162 Tasting Notes

78

Well.

I am definitely not feeling skinny today, as I ate two plates of pancakes yesterday for dinner and another plate of pancakes today for brunch and I’m having lady troubles. So a tea full of things that are supposed to be really good for your tummy seems like a damn good idea.

And was I excited for a tea which combines pu’erh (which I love) and oolong (which I love) and ginger (which I love)? Heck yeah! The first thing I smell is ginger. And then some more ginger. And even more ginger. I lost count brewing it, so I’m guessing it was 3 minutes, but I could be estimating wrong because my stove heats really unevenly and I was trying not to burn my pancakes. I’m still getting mostly a big hit of sharp ginger in the cup, so I added a little milk, which tends to bring forward the pu’erh in blends. And it does! Now there’s a lovely earthy note beneath the ginger. I’m noticing sweet fennel notes as the tea cools as well, but it blends well with the other flavours. It tastes like it’s good for you, but in a really delicious way. Mmm, gingery.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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100

My favourite Cyberman voice is still the voice they had in The Tenth Planet, and later in the audio Spare Parts (which, if you haven’t listened to it, GO LISTEN TO IT. Like, I don’t care if you’ve never heard of Doctor Who. Go get Spare Parts. It’s really good.) Also, I’m drinking decaf this eve because I sort of have to try and be awake at normal times next week.

Mind you, I’m all discombobulated anyway because Gentleman’s on the other side of the world and texts to say good morning when I’m getting ready for bed, and wakes me up in the morning when he texts to say goodnight. It’s whack, but MAN am I glad we didn’t meet in the 90s, when we’d be racking up massive phone bills just to say we love each other every day.

God, we’re so gross. I love him. I’m like the opposite of a Cyberman. It’s like the people of Mondas all downloaded their feelings into me. I am a blob of emotions. I guess I should actually talk about the tea.

I don’t suppose Cybermen care about things like tea. This is an awful shame because this is a wonderfully luscious cuppa. The scent is very Earl Grey-forward: I was hit immediately with an invasion of powerful bergamot, but it was followed at the very end by just a suggestion of something sweet. It is balanced and mellowed when brewed, the blueberry’s sweet presence underscoring the brisk Earl Grey. The lemon cloud contributes more gentle sweet softness than flavour. plus, that little bit of gold in there will keep the Cybermen at bay. It’s perfect with two spoonfuls of sugar, and just the sort of thing to wind down with after a long day of invading Earth.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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90

I have yet to find a Bluebird tea that I don’t love, dammit! YOU GUYS, I CAN’T AFFORD TO KEEP BUYING TEA BUT THEY KEEP BEING SO GOOD AND I WANT THEM ALL

Seriously, this is gorgeous. The scent starts with refreshing spearmint, but stick with it for a few moments and the florals float in like a diaphanous blanket of joy. The slightly sweet, fruit-floral flavours dominate in the cup, with a light finish of mint. It’s amazing how much jasmine there is in here without it tasting cloying or like perfume. It’s light and lovely, and the white tea is delicate and beautiful. This is a nice Sunday morning.

Okay, I just looked at the clock and it’s afternoon, and I’m not dressed yet. Let’s call it morfternoon. This is a nice tea for a Sunday morfternoon.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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100

It’s windy and grim outside and I’ve been bingewatching The Office all day and I’m going to go to sleep weirdly early and I have to get up and write all day tomorrow if I’m going to get this short story done ahead of the deadline.

I genuinely believe that if I get this story done, it’s the kind of pretentious and weird drivel that will find itself on at least one women in fiction 101 syllabus. And that’s a good 60 or so students who will have to buy my story. YESSSSSSSSS.

It really is impossible not to love Jo Grant. This tea is sweet, spirited, and warm, just like Jo herself. The fragrance of the leaves begins with sweet, juicy apple, soon joined by cinnamon and spice. In the cup, it really does smell like a gently spiced apple crumble. It holds a natural hint of sweetness on its own, but stands up beautifully to a spoonful or two of sugar as well. The apple and spice are perfectly balanced. The texture is crisp and juicy, with vibrant, slightly buzzy notes of cinnamon and ginger. A very loveable tea, and just the thing when you could use a warm hug of sunshine on a dreary day.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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67

Well. I remember when rooibos was an exciting new thing in Canada, and I drank the living daylights out of President’s Choice vanilla rooibos and I think I sort of burnt myself out of it, really. So every once in a while now, I’ll decide to give it another go, and remember the things I’m not really fond of about it.

I’m not even actually sure why I bought an entire box of this tea. I think I might have been sick and taking a LOT of Actifed at the time and wanted something that wouldn’t make me feel like I was swallowing corrosive household cleaning products that I could fall asleep to, but why didn’t I just get a thing of chamomile? I might have been at the Tesco Express that’s open until 11 on Sunday but has a pitifully small selection of tea, and I knew this would be tolerable.

