962 Tasting Notes

100

On the first day of Christmas, 52Teas gave to me…Cotton Candy!

I opened this after a long, hard, totally tea-deficient day at work. It smells amazing — that’s the first thing I have to say. I’ve never tried any 52Teas before, but it’s truly out of this world. Sweet, sugary, maybe slightly alcoholic smelling. I’m at the fair already. The next thing I’m struck by is how pretty it is. The flower petals are blue, pink and yellow among the tea leaves, and it looks so adorable.

Now, to brew. Since it’s my first experience with one of these, I gave it 2.5 minutes in boiling water. It seems to brew slowly, and takes a while to colour. At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d want milk in it, but I added a splash in the end.

Last — and most important — the taste. I’ve been looking for a flavoured black tea that lives up to the promise of its name for a long time. Finally, I’ve found it. This is the fairground in a cup. It actually tastes exactly like cotton candy, and just as it smells. The black base doesn’t at all overpower the flavour, but just makes it so I know I’m drinking something substantial.

I was becoming a little disillusioned with flavoured blacks, but I might have just found my nirvana, Goodness, how great. This tea is truly something else. If they’re all this good, it really will feel like christmas every day!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 sec

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50
drank Coconut by Adagio Teas
962 tasting notes

On first encounter, this seems to be another fairly solid flavoured tea from Adagio. Immediately upon opening the packet, the overwhelming scent is of coconut. It’s a bit fake-smelling, admittedly, but it’s identifiably coconut. There are even pieces of dessicated coconut visible among the dry leaves. So far, so good.

Brewed, this is much as you might expect. The black tea base is quite strong, but that’s not something I mind. In any case, it doesn’t overpower the coconut flavour, which is almost equally pungent. As with the scent, though, I’m struck by how artificial the coconut flavouring tastes. I can see for myself that there are actually pieces of dried coconut in the mix, but there must be something else also. For this reason, I can’t be as excited about this tea as I hoped I might be. There’s just something in the flavour that’s slightly plastic-tasting and off-putting. It’s not bad, by any means, though. It tastes of coconut, it’s a robust enough black tea, and it’s drinkable enough. It’s not going to change the world, or my tea drinking habits, but a sound flavoured tea for all that.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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65

The first time I tried this tea, I actually didn’t like it. I wasn’t, in fact, sure that I could even finish the cup. Since then, I tried it again this summer, iced, and found it palatable. This morning, struck down by a cold at the beginning of the busiest week of the year for me at work, I found another bag of this in my desk drawer. Since I’d neglected to buy milk this morning, and a hot drink – any hot drink – sounded like a good idea to me, I gave this another try.

Actually, it’s not that bad. It’s very sweet, which is what took me by surprise the first time I tried it. I was expecting the liquorice to taste dark and sort of bitter (in my head, liquorice is black and sticky), but it absolutely doesn’t. Strangely enough, when I tried a tea with a dark, sticky, bitter liquiorce flavour (hello, Twinings Liquorice Allsorts Earl Grey), I didn’t like it at all. Clearly, when it comes to liquorice, I’m really hard to please. Anyway – on second acquaintance, I’m finding that the liquorice in the tea adds a pleasing sweetness which works really well with the peppermint. I still don’t like it steeped for an overly long time, but a couple of minutes provides a drink that’s both refreshing and comforting all at once. It’s cosy, and warm, and summery, and, as such, perfect for a dark, cold day when I’m feeling terrible.

It’s probably best if I don’t comment on the nuances of this while I’m feeling so awful. I have a whole box of this in my stash, so I’m going to save the reflection for future tastings. All I know at the moment is that this made me feel better, and that I was surprised to actually like it after all.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 sec
LiberTEAS

I’ve only had this tea once, and I could not drink it. I could not finish the cup. I was really disappointed too, because I love licorice, and I’m not opposed to mint, either.

TeaEqualsBliss

Ditto what Liberteas said…I’m a mint freak and couldn’t take more than 2 sips!

TeaEqualsBliss

Having said that…I DO LOVE their straight-up Peppermint, tho! One of the best I have ever had!

Martyn Jenkins

Try Peppermint & Rosemary from Time Out Teas Cornwall U.K
www.timeout-tea.co.uk

Scheherazade

Thank you for the recommendation — I’ll check it out :)

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85

I’ve tried a fair few Assam teas in my time – it used to be one of my favourite varieties. Some were good, some not so good. This one is fabulous — it’s everything I want from an Assam. I don’t actually think I’ve knowingly tried a second flush assam before, though, so this is both a new and a familiar experience for me.

The dry leaves are medium in size, and very tippy. The lighter colour is highly noticeable among the predominantly darker leaves. It smells just like a good Assam ought to smell – robust, malty, quintessentially tea-like.

I’m drinking this at the start of my work day, so I used two small teaspoons and brewed for about three and a half to four minutes. The brewed liquor, again, is classic Assam – a deep red-brown. It smells much like it does dry, which, in my experience, is usually a good sign. The taste is what I like most about this tea, though. It has a wonderful, strong undertone that I can only describe as malty even though I’ve already used that description once in this note. That’s what it is. Malty. On the surface, if I may describe it like that, it’s smoother and sweeter. Together, these two tastes make for a really good, solid, Assam taste. I love this. It’s the perfect wake up drink for me!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 45 sec

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85
drank Strawberry by Adagio Teas
962 tasting notes

This is the first time I’ve tried one of Adagio’s standard flavoured black teas. Initially, they seem fairly impressive. The dry leaves smell very strongly of strawberry, and I can see pieces of fruit among the black tea base. Closer inspection of the ingredients list reveals that the fruit pieces are actually raspberry, but I probably wouldn’t have known. They smell right, and that’s what counts. What they’ll ultimately contribute to the flavour remains to be seen.

