183 Tasting Notes
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.
I had to leave the house because job application forms were making me want to claw my eyes out and tear my arms off and cry. Whyyy do I have to list my work experience in order of most recent? Nobody considering me for an admin job is going to want to know that I’m an extra and an illustrator and that I took a 3-month contract in retail, and with that crap accounting for the past 10 months so as not to leave an unexplained gap in my CV, they’ll probably have binned it before getting to the bit where I did admin-type work for 13 flipping years. curls up and weeps I’ve rendered myself unemployable and I wish I knew who to let tipsily snog me to get anywhere in television production.
But I digress. This was the black tea served at Morrisons Cafe, where I went so I could not be in the house for like an hour. Tea’s cheap and they politely don’t notice the number of extra organic sugar packets I pocketed, so that’s nice. It’s a good, strong everyday tea, and I don’t think there’s really that much I can say, given the haphazard brew it got and the fact that I chugged most of it much faster than I normally would, as they were out of kids for the takeaway cups and I didn’t much fancy taking a full cup of tea onto the tram with pale yellow canvas shoes on. That’s courting danger, that is.
Bluebird delivers another hit!
I was simultaneously excited and nervous about this one because a) I looooooooove anything to do with rhubarb; and b) I’m not a huge fan of rooibos-heavy teas. But this one strikes the balance perfectly. The aroma straight out of the bag is pure, gorgeous rhubarb, the rooibos coming out to play a little as it brews. There’s a lovely rhubarb tartness in the cup, and the creamy custard element is brought forward with a little milk and sugar. The flavour starts with sweet rhubarb, surrounded by just enough of the rooibos shining through, and a mildly tart finish. Maybe I’m just having a lot of emotions because Gentleman is on an aeroplane to Australia as we speak, but this tea is so beautiful that I could weep.
Fun fact: Since I moved into my flat in May, I’ve been carrying my housekeys precariously in my pockets, in constant fear of losing them. I guess mainly because it’s not a priority to buy a key fob until I’m actually desperately fishing around in the bottom of my overstuffed pockets at my doorstep. And then, last weekend, Gentleman bought me one! And it’s K-9. I’m the happiest nerd in the world.
You’re a good tea, K-9. Yes you are! The scent in the bag is that of soft citrus and a subtle, almost honeyed sweetness that’s nearly reminiscent of a soft buttery sponge cake sandwiched with marmalade. The orange is bright upfront, while the mango follows, adding a really lovely depth, softened by vanilla. Smooth and comforting, with a lovely creamy mouthfeel. K-9 would probably note my silliness, but it’s genuinely an altogether delightful brew, worthy of the best robot dog that ever there was.
In spite of all the crazy badness that ought to be getting me down today, I’m in good spirits. This tea is magical. Even the leaves are so pretty! Soft greens and petals and perfect little pink rosebuds! Magnificent!
I’m sometimes wary of floral teas, lest they be too intense and perfumey, but this strikes a lovely balance. I mean, the dry tea genuinely smells like Turkish delight, sweet and rosey. Brewing, a bit of a lemony fragrance emerges alongside, which lends a little tartness to the finished tea. I added a bit of organic sugar to soften the tartness, which lent a creamy fluffiness to the lemon undertones. The predominant flavours, however, are soft, sweet rose, flanked by just a little creamy chocolate, which leaves a lightly lingering finish.
If you’re a little bit crazy, like me, you can even draw out that softness with just a drop of nonfat milk.
Because wow. It’s just making me so happy. I think this might be one of my favourite herbal blends ever.
Tuesday night is comedy club night, and this night, I baked an unintentionally rhyming sticky toffee cardamom coffee cake. Which was GORGEOUS. And as also befits comedy night, I find myself feeling oddly depressed. Every Tuesday. It’s my worst day of the week. So I’m drinking this because it comforts me like none other.
Jamie McCrimmon tastes like a cuddle. The leaves yield a gentle fragrance of almond and oatmeal, and look lovely as well: a harmonious collection of warm brown. The flavour is soft, quietly sweet without overpowering, with hints of highland oatmeal, a smooth almond finish, and a round, creamy mouthfeel. A loyal, dependable brew, as comforting as a warm cling. It makes me feel safe and warm.
