907 Tasting Notes

55

Last night it was honeybush vanilla, tonight it’s rooibos. I thought I’d compare these while the honeybush is still fresh in my mind. I’d like to know what the difference in flavour really is, if I can pinpoint it, and I know I’ll only be able to do that with a clear recollection. So…

The first thing that strikes me about this is the immediate difference in the scent of the dry leaves. This one has a much milder vanilla scent, although it is there, but the dominant note is the rooibos. It’s almost woodsy, in a sawdust-esque sort of way, and there’s something slightly straw-like in there as well. The vanilla is quite rich and cloying in scent, as it was in the honeybush, but it’s very much second-fiddle to the rooibos here.

Brewed, the vanilla comes through more clearly and the strong scent of the rooibos has faded into the background. The vanilla is sweet and creamy but not overpowering. Somehow, it just seems to fit the rooibos base better than it did the honeybush. It might just be me. Previously, most of the hineybush blends I’ve tasted have been fruit flavoured, so I guess that’s what I’ve come to expect, and anything really sweet sort of throws me. Still, of the two, this is the one I think I prefer, which has come as a surprise. Rooibos is not usually my thing. I also surprised myself by not adding milk to this. I definetly know I’m drinking rooibos — it just has that taste about it, which I can only adequately describe as slightly brassy or metallic, but for some reason I’m okay with it. Maybe the vanilla is addling my brain. The only other complaint I have is that it’s slightly drying on the palate, but it’s not too bad. I’ve certainly drank teas the worse for this.

To taste, this is ultimately very similar to the honeybush. The vanilla is rich and creamy, the base substantial. It is a little like drinking warm vanilla ice cream, and I guess I will try this with milk at some point. I imagine that will augment the creaminess very nicely. Otherwise, this is a very pleasant, comforting, hug-in-a-cup style drink — perfect for a snowy night like tonight! This is definetly one I’ll be revisiting — maybe with a little sugar or something along those lines. If I could tone the rooibos down just a little bit more I’d be all the happier, but this is still an unexpected hit!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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55

Thus far in my experience with rooibos and honeybush, I’ve tended to prefer honeybush blends. There’s something I find quite “brassy”, if I can put it like that, about rooibos, whereas I find honeybush to be more naturally sweet and pleasing.

On opening the sachet, I’m overwhelmed with the scent of vanilla. It’s very strong, and reminiscent of whippy-style ice cream, if the essence was bottled and distilled. Vanilla extract is another thing that springs to mind — it has the same, slightly overdone, almost alcoholic-smelling vanilla-ness about it. Part of me quite likes the scent, and is off reminiscing about vanilla ice cream eaten on childhood summer holidays. Another part is concerned that it’s going to be overwhelmingly sweet and very cloying.

Brewed, the liquor is orangey-red, and the vanilla is much more delicate. It’s still an identifiable scent, but it’s lost some of the punch it had dry, which is no bad thing. To taste, it’s deliciously delicate and creamy. The honeybush base is smooth and substantial, and the vanilla adds a rich, heady finish. It’s almost like drinking hot ice cream.

I’ve been drinking a lot of kooky honeybush-based teas in recent months, and I’d almost forgotten what it’s like to drink a simple, straightforward blend like this. It’s not exciting or intriguing, but it is good. Sometimes, that’s enough.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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65
drank Jasmine Pearls by Teapigs
907 tasting notes

Drank one of these with lunch today, in my eco-mug. I didn’t leave the bag in long, as I’m not over fond of strongly floral tea, but I can still appreciate the delicate scent of jasmine and the light, refreshing green tea base. I’d probably find most things relaxing after a fraught morning on the dreaded reception desk, but this is definetly one of them. Delicate and pleasing — just the thing!

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 15 sec

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85

Drank more of this at work today, and worked out in the quiet hour between 5 and 6 that I’ve probably only got about 12 cups worth left to go. I’ll be sad, because I’ve really enjoyed this tea. It’s everything I ever wanted a darjeeling to be, and none of the things I’ve disliked about them in the past. I rsteeped the leaves a couple of times today to try and prolong the amount of time I’ve got left with this tea, and was pleased to find the flavour pretty much unchanged until after the 4th use. Even then, it was eminently drinkable, just lacking a little of the depth of flavour it had previously. A favourite, for sure.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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25

Sipdown!

Finished off my packet of these at work today. I enjoyed them enough, given that they’re green tea and not as I remember, but I probably won’t be purchasing again. I’ve actually ordered some Mao Feng from Tea Palace, just to try another variety and to see if my recollection of this tea is at all correct.

At one point during the afternoon, I managed to brew a cup that had a really nice nutty flavour. It’s not something I’ve ever noticed in this tea before, and it was actually really pleasant. Maybe I’m just hopeless at brewing consistently, but it was a nice note to end the packet on.

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85
drank Ceylon Sonata by Adagio Teas
907 tasting notes

I bought a large bag of this after trying a sample back in the summer, but it’s languished in my cupboard every since. Finally dug it out yesterday, and tried a couple of cups again. I’d forgotten how much I used to enjoy this as an everyday black tea. It’s not too strong, although it’s strong enough to add milk to if I want to, and it has a citrus note to it that I really enjoy. Almost grapefruit-like. One to take to work this week, I think!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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75
drank Winter Infusion by Twinings
907 tasting notes

I’m cultivating a cold at the moment, so now isn’t the best time for me to be trying new teas. There’s plenty of this to go around, though, and I know it’ll cheer me up, so I’m going to do it anyway.

