551 Tasting Notes

81

Much better! I changed up my steeping parameters for this tea today and now it’s what I was expecting the first time around. The malt and dark chocolate I was detecting in the scent is translating through to the sip, I knew it was in there somewhere! It’s more complex than that though, and the sourdough notes I was picking up so strongly last time are still present, but this time they’re playing backup to the rich malt and chocolate, not the star of the show. There’s a hint of something floral, almost rose-like, right at the end of the sip, along with wildflower honey notes. As the cup cools some mineral notes are creeping into the body of the sip. It’s gorgeously light and smooth, no astringency or bitterness whatsoever, even though I steeped it almost at boiling this time around. Upping my rating from 61 – the change is steeping parameters made all the difference.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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78

Surprise tea! I didn’t realise I had any of this left. I’m mainly tasting the pumpkin and banana today, which I’m not complaining about because let’s be honest, the apple is the least interesting of the flavours anyway. I appreciate that it actually tastes like pumpkin, and not pumpkin spice like a lot of other brands tend to pass off as pumpkin. I really enjoy the flavouring of this tea, and I would have rated it much higher if the base tea didn’t have a fair amount of astringency behind it. It’s enough to make me want to add milk, which I feel like mutes the other flavours, so I’m conflicted about it. Even with milk added the pumpkin shines through though, and the banana is prominent in the aftertaste. Now I’m going to have to see if I can hunt down any more pumpkin banana combinations.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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74

I still don’t get any whisky from this, but from reading Stacy’s description I don’t think I’m supposed to. I’ve noticed that in a few of her ‘Irish Cream’ teas, the description sounds like it’s just regular cream, and I don’t get any whisky flavouring. Still, though, the strawberries and cream are very accurate and adding a pinch of sugar does remind me of those strawberry & cream hard boiled sweets that are the same shape as a Werther’s original but pink and white swirled instead of caramel. I used to love those things. I’d like to try this cold brewed and see how it turns out.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
gmathis

This sounds similar to one of my new favorites (Dublin Cream) by TeaMaze.

Nattie

I’ll have to check it out! Don’t think I’ve tried anything from TeaMaze before.

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62
drank Kumquat by Lupicia
551 tasting notes

I’ve never had a kumquat, so I don’t know how accurate the flavour of this tea is, but in taste it’s much milder than in scent, which is deliciously citrus fragranced. The citrus, tangerine-like note is present in the flavour of the liquor, alongside a prominent sourness which could be coming from the Nilgiri base rather than the delicate flavouring, though overall it gives an impression of a cross somewhere between an orange and a lemon. The delicate flavouring is something which Lupicia do really well, but I find myself just wishing it were stronger in this particular blend, especially as I overleafed my cup and the citrus note is still so delicate. Nice, but not one which I will miss.

Thank you Marzipan for sharing this with me. Sipdown 207/399.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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73
drank Christmas Orange by TJX Europe
551 tasting notes

Made a cold brew latte with this to use it up, and it was fine. Mild enough that it didn’t bring up bad memories like this tea usually does, haha. It’s the first time I’ve cold steeped in milk though, and while it turned out well I don’t think it’ll be something I do often because it just uses up so much leaf. Pretty happy with my experiment, though.

Preparation
Iced 6 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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77

Sipdown! 206/399

I finished the last of this off as a cold brew, and that was definitely the right decision! Root beer has never been a favourite of mine, but in hot tea form I found it completely bizarre. Not bad at all, just really really weird and it kind of put me off. Cold though, this is much closer to an actual root beer, and much less jarring for my brain to compute. There’s also a chocolatey note coming through at the end of the sip which was a total surprise, but I kind of like it. All in all a good send-off for this tea. Upping my rating from 75.

Preparation
Iced
ashmanra

My son-in-lawnsaid root beer tastes like toothpaste, i like root beer but since he said that….I taste it. Ha ha! Also, rats.

Nattie

Haha, I could see that too! I used to have a toothpaste that had almost that exact medicinal flavour, actually.

