157 Tasting Notes

87

Remember that time I spent pretty much the entire year I lived in Manchester meaning to get around to visiting Sugar Junction and sampling its menu of interesting teas? Yeah, it took me until the day I officially handed over the keys to my Manchester flat. Whoops.

If I was going to sample just one tea, it pretty much had to be Northern Quarter Blend. I mean, it appeals to me in both flavour and spirit: it’s redolent with aromas of rich, deep caramel, and its named in honour of the neighbourhood where I used to buy all my art supplies and wool. FEELINGS.

As for the tea itself, well. It’s chock full of darling hop flowers and little caramel cubes, which I enjoy muchly (and the latter of which I had to be stern with myself about not just picking out of the bag and eating like I used to do with the marshmallows in my Lucky Charms). A three-minute brew reveals a tea that’s got that characteristic briskness of a Sri Lankan tea, with a lingering caramel sweetness that sits around the edges of the palate. Letting it cool a bit (albeit not much of it, because I hoovered most of this pretty quickly) brings forward a very subtle flowery note from the hops, and it turns out that adding milk gives it almost toasted-marshmallowy overtones. Oh, I do approve of toasted-marshmallowy overtones, all right!

And it’s nice to know that hop flowers also have the added benefit of helping to calm anxiety, stomach complaints, and lady trouble. Yeah, finding out that I don’t actually have a new work contract lined up for next week after all has kind of put a damper on things, given the whole I-have-no-money-and-just-paid-rent-on-two-apartments thing and now don’t know when I’ll have an income again. Yippee!

yyz

Sounds like a nice tea. I’ve had to pay for two places at once, it sucked, but the first place was not sublettable and was to good of a deal to let go. As to the unknown, sometimes the best thing happen when we least expect them. I’m hoping that something amazing comes up for you soon.

Sami Kelsh

Yeah, sometimes it happens. Property is a scary and confusing thing. I look forward to the magical nightmare of when Gentleman and I are looking to get a house together! And thanks. It’s been a festival of mild successes and fairly regular disappointments of late. At least there’s tea :)

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75

Ah, this is more like it. Something I wouldn’t add milk to, that is.

That being said, I did, in my haste, add about twice as much sugar as this needed, and as such all I can really taste is sweet black tea with overtones of raspberry. That’s no bad thing, though! Just… wowzers, you are a sugary cuppa. Sorry Rose, I’m just having an off night when it comes to tea! At least I can drink this one! facepalm

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100

Well, I surely would have enjoyed this tea if I’d noticed that our milk had turned BEFORE pouring a bit of it into my mug. It’s meant to be good until tomorrow! Oh well. It still smells like a delicious tea, and I’ve got just a little left of my sample from the lovely Sil to save for a tiny cup on a rainy day. No sense crying over curdled milk.

Tomorrow I make the trek back up to Mancunia to FINALLY hand the keys over at my old place and it sure would be nice if eventually I got my deposit back, considering. Looking forward to a nostalgic meander about the city centre and probably having dinner at Wagamama and retiring to the Ramada where Gentleman and I first established our romantic intentions to one another. Ok, and finally stopping in at this tea place in the Northern Quarter that has a blend I’ve been eyeing for the better part of a year, heh. Of course. I mean, we’ve also established that the only specific places we definitely need to visit when we take a weekend in Paris are tea shops. nods

Cameron B.

I have established a similar travel plan for whenever it is I go to NYC. Boyfriend does not know this yet. Muahahaha…

mj

Cameron, this gives me ideas. Boyfriend is going to NYC with his family in July…I wonder if I can convince him to make some purchases while he’s there? Plots and schemes

Sami Kelsh

Do it. DO IT. It’s the best idea. One would be remiss not to take advantage of foreign tea shopping!

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74

And my good mood has come crashing horribly back down into the bleak pit of garbage that is pretty much my life. Yippee! I had the delightful pleasure of paying rent on the flat I’ve already moved out of (because I was able to give them notice just one blasted day shy of a month, and thus get to pay for July even though I’ve been living in Oxford since the middle of May) and who the heck knows when I’ll get my deposit back on that place. And since my one gig ended with the uni and I don’t have another definitively lined up yet, who knows whether I’ll be able to cover my bills and stuff for the end of this month either, let alone cover my massive and constantly escalating debt?

