334 Tasting Notes


I really thought I’d reviewed this tea already, but apparently not… I didn’t enjoy it as much this time around, brewed western style, as I usually do, brewed gongfu style. I have no idea what it is about this tea that makes me want to gongfu it, but in the past that is usually how I’ve drank it. Both of my gaiwans are in storage at the moment, so western is the only method I have right now, but I did still enjoy this tea. At first, I was a little disappointed as I couldn’t really pick any flavours out of the ‘herbal’ taste, but as it cooled I began to really enjoy it. The flavours are still not as distinct as when I brew it gong fu, when the flavours of the oolong and elderflower are very prominent, but the more it cools the more the elderflower comes out at the end of the sip, and I do get the feeling that I’m drinking champagne in tea form. My rating reflects the sessions I’ve had with this tea brewed in my gaiwan.

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec

I really need to invest in a Gaiwan one of these days.


Oh you should! It’s totally worth it.

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Sipdown 47/375

Finally from the Vanishing Trio we have Afternoon Earl Grey, a tea which I probably got the most use out of of all three before it vanished. I drank this frequently in the early stages of my tea adoration development, and though it started out as a nice, creamy, citrus-y Earl Grey with a decent black tea body, it lost flavour quickly and I forced myself through much of it. I’m fairly indifferent to Earl Greys in general, but this was a fairly tasty one at first.

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Sipdown 46/375

Another of the Vanishing Trio. My bag of this tea was labelled just as ‘Amaretto’ rather than ‘Amaretto Explosion’, but it seems to be the same thing only renamed. I was more keen on this than the others I lost, but am still not too sad to have lost it. I get a lot of the acerola cherries in this blend, and not much almond nuttiness which would lend itself to being called amaretto. I do like cherries, though, and it was a pleasant sour cherry tea. Now my tastes have (massively) expanded I can’t see myself picking this up again.

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Sipdown 45/375

One of three teas which vanished under mysterious circumstances. All three were from Whittard’s, and I kept them all in a sealed container because of the open packaging they were in. The container disappeared a while ago and though I’ve looked for them a few times, I’ve come to accept that I’m never going to see them again. I’m not too cut up about it, though; there’s actually a good chance I just threw them out because of age. They were all getting on a bit.

I could never seem to coax much flavour out of this one, but that was back in the day when I used a tiny little metal strainer on a stick which I’m sure didn’t let the tea breathe at all. I do miss having it as a tea latte, though.

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drank Redbush by Tetley
334 tasting notes

I threw these teabags out when I moved house and only now realised it was still in my cupboard. This is, as far as I remember, the only tea I’ve admitted defeat on and thrown away rather than drinking or gifting to somebody else. These were just too bland and hard-going and life is just too short for bad tea.

Sipdown 44/375

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drank Blackberry Cordial by Butiki Teas
334 tasting notes

Guzzling this one as my dinner gets cold as I didn’t want the soup’s flavours to interfere with the tea. It is absolutely delicious!

I’ve only tried Butiki’s blackberry flavouring in this tea and Blackberry Lime Guayusa, but it is lovely and authentic, and why wouldn’t it be? Stacy did flavourings so well. There’s just the right balance between the flavour of the blackberry and the tea, which is also delicious. It’s paired very well too, and I really do think that the honey note of the sansia, which is very prominent, helps to give a sort of ‘cordial’ impression. I can also taste a brandy note as described but it melds in with the tea and the blackberry so well that I can’t be sure if it’s flavouring or part of the natural tea, which is a huge compliment in my eyes. I added a teaspoon of sugar as per the recommendations and the berry notes became more pronounced as did the ‘cordial’ aspect, but the black tea is still shining front and centre, and has only a little astringency. Stacy had such an eye for detail when it came to blending teas, I’m constantly impressed with everything she created.

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

I miss Butiki so much!


