940 Tasting Notes

75
drank Vanilla Chai by Twinings
940 tasting notes

Since I’m now into my last few days off work, I decided it was time to try one of the wintery teas I’ve had in my stash for a while, but not yet got around to trying. I love Chai in the winter, preferably as a latte. It’s a bit complex to make at work, though, so I usually reserve this pleasure for home.

Over the last few months, as I’ve developed my taste for and appreciation of different teas, I’ve moved away from plain bombay-style chais, and onto flavoured ones. I picked this one up from Twinings back in November, I think. I’m not always a great fan of Twinings, because sometimes I feel the quality just isn’t there, but this is a niiiice chai.

It has an assam base, and the dry leaves smell faintly spicy, with a strong creamy vanilla overtone. Brewed, the scent is very similar. As I was hoping, the vanilla predominates, the spices complement, and the black tea base provides a sturdy, fulfilling foundation. I made this as a latte, so it’s pretty pale-looking once I’ve added the milk, but this absolutely hasn’t destroyed the flavour. If anything, the creaminess of the milk helps to highlight the vanilla, making this one of the most pleasing teas I’ve tried in a while. This is almost perfectly balanced, for my taste. And I’ve no doubt it’ll go down perfectly with the slice of Christmas cake I’ve got my eye on. Chalk another one up for Chai. This is divine.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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100
drank White Christmas by 52teas
940 tasting notes

On the twelfth day of Christmas, 52Teas gave to me…White Christmas!

Another one that smells gorgeous straight out of the packet. It’s actually reminding me of a mint creme. Peppermint is the dominant note, but there’s also an underlying sweetness from the marshmallow root. Oh, this is going to be good!

I brewed this for three minutes, while I finished sorting out my presents and clearing up wrapping paper. It smells sweet and slightly minty, and I’m getting a hint of chocolate that I assume is coming from the black tea base. Mouthwatering!

To taste, this is just as I imagined it would be. A perfect balance of sweetness from the marshmallow, coolness from the mint, and chocolatey depth from the tea base. It really is like drinking an After Eight, and it’s got to be the perfect after-dinner tea in existence. Particularly when the dinner concerned is larger than usual and distinctly overindulgent. I added a splash of milk, which I think has added an extra dimension of creaminess, but I would just as happily drink this without any additions at all. Honestly, I don’t think there could be a more fitting Christmas Day tea. Another perfect end to a perfect day!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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90
drank Butterbeer by 52teas
940 tasting notes

On the eleventh day of Christmas, 52 Teas gave to me…Butterbeer!

I used to be a big Harry Potter fan. Not so much in recent years, but enough that I’ve always wanted to try Butterbeer. Now, I’ve got my chance.

The dry leaves smell amazing. Really strongly buttery with a depth to it more like caramel, toffee, or maybe butterscotch. The scent reminds me a bit of werther’s originals. It’s pleasant (in small doses), but I can imagine it becoming a little sticky and cloying. I’m hoping the brewed tea won’t taste too much like that.

I let it brew for about three minutes, and I’m relieved to discover that it’s no longer overpoweringly sweet smelling. Some of the other flavours have started to develop, and now the scent reminds me more of a caramel rooibos (specifically Teapigs Rooibos Creme Caramel). Slightly earthy (maybe the chicory?), but still with a distinct butterscotch note.

To taste, this is divine. If this is what Butterbeer tastes like, then no wonder Harry and his cohorts drank so much of the stuff. It’s creamy, caramel-ly, buttery deliciousness. Thankfully not overpowering, as it could so easily have been.It’s the perfect, perfect dessert tea. Drinking this on Christmas Eve, I feel warm, cosy, and homey. A great end to a great day. Thank you, Frank!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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100

On the tenth day of Christmas, 52Teas gave to me…Boo Berry Cotton Candy!

This is another of the teas I’ve been wanting to try for what feels like forever. I’m so glad I finally got the chance! The dry leaves smell very sweet and quite strongly of blueberries, with an undertone of of sweetness that does make me think of cotton candy. It also reminds me of blue raspberry slush puppy, another fondly remembered childhood memory.