I actually ordered this just before christmas, but have only just got around to trying it. On opening the caddy, I can immediately smell a warm, clementine-scented, slightly spicy aroma. I know it’s March now, but it does make me feel surprisingly christmassy. At the same time, it’s very fresh and clean smelling, probably thanks to the orange, so I’m not too sad to have missed the christmas boat and be drinking this in early spring. It’s actually snowing right now, so I guess I’m just splitting hairs really.

Dry, this tea is actually quite pretty. I don’t usually think that about rooibos, but it’s true here. There’s the reddy-brown rooibos, the pieces of orange, and the fine red strands of safflower. It looks really appealing. Brewed, it develops a deep red-brown liquor, and a scent that is earthy and orangey in equal measure. I added milk on this occasion, because I’m hoping it’ll add a slight creaminess. I often find rooibos quite harsh in flavour, so I’m hoping this will soften that aspect and let the orange and cinnamon shine.

The predominant taste here is orange, along with an earthy robustness from the rooibos. I can’t really detect any cinnamon or spice, except perhaps as a very slight warmth in the aftertaste. It seems a little flat, but the orange is very juicy and pleasant. The scent is actually almost like kia-ora, although the taste is, thankfully, closer to fresh clementine.

For a rooibos blend, this isn’t half bad. I was expecting to only really be able to taste the base tea, but the orange here is surprisingly strong. This is one I’m definietly going to enjoy having around for a while yet!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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60
drank Courtesan by Yumchaa
907 tasting notes

We’ve had a nice, verging on spring-like, couple of days this week, so I decided yesterday morning was as good a time as any for my first iced tea of the year. I say iced, but since I was at work, I didn’t have access to any actual ice. Instead, I did the best I could with our chilled water tap (which really is very cold), and pleanty of patience.

I tried this hot a few days ago, and wasn’t really struck on the flavours. It was a lot sweeter than I was expecting, and not as fruity as the scent led me to imagine. Cold, we get along much better. The darker fruit flavours come through more clearly — hello blackcurrant and elderberry! — and the sweetness, while still there, is complementary rather than overpowering. Yumchaa say this is for icing, and they’re right. I can only imagine this’ll be even better when I have some actual ice, but I’m pretty happy with how this turned out.

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more

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75
drank Lemon and ginger by Teapigs
907 tasting notes

My dad loves this tea, so there’s been a box in the house almost constantly for a good few years now. Surprisingly, I have never tried one, or never that I recall. High time to put that right.

The dry leaves smell predominantly of root ginger, with the soft, hay-like sweetness of the lemongrass emerging in the background. There’s quite a kick of ginger — the kind that tickles your nose if you inhale too deeply. The lemongrass pieces look to be chopped — they’re a lot shorter than the leaves in Teapigs’ Pure Lemongrass — but they’re by no means dust. The ginger pieces are also indetifiable, with the overall proportion looking to be about 50:50. Probably just right, then!

I’ve been missing out. Brewed, the lemongrass comes through a lot more in the scent. To taste, it’s a lot sweeter than I was expecting, and quite complex. The lemongrass is the first thing I can detectl sweet, slightly citrusy. Then comes the tingling spiciness of the ginger, which develops into a lingering warmth in the the aftertaste.

This tea claims to be the perfect British summer drink. From what I’ve tasted, I guess it probably could be. It reminds me of lemonade and ginger beer, things I associate with summer, and that are also making me desperate to try this iced. It’s nice hot, but I can just imagine it working even better cold. Definetly one to revisit!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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25

I’ve been drinking this tea at work pretty steadily, but I brought one home so I could give it enough consideration to write a tasting note. I first tried this tea back in 2009, and I think something about it has definetly changed since then. The tea I remember was very vegetal in smell, and produced a pale, distinctly green liquor. It tasted sweet, and very much like fresh cut grass. It was love at first sip, and I’ve judged every green tea against that one since then. It’s been a while, though, since I last tried it, so I was excited to open a fresh 2013 purchased packet. Unfortunately, this isn’t the tea I remember any more.

Although the packet still makes the claim that the liquor will be green, it isn’t. It’s yellow. Definetly. If you over-brew it even slightly, it turns brown. The dry leaves still smell like I remember — very sweet and almost hay-like, but this doesn’t carry through as well to the brewed tea as I feel it used to. The taste is light and vegetal, but it’s not the summer-grass taste I remember so well. It seems to have lost some of its character. It’s still a very fresh, delicate green tea, though, and one I can enjoy drinking almost any time of the day. I’m just disappointed that it’s not as amazing as I remember it used to be. There’s no bitterness or astringency if you’re careful how you brew it, but one false move and it develops a very dry mouthfeel and aftertaste.

It’s palatable, but no longer fabulous. I guess I’ll have to look elsewhere for the Mao Feng of my memory.

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

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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 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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