1589 Tasting Notes


A sample from VariaTEA. I pulled this one out to try this morning, as it’s a guayusa and I felt like I could do with an energy boost. So far in my tea-tasting adventure, I’ve only tried the Butiki guayusas. I’ve been keen to try more for a while, but they seem slightly rarer than other varieties, and certainly pretty hard to come by in the UK. For all of those reasons, I was looking forward to giving this one a try.

For my first cup, I used 1.25 tsp of leaf in water cooled very slighty, and gave it about 5 minutes. The resulting cup is deep, dark, red. Oh, hibi. It smells okay, though…almost like berries and cream.

To taste, this is pretty much as I’d hoped. The guayusa is detectable as a deep, dark background earthiness. It’s not super-strong, but it is definitely there. Although it sounds odd, it doesn’t conflict too badly with the berry flavour in practice, as it were. They berry flavour is pretty generic, it has to be said — more mixed berries with a touch of cream than any one berry in particular. The hibiscus also makes itself known, and I’d have honestly been surprised if it didn’t given the colour this developed. It has a slightly brassy, metallic taste, but against the guayusa it’s not too offensive. It’s certainly tart, making the name highly appropriate at least, but the berry cream flavour is the real star here, and absolutely saves me from hating this one.

On balance, I definitely prefer the Butiki guayusas. They’re better put together, and seem somehow less heavy handed than this one. It’s by no means bad, but I know that there are better teas out there and that spoils it for me slightly. It’s probably not one I’d keep to hand, but I have enjoyed trying it. Many thanks to VariaTEA for sharing this one with me! You never know until you try!

200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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I recently bought my parents a Dolce Gusto machine, and since today has been hot and we’ve been to the coast, I decided to give the Nestea Iced Lemon pods a go this afternoon. The biggest surprise was the thick, creamy foam this develops on top. What’s that all about? I guess it must be something to do with the way the machine works, but it was a little odd. Aside from that, this was an okay sweet lemon iced tea. I know it’s sweetened, and I wouldn’t normally do that, but it wasn’t too overwhelming. The lemon flavour wasn’t quite sharp or strong enough for my tastes, either, but it was also okay. The “black tea” in this is pretty nonexistent, even though the colour is right. It doesn’t really come in to play as an element of the flavour. So all in all, while this is pleasant enough to sip on in hot weather, not to mention convenient because it can be prepared pretty much instantly, it’s never going to be my favourite iced tea. It’s okay, though, and I enjoyed it well enough,


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A sample from VariaTEA. I didn’t look at the description or notes on here before trying, so it took me a minute to work out what I was drinking. Then it struck me: candy banana! The banana in this isn’t natural tasting — it’s like a foam banana sweet — but it is very prominent. I could also taste milk chocolate, and the combination is a pretty good one. I don’t always get along with rooibos, but I have no issues to report here. It stayed in the background, and it didn’t boss the other flavours around or try and upstage them. That’s all I ask of rooibos, really.

I gave 1.25tsp of this one four minutes in boiling water, and added a splash of milk. Reading through the description now, I can safely say I didn’t get any coconut or walnut in my cup. Part of me is actually quite pleased about that — I have a feeling they might have been two flavours too many. As it is, I’m happy with this one. It was a tasty evening cup, and an unexpectedly pleasant follow up to 52 Teas Banana Pudding, which I drank just before. I must unconsciously have been in a banana mood!

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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Great cup last night. Sweet banana, a hint of coconut, deliciously milky. I love this one!

Boiling 3 min, 45 sec 1 tsp

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Sipdown! Used the last of my bag of this as a cold brew. Today is my first day back at work this week after being in the Processfix workshop since Tuesday. I think I have about a thousand emails. And three days of interview paperwork to deal with. I’m counting myself lucky that I don’t have a headache already. At least I have this to sip on to cheer me up (and I’m meeting a friend for lunch in a few minutes).

Strangely, this time I’m getting more flavour than I did previously, even though I didn’t use anywhere near as much leaf. I wouldn’t say I got vanilla or cherry, per se, but definitely cola. It’s a nice enough cup to sip on throughout the day, but it’s probably not something I’d ever restock. I like the idea of it, but the flavour just didn’t live up to my expectations. It’s tastes better hot, but I prefer to drink this cold. There’s a confusion opinion for you! AT least it’s Friday.

Iced 8 min or more

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A sample from VariaTEA. I had my first cup of this last night, and have to admit to being slightly disappointed. I didn’t get much in the way of pumpkin pie from this, and it wasn’t even remotely spicy. I know it doesn’t claim to be, but I’ve come to associate spice with pumpkin pie, and I felt kind of cheated. We could perhaps argue about the pumpkin. There is a sweetness that floats over the top of the rooibos, but it’s so generic I really wouldn’t want to define it as pumpkin. Not the vegetable anyway. Maybe it could faintly recall tinned, pre-sweetned pumpkin pie filling…but I don’t think so. Not really. Let’s say that if I hadn’t read the label first and known this was supposed to be a pumpkin tea, I wouldn’t have been able to guess. There’s no pie, but I think you knew I was going to say that already.

