1655 Tasting Notes
Another first for today — I’ve never tried a Tieguanyin before! I figured that while I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone, I might as well stay there for a while. I had serious reservations about putting oolong in boiling water, but I did it anyway. It still feels odd to do that, but it makes sense to trust those with more experience. I gave this two minutes.
The resulting liquor is medium yellow-green, and smells quite toasty. To taste, it’s very buttery and very smooth. There’s a strong nuttiness — chestnut is probably fairly spot-on — and a wash of floral flavour towards the end of the sip. The oolong is slightly grassy — I have to keep reminding myself that it’s not a green! It’s quite a heavy tea in terms of flavour, but it’s so smooth that it doesn’t really become an issue. It’s not over-cloying, and I’m glad for that. The flavours dance across the palate, and the floral edge lingers momentarity — it’s like walking through a summer garden. Based on this experience, Tigguanyin is something I’d like to learn more about, and would seek out again. I think I may be coming around to green oolongs more than I ever thought I would!
This sample came with my first RiverTea order. It was another I’d considered while putting my order together, and another I finally decided against as I was trying to limit myself a little. My cupboard is out of control, after all. Still, it worked out because I got to give this one a try anyway!
I gave this 5 minutes in boiling water. The liquor was a medium honey brown-gold, and something in the scent reminded me a lot of 52 Teas Strawberry Pie Honeybush. A good omen, because I loved that one!
To taste, this one is very fruity. Grapefruit is the main flavour, and it adds a sharp, almost bitter, tang to the overall flavour. The strawberry is mild, but it’s there, adding a sweet and juicy undertone. The honeybush is also sweet, but otherwise remains an unobtrusive base. There’s no woodiness here. I wasn’t sure about this one at first, but as it cooled I got more of the fruit flavours, and it actually turned into a pretty successful cup. The grapefruit is a nice counterpoint to the sweetness of the honeybush and strawberry, and the combination works really well. I have a three-cup sample, so I chose to brew this hot to start with, but I’m pretty sure it would work equally well cold brewed. If I add it to a future RiverTea order (and there’s a good chance that I will!), I’ll definitely be trying it cold. A genuinely lovely, caffeine free option, and a welcome addition to my pre-bedtime rotation.
I’m pretty scared of pu’erh in general, but as my throat is still sore this morning I decided I could probably risk giving this one a go. If I don’t like it, at least I can hope I missed some of the finer nuances! This is the first plain pu-erh I’ve ever tried, so I’m a little apprehensive. I haven’t been overawed with the flavoured versions I’ve tried so far — in general, the base is just too much for me.
Anyway, I put aside my reservations and gave this one 2 minutes in boiling water. I stopped at two because of the colour the liquor had already turned — black, basically — and because the smell coming of it was fairly pungent. I might have lost my nerve if I’d gone the extra minute.
First sip was actually okay. I tried not to focus on the scent so much, because that inevitably puts me off. It does remind me of mucking out stables when I used to keep a horse as a teenager. Fortunately, there’s not too much of that present in the taste, although there’s a tinge of it in the initial flavour. Mostly, I get a musty, damp flavour with a certain something that reminds me of wet, freshly turned earth. It does put me in mind of caves or a forest after a rain shower. It’s more palatable than I thought it would be, although I suspect this kind of tea will never be a favourite. It’s just too pungent for my tastes. I will admit to enjoying this as a morning cup, though. The strength alone helped to wake me up! Definitely a valuable experience to have had, even if it’s only really cemented the fact that my journey into pu-erh will probably end soon.
I received this as a sample with my first RiverTea order. I’ve had two cups so far, with a third remaining in the bag, so a pretty generous sample! I did actually think about adding 50g of this to my order, but I decided against it at last minute. Based on the sample, that was probably the right decision for me. It’s nice, but it’s not quite as punchy as I’d hoped.
The dry leaf contains huge pieces of cinnamon stick, and equally huge whole chamomile blossoms. The chamomile blossom actually unfurled while brewing, and it was pretty to watch all of the petals folding back. I was slightly concerned that the cinnamon would overpower everything else, but it didn’t. I gave 1 tsp of leaf approximately three minutes in boiling water and added a splash of milk.
First sip didn’t taste of much to me — the honey-like sweetness of chamomile, a swirl of spice, generic black tea. I left it to cool a while, and when I returned to it the flavours I was looking for really came through. There’s definitely mango, and there’s also quite a lot of banana. I wasn’t expecting to be able to taste the banana at all, so it was a pleasant surprise! The vanilla adds a touch of creaminess and a sweetness to the overall cup, but it’s very much a background flavour. There’s a lot going on in terms of flavour…maybe a little too much at times. I do wish the mango was a little stronger and jucier, but it’s a pretty nice cup as it stands. I’m definitely glad to have had the opportunity to try it! A good first experience with RiverTea — on the strength of this one alone I’m looking forward to trying the rest of my order!
This tea bag came with a piece of carrot cake in my Graze box. According to the label, it’s a blend of assam and kenyan tea. Work is such at the moment that I’m seriously considering jumping off the nearest tall building. Hopefully tea and cake will be suitable deterrents.