So if I seem to mention with annoying frequency that I take art commissions and knit stuff on etsy and all that, it’s only because I HAVE RUN OUT OF PLACES TO PULL MONEY OUT OF AND THE BANK IS STARTING TO PHONE MY HOUSE AND I’M REALLY SCARED AND I CAN’T FIND A WAY OUT AND IT IS REALLY SCARY

I’m so blessed to have the most supportive and wonderful partner in the world to keep me calm through all this nightmare, admittedly. If he liked teas that weren’t PG Tips and the like, I think he’d be something like a black dragon pearl.

As for Amy, she’s grown on me a little. Bumping the rating of this one up a bit as I rather enjoyed it today. Somehow the balance just worked for me, or maybe I was just in the mood for fruit and spice. She’s a pleasant brew today.

Christina

What’s the URL to your etsy page? I looked on your profile and on your site, and couldn’t see it.

Sami Kelsh

It’s http://everythingok.etsy.com and mostly it’s tea cozies and scarves. Man, I really look forward to at some point in my life not being perennially worried about being beyond broke. I used to, and it was glorious! :p

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74
drank PG Tips by PG Tips
157 tasting notes

Ok, so this tasting note actually represents the million or so cups of this I inhaled over the course of Friday and Saturday on the way to and from the Wirral to do social with a bunch of people from the Doctor Who. And I did! With copious amounts of tea.

This may have something to do with the fact that somebody bought me drinks on Friday night and couldn’t bring myself to, like, say no to free champagne. And I kept getting sidelined by people I hadn’t shared a string of terrible jokes with every time I insisted I was going to bed. I love the Doctor Who people who know how to have a good time.

(I also love the half dozen tea bags I totally stole from the breakfast bar at the hotel.)

carol who

Ohhhh! you are so lucky t be able to actually associate with DW people. Are these fans or somehow involved in the world of DW?

Sami Kelsh

Some fans, some professional fans as it were, some writers, some acting folk. Who the heck knows how my circle of friends extends in the ways it does. I think it’s the accent. It fools people into thinking I’m interesting.

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81

Oh, yes. This was an impulse feelings-purchase after learning that my favourite Starbucks in Oxford is closing. After a wistful hour or so perusing job listings from the cozy upstairs loft overlooking High Street after finishing work at the Examination Schools for the day, I meandered over to the Whittard across the road with a taste for whatever was the closest I could get to caramel. This seemed to fit the bill.

And indeed it has! It’s got a nice sweetness and a nutty flavour that reminds me a bit of their vanilla shortbread tea, but where that one has notes of vanilla and biscuits, this one has a cozy malt and caramel tone. I have a feeling this’ll blend well with a pu erh if I’m feeling creative.

yyz

Starbucks….I have several thoughts about them. I appreciate that its one place that you can find free WiFi pretty well everywhere, useful for travelling,but for a while I had a deep resentment towards them as they had a habit of outbidding leases on culturally important businesses in Toronto and then rubbing salt in the wounds by naming drinks and desserts in reference to what used to be there. They took over my favourite book store on yonge street one of those awesome beautiful ones, and they took over the Sanctuary in Toronto, which was once a centre of the Goth community.

The one near me also has a tendency to burn their coffee and seems to define the little stain in a macchiato as a touch of coffee in foam instead of the other way around.

Sticky Toffee sounds nice.

Sami Kelsh

Yeah, I’m torn between resentment and the fact that I can’t really go to the independent coffee shop around the corner because I worked there for a few weeks and I still feel a bit awkward about it because I know why the staff turnover is so high.

yyz

Awkward!

Sami Kelsh

It’s probably slightly my own fault. I sort of self-ostracised myself from my two coffee shops of choice back in Manchester when I fell out with a barista at one because a creative project he’d asked me to work on with him fell through, and then I dated and subsequently was dumped by an ESL teacher who held a lot of his lessons at the other coffee shop. And now I live in a new city, where I hope there are enough coffee shops that I won’t be able to run out of them.

yyz

Hopefully! I understand the discomfort though. I’m one of those strange people who require noise to deeply concentrate. So, if I have to study for something, I’ll often go to a coffee shop. This sometimes backfires on me because I’ll either run into people thanking me for looking after someone at work ( this still happens almost 6 yefter the fact in some cases), or who come to me to chat. I lie right on the line of INFP and ENFP on Myers Brigg, but when I slip into an introverted phase this can backfire because it can be hard to find true privacy.

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75

Hellooooooooooooooo baby. I don’t know what it is, but this is totally hitting the spot today. I totally didn’t time how long this steeped for, but yeah. It’s light and lovely.

This tea pairs especially well with hoovering an entire bag of bbq popchips and bingewatching Archer before going to work. Yeah, perfect.

