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Recent Tasting Notes
In my experiences the greener varieties of oolong don’t seem to play well with additional ingredients. Some oolong is so light and floral that it tends to make the flavours seem spaced out and buffered instead of well mixed- if that makes sense. This something that inhibits my enjoyment of most “Oolong Chai” renditions.
Peppermint Cream doesn’t really suffer from this problem in so much that it’s more of a milk oolong flavoured mint tea than the other way around. The milkiness adds convincing depth to the cocoa “cream” (more like skim milk), while the airy green quality of the oolong amplifies the fresh breath of peppermint. Spacey is in the right place here.
It potently evokes memories of crisp fall mornings and that kind of thing. My only complaints are the blend’s metallic tendency, and the fact that I don’t like cocoa in my tea.
Flavors: Cocoa, Floral, Metallic, Milk, Peppermint, Sweet
No notes for this one? I’m kind of surprised about that, because it’s been out a while – I think since last autumn? Anyway, I should probably preface this by saying that smoky teas are generally not my thing. There was a time when just the thought would make me stomach turn, but thankfully my aversion isn’t that strong anymore. I still don’t drink many smoky teas, though, and I tend not to seek them out. I’ll try the occasional one, though, because when it comes to tea I feel like continuing to challenge my preconceptions is still a valid thing to do. I wouldn’t be drinking pu’erh, oolong or green tea otherwise, and that really would be a loss.
The scent of the dry leaf is strong, reminiscent of beef jerky with hints of barbecue smoke. Based on the name, I was hoping for more of a cigarette smoke/men’s club type of scent, rather than bonfire and meat, but there you go. This blend is a mixture of Lapsang Souchong and Russian Caravan, so it contains some formosa oolong and keemun. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. It brewed up to a medium golden-brown, so no additions.
To taste, it’s actually more palatable than I was expecting. The smokiness is strong, and it lingers in the aftertaste, but I don’t have the instant urge to tip the rest of the cup that I would have had at one time. It’s smoother than I expected, with no bitterness or astringency. It’s hard to say whether there are any nuances, though, or how effective the base teas are, because the smoke/meatiness simply overpowers everything else. Not a disaster, though!
Everytime I see/drink a smoky tea, I inevitably recall the way Von Smallhausen of the Gestapo says “I prefer Lapsang Souchong” in ’Allo ’Allo. The subtext of that sentence really has to be “because it reminds me of the concentration camps”, and his tone and delivery totally nail the creepy vibe (as well as being inappropriately amusing).
I’m enjoying another cup of this one at work today. Now that I’m getting towards the bottom of the bag, I’ve noticed that the stevia (if that’s what it actually is) has become more prominent. I’m thinking it had probably just settled and now I’m getting more per tsp than was intended. It does distract from the ice cream aspect a little, just because it’s verging on over-sweet, but it’s still a pleasant cup. I definitely get root beer, and with a splash of milk there’s vanilla ice cream in there too. One word: yum!
Birthday tea! I’ve been hanging on to this sample pouch for a while, probably because it was a limited edition, and sounded like the kind of tea I might really like. Today is a “special occasion” (i.e. my birthday, which is depressing, so I needed cheering up with tea…) I felt like I’d waited long enough on this one, so I pulled it out to try! I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk, because ice cream, dairy…it seemed to fit the bill (and it would have felt odd not to add any.)
I’m pleased to report that it’s delicious! Super creamy, with a definite ice cream flavour. It’s not artificial ice cream, either, but a lovely, rich, “real vanilla” ice cream that you’d either make yourself with actual cream and vanilla pods, or pay a fortune for ready made. There’s also a definite root beer aspect, which really makes this into more of a root beer float than an ice cream float in my opinion, but since it’s lovely I’ll not complain about that too much. I can taste the chicory/medicinal-herbal flavour that’s so reminiscent of root beer for me, plus a fairly hefty dose of cinnamon that really helps to round things out. There’s also just a touch of smooth, sweet caramel towards the end of the sip.
Overall, I’m really pleased with this one. I hope Bluebird bring it back some day!
