1004 Tasting Notes

70
drank Caramel Sweetheart by Yumchaa
1004 tasting notes

I’ve just sent some of this out in a swap, so I figured now was as good a time as any to get my act together and write a tasting note. Scent wise, this is fairly subtle in the bag. I can smell the black tea base and a sweet, caramel note, but that’s all. It’s a pretty tea, with relatively large, wiry black-brown leaves, scattered throughout with white chocolate hearts and caramel cubes.

Brewed, the caramel scent comes out much more clearly. It smells almost like fudge. The black base is pretty light — I don’t recognise it explicitly as a keemun, but it isn’t identified outright as such on my bag. I added a little milk, because that’s how I roll.

This is nice, but I think the nicest thing about it is the scent. It doesn’t quite carry through to the taste. It’s hardly unpleasant, I just wish it was a bit stronger. There’s a sweet, creamy taste, which I think is at least partly the melted white chocolate, but it’s just not quite caramel. Almost, but not quite. Maybe a beefier base would have helped? I’m not sure. I might try this black next time, use a bit more leaf, or leave it to steep for a little longer to see if any of those help.

I don’t dislike this, but it doesn’t quite live up to its scent or my expectations at the moment. There’s a little more experimentation to be done before I cast my final decision, though, so I’m not going to rate it for now. I’ll happily drink the rest of the bag, but I so wish it tasted more like it smells. I guess I’ll have to see what can be done about that!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

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65
drank Chocolate Flake Tea by Teapigs
1004 tasting notes

Felt a bit under the weather last night, so I went all out with this one. Large cup, two bags of chocolate flake tea, and a decent chunk of crystal sugar. Add a book and a packet of chocolate digestives, and you can’t get better than this. Heaven!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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65
drank Chocolate Flake Tea by Teapigs
1004 tasting notes

Chocolate Flake. I’ve had this a number of times previously, but have somehow always managed to avoid logging it. Anyway, it’s an assam base, with cocoa beans and chocolate pieces. It smells deeply, darkly chocolatey, with an equally deep background of strong, malty tea. Assam has always been one of my favourite black tea varieties, so I generally always enjoy this one. I’ve found the key to developing the chocolate flavour (and avoiding the watery hot chocolate taste) is to use a smaller cup than usual, so that’s what I’m going to do.

Anyway, enough of my ramblings. I find this a pretty subtle tea, certainly not as chocolatey as 52Teas Double Chocolate Decadence, for example. I don’t mind that, though, as it’s quite versatile in return. It smells and tastes very chocolatey black, but mellows with milk into a flavour more reminiscent of chocolate digestives. The assam is a pretty dominant flavour, too — it’s certainly not beaten down by the chocolate. Instead, I can initially taste the strong, malty base, and then the dry, almost powdery cocoa flavour.

This is definetly a pleasant tea. Perfect for times when I want something more indulgent than a plain black, but not too rich, overly flavoured, or fussy. As much as I enjoy this, it’s been a staple in my cupboard for a while now, so it’s probably time I took a little break from it so that I can come back refreshed. I can’t see it being a long break, though. It’s too easy to drink for that!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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95

Following on from last night’s success, I decided to try another of my first flush darjeelings. This one is from the Chamong estate, and is a first invoice.

It’s another fabulous first acquaintance. The scent of the dry leaves is amazing. It’s slightly more subtle than yesterday’s Badamtam, but it smells similarly of peach and apricot, with a touch of lemoniness about it. It’s less perfume-like. The leaves are, once again, quite long and wiry. There’s a slightly higher incidence of downy white buds, although they’re otherwise very similar in appearance. I brewed it similarly to the Badamtam, 3 minutes in just boiling water.

The liquor is much lighter in colour, more of a champagne yellow-gold than the deeper amber I’m used to. The peachiness comes out wonderfully now, and is mouthwateringly juicy. To taste, this is very, very subtle. There’s a sweetness to the initial sip, which quickly develops into a lightly grassy taste. It’s not at all drying or astringent, just delicately sweet, slightly fruity, and very refreshing. I don’t think there could be a more fitting drink for a spring evening. It’s still a bit cold out yet, but I can see this being a wonderful late afternoon drink a couple of months down the line. Definetly worth a try, and it’s more than convinced me to continue experimenting with first flush darjeelings — I may have found my tea nirvana!

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

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95

I wanted to choose something fitting for my 100th tasting note, so I decided to give this a try. I’ve kind of been treasuring it, since I only have a sample sized bag and I adore my first flush darjeelings. In any case…

Man, this smells good. It’s very sweet, with a definite peach scent, and a slight perfume-like undertone. The leaves are mostly green, although a few are brown and quite wiry in appearance. Some are creamy-white and slightly downy.

