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Recent Tasting Notes
So over here in America, I have no idea what a Treacle Sponge should taste like, but this is a pretty delicious tea. This sure is sweet and if there is butter involved in the dessert, a buttery sencha green base is perfect. I’m not sure how the cocoa shells, cinnamon and aniseed came into the blend… they are a lovely idea for the blend but I think I was mostly tasting the flavoring on the green tea. There is a TON of flavor here, even on the second steep. And I haven’t tasted this flavor with any other tea before. So I’m not sure I had to use 1 1/2 teaspoons to create such a tasty cup.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug// 30 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // 25 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
This is the first “straight” matcha I’ve tried from Bluebird, mostly because I’m just starting to discover their matcha collection. Their flavoured matcha is awesome, but it’s always nice to get a point of reference from an unflavoured variety. This one isn’t their normal base for flavoured matcha, though, I don’t think. I’m guessing that’s probably their mixology matcha.
Anyway, I made this one up last night initially as a latte. It’s very grassy, although smooth and palatable for all that. It’s also more savoury than I was expecting, which struck a slightly odd balance with the sweetish, full-fat milk. I think a different milk would probably be a good idea, when I drink this one again. Either that, or I try and sweeten the whole affair so that it seems more in tune.
One thing that did bother me was the powdery quality. I found it with their Ice Cream Matcha, although not to the same extent. It was definitely worse here. I know it’s not my whisking, because that’s thorough these days – I know the pitfalls of not whisking enough from previous experience, shall we say. That’s my only complaint, though. Otherwise, it’s a tasty, quality matcha (although I still prefer flavoured!)
Made this one as a latte, because that’s obviously what it wants to be. It’s as fundamentally delicious as you might expect, and it really nails “ice cream” as a flavour. It’s vanilla, for sure, but there’s also something beyond that which suggests ice cream more readily – maybe it’s the carob powder? It’s not just vanilla matcha, although it’s actually pretty difficult to explain why that is, when vanilla is very much the main flavour.
I think it helps that it’s a latte – it lends a thickness, and an extra “dairy” dimension that it might otherwise be lacking – I’ll have to try it without so much milk, and see how I feel about it then. One thing I did notice is that it’s slightly powdery in terms of texture, but it’s a fine powder rather than a gritty one. I stirred it a few times as I drank, and that seemed to help a little, but I think it might be partly due to the ingredients. Perhaps one of them just has that texture? When I got to the bottom of the cup, there was no powder sludge, so it was definitely whisked thoroughly enough (I use an electric whisk anyway, so there was little doubt about that…) It didn’t spoil my enjoyment, in any case. This one’s great, and I’d definitely buy more!
This was a sample that Bluebird kindly sent with the Boxing Day order I just had to make. It looks like all of the teas on sale are now completely gone from their website! Sad sad. I’m glad I was able to nab a few teas I really wanted to try. This sounds like a fantastic blend of candied yams ingredients…. even some pumpkin, but upon opening the pouch I mostly find the scent of orange. I’m not sure if the recipe usually has orange in candied yams? I’ve always loved the concept of candied yams but never had them (only plain yams – still delicious). The inclusion of rosehip and hibiscus scared me before steeping but the bright orange cup promised no deep red tartness. Bluebird usually keeps the tart tame. There was at least one marshmallow in my infuser, so I was finding a tiny bit of that in the flavor. But definitely a starchy pumpkin quality too. With possibly a hint of spices. And of course some orange. Maybe my proportions of ingredients was a little off in the infuser and doesn’t usually have so much orange? A lovely idea for a blend but this one could use a little work to make it even more delicious (a little too much orange). …but then as the cup cooled it was even tastier, and the second steep the next night had me missing this tea already. There is still some on Bluebird’s site for a limited time if anyone wants to give it a try. And if you go for the 150 grams, I’ll buy some from you!
Steep #1 // 1 2/3 teaspoons for a full mug// just boiled // 5 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled for half a mug // many many minutes
NYE tea! Honestly, it seemed like the obvious choice.
I have a feeling this one is called “Prosecco” because it has a first flush darjeeling base, rather than because it actually tastes like prosecco…but if you concentrate hard enough there is enough of an approximation there to make it an appropriate name. It’s something about the muscatel flavour of the darjeeling, combined with the apple/hibiscus. It’s not fizzy (at least, not brewed like this…) but I think if it was then it’d be pretty hard to beat as an alcohol-imitating tea. Can you tell there’s an idea forming?
Brewed hot, western style, this is a pretty good festive/celebratory tea. The raspberry is really nice – the perfect balance of sweet/tart, and it works beautifully with the darjeeling base. That in itself is really the star – it’s ever so slightly astringent, but the strong, clear muscatel flavour more than makes up for that. It also has a light grassiness that pairs nicely with the raspberry, and actually makes for a more refreshing cup than I was expecting.
