914 Tasting Notes

95

I’m slowly learning to appreciate bergamot in Earl Grey. There was a time in my tea drinking history when I wouldn’t have been able to drink this one, because the bergamot is pretty pronounced and it was a flavour that always made me feel slightly nauseous. Neither would I have been able to drink it without milk. Now, I can do both, and happily.

This one strikes a perfect balance for me. It’s not too bitterly citrus, but I can definetly taste the bergamot. It’s just right for my current tastes, but I am going to branch out and try some more varieties now it’s a flavour I’m coming to appreciate.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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85

This is still my tea of choice at work at the moment. So light and fresh tasting. I’ve done a detailed tasting note for this previously, but, needless to day, this is still ticking a lot of boxes for me. Morning or afternoon — it’s just perfect. I didn’t really like darjeeling over much before I tried first flush. I’ll definetly be seeking out some of 2013s in the coming months. Absolutely divine!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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65

Last time I drank one of these, I wasn’t in a fit state to taste anything. I opened a fresh packet today, though, so it’s time for a fresh tasting note — this time with tastebuds intact.

As soon as I open the box, I can smell the sweetness of the liquorice. I’m not sure why this surprises me every time, but it does. I breathed in a little too close to the packet — entirely by accident — and was rewarded with a mouthful of residual dust. It tastes a little like artificial sweetner. Not my favourite thing.

I can’t remember whether I’ve said it before, but I like this tea iced. It’s somehow more palatable cold — maybe because it complements the peppermint more. Hot, this is odd to say the least. The sweetness really lingers at the back of the mouth. It’s an acquired taste, I think, but one I’m in the process of acquiring. I don’t know how — I couldn’t finish my first cup of this all that time ago — but it is. Each time I drink it the extreme sweetness seems a little less repulsive, and I’m starting to taste something underneath the initial hit that I actually rather like. I’m going to need to try a few more cups before I can identify it with any certainty, but I’m kind of pleased this is no longer on my “ick” list. It’s a tea I’ve always wanted to like — despite myself — and maybe now I can finally say I’m getting there!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 sec

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95

Okay, so I am “archiving” at work. This basically means putting stuff in boxes, and is possibly the most boring job known to man. I’ve just made myself a cup of this in a vain attempt to try and make it more bearable.For some reason, this is one of the more pleantiful teas among my stash. I have it both loose and bagged — today’s version is loose.

On opening the packet, I’m greeted with the strong smell of bergamot, and a floral undertone from the cornflowers. It instantly transports me, in mind, to a sunnier place. Just one reason why this was such a good choice of tea for a rainy day while tasked with a mind-numbing job.

Anyhow, I brewed this for three minutes in boiling water. The leaves are so pretty at this stage — darker brown, red-brown, and pale green, with the blue of the cornflowers scattered amongst. The scent is a much more delicate version of the packet — lightly floral and citrussy, with the classic notes of darjeeling just detectable. I don’t think I’ve ever come across another earl grey made with a darjeeling base, actually — which is probabky why, when I first tried this tea a couple of years back, I really didn’t like it. Those days are gone, thankfully, and this is now one of my favourite earl grey varieties.

I usually drink this with milk, but I have none, so today it’s as it comes. I’d brew it a little stronger usually, too, but I’m not one for a really overpowering bergamot flavour, so I’ve been careful. The liquor is a medium red-brown. To taste, this is just as you’d expect. Light, refreshing, delicately floral, with a sweetness from the darjeeling that just comes out in the aftertaste. It’s not at all drying on the palate, as I’ve found some darjeelings, just beautifully smooth and fragrant. It belongs in a sunnier place, and I can’t help but be cheered by its optimistic vibe. I really love to drink this iced in the summer, but it’s also great as a warming, mood-lifting drink in the winter. Maybe sunnier climes aren’t that far away, after all.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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85

After my initial cup of “normal” tea (i.e. Twinings Everyday), I thought I’d enjoy my last morning off work by starting it with a cup of this. The dry leaves smell amazingly fresh, and very floral. For some reason, the scent reminds me of spring — cool mornings and a bright sky, sun, and the budding beginnings of flowers. There’s something maybe a little fruity in the depths, too. I’m thinking pear at the moment, but there’s something dry and grape-like about the aroma too. The leaves, as I was expecting, are a variety of shades, ranging from dark to pale green, with creamy tips, and the occasional brown.

