Whittard of Chelsea
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Recent Tasting Notes
Good morning is good!
Started the day with a healthy breakfast of strawberries and whipped cream – hey, it was the light cream, and mostly it was strawberries! And it’s the weekend, dammit.
And then there’s this tea, another silly impulse purchase to celebrate job interview. I’ve been wanting to try something biscuitty for a while now, and when the shop assistant took the jar of this off the shelf for me to smell, I was sold. Smells just like sticking your nose in a packet of those wonderful crumbly, buttery vanilla biscuits. Yes. GET IN.
So I brewed it up this morning, and as they usually do, the scent diminished a bit while brewing and tea smell insinuated its way in, but it’s a tea, so I’m certainly not complaining. The flavour starts with a heady wave of creamy vanilla, with a sweet, nutty-buttery biscuit finish. Not nutty like you’d find in a nut-flavoured tea, but that sort of subtle toasty nuttiness you get from the slightly browned butter and flour in a biscuit. It’s got a hint of sweetness on its own, so doesn’t need fixins if you prefer your teas unadorned, but holds up beautifully under a spoonful of sugar and a splash of milk, making it just that little bit more indulgent.
And it’s still a damn sight better for me than, say, hoovering a packet of Viennese whirls.
Oh, I like this.
Bought on terrible, terrible impulse to celebrate that I have another job interview lined up! Yippee! The bad news is that the office is in “Oxford,” but technically it’s in a tiny little place outside of Oxford that takes an hour and two buses (rounabout through Abbingon) to get to from Oxford central. Oh well. INTERVIEW. I rock interviews! I am excite. Things just might be looking up for Kelshy! bangs on all the wood within reach
So, milk oolong. The dry leaves are cute and smell of sweet grass. A good start. It’s already streets ahead of the other oolong I have from Whittard, which admittedly is decidedly underwhelming. This tea, on the other hand, yields a pale yellow liquor, and the sweet grass notes are joined by a soft floral, almost honeydew melon flavour, as well as a lightly creamy mouthfeel, with just a delicate hint of that characteristic oolong wholesomeness. Good Gosh, this is so pretty. It tastes of joy.
I have never really been a fan of flavoured teas but a friend gave me a sample of this, so I thought I would give it a try. It smells really strongly of sticky toffee pudding so that is a good start. Steve had told me that he found the tea disappointing so I loaded the teapot with more tea than I would otherwise have done and poured on the water. Waves of sticky toffee pudding smell arose from the pot. Good start. After a longer than usual steep, I was able to taste the tea. The base tea is malty and rich (possibly an Assam?), and the gingery sweetness of the pudding comes through with an element of dates. It was really quite good while hot and definitely reflected the name in its flavour, but as it cooled it quickly became bitter and less palatable. I’ve finished the sample now but might be tempted to buy a packet for myself if passing a Whittards, although I do wonder if its sugary sweetness would pall after a while.
Flavors: Caramel, Dates
This is basically a pure spice mix with no black tea base, hence the reason it is caffeine free. I came across this today while browsing Whittard’s Covent Garden London shop and immediately purchased it after reading the ingredients. It is the same mix of spices I use when making masala chai mix at home. I love chai but usually I cannot have it at night due to caffeine and this blend removes that. Chai all night long!
I brewed for 6-10 minutes as suggested for a stronger taste and it was perfect! Very obvious cinnamon flavour with the other spices lingering in the background. Added 1/2 tsp honey for sweetness but I think this blend would be excellent straight as well.
It also says to not drink this with milk but I may use this when I make masala chai. Overall, very happy I came across this.
Ok, I don’t know what it is I did differently this time (I think I might have underleafed slightly?) but this is the best cup of this tea that I’ve had. It’s a lighter tea, as befits a Darjeeling, but there’s a distinct raisiny flavour that comes through just before the end, when it goes a little leafy/earthy and it’s actually really nice. Bumping the rating accordingly. I’m glad I bought this one. I still don’t trust Darjeelings that don’t stipulate whether they’re first or second flush (it makes such a difference) but I’ll happily drink this one in the meantime.
