1133 Tasting Notes

90

Sipdown! The last of my 2012 first flush darjeeling samples, all gone. These made for a good introduction, and I know now that I actually quite like darjeeling. Once upon a time, I would have said I didn’t, but these four taken together have managed to change my mind. Of the four, this one was also the stand out for me. Another fond farewell.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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95

Sipdown! A fond farewell to this one. I’d definitely purchase it again, although I have a fair few rooibos teas in my stash at the moment. It’s been one of the most well balanced chocolate and mint teas I’ve tried so far, and it’s set the bar high for future contenders! One of my favourite Bluebird teas of those I’ve tried so far.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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100
drank SBT: Bubblegum by 52teas
1133 tasting notes

Today’s iced tea choice! I ordered some more SBTs over the weekend, so I don’t feel so guilty about using these up so quickly anymore. I’ve limited myself to one litre of this today, though, so I should have some left for tomorrow as well. I just find these teas so easy to drink that I can get through nearly two litres all by myself on a hot day. It’s delicious, but pretty extravagant! I want these to last!

The flavouring here is quite subtle. In terms of strength, it reminds me more of Cotton Candy than of Neapolitan Ice Cream. The bubblegum flavour seems to come out primarily in the aftertaste. I’ll take a sip, and get black tea with a hint of fruitiness, and then I’ll breathe in after swallowing and suddenly be hit with a big smack of flavour. It’s a little odd, but very welcome!

I’d probably never have believed tea could taste of bubblegum if I hadn’t tried this. It just seems such a hard flavour to capture. Frank’s managed it, though! It’s a fun tasting tea, well suited to summer, and very refreshing. I’m still surprised how well the flavours combine with the black tea base, but this is no exception in that regard.

Another stunning iced tea. I know everyone says theirs are the best, but these really are. I could probably drink them forever, and will so long as they’re available to buy!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
CHAroma

I know what you mean. I tend to drink the whole batch of this once I make it too. Super delicious!

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75
drank Rhubarb Cream by Tin Roof Teas
1133 tasting notes

Another sample from Courtney, and another first, because I’ve never knowingly had a rhubarb tea before. Maybe in a blend, but not on its own. The dry leaf smells exactly as I’d expect. There’s a sweet creaminess, and the slightly tangy, fruity scent of rhubarb.

I gave it three minutes in boiling water, and added a splash of milk. This tastes much like it smells. There’s an overriding creaminess, almost like coffee creamer or something of that ilk. Then comes the tangy, slightly sweet-sour rhubarb, and then the cream returns in the aftertaste. It’s quite an intriguing tea, and definitely lives up to its name. If I’d had some actual cream to spare, I would have added a dash, but life isn’t perfectly synchronised. Ultimately, a very enjoyable cup, and another I’d be pleased to sample again in future. Thank you, Courtney!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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75

Sipdown! That was easy, wasn’t it? I’m not sure why it langusihed in my stash for so long. I think maybe I was just out-darjeelinged for a while, but in the end I appreciated this all the more for having had a break from it.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 sec

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50

A sample from Courtney. This is the second tropical green I’ve tried, and my second Harney and Sons. There’s a poetry to all this somewhere, isn’t there? Dry, it smells amazing. It’s a pretty generic “tropical” scent, and it reminds me of Five Alive or something like that, but it’s mouthwatering all the same. I’m assuming from looking at the leaves that this is sencha. They’re folded, but quite broad and flat, and a fairly dark green. I’ve had some good experiences with sencha, so I’m looking forward to this!

Brewed, the liquor is a very pale yellow-green, and it smells delicately fruity. There’s a slight underlying grassy note from the green tea, and the overall effect is pleasant and encouraging. Not many flavoured greens I’ve tried have been anything but a deep yellow verging on brown, so this makes for a welcome change.

To taste, the tropical flavouring isn’t quite as strong as I’d hoped it would be. It’s there, but it’s pretty delicate. The green tea base is equally subtle, though, so I’ve no complaints on that front. I can taste tropical fruit in the initial sip, but it’s not a lingering taste, and soon gives way to the grassy sweetness of the sencha. It’s very smooth and not at all astringent, but I had hoped for a little more punch.

While not bad, as flavoured greens go, it lacks the depth of flavour to really make it in my estimation. Not bad by any means, though.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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60
drank Mango by Harney & Sons
1133 tasting notes

A sample from Courtney. Dry, this smells soooo much like fresh, juicy mango. Mango is a first for me when it comes to flavoured black tea. I’ve had one before, I think, in a Whittard’s sampler, but it was really no great shakes. This is my first Harney and Sons tea too, do a double first.

Brewed, this retains the sweet, juicy scent that it has dry. It’s not screaming mango as much as I felt it did initially, but it’s still decidedly fruity. I have added tiny splash of milk, though, so that might account for the slight dulling. Fortunately, the mango returns in the first sip. It’s juicy, slightly peppery, and seems to bob along on the surface of the black tea base, so you get a kind of two-tiered taste. Initially there’s the mango flavour, and that slowly gives way to a fairly robust black base. It’s pleasant without being overpowering.

As flavoured blacks go, I think this is a pretty successful one. I can definitely taste mango, and it seems pretty natural which is what counts when it comes to fruit flavouring. I only have the one cup, but it’s definitely one I’d try again if the opportunity arose. Thanks again to Courtney for sharing this with me!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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75

This is a bit of a backlog, as I actually drank this at work on Tuesday afternoon. It was included in the sample pack I bought last year as a counterpoint to the first flush darjeelings, and it’s easy to see the differences when you put them side by side.

The leaf here is noticably darker, more black brown than green/white. I brewed this for just under 3 minutes, I think, although I probably wasn’t paying the closest attention. It brews to a much darker liquor than any of the first flushes, a sort of golden caramel colour. The taste is still amazing, though. I can immediately see that, where the first flushes are peachy and grassy, this second flush is floral and grape-like. It’s a really deep, complex, interesting flavour. There’s a very, very slight astringency, but it’s actually quite welcome with a flavour so rich.

I’d be hard pressed to say which flush I prefer. They’re both so different, and I like them equally for the different qualities that they have. I’m glad to have had the opportunity to try these four darjeelings — it’s really broadened my experience of this tea variety.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 45 sec

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60
drank Momo by Lupicia
1133 tasting notes

A sample from Queen of Tarts. I’ve only had one peach flavoured tea before, I think, and that was Adagio’s peach oolong. I wasn’t overkeen on the flavouring in that one, because it seemed hugely artificial, but it did make me reconsider oolongs. Anyway, this tea is much better on the peach flavouring front, I think. It tastes sweet and delicate, much like an actual peach, and the black tea base remains firmly in the background. I’m not 100% sure whether the flavouring is wholly natural, and it was maybe a touch too sweet for me this morning, but I’m looking forward to trying it again another time. As flavoured blacks go, this is a pretty good one!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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85
drank Queen of Berries by Tea Palace
1133 tasting notes

Sipdown! Finished this off last night after I arrived home from a day in Southwold. I think I always appreciate good tea more than usual after a long car journey, but this was probably one of the best tasting cups I’ve had in a while. It’ll be sadly missed.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 45 sec

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Profile

Bio

Hi :) I’m Sarah, 26, 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’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

Norfolk, UK

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