Oh hello, I’m the first person to review this tea! NEAT!
Watermelon isn’t something I tend to think of as a flavour option outside of watermelon itself, and the watermelon Bubblicious bubblegum that for some reason I have really fond memories of from, like, the 90s. That was GOOD gum. I don’t even like gum, really, but that was GOOD gum.
This tea changes everything. I’ve found a new watermelon thing. The scent punches you in the face with a tidal wave of melony goodness, and when it’s brewed, it tastes like hot watermelon, which I super didn’t think would work anywhere near as well as it does. I suspect it’ll be really really good cold too, but there’s no way this cup is going to last long enough for me to find out today. The taste is pretty much pure watermelon, in spite of the other fruits going on in the mix, apart from a slightly tart finish that I think is coming from the lemon and hibiscus in there. Plus, it’s a really pretty watermelon pink colour. A perfect blend of refreshing and fun. YES. There’s nothing about this tea I don’t love.
Zoe’s bright, all right. The fragrance of mint and fruit are brisk and refreshing in the bag, and sparkle with all the appeal of an especially fetching futuristic glittery silver jumpsuit. You know the one I’m talking about. Yep. Brisk, bright, and balanced are definitely the operative words here. The flavour begins with tart hibiscus and orange, followed closely by a wave of mint, and a soft, slightly lingering ripe fruit finish. Works well at any temperature from piping hot to ice cold, and any variation in between. There is no more refreshing combination of flavours in the known universe than hibiscus, citrus, and mint – it’s only logical that it would be the perfect blend for someone as brilliant and awesome as Zoe.
This blend reminds me of the tea my grandmother used to make in generous quantities in her sunny kitchen. I’d chug it by the gallon whenever I could. My grandmother is a seriously incredible woman.
In other news, I have a job interview this week! It ain’t even approaching full-time or anything, but anything to keep me slightly more afloat (read: slightly less in ever-increasing debt) until a real job comes along is something, yes?
A quiet weekend of not really trying any new teas, as Gentleman was visiting from Oxford, so my priorities were slightly less remembering all the tasting notes of new teas and more going shopping for new memory foam pillows and going to the best chippy in the city centre.
Now I’m having sniffly feelings because he’s going to Japan for a month. I wonder if I can convince him to bring back tea for me? HELLO, THERE’S AN IDEA!
But I digress. Back to the usual hamster wheel of useless cover letters for admin jobs I don’t actually want anyway, so I’m waking up to a nice cuppa. This was another one from my box of Bluebird tea roulette, and OH, IT IS GLORIOUS. I’m greeted by a beautiful rainbow of brown leaves and spice, and a soft fragrance of almond and cinnamon.
And it is so good. The dominant flavour is cozy, marzipanny almond, flanked by the tiniest whisper of cinnamon. Stick with it a moment longer, and the slightly roasty notes from the teas cut through the sweetness of the almond. This is one that plays well with milk, but is just as good naked. It’s making me feel a little better about the world.
Gentleman is delayed on his drive up from Oxford for the weekend, so I’m killing time by making soup (slow-roasted tomato and chickpea; it’s SO GOOD, hot damn) and watching Portlandia. And I’m dressed and standing up all day, which is a major improvement on most of my days at home, which tend to be spent in bed and wearing an oversized sweatshirt in lieu of, like, actually looking like a human being.
Oh yeah, and this is today’s random selection from my exciting box of tea roulette. I decided to make it as a latte, because that’s how I like my chai, strong and chock full of soymilk. Not getting a lot of distinct chocolateyness from it prepared this way, which is the only reason I’ve rated it at less than 100. Because DAMN. This is good chai. I think the chocolate’s just giving it a bit of a creamy richness under the spice, where I’m getting a nice presence of cardamom and ginger. A definite heat from the chilli follows, leaving a lingering warmth. I like my chais spicy, so this is perfect for me. It’s like being hugged from the inside out.