1031 Tasting Notes

70

Continuing the rooibos theme, tonight I decided to try another of my adagio samples: rooibos vanilla chai. Cinnamon, ginger, orange, clove and cardamom are the ingredients, so I’m expecting a pretty conventional chai in terms of smell and taste. On opening the sachet, I can see that the orange pieces are actually quite large and generous. I like the combination of orange and rooibos, so that’s a welcome discovery. Orange is the dominant scent, but I can definetly identify the clove and cardamom. The cinnamon and ginger are less pervasive, but I imagine that’s what’s wontributing the generic “spice” scent that comprises the backbone of this tea. I can’t detect the vanilla at all in the dry leaf, either by sight or smell, so I’ll be interested to see whether, or how, that develops when brewed.

I’m going to drink this conventionally for a chai, with milk and a piece of my now much-loved crystal sugar. Brewed, the vanilla scent comes through much more clearly, and my overall scent impression is of oranges and cream with a light undertone of spice. To taste, though, I get predominantly clove. It’s a little odd, but not entirely out of place. I can taste the vanilla, orange, and cinnamon, but they remain fairly resolutely in the background. I guess I’m kind of wondering whether the taste here is a result of the two whole cloves that went into this particular serving. I’ll be a little more careful next time, for the sake of finding out.

What impressed me most about this tea is that I kept forgetting I was drinking a rooibos, and found myself judging it on the basis of a black chai. It takes a lot to deceive me where rooibos is concerned, so that’s a really strong point in its favour as far as I’m concerned.

This is a pleasant, convincing chai. Overall, I think I’d prefer it brewed as a latte, so I may try that this weekend. I’m impressed, though. There’s definetly more to this tea than I was expecting!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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60
drank Courtesan by Yumchaa
1031 tasting notes

I finally remembered to buy a new jar of honey this morning, so I’ve been drinking it with this for most of the day. I wasn’t over-keen on this when I tried it alone, but the honey works really well with it. The strawberry and raspberry come through in the flavour a bit more, whereas I felt they were kind of lost before. The honey also adds a really nice smoothness, which is very welcome considering how much my throat hurts at the moment. If I’m going to drink this tea hot, this is how I want it to be!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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85

Sipdown! I’m sad to see this go, because it’s so gorgeous and I’ve had a genuinely nice time drinking it. I’ve got so many other teas vying for my attention, though, so I won’t be allowed to grieve for too long.

I drank four cups today, and enjoyed every single drop. A great end to a great tea.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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55
drank Rooibos Vanilla by Adagio Teas
1031 tasting notes

My crystal sugar arrived today, so I tried this again tonight with a smallish piece and some milk. One word: yum! I think I’ve reached perfection with this tea, at least for winter evening drinking. I’ve never been one for putting sugar in my tea the past, but I’m glad I gave in and tried it. It doesn’t change the flavour as much as I feared, it just seemed to help the natural flavours stand out.

I’m in sweet, creamy, vanilla heaven…

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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55
drank Rooibos Vanilla by Adagio Teas
1031 tasting notes

Last night it was honeybush vanilla, tonight it’s rooibos. I thought I’d compare these while the honeybush is still fresh in my mind. I’d like to know what the difference in flavour really is, if I can pinpoint it, and I know I’ll only be able to do that with a clear recollection. So…

The first thing that strikes me about this is the immediate difference in the scent of the dry leaves. This one has a much milder vanilla scent, although it is there, but the dominant note is the rooibos. It’s almost woodsy, in a sawdust-esque sort of way, and there’s something slightly straw-like in there as well. The vanilla is quite rich and cloying in scent, as it was in the honeybush, but it’s very much second-fiddle to the rooibos here.

Brewed, the vanilla comes through more clearly and the strong scent of the rooibos has faded into the background. The vanilla is sweet and creamy but not overpowering. Somehow, it just seems to fit the rooibos base better than it did the honeybush. It might just be me. Previously, most of the hineybush blends I’ve tasted have been fruit flavoured, so I guess that’s what I’ve come to expect, and anything really sweet sort of throws me. Still, of the two, this is the one I think I prefer, which has come as a surprise. Rooibos is not usually my thing. I also surprised myself by not adding milk to this. I definetly know I’m drinking rooibos — it just has that taste about it, which I can only adequately describe as slightly brassy or metallic, but for some reason I’m okay with it. Maybe the vanilla is addling my brain. The only other complaint I have is that it’s slightly drying on the palate, but it’s not too bad. I’ve certainly drank teas the worse for this.

