263 Tasting Notes


Ok, so I admit that it would have been folly to have high hopes about this one, given that it’s a supermarket bagged tea that cost me a whopping great 99p for a box, but still. Where are the strawberries? Where’s the cream? Why am I basically getting a vague fruity aroma that doesn’t really seem to be anything in particular except, like, generic fruit?

It’s a pleasant enough taste when brewed and served iced, and I suppose worth the 99p as an emergency ration, or for circumstances away from home where you might not have the means to brew looseleaf, but feh.

I later experimented with having it warm with a few lavender buds thrown in. This made it more interesting. I’ll probably do this from now on with it, as I think it actually made the strawberry more strawberryish and less generic-berry, though I still never found those elusive suggestions of cream. Oh well.

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The thing about the 5:2 diet is that it turns out a month’s worth of the funless chore that is basically starving yourself 2 days out of the week (even if I am managing to pull together some positively delicious 250-calorie meals at dinnertime) is pretty much wholly undone of one week of going on holiday and having to actually eat breakfast, which you never normally do. Not to mention the availability of cream tea ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE in British holiday destinations. Pure torture, and I’ve gained back all the weight I managed to lose by having nothing but a bit of fruit all day and a bowl of soup at night and generally feeling all kinds of grumpy and sleepy as a result. Boo-urns. I think my newfound fatness was simply meant to be, and I ought to just bin my 2-sizes-too-small, they-fit-this-time-last-year jeans and stuff. brb sobbing

So, as today’s a fast day, I’m trying to drink teas I don’t need to add milk or anything to, and mint and green teas tend to fit that bill well. This one’s a good candidate for drinking as is, as it’s refreshing and lightly fruity, but has a little substance to back it up, thanks to the scattering of gunpowder pellets throughout. Good.

On an entirely unrelated note, I’m rather hoping to send some of my surplus teas to a good home, simply because I haven’t the space to house them all in my poor little kitchen! They’re the ones that I still think are scrummy, but just don’t seem to reach for as often as others, and would rather see them get the love they deserve elsewhere. If I were to get my butt together and post a list, does anybody reckon there might be some interest?


I’m not sure about this 5:2 system, but I’m using a smartphone app called Noom to help me lose weight and I’ve had success with it in the past. It’s all about lowering your general calorie count gently per day rather than fasting on some days and returning to normal on others. If you fast, your body just panics and tries to hold onto every calorie it can.

Sami Kelsh

I think the point of the 5:2 is that a day’s fasting at a time isn’t long enough to allow your body to go into panic-mode because it doesn’t give it time to get used to functioning on a reduced amount of calories. Since I’m teensy and therefore tend not to eat more than 1400 calories normally already, most diet plans don’t seem to be tailored to me at all.

I genuinely have no idea what works best, though, as the only time I’ve ever managed to lose any significant amount of weight in my life was the time I had dental surgery and the combination of painkillers and not being able to eat solids meant I was eating less than 600 calories a day for about 3 weeks. If I could replicate those conditions, I’d be totally set. GRUMP.


Yeah, eating so little for so long is definitely not sustainable!

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drank Snowball by Bluebird Tea Co.
263 tasting notes

I’m not sure whether it’s harder to write good reviews or bad. Sometimes, when something’s good, it just feels like endless enthusing about how great it is threatens to get a bit boring, but when you have to be critical, you don’t want to risk slipping into the territory of just being mean.

Case in point: I’m reviewing two tv shows at the moment, and one (Yonderland) is pee-myself-laughing good and terrifically clever, while the other (Partners In Crime) is frustratingly meh enough that I’ve shouted at the characters a few times for being bloody stupid. That’s never a good sign. It’s always a struggle to balance being constructive about what hasn;t worked in a show and just ripping its guts out – and as somebody who writes other things besides reviews, you don’t want to be remembered by a potenital future collaborator as somebody who thought their episode of something was a bit pants.

But seriously? Yonderland. Are you watching it? I suspect it would be basically everybody’s favourite show if it weren’t tucked away on Sky – I wouldn’t be able to watch it if I weren’t sent the episodes by the show’s publicists! SO GOOD.

As for this tea? It falls decidedly on the Yonderland end of the scale; that is to say, it’s jolly lovely. I am really, really wary of any teas that list coconut as a main flavour, but it actually mostly gives a sort of creaminess to the final product that works really nicely with the chocolate-marshmallow flavour. It’s one that sort of demands being consumed with milk and sugar to bring forward its confectionary nature, and it’s not for those who prefer their teas to taste mainly of tea, but as somebody with a relentless sweet tooth, something sugary and silly and really well done like this is exactly what I want sometimes. It’s a keeper, for sure.

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I actually decided to try this on an evening when I had quite a buggy belly – not sure if it was a bug or something disagreed with me at dinner, but I was feeling FIERCELY unwell. It was like an alien was trying to claw its way out of my tum tum. Awful.

