331 Tasting Notes
Yesterday was a day of resteeps! I meant to review a new tea when I got in from work but it was a really busy shift and I was so exhausted I just went straight to bed. The resteep of this was much like the first, but less earthy. The blueberry holds up well and I’d like to brew this gongfu next time.
I resteeped my leaves a couple of times yesterday, and the citrus zing was much less abrasive in the subsequent steeps than the first. It is still the dominant note, but it’s mellowed out to a point where the overall tea is much more enjoyable. I noticed in my third steep that the strawberry note is holding up quite well, and becoming more present as the other flavours mellow out. I’m pretty confident with my guess that strawberry is a flavour here, or at least another berry which very much resembles strawberry to me. I’m going to bump up the rating just a little bit from 57 because the later steeps are definitely more enjoyable than the first.
Not so much to say about this. Flavour-wise, it’s just fine. Woodsy and has a sort of fake cherry note which I’ve noticed a few times with honeybush. It doesn’t have any honey flavour, and apart from the scent I don’t think I’d be able to differentiate it from any other plain honeybush I’ve tried. Scent-wise, this smelled awful. Like, truly bad. It had a sort of fishy, rotten, inside of a bin smell which really took me aback when I sniffed it. It smelled quite pleasant in the bag, so I’m not quite sure what happened there. Maybe it’d be better with milk and/or honey, but this just didn’t do anything for me and the scent was downright off-putting.
I accidentally steeped this in boiling water, and forgot to rinse the tea (I have no idea what I was thinking while I prepared it) so this is admittedly probably not the best this tea has ever tasted. This is another one I’m going to have to keep separate to make again at the end of the month if I have time.
The blueberry flavour is dead on, and really quite enjoyable, though I don’t get ‘champagne’ from it, even after adding sugar. Mostly I think that the Suncha base is too jarring for me with the sweet, jammy blueberry flavour. The earthiness I can dig with the blueberry. Yeah, I can see that making sense. But it’s just a little too much on the smoky savoury side for me to really enjoy this as a ‘blueberry champagne’ kind of tea. I’m also a little sick of drinking so many Butiki 1989 Suncha blends recently though, because of my drink-a-thon, so maybe I’d appreciate it more on a regular day. Still, I can’t help but feel like the blueberry flavour in this, which really is lovely, would be a hundred times better with a white tea base, or a green oolong. I’m going to reserve final judgement until I’ve tried this gongfu brewed, or maybe cold-brewed, or even just brewed according to the actual suggestions… Yeah, my bad.
Thanks for including this with my order, Stacy! I appreciate being able to try it.
As with Happy Trails, I read the ingredients for this when Stacy first posted them a while ago, but have since forgotten and haven’t looked since.
This is a very interesting tea. The dry leaf smells mostly of maple (which I got excited about), which is followed by strawberry, which is followed by orange, in descending order of strength. I had high hopes, because I love maple flavoured teas, especially Butiki’s, but this isn’t really what I expected. The liquor while brewing smells very tangerine-y, and the other notes are mostly swallowed up. The flavour is the same. Strong tangerine note in the initial sip, which develops into a more orange note in the aftertaste (could Stacy have used both flavourings? It is a very strong orange citrus note). There is a syrupy sweet maple note if I block out all of the orangeness, and I think I can taste some vague strawberry in there somewhere, though I don’t think I would have picked up on it if I hadn’t smelled it fairly clearly in the dry leaf. There’s a chance it could be some other berry note, maybe raspberry, but strawberry seems the most likely to me. I’m picking up on cinnamon-like notes which I don’t think are coming from the flavourings, but pretty much confirm my suspicions that the oolong base is the Fu Shou Shan, which I am very fond of and always translates to me as having natural apple and cinnamon notes. Right at the very back end of the sip I taste something sweet, light and pillowy which is making me think this might have some marshmallow flavouring added to it, though if it does probably not much.
It’s fun to guess which ingredients are in these mystery teas, but honestly the citrus in this one is a little bit overwhelming for me and I would rather drink the Fu Shou Shan on its own. I preferred the other mystery tea.
ETA: As this is starting to cool, the maple flavour is becoming more pronounced at the beginning of the sip before the orange kicks in. I’m pretty well convinced it’s one of the flavours.
This was one of my favourites when I first ordered it, in fact I loved it so much that I added it to my wishlist immediately after my first cup (which I very rarely do when teas are still in my cupboard) and eagerly parsed others’ notes to see if anyone wasn’t keen and wouldn’t mind to swap. I remember taking my first sip and having an ‘ohmygod’ moment. All of the notes were present, particularly the plum and brandy. The reason I’m describing this experience from almost two years ago is that sadly, out of all my Butiki teas, this seems to be the one which has lost its flavour. I’m going to have another cup in a few days once I’ve got through the rest of my drink-a-thon teas in the hopes that it was a fluke, just a bad cup, or I brewed it wrong, because this tea was once magnificent. O’ cruel fate, why must you take from me one of my favourite teas in such a brutal manner?
But seriously, aside from the melodramatic mourning, I was so disappointed when I took my first expectant sip. The flavour hasn’t completely dissipated, but it’s faded to the point where I have to chase the notes to taste them. The scent is very creamy, and the cheesecake flavour is probably the most prominent note remaining, but I barely get any brandy at all and the plum is seriously fading. The base itself was on the light side, too, and I could taste the water through it, so I’m living in hope that I just underleafed even though I followed Stacy’s suggestions. This might have to be moved into my focus box until it’s sipped down.