So that interview I had. I waited over an hour and a half at reception, before I finally gave up and walked out. No-one I spoke to was able to explain what had happened, or seemed to be able to contact anyone who might feasibly know. I came back home to a half apologetic, half rude email saying that organising interviews in a busy building is very complicated, and that it was my fault anyway for not confirming that I’d be attending. I had confirmed, and have since provided a copy of my email, but despite making several complaints (including one half rational, half pissed-as-hell burst of eloquence that I’m quite convinced would inspire abject sorrow in an inanimate object) I don’t feel I’m getting anywhere. This from Cambridge, one of the most well-known and respected Universities in the world. I just expected better. And not to make a 100 mile trip purely to sit in a reception and stare at a wall for the better part of the morning. I don’t know what to think or do at the moment, but I am sure that this has been quite a week.
This tea was today’s cold brew. I used up the rest of my sample to make it – just over 2 tbsp of leaf in 2 litres of cold water, into the fridge for 10 hours overnight. Despite the slight overleafing, I actually think this one came out a bit on the weak and watery side. It wasn’t bad exactly, but it definitely had less flavour than I was expecting. Mostly, it reminded me of citrus fruit pith, but there were brighter bursts of orange towards the end of the sip. It’s a shame they didn’t really linger. This is definitely a tea I prefer hot!
No notes for this one? I find that kind of difficult to believe, but there you go. I picked this one up a while ago, as far as I can remember? I think it was from one of last year’s collections, but I might be wrong about that. Anyway, I think my body is craving anything with a passing resemblance to vitamin C, since it’s the second orange-inflected blend I’ve picked up in the last 12 hours.
The combination of orange and mandarin really appealed to me, and it’s on a black base so that also made it a winner this morning. The Ceylon is perfect here – lightly cirtussy and brisk, and the perfect companion for the sharp, juicy orange and sweeter mandarin flavours it has going on.
There are a lot of other ingredients in this one – apple, hibiscus, blackberry leaf, lime leaf…the list goes on. None of them really seem to make an impression on the flavour, though. This is a straight-up, solid, bright, sunshine-y orange tea! Definitely one to try iced.
I was talking about Kenyan black teas the other day, and then I went through my stash and found that this one has a Kenyan tea as part of its base – along with Ceylon and Assam. It’s also an Earl Grey, like the tea that triggered the revelation, so obviously I had to try it next.
Much like Teapigs Earl Grey Strong, the strength of this blend is in the base rather than in the prominence of the bergamot, and in many ways that makes it a more suitable EG for me. I’m not the biggest bergamot fan, and although the dry leaf seems to suggest that it’s going to be STRONG here, it’s actually very subtle. I gave 1 tsp of leaf 4 minutes in boiling water, and it’s the base tea that I can taste most clearly. It’s deliciously, sweetly malty, with an underlying crisp citrus note attributable to the Ceylon but amped to a certain extent by the bergamot. It’s a well balanced blend, at least to my tastes.
If you like Earl Grey, but aren’t a bergamot fan, this one’s worth a try. I’d say it’s quite a delicate blend, as they go. If you like a good smack of bergamot, you might want to steer clear.
Finally writing a tasting note for this one. I’ve had it a couple times. I LOVE chocolate marshmallow combinations in anything, especially if it’s a tea that actually uses cacao shells. Yum. The marshmallow melts really well so I taste equal parts chocolate and marshmallow on this light base but I come to expect the light base with most of Bluebird’s black teas. That might be because this one is also mixed with houjicha green teas, but I can’t really tell that other than from the description. There is also a toastiness from the toasties (ahem… the toasted rice). Basically I wanted to try this one because it was like Bluebird’s Snowball blend but without the coconut which would slowly ruin the blend. I’m very happy with this fun delicious tea!
Steep #1 // 1 heaping teaspoon for a full mug// 8 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3 minute steep
Flavors: Chocolate, Marshmallow
From the sale recently! I loved the idea of this tea, so had to try it. Sadly, it isn’t as magical as I would hope from a Bluebird tea. I kind of expected the fruit to be pineapple and papaya (and not mango) from reading another tasting note from a Steepsterer. So the fruit flavor was really more like pineapple with hints of papaya. (I’m not sure if there is additional flavoring of mango that Bluebird adds or if it is just the papaya and pineapple chunks.) Though I do appreciate the papaya and pineapple, this blend probably shouldn’t be named ‘mango’. I also expected a vegetal, green bean type flavor to the tulsi, but the tulsi is so mild tasting that I can hardly taste it. There is also a hint of tanginess to the hibiscus… some sweetness from the sugar. I won’t say no to this on a hot summer evening (like now!), but sadly this blend was less than I imagined.
Steep #1 // 1 teaspoon //few minutes after boiling // few minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // few minute steep
I hope everyone has a lovely, enjoyable Memorial Day weekend!
