344 Tasting Notes

79

Ahh, that’s more like it! I think the flu might be helping to actually make this tea taste better than normal! I haven’t had a cup this good since I first received this tea, which was SUCH a long time ago that I really thought they would have no flavour left by now. This was a Christmas gift from my might-as-well-have-been-flatmate’s boyfriend when we did Secret Santa in my first year of uni (2012) which makes this tea almost exactly four years old and definitely the oldest in my cupboard. It’s a bagged tea rather than loose leaf, though I’m pretty sure it’s the same as the loose version, which might explain why it’s held onto its flavour so well. I used a small mug so the tea is fairly strong, and added a teaspoon of sugar and a splash of semi-skimmed milk and this is really tasty! The cinnamon and other spices are what I usually find most dominant in this tea, but today it’s super citrussy and the orange is definitely the stand-out note. I’m not sure what the base tea is in this blend but I suspect it might be something with natural citrus notes, as the flavour is more complex than just ‘orange’. The spices play around in the background, complimenting the orange and lingering after the sip. The cardamom is a little more dominant than I’d like, seeing as I’m not a fan, but I can live with it. I only have a couple of bags of this left now – I wish I’d figured out how to brew it like this sooner.

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 0 sec 6 OZ / 177 ML

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72
drank Popcorn Tea by Teapigs
344 tasting notes

I decided to get a cup of this down while I’m still ill and can’t taste much, which speaks to how much I don’t love this tea (mainly due to personal preference rather than it being a bad genmaicha). I thought it would make it more palatable, but it turns out to have had the opposite effect. I can’t put my finger on what this tastes like, but it’s definitely something which Should Not Be Consumed. I’m going to dump this cup and make something else. Yuck.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 15 sec 6 OZ / 177 ML

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86

Yesterday at work was the busiest shift I’ve ever done, and I came down with flu in the middle of it and had to work through until the early hours of this morning. So I’ve spent today curled up in bed watching Torchwood and feeling sorry for myself. I haven’t drank much tea because it hurts to swallow and the flu is making everything taste funny, but I just watched the saddest episode of Torchwood and needed some comfort. It’s not tasting as good as normal partly because I underleafed and partly because I’m ill, but it is making me feel a little better. I wish I had a Ianto tea, but this will do.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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68
drank Festivus by Pekoe Tea Lounge
344 tasting notes

Another from MissB that I’m trying to move out of my cupboard. I noticed that in her tasting note she mentioned that this had too much apple for her tastes; well, I guess the apple flavouring doesn’t age well, since I can’t taste it at all! What I do get though is a whole lot of cinnamon and chocolate. And a weird hint of… cola? I don’t know what it is with me and tasting cola in teas that have none! It happens way too often, but this is the first time I’ve noticed it outside of Frank’s 52teas blends. The scent of the dry leaf was intensely cinnamon, but as soon as the hot water was added it transformed into definite cola-smell. It’s a lot less present in the final cup (with milk and 3/4 sugar) but I can still detect it a little. I could see little pieces of cinnamon in the leaf as it was brewing, so I had an idea I was going to get the full whack of cinnamon in the flavour, but I didn’t expect the chocolate to come through quite as much as it does. It’s not exactly the most convincingly natural chocolate flavour I’ve ever had in a tea, but it’s certainly not the worst either. I’m usually not a fan of chocolate in teas but here I don’t mind it – it works well with the cinnamon and stops it being the only dominating flavour. I definitely feel festive drinking it. Thanks for the try, Bonny!

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

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66

I received a sample of this from MissB, and again it’s one I’ve drank a few times but never reviewed. I followed the brewing instructions and was surprised by how flavourful this was after just 2 minutes steeping. The black tea base is strong and not astringent – I’m drinking it without milk which is fairly rare for me with a black tea. Plain, I got black tea with a general ‘tropically fruity’ background, but with a little over half a teaspoon of sugar added the pineapple and mango flavours really become discernible, and even though it’s the base tea which is still prominent, I can taste both of the fruits distinctly. They meld together really well too, and every time I think I can pinpoint which one is more dominant I change my mind. It is a nice tea and I will enjoy my last cup, but it isn’t particularly memorable in the grand scheme of teas.

ETA: The more this cools, the less pineapple and mango I can taste, and it’s taking on a sort of sour note…

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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54
drank Root Beer by Simpson & Vail
344 tasting notes

This one travelled to me via MissB ‘s Mystery Box a loooong time ago (verging on 3 years, I think). I have drank it before, I just haven’t gotten around to writing up any tasting notes on it yet.