That might be it. I don’t know.

But my point is, I was going to drink a cup of fennel tea the other night, which is definitely not my favourite thing to drink straight, and I decided to see how the flavour would improve if I chucked in a bag of this as well, and drank it with a little squizzle of honey.

And it actually somehow seemed to cancel out the things I don’t like about these teas and turn the whole thing into something a bit sweet and oddly fruity and actually pretty good. Wowzers.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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88
drank MojiTEA by Bluebird Tea Co.
162 tasting notes

I admit I was wary of this tea because I don’t actually like mojitos at all.

Turns out it must be the booze in them I’m not fond of! This tea, by contrast is delightful. The mint is refreshing and lovely alongside the perfumed citrus of the lime and lemongrass, with some little background notes of soft honey.

And it turns out that dried limes look really cool. This is a good start to the day. At 3 in the afternoon. Whoops.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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100

Sarah Jane Smith is magnificent. The spice, especially clove and a little cinnamon, are the dominant scents in the bag. After brewing and liberal quantities of sugar and hot milk, the tea is warm, restorative, and comforting. The spices are neither overpowering or underwhelming, but instead lend a tangible heat, a lovely warming quality, backed by a gentle sweetness. And because of all the other things in it, you really can’t taste the rooibos distinctly, which suits me just fine. Works equally well when bracing yourself for adventure, or winding down after a long day.

I took myself to the mall to celebrate with a latte after my job interview today, and ended up buying myself a celebration dress and a thing of gummy bears. And then when I went to come home I discovered that the shuttle bus back to the tram station stops running 45 minutes before I got there. Because why would they do something logical like run as long as the tram is running, or until the mall closes? So I had to go back into the mall and take cash out of the bank because I had literally like 13p on me and then I had to break a tenner and ended up buying fishcakes and oven chips and a tin of tomatoes, but that didn’t quite make the right amount of change, so I had to stop at H&M and buy a pair of tights, and THEN I caught a bus home, which I had to pay an extra £2.20 for, not including the other £6 I spent making change for the bus. I’m too poor for this garbage. I’m glad I chose something beautiful and decaf because I’m going to go sleep for like 14 hours now. I really needed gently spicy warmness tonight.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

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76

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.

The malt.

Ovaltine.

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?

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
keychange

Uggh. I hear you about these stupid blazers. why can’t we just wear hoodies everywhere? so much more forgiving.

Sami Kelsh

It turns out that the interviewers and the other candidates at the interview were dressed like sort of hipster ladies in their twenties, so I probably could have gotten away with the yellow sweatshirt I always wear with a bow tie, really. Or a cat sweater. I’d probably have hands-down got the job if I’d been wearing a cat sweater.

I’m going to start wearing a cat sweater to all my interviews. I don’t want to work somewhere that a cat sweater doesn’t make the right first impression.

keychange

Yeah, I get it. Work environment is everything, as far as I’m concerned.

Sami Kelsh

Agreed. I really really want a cat sweater job.

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80
drank Beet It by Bluebird Tea Co.
162 tasting notes

Another entry from the exciting Bluebird tea roulette collection, and MAN, it’s definitely a beet tea.

I felt like I needed something both calming and fortifying this morning, since I’m preparing for a job interview. The earthiness of beetroot seemed a good choice. The concept of a beet tea is new to me, and I was admittedly skeptical. The dry mix smells just like beets, and as it brews, I get the aroma of, well, cooked beets. And it brews up a vibrant shade of deep beetroot pink. This isn’t selling it well, but man, it’s actually really good! The flavour is strongly beet as well, but bolstered by subtle notes of sweet apple and a tart finish from the citrus and hibiscus. But mostly, it’s beet. And that’s actually making me feel really good about the morning. Thank you, beet!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec
Nattie

I want to try the tea roulette so much! I’m way too scared though, haha. Plus I already have 11 of their teas so I don’t want to get it again :/

Sami Kelsh

Yeah, probably not worth doing the roulette if you’ve already got a bunch of their stuff – you could get the pick n mix sampler and just pick 5 things at random yourself that you haven’t had!

I’ve already found a few I’ll likely be restocking when I run out. They’re fantastic!

Nattie

I’ve already had the pick-n-mix sampler twice! I probably will just pick some at random next time I order. Which will be soon…

Nattie

What else did you get?

Sami Kelsh

So far I’ve tried: Coffee Pu’Erh, Dark Choc Chilli Chai, Rhubarb & Custard, Enchanted Narnia, Peppermint Cream, Totally Nutty, Watermelon Splash, and this one. I did actually specifically order the Watermelon Splash alongside the roulettes, because it’s shiny and new and I had a mighty need.

