408 Tasting Notes

drank Rhubarb Vanilla Ale by Butiki Teas
408 tasting notes

Sipdown! (70/377)

One of the last samples I received from the wonderful Janelle. I’m so proud of myself for the rate I’m managing to get through them all!

This was tasty, but another one that I automatically trusted the brewing instructions on and should have gone with my gut instead. After around three minutes steeping, this was a beautiful mix of rhubarb and vanilla, with some malt and hoppy notes in the background. After the final minute, the base had taken over much more, and I’m not generally a fan of Keemuns, so this wasn’t necessarily a good thing for me. It is, however, much more reminiscent of an ale this way, so I do think it’s an accurate name for it, but I personally preferred it when it was all rhubarb and vanilla. As per the recommendations I added a tiny bit of sugar, careful not to overdo it and lose the hops flavour, and it did bring out the rhubarb note more, but still behind the malty Keemun and hops. The vanilla is more pronounced with sugar, too, but I tend to associate vanilla with general sweetness so maybe that’s just me. I didn’t try this with milk, because even though I would usually prefer it with a Keemun or any strong malty black tea, I thought it would ruin the ‘ale’ aim of the tea. There was only minimal astringency, and it honestly did remind me of beer, even with the mouthfeel, so I didn’t mind it, really. Even though I would have preferred a more dominating rhubarb and vanilla flavour, in a real ale they would of course be more back-notes than anything else, so I do think Stacy did a good job in creating what she was aiming for. As this cools it gets a bit more astringent and the rhubarb and vanilla become less noticeable, with the hops dominating more. I definitely preferred this while it was still hot. Not just-brewed hot, because the flavour did develop some after a little cooling time, but before it got lukewarm.

As a side-note: sorry if my notes are weirdly formal at the moment. I’m applying for a lot of jobs, doing online tests etc. and I’m finding it hard to shake the writing style.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Yummy! I was talking to Red Fennekin in part about puerh, and I had a hankerin’ so I grabbed this one and it was a goood choice. I’m not sure which base it uses but it is good. The flavouring isn’t what I’d call weak, but it’s delicate enough and the puerh more than holds its own. The lime flavour is more noticeable than the watermelon, but the watermelon note does actually come through, which I think is an achievement with such a delicate flavour. Especially since I didn’t get it in the Watermelon Xylophone! It was actually delicious on its own, with the puerh all mellow and chilling with the bright juicy lime and the sweet delicate watermelon, but since it’s called slushie I wanted it to come across more fake and artificial – I think that’s the first time I’ve ever said that about a tea – so I added a generous amount of sugar and it really did turn it into a more grown-up version of a melted lime slushie. The watermelon is more in the background with sugar, mostly because it brought out the lime so much more, but I can still tell it’s there. The puerh base is still really good and can definitely take a lot. Even with the stronger citrus flavour and added sugar it’s a beautiful tea. Silky, earthy, and something umami that’s not sweet and not savoury but somewhere in between. Noms all round.

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Drinking this again because it’s SHERLOCK NIGHT! I think my second sample tin will be all gone this time next week, sadly. Perfect timing, though. This was weak tonight because I had to choose between a weak cup of tea and missing the start of Sherlock, and well, there aren’t many things I’d choose over tea, but Sherlock is one of them (especially when I’ve drank said tea many times before). I will make sure I brew it properly for the send-off, though. Cinnamon was actually surprisingly prominent and Sherlock was amazing.

Upping my rating from 73 because this tea consistently makes me happy.

Boiling 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

I really wanted a cup of Mrs Hudson last night. It was an actual craving.


I almost said that exact same thing in my note! Mrs H. was such a BAMF in that episode.

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drank Tamarind Pop by Butiki Teas
408 tasting notes

Another tea I don’t know quite what to make of – I may be a poor judge of this tea since I have absolutely no idea what it’s supposed to taste like, having never heard of tamarind before MissB sent me this. For that reason this will probably be a short tasting note.

From reading others’ tasting notes, it sounds like this still tastes basically as it should. It’s earthy, fruity in a nondescript (or just indescribable to me) way, and a little bit sour. It’s on the more astringent side than I like, but this is easily fixed with a splash of milk. The earthy base is the most prominent, though after reading some of the tasting notes it sounds like the earthiness might actually be a part of the tamarind flavour itself. I added a little sugar, which brought out more of the fruitiness, and then milk, which mellowed out the tea but didn’t change its flavour too much except, weirdly, adding to the sour note. Every now and again I get an echo of a sense memory, like maybe this is a familiar flavour after all, but I’m not sure why. It’s truly odd, but I’m happy to try it.

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

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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!

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?


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


I highly recommend it!

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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!

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

A focus box! Brilliant. On it.


Haha it’s very helpful sometimes!

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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.

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

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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!

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

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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.


South Shields, UK

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