I definitely think age has gotten the best of this tea, unfortunately, since I remember it tasting more strongly of root beer the last time I drank it. This time I got a lot of smokiness in the scent, so much so that I was starting to doubt my labelling and thought it was a lapsang. No smokiness in the flavour, though, and definitely root beer. It’s mild but definitely there. I actually prefer the root beer flavouring mild, since strong root beer always comes across as medicinal to me. It’s not something which is common here in the UK and I was probably 19 or 20 the first time I drank root beer, and the flavour is still kinda bizarre to me. Anyway, this comes across as more natural to me, which is probably at least partly down to the sarsaparilla root. Is root beer sarsaparilla flavoured? I’m not a big fan of root beer as a drink but I love sarsaparilla tablets (old-fashioned hard boiled sweets). When I tried this tea plain the black tea base was pretty astringent and strong, and pushed the root beer to the back of the sip. I added half a sugar and it brought out the root beer flavour some more, and this was how I liked the root beer flavour the best, but the tea was still too astringent for me to drink a whole mug of so I had to add milk, which helped a lot with the astringency but almost completely erased the root beer. Root beer is also not a flavour I particularly want to drink with milk. I have enough leaf left for one more mug of this tea, and I think I’ll use water below boiling to see if this improves the astringency enough that I can drink it without milk.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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67
drank Cantaloupe Watermelon by 52teas
344 tasting notes

I took this tea to work with me tonight, and sipped it while I poured pints for other people, which was weird but infinitely better than working without tea. I had been telling some of my coworkers about my tea habit during the week and they actually asked me to bring something in, so I opted for this since I had plenty to go around and the water from the espresso machine (the only source of hot water – no kettle) is around the right temperature for white teas. One coworker pronounced it ‘alright’ and the other ‘fruity’, so I’m not entirely sure it was a success, but I think it went better than they expected. I’ve been requested to bring in a chocolate tea next.

I think the water was a little on the hot side, but the tea did admirably considering the less than ideal brewing conditions. The base tea is strong for a white and only a little astringent, and the flavouring quite natural tasting. It’s very juicy and I can taste the cantaloupe clearly alongside the white tea, and the aroma is dead on too. It’s a shame I don’t like cantaloupe! I don’t get watermelon at all, in the scent or the flavour. I’ve thought this every time I drink this tea, but in my opinion watermelon just isn’t a strong enough flavour to translate to tea well. Maybe if it was paired with a more delicate base tea, and wasn’t competing with the cantaloupe flavouring, but it’s just overwhelmed and the name of the tea feels misleading. Butiki’s Watermelon Xylophone did it well, but other than that I really struggle to think of a good watermelon tea which has been strongly reminiscent of the flavour of a watermelon. All of this sounds really negative, but despite everything I’ve just said I always enjoy drinking this tea. It’s not overly complex and while it isn’t exactly mind-blowing it just goes down so easy. Not a bad choice for a workplace tea.

Preparation
1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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62

The other day I was drinking my Elderflower Champagne Oolong from Bluebird Tea Co. which I usually like to steep gong fu. Both of my gaiwans were in storage though, so I drank it western style and sorely missed the gong fu brew. Well, today I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I went through my garage for almost an hour before I came across them, and I’m going to have a lovely gong fu session with this tea this afternoon.

Since I really just want to immerse myself in the tea and the gongfu process, I’m not going to be timing precisely or testing the temperature of the water. I have only drank this tea once before and am not a huge fan of greens so it’s really more about the experience than the end result today. I’m using 7g of leaf and my larger gaiwan which holds 125ml of water.

The dry leaf has a strong scent, which is promising as I was worried the tea would be losing flavour. It has a grassy, seaweed-like scent with green vegetable, floral and almost buttery notes. I think I can detect a hint of smoke, too.

First steep, ~5 seconds: The vegetal note in the scent is enhanced in the wet leaf, and it definitely comes through in the flavour of the tea, which is mild and has a distinct green bean or pea note, and some very slight buttery and sweet notes. The smokiness comes through very lightly in a roasty kind of way.

Second steep, ~5 seconds: My mam came into the room while I was pouring this, and she said it smelled like broccoli (lol). I don’t disagree! I was surprised by how sweet this steep is! The green veg flavour is present, and enhanced with the sweetness, which is delicious. This is a very buttery steep. There are some light kelp notes this time around and some grassiness. The main note is of fresh peas, and is actually very reminiscent of freshly popped sugar snap peas. This was quite a dry steep.