I have yet to try: Skinny Minny, Mojitea, Nearly Nirvana, and Strawberry Lemonade. Who knows what I’ll settle on trying tomorrow! So far I have yet to not like any of them. That’s impressive!

Nattie

I have to say in very impressed with Bluebird so far! I have the Coffee Pu’ Erh and Dark Choc Chilli Chai too, and all the others you have are on my Bluebird ‘to try’ list! I have the MojiTEA and Strawberry Lemonade too, both of which are delicious.

Sami Kelsh

Yay! I seriously recommend all the things.

Nattie

I would too – the only Bluebird tea I’ve had that I wouldn’t recommend is Terry’s Tea, but I think that’s because I associate it with bad memories.

Sami Kelsh

Aww, that’s too bad :( ‘m so glad I don’t have any bad memory teas. I just can’t listen to Radiohead or visit the Midwest.

Nattie

Yeah :/ it’s self-inflicted, though – it just reminds me too much of a schnapps drink that made me ill once ha. Radiohead gives me the feels too.

Sami Kelsh

BLERG. I was like that with sour apple flavoured stuff for years after an incident involving equal parts dark rum and green apple soda at an art opening where the host’s wife just kept feeding us drinks. Radiohead just reminds me of a very bad ex who was a superfan. Less fun. Mercifully, I was never very invested in their music to begin with!

I’ll rampage before anyone or anything threatens to ruin tea for me. Tea is sacred.

Nattie

Eurgh! :S that’s part of the reason I stopped drinking. Yeah that doesn’t seem so fun…

Haha that sounds about right! I’m okay with steering clear of this one particular tea, though.

Sami Kelsh

Yeah, I kind of kept drinking after that, but I was also 17, and therefore stupid. Now, if I have a drink, I’m hungover before I’m tipsy. I stick to tea.

And occasionally half a bottle of toffee apple cider because it tastes like fizzy creamy toffee and sometimes I have the tastes of a child.

Nattie

Hahaha toffee apple cider is admittedly delicious. I occasionally break my ‘no alcohol’ rule depending on how tasty said alcohol seems.

Sami Kelsh

Basically. If it’s tasty and I suspect there’s not enough of it to give me a headache and somebody is paying for it, I probably won’t say no. It’s a lot easier now that I’m seeing someone who doesn’t drink, mind, because that’s at least one person at most social occasions who won’t judge me if I order a tea at a pub or something.

Nattie

I can definitely agree there. My partner doesn’t drink either, and actually stopped before I did. I have only seen him drink once – a night I ended up spending looking after him and washing his sick out of my hair – and after that I couldn’t face drinking any more either.

Sami Kelsh

Yeah, that’s unappealing. :p

One of the side effects of not drinking, I find, is that hanging out with a bunch of people who are drinking is suddenly just weird and uncomfortable. I was invited out with a bunch of former coworkers about a month ago and it was just awkward. People kept asking me what I was drinking and then getting all shouty and weird when I said it was ginger ale. Why do we have to defend not drinking?

Nattie

Definitely :P

I find that too! I hate feeling like I’m on trial when I have to explain that I don’t drink, but I’m starting to find it easier to just say no now, instead of being pressured into going out. Being a student, too, it’s something that people expect of me – even from my family. Whenever I get money, for example, they always say “don’t spend it all on vodka!” Even though they know I don’t drink. It’s difficult to find other students that don’t like to drink, but I’ve found quite a few recently which I’m glad of, and I always have Frankie too, at least.

I find ‘going out’ (like, clubbing etc.) to be weird and uncomfortable now too, it’s just not fun when you’re sober and see the reality of it fully. So it’s nice to find other people that understand! (:

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100

I have a job interview tomorrow, which should excite me more than it does, but I’m a jumble of feelings at the moment, and if I’m honest, I’m slightly disappointed in, I dunno, the economy or whatever people keep telling me is the reason nobody wants to hire me for anything better than two-days-a-week retail. So I need fortifying bravery teas.

Thus: Benton, you darling, precious puppydog. The scent of this tea is absolutely charming, all dark chocolate and sweet top notes of peppermint, with the gentlest background note of smoky richness, and a lingering soft chocolate finish that stays on the nose a few moments even after you’ve closed the bag. The flavour is very much the same: the lapsang is a background note, serving mainly to compliment the other flavours, which are both strong enough to stand up to the smoke instead of being buried under it. It tastes very much like peppermint chocolates, but it’s a dark chocolate here, not cloying – at least 70% cocoa. Sweet and comforting, while remaining decidedly brave. An absolute darling of a brew.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Nattie

Good luck on your interview!

Sami Kelsh

Thanks guys!!!

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My Time Lord name is the Brewmaster. Currently working on People Of Who, an exhibition of portraits of the people who made Doctor Who happen. Professional dilettante. Literary enthusiast, frustrated sometime writer. Knitter of things.

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