334 Tasting Notes

67

Matcha smoothie before work! I added 1 teaspoon of this to 200ml of coconut milk and 1 banana. The result is super sweet but pretty tasty! The raspberry is pretty subtle, but more prominent than the coconut. It’s like a raspberry banana cream pie has been liquefied. The super sweetness is starting to hurt my teeth, but I gotta blame the banana for that – it’s overripe, starting to get a little black in places, and I prefer my bananas still a bit green. Good energy boost to start the day, though!

Preparation
1 tsp 10 OZ / 300 ML
Red Fennekin

Oooh, that actually sounds like a great smoothie idea :o What did you use to blend it all?

Nattie

Hey you! I use this one: http://direct.asda.com/george-home-twist-go-personal-blender/001585547,default,pd.html and it’s great for smoothies. Better than some of the more expensive ones out there too!

Red Fennekin

Marvellous – may have to give it a look… :D

Nattie

I highly recommend it!

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75

Alright so usually I’d thank whoever sent the tea my way before I got into my tasting note, but this one was actually sent to me by MissB, Janelle and VariaTEA on three separate occassions, so thank you everyone!

Wow, this is a strong-smelling tea! The particular sample I’m drinking from tonight was from MissB, and even though it was from pretty much the first tea package I ever received almost three years ago it was packaged really well and is still packing a punch – I almost choked when I sniffed the dry leaf! I did stick my nose right in the pouch, though… I never expected to enjoy this tea, because as a concept I find root beer to be really weird. Floats, I can get behind – sticking ice cream on the top of some fizzy pop? count me in! – but root beer itself always seemed weirdly medicinal to me, and therefore not really a flavour I wanted to be drinking in my pop. On my first sip of the tea my mind was not changed. It does taste a lot like root beer, which I was simultaneously impressed and disappointed with, but when it’s hot and flat it doesn’t seem quite as strange to me for some reason. I added half a sugar out of curiosity and it didn’t really do much, except maybe add to the tooth-rotting pop impression. The vanilla note is there too, but doesn’t really convey ice cream to me since that’s pretty impossible to do in a hot liquid form. My brother, who likes root beer, was very impressed with this one and would have drank the whole mug if I hadn’t infected it with my cold germs before he could.

I must be enjoying this one more than I thought, because as I’m writing up this note I’ve guzzled down most of my mug and seem to be contemplating making another right away. Maybe I’ll take some to work with me tomorrow Sunday lunch service is hectic and I start 4-6 hours earlier than I usually do; I’m going to need matcha smoothie levels of energy.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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81

Resteeped my leaves, since it seemed a shame not to when it used so much to begin with. The melon flavour is definitely more subdued this time, but I think the coffee note is even more pronounced. In the first cup the base tea seemed to support the flavours, which were the star of the show, but this time it’s the other way around. The cantaloupe note does come through first, but the main body of the tea is classically darjeeling notes. It’s a fairly floral tea, which pairs well with the supporting melon note, and also has some earthiness which is well matched with the espresso. Everything is much more evenly balanced in this cup than the last. As it starts to cool the tea becomes slightly bitter, so it’s definitely best drank hot. For the second time this week I’m regretting throwing out my leaf after the second steep without tasting the tea; this could easily have gone for a third.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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61

Good morning, Steepster! I’m starting my day with a cup of this from a swap I did with KittyLovesTea.

…So I wrote that a couple of hours ago, and then apparently got so distracted watching Doctor Who that I never finished the note. Oops. Other notes for this tea will probably follow pretty soon, since I’ve moved it to my focus box because it’s pretty old, so for now I’ll just write as much as my memory allows. The flavour of this was quite mild, but not to the point of the Decaf Raspberry Chocolate Waffle. I remember worrying the whole time I was drinking it that my sense of taste was failing me again. I’ve since eaten and had more tea so I don’t think that was the case, but I do think it’s probably due to the tea’s age. It wasn’t bad mild, just milder than I’d hope for my first cup of tea of the day. Cinnamon and spices dominate, but – particularly after adding sugar – there is also a vanilla cream cheese frosting aspect which is definitely discernible. I swear I could taste the carrot, too, in the aftertaste, and the malty, slightly bready base tea really helps to convey the overall ‘carrot cake’ flavour. I’d really like to try a cold brew of this one, but I don’t think I have enough leaf left to try it out.

Thanks for sharing, Kayleigh!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Evol Ving Ness

A focus box! Brilliant. On it.

Nattie

Haha it’s very helpful sometimes!

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61

Last Janelle sample of the night – thanks as always!