Third steep, ~7 seconds: Less sweet this time. The scent is still of peas or green beans, but with more of the seaweed note being prominent. This is noticeable at the end of the sip. The flavour is slightly milder and less vegetal. I’m getting more steamed green beans than fresh sugar snap pea. The aftertaste is very buttery and slightly floral, but the dryness of the tea is starting to coat my tongue. This is probably something I have done rather than the tea itself, but I don’t know how to rectify it. There is a slight spiciness to the tea which I was not expecting.

Fourth steep, ~10 seconds: Scent is more seaweed-like, I can detect floral notes and some earthiness which was not present before. The smokiness is slightly present in the scent of the tea itself, which has been absent for the last couple of steeps. The fourth steep tastes more like the first, only milder and with more smoke. The vegetal note is more reminiscent of spinach now, and the sweetness is more present than the third.

Fifth steep, ~15 seconds: The scent is completely different this time! I know the notes all sound the same but something about how prominent they are changes so much about the steep. This steep was far more kelpy and smoky. I expected the flavour to be deeper, like the scent, but it’s actually very sweet and buttery with only a light smokiness. It’s similar to the second steep – it’s almost like the tea is repeating itself. I got a surprise hint of apple at the end of the steep, which I didn’t expect.

Sixth steep, ~20 seconds: The leaf has taken on a distinct hemp scent now, but the tea is much sweeter even than the last steep, and more delicate. There is still a hint of smoke and green veg at the end of the sip. The apple taste is still lingering but not as prominent as the last steep.

Seventh steep, ~35 seconds: The apple is present in the scent of the leaf now, I’m definitely not imagining it! Liquor is sweet and lightly buttery with not much complexity. Slight grassy notes at the end of the sip. I think I will steep this one more time and then give it a rest.

Eighth steep: ~1 minute: I was going to steep for 50 seconds this time but after the lightness of the last cup decided to steep it for longer and make this the final steep. Scent is mainly kelp-like this time. Tea is lightly grassy, lightly vegetal. No notes are particularly pronounced.

It has been so enjoyable to dig out my gaiwan and just spend the afternoon quietly drinking tea with no distractions, really focusing on it. Green tea will never be my favourite, but this session did exactly what I wanted it to and I enjoyed the tea immensely, despite not being too knowledgeable in the area. The tea itself was very lovely, and much better than many greens I have tried in the past. I know that this is partly due to the method of brewing and in general my overall satisfaction with the experience, but it is mainly down to the quality of tea that Butiki sold. The leaf was truly beautiful, and I pulled out several of the whole, long green leaves from the spent leaf just to admire. Even though it wasn’t my favourite tea ever I am feeling ridiculously happy right now. I’m on a tea high.

[Disclaimer: I am not at all well-versed in green teas, and could be talking complete nonsense. My rating probably does this tea a disservice based on my lack of knowledge and general wariness of green teas. I truly did enjoy drinking it, though.]

Preparation
7 g 4 OZ / 125 ML

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98
drank Hello Sweetie by Butiki Teas
344 tasting notes

Oh goodness. This is just as delicious as I remembered it. Possibly more, if that’s possible. I am so happy Stacy talked me into getting this despite my banana aversion! The flavours have held up very well, particularly the coconut, which I was worried about. It was actually the most pronounced this time around, along with the lovely caramelly PTA. The praline flavouring is done very well and comes at the end of the sip along with the toffee. The banana is a lot softer this time around and blends with the creamy coconut almost imperceptibly, which I’m not complaining about! In fact it turns this into pretty much a perfect tea for me. The flavours all go together so beautifully, and all compliment the base tea without overwhelming it or seeming separate somehow. It’s just one big yummy dollop of gooey happiness in a cup. I might have to bump up my rating for this from 96, though it doesn’t have far to go!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 9 OZ / 266 ML

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86

Mmmmh, drinking this whilst rewatching Torchwood, for no good reason other than I fancied me some John Barrowman. 3/4 teaspoon of sugar and a splash of skimmed milk. I’d prefer it without the milk since it masks some of the chocolate almond flavour, but it’s better than drinking it astringent without. The base black tea is really the only letdown here. Still tastes like chocolate marzipan bread and the scent still fills the whole room.

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

Torchwood! Big fan.

Nattie

I love Torchwood but rewatching is hitting me in the feels because I know what’s coming. </3

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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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