243 Tasting Notes

84

Ok, this is good. Apparently there’s a dusting of raw cacao on this tea, giving it its chocolate aroma and flavour, and to be fair, it does smell an awful lot more like chocolate than a lot of chocolate-flavoured teas. It’s a light brew, but still definitely tastes of chocolate floating over a decent oolong, with a dry mouthfeel and hints of malty ovaltine and, in later steeps, the return of tasty cardboard. I’m still not convinced it’s doing anything significant to detox me, because I think detoxes are unnecessary and dumb, and I am DEFINITELY no skinnier. But while this is by no means a substitute for actual chocolate (and I don’t think substituting healthy versions of bad things you like to eat works anyway, because it’s never more than a shallow imitation) but man, it’s a nice cup of tea. Shame it’s backed by all these price-inflating health claims, though, or I’d probably buy a lot more of it.

Anlina

Detox stuff annoys me. There’s never any claims about what is supposed to come out of your body, or how the product makes that happen, and besides, as long as your liver and kidneys work, that’s all the detox you’ll need.

I usually avoid stuff with bs health claims, but sometimes detox teas actually taste really good.

Sami Kelsh

I know, the claims are so vague that they basically don’t mean anything. I suspect that the people reporting seeing a difference in doing a tea detox are basically replacing sodas and other largely empty-calorie drinks with unsweetened tea, which OF COURSE is going to help you lose weight and not make your blood sugar spike and crash and make you feel like poo. And as you say, if your liver and kidneys AREN’T working as they should, it’ll take more than three cups of tea a day to fix it.

But this is really tasty, so I bought some matcha and raw cocoa and will attempt to replicate it with comparable tea that doesn’t cost £5 for a teensy packet and see if it’s still delicious.

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86
drank Spiced Nog by Butiki Teas
243 tasting notes

Yes, this is good.

Sipped on this last night while I rested my sleepy, aching bones, and finished the last of a pair of paintings I made as a thank you to a friend for sending me a DVD of Parks and Recreation, after some ruffians absconded with my copy when they broke into the old house a few months back. So happy to have the gang back in my life.

Why isn’t eggnog such a readily available thing in shops in the UK, I wonder? It really is a shame, as it’s one of my most beloved winter flavours. To that end, I was really grateful to see that Stacy was still doing an eggnog tea, and even more grateful when my little bag of it turned up at my door. It’s got a bit of buttery green taste and a lovely, creamy mouthfeel, with that lovely sweet eggnoggy flavour, and just as much nutmeg as there should be. It’s even pleasant when you nod off while watching River Cottage and the last half of your cuppa’s gone cold by the time you wake up. Good.

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94

Goodness, what a day. I was so exhausted by this week that I was legit anxious about going 45 minutes up the road to Slough to see some Doctor Who peeps I’ve not hung out with in ages – and so tired that I stuck around for about 2 hours before heading home, and I think we spent a good 45 minutes of that having a coffee at the bar because the crowds were making me squirrely. My social threshold is low these days.

So I wanted something really fundamentally cozy and brown when I came in, and this is one of the most brown teas I know. It’s got a soft roasty earthiness to its fragrance, with a punch and creaminess from the coconut. I also discovered tonight that the best way to serve it is to brew it for like 10 minutes and serve it without accoutrements. It’s cozy, earthy, layered, and those little top notes of fruit just lift it really nicely. And the coconut doesn’t overwhelm, which is forever my concern with coconut. This is good. This weekend is good. Good.

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88

Dear Gosh, this was the worst day ever. Trying to catch up after a week’s worth of doing a special time-sensitive project while also covering my normal jobs, plus an escalating series of new demands left me standing in the lift with a tea trolley and sobbing. It was awful.

Tonight demands a good, solid cuppa. This is cozy and good, with malt and raisins and good. Very good. I feel better.

Anlina

I’m sorry you had such a rough day. Hope things get better at work.

Butiki Teas

Oh no, so sorry to hear that. I hope tomorrow is much better for you.

Sami Kelsh

Thanks, lovelies! It’s amazing what a few restorative cuppas and a day out among beloved friends can do to lift the spirits. I feel positively renewed. :)

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90
drank Zhen Qu by Butiki Teas
243 tasting notes

Such a pleasant surprise after a horrible, horrible day at work that saw me both taking a short lunch and leaving late and not getting everything done and everybody wants me to do more things and everything’s going wrong and then I spilled a cup of coffee just as I was getting ready to leave and cried.

Then I got home and found a lovely little bundle of happiness from Butiki waiting for me on my doorstep! I couldn’t wait to get stuck in and try something lovely – I went for this fine specimen because the fragrance was magnificently enticing – mmm, chocolate – and the leaves themselves are these lovely, lofty, fluffy curls. The flavour is every bit as comforting. It kind of reminds me of a very nice darjeeling, but there’s more: I’m getting soft cocoa, caramel, dates, raisins. Wowzers. So cozy. This has made my day.

Ost

Awww I hope you feel better soon! Tea always cheers me up on the bad days, hope it will continue to help you on the crappy days! (:

Sami Kelsh

Tea is my lifeblood. It seems to be making a wee bit of a difference, so I shall keep drinking! Thanks! x

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100

Before I dive into tea examination proper, it needs to be said that my crush on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is escalating to a level that may be construed as unseemly.

