1813 Tasting Notes
I’m not sure how it is that I’ve only logged this one once. I half-remember writing more than one note about it, but maybe Steepster has eaten them. I wondered whether I wrote them for Caramel Apple Honeybush, but apparently I only logged that one once, too. The mind boggles.
I’ve definitely drank this one more than once, but at the moment I still have half a pouch left. I’ve been ignoring it recently in favour of other things, but I figured it deserved to come out again this morning. It’s a pretty perfect tea for cold days, and today is still really cold after yesterday’s snow. Fortunately there were no disasters on the way to work this morning.
I didn’t used to be the biggest oolong fan, and in some ways I’m still not, but flavoured teas like this one helped to convince me that there’s nothing really to be scared of. The caramel here is sweet and light, the apple is crisp and almost a little sour. It’s a great combination! The oolong base pokes through just a little, but I think it helps to develop the slightly burnt note of the caramel, while adding a light floral that some apples actually do have. A deliciously satisfying cup.
Last night’s after dinner cup! I pulled out a stack of Bluebird teas when I went through my tea box on Sunday, so it’s no surprise that I’m starting to work through them. As ever, I only wish I’d done it sooner because this one. Is. Amazing. It smells great as soon as you open the pouch, but I’m always slightly wary of building up hopes at that point because scent and flavour are two entirely different things. I’ve learned this the hard way when it comes to tea and expectations. It’s not the case here, though, because this tea actually tastes like black forest gateau in a cup! I used 1.5 tsp of leaf, gave it a good 4 minutes in boiling water, and then added a splash of milk.
The initial flavour is cherry – concentrated black cherry, and a little syrupy. Second comes the chocolate – dark chocolate, rich and creamy. It has a lightness that really reminds me of sponge cake, although I have no idea how that’s achieved. Last of all is a hint of vanilla, which puts me very much in mind of the whipped cream topping a black forest gateau would have. Altogether, it’s pretty well a spot-on recreation in liquid form. I wasn’t expecting to be quite so impressed, but I’m more than glad that I am. This will definitely be a repurchase once I have my cupboard a little more in order. I’ve just placed an order with Bluebird for their new Spring collection anyway, so it’ll be a while yet I suspect.
One thing that did stand out to me is the sheer amount of different berries that went into this one – elderberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and cranberries, but no cherry. I just found it interesting that the effect they create is so different from what they actually are, and that it took so many different berries to achieve it. There’s also apple and hibiscus, so go figure I guess. In some ways, Bluebird strike me almost as a smaller, UK version of David’s Tea. “All the ingredients”, huh? Given that it tastes this good, though, I’m not really complaining!
I picked up another sample pouch of this one with my last Bluebird order, really just to refresh my memory of it. I remember enjoying it, but hardly any of the specifics. I finally got around to opening it last night, and brewed up a cup as my pre-bedtime tea. It’s as good as I hoped, except to say that it’s more chocolatey than I remembered and less minty. Both are there, but the chocolate really dominates. It’s quite a sweet milk chocolate flavour, too, doubtless aided by the melting of those adorable chocolate hearts scattered throughout. If you like sweet chocolate things, this is for you. It’s an excellent caffeine-free treat.
This was on my list of teas to come back to as it had that alcoholic niff when I first opened the pouch, and it kind of pervaded my first cup. It still hasn’t faded entirely, but it was much improved this morning on what it had been. I tried another cup – 1 tsp of leaf for 3 minutes in boiling water, splash of milk. It’s a pretty decent chocolate caramel tea, but I’m not getting cheesecake at all. That’s a shame, but not entirely unexpected.
I have about two servings left of this one, so I decided to try one of them whisked into a glass of orange juice this morning for a change from my usual latte. I used 3/4 tsp and a large (250ml?) glass of juice. I did wonder whether the orange juice would drown out the matcha completely, but it doesn’t seem to have. To be honest, it’s mostly the vanilla I can taste but that’s okay with me (especially first thing!) The combination does have a decent creamsicle vibe going on, so I’m pretty content with how it worked out. It’s sweet, refreshing, and palatable which is all I want right now really.
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This is what I decided on for today after everything happened this morning. I’ve heard really, really good things about this pu’erh, and it’s been long overlooked in my cupboard. I’m using 1 tsp of leaf for this session, which had an initial rinse of 1 minute in water just cooled from boiling.
First steep is for 1 minute in water just cooled from boiling. The rinse liquor was fairly strongly scented and fishy, so I was wary with my first steep. It turns out that I needn’t have been – the flavour here is pretty delicate and the fishiness has gone completely. The best way to describe this would be “earthy cream”. It’s smooth and sweet with an underlying creaminess, but the main flavour is light forest floor/wet leaf, hence “earthy”. There’s a mild camphor-like coolness after successive sips.
Second steep also for one minute, in boiling water. The flavour this time is a little less distinctively earthy, with amped up cream notes and a touch of brown sugar/molasses in the mid-sip. Interestingly, the scent is still very earthy, but it’s not really coming out in the flavour. I’ve no problem with that, though – cream and brown sugar are just fine with me!
Lunch beckons, but I’ll be returning to this one later…
Third Steep for two minutes in boiling water. The liquor is much darker this time – a red-brown rather than an orange-brown. The flavour seems to have developed a little, too, and is now nuttier (I’m thinking walnut or hazelnut), with a caramel note lurking in the background. There’s still a touch of molasses, and the same distinctive creaminess. The earthiness is back very slightly, but is confined mostly to the aftertaste. I’m guessing the longer steep time encouraged this to re-emerge.