And it ought to give me enough of a boost to push through day two of this wretched headache and finish this painting of the Ninth Doctor!
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Raisins
sooooo i drank the world tonight. and just when i was about to call it quits, i realised i was at 161. No way i can leave my cupboard at that! Soooo here’s another one haha. This one is another from awkward soul via terri and it’s interesting. After the much richer creamier teas that i had, this one is on the light side. I AM getting rhubarb taste here but different from the rhubarb that stacy used in ruby pie. It’s creamy and the black base in this one isn’t bitter or overpowering. Overall, not a tea that i’m going to be in love with, but still a good cup this evening…
TTB Tea 13: I picked this one for my studying before the organic chemistry test tomorrow. I feel as though it was a good choice! The flavor is very nice without being astringent or bitter. It was malty, a little chocolatey, and rich without any added flavors. And it gave me a nice caffeine boost!
Flavors: Chocolate, Malt, Nuts
I feel quietly positive about today’s interview, so there’s something, yes? Quietly less positive about the fact that I put on too much weight over the winter to be able to button up my blazer, but I just installed Pact on my phone and I’m hoping that’ll keep me at least reaching for fresh fruit instead of Wotsits when I’m hungry between meals.
And then there’s this tea. So I overleafed and oversteeped largely by mistake, and then added too much milk to use up the last of the jug because today’s its best before date, and then because I was out of the nice unrefined sugar I like to use in my tea, I added the teensiest drizzle of vanilla syrup instead. And what this magic combo produced was a predominant flavour that was so familiar, yet I couldn’t put my finger on what it was until I was about halfway through the cup.
It had a sort of sweet, roasty, almost grain flavour, but not exactly. It was like the maltiness of the tea had been turned up to eleven. And then it hit me.
It was as though someone had put Ovaltine in my tea. Like Ovalteane. It was uncanny. And actually really, really delicious. I think I’ve found a new way of drinking this tea when I want something a little different. Because wowzers. That’s good stuff. Who’d have thought?
Despite having purchased a gaiwan months ago, I only used it for the very first time today. I didn’t want to use a tea that was too pricey or short-stocked for my maiden voyage, so I went with this one, which I still have a good 25 grams of after a year in my cupboard.
Using the gaiwan was pretty easy – pretty much the same premise as opening the lid of a pot just enough to drain the cooking water off boiled pasta. I only got a big piece of leaf in my cup once (which is better than my track record with draining pasta). Whittard only has western-style instructions on their site, so I used Teavivre’s gongfu instructions for their Huang Shan Mao Feng as a guide (80 C, 5s rinse, 30/60/90). I started at around 85 C for the rinse.
Rinse (I don’t know if you’re meant to taste this, but I did): butter! Somewhat salty. Mild flavor of some type of cooked greens.
1: Similar to rinse, but more cooked greens & less buttery. Getting some bitterness.
2: I poured this one off after 30s, but it seemed a bit weak, so I poured it back into the gaiwan for another 30s. This made it kind of unpleasantly bitter, like overcooked greens. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go any further after this cup, but…
3: I poured this after 65-70s. Still bitter. Don’t think I’ll go for a fourth.
Obviously my gongfu skills need refining, and this tea is hella old, and I very likely overleafed, but I’m inclined to think my original 91 rating was more of a reflection of my beginner’s enthusiasm than the tea’s quality. It’s probably not a good sign when the rinse is my favorite steep.
And now my head hurts. Dropping the rating like it’s hot.
Flavors: Butter, Kale
(edit:~This is embarrassing, can not remember if this is something I took out of the euro travelling teabox or a sample Meliorate sent me uh, a year ago.~) Nevermind all that, a tea from the euro tea box.
I had left it near the kettle, because, yay, the weather is turning that way where I want fruity flavoured green teas. Green tea with peach, yes please. Though sadly what i really really want is The-o-dor´s Peché Mignon which I can not get without paying A LOT on shipping and will have to wait for a large order in a few months.