While it’s the tiniest bit stronger and maltier than many I’ve tried, this is a pretty standard British breakfast blend. It’s solid, smooth and flavorful. It takes milk and sweetener well. It’s also quite nice with a squeeze of lemon. I’m always looking for nice breakfast blends to add to my collection for days when I’m tempted to have espresso/coffee, so I’m glad I added this to my Pick N Mix experience pack.
This tea is essentially black forest gateau minus the cake. To my taste buds, it’s more like a cordial cherry more than a black forest cake/gateau. There are so many berries in this blend. The added hibiscus gives the berries just a bit of the tart, sour cherry flavor that one would expect from a traditional black forest gateau. The chocolate is there but only just. I also find that I’m missing the cake element, especially since the vanilla isn’t really coming through very well in my cuppa. Cherry doesn’t rank very highly on my list of berries I enjoy in teas (especially black tea blends), so I’m not really wowed by this tea. It’s pleasant and has decent flavor, but it’s not a tea that I’ll be repurchasing.
I’ve been really enjoying this blend over ice. My first attempt at icing the tea didn’t go over too well, but the more I drink it the more I enjoy it. It really is a liquid version of berry-flavored cotton candy. It’s a lovely treat during especially long afternoons at work. I steep it a bit longer than recommended, and, thankfully, I don’t find that the blend suffers or turns bitter. I’ll be reordering this tea when I place my order for the new summer blends within the next month.
Technically, this is my second time sipping this tea. The first time I didn’t get much flavor. I believe I let my water sit in the mug a bit too long before adding the leaves. Shame.
Today’s cuppa was lovely, sweet, and light but chock full of flavor. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of a tea that tastes like cotton candy, but I’ve yet to meet one that actually delivers. Cotton candy (or candy/fairy floss, if you’re on the other side of the pond) was one of my favorite sweets as a child. This tea tastes like pink cotton candy dissolving on your tongue. The strawberry flavor is more tart than ripe, and I’m attributing that to the addition of hibiscus in this blend. I’m really enjoying this, much more than I thought I would. The other ingredients aren’t easy to distinguish, but the blend is mixed well. I think I’ll add it to my list of teas to cold-steep when my Hario filter-in bottle arrives.
This was from the Bluebird order! This one might not be for me though… Splenda, licorice, and lime leaves in an ice cream blend aren’t really what I’m looking for. And that is all I’m really getting from my teaspoon “scoop”. The flavor is mostly an odd melding of Splenda and licorice.which taste the same to me anyway. Hints of sarsparilla along with the light black tea. Bluebird still uses that light black tea (I think the Ceylon is the culprit.) I’m not sure what the lime leaves should be adding to the blend in the flavor, but it doesn’t seem too weird. The flavor is more like root beer than a root beer float. I wish I could say more about this blend or that I liked it better, but I kind of suspected I wouldn’t.
Steep #1 // 1 teaspoon for a full mug// few minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3-4 minute steep
Ok, so first off, this tea is adorable. The tiny mallows and sunflower strands? You’re killing me, Bluebird.
The dry and steep aromatics are distinctly those of the marshmallow bunny coated in chocolate. Yeah, you know the one, yes you. The popped rice, I think, does just as much of the heavy lifting in that regard as the mallows and cocoa shell bits.
On the tongue, the chocolate pulls riiiiight through, the mallow easing it onto the palate, and the overall taste has the acidity of the black balanced by the distinct flavor of the green. I actually didn’t notice until the first taste that this was a black-green blend.
All-in-all, this is the Cocoa Krispies of tea. Just add Saturday morning cartoons and you’re set. I wouldn’t likely be moved to purchase again, but I am really glad to get to sample 10 g, and the cuteness of it all has me won over for sure.
Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Marshmallow, Sweet, warm grass, Toasted Rice
This was a free sample with the Bluebird order, in a pyramid teabag. This was one I didn’t manage to try yet, so here goes. The scent is super spicy! There are notes of frosting in both the fragrance and flavor, I swear… a frosting you might see on a gingerbread cookie. I’m beginning to see some sort of sweet note in a tea blend whenever there are mallow blossoms, so that is my theory. The flavor is very spicy, just like a gingerbread cookie (almost too flavorful — I definitely wouldn’t steep more than one teaspoon at a time!) It’s such a satisfying late cold night cup. Spicy with a hint of sweetness. And I’m not a ginger fan AT ALL. The second steep is slightly less spicy than the first cup, though still very spicy, with more of that cookie icing peeking through! I’m surprised by this blend and how much I like it, though I really shouldn’t be. This is a Bluebird blend. And they are awesome. I coulda, shoulda bought some of this one! But that probably applies to all of the Bluebird blends.