I’m following the instructions on this one to start with, as I have so little I want to try and get the best from it. One heaped teaspoon, in just boiling water, for three minutes. What do we get?

Heaven in a cup, approximately. The liquor is pale amber, and the peachy scent carries through beautifully into the flavour. There’s a delicate muscatel note, and a very, very slight astringency. I love this. There are no other words for it. This is a fine, delectable tea that I’m really going to savour before it’s gone.

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

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85
drank Ceylon Sonata by Adagio Teas
1004 tasting notes

I thought I’d done a proper tasting note for this, but it turns out I haven’t. This was actually one of the first teas I bought from Adagio early last summer, when I really started buying whole leaf tea in earnest. It came in the same order as White Peony, which I have logged, and Assam Melody, which I notice I also haven’t. Very strange, given that I’d also just joined Steepster. Anyway…

This is still one of my favourite blacks to drink as an everyday tea. It’s not flashy, but it is reliable, and it’s one of the only Adagio teas I own a big bag of. Dry, the leaves are a uniform chocolatey brown-black, and slightly twisted. It smells like a conventional black; slightly toasted and lightly malty. Brewed, it’s a different story. The citrus notes I like so much in Ceylon start to come out. It still smells like a black tea, but slightly citrussy and vaguely like orange peel. I like that it’s versatile enough to drink with or without milk, depending which end of the recommended 3-5 minute steep time you remove the leaves. I felt like a strong black today, so I went with milk.

It’s in the taste that the citrus flavours really come out. There’s a very slight maltiness at the start of the sip, and then a decidedly grapefruity flavour takes over. It’s very pleasant and refreshing — perfect in the afternoons when I’ve had a difficult morning at work. Somehow, it just seems to revive me, which is one of the reasons I’ve been keeping it around.

It’s not flashy, as I said, but I think it’s pretty spectacular in its own quiet way. Who doesn’t need a tea like that?

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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65
drank Jasmine Pearls by Teapigs
1004 tasting notes

Sipdown! Thankfully, as this one isn’t a favourite. Jasmine just doesn’t really do it for me, I’m afraid. I can see this being pleasant occasionally, in the right kind of weather, but it’s never going to be a staple in my cupboard. Still, I had to try it to know!

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

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75
drank Pina Colada by Adagio Teas
1004 tasting notes

Sipdown! Drank the last of this with honey today. Another success — it seems to smooth the whole thing out and highlight the pineapple flavour, which I can actually taste this time. Not bad at all!

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more

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95

Back to this today. Still a favourite, which is a good thing as there’s plenty more to go. Sipdown might be a while off yet!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 45 sec

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75
drank Pina Colada by Adagio Teas
1004 tasting notes

I’ve heard terrible things about this tea, so it was with trepidation that I opened the packet. I think we’re okay, though. I can smell warm, ripe pineapple, coconut, and a sort of slightly sour red berry scent. I’m guessing it’s the hibiscus or the rose hip, although I don’t think it’s decidedly either. The dry mix taken together does have a bit of an odd scent, but, to be honest, I find that with most Adagio teas.

So, on to the tasting. Brewed, this smells mostly of pineapple, with a bit of an undertone from the hibiscus. I don’t think there’s anything I can’t smell hibiscus in, when it’s there. I was hoping the pineapple scent would come through into the taste, but it doesn’t really. Dasappointingly, as it smells almost like the real thing — and amazingly juicy to boot. Instead, this tea tastes primarily of coconut. There’s an odd berry-like taste in the background which is throwing me a little, but it’s not unpleasant.

After everything I’ve heard and read, I’m glad this tea turned out to be drinkable. Pineapple is one of my favourite flavours, so I’ve been looking forward to this for a while. It’s a shame the pineapple doesn’t really come out too much in the taste, but the smell is completely mouthwatering. The only thing I really can’t detect is the apple, but I guess I can live without that. I might take this to work tomorrow and try it with some honey, but I’m pretty happy with the way this turned out. One of Adagio’s better fruit blends, I think.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more
Kittenna

I’m pretty sure there were batch issues with this one. I was one of the people who brewed up a horribly nasty cup of this, so much so that Adagio is probably blacklisted from me forever…

Scheherazade

Even now, it has a slightly funky taste (and smell) about it. I think it’s just the way the pineapple/coconut are interacting with the hibiscus and rosehip (really not a happy combination…), but I could be wrong. I’m sure you’re right about the batch issues, though. My cup was nowhere near as bad as yours sounds. I was worried about it right before I tried it, because it sounds so nice and I wanted to like it. I’m glad I do (or more or less, anyway!). I’m not a big Adagio fan, but if this had been terrible it probably would have been the last straw for me, too. It’s a shame when bad things happen to good tea!

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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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