I was a bit surprised to read that the base tea is gunpowder. In my experience, this is a tea which is usually bitter, sometimes undrinkably so. While brewing, I can smell the green tea base a lot more strongly than I can the flavouring, although that’s still there in the background. I’m a little troubled.

It turns out I needn’t have been. To taste, this is as sweet as I could want it to be. I can clearly taste blueberries and the sweetness of cotton candy. It’s delightfully sugary, and just perfect! I’m glad I was patient and let the water cool sufficiently before I added the tea. If I hadn’t, I know I’d be having a very different experience right now, and my hopes and expectations for this tea would have been destroyed. As it stands, I’m seriously enjoying this.

I’ll say again that I don’t know how Frank manages it. I pretty much hated green tea before now, but his blends have really made me reconsider what I thought I knew. None of them are bitter, and this one is no exception in being an absolute knockout. I seriously hope he keeps up the good work. I’m officially an addict.

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

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65

On the ninth day of Christmas, 52Teas gave to me…Lemon Cardamom Chun Mee!

On first sniff, this doesn’t seem all that different from Sun and Cloud Mist. It has the same creamy lemon scent, and they’re both green teas albeit with different varieties for their bases. I’ve sniffed the two side by side, and this one is a little stronger/sharper smelling. I can also see whole cardamom pods in the dry mix, so I’m hopeful that this could be an interesting experience. The cardamom certainly intrigues me!

First impressions can be deceiving. The liquor is darker than I expected. I’ve never come across Chun Mee before, though, so I really had no idea what I was going to get. I’ll have to find out some more about it, since it’s certainly one I could come to like. Any non-bitter green I can get my hands on is fine by me.

The initial taste is, as I suspected, very similar to Sun and Cloud Mist. It’s slightly less sweet, but the same flavours are there. What’s different is that the cardamom comes through quite strongly in the aftertaste, which I like a lot. The middle of the sip is a bit flat, though, with almost no taste. I found that a bit odd. I think I might need to brew this one a touch longer than 2 minutes to try and counteract this, but it’s one of the reasons I want to research Chun Mee a little more. If I understood its characteristics, I’d feel better able to brew is properly.

Ultimately, this is a potentially nice lemon and cardamom flavoured green tea. I could happily drink it any time of the day. If I can counteract the flatness in the middle, it’ll be another easy winner with me.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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85

On the eighth day of Christmas, 52Teas gave to me…Double Chocolate Decadence!

I’ve tried three or four chocolate teas in my existence, but I’m still looking for one that’s really amazing rather than lacklustre. My experiences with 52Teas so far this sampler have been good, so I’m hoping this might be the one.

The dry leaves smell strongly of chocolate, and of something rather like wine. It’s quite a dark, bitter smell, so I’m hoping for a nice, deep chocolate taste when brewed. If it tastes anything like a bar of dark chocolate with a high cocoa solid content, which is what the scent is leading me to believe, then I’ll be a happy girl.

I was sort of expecting this to be thin tasting, but it’s not at all. It has a deep, dark, distinctly chocolate taste, but it’s not so strong that it disguises or overpowers the “tea” taste. As far as I’m concerned, that makes it a perfect chocolate tea — both elements are accounted for and have an equal part in the overall taste. A few of my friends don’t really like chocolate tea to taste overmuch of tea, but to me that’s half the point. If it wasn’t, I’d drink hot chocolate.

In summary, this is just what I wanted — dark chocolate, a nice solid flavour from the tea base, no astringency, and not artificial tasting or cloyingly over sweet. Love at first sip!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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75

On the seventh day of Christmas, 52Teas gave to me…Lime Jello Salad!

I could tell I was going to like this one even as I was opening the packet. The scent of lime nerds hit me in the nose — fresh, zingy, sweet and yet slightly sour at the same time. Taking a deeper sniff, I can detect pineapple and lime in equal measure. It’s just like a tropical dessert!

Opening these little packets have become the highlight of my day. I love getting to try something new every evening, and it’s really shaking up (and making me question) my tea drinking habits. I think it’s safe to say I’ve never tried a tea quite like this before, and it’s extremely fun!