I brewed this tea a little bit longer than the recommended time – more like 4 minutes than 3. It still smells wonderfully of strawberries, although there’s an underlying “green” scent I can’t quite identify. This carries through to the flavour, too, but I don’t mind it as it’s quite fresh and complements the creaminess of the strawberry pretty well.

I’m actually pretty pleased with the taste of this tea. Before this, I’d only tried Adagio’s holiday flavoured blacks, and I wasn’t universially impressed. This one is strawberry all right, and it comes through pretty well. The base tea isn’t too strong or astringent. It’s all just fine. I have a couple more of these in my stash, so I’m interested to try those as well now. Overall, a good experience. A pleasant afternoon quaffing tea.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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85

It’s been a cold afternoon, so this evening I really felt like a warming, creamy chai latte. I’ve been curious to try my Spiced Apple Chai sample for a while now, so it’s this I selected.

Dry, this smells absolutely like apple pie. Apple, cinnamon and clove are the dominant scents, but I can also detect the ginger, and maybe a touch of orange. I gave it the recommended 5 minutes, and then heated up my milk.

While brewing, the spices definetly predominate. I can smell cloves and cinnamon in no small measure, and the apple has all but disappeared. All this changes once I add the milk, though, which seems to soften the spices and lets the apple come through again. It tastes just like apple pie and cream, only in liquid form, and it smells, as it does dry, primarily of apple and cinnamon. I found myself surprised that I could actually taste the apple under all of the milk and spices, but I can. It adds a very slight sharpness, and a little bite. Perfect! This is definetly one I’ll be drinking again. It’s apple pie — and autumn — in a cup!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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55

With Twinings’ conventional Earl Grey fresh in my mind, I decided to break out their whole leaf silky pyramid version.

On opening the packet, there’s an immediate and strong hit of bergamot. This isn’t something I’m over fond of in Earl Grey – I prefer a more subtle bergamot note. This strength remains while the tea is brewing. It’s very sharp, and not entirely pleasant, while the tea itself has a smoky note to it. Again, unexpected. It’s definetly one I’ll be drinking with milk.

To taste, this is actually more pleasant than I was expecting. The milk softens the almost overpoweringly citrussy bergamot just enough, although it’s still at the limit of what I personally enjoy. The tea aspect of the flavour is a little lost by comparison, but does impart a bitter-smokiness which adds to the complexity.

This actually turned out to be an interesting tea — a little different from all of the Earl Grey’s I’ve tried before. It’s never going to be an absolute favourite, because it’s a bit too heavy on the bergamot for me to want to drink it more than occasionally, but it’s by no means terrible.

I think I’ll be sticking to the conventional stuff for now, though. At least until I find a loose leaf blend more suited to my tastes. Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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88
drank Chestnut by Adagio Teas
962 tasting notes

Drank this again this morning, after a cold journey to work. I brewed it for a little longer than usual since my work cup is bigger than the cup I usually use at home. As soon as I brought it back in to the office, my colleagues commented on the gorgeous smell. Toasty nuts and caramel. There probably couldn’t be a more wonderful start to the day!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 45 sec

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80
drank Gyokuro by Adagio Teas
962 tasting notes

Okay, so this is my first experience with Gyokuro. Encouraged by my recent successes with Sencha, I decided it was time to branch out and move on.

So far, so good. Looking at the dry leaves, I’m actually struck by their similarity the Sencha I drank. They’re a similar very dark green, but maybe slightly smaller and finer. They definetly have the same sweet, hay-like scent. This still surprises me — until recently, sweetness wasn’t something I’d ever associated with green tea.

Brewed, the leaves are very soft, and the smell is of freshly steamed, buttered green vegetables. Quite yummy, and quite unexpected. The liquor is a deep yellow, and, joy of joys, it tastes just like it smells. Very fresh, very green. It’s smooth, ever so slightly sweet with no bitterness or astringency anywhere in sight. To my mind, it has a more intense flavour than Adagio’s Sencha, which isn’t a bad thing at all. It’s a pleasure to drink this tea, and it definetly cheered up a miserable day!

I have to say, I’m actually really glad I decided to try gourmet loose leaf green tea. I approached them with trepidation initially, as I’ve always believed myself to be a green tea hater. I’m definetly being proved wrong, though, and I’m completely amazed at the difference. I think I’ll always prefer black tea, but a few more experiences like this could make a habitual green tea drinker of me yet.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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50
drank Candy Apple by Adagio Teas
962 tasting notes

Had this again today — the second last of this flavour I have left in my stash. Given that I haven’t washed up since this morning, I made this in a smaller cup than usual. I wasn’t all that keen on this tea back when I first reviewed it, but I actually think the smaller cup helped matters. I did actually detect some candy apple taste, and it seemed somehow creamier than it is when made in my usual cup, with more of a caramel taste than I detected previously. Maybe that’s the answer with these teas — I shall have to try it with some of the others I wasn’t so keen on, and see if it helps.

Hmm. Food for thought.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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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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