1088 Tasting Notes
A sample from Sil. When she first sent me this, I didn’t have any at all. Since then, I’ve somehow acquired two 2oz bags, and all without ever having tried it! I’m not 100% sure how that happened but never mind. Hopefully I’ll find I like it, and it won’t be a problem! I’ve only ever tried one mate tea before, and that was just plain old yerba mate bags from Teapigs. They weren’t my favourite things, but I didn’t hate them either. I just found them a bit…odd. Since then, I haven’t really sought out mate teas to try, and I haven’t really avoided them. I’ve heard a lot of things about this one, though, and I’m up for most things related to malted chocolate, so…
The dry leaves smell strongly of chocolate, and slightly coffee-like. There’s certainly something roasted about the smell, which, at this time of the morning, is really very appealing! Brewed, I can detect the mate slightly more clearly, but it’s mostly the deep, dark, chocolatey notes that are prevalent. To taste, this is much more palatable than I was expecting. I think the flavouring helps to make the mate less of an odd creature, or maybe it’s just that chocolate is old and familiar. Either way, for a first acquaintance I’m really enjoying this! It does taste something like maltesers, which is what I wanted from the Chocolate Malt Honeybush I tried a week or so ago. Mostly, though, I’m tasting chocolate, with a hint of coffee lurking somewhere in the background. I’m usually hopelessly tired when I get to work on a morning, and I actually feel like this is helping some. I think it might become my go-to morning drink from now on! I’ll definitely root out one of those bags when I get home and station it permanently in my desk drawer. A new tea love, just what I needed!
This is one of the most intriguing tea ideas I’ve seen in a while. I’m a fan of the mojito anyway, so I naturally couldn’t resist trying the tea version. The dry mix has a significant predominance of dried lime pieces, which I think is pretty fantastic. They’re not small things, these are actual slices of lime in halves or quarters, and at first I wondered what the hell these big lumps of brown stuff were in my tea! They’re not the most attractive looking things, but I have high hopes for what they might add to the flavour. The rest of the leaves are more conventional – pieces of lemongrass, chopped peppermint and lime leaves, green tea, and stevia. The scent at this point, as you might expect, is primarily of lime and mint, with a faintly detectable undertone of citrusy, hay-like sweetness from the lemongrass.
I waited patiently for the water to cool this time, honestly I did. It was worth the wait! The lime pieces don’t rehydrate as much as I was hoping, but maybe they’ll soften a bit more with subsequent steeps. Brewed, the scent is sweet and minty with a faint hint of lime, which is pretty accurate as far as I’m concerned. The taste is light and delicate, and seems to take a few seconds to develop fully. The green tea base is one of the most pleasant I’ve encountered so far – it’s very subtle, very smooth, with no hint of bitterness or astringency. I might even go for a slightly longer steep next time, which is seriously unlike me. There probably isn’t actually all that much green tea in this blend, when compared with the quantities of other ingredients, which might explain this to a certain extent. It’d be a fantastic candidate for a cold brew, I think! Anyway, the mint is what I can taste first here, followed by a slight grassy-citrus flavour from the lemongrass and green tea, and then finally the lime. It tastes exactly as if a twist of fresh lime was added to this after it was brewed – it just seems to dance there in the background, highlighting and complementing the other flavours. I’m really impressed with this so far, but I’m going to try a longer steep for my next cup and see how that works out.
Second cup: This time I used slightly more leaves, slightly hotter water, and another minute on the brew time, all of which seemed to help this tea to really shine. The mint is much the same as ever, but the lime is more defined and adds a tangy edge to this otherwise rather sweet tea. Fortunately, I’ve not found the stevia overpowering, which worried me a bit at first. The only thing that seemed to suffer a little bit from my adjustments was the lemongrass, which I can’t detect at all now. I guess the delicate edge has gone, but there’s still absolutely no bitterness from the green tea.
I’m actually torn as to how I prefer this tea now. The first cup was beautifully delicate, but, while all the flavours were there, I was looking for more punch. I’ve got that from my second cup, but at the expense of the lemongrass and the subtle play of flavours. There might be a line I could walk with this tea, which would let me have the best of both worlds, but I imagine it would be difficult to find. I’m more than happy with the versatility of this tea at the moment, though, so I’m not too concerned. Both cups were fine with me! Of the teas I’ve tried from Bluebird so far, this one has been the biggest hit with me. I’ve never had a tea quite like it before, and the flavours work fabulously together. It’s not a bad attempt at recreating a cocktail, either! Truly amazing –well done, Bluebird!
I’ve brought the last of this to work today to finish off. I’ve been drinking it cold-brewed most, but it’s really nice hot. Since I’m getting a cold, I need all the hot drinks I can get! I really adore the combination of strawberry and lemon in this one — it’s comforting and summery all at the same time. Given how I feel this morning, they’re the two things I’m craving most of all. How can it only be 38 minutes since I arrived at work?!
Sipdown! Had the last of this cold-brewed over the weekend. I’m sad to see it go, though. It’s one of the few fruit teas I’ve managed to find that has absolutely no hibiscus in it! I’ll definetly be looking to Tea Palace again when I’m in the market for a fruit tea. Great stuff!
I have to confess, I’m not liking the smell of this much at all. Where food is concerned, pineapple and coconut are two of my favourite things. Together, however, and particularly in tea, the scent is a bit…funky. Much like Adagio’s Pina Colada, this one has hibiscus and rosehip in it. I’m not sure why it’s such a prevalent combination. To my mind, red fruity things and tropical fruity things are much better kept separate. Anyway, it’s wrong to knock something before you’ve tried it, so on to the tasting!