Steep #1 // couple minutes after boiling // 2 1/2 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 4-5 minute steep
I’ve been sipping on a few cups of this (iced) all afternoon. I wish there was more lemon flavor. Not that I mind the flavors I’m getting, but it’s pretty much straight berry and hibiscus for me. It’s not even really noticeably strawberry-ish. Unsweetened it’s quite tart, but that mellows with a touch of sweetener (stevia, in my case). I think it’d be great blended with actual lemonade. I might try that this weekend. I like it but I don’t know if it’ll be a repurchase. There are other berry-hibiscus blends that I enjoy more (and are cheaper, easier to get my hands on).
The steep time is an absolute delight: all carnival and candy, reminiscent of fairgrounds in the early fall. Carmel apples are definitely what are coming through, like a bold candied cider.
The sweetness isn’t so much there as I expected from the tiny toffee pieces, and the flavor isn’t as present as the aromas would have you expecting. Still, I keep finding myself hovering over my mug just to take in the scent.
First brewing score: 65
Update: Brewed a travel mug this morning before setting off to lab and dressed it up with a little cream and sugar. Good God, this is brilliant for a milky tea. I remain interested in seeing if I can’t get these same flavors to pull through on their own with a longer brewing time (tried 5 minutes with a heaping tsp last time), but this really hit the spot this morning. I sipped it down in half the time it usually takes me to finish off my tea as I kept finding myself reaching for my mug over and over. Updating this to the upper 90’s because this experience was…magical.
Flavors: Candied Apple, Caramel, Kettle Corn, Toffee
Even though it’s summer now, this amalgamation of typically Autumn flavours was amazing. You have pumpkin, cinnamon, clove, ginger, molasses, brown sugar, and sweet potato notes that together just create the most decadent pumpkin pie flavour.
It’s definitely not the right season for this right now, but I’m going to have to remember this tea for the fall and winter – especially ‘cause DAVIDsTEA’s super popular Pumpkin Chai just never quite did it for me. This is DEFINITELY better.
Thank you Scheherazade!
Thank you Scheherazade for the sample!
I was really happy to get a chance to swap with you again.
Hoping you love the matcha.
This is my first pick from the goodies Scheherazade sent me; I asked for a random mix of stuff, and she certainly didn’t disappoint. Random is my new go to: I always end up with things I’d never have picked for myself and quite often I end up pleasantly surprised. That’s the case with this one, for sure: I’d have avoided it ’cause of the “spice” element and the fact pumpkin teas so rarely ever taste like actual pumpkin.
This is great though: first and foremost I very clearly taste the flavour of real pumpkin and that definitely makes this better than most “pumpkin” teas which typically drown out any actual pumpkin in the blend with pumpkin spices. And on that note, while I totally taste the cinnamon and ginger in the blend they’re subdued in comparison to the flavour of the pumpkin and the cinnamon really just reinforces the pie element of the tea because it makes me think of pie crust. I don’t find them intrusive or drowning at all which is a big relief. I don’t even mind the ginger.
As well, there’s a sweetness to the tea which is appropriate to the notion of pie filling. I’d never add sweetener to this myself as that’d be over the top, but what’s here seems almost natural while capturing that confectionery element. Of course, it isn’t natural: it’s definitely from the candy bats in the blend – but that’s fine. It’s not artificial tasting. It’s like brown sugar and vanilla? Without actually being brown sugar or vanilla though.
Final observation/comment: While I normally don’t lean towards Ceylon I think that it’s appropriate as a base here because it does have such a mild/soft flavour compared to a lot of black teas and that suits blends well, especially blends that focus on flavours as delicate as pumpkin. Squash in general doesn’t pack a lot of “oomph” as a flavour. Not the same way other fruits/veggies do.
Really, really impressed and surprised with this blend! Only
small criticism is that I wish there was a stronger taste of the clove.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Ginger, Pumpkin, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla
I had a cup of this yesterday morning and it has grown on me tremendously. I think I have enough for one more cuppa in my sample pack, but I will definitely be reordering this blend in the coming months. It’s a nice black tea with subtle, slightly sweet banana flavor. It’s another one of Bluebird Tea Co’s blends that only improve the more I drink it. Very impressed.