1617 Tasting Notes

95

Today’s work iced tea. I made this up the way I usually do, giving the bag 3 minutes in 1/4 litre of boiling water, topped up to 2 litres with cold and then into the fridge overnight. While it was in the hot water, my family insisted the smell was caramel. At first that confused me, but I can kind of see it, I guess…it’s sweet, and there’s something that reminds me very much of vanilla beans. Not caramel, though, really.

When I took my first sip, I was immediately reminded of Della Terra’s Lemon Chiffon. This has the same creamy, dessert-like vibe. I can taste both lemon and lime pretty clearly, although the creaminess is dominant. I don’t have a problem with that, though – it’s delicious! The thing that most astounds me about SBTs is their ability to mimic the effervescence of a fizzy drink, or something like sherbet, without actually being carbonated, and there is a background fizziness here.Ultimately, it comes across as a hybrid of Mountain Dew and Cream Soda for me, which is better tasting than it sounds. I’m certainly going to find this one easy to drink today – it could be a new favourite SBT!

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more
Fjellrev

I don’t really care for Mountain Dew, but love cream soda, so this does sound intriguing!

Scheherazade

It really IS creamy! Goes so well with the lemon/lime flavour, too :)

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100

The last time I tried this one, I was drinking the old version and I remember really enjoying it. It was on the strength of that cup that I bought a new bag (although after the switch to the new version), and I’m only just now getting around to trying it.

The dry leaf smells just like cocoa. In fact, I could have been convinced that I’d opened a tin of cocoa by mistake if I hadn’t been able to see what I was doing. It’s definitely tea, but SO chocolatey it’s almost unreal.

Once brewed, it’s still amazingly chocolatey! I added a splash of milk just because, although in all honesty it didn’t really need it. The flavour is predominantly chocolate and malt, with just a touch of berry sharpness right at the end of the sip. It seems simple, but it’s SO good. This one could easily become a comfort tea for me.

1 tsp, boiling water, 3.5 minutes. Splash of milk.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp
Fjellrev

One of these days I need to take the plunge and just order this and Golden Orchid when they’re back in stock. See what all these awesome raves are about!

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60
drank Fudge Melts by Twinings
1617 tasting notes

This one sounds amazing, and I really, really hoped that it would taste equally wonderful. It…kind of does, and kind of doesn’t. I think green tea is an odd choice for the base here. It’s faintly grassy and vegetal, and it just doesn’t work all that well with fudge as a flavour. A black base would have been eminently more sensible, surely? Then there’s the fudge. This one smells a little artificial when it’s brewing, but it tastes better than that would suggest. It’s very heavy on the vanilla, which is all I can taste to begin with, and then there’s an almost thick-tasting butteriness that is kind of reminiscent of fudge (particularly with the vanilla…) It’s all just a little sweet and sickly, a bit overpowering, and sadly not really my thing. I’d so hoped it would be, but it’s just not quite right.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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75

Today’s iced tea. I know I need to work on drinking down my SBT stash, and this is the beginning of that. To aid in this endeavor, I’ve pulled out my oldest ones so they’re first to hand (although I don’t think they’re actually THAT old, really).

This one got the usual SBT treatment – 3 minutes in 1/4 litre of boiling water, topped up to 2 litres with cold water and into the fridge for around 12 hours overnight. I wasn’t at all convinced by the scent of this one while it was brewing – it had a very strong, very sweet “throat sweet” honey scent.

To taste, it’s actually pretty good. Ginger isn’t my favourite thing, and so I’m pleased to find that it’s not super strong or particularly peppery. It actually reminds me most of crystallized ginger – there’s a mild spicy kick, but with an edge of sweetness. It’s mostly a background flavour. The main flavour is honey, but again it’s not too strong or overpowering. It’s pretty flavour accurate, and adds almost a syrupy texture to the mouthfeel – very smooth and sweet. It works better with the ginger than I thought it would – one seems to bring out the best in the other.

As SBTs go, I’m finding this a pretty subtle blend, but on a hot day that’s actually no bad thing. The flavours are definitely there – there’s no argument about this one being honey-ginger – but they’re not too in-your-face and I’m quite enjoying that today. It’s a thirst-quenching, easy-sipping delight of a tea.

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more

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80

Today’s cold brew. I used 1.5 tbsp of leaf in just over 1 litre of cold water, and left it in the fridge for around 12 hours overnight. The initial flavour is pineapple, and it’s pretty sweet and intense – more so than when brewed hot. The mint comes out second, but it’s not as strong or as cooling as I expected it to be. I’m sure it’s actually mostly spearmint I can taste, because it’s sweeter and gentler than peppermint even though it’s further down the ingredient list. There’s also a hint of coconut at the end of the sip, and it’s just a little soapy-tasting, but that’s the only real bum-note here for me.