As per the recommendations, I brewed this tea for three minutes, after having let the boiling water stand for a minute or so. The liquor is a clear medium yellow-brown. The smell, though, is something else. It’s just like the smell of the dry leaves, perhaps slightly milder, with a developing hint of grass. The taste is phenomenal. It’s sweet, slightly grassy, with a wine-like depth to the aftertaste. It’s honestly like drinking spring. There’s also none of the metallic astringency that has put me off darjeelings before. Some of the characteristics are there, but they’re smoother, less harsh, and so a pleasant part of the complex taste.

I could go on drinking and discussing this for hours, and I imagine it’s going to take more than this one note to really extract and document all of the nuances of this tea. This is quite sufficient for first impressions, though. I’m going to sit and enjoy the rest of the cup now!

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

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5
drank Cream by Adagio Teas
914 tasting notes

This is the last of the Adagio flavoured black samples I bought a while back. I quite liked the strawberry, but wasn’t all that sold on the coconut. I’m not sure how I’ll feel about this one.

The dry leaves smell sweet, which is fine, and I can catch a hint of creaminess. It smells more like warm UHT cream than the real thing, though. There’s also a sharper, rather unpleasant scent that I can’t quite place. I noticed the same thing with the coconut, and that was one of the things that put me off it so thoroughly. Still, for the sake of fairness, I’ll give this a try.

I brewed it for three minutes in boiling water. It smells much as it does dry. Definetly creamy, with perhaps a vanilla-ish undertone. A little sickly. I have to say that, as it cools, it smells increasingly sweet. It tastes a lot sweeter than I was expecting — too sweet for me, really. This has come as a bit of a surprise, as I was expecting the bitter aftertaste of Adagio’s other flavoured blacks, but this one doesn’t seem to have it. In this respect it’s actually quite nice, but it’s too sickly and cloying for me to really be able to enjoy. It’s the kind of sweetness that seems to coat your mouth and hang about for a good long time. I’m not going to be able to finish the cup, but, hey, I tried!

This isn’t bad tea by any estimation. It actually tastes okay, and would probably delight someone with a seriously sweet tooth. I’m not one of those people, and this is just too much for me. Another one chalked up to experience!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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50

Been drinking the remnants of tea from my desk drawer today — mostly this and Teapigs Green Tea with Mint. I’ve written full tasting notes for both of them before, so I won’t bore you with all that again, but, needless to say, a very minty tea day was had!

I never used to be much of a mint tea fan, but I’m coming to enjoy drinking it on an afternoon at work. It’s somehow refreshing and soothing at the same time. Just perfect, then!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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85
drank Super Fruit by Teapigs
914 tasting notes

I’ve been drinking this tea pretty steadily over the last couple of weeks, and have never once managed to write a tasting note. An oversight that needs redress. This has actually been one of my favourite fruit teas for a long time, probably because it’s not too sweet or artificial tasting. It’s also one of the few where the taste of the hibiscus is, thankfully, more or less drowned in the flavours of the other berries. Dry, this tea smells like a dried forest fruits mix. The pieces of fruit aren’t very big, but I can more or less identify everything that’s supposed to be there. From small elderberries and currants, to pieces of blackcurrant, blueberry and cranberry – they’re all more or less represented. The telltale colour and shape of hibiscus is also noticeable, but the less said about that the better.