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75

I’m sat in bed in my beautiful new home, watching Celebrity Masterchef and drinking a soothing cup of this before bedtime. It’s still a fairly understated brew to my palette, but warm and cozy and certainly pleasant with its notes of chocolate and almond. And the fact that it doesn’t taste overly of rooibos. I’ve still got about a million money woes, but I feel like I can finally rest a bit. My new digs have a gorgeous kitchen, an augur, a piano, and a pond. And my bedroom has this crazy little window seat balcony doodah. It’s good. I just have to remember that the ensuite bathroom door faces directly opposite the window, which faces opposite lots of other people’s houses, so I really ought to remember to close the curtains before getting into the shower in the morning, lest loads of my neighbours see me in all my glory! I shouldn’t like to be responsible for blinding half of the people in my postcode :p

Though I like to think Captain Jack would approve.

mj

So jealous of your “window seat balcony doodah” :-)

carol who

Okay, so I’m dumb… what’s an augur? A person telling the future? And how do you get one?

TheTeaFairy

New home sounds fabulous :-)

Sami Kelsh

The window seat balcony doodah is SO cool and also makes me a bit nervous that if I gained even an extra pound in weight it would collapse and I’d fall out into the garden.

And it’s a weird, beautiful old skool cooker, Carol Who, and I’m probably spelling it wrong, but that’s what it sounds like to me. I could just google it. I am a poop.

Angrboda

Do you mean Aga?

Sami Kelsh

THAT’S THE NAME OF THE THING. Apparently even though the name’s on the thing, none of us here in the house knew how to spell it. GENIUS.

Angrboda

They’re not uncommon in the UK. I’ve seen ‘Aga kitchen’ quite frequently when reading house sales ads. :) (Not going to buy anything in the UK, but I just like reading the ads for some reason. I like seeing the pictures. If I see a house near where I live that is for sale I always look it up online to see pictures. How else would I find out how that house looks on the inside?

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80

Guess what, guys?

I’M LIKE TOTALLY DONNA NOBLE NOW. By which I mean I started a temp gig with the uni today, and actually I love it a lot? I’m in my thirties, I’m a temp, I have like no money and no idea what the crap I’m going to do with my life, and I sincerely hope that my partner isn’t too good to be true and secretly in cahoots with evil aliens and stuff. Or maybe I’ve already gone adventuring with the Doctor and I don’t remember? OH NO :(

And this tea is still pleasant, but just not quite as BAM! wizard as it could be. Though as far as cinnamon and orange is a winning combo with tea, it’s a winner. Cozy, cozy flavour.

mj

Congrats on the new position :-). Better to have adventured with the Doctor and not remember than to not have adventured at all?

Sil

awesome! great news! happy you’ve found something :)

TheTeaFairy

Congrats, glad you found something you like :-)

Angrboda

So, if you lived in Chiswick, would you also be the best temp there?

Sami Kelsh

I WOULD BE THE BEST TEMP IN CHISWICK. Hands down.

Already got a second assignment after my first is done, I think they like me!

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85
drank White Blueberry by Adagio Teas
157 tasting notes

Ok, so I’m not changing my assessment of this that it’s good, but if I’m honest, it’s not that often that I’m drawn to wanting a white tea at all, and I probably could have gone with something a bit more robust today, though my stash of temporary pre-move teas is getting pretty thin, so I made do. Oh well. Still tasty, don’t get me wrong, but maybe next time I get round to using this, I’ll just do a cold steep in the fridge to have something to sip on throughout the day when it’s hot as balls, rather than as my morning cuppa.

Because I mean, WHAT A DAY IT’S BEEN. Pretty low-pressure in terms of workload, but found out at about half past four that I have an assignment from the uni that starts tomorrow morning, so sudden YIKES DO I HAVE ANY CLEAN OFFICE CLOTHES type panic. It’s only a two-day stint, with a weekend in between (albeit a weekend of driving up north and back to pack and move), but since it’s been a while since I had a proper office job, a decent way to ease myself back into the exciting world of administration. I’m stupidly excited. Filing stuff? Preparing department records for an audit? TAKING THINGS AND PUTTING THEM IN THE RIGHT ORDER? I’ve missed having an outlet for my love of arranging things in sequence.

Like, it’s taking all my restraint not to catalogue and recatalogue my beautiful spreadsheet of teas. And then take my tins, boxes, and bags of tea, and arrange them in the right order. Yeah. There’s a reason I spent over a decade working in a library. Mmmmm, order.

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Bio

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.

Location

The Mancunian Wilderness

Website

http://samikelsh.com

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