As for the tea, oh blessums, this is nice. Just like Katarina (whom you may remember from the like 4 episodes of Doctor Who where she was a companion, three of which are missing) this blend is innocent and sweet, and full of kindness and love. The fragrance is redolent of falling leaves, sweet grass, and an abundance of perfectly ripe stone fruit. The peach and apricot lead the flavour, as lovely straight up as it is sweetened with sugar or honey. It tastes like sunshine on a gentle, warm springtime day, which seems somehow oddly fitting for a night when we’ve been told to expect snow. Living further north here in the UK than I was in my home and native land, I kind of understand the collective winter seasonal affective disorder that falls over a country where the sun comes up at like 9 and goes down by 4.

(And then in summer, the humidity renders my asthma and hayfever and eczema so bad that I’m just a sluggish misery guts all the time – there’s about 2 weeks of the year in Oxford where I’m actually at my best!)

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90

Ok, so this tea is WACKY.

I grant that, opening the eensy weensy little sample sachet I ordered and breathing in deeply, this tea really does smell uncannily like good shortbread: it’s got that nutty, buttery, biscuity light sweet fragrance down so perfectly that if I were blindfolded, I don’t think I’d be able to tell the difference between this and an actual piece of shortbread based on smell.

And then there’s the flavour.

It’s not the same sort of let down that you get when a tea smells really potent and tastes like a cup of lightly astringent water that may once have been homeopathically exposed to a molecule of flavour. It’s definitely got a taste, it’s just a weird divergence from its dry smell – the flavour isn’t sweet at all, and that shortbready note is overtaken by masses of roasty butter that almost tows a savoury-sweet line instead. If I had to compare it to anything, it would be a fragrant lovechild of buttery popcorn and buttery basmati rice, so there’s a hint of an inherent underlying sweetness, but also at times it almost feels like there’s a bit of salt going on as well? WACKY.

And it’s actually really, really nice. I’m on like my fifth resteep now and the buttery popcorn flavour is just now finally giving way to that this-tea-is-nearly-spent cardboard taste. So weird. My mouth is confused.

Sami Kelsh

MY MOUTH DOES NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT’S HAPPENING it’s like there’s an almost salty aftertaste and mostly it’s buttery rice with occasional moments of oolong.

Anlina

“It’s not the same sort of let down that you get when a tea smells really potent and tastes like a cup of lightly astringent water that may once have been homeopathically exposed to a molecule of flavour.” Quote of the day! lol

Fjellrev

Oh yeah, so bizarre when teas do that. Clearly, the tea’s on a mission to break your brain.

Sami Kelsh

For realsies. SO WEIRD. But, like, good weird. I’ll actually be a little disappointed when I run out of this stuff.

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80
drank Toasty Warm by T2
243 tasting notes

Oh, hello toasty. I tried this as a sample (and might have gone back for, like, thirds) at the T2 shop in Shoreditch last time I was in the neighbourhood, and it really is cozy. It’s a simply-flavoured simple oolong that hits the spot really well when you want something a that’s warm and sweet and kind of like a soft cotton throw blanket. It’s got soft notes of toasty almonds and honey, and while I wish I was getting more flavour out of the oolong base, I wonder if that might be because this is one that needs a longer steep than I gave it. I’m definitely happy to keep investigating it!

Kittenna

Sounds quite tasty.

Sami Kelsh

‘Tis! It’s not the most complicated of teas, but it lives up to the name.

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76

Ok, so I do actually get strawberry jam out of this one. Indeed, I get strawberry jam in this one well into the third or fourth steep, beyond which point it’s fully superceded by lightly sweet, floral oolong and occasional hints of tasty cardboard.

(No really, tasty cardboard. I think that’s the slightly vegetal undertones melding with a noticeably dry mouthfeel?)

I still think it costs more than it’s worth, but I get a good 7 infusions out of a scant spoonful of leaves, and could probably keep going if 7 wasn’t the limit of cups of tea I can get through in a work day!

So yeah, decent cuppa. I still don’t think it will make me any healthier than any other tea, but I like things that taste like jam, so that’ll do.

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70

I think I see what they’re doing here: they’re naming these flavours in ways that appeal to people who wish they were eating ice cream and biscuits and stuff instead of drinking tea, and definitely not serious dedicated tea drinkers. Because I really don’t get how this is ice cream.

The scent of the tea leaves does admittedly have a curious buttery, creamy fragrance – like some serious naturally sweet high-fat dairy cream action going on up in there, maybe even cheesecake. Like wowzers. But judging by the name of it, I’d have expected this to translate into a seriously creamy mouthfeel and masses of ice creamy flavour, and I just can’t find it at all.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice tea, but I’m not getting that WOW BOOM THIS IS LIKE DRINKING HOT ICE CREAM WHAT THE NUTS IS HAPPENING IN MY MOUTH factor you’d expect from something calling itself ice cream tea. It’s got a nicely creamy, green oolong taste, a bit astringent and a touch of melony vegetables toward the end, and the speed with which I’m getting through my second steep of it is a testament to the fact that I find it pleasant. I just can’t give it top marks, though, because while it’s nice, it just doesn’t deliver what it says on the tin.

And I still don’t believe it’s really significantly better for me than drinking an oolong that’s just as nice and costs a fraction.

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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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