1589 Tasting Notes

100
drank Banana Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
1589 tasting notes

This has been my go-to matcha for the last few mornings, made up as a latte. I’m enjoying the flavour, and I really do think it helps with my energy levels, so there’s nothing not to like here. The sample sachet I received says 3 servings, but I’m on that today and I’ve still got at least one and maybe two 1/4 teaspoon measures left, so maybe Red Leaf are just more generous than they think. Either that, or I’m using less than they have in mind. I did notice this morning that one of my 1/4 tsp measures is a bit smaller than the other, so that might have something to do with it. When is a 1/4 tsp not a 1/4 tsp? I’m not sure I can cope with the philosophical implications of that at this time of the morning!

All I really wanted to say in this note is – yum! Also, for those in the UK scratching around for Red Leaf pretty unsuccessfully, I got my sample selection (choose 5 plus one free) from the Red Leaf outlet on Etsy. They offer a limited range of flavours, and it seems to vary a bit from week to week, but it’s an opportunity to try some sample sizes at a fairly reasonable cost.

Preparation
Boiling

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30

More wake-up tea. I think I knew it, but this week is being really tricky from a “getting back into routine” perspective. I liked being on holiday rather too much, I think, and I got used to the more relaxed mornings. Now it’s all back to normal, I’m having SUCH a hard time re-adjusting. It’s almost painful. Tea helps, though!

I’ve neglected trying this one for a while, partly because it worries me a little. Plain yerba is quite earthy and bitter-tasting to me, and while I don’t mind that in loose leaf (because I can adjust steep times to my preference), the idea of powdered yerba scared me a little. I was expecting a very strong, dank-tasting brew, but I was so in need of energy this morning that I pushed my reservations to one side and made up a cup anyway.

I used 1/4 tsp of powder, and stirred it into a cup of boiling water. It turns out a deep khaki green colour, and I took my first sip tentatively. Honestly, I needn’t really have worried. What I hadn’t realised is that this isn’t really plain yerba – it’s LIQUORICE ROOT and yerba. As we know, liquorice root is the devil. The first sip put me in no doubt as to just how far across the spectrum this is from the bitter, earthy dankness I was expecting. It’s so, so overpoweringly sweet, it’s almost unreal.

I left it for a bit, because I really don’t like the way that liquorice root seems to stick at the back of my throat in its artificial sweetner-esque way. It had cooled a bit when I returned to it, and this way it’s actually a lot more palatable. Once cooled, it’s possible to taste some of the earthiness underneath the liquorice, which comes as a much needed counterpoint in this cup. The sweetness recedes a little, and although it’s still the main flavour it’s a little less intense. As with my other Chi Whole Leaf teas, much of the powder has settled in a sludge at the bottom of the cup. I don’t try and keep it suspended with constant stirring, because the thick, slightly grainy texture that provides is really not for me. Perhaps the settling is the reason for the less intense flavour? If so then it can only be considered a good thing in this case.

I’m not a fan of this one, but I suspect that’s largely because I don’t like liquorice root, and I didn’t realise it was in this blend until I took a sip. I think a lighter hand with the liquorice would have helped a little, though, because when it settles and cools it’s actually more drinkable than I would have suspected at first sip. I might drink the rest of this sample in cold water, because I think based on this experience that it would be more refreshing that way. Despite the name, there’s not really much yerba to be found here, at least in terms of flavour. It might be there in the blend, but you wouldn’t know it to taste.

Preparation
Boiling
Memily

THE DEVIL.

Nicole

I’ll second that – The Devil.

