3108 Tasting Notes

72

52teas’ 12 Teas of Christmas Day 1! (Drank Dec. 2)

[Backlogged because I didn’t want to spoil this for anyone, and am hoping I don’t!]

Doing this review pretty much blind, because I don’t want to scratch the sticker for fear of completely crushing the tea in the packet. So from the outside, all I can tell is that it’s a green. Sencha, specifically. With marigold petals. Upon opening the bag, there’s a delicious wave of scents – creamy, tangy, spicy… I’ve never had the tea, but I’m reasonably certain that this is the green-based Pumpkin Cheesecake, based on my rather dim recollection of the black-based version. Though this one smells far more cream cheesy than the other ever did, complete with the tanginess.

Flavourwise, I can taste… pumpkin? And spices, though they are fairly light. Not really tasting that cheesecake flavour that I could smell. I’m still pretty sure about my guess (although it’s possible I’m wrong)

And, it turns out I am wrong. Apparently it’s Pumpkin Toffee Dragonwell. Which is pretty surprising to me, because this tea decidedly does not look like a dragonwell, nor did I get any of the characteristic dragonwell flavours (savory/umami), which I definitely got in both of Butiki’s dragonwell blend attempts. I guess it does explain the lack of cheesecake flavouring, though why I distinctly smelled the tanginess in the aroma, I’m not sure. I also didn’t get nearly as much toffee as I would have hoped for.

Unfortunate that I was wrong, because had this been Punmpkin Cheesecake on green, I probably would have rated it a 78. As Pumpkin Toffee Dragonwell, it only garners a 72, losing marks for the base tea (and lack of toffee). I still enjoy it though, and definitely wanted to try this blend, so I’m happy it was included!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Fjellrev

You were definitely very close! This is a cool way of testing out your senses.

Kittenna

It’s entertaining. Of course, getting the emails, I am aware of what blends things may possibly be… and I can see the tea type, etc. as well. But as I’ve found… (spoilers!) I’ve been correct once out of 8 teas, despite being certain of a few of them. Haha.

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83
drank Laoshan Genmaicha by Verdant Tea
3108 tasting notes

Gotta stop putting this in travel mugs. Killed the flavour again. Or perhaps the tea’s just getting old (but I think it’s the mug). Taking the time to sip carefully now, I am getting a bit more flavour (nice beaniness from the green), but I know this tea can be better.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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70
drank French Blend by English Tea Store
3108 tasting notes

Got more of this from Sil, and threw it into a travel mug for the evening (a baby dedication!) Not my favourite, but the floral/lavender on a soft black base worked just fine for me tonight. In moderation, I actually don’t mind lavender so much, it seems, and in this blend (possibly due to age/storage-related loss of flavour), the lavender is not overpowering at all. Yum. Bumping the rating up.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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76
drank Rhubarb & Strawberry by Lupicia
3108 tasting notes

Heh – a testament to how floral this tea is: I brewed up both this and ‘French Blend’, which contains lavender, rose petals, etc., and put them both in travel mugs… and then became confused as to which tea was which. Still enjoyed both, and this one was more fruity and flavourful, but I found it amusing. Aiming for a sipdown on it soon via travel mugs. Yum.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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75
drank White Ayurvedic Chai by Teavana
3108 tasting notes

A bit too sweet tonight, I think. Perhaps from the cinnamon? Still not a bad chai mix to drink sans additions, but not what I was craving tonight, apparently.

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

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70
drank Creme Brulee by Simpson & Vail
3108 tasting notes

Sipdown! 974.

Gee, this one sure stuck around a while for me. 2 years old, by my spreadsheet. I wasn’t overly fond of it though, and am pretty happy to see it gone. I let my roommate and her boyfriend make a pot of it the other night (A whole pot!! It used up so much tea! Joy!) and they seemed to like it; when I brought it out tonight, I decided to have a farewell travel mug’s worth, and let her have the rest (probably enough for another pot). It’s along the lines of Bayswater’s Creme Brûlée, but had a funky something going on for me that put me off it (and tasted nothing like creme brûlée, perhaps a touch like burnt (not caramelized) sugar).

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 15 sec
Fjellrev

I swear most of their teas have a funky something going on!

Kittenna

It was a common thread with the ones we ordered two years back. Not all of them, but the baked-goodsy ones, particularly.

Fjellrev

Yes! I found the exact same. I thought it was just me.

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68
drank White Chocolate by Butiki Teas
3108 tasting notes

Tea split with the most recent Butiki order. I gave it only 3 minutes, to try and keep the base tea from overtaking the white chocolate flavouring (if that’s a possibility, I’m not sure).

I’m not overly fond of the aroma from the bag – it smells artificial, though I suppose white chocolate is artificial to begin with… Aroma from the steeped cup is similar. The flavour, however, is more enjoyable – I’m definitely not getting the full effect of the base tea (as I fail to with all the PTA blends), and it’s softened quite a bit by a noticeable but rather mild creaminess. It doesn’t particularly taste like white chocolate to me, although something creamy and more chocolatey actually is starting to emerge in the after-aftertaste, and it’s rather pleasant. I’m not sure I want to be drinking a tea for the flavour that doesn’t show up in your mouth until 5-10 seconds post-sip! (But it’s kind of interesting, regardless).