All this being said, it’s not an unpleasant rooibos blend. There’s no woodiness, and it takes milk nicely. The sweet flavour makes it a little different from a plain rooibos, and it’s not difficult to drink. I’ll happily make up my second cup from the sample I received, and drink it too. It’s just not pumpkin pie, and having expected that I now feel bereft. It scores low because it disappointed me, although I don’t mind the flavour.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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I feel I should say I’m drinking the ML collection version of this tea today, rather than the Mighty Leaf. To all intents and purposes, though, I think they’re the same. I certainly can’t taste any discernable difference (unlike this morning’s breakfast blend).

For that reason, I’ll stick with what I’ve said all along. This is a pleasant, eminently palatable earl grey, not too heavy on the bergamot and with a nice robust base. I don’t like all earl grey varieties, but this is one I’m happy to drink. I had a couple of cups in my eco mug today, and was pleased with both. I added milk, because that’s what I do, and that added a pleasant creaminess which just took the edge off the slightly bitter bergamot. That’s how to improve a process workshop, ladies and gentlemen.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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I wasn’t expecting this one to be so different from the Organic Breakfast that’s sold under the “Mighty Leaf” range, rather than this one from the ML Collection. It is, though, and I could tell immediately. I don’t think this one contains any darjeeling. it’s much sweeter and maltier, and it doesn’t have the metallic tang I associate with Mighty Leaf’s darjeelings. On this point alone, it’s a much more palatable breakfast tea for me. I feel it’s a more robust blend, as well. It definitely accepts milk more readily without becoming ridiculously weak, and it has more body. By that, I think I mean the “darker” notes are more pronounced, and it potentially has a heavier mouthfeel. I did detect a hint of chocolate while sipping on this one, and that complemented the malty flavour wonderfully.

On the whole, this struck me as a very pleasant breakfast tea. There are a good few bags in my ML Collection Master Sampler, so I can enjoy some more cups of this one and firm up my opinion. For a first impression in less than ideal brewing circumstances (process workshop away from the office), though, I think it stood up pretty well.

Boiling 3 min, 45 sec

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I used to love this tea, back when I first had a Mighty Leaf Master Sampler. That was about two years ago now, though, and today I realised that my tastes have changed fundementally. Either that, or the tea has changed. I think it’s safer to assume it’s me.

I used to think it was delicate, juicy, and wonderfully melony. I’ve been in a Processfix workshop for the last two days (last one tomorrow), so I took a small supply of tea bags knowing that loose tea wouldn’t be practical. This was one I pulled out this afternoon. I let my water cool first, added the bag, and gave it about two minutes. The liquor quickly turned a fairly deep yellow, so I was expecting at least some bitterness from the base. Fortunately it was smooth and relatively sweet tasting.

My problem with this tea is the flavouring. I got a lot of peach, but it was the kind of plasticy, artificial peach I can’t get along with. Sometimes it even gives me a headache. There was no melon to be found. The flavouring didn’t completely overpower the base, which was actually the nicest thing about this tea, although I would have preferred just white rather than a white/green blend. And some melon, obviously.

It’s not that this is a bad tea…I just can’t believe my recollection of it from two years ago was so vastly different to today’s experience. Unfortunately, once I’ve finished the bags in my sampler box, it won’t be one I come back to again.

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

I get the feeling I will have the same kind of experiences with tea. I can already tell my tastes are evolving and the green teas I used to adore just pale in comparison to the black and oolong teas I’ve been trying lately. Not that I don’t like greens any longer, but I think my preferences are changing sides. I wonder if I will find that I no longer enjoy individual teas that I once loved.

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I’m actually getting more from this today than I ever have before. I’m wondering whether it’s because I’m at the bottom of the bag, and all of the chocolate, coconut and assorted flavourings have accumulated here? After the cup I’m drinking now, I literally have two more teaspoons of leaf left. If they’re both as good as this, I’ll go away from this blend happy!

It tastes just like chocolate sponge cake. I wouldn’t say I’m getting “red velvet” cake particularly — certainly there’s no cream cheese icing to be found here — but I’m happy enough with cake. Why have I never tasted it before?! It even smells like cake, and where I usually get a whole lot of rooibos and nothing else, today the rooibos is actually farily tame.

Strange and stranger. I’m not complaining, though. Chocolate cake tea is fine with me!

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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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.


Norfolk, UK

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