Thus, functioning on the premise that, of course, ginger calms a tumultuous tum, I decided to brew up a cup of this for my evening drink.

It has the bonus of being caffeine-free, which I’m sure was the right decision, all things considered. I’m always a teensy bit weary of rooibos teas as I have to be in a very specific mood to fancy anything that tastes mostly like rooibos. As this is a spiced tea, though, I expected it would likely sit quietly in the background and let the gingerbread shine. And I was right, hooray! It’s got all the warmth and comfort of a lovely gingerbread, and the rooibos is present but quietly so. This is most certainly the nicest gingerbread-flavoured hot drink I’ve had the pleasure of drinking. Well done, Bluebirds!


I hope you’re feeling better! That sounds rough . . .

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FUN FACT: My mother, bless her radiant heart, makes the very best Christmas cake in the whole world.

(Yeah, I know, everybody thinks their mum makes the best Christmas cake, but by Gosh, I mean it.)

It’s warm with spice, dotted heavily with dried fruits and citrus peel, and topped not with heavy icing, but thin slices of almond. A festival of textures and flavours sitting together in perfect harmony.

Just like this tea, in that respect. I was expecting something really quite full-on with cloves and evergreen (there’s spruce needles among the leaves, how cool is that!) but it’s really quite balanced: an undercurrent of dried fruit is elevated with warm clove and softly buzzing cinnamon, enveloped in soft, cakelike notes of caramel and almond. What a jolly comforting brew for a drizzly evening. I’m so glad to have the chance to try it. Thanks, Bluebirds!

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drank Pu-Erh Blue Lemon by T2
263 tasting notes

If there’s one really, really important thing to remember about this tea that cannot be over-emphasised, it’s this:


Pre-rinse, it’s just really hardcore and not very pleasant, but post-rinse? Yum. Initial bright lemony goodness sparkles, with undercurrents of blueberry moving into that wonderful farm-fresh deep pu erh flavour. Yes, GOOD.

Also, at long last and after struggling for gazillions of years, I think I got a job! I mean, they offered and I said yes and it starts in September. And it sounds right up my alley too. Plus, I won a giveaway from Bluebird yesterday (gorgeous free tea coming my way? Yippee!) and my holiday starts at about 4 tomorrow afternoon for a week in north Wales with the in-laws! AND I’ve got some sweet illustration commissions to get done today. I think this might be enough to make up for the fact that I’m on a 5:2 fast day and I’m not wholly convinced that this diet is doing anything because I CANNOT LOSE ANY WEIGHT BECAUSE I BARELY ATE ANY FOOD IN THE FIRST PLACE AND STILL GAINED LIKE 2 STONE. :(

But this is a good tea.




Congrats on the job offer!

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drank Toasty Warm by T2
263 tasting notes

You might think that making a big thing of Toasty Warm in order to take it to work chilled the next day is a horrific lapse in judgment, but actually, I might almost like it better cold than hot? SAY WHAT

It’s really nice cold, though – the almond nougat is really forward, with a silky sweet, creamy honey texture. It’s a nice break from my usual fruity/minty cold teas. Win.

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I’m actually drinking a green tea called blue butterfly, but it’s not getting its own entry yet because I’m not sure if it just tastes like a combination of gentle fruits with bubblegum and dish soap, or if my bottle absorbed some of the flavour of the Fairy Liquid when I gave it a really thorough soak last night. UGH. :(

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Note to self: maybe I was just destined to gain 2 stone in the last year and I’m just going to have to scrape together the money to replace my badass wardrobe, because I’m on the first of my 2 fast days this week and just, ugh. I’m not even normally hungry in the mornings, and today I woke up bloody famished. This is mean.

Drinking a nice chilled bottle of this is some little solace. It’s refreshing and has enough of a natural sweetness I don’t mind not being able to add anything to it (because I can’t spare the calories and SWEETENER IS THE GROSSEST THING EVER) so yeah, this is just right and good and kind of making me have less of a headache, so that’s nice.

This had better be worth it. stares pointedly downward at wobbly tub of guts


Ugh, I’m not trying to fast, myself, but I get the sentiment. I’ve probably gained at least 10 pounds since January, and have ballooned hugely since I got married nearly 2 years ago. When I got married I was on a diet to fit into the dress, and since then I really let myself go – at least 35lbs gained back!

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I really wish I could give a comprehensive review of this, but I hoovered it too quickly to take proper note of all the nuances and tasting notes. Because it is VERY, VERY GOOD. I will be sad when it is gone. cling

I’m also considerably less employed again as of this past week, so I expect that I’ll have more time to remember to note my tea tastings.


welcome back sami! sorry to hear about the job situation but nice to see you around again :)

Sami Kelsh

Nice to be here, Sil! Employment is pants, but I have enough tea to keep me going for a good couple of years probably :p

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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.


Probably a small grey sofa in Oxford



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