You and me both! ):

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drank Oriental Beauty by Bollands
334 tasting notes

One of two teas picked up at the weekend on our family trip to Chester to celebrate my grandad’s 70th birthday! Okay, so I’m technically on a no-buy, but I only picked up two new teas, and only 1.5oz in total. It could be worse (and often has!). I’ve only ever tried Butiki’s Oriental Beauty before, and never unflavoured, so was looking forward to trying this and brewed it up as soon as I got home, even though I was feeling crappy from the long coach trip and my stomach didn’t want it. This is a pretty good tea. It tastes more like a black than an oolong, malty and smooth with some almost honeyed notes, and some nuttiness at the end of the sip which I had expected more. My brother tried this and said ‘it just tastes like weak tea’ (meaning any old teabags, though we do usually buy extra strong). I disagree.

The packaging suggested steeping for 2-3 minutes, which I overdid slightly, but didn’t mention the temperature so I guessed at 90. I’m looking forward to playing around with this more to see how changing the steeping parameters changes the notes.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 250 ML

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I came across this happily while I was organising my sipdown box today (yes I do that), and realised that thanks to Janelle and VariaTEA, who both sent me samples I had almost finished with, I had enough left over for one final cup with Stacy’s recommended 1.5 teaspoons of tea if I combined them both.

Reading through the notes for this one it seems to have been a lot of people’s first foray into the wonderful world of Butiki, and I think it was mine too. That was some time ago now, though, and I’m quite surprised I haven’t written a note on it yet. Though the tea has lost flavour over time (I’m going to stop saying that now because seriously, after a year away from Steepster this is true of almost all my teas, sadly) it is surprisingly not all that different to the way I remember it tasting when it was fresh, a couple of years ago. The first few mouthfuls had a disturbing cinnamon flavour which I’m blaming on myself storing it next to Della Terra’s Cinnamon Diletto, but luckily this faded as I drank and the main flavour was that ever-present cantaloupe. I’m not sure I got the floral and vegetal notes which Stacy mentioned from the base tea, but that I think is likely from the age, since I think I remember tasting the floral notes more in previous cups. The cream I don’t necessarily get, and never really have – to me, this is really more of a straightforward cantaloupe tea. I added half a teaspoon of sugar which I hoped would bring out the creaminess but it didn’t really do anything much. I’m afraid I don’t love it anywhere near as much as everyone else seems to, though I have enjoyed every cup I’ve had. This is NOTHING to do with Stacy, obviously, and everything to do with the fact that as I’ve mentioned in reviews of other teas I just don’t like cantaloupe. The flavour is spot on, but it’s just mimicking something I don’t choose to eat – in fruit salads and melon medleys I always leave the cantaloupe. A sad sipdown because it’s another Butiki tea gone forever, but beyond that I can’t say I’m going to miss it. I’m so sorry to everyone who loves this tea, it’s just not the one for me.

Sipdown 43/375.

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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I am drinking this tea with my young cousins Robyn and Mason, who are drinking flavoured tea for the first time. Later, I will write a full review of my own thoughts on it but for now here is what they think:

Robyn – It is a wonderful tea for my first one I would recommend it. You can not really taste the almond but you can taste the cherry and it’s really good with one sugar!

Mason – This is the best tea I have ever tasted. I think you SHOULD try it and if you don’t like it put one sugar in because it tastes nicer.

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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drank Hot Mama Jama by Bluebird Tea Co.
334 tasting notes

Sweet Lord of all that is holy this smells terrible during steeping! I know I’ve noted the scent before but really it’s never been this bad. Somewhere between vomit and wet dog (I’m so sorry). I was wary because this is three years old now – it was part of my very first order of tea back in the days when Bluebird Tea Co.‘s owners hand-wrote the label on each pouch before shipping them, and one of the oldest in my entire cupboard – and I thought it had gone horribly bad, but after the steeping it really doesn’t smell all that awful. It’s definitely not enticing, but passable and way less vomity dog. I was super relieved when I tentatively tasted it to find that even after three whole years in my cupboard this tea is still absolutely delicious! The chilli kick is still making itself known, and the fruity jamminess is lovely and really brought out by just shy of a teaspoon of sugar. Out of all the fruits I’d say the passionfruit is most prominent, but really they blend together very nicely to give the ‘jammy’ feel. The lime and lemongrass (and presumably hibiscus) give a nice tart tang at the end of the sip and I’m pleased to find that I love this as much now as I ever did.

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 207 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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