This one shouldn’t be super limited edition. I would buy this all year round.
I’ve been looking forward to this one – the last of this year’s Christmas collection from Bluebird. It smells delicious in the bag!
The sad fact is, though, that it doesn’t quite translate into the brewed cup. It’s actually a little fustrating, because it’s almost there, but it somehow falls just a touch short. The apple, for example, is there as a flavour, but it’s not strong enough for a tea that’s trying to be cider. The ginger and cinnamon flavours are good – they pretty much nail the spiced aspect, and they work well with the apple – it’s kind of reminiscent of home-made apple pie, rather than cider (although the apple still really isn’t prominent enough, even for that…) I’d add more leaf, although I suspect that will simply emphasise the hibiscus at the expense of everything else…
I like this one. I just feel like it needs to be amped up a little.
This is one of the teas I didn’t see on Bluebird’s site a couple days ago. It’s about a year old now so it probably won’t be a fair review as the tea isn’t the freshest. But I needed to write a note anyway! This is a gorgeous looking blend of green tea, lots of colors, strawberry bits, orange petals, and the cutest star sprinkles. I think the flavor was a little better a year ago… more of a strawberry split flavor as the name suggests. But now the hibiscus takes over a little bit. Maybe I need to use the precise amount of leaves. I wish the hibiscus would have been cut from this! It would have been much tastier. I might be able to pick out the hibiscus from the infuser in the future. I couldn’t even taste the green tea, just a mild hibiscus flavor both steeps. Such a promising blend that leads to disappointment.
Steep #1 // 1 2/3 teaspoons for a mug // 30 min after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // 25 min after boiling // 3 minute steep
This one is pretty much as the name suggests – distinctively orangey, with a heavy overtone of spice. It’s almost like orange juice infused with spices, except that it’s less sweet than that might suggest. If anything, that’s my one complaint about this blend – clementine, to me, is a slightly sweeter orange flavour. Here, it’s more sharp orangey-orange, which is fine, but not quite what I was expecting. Really, I’m just happy that the orange remains distinctive despite the heavy spicing.
Clove and ginger are the only spices listed in the ingredients, and both of those are present in abundance. There’s also some “flavouring”, though, and I have a feeling that at least a few other spices are hidden in that catch-all. I think cinnamon, for sure, and maybe something like chili…there’s definitely a “heat” that isn’t ginger or one of the tamer spices. Unless, that is, my tastebuds are totally off.
Anyway, I liked this one. I would like it to be a little sweeter, but it’s good all the same.
So I ordered from Bluebird’s sale last night. sigh. I can’t help it. And Bluebird deserves my money anyway. The sale is a good way to stock up on teas that might be disappearing for good. I think many of the Bluebird teas they once had in stock don’t come back again. Luckily, Bluebird does keep PLENTY of my favorites around. I haven’t written a note for this one yet. I wish the name didn’t mislead to what this tea actually is. I want a sugar plum tea! Though the berries might LOOK like tiny plums, I don’t detect anything resembling plums here. And this cup ain’t sweet either. It’s very tart! Usually the tea magicians at Bluebird are experts at taming their hibiscus and using just the perfect amount. But the hibiscus here is a little much. (Maybe my scoop portioning had too much hibiscus?) My brewing could probably use some tweaking but otherwise, this just seems like a very hibiscus tea.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons // couple minutes after boiling // 4+ minute steep
Sticking with the Christmas theme…
This one is bagged, and it came out of a Christmas gift set I bought for myself last month. I bought it mainly because it contained the four limited edition seasonal blends, and a few at least were new to me (and I think actually new new, although I’ve been MIA for a while in tea terms..) This was one of them.
I can’t claim to be able to comment with any authority on similarities to an actual mince pie, because I can’t stand the things. I do like this tea, though. It reminds me a fair bit of yesterday’s Adagio Christmas, although it’s a lot less orangey. There’s a similar cinnamon/ginger vibe, but this time with lots of almond. It adds an almost-creamy, pastry like element, which is really nice. There are lots of red pomegranate flowers in the blend, for reasons unknown to me, although they are pretty. I expect they’re a carrier for some of the “flavouring” that’s otherwise unspecified on the ingredients list.
On the whole, this one tastes like fruit cake and pastry. If you like Bluebird’s Christmas Cake blend, you’ll probably like this one too.