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90

Finished off my old tin of this last night, which means…which means…that I only have a free sample sachet of this one left (from my latest order, I hasten to add) before this becomes a sipdown! It seems odd to be pleased about that, because I do love this tea. It’s the best gingerbread tea I’ve tried, with a good kick of spice and delicious “Jamaica ginger cake-esque” cake flavour. A real treat. I think the novelty has worn off for the moment, though, and I could do with a rest from this one. As it’s now nearly summer (sort of, anyway), I guess that makes sense! Hopefully I’ll come back to this one refreshed at the end of the year, but for now it’s almost goodbye.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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100
drank Banana Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
1589 tasting notes

The next thing turned out to be matcha. Also good for keeping me awake, or so I’ve come to realise. I picked out banana simply because it appealed to me the most, but it was a close-run thing between strawberry and cheesecake. I used 1/4 tsp for my cup, whisked into boiling water and topped off with hot milk as a latte. I think this is basically going to be my go-to method of matcha preparation, because there aren’t many other ways I can stomach it. I still find it a bit odd, because generally speaking hot milk isn’t my thing either. Still, what works works.

I’m pretty impressed with the flavour here. It’s candy banana rather than fresh, but that’s rather appealing in its own way. It reminds me of those foamy sweets I had as a child. The added bonus for me is that it covers up most of the green tea flavour, except a very little bit which actually works with the banana flavouring rather than against it. That slight “greenness” is a bit reminiscent of under-ripe banana, and that’s okay with me. It didn’t turn my stomach even at this early hour. This one’s a win with me.

Preparation
Boiling
ashmanra

Candy banana! Yum! are the foamy things a candy called Circus Peanuts? And why are they peanut shaped when they are clearly banana flavored? My mom loved them, and when she was sick (cancer) the last few years of her life, I would pick up a bag for her whenever they had them by the register in stores. They are not always easy to find!

Scheherazade

As far as I can remember the ones I had were banana shaped, but then I live in the UK so maybe it’s different. I do remember raspberry/strawberry foam sweets shaped like shrimps, though!

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85
drank ChariTEA by Bluebird Tea Co.
1589 tasting notes

First day back at work (boo!) and I really, really needed a strong, no-nonsense tea to get me going. Having said that, I’ve been here for 40 minutes now and I’m still not properly awake. Nearly two weeks of lie-ins have made the early start and the whole work thing in general really rather difficult to re-adapt to. Clearly I need to win the lottery, but until then I have this tea.

It’s a CTC, first off. Those wonderful pellets of pure strength that I often overlook when I’m feeling more normal. It brewed up super quickly to a deep red-brown, so I added a decent splash of milk and crawled back to my desk. Here I discovered that it’s strong (very strong) yet flavourful – a good combination if ever there was one. It’s malty in a very thick-tasting, almost chewable way, with some deeper molasses-like notes lurking in the background. It’s very sweet, smooth, and not as tannic as I feared. There’s a hint of caramel and baked bread towards the end of the sip (particularly as it cools), but this one is mostly all about the malt.

It’s not a tea I’d want all the time. It’s not subtle, and there are characteristics I enjoy in black tea that just aren’t present here. For a day like today, though, it’s perfect. Maybe when I wake up, I can see what else I’ve got in my drawer. Until then, this’ll do nicely.

1 tsp, 2 minutes, boiling water. Milk, lots of.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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95

First cup of the afternoon! I’ve not had any genmaicha in a while, so I was feeling the love today when I came across this one in my “soon to drink” box. Also, the idea of a blueberry sandstorm is actually somewhat appealing, for reasons I don’t quite understand.

Both the liquor and the initial sip and very heavy on the blueberry. This pretty much had me jumping for joy, because blueberry teas that actually taste of blueberry seem to be a rare thing indeed. The blueberry here is sweet and flavour-accurate, too – not candy-like, or tart, or sour round the edges. It’s goldilocks blueberry – just right. The toasted rice emerges mostly in the mid-sip, along with a small hit of cinnamon. I’d actually say it’s more of a popcorn flavour than toasted rice, per say – it’s not as heavy or overpowering on the palate as some genmaicha blends I’ve tried recently. It’s a gentle, lightly toasty flavour and it complements the blueberry instead of overwhelming it. Blueberry and cinnamon never occurred to me as a combination, but I’m pleased to discover that they work well. There’s a gentle spicy warmth, the sweetness of the blueberry, and a popcorn/sugar puffs vibe from the toasted rice. It’s a great dessert tea.

1 tsp, 2 minutes, approx. 175 water. No additions.

