1781 Tasting Notes

75

I wasn’t all that impressed with this one last time I tried it. From what I recall, it was mostly rooibos and not a lot else, except maybe in the aftertaste. When I placed my last Bluebird order, what feels like a decade ago, I thought I’d pick up a sample and give it another try. I finished that sample today, and I was much, much happier with it this time.

For a start, it actually tastes like a rhubarb and custard straight up, from the very first sip. The initial flavour is sugared rhubarb; sweet, a touch tart. It’s easy to imagine the sugar coating on the sweet. The “custard” follows, more of a creaminess than anything, but totally delicious. The rooibos, for once, is confined to the background. It makes a good job of supporting the flavours, but it doesn’t impose its woodiness on everything in sight. It just…lurks. And that’s okay.

I’ve increased my rating of this one, because this time it lived up to its name. And I enjoyed it. It’s not world-bothering, but it’s nice.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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I’ve been MIA for a long time, and to be honest I don’t know whether that’s (quite) over. I’ve had a lot on in the last year, I guess. I’ve moved into my own flat (and I’m very much enjoying living with absolutely no-one, let me tell you), but getting to that point was a 9-month thriller with more ups and downs than the average rollercoaster. I came out of it feeling pretty rough. Then there’s my job, which I dislike intensely, but still haven’t managed to change. All that kind of took a backseat while I was moving, because I felt like I had enough on right at that moment. Maybe next year I’ll be able to focus on improving things there. Other, mostly random, shit has happened along the way. I’m not going to bore you with it.

What it all adds up to is that I haven’t even opened my tea cupboard since I took ownership of my flat back in…May? I put the tea in there, closed the door, and haven’t even looked at it again since. For a while, I didn’t even feel the loss. I’ve still been drinking tea, but mostly just bagged black (Twinings English Breakfast or Everyday) that I keep in a different cupboard (because it shouldn’t be in with the proper stuff, am I right?) I’ve also been drinking those few that I have left at work, although generally I’ve stuck to one until it’s gone (since the beginning of the year, I think I’ve only drank Pekoe Orange Blossom Oolong, Pekoe Japanese Cherry, Bluebird Rhubarb and Custard, and a few Teavivre samples?) It got to the point where I would actually feel anxious about finishing a tin or bag, because then I’d have to find something else to drink, and that’s a very, very odd thing to feel anxious about. Particularly when you love tea like I do. I think it’s somehow all tied up with how I feel about work, like maybe I’m projecting my anxiety about/dislike of my job, onto the tea. Don’t know. Don’t really want to know.

Today was one of those days, except that, for the first time in ages, it didn’t feel so bad. I picked out a tea with no great enthusiasm, but by the end of the cup I was feeling enthusiastic again. Maybe because I liked it when I didn’t expect to? But it’s not like that’s never happened before. Then I came back on here, and I read some of your notes, and in some ways it felt like emerging from a dense fog.

I think I’m almost back.

I think I might look in the tea cupboard this evening. I might even actually buy some tea this weekend.

This is fucking fantastic.

Unless it’s just an illusion. Then it’s not.

Evol Ving Ness

I am going with the fucking fantastic possibility. Here’s hoping.

Roswell Strange

Gotta agree with Evol! :)

__Morgana__

I totally understand! Tea is a repeating serial obsession for me. I drop in and out of it. When I’m in, I’m very very in. When I’m not, I look at the notes steepster sends me about new followers and feel guilty for not being around. Hope you’re back!

ashmanra

Hope the return to tea is also a return to EVERYTHING getting better and better!

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85

I ordered this one kind of on a whim, because I’d had a couple of decent peach teas at the time, and it was a Bluebird blend I’d somehow managed to overlook. Judging by the name, I was expecting this to be mostly ginger, maybe (if I got lucky) a little like ginger biscuits. It’s no secret that I don’t really like ginger, though, so I was hoping that the peach in the description would somehow come out on top.