This tea did not work as a dupe for Peché Mignon at all. Thin, almost bitter base, insipid fruit-like flavour and maybe some rose in the background. Nope. Maybe I would not be so critical if I did not want so much Peché Mignon right now, but oh well, I think I would never really love this.
Ok, so this is a weird tasting note.
I’ve been SERIOUSLY missing Adagio’s grapefruit oolong, but a) I can’t afford to pay for all that shipping on my own (trying to get a UK group run together and now a bunch of flavours are out of stock, ouch!) and b) I really shouldn’t even be buying any more tea for myself until I’ve drank more of what I’ve got in the kitchen anyway.
So I decided to take this relatively bland but acceptable oolong, and grapefruit it myself. So I added grapefruit juice.
And you know what?
It’s no Adagio grapefruit oolong, but it’s tastier than Morrisons grapefruit juice or this tea would have been on their own. Tart but wholesome. I think I’ve found the way to make me drink these teabags.
This isn’t creepy.
I’ve never eaten rhubarb, but I’ve had a few rhubarb teas now, & from them I can surmise that it is tart & slightly bitter, kind of like cranberries. I drank this tea lightly sweetened, & although it isn’t something I’d ever purchase, it was a decent dessert.
This one came from Awkward Soul, & the remainder goes to….you guessed it! Sil!
I’m so caffeinated now the selection process for this one went something like…
green peach, huh?
are there even green peaches?
or is it because the tea is green?
what a pretty fruit
but peach like
…and then imagine that really pinball-staccato and jittery.
I have a peach obsession. If it says peach, I’m gonna peach. So I peached. I am absolutely not disappointed. There are some too-good-to-be-true natural peaches out there, such as Lupicia’s Momo, but then there are also slightly less natural (it sounds better than ‘more artificial’) peach versions, such as this one, that are really enjoyable. (Keep in mind, though, that I’m someone who will shamelessly hog a bag of Haribo peach candies. Hi, E100, hi, E120, Hi Artificial Flavouring! Is anyone else coming? Oooh, Sugar.)
Brewed, this one has that slight metallic hint to it that I’m so used to finding in teas from A.C. Perchs now that I almost exclusively associate it with their greens and whites. It’s also somewhat flat – not flat as in stale, but just not overly intricate, flavour wise.
I’d really like to cold-brew this one, so I think this gets to stay here in Villa Borghese with me.
Thanks for sharing, KittyLovesTea! I am now one step closer to trying all the peach teas in the world.
[Sample from the second round of the EU Travelling Box, spring 2014.]
This + freshly baked scones with a variety of marmalade, honey and lemon curd.
In all my humblest modesty; OM NOM NOM NOM!!!
(No clotted cream, though. I know of one place only where I can buy that here and I wasn’t about to retrace my steps. Research has shown me that it’s supposedly super-easy to make your own but it’s an overnight sort of job. Requires more preparation than my spontaneous cravings)
Here is another tea sent to me by Awkward Soul, for Sil & I to share.
It’s ok. Not really my thing, which is surprizing to me, as I was really feeling like I wanted something decadent, but there was something in the taste that just didn’t appeal to me. The rest of it goes to Sil, so that’s another sipdown for me (330).
You guys I made a tea latte. My first ever tea latte and I am so happy I chose this tea to do it! Overall it was a bit sickly for me, but that might have something to do with the amount of honey I added… I brewed a small-ish cup of double-strength tea for 5 minutes, and added it to two times the amount of hot semi-skimmed milk, so it was 1/3 tea in the end. I then put about 4 spoons of honey in it (it was a giant mug, so it’s not quite as bad as it sounds!) and that’s where it all went a bit wrong. Two would have DEFINITELY been enough.
Aside from the sugar overload, this was definitely a success, and I can’t wait to try other types of tea latte! It makes an amazing night time treat, as it’s caffeine-free and the chocolate reminds me of drinking hot chocolate on a night as a child, but with a more grown-up twist. The spices are a lovely aftertaste, and the red peppercorns leave a really nice tingle on your tongue. I will be making this again for sure!