Won’t be a blend I’m going to miss once it’s gone (if it’s not already), and I’m happy enough to have split the bag and be sampling some out so I don’t have as much to drink.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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45
drank Kenya Obsidian by Butiki Teas
3108 tasting notes

Free tea with the last joint Butiki order! This counts as an immediate sipdown (yay!) because there’s probably only enough for a cup’s worth for each person in on the order.

Anyhow, this is a tea I hadn’t tried, which is exciting! Wasn’t sure what to expect (except maybe, a super dark liquor), and was bad and defied the recommendations, opting to go with my standard 1.5tsp/2min route instead of 1tsp/2.5min. The result is lighter than I had expected, being only the regular colour of black tea (dark reddish brown). The aroma is quite nice, all fragrant and sweet – sweet hay, perhaps? Flavourwise, it’s perhaps a bit overly strong (ok Stacy, you win this time! :P) and certainly has a powerful presence, verging on astringency but not into the realm of unpleasantness. Specifically, it tastes like the sort of black tea I’m not overly fond of… like bagged Lipton/Tetley. Obviously higher quality and lacking bitterness, but the same flavour profile. To be honest, it comes off a bit like mold to me, but when I say that, I’m referring to the flavour profile as a whole, not just this specific tea. Just not a profile I’m fond of, and would typically add milk/sugar, which would erase any weirdness.

Overall, I maybe brewed this a bit too strong, but I doubt proper brewing would change my opinion on it. Just not a black for me!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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78
drank Nutmeg Cream by Butiki Teas
3108 tasting notes

Nutmeg-Dusted Custard blows this out of the water. But since I have more of this and less of that, I chose this instead. It’s just not so creamy. I was debating mixing a bit of it with Creamy Eggnog to see what resulted… that might still happen in the future.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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100

I’ve really gotta write on my multi-bags of certain teas which one was, in fact, already opened. I’m hoping I opened the right one this time… heh. Anyways, drank this last night as well, and it was exactly what I wanted. Malty, raisiny deliciousness. I brewed it fairly strong, and actually got a bit of grape flavour too. Just so good. What will I do without it? :( (But that’s a tomorrow-Kittenna problem… I’m stocked up enough for a good while.)

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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Bio

I have always been a tea fan (primarily herbals and Japanese greens/oolongs) but in the last year or so, tea has become increasingly more appealing as not only a delicious, calming drink, but as a relatively cheap, healthy reward or treat to give myself when I deserve something. I should clarify that, however; the reward is expanding my tea cupboard, not drinking tea – I place no restrictions on myself in terms of drinking anything from my cupboard as that would defeat my many goals!

My DavidsTea addiction was born in late 2011, despite having spent nearly a year intentionally avoiding their local mall location (but apparently it was just avoiding the inevitable!). I seem to have some desire to try every tea they’ve ever had, so much of my stash is from there, although I’ve recently branched out and ordered from numerous other companies.

I like to try and drink all my teas unaltered, as one of the main reasons I’m drinking tea other than for the flavour is to be healthy and increase my water intake without adding too many calories! I’ve found that the trick in this regard is to be very careful about steeping time, as most teas are quite pleasant to drink straight as long as they haven’t been oversteeped. However, I tend to be forgetful (particularly at work) when I don’t set a timer, resulting in a few horrors (The Earl’s Garden is not so pleasant after, say, 7+ minutes of steeping).

I’m currently trying to figure out which types of teas are my favourites. Herbals are no longer at the top; oolongs have thoroughly taken over that spot, with greens a reasonably close second. My preference is for straight versions of both, but I do love a good flavoured oolong (flavoured greens are really hit or miss for me). Herbals I do love iced/cold-brewed, but I drink few routinely (Mulberry Magic from DavidsTea being a notable exception). I’m learning to like straight black teas thanks to the chocolatey, malty, delicious Laoshan Black from Verdant Tea, and malty, caramelly flavoured blacks work for me, but I’m pretty picky about anything with astringency. Lately I’ve found red rooibos to be rather medicinal, which I dislike, but green rooibos and honeybush blends are tolerable. I haven’t explored pu’erh, mate, or guayasa a great deal (although I have a few options in my cupboard).

I’ve decided to institute a rating system so my ratings will be more consistent. Following the smiley/frowny faces Steepster gives us:

100: This tea is amazing and I will go out of my way to keep it in stock.

85-99: My core collection (or a tea that would be, if I was allowing myself to restock everything!) Teas I get cravings for, and drink often.

75-84: Good but not amazing; I might keep these in stock sparingly depending on current preferences.

67-74: Not bad, I’ll happily finish what I have but probably won’t ever buy it again as there’s likely something rated more highly that I prefer.

51-66: Drinkable and maybe has some aspect that I like, but not really worth picking up again.

34-50: Not for me, but I can see why others might like it. I’ll make it through the cup and maybe experiment with the rest to get rid of it.

0-33: It’s a struggle to get through the cup, if I do at all. I will not willingly consume this one again, and will attempt to get rid of the rest of the tea if I have any left.

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