Thankfully, it does, and that only reinforces my opinion that the name of this tea is misleading. It’s primarily a peach/papaya blend, very fruity, with just a touch of pepperiness in the right places. There’s a kick of ginger heat/spice/warmth in the background, but that’s all it is. Ginger haters need not fear! I would go so far as to say that I actually actively dislike ginger, but I have to admit that here it works well. It’s the perfect counterpoint to the peach, which is pretty sweet, and complements it graciously. It’s a well-rounded, well-balanced blend, of the kind you don’t come across too often. The fact that it’s a heavily fruit-based blend with no hibiscus pleases me, as does the smooth, slightly grassy green tea. Don’t be fooled, though – green tea (like the ginger…) is firmly in the minority here. There are a scattering of leaves in the blend, but its impact is small. I would consider this a fruit blend, first and foremost.

It’s a shame such a great blend is so badly named. Ginger and green are not what you’ll get if you buy this tea, and that’s somewhat bewildering.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 45 sec 1 tsp

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85

I’ve surprised myself by developing a craving for this one over the last couple of weeks. Pu’erh is a thing my brain is still afraid of, even though I’ve tried enough by now to know that I actually quite like it. My first experience with this one was good, as far as I can recall. My reacquaintance with it was, possibly, even better. It’s the sweetest pu’erh I’ve ever tried, with a really prominent sugar cane flavour and a decent dose of creaminess. It mellows with successive steeps, the initial heady sweetness fading as more earthy, mulchy flavours develop. It’s kinda perfect for this time of year, and I’m just a little bit addicted. I’m nearly done with my pouch, and this is one I’m (quite unexpectedly) going to miss.

Preparation
1 tsp

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65

A work kitchen freebie. I feel like elderflower tea is a relatively rare thing in the UK, so I rarely pass up an opportunity to try one. This box was sitting out in our work kitchen, so obviously someone didn’t like it. It’s generally always worth a punt, though, isn’t it?

I gave the bag (a silk pyramid thingum – I don’t rate these any more highly than normal tea bags, to be honest) 4 minutes in boiling water. Probably I could have left it longer, but I’m impatient. To taste, it’s actually…pretty good. I can taste the elderflower, although the pear is clearly the primary flavour. If I had one criticism, it would be that it’s a little over-sweet. It reminds me a lot more of a pear drop than an actual pear, in that floral, sugary, powerfully intense way that pear drops sometimes have. The apple is lost entirely. I wouldn’t know it was there based on taste alone, and I don’t think it should have headline billing in the name – that’s kinda misleading, because this is not an apple tea. It’s a pear and elderflower tea, and nothing else.

I like it, though. If I found it in my local Tesco, I might even pick up a box.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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80

I’ve been drinking this one every day at work for a week or so now, and I’m more pleased with it than I expected to be. Oolongs aren’t usually my favourite thing, but this one is very much like a light black tea, with just a touch of roastiness in the mid-sip. The orange flavouring is pretty natural-tasting, neither too sharp nor too sweet. Thankfully, there’s very little floral.

I bought this one on holiday two years ago, so it’s about time it saw the light of day. I’ve got so lazy in recent months that I’m basically just resteeping a generous teaspoon all day. The orange flavour departs around the third steep, but the light oolong that’s left behind is very palatable – no fuss, easy to drink, and not a tea I really have to pay attention to. That seems to suit my mood at the moment. I know it’s not like me, though, and I hope that one day soon I start to feel more like myself again.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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95

Kinda hurried today, but these are my thoughts on this one:

For the first few steeps, I get primarily freshly baked bread with a touch of chocolate. After the third steep, there’s more of a honey-like flavour. Deliciously smooth throughout, with no bitterness or astringency. First steeps around 2-3 minutes, later ones around 3-4 minutes, always in boiling water, no additions.

Another excellent tea from Teavivre, would absolutely, definitely purchase again.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp
Fjellrev

Sounds mightily lovely!

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80

A sample from Teavivre. The first thing I noticed about this one, other than it’s long, thick, twisty leaves, was how light it is. Even after 3-4 minutes, it’s still a medium golden brown. Most of the Yunnan/Dian Hongs I’ve tried have been similar, but still usually darker (at least on first steep) than this one gets. It’s actually quite refreshing, because there’s none of that black tea “heaviness”, and (of course) no bitterness or astringency. There’s no impact on the flavour, either – that’s still full and surprisingly fruity.

