435 Tasting Notes
Surprised how much I like this one. The last bunch of Earls I’ve tried I haven’t been as into, Upton and other companies included. And I’ve pretty much made my peace with the fact two of the very first I ever tried (Upton Imports Lavender and Creme Vanilla) are just going to be go-to and I probably won’t find others that clear that bar (Teajo Teas Silky Earl Grey also made me go “uh that’s it, shut it down, we have a winner folks” regarding the great Earl Gey Tea-Off I had going on), especially from Upton, that comfort me as much. But this one’s nice and basic, no bells and whistles but it delivers that tea flavor and clean element I want when I reach without thinking for an EG. No distractions or weird “bottled orange blossom essence” funk (and I do love bergamot, just not that specific manifestation of it). I could see picking a bit of this up whenever I’m restocking Lavender and Creme from Upton, as nice “don’t think about it” basic tea padding (you know, for mornings your tastebuds are impaired, or for going out of town and just wanting to bring SOMETHING).
Sometimes I wonder about how much mood/context plays a role in tea experience and appreciation. At times I can sort of tell no tea is going to get through to me because I’m in a foul mood or for some reason nothing, food included, tastes good for a couple days, and other times I feel like I’m so receptive and cheerful anything that isn’t dishwater is going to sit right with me. Hm. Feels like I may be having one of those days of the latter; it is Friday after all, no more trips for a few months so things are back to normal (I’m like an introvert about routine and homey plainness, if that makes sense…when I go too long without a nice stretch of time with that, I get squirrely, no matter how much I love traveling and doing new things), and tonight we’re meeting up with friends for Vietnamese food and then touring one of the haunted houses in the Victorian Village. Fun!
Seems I never added to this my cupboard when I received it ’cause it was a (crazy generous—they gave me a full 1oz bag!) free sample.
I’ve been embracing the notion of starting the day with brisk tea now that it’s cooler and darker and harder to want to get out of bed (in the summer, I usually don’t make a cup of tea until after lunch). I feel like I stumbled upon the ultimate Holy Grail version—Butiki’s The Black Lotus—but it’s SO good and so special I don’t want to over-rely on it only to get burned out (quelle horreur!) or just plain not be able to afford it or ruin my ability to ever tolerate anything else, ha. And I do love these kinds of teas generally when done right. So I’m going to clear out all my EBs and similar brisk morning teas this season, I think. This randomly called out to me first today.
And I’m glad it did! It’s really good. I know I must be imagining it but it feels like there’s the lightest bit of bergamot or something in it. Something clean and slightly floral, zesty. Probably just citrus peel but whatever it is, it’s delicious to smell and drink. And this is nicely balanced, bold and woody-astringent (tastes like there’s darjeeling or ceylon in this) but with a sweetness too, and that clean floral feeling that makes the astringency more palatable. There are some toasty malty qualities right at the tiptop of it, just enough to notice at all. For me, that’s great (I like malt but I also like what I tend to put on the other end of the spectrum out of personal history not actual taste accuracy necessarily, that light drying woodiness). I didn’t add milk or sugar and really enjoyed it. Looking forward to more (and touched Utopia gave me so much there can be a lot more!).
Isn’t it funny how different perceptions between people can be? I vaguely remembered other Steepsters saying this wasn’t bad, but that it lacked flavor and had no cake element. It’s one of the reasons I put off trying it immediately when my big ol’ box of new Butiki came in. But I made a cup tonight and was totally bowled over by how accurate and powerful this smelled of really good fine crumbed white cake and delicious true-vanilla icing dry and steeping. Granted, it doesn’t taste as cake-y as it smells—but there’s no way any tea could, I think, as the aroma was just so overwhelmingly cakey and delicious, like better than smelling the real thing—but that vanilla crumb flavor is there, lightly, and seems to accumulate as I drink until by the end it really does feel like I’ve had the liquid equivalent of a piece of simple classic yummy vanilla cake. Beautiful stuff, and feels in line with how I don’t like garishly sweet supermarket bakery department cake but do like the kind of cake they often serve at weddings (the old fashioned kind, not the fondant stuff)—subtle in its way (regarding pointed sweetness mostly), but powerfully full of vanilla, heady but elegant feeling (it really is a lovely tea to look at, both the dry leaves and the liquor in the cup). I almost feel that coating on your teeth too after eating a piece of cake. The fact something this delicious and festive-occasion-tasting is herbal is just icing on the cake (har). After I finished my cup, I noticed the strong aroma of marshmallows and vanilla cake stayed in the empty cup for a long time—I kept dipping my nose back into it. Heavenly. I’m a huge sucker for sweet damp tight-crumbed white wedding cake though, so.
Yeah, I like this more than Creamy Eggnog, by far (don’t get me wrong, I like Creamy Eggnog but I think this has way more flavor). Again, I find it amusing (and wonderful) how different opinions can be!
I had a feeling I knew what to expect here—something similar to what I enjoy so much about say, Persimmon Tree Vintage Black, that classic memory-inducing brisk-black-done-well experience—and I wasn’t let down, though I was in for some surprises. This has all those classic elements of briskness and relative astringency done well, but it’s more complex than I anticipated (though maybe I should’ve known, given it’s from Butiki). There’s more flavor interplay going on here than with some of my other go-to comfort CTCs and legacy-style teas, and a lot more fruitiness (which I guess I could’ve expected if I’d, uh, read the copy :). It’s also amazingly fine, the dry particles. It’s a nice unique tea for not being quite so straightforwardly in that classic category, but still being breakfast-y strong and full of pure “old fashioned tea” flavor.