I don’t know if this is actually pretty flavourless, or whether my sense of taste is disappearing again. Today I noticed that I’m starting to come down with a headcold, and my sinuses are playing up a lot again, so there’s a good chance that it’s me and not the tea. I hope not, I’m lost without tea all hours of the day. A few other tasting notes have mentioned the flavour being weak too though, and that and the fact that I can taste the flavours, only weak, makes me think that it is the tea. Other than Harney’s Vanilla Comoro I’m yet to find a decent decaf that tastes as good as regular caffeinated tea, so I’m not too surprised. Still, the scent of the tea steeping was lovely raspberry and waffles, so I’m a little disappointed that the flavour doesn’t live up to the scent. I could barely taste anything plain, so added sugar – a little too much in my haste – and even though it’s super sweet now it’s much better because I can taste more of the flavours that are supposed to be there. The raspberry comes through first, a little tart, and is followed by the waffle which I will admit I didn’t expect to be able to taste. It finishes with a lingering raspberry note, but this time it comes across as more of a sweet raspberry. Maybe because of the waffle? I don’t get chocolate at any point, which surprised me because Butiki’s chocolate flavouring in similar blends has came across very well, especially since I’m not usually a fan of chocolate in teas. Still, I’d rather no chocolate than bad chocolate. As the tea starts to cool the flavours are coming across a little more, but it’s still a very delicate cup. I think in my final cup I will use less water and steep for a longer time in hopes of eking out more flavour.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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85

Thank you for parting with enough of your stash that I may try this, ohfancythat!

I’m a big fan. I didn’t necessarily expect to be, since I’m not big on marmalade or green tea, but this is really, really nice! Plus it only has a rating of 77 on Steepster, which is pretty low for a Butiki. I tried this plain and was shocked by the authenticity of the marmalade note immediately. The pistachio is more subtle, but the nuttiness is lovely with the orange, and it goes well with the base too, which is only a tiny bit vegetal and actually really smooth. I didn’t get a ‘toffee’ flavour or feel from it, but I added some sugar and it amps up the jamminess of the marmalade to the point where it feels like a sticky dessert. The pistachio is also more present with sugar. I drank most of it straight away then let the last few mouthfuls cool while I wrote this note, but now it’s cold the orange is zingier and the pistachio note is coming through more. Nommy!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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81

Sipdown! (69/377)

Yet another sample from Janelle, and possibly not even my last one of the night. Yep, this is weird. It’s weird because it’s not as weird as I expected it to be. Even though so many people said it works, I just couldn’t marry the idea of cantaloupe with coffee in my head, and I was convinced until I tried it that it was going to be a car crash of a tea. I don’t mind admitting I was wrong.

The cantaloupe scent was strong as the tea was steeping up until around the second minute, when something darker took over. The same goes in the flavour, for the most part – in the initial sip the cantaloupe is the first note you pick up on, with something a little intriguing in the background. The aftertaste is mostly darjeeling, a little astringent, floral and a touch earthy with the espresso note mingling with it fairly naturally. I can only pick up on it clearly at the very end of the sip, and I’d say it mostly gives depth to the melon flavour. Adding sugar makes the melon note even more clear, and a little more distinct from the other flavours. A drop of cream, because it seemed like the creaminess would round it out well, cuts back on the astringency from the base and makes the melon meld more naturally with the darker flavours. This is a well-named tea! I’m not a cantaloupe fan and yet I find myself really enjoying this tea. I’m relieved, too, since the last couple of Butiki samples I’ve had have fell short of the unfairly high expectations I have from any tea bearing the name. This is more like the Butiki I know, love and miss! Weird, but good. I’m keeping my leaf to attempt a resteep.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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65
drank Chocolate Flake Tea by Teapigs
334 tasting notes

Upping the rating from 34 because since getting a whole box of this for Christmas last year (I guess the year before now) it has grown on me slightly. Very slightly. I’d still rather drink a plain cup of tea than this and it still reminds me more of cocoa butter than chocolate but it’s sweet and not terrible. I do like the Teapigs black base, but I’m not keen on the oily film this leaves on top of the tea. LiberTEAS has posted a really positive note on this, so I’m doubting myself a little… maybe I’ll try her parameters next time. I think I should try it with sugar, too.

Preparation
Boiling 8 OZ / 236 ML

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56
drank Ruby Pie by Butiki Teas
334 tasting notes

Thank you Janelle for sending this my way! I’m getting through my Butiki samples pretty well, I think.

I’m glad I have another cup’s worth to play with, because this was totally not what I was expecting at all. Definitely going to change up the steeping parameters next time. My first sip was plain and I was taken aback by the flavour, not necessarily in a good way. What I got was mostly astringency and a pretty potent sour note, followed by some weird metallic fruitiness, possibly due to the hibiscus, and then something stale (my own fault, probably, since this is around a year and a half old now and it has real biscuits in it – a whole one in my sample). The wet leaf smelled amazingly sweet and of strawberries so I had high hopes, but it didn’t really translate well into the flavour, which was mostly rhubarb in the fruity aspect. I immediately added a whole sugar, which brought out more of the strawberry note but didn’t help the astringency, then added milk which finally did. This way it’s a lot more like what I expected – jammy and tart in a rhubarb intentional way rather than a weird off-putting sour way, with the strawberry note being most prominent in the sip. The aftertaste brings out a crumbly pastry sort of vibe, followed by a much more enjoyable rhubarb note. I took the bunny graham out of my scoop so that I could have it in my second and last cup instead, so I’m hoping the pastry will be more prominent next time around. I think I’ll steep it for longer too, to see if that helps bring out more of the intended flavours, and just resign myself to the knowledge that I’ll have to add milk. Overall I do like the idea, and it’s the first tea I’ve tried that accurately gets across the ‘pie’ idea, but I think it’s probably past its best and I don’t think I’m a big fan of the base it uses. Sorry, Stacy and Sil!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Fjellrev

Yeah, I liked the idea of this one, its flavour combinations, but somehow it didn’t wow me, even when it was fresh.