Fourth steep also for two minutes in boiling water. The earthiness has disappeared again, but the lightly sweet creaminess remains, with hints of brown sugar. Some of the intensity has worn off that flavour now, so I wouldn’t really call it molasses anymore. Brown sugar for sure, though. One thing I really like about this one is how it seems to get smoother with each successive steep. It was already pretty smooth to start with, but now it’s even more so. Silky, mildly sweet, sugar/cream amazingness.
Fifth steep for 3 minutes in boiling water, and it’s possibly the most amazing yet. It’s really sweet, with a distinctive creaminess and strong brown sugar notes, also a touch of vanilla. There’s no earthiness at all, and it’s the silkiest, smoothest thing that’s passed my lips in a long, long time. I know 3 minutes was recommended for this one, and I can definitely see why. I’m still over-cautious when it comes to pu’erh, though, especially the early steeps, thanks to a couple of fairly dodgy experiences. I’m going to have to think about what to do with my next cup, and whether to start with a longer steep straight off? Maybe it’s time to be brave again.
I had hoped to get six steeps of this one completed – two each at one, two and three minutes. I’m almost out of time unless I take the leaves home with me, though, and in all honesty I’m not going to faff around doing that. I’ve had a good time with this tea today, though – it’s kept me company without the need for milk, and has been utterly delicious all the way through. I’m really glad I picked up a pouch of this one, and only sad I didn’t get around to trying it sooner.
The next few days are clearly going to be Whispering Pines days, now they’ve emerged from their confinement in the deep, dark depths of “the box”. After my success with Imperial Gold Bud Dian Hong last night, I skipped straight to this one. I actually managed to recover all of the excitement and anticipation I originally felt when I first ordered this one, and it was nice to feel that way again. I used 1.5 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water, no additions.
This has got to be one of the best tasting flavoured dessert teas I’ve ever tried. The initial sip is thick, heavy black cherry syrup – sweet, fruity, kirsch-like. The mid-sip adds distinctive notes of dark chocolate; rich and cocoa-like, and a perfect pairing with the cherry. The end of the sip brings sweet, creamy vanilla and just a hint of cinnamon. It’s a perfect combination of flavours, each enchancing the other to create a truly decadent taste experience. I’ve missed Whispering Pines, it’s true. I can’t wait to have another cup of this one!
I feel like I’m finally getting back on track with things, tea being one of them. It’s been a rocky couple of months health and work-wise and I know I let a lot of things slip, but this last weekend felt like an improvement on how things have been. I feel more interested in stuff/life generally than I have since well before Christmas. I celebrated that on Sunday by having a tidy up/sort out, which has made me feel better still – fresher and more organised. Part of the sort out involved my tea box – I had a look through and pulled out some older teas, and some in papery packaging that’s been a concern at the back of my mind for a while now. Chief among those were Whispering Pines and Bluebird Teas, so they’re now out of the box and readily accessible for drinking. I’m going to try and start drinking my “proper” tea – by which I mean all my loose leaf special stuff – at home again and not just at work. I’ve been drinking bagged Twinings/Clipper at home in the evenings and at weekends since Christmas, so it’s definitely time for a change. I can cope with making a cup of loose leaf tea when I’m tired, I’m sure. What I’m less sure about is what the hell happened to me over the last 3 months. Now I’m coming out of the fug, I feel like I completely lost track of the things that matter to me, and that make me who I am. It’s odd to look back on a recent span of time and feel like that.
Enough of the soul searching. This is one of the teas I pulled out, and it’s definitely been neglected enough. I used 1.5tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. I added a tiny splash of milk, but only really because I was drinking it late on. Ordinarily I wouldn’t, I don’t think.
I appreciated this all the more given that my tastebuds are pretty accustomed to bagged at the moment. It has a beautifully strong, rich, malty flavour with gorgeous baked bread notes, sweet potato flesh and a distinctive background pepperiness. Drinking this reminded me why I like Yunnan blacks so much – this is a phenomenal tea, flavourful to drink with beautiful leaf to boot. There aren’t the words to describe how glad I am to have this one back in my rotation.
So it’s 9.40, I’ve not been at work long, and I’ve already had quite a morning. Thankfully, none of the drama so far has been work related, although frankly I’m just waiting for that to start. So far, it’s snowed which never fails to cause unparalleled traffic chaos – it took me nearly 2 hours to travel about 20 miles this morning. I was almost home and dry when the de-icer can fell off the back seat of my car on to the floor, where it exploded. It gave me such a fright, I can’t tell you. I know I’m going to have a good old mess to clean up later, but I had to just ditch the can and run to the office, leaving the carnage for later. I was on time, though. To the minute.
Obviously once I got in to work I was in dire need of tea. I had planned to get milk this morning, but that didn’t happen, so I’ve switched my plans and decided to have a pu’erh day. First, though, I made myself a cup of this one while I calm down. It’s a freshly opened pouch of the old 52 Teas reblend version, and it’s pretty good. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water, no additions. It’s a fairly tasty, flavour accurate rendition of a root beer float – complete with ice cream creaminess and root beer earthy-herbalness. I think chicory is probably what I mean by that, mostly, although it doesn’t quite sum up the whole quite accurately enough. Cola nuts? I don’t know. It tastes like root beer, and my brain isn’t working well enough yet to come up with accurate descriptors.
Anyway, I like this one. It’s not quite as strongly flavoured as the 12 Teas of Christmas version I originally tried, but nearly. I remember being able to add milk to that one, whereas I think here it would just wash everything out. No complaints, though. It’s good. My original rating stands.