Brewed, this smells…better. The pineapple and coconut seem to have settled down a little bit, which is giving me hope. Maybe they’ll even play nicely! I probably shouldn’t have hoped, because after tasting, I’m still in two minds. There’s a kind of oily film on the surface of this one, and I’m not really sure what it tastes of. Mainly coconut, I think, although the whole thing seems strangely muted. Even the hibiscus isn’t up to its usual tricks. Part of me is glad, because after the initial scent of this one met my nose, I was more than a bit worried about the taste to come. I do wish the taste was a bit more decided, though. At the moment, it’s like the pineapple and coconut, and the hibiscus and rosehip are two sides of an army at stalemate. Neither is winning, and the result is that this tea doesn’t taste particularly of one thing or the other. As it cools, a sweetness develops and I can taste the coconut more easily, but this isn’t quite what I was expecting. I guess that’s maybe what you get when you come to something which quite decided assumptions, but this one has me more or less confounded at the moment. I’m just not sure what to make of it!
I’ve just sent some of this out in a swap, but I should have enough for another cup or two before it’s gone. For now, I’m going to give this 50, because it seems like a halfway tea (or a tea of two halves?) if ever there was one.
So, fruity cherry banana. Another sample from Sil, and part of my ongoing quest to find a fruit tea I can really love. The dry mix is pretty impressive – I can identify pieces of most of the things that are supposed to be there, including strawberry, banana, apple and orange, along with the seemingly ubiquitous hibiscus and rosehip. Cherry is notable by its absence, but possibly that’s just in the flavouring. It’s hard to say exactly what it smells like dry – generically fruity is the closest I can really get, and none of the flavours seem particularly dominant at this point.
Brewed, this is a different story. The liquor is a deep pink-red, and the scent is more decidedly of cherry and banana. There’s also a slight background nuttiness which is intriguing. After my first sip, I was concerned that this was going to be primarily a hibiscus tea. Initially, that’s the flavour that comes out most strongly. Fortunately, it’s quickly followed by really quite distinctive notes of cherry and banana. It’s curious, because it sounds like it shouldn’t work, but it definitely does! The cherry is quite tart, and marries well with the hibiscus and rosehip while tempering some of the sourness that those two ingredients on their own would contribute. The banana is sweet and creamy, and just seems to help bring the whole thing together. I know the taste is reminding me of something, but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is at the moment. Some dessert, probably! I’m really happy with this, though. For a hibiscus based fruit tea, it’s not half bad!
Sent out another swap package today, and while I was going through my stash last night I took the opportunity to make a list of teas I need to finish before I’m allowed to open any new bags. I’ve also started making lists of new teas I’d like to buy again, even though I’ve got more than enough in my cupboard to be going on with. Will I ever learn? I’ve been good today, though, and finished up three of the samples I identified. This is another of the teas I’ve had open a while, though, so I’m doing my bit for this one this afternoon. I’ve said it before, but it’s a tea that’s so delicate and easy to drink that it’s always a welcome addition to my “portable handheld beverage interface” as Alan Sugar apparently has it…
I’ve got a couple of flavoured whites that I’m desperate to move on to, but I’ve got to finish up the plain stuff first. Not that that’ll be any hardship!
The third and final sample from my second Bluebird order. I’ve only had lavender earl grey once before in my life, and I wasn’t over struck. To be honest, though, it wasn’t a great brand, so my expectations for this one are much higher. It’s a pretty simple tea for Bluebird – the dry mix is composed only of black tea leaves and pieces of dried lavender. It smells, as you might expect, predominantly of lavender, with maybe a very slight hint of bergamot. Brewed, the scent is much the same.
To taste, this is very…lavendery. Teas like this usually make me think of potpourri, and that’s not something I’d ever want to drink. I just don’t know about the combination of bergamot and lavender, either. It’s a little odd. I think I usually end up feeling like this because I like earl grey quite a lot, and I’m not over keen on having it messed about with. On the other hand, I don’t like lavender at all, other than to smell or as a plant in the garden, so I guess I’m biased as well. I’m sure if you like the combination, this would come across as a great tea. It’s quite subtle, the flavours are well balanced, and the black tea base slightly malty and supports the flavours well. It’s not at all astringent, so it’s easy to drink without milk as well. To me, though, there’s something about that taste that’s just a little…off. I know it’s only because the flavour combination just isn’t one that appeals to me, though, so this is by no means a bad tea. Some you win, some you lose, and I’m afraid lavender is always going to lose with me.
The second of the samples from my second Bluebird order. This one smells beautifully herbal dry; sweet, floral and minty all at the same time. I can see whole chamomile flowers, pieces of liquorice root, and peppermint leaves among the dry mix, and it’s just so pretty to look at!
To taste, this isn’t quite as sweet as I feared. My last experience with a liquorice tea was Teapigs Liquorice and Peppermint, which is majorly sweet. I kept a close eye on this while it was brewing, but even so, this one is much more palatable. Chamomile is the dominant taste, followed by peppermint. It’s a combination I’ve tried before, and it’s by no means a bad one. The ginger is a bit lost, though. I was hoping I’d really be able to taste it, but it’s hard to pick out at all.
Apart from being less sweet than I thought it was going to be, this one isn’t really wowing me. It’s made me reconsider liquorice tea for the future, since I know now that they’re not all hellishly sweet. Chamomile and peppermint is a combination I’ve tried before, though, and there’s nothing particularly special about it here. If only the ginger was more discernible, then I think it would be really something. This probably isn’t one I’d buy for myself, but I’m glad to have had the opportunity to try it. Thank you, Bluebird!