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78
drank Happy Trails by Butiki Teas
551 tasting notes

I actually prefer this now to when I first got it. The raspberry has mellowed out and now the flavours are much more balanced. The pistachio and marshmallow bring out a sort of praline feel in the initial sip, and then it ends on a creamy raspberry note. I’m working on tweaking my steeping parameters so that I can drink the CTC without milk, because it shines so much more without. I can’t get through a full mug plain though as I’m quite sensitive to astringency, but I’m working on it! Upping the rating from 70, because I can actually pick out the marshmallow and pistachio now.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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66
drank Sugar Plum Forest by DAVIDsTEA
551 tasting notes

I remember hating this tea the first time I tried it, so I’ve been avoiding the rest of my sample ever since. When I finally bit the bullet and made it again, I’ve discovered that it’s actually not bad. Now I’m wondering if it’s mellowed out over time, if the proportion of ingredients or my tastebuds have changed, or if I was actually getting it mixed up with a different tea – maybe Sleigh Ride? Either way, this was a pleasant surprise. Very heavy on the winter spices, but the tart and juicy fruits added to the spice mixture remind me quite a lot of mulled wine. The anise isn’t overpowering, which is what I was afraid of, and actually blends into the background nicely with notes of clove and cinnamon alongside tart – but not sour – apple and plum. It’s not the best tea in the world I’ll admit, but I was expecting to hate it so this not-bad cup is a pleasant surprise.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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80
drank Apple Custard by DAVIDsTEA
551 tasting notes

I don’t know how it does it, but this actually smells and tastes like custard. Sweet, creamy, eggy custard with stewed apple and raisins. It’s a lot stronger in the scent of the dry leaf than in the tea itself, but it’s still unmistakeably present in the scent of the brewed liquor and up front in the sip. It’s replaced as the dominant note mid-sip by apple, and then the creamy custard creeps back in and takes over again slowly, lingering for a while afterwards. I don’t taste any chamomile (by no means a complaint) but there wasn’t much in my teaspoon so that’s unsurprising. A pinch of sugar makes this really decadent. If I had one complaint, I would like the tea to have a stronger flavour overall, but that could be fixed by adding more leaf. This came from a DAVIDsTEA advent calendar though, so I unfortunately don’t have enough to experiment with that. It’s definitely one I would consider buying more of if I had the option.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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88
drank Cinnamon Pear by 52teas
551 tasting notes

The pear flavouring in this tea is so good! I’m surprised every time I drink it, because it’s the only tea I’ve actually been able to taste the pear in. Cinnamon is always a winner for me too. It’s a shame I’ve only got enough for one more cup of this, and I don’t fancy it’s chances at getting a reblend. Oh well, it’s as good as it ever was so I’m happy to have what I have remaining. Poached pear yumminess. Mmmmmm.

I’m considering bumping the rating up from 82, because it’s consistently delicious. Yep, I’m doing it.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Bio

I first got into loose leaf teas when a friend of mine showed me Cara McGee’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 (and have purchased several fandom tea sets including the Sherlock one I lusted over for so long).

Flavoured teas make up the majority of my collection, but I’m growing increasingly fond of unflavoured teas too. I usually reach for a black, oolong or white tea base over a pu’erh or green tea, though I do have my exceptions. 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/cilantro, cardamom, liquorice, pineapple and chocolate

I am a 25 year old bartender, English Literature sort-of-graduate and current student working towards finishing my degree. I am hoping to one day complete a masters degree in Mental Health Social Work and get a job working in care. Other than drinking, hoarding and reviewing tea, my hobbies include reading, doing quizzes and puzzles, TV watching, football/soccer (Sunderland AFC supporter and employee of my local football club), music, artsy weird makeup, and learning new things (currently British Sign Language).

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.
Currently unable to swap as I’ve returned after a long hiatus to a cupboard of mostly-stale teas I’m trying to work through before I let myself purchase anything fresh

I also tend to ramble on a bit.

Location

South Shields, UK

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