My rating for this is based on how amazing it was when I first bought it, since it wouldn’t be fair to it or to Stacy to mark it down because of my negligence/hoarding.
Quick tasting note before I take a walk down to my nana’s, I’m going out with her for lunch. I’m also going to Weight Watchers tonight and have an appointment at the dentist’s, so I’m not sure how much tea I’m going to get drank on my only day off this week! Next Monday and Tuesday are the last days of January and the last of my drink-a-thon, so it might end up being a sprint finish if I can’t find the time sooner.
I estimated the temperature while I was distracted, and think I might have brewed this a little too hot, since the liquor is a darker colour than I expected and there’s a tiny hint of astringency right at the back end of the sip. It’s not too noticeable, and doesn’t bother me, but still I feel like I could have done this more justice. The squash comes across to me as a cake, cookie or muffin sort of flavour, and along with the vanilla and cinnamon the overall effect is one of a cinnamon cookie, which is just fine by me! The sweet, earthy, starchy squash is the most prominent note in the body of the sip, mingling with the vanilla note which helps make it more sweet than savoury. The soft cinnamon comes through at the end of the sip like a blanket, covering the mouth with a natural, comforting spice which makes me suspect this tea would be perfect for curling up in front of a fire in the Autumn. I added my usual half a sugar, and now the vanilla and cinnamon notes are more prominent and the squash less so. I do wish this tea had a thicker mouthfeel to match the creamy starchy flavour, but it’s very enjoyable nonetheless.
ETA: As it cools the muffin comparison gets stronger. It’s reminding me strongly of a muffin I can picture quite clearly which I used to have often as a treat when I was younger, but I can’t quite remember where I got them or the context around them. What I can picture quite clearly while I’m drinking this is the colour, texture and flavour of the muffin, right down to the gooey, sticky glaze on the golden brown top and the spongy but dense feel of breaking off a piece to pop in my mouth while the coating got stuck to my fingers. I was originally going to rate this a 76 but I’m going to have to raise that because yay for muffin tea!
This may be my least favourite of all my Butiki teas. Not that it’s bad, it just isn’t the one for me, or rather I’m not the one for it. It was free with an order, though, so a big thank you to Stacy for allowing me to broaden my horizons and try some teas I never would have gone near on my own. It’s leaning toward the more savoury side of greens, which makes me think it would be interesting paired with some more savoury flavours such as sage or even tomato if we’re getting adventurous, but as a straight tea on its own, for me it’s a miss. There’s an earthiness to it and a natural smoky note which is admittedly interesting, but nothing about this tea really makes me want to drink it again, except for the thick mouthfeel and brothiness which made it easy to gulp and is giving me a warm happy tummy. I’m sure it would be great for people interested in such teas, but I am not such a person and will most likely be passing this along.
This was the big surprise of the final Butiki batch for me – I love it! So much of it, particularly for me, shouldn’t work… but it just does! First off, the base is a green, which is typically my least favourite, and on top of that it has anise, which, as a licorice-hater, I’m also not a big fan of. But somehow when combined with the pear and jasmine flavours this tea just really works for me! It’s even more surprising given that it doesn’t seem to be too popular with other Steepsterites. But that’s okay, more for me! Or there would be if this were still available…
The dry leaf of this tea is absolutely gorgeous. Butiki blends tend to be visually stunning, but this one more than most. There are whole jasmine flowers dispersed throughout the leaf, and whole pieces of star anise which, though I’m not usually a fan of flavour-wise, are pretty gorgeous to look at. Many reviewers have commented that they found the anise to be overpowering, but this wasn’t the case for me. The bi luo chun, pear, jasmine and anise notes are all pretty harmonious in my cup and none are overwhelming or jarring. This is a very relaxing cup of tea! It’s subtle in the right way; I think if the notes were stronger they would become overpowering and become more of a punch in the face, but it’s not lacking in flavour like I found the Irish Cream Butter Crisps to be. Perhaps the trick with this one was leaving it to mature for a couple of years until the flavours mellowed out! As usual I added a little under half a teaspoon of sugar, which, as Stacy said it would, really created a pear drop sweets kind of feel. Only this one is mature and better for you. The Jasmine notes are soft and natural – I suspect they come from the added flowers rather than additional flavourings – and add a sophisticated twist to something which otherwise could have been too sweet and fruity. The anise is mellow, too, and doesn’t remind me of licorice as much as peking duck (that sounds totally negative but it wasn’t meant to). Perhaps what I should have said is that it reminds me of five spice, in that the anise is more natural and ever so slightly on the savoury side, so that it pairs well with the green tea base. The pear note does not come across as artificial to me, or at least not in a bad way. It’s definitely reminiscent of sweets more than the fruit itself, but it comes across to me as deliberate, and the word ‘artificial’ to me conjures up (gustatory) images of plastic, chemical-tasting sting-your-mouth disgustingness, which this doesn’t have.
Of all the Butiki teas I bought in their closing down tea-blending frenzy, I knew there would be some gems I would struggle to part with, I’m just a little surprised to find that this is one of them! I’m relieved I picked some of it up, because I was umming and ahhing over whether to get any at all, but now I wish I has more than my measly half an ounce. Oh well, hindsight is a wonderful thing! I shall enjoy this while I have it, and savour as much as I can.