I’m struggling to identify the dominant flavour in this tea. I think it’s blackcurrant, but it’s a difficult call. The elderberry and currant come through quite well, but the other fruits are pretty lost. I think the whole reason I like this tea so much is because it’s slightly sour tasting, and very dark. After 3 or 4 minutes, the liquor is a very dark burgundy, almost black. Despite this, it’s still a very pleasant fruit tea – and, on re-acquaintance – still one of the best I’ve tried so far. I drank it iced most of last summer, which it takes too well because it’s easy to brew strongly and it doesn’t get watered down. At the moment, though, I’m drinking it hot at least a couple of times a day. With all the snow we’ve been having, it’s one of the nicer things I’ve had to look forward to upon arriving at work. Just like hot Ribena, only far less sweet and with added health benefits. I feel like I should be saying far more about a tea I love so much, but I guess it’s something I’m going to have to come back to. In the meantime, suffice to say that there’s nothing more I could really want from a drink, and this will definitely make my repurchase list once again!

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more

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85

When I wrote the tasting note for 52Teas Lemon Cardamom Chun Mee, I was absolutely convinced that I’d never tried Chun Mee before. It turns out, though, that maybe I have. The base of this tea is referred to as Chun Mee on the reverse of my new packet, although I’m sure it wasn’t previously. Anyway – it’ll be interesting to try this tea again knowing what I now know.

I brewed this tea for three minutes, which is about as long as I can stand to brew green tea before I start to find it undrinkable. Looking at the leaves, it looks like this is a pretty even mix of green tea and peppermint. The scent would also seem to confirm this, as neither really dominates. The skill with which Teapigs blend their teas is, I think, one of the reasons I like them so much. It doesn’t matter which one I choose, I always finish it in the belief that someone took care over the quantities and proportions of the ingredients. This one is no exception.

To taste, this actually turns out a pretty complex tea. There’s a slightly dank note contributed by the green tea. Something in me wants to call it swampy, but that’s a rather unflattering way of describing it. It’s not bitter, though, or astringent. In fact, this is one of the smoothest green teas I’ve tried, if I’m not counting those from 52Teas, which are always perfect in this respect. Vegetal is probably a better descriptor, although overused. Either way, the green tea is the first thing I taste. After this comes the peppermint. Initially cutting through the taste of the green tea as a distinctive coolness, and eventually transforming into a mellow sweetness that lingers on the tongue.

I’m pretty impressed with this. As it cools, the sweetness from the mint becomes more prominent, which is very pleasant. I can see this being another one I’d like iced in the summer (can you tell how much I want the cold to stop??), but I doubt my current packet will last that long. Another Teapigs triumph!

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

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75
drank Fruit Medley by Adagio Teas
914 tasting notes

Opening this packet was a pleasant surprise. I was immediately greeted by the strong scent of dried fruit, and the sight of the pieces, which are larger that I was reasonably expecting. I can clearly pick out orange peel, pieces of strawberry, cherry and apple, and rosehips. There’s also something that looks suspicuously like a whole hibiscus flower. I’m not the greatest fan of hibiscus, but you’ve got to admit that the quality’s there. This is definetly an improvement on some brands I could mention. The smell is very tart, but I was expecting that. It’s something I can even enjoy in a fruit tea, from time to time, provided it’s not overwhelming.

Reassuringly, this tea takes a while to colour, and doesn’t turn instantly red as heavily hibiscused fruit teas tend to. To taste, it is, of course, tart. I find I can identify some of the fruit flavours, though, which is a definite point in its flavour. The strawberry is quite prominent, giving it a sweetly delicate, summery flavour. This isn’t at all the cloying, deep red drink I was expecting given my experiences so far, and I’, very pleasantly surprised. There’s also a slight tang from the apple, which cuts through some of the natural fruit sweetness, and provides an interesting counterpoint to the red fruit flavours.

All in all, I’m really impressed with this. Far more so than I was with Adagio’s Berry Blues. I’m still holding on to the hope that one day I will find a red fruit or berry tea which doesn’t include hibiscus at all, but until that day this is perfectly palatable. A hit, rather than the miss I was dreading!

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more

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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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