I gave this one 4 minutes in boiling water, and was rewarded with a dark, malty smelling brew. I added a splash of milk. It’s conventional shredded tea bag leaves, so I wasn’t expecting too much, but it’s actually reasonably tasty. It’s relatively light bodied, but it has a strong flavour. The assam is the dominant leaf, and it contributes the expected sweet, malty overtones. The kenyan tea adds something in the background that’s a little hard to discern. I want to call it smoke, but it’s not really that. A slight bitterness? Maybe a tiny metallic hint? It pairs with the assam pretty well, giving the overall cup an edge of difference that can be a nice thing in a blend. It’s very smooth, and not at all astringent, which makes it easy to drink, and it’s nicely refreshing — a good palate cleanser to pair with the stodgy spiciness of the carrot cake!
I’m struggling to pick out any distinctive notes, but then my tastebuds are still a little wonky after my bout of flu, which I’ve still not fully recovered from. I’m sure the “guilt free high tea” snacks will reappear in my graze box before long, so I’ll have another chance to try this one at some point. For today, I’m going to settle for saying it’s an enjoyable cup, and rate it accordingly.
A sample from VariaTEA. I couldn’t work out last night whether I liked this one or not. The first sip made me think not, but then the second was really nice. Towards the end of the cup I started to feel a little overwhelmed by it, and began to wonder whether it just wasn’t for me. I suspect it’ll take a few more cups before I can really decide one way or the other. Maybe a smaller cup, too, because it’s quite a rich tasting tea.
The first sip was very, very almondy. Almost like ground almonds when you open a fresh packet. The second sip was more cookie-like, with a buttery, sweet, baked biscuit flavour coming through really well. It really did remind me of an iced sugar cookie, which is another Christmas-related treat I enjoy immensely. When the combination works, it works really well. I felt at times though that all I could really taste was almond, and that’s not such a favourite flavour. It’s also quite rich and cloying, as you might expect liquid biscuit to be, and so (as I’ve said already) by the end of the cup I was struggling a little. I’m pretty sure I like it, but I’ll definitely give this one a couple more chances before I firm up my opinion. Thanks again to VariaTEA for sharing this with me — I’ve been curious about it for some time!
A sample from VariaTEA. I’m slowly coming out of my flu-fug, and beginning to return to my tea stash. I wanted a herbal last night, and this one just called out to me. I like candy cane — it’s a flavour that cheers me up, for some reason. Maybe because it reminds me of Christmas, and I like Christmas? Something like that.
I gave this one four minutes in water just cooler than boiling. When I returned to the kitchen, the whole room smelt of candy cane. It brought a smile to my face straightaway, and lately they’ve been in short supply. I was very, very slightly concerned about the cinnamon in this, but it’s actually a combination that works really well. Mint was the dominant flavour, but the vanilla and cinnamon swirl around and make this a surprisingly accurate, and Christmassy (!) treat. Totally the wrong time of year, I know, but I’m ILL. I can do what I want when I’m ill, and to hell with seasonal appropriateness.
I’ve tried a few candy cane teas in my time, and this is one of the nicer ones. The flavours you’d expect are there, and it’s a delicious tasting cup. This shall be in my evening rotation for a good few days to come! Thanks again to VariaTEA for sharing this with me.
I’ve been drinking the ML Collection version of this tea for a couple of evenings this week, trying to work towards a couple of sipdowns. I’m fairly convinced that this is pretty much the same as the Mighty Leaf version, except with a touch more bergamot. For that reason alone, I prefer the “standard” version. Although I like earl grey in general, bergamot is not really my friend. This one’s just a touch on the punchy side for my linking, and a little too bitter in the aftertaste. Okay, but not one I’d keep around.
I’ve had a couple of cups of this one today in my large teapigs eco mug. I used a little more leaf than I usually would, to compensate for using a bigger cup. I left it to brew longer, too, to see if I could coax out any rhubarb and custard flavour. Or at least, more than I have previously. I managed, pretty much. Both my cups tastes like rhubarb and custard boiled sweets. What surprised me was the sweetness. I know my tastebuds are still a bit off, but both my cups today were seriously overpoweringly sweet. Even milk didn’t really help to tone it down. The flavour was nice, though, once I got passed the initial teeth-achingly intense sweetness. Not bad, but probably not a restock. There are many Bluebird teas that I just like better!
I’m drinking the ML Collection version of this tea today, although, again, to all intents and purposes it’s the same as the Mighty Leaf version. Maybe a touch more bergamot, but that might just be my imagination. It’s quite creamy, and the base is substantial enough that I can add milk if I want to. Given how I feel at the moment, I do want to. The bergamot flavouring is like an overlay on a cup of solid black tea — the flavour swirls through the top notes, but when you really get down to it it’s just a solid tasting, malty black. Apparently golden tip, according to the little pouch these teabags come in, and I can believe that.
After a single day’s respite on Monday, when I started to feel a bit better, my cold is now back for a second go. There are few occasions in my life when I’ve felt this lousy for this long. I’m not really enjoying any of the things I normally do, and tea is one of those. My throat is sore, I can’t breathe very well, my tastebuds are all wonky. Bleugh. Maybe it’s because I’m tired and a bit stressed, but I just can’t seem to shake this one off. Hopefully I’ll be back to normal soon, but in the meantime bagged tea is pretty much fine with me.