It feels wrong to say it, but I preferred this one hot. It’s just a little too sweet cold, and I felt that I lost the pineapple after the initial sip. It was worth trying, though, and I still have a couple of tsp left for some hot cups before my sample is gone.

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more

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85
drank Butterbeer by 52teas
1617 tasting notes

And again this morning.

This time, I used 1.5 tsp of leaf, and gave it 5 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk, but no sugar. It’s not bad, but still too light in flavour for my taste. I think I might go back to brewing this one without milk, although I know I’ll miss the creaminess and the enhanced buttery flavour that the milk seems to bring out. I’m actually finding that it’s better as it cools, and I can taste root beer just barely, but I really want MORE flavour from this one. Maybe it’s a case of finding the right leaf/milk balance so that it can really shine. Still a work in progress.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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85
drank Butterbeer by 52teas
1617 tasting notes

Tried again this afternoon with 2 tsp of leaf, a 4 minute brew-time, a few pieces of crystal sugar, and some milk. It helped to perk this one up a bit, I think. The butteriness is emphasised, and the root beer flavour seems a little stronger. I’m thinking it might not need the sugar, simply because it’s already quite sweet and it seems to draw the liquorice into play a little too much for my liking. I can tell it’s going to be trial and error with this one – next time, without sugar! This cup was an improvement, though, regardless.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp

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80

Liquid gingerbread man! I’m actually quite surprised by how enjoyable these Twinings “Indulgence” blends are. I’m not usually a fan of their bagged green tea, but it seems sweet and buttery here, and the flavouring is impeccable. This isn’t the spiciest gingerbread tea I’ve ever tried, but it does have a very prominent biscuit-like flavour, with the ginger second and a touch of vanilla in the background. Pretty delicious, for a fuss-free cup!

1 bag, 175 degrees, 2 minutes. No additions.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
VariaTEA

I was also really surprised but this one but they nailed it. Definitely one of the better gingerbread teas out there.

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85
drank Bellini by Tetley
1617 tasting notes

I remembered to use the last of these bags for my first proper cold brew of the year! I was pretty convinced I’d forget, but for once I’ve been true to my plans. I used three bags in just over 1 litre of cold water, and left them in the fridge for around 12 hours overnight. The result is pretty delicious. The initial sip is very heavy on the peach, and quite sweet. Then the orange comes out in the mid-sip and adds a mild sharpness that complements the peach really well. The ginger emerges towards the end of the sip, and lingers as a warming spiciness in the aftertaste. It makes for a really refreshing drink, with peach the main star and reassuringly natural in terms of taste. I’m actually quite sad that I’ve finished this one – I’ll certainly look out for it this summer in case it makes a return!

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more 3 tsp

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85
drank Butterbeer by 52teas
1617 tasting notes

This is my reblend pouch from the “old” 52 Teas, which has been sitting in my cupboard (unopened) for quite a while now. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it approximately 3 minutes in boiling water, no additions. The aroma is sweet and buttery, but I actually found the first sip to be a lot lighter on flavour than I was expecting. I’m thinking, like the Root Beer Float I drank last week, that I might need to overleaf this one a little and increase the brew time – maybe add some crystal sugar and/or milk to get the best out of it. I’ll try that next time.

This cup is nice, just a lot more watery than I was prepared for. It has a delicious buttery undertone and the herbal, almost medicinal, flavour of root beer that sums up “butterbeer” pretty accurately. I can taste the chicory lurking in the background, and I do think it adds a mild coffee-like flavour, but since it helps to add another layer of depth I’m not too bummed about tasting coffee in my tea. I think this one takes on an almost caramel-like flavour towards the end of the sip and in the aftertaste, particularly as it cools. It’s good, but I’d like my next cup to be a little stronger if I can reasonably achieve it!

I’ve left my rating as it is for now – but that was for the 12 Teas of Christmas version from, I think, 2014? I’d give this cup 65-70.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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Profile

Bio

Hi :) I’m Sarah, 27, and I live in Norfolk 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’m also beginning to explore pu’erh, both ripened and raw. That’s my latest challenge!

I’m still searching for the perfect fruit tea. One without hibiscus. That actually tastes of fruit.

In addition to Steepster, I also write for the SororiTea Sisters. My reviews there will typically be posted here also, although typically in a shorter format. Any teas I’m sent specifically for review will only appear in full on the SororiTea Sisters website, with only a short introduction and link to my review here.

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

Norfolk, UK

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