I left this to cool a little before trying it, as that’s when I’ve generally had the best experiences with green tea. The taste was sweeter and more delicate than I was expecting; I can definetly taste lime, but the pineapple is pretty lost. I’m not sure I can really detect a “salad” element either.

What I’m getting from this, then, is a very pleasant lime-flavoured green tea, but not much else. I like the way it tastes both sweet and slightly tangy at the same time, like sour lime candy. It lacked some of the complexity I was expecting, though, and didn’t rock my world in quite the way I thought it would. Nevertheless, this was a more pleasant green tea than most I’ve tried, and one I’ll happily drink again.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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65

Drank this again at work today. I gave it slightly longer this time, almost 5 minutes while I went upstairs to put a bit of post in a pigeon hole. It was all the better for it — this time I can clearly taste both the chocolate and raspberry, which is exactly what I wanted from this tea but felt I was missing last time.

Much improved, and great for a cold day!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 45 sec

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95
drank Graveyard Mist by 52teas
940 tasting notes

On the sixth day of Christmas, 52 Teas gave to me…Graveyard Mist!

This is one of the teas I’ve been wanting to try desperately, but which I only found out about after it was sold out. Cue much excitement, then, as I opened the sachet and discovered what it was!

I LOVE the smell. It’s cool and fresh, and it does make me think of a graveyard, strangely, either in the early morning or very late at night. Spearmint is the dominant scent, but there’s also a delicate sweetness from the marshmallow root.

To taste, much the same applies. The dominant note is again spearmint, but there’s a definite sweetness, stronger than I was expecting, from the marshmallow root. There’s also a hint of bitterness from the green tea base, but I have a feeling that might be my fault. I think the water was perhaps a bit too hot still when I added the tea. I don’t mind it at all, though; I actually think it complements the other flavours a little, and cuts through the sweetness of the mint and marshmallow root. I’ll be a little more careful next time, though, because I’d like to know whether that’s really the case or not.

I’m finding this an interesting tea, with an imaginative selection of ingredients. It’s very atmospheric, to say the least — perfect for this time of year!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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30
drank Wuyi Ensemble by Adagio Teas
940 tasting notes

I’ve never been much of a fan of oolong teas – they’re just not my kind of thing. I got this sample free with my last Adagio order, though, so I thought I’d give it a try. The leaves are kind of impressive. They’re the second biggest tea leaves I’ve seen so far, twisted, and black-brown with a faint green tinge. I don’t like the smell of the dry leaves much , or the scent of the tea as it brews. I’m not sure what it is, but I find it bitter and a little coppery, and not very inspiring.

Brewed, the liquor is a fairly pale golden yellow. I find the taste more tolerable than the smell, although similar in some respects. There’s still a slight coppery taste that I dislike intensely. I can’t really get very excited about this tea, probably because it’s not the kind of thing I like to drink. I know there’s a lot I’m failing to appreciate, but I guess I’m just going to have to mark this one up to experience. If I ever find an oolong I can more or less stand to drink, I’ll be as surprised as anyone. And I’ll be sure to let you know.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
Sil

I am with you on the oolongs – you likely need to try dark oolongs instead of the vegetal green ones (someone suggested this to me and it’s worked so far given that i’m more of a black tea drinker than anything). If you are ok with maple as a flavour – butiki teas has a maple pecan oolong that is super tasty. It’s one of the few oolongs i’ve found that i enjoy…though it’s not a straight oolong :)

Scheherazade

That sounds really nice. I like maple rather a lot, so I’ll have to have a look at that.

Sil

(also…and maybe i’m biased but i pretty much dislike every adagio tea that i’ve tried….)

Scheherazade

I haven’t liked all that many either. I notice it more with black and oolong teas, but I thought it was probably just me. I’m thinking of trying Jing’s oolong explorer sampler, just to try and work out whether I actually don’t like oolong, or whether I’m just trying the wrong ones for me. I like the sound of flavoured ones, too. That might be an easier way in.

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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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