly flavoured teas normal, but I guess it hardly matters at this point. You know what I’m on about.)

This one is another stunner. If anything, the cotton candy flavouring comes out more clearly here than it does in its original counterpart. It’s delicious — sweet, sugary, airy cotton candy goodness. It smells strongly of cotton candy, it tastes strongly of cotton candy. Once again, the black base is detectabe, but it just seems to enhance and support the flavouring rather than mask it in any way.

I have no idea how Frank achieves these extrodinary flavouring feats. What I do know is that, as iced tea goes, these are unbeatable. Yum yum yum is about the most coherent thing I can say about this right now. Please excuse me while I go and drink some more.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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60
drank Wanderlust by Yumchaa
949 tasting notes

I somehow managed to ruin the cup of this I made earlier. It went all bitter and smoky on me. I think maybe the water was too hot when I added the leaves, or maybe they were in there for a bit too long. Fancy work getting in the way of tea! I’ll have to try again later when reception has calmed down a bit.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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35

I’m going to be brave and give this a try today. The first time I tried it, which was a good few years ago now, I could hardly finish the cup. This kind of oolong still isn’t really my thing, but it came with a gift pack (the ultimate, no less) so I feel I really ought to give it a second chance.

The dry leaves in the packet give off that typical oolong scent — kind of earthy and slightly mineral. It’s a scent that used to turn my stomach, but I understand it a bit more now. I gave it three minutes in water I’d let cool a little, and the liquor is now a pale yellow. It smells the same as it does dry, which isn’t hugely encouraging considering I’m very picky about oolongs. It’s this exact scent that I dislike, yet it’s hard to accurately describe. Adagio Wuyi Oolong was the same, and I had to ditch the rest of my sample of that as I just couldn’t face it.

I shouldn’t judge before I’ve tried, though. The first sip isn’t too bad. Maybe because I’ve gone lightly with the brew time and temparature, or maybe just because it’s a more delicate tasting tea than I was expecting. It has a faint mineral taste, and a more prominent grassiness, rather like a mild green tea. I can’t exactly claim to like it, but it’s okay. I’ll be able to finish this cup, and the rest of the box, anyway.

I think my relationship with oolong is going to be a bit hit and miss. I loved the milk oolong I tried, and I’ve got a couple more of those in my stash to try now. The idea of flavoured oolong appeals, too, and the same goes for those. I would like to determine what my preferences are when it comes to oolong, so I’m going to keep trying. While drinkable, though, this clearly isn’t it.

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