I was expecting bread/chocolate, but this one’s a little different. I’m getting mostly stone fruit flavours – apricot, maybe a touch of plum. There’s also a mild earthiness that reminds me a little bit of ripe pu’erh, but it’s by no means overpowering. Subsequent steeps have a little breadiness in the mid-sip, and a touch of honey towards the end of the sip, but the main flavour for me is the fruit. It’s light and juicy, perfectly smooth, and just right for a warm summer afternoon. Another win from Teavivre!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp
TeaVivre

Lots of my teavivre colleagues enjoy this tea quite much, including me!

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90

A sample from Teavivre. I’ve been excited to try this one for a while, since Yunnan teas are a favourite of mine. Somehow, though, I’ve just never got around to it. Call it life, maybe. Today is as good a day as any, besides.

I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in almost-boiling water. The scent is malt and honey with a hint of chocolate, and the taste is similar – it’s always nice to find a tea that lives up to its scent! The initial sip is brown sugar and malt, but a dark chocolate flavour develops in the mid-sip and lingers nicely. It’s super-smooth, with absolutely no bitterness or astringency. I’ll be resteeping this one!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp

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90

This one came to me as a free sample from Teavivre ages ago, and I’ve only got around to trying it now. I don’t know what’s wrong with me – some extreme form of lethargy, apparently. I’m drinking tea, but I’m not writing about it; there are a lot of things I’m just not feeling at the moment, sadly.

I used half the sample pouch – 5 pearls – for my cup (I’ll be resteeping for sure!) I gave them 3.5 minutes in boiling water. No additions. To taste, it’s pretty much as I expected. I feel like I’ve tried something very similar from Teavivre before, but I’ve no previous notes on this specific tea, so it can’t be this one. Maybe it wasn’t organic, or something? Anyway, it’s malty, with all the thick-tasting sweetness that suggests. There’s also a chocolately, cocoa-like flavour, which, if I’m honest, was what I was hoping for when I picked this one out today. Delicious! This is a dragon pearl I’ll seriously consider keeping around.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp
Terri HarpLady

I haven’t written tea reviews for ages, although I did finally write one yesterday.

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Profile

Bio

Hi :) I’m Sarah, 29, and I live in Norfolk in the UK. My tea obsession began when a friend introduced me to Teapigs a good few years ago now. Since then, I’ve been insatiable. Steepster introduced me to a world of tea I never knew existed, and my goal is now to TRY ALL THE TEAS. Or most of them, anyway.

I still have a deep rooted (and probably life-long) preference for black tea. My all-time favourite is Assam, but Ceylon and Darjeeling also occupy a place in my heart. Flavoured black tea can be a beautiful thing, and I like a good chai latte in the winter.

I also drink a lot of rooibos/honeybush tea, particularly on an evening. Sometimes they’re the best dessert replacements, too. White teas are a staple in summer — their lightness and delicate nature is something I can always appreciate on a hot day.

I’m still warming up to green teas and oolongs. I don’t think they’ll ever be my favourites, with a few rare exceptions, but I don’t hate them anymore. My experience of these teas is still very much a work-in-progress. I’m also beginning to explore pu’erh, both ripened and raw. That’s my latest challenge!

I’m still searching for the perfect fruit tea. One without hibiscus. That actually tastes of fruit.

You’ve probably had enough of me now, so I’m going to shut up. Needless to say, though, I really love tea. Long may the journey continue!

My rating system:

91-100: The Holy Grail. Flawless teas I will never forget.

81-90: Outstanding. Pretty much perfection, and happiness in a cup.

71-80: Amazing. A tea to savour, and one I’ll keep coming back to.

61-70: Very good. The majority of things are as they should be. A pleasing cup.

51-60: Good. Not outstanding, but has merit.

41-50: Average. It’s not horrible, but I’ve definitely had better. There’s probably still something about it I’m not keen on.

31-40: Almost enjoyable, but something about it is not for me.

11-30: Pretty bad. It probably makes me screw my face up when I take a sip, but it’s not completely undrinkable.

0-10: Ugh. No. Never again. To me, undrinkable.

Location

Norfolk, UK

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