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

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100

Another sample from Miss B, and a delicious one it is! I think I’ve only tried a couple of “sugar cookie” blends before, and neither particularly stand out in my memory. I think it’s at least partly because sugar cookie is such a mild flavour anyway – although distinctive in its own right. This tea captures the flavour perfectly. The initial sip is sweet, smooth and creamy, with the almond emerging in the mid-sip and a sweet biscuit flavour running throughout. The almond isn’t harsh or overpowering in the way of marzipan, but soft and almost candied in flavour, just as you’d expect. The end of the sip features slightly malty, brown sugar-like notes. Deliciousness in a cup!

1 tsp, 3 minutes, boiling water. Splash of milk.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
Sil

look at you drinking everything up!

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85
drank African Chai by Justea
1589 tasting notes

A sample from Miss B, from the box that keeps on giving. Seriously, I’ve not found the bottom yet :)

This was my pre-bedtime cup, made up as a latte. I used 2 tsp of tea in half a cup of water, so it brewed up nice and strong before I added the milk. Weak chai is not my thing! To taste, it’s deliciously creamy – and not just from the milk. There are strong notes of cardamon and fennel, which are two of my favourite chai ingredients, plus a warming spiciness from the ginger and a sweetness from the cinnamon. There’s also a light background floral, I think rose, which makes this a little unusual amongst the chai blends I’ve tried.I thought at one point I could taste a hint of chili, too, but that might have been my imagination.

I enjoyed this one. It’s a warming, flavourful chai blend but not too heavy for a late night cup. The rose adds a pleasant edge reminiscent of turkish delight, and a touch of additional sweetness. It also stands up well to the milk. I’d drink this one again.

2 tsp, 4m, boiling water. Latte – 50:50 milk and water.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp

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95

More tea! There’s no stopping me today :) I made up a cup of this after dinner, and I loved it tremendously. I wasn’t sure at first exactly what I was tasting, but a few sips sorted me out on that front! This is a fairly complex tea, to my mind, at least in terms of the flavour combinations it presents. It starts off smooth and sweet, with notes of blossom honey and a slight saltiness. The mid-sip is all about the chocolate, dark high-cocoa chocolate with some fresh baked bread notes. After this comes a reasonably strong fruitiness – I thought black cherry at first, but it’s deeper than that, and more reminiscent of plum or maybe damson at times. It ends fairly sweetly with a hint of caramel and just the faintest touch of cooling eucalyptus. I found it a very refreshing cup, and incredibly moreish. A tea I could (and will!) drink at any time of day. I’d forgotten how much I liked Whispering Pines, but this has been a timely reminder.

1.5 tsp of leaf, 3.5 minutes, boiling water. Splash of milk.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp
Whiteantlers

Great review! I am liberating this one from the tea cabinet for tomorrow’s breakfast!

hawkband1

I just bought this! Can’t wait to try it.

Whiteantlers

Can’t wait to see you’re review @hawkband1.

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80

I’m drinking this one just now. Also, it’s my 1500th tasting note! I bought this with my first Liquid Proust order, largely for the tangerine twist. I haven’t always been the greatest fan of jasmine pearls – many are too floral for my tastes, in a thick, mouth-coating way that I find pretty unpalatable. Not so here. I used 1 tsp of pearls for my cup, and gave them 2 minutes in water cooled to around 170 degrees.

The green tea base comes out first, with a deliciously smooth and buttery flavour with no bitterness or astringency to be found. The jasmine comes second, right in the middle of the sip, but it’s quite a light and delicate jasmine and not at all perfumey. The tangerine is confined mostly to the end of the sip – it just kind of pops up at the end as a bright, very slightly sweet citrus, with a touch of pithy flavour lingering in the aftertaste.

If I’ve one complaint, it’s that I’d have liked a bit more tangerine. It’s there, but I think the blend as a whole could stand it a bit stronger without losing anything. That’s a small complaint, though, because there is tangerine here and it works well with the green jasmine. I’d like to try this one cold brewed this summer.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 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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