Nattie

Oh really? Maybe it’s not entirely my fault, then.

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62
drank Jasmine Pearls by Curious Tea
334 tasting notes

Aw rats, apparently I never added this to my cupboard so that’s almost another 2oz of tea to get through! I bet I never added the Golden Monkey King either…

I chose this tea because I wanted to do a cold brew and none of the teas in my current rotation spoke to me for it. I used a 600ml filter water bottle which I’m now repurposing for cold brews only, 3tsp of leaf, and left it in the fridge for around 36 hours. This is potent. The jasmine flavour is very strong, but not chemically tasting, or at least not to me – I told my mam to try it (I took it with us while we went grocery shopping) and after taking a sip she squealed and said “that was a nasty trick to play!” so I don’t think she liked it very much! She seemed genuinely surprised when I told her I wasn’t playing a trick and really did just want her to try a tea that I liked. I guess if you’re not used to it the jasmine could come off as overpowering, but I think a lot of that is to do with my long brew time. The green and white tea base is mostly smooth but starting to get a little bit astringent, so I think that if I cold-brewed this again I would try it for 24 hours and maybe use slightly less leaf. The pearls are really tightly balled up so that even though I only used 3 tsps, by the end of the steep the leaf took up almost half of the water bottle. It was really beautiful to watch, though.

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more 3 tsp 20 OZ / 600 ML

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Bio

I first got into loose leaf teas when a friend of mine showed me Cara’s Sherlock fandom blends on Adagio a good few years back, but they weren’t on sale in the UK so I started trying other kinds instead and have been hooked for almost three years.

Black teas make up the majority of my collection, but I am expanding my horizons and trying to include a variety of other teas, too. Flavoured blacks are my favourites, but I’m growing increasingly fond of unflavoured teas too. I will update my likes and dislikes as I discover more about my palate, but for now:

Tea-likes: I’m generally easily pleased and will enjoy most flavours, but my absolute favourites are maple, caramel, chestnut, pecan, raspberry, coconut, blueberry, lemon, pumpkin, rose, hazelnut and peach

Tea-dislikes: vanilla (on its own), ginger, coriander, cardamom, liquorice, pineapple and chocolate

I am a 22 year old English Literature sort-of-graduate and temporary bartender. Other than drinking, hoarding and reviewing tea, my hobbies include reading, doing quizzes and puzzles, TV watching (self-diagnosed geek and Netflix addict), football/soccer (I am a lifelong supporter of Sunderland AFC) and listening to classic rock.

I should probably also mention my tea-rating system, which seems to be much harsher than others I’ve seen on here. It’s not always concrete, but I’ll try to define it:

• 50 is the base-line which all teas start at. A normal, nothing-special industrial-type black teabag of regular old fannings would be a 50.

• 0 – 49 is bad, and varying degrees of bad. This is probably the least concrete as I hardly ever find something I don’t like.

• I have never given below a 20, and will not unless that tea is SO bad that I have to wash my mouth out after one sip. Any teas rated as such are unquestionably awful.

• This means most teas I don’t enjoy will be in the 30 – 50 range. This might just mean the tea is not to my own personal taste.

• 51+ are teas I enjoy. A good cup of tea will be in the 50 – 70 range.

• If I rate a tea at 70+, it means I really, really like it. Here’s where the system gets a little more concrete, and I can probably define this part, as it’s rarer for a tea to get there.

• 71- 80: I really enjoyed this tea, enough to tell somebody about, and will probably hang onto it for a little longer than I perhaps should because I don’t want to lose it.

• 81 – 90: I will power through this tea before I even know it’s gone, and will re-order the next time the mood takes me.

• 91 – 100: This is one of the best teas I’ve ever tasted, and I will re-order while I still have a good few cups left, so that I never have to run out. This is the crème de la crème, the Ivy League of teas.

I never rate a tea down, and my ratings are always based on my best experience of a tea if I drink it multiple times. I feel that this is fairest as many factors could affect the experience of one particular cup.

I am always happy to trade and share my teas with others, so feel free to look through my cupboard and message me if you’re interested in doing a swap. I keep it up-to-date, although this doesn’t mean I will definitely have enough to swap, as I also include my small samples.

I also tend to ramble on a bit.

Location

South Shields, UK

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