As a side note, I’m really enjoying getting my husband to the dark side slowly but surely, muahahaha. I’d already gotten him to switch from his mostly soda-based habit for after-work treat to cold steeped tea, and now that it’s finally cooler and darker here in the afternoon he’s been coming home needing a pick-me-up and we’ve inadvertently found ourselves doing classic afternoon tea all “peckish Lady Bedford-style”—a couple cookies or a leftover biscuit or split sandwich and hot tea before I start working on dinner (his school year schedule’s nuts for our standard lifestyle; he’s up before 5am and eats lunch by 11am, so dinner really ought to be eaten at like, 4pm but come on, that’s just SO culturally early! So this works well—he eats a little something just to tide him over when he gets home at 3 or 4 and then we eat dinner around 6). He’s so busy all the time that I really cherish these moments. He’s visibly restored afterwards too, from so tired and forlorn looking when he comes in the door he can barely stay awake long enough to change out of his work clothes to alert and calmed, ready to start grading and lesson planning. Plus, he likes all the flavored teas I started out with as a loose tea newb which is a great way for me to get rid of them, woo hoo.
This is not bad but I wish the lavender was more upfront in taste, the way it is in the aroma. Ah well. Keep in mind I’m a lavender FIEND (it’s always so soapy clean and comforting seeming to me, much like bergamot). Perhaps I will add some dried lavender to this next time (I have a ton) and see if I like it more.
I love licorice root, have for 15 years now, from my first bag of Stash Licorice Spice…despite how I can see how it’s very sweet and vaguely reminiscent of Sweet n’ Low which I think is vile. Weird huh. Anyway, as a lover of licorice root, I really enjoy this one. It’s sweet and calming, perfect for its claims of being a good destressor before bed.
Oooooh wheeeee this one’s not playing around! I love how genuinely spicy without being harsh it is. Back when I was looking around for cold/congestion elixir teas one of the elements I was hoping to find but didn’t (but felt I could do without given I’ve already got ginger and peppermint) was spicy stuff, either actual chile or warm spices, to open the nose up. This might work! I love spicy food (big fan of cayenne and using dried chile peppers briefly toasted, rehydrated, and pureed to make pastes for cooking bases), and this really tastes like actual chile spice, not just stuff like cloves and nutmeg that, while sort of warming, tend to be associated with sweet baked goods and so lose their punch to my mind. This manages to end up being soothing while leaving a residual glow in the chest. Good, rare stuff. I hope Butiki never compromises and makes it more mainstream tame, ‘cause it’s nearly impossible to find something like this.
Had a couple cups of this while making dinner tonight, might have to re-log with more detail when I can pay closer attention as I sip. I like how sweet treat-y this one is; it lives up to its name with the flavor and feel of soaked fruit and wet cake. The plum flavor is lovely, and the citrus peel aspect is nice and light, not too heavy as it often is is flavored blends. The spice is balanced to be light and pleasant, not smack-you-over-the-head too. I like how I can count on Butiki flavored teas to never be one-note hit-by-a-2-by-4 cloying or just…too MUCH of any one thing, you know?
5/5, the best “evokes the traditional versions but betterx10000” breakfast blend ever and one of the best teas I’ve had, period
Ohhhh this is so goooood. It’s so beautiful for a breakfast blend—long, gorgeous leaves of different shades of silvery green, brown, and black—such a far cry from the CTC boxed stuff one associates with them growing up as to be comical. Smells great dry too. And then steeped it looks, smells, and tastes purrrrrfect, bold with deep rich bready and earthy and even slight chocolate-y flavor, unbelievably smooth and satisfying. It’s so easy to drink, but so deep down rich and satisfying and complex too (the earthy mushroom note in particular sets this apart—might sound weird but it’s delicious). There’s a sweetness and smoothness that rounds out the bold malty assam, and the darjeeling qualities I love float lightly but ever present like a specter, just right. A tea I would use to convince a coffee drinker that tea is just as good, no better, first thing in the morning (and all throughout rest of the day!). The flavor strongly lasts for an impressively long time in the mouth too; I’ve been sitting here just basking in the yummy earthy glow lingering on my palate for like half an hour now.
This is the best “straight” tasting (nothing but tea leaves) breakfast blend I’ve ever had, no question. So delicious. Will definitely have to order more, a lot more.
Very springy and floral, one of the perfume-iest teas I’ve had but somehow still enjoyable—I guess because it avoids that stale musty smell rose scents often have. Like really good, lots-of-flowers-used soap or lotion. Not my kind of thing too regularly, but once in a while straight or blended in with other teas it’s what I want. I think I’ve discovered I really seem to like calendula…
EDIT: Also, now reading other notes I totes agree with Bonnie (I was thinking the same thing just now) that this is the ideal “tea party with all the stops pulled out” type tea. A tea you feel like drinking while wearing a pinafored dress and keeping your pinkies where they’re “supposed” to be, ha. Yep.