To taste, this is ultimately very similar to the honeybush. The vanilla is rich and creamy, the base substantial. It is a little like drinking warm vanilla ice cream, and I guess I will try this with milk at some point. I imagine that will augment the creaminess very nicely. Otherwise, this is a very pleasant, comforting, hug-in-a-cup style drink — perfect for a snowy night like tonight! This is definetly one I’ll be revisiting — maybe with a little sugar or something along those lines. If I could tone the rooibos down just a little bit more I’d be all the happier, but this is still an unexpected hit!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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55

Thus far in my experience with rooibos and honeybush, I’ve tended to prefer honeybush blends. There’s something I find quite “brassy”, if I can put it like that, about rooibos, whereas I find honeybush to be more naturally sweet and pleasing.

On opening the sachet, I’m overwhelmed with the scent of vanilla. It’s very strong, and reminiscent of whippy-style ice cream, if the essence was bottled and distilled. Vanilla extract is another thing that springs to mind — it has the same, slightly overdone, almost alcoholic-smelling vanilla-ness about it. Part of me quite likes the scent, and is off reminiscing about vanilla ice cream eaten on childhood summer holidays. Another part is concerned that it’s going to be overwhelmingly sweet and very cloying.

Brewed, the liquor is orangey-red, and the vanilla is much more delicate. It’s still an identifiable scent, but it’s lost some of the punch it had dry, which is no bad thing. To taste, it’s deliciously delicate and creamy. The honeybush base is smooth and substantial, and the vanilla adds a rich, heady finish. It’s almost like drinking hot ice cream.

I’ve been drinking a lot of kooky honeybush-based teas in recent months, and I’d almost forgotten what it’s like to drink a simple, straightforward blend like this. It’s not exciting or intriguing, but it is good. Sometimes, that’s enough.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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65
drank Jasmine Pearls by Teapigs
1031 tasting notes

Drank one of these with lunch today, in my eco-mug. I didn’t leave the bag in long, as I’m not over fond of strongly floral tea, but I can still appreciate the delicate scent of jasmine and the light, refreshing green tea base. I’d probably find most things relaxing after a fraught morning on the dreaded reception desk, but this is definetly one of them. Delicate and pleasing — just the thing!

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 15 sec

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85

Drank more of this at work today, and worked out in the quiet hour between 5 and 6 that I’ve probably only got about 12 cups worth left to go. I’ll be sad, because I’ve really enjoyed this tea. It’s everything I ever wanted a darjeeling to be, and none of the things I’ve disliked about them in the past. I rsteeped the leaves a couple of times today to try and prolong the amount of time I’ve got left with this tea, and was pleased to find the flavour pretty much unchanged until after the 4th use. Even then, it was eminently drinkable, just lacking a little of the depth of flavour it had previously. A favourite, for sure.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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25
drank Mao Feng Green Tea by Teapigs
1031 tasting notes

Sipdown!

Finished off my packet of these at work today. I enjoyed them enough, given that they’re green tea and not as I remember, but I probably won’t be purchasing again. I’ve actually ordered some Mao Feng from Tea Palace, just to try another variety and to see if my recollection of this tea is at all correct.

At one point during the afternoon, I managed to brew a cup that had a really nice nutty flavour. It’s not something I’ve ever noticed in this tea before, and it was actually really pleasant. Maybe I’m just hopeless at brewing consistently, but it was a nice note to end the packet on.

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85
drank Ceylon Sonata by Adagio Teas
1031 tasting notes

I bought a large bag of this after trying a sample back in the summer, but it’s languished in my cupboard every since. Finally dug it out yesterday, and tried a couple of cups again. I’d forgotten how much I used to enjoy this as an everyday black tea. It’s not too strong, although it’s strong enough to add milk to if I want to, and it has a citrus note to it that I really enjoy. Almost grapefruit-like. One to take to work this week, I think!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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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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