Day fourteen of advent calendar: I seem to have gone overboard with the sweets lately… a cookie exchange today, more cookies at work… cake.. candy. I definitely don’t need it all.. but I’m trying to just enjoy myself and not worry about it. Tonight I decided I needed a cup that is comforting, clean and can help with digestion. This tea is strange because the peppermint flavor is more grassy.. herbal and green. I was sort of expecting that sinus-clearing, sweet peppermint flavor. I do like this different dimension of peppermint, but there is something in this that I don’t like and I can’t put my finger on it. The pine? Eucalyptus? This cup is mostly an herbal sort of peppermint with some other odd flavors mixed in and they just don’t blend well. I would have liked a more minty, creamy and smooth cup, but this just wasn’t it tonight.
Day four of advent calendar: I’m worried that I might not like this tea as it seems like it’s heavy on spices. I actually like cider, but not when it’s overwhelmed by cinnamon, clove, ginger. The scent of this tea reminds me of a spiced apple candle… a tad artificial. Sipping this tea, it’s definitely not as strong on the spices.. The apple flavor is a bit weak and watered down. I wish that the cider element could be stronger and more natural. It reminds me of drinking a dish of potpourri. Even though I don’t love this cup, it is a comforting drink to have on a cold night.
I iced this one, and then transformed it into a Unicorn Fizz, as per Bluebird’s recommendation. Basically, that’s 3 tsp of leaf brewed in 80 degree water for 3 minutes, poured over ice, and topped up with sparkling water. It’s a butterfly pea tea, so the “unicorn” element comes from the colour change – add lemon juice, and it creates a gradient blue/purple/pink effect.
What I thought when I initially bought this was that “blue raspberry” meant the seaside/fairground slushie flavour. What I think it actually means, having tasted this one, is raspberry flavour and blue in colour. I get raspberry from this – hard not to, given that there are literally loads of whole freeze-dried raspberries in this blend. It’s natural tasting, with that sweet-yet-tartly-sour vibe that actual raspberries have. I’m not super-keen on the sencha base – it’s much grassier than I was expecting, and actually quite distracting. It’s competing for attention with the raspberry, rather than working in harmony with it. There’s also the slightest edge of bitterness. The lemon juice adds an extra tang of sourness, so there’s a real sweet/sour contrast going on. I’m not sure that it really works, but you can’t have the colour change without it.
I’m going to have to experiment with this one a little. I think a shorter brew time (and/or less leaf) might reduce the prominence of the base tea, and allow the raspberry to actually shine. Maybe it’s better suited to brewing hot, or maybe cold brewing a concentrate might work better than conventional iced. I guess I’ll find out!
Day two of the advent calendar and I’m also nervous to be trying this blend because of the hibiscus. I usually worry about fruity teas like this one because they usually just end up a fruity, tart mess on my tongue and it’s hard for me to pick out any of the individual flavors. This one is “award-winning” so I wonder if it will be any different… there has to be a reason for its popularity, right?
The scent of this cup reminds me of a strawberry jello.. very mild, fruity and sweet. Sipping.. I taste sort of a jumble of fruits, but it’s actually not as hibiscus-dominated as I thought it would be. I wish I could pick out more of the strawberry lemonade flavor, but it’s just fine the way it is. I would be interested in seeing how this tea would be iced during the summer. Out of the other fruit teas I’ve had in the past, this one is pleasant, but not outstanding.
I was a little disappointed to see that this was the first tea in this year’s advent calendar only because I’m not the biggest fan of chai. I do like gingerbread and rooibos, though.. so I thought that I’d give this one a go. The first thing I noticed was the intense spiciness of the ginger. I can tolerate ginger in small amounts, but this was a little too strong for me. It had a very warming quality to it, so it would be nice to have on a really cold and snowy day. The ginger didn’t remind me of the kind of soft and sweet ginger that you’d find in gingerbread, though. I also thought that the other flavors in it were strangely sweet and unbalanced. Even though I wouldn’t purchase this in the future, I did finish the cup. I also appreciated the rooibos base and the different take on a gingerbready chai tea.
I received a free teabag of this one with my last Bluebird order. I forgot it was here. I had it in with the little Bluebird box a few smaller teas came in. So any black tea blend that Bluebird sells better stack up to their awesome flavored blends they come up with. It can’t be just a boring black tea! And it isn’t… this is mighty tasty. It’s a mix of Ceylon, Yunnan and Assam. I could probably leave the Ceylon out altogether, but the blend tastes delicious as is. I wish this was the base that Bluebird used in their flavored blends, but then it might distract from the flavors they are going for. This cup resulted in the perfect amount of briskness and strength. (I tend to find their black tea blends have a much weaker tasting base that I could swear is Bluebird’s only flaw!)
Another from my recent Bluebird order. I think this was a leftover from one of their summer collections, since it was labelled “last chance” on their website and has that kind of vibe about it. It’s the kind of tea that wants to be iced. I was intrigued, anyway. Can tea taste like lemonade?
The answer, unsurprisingly, is no. It’s all the more unsurprising when you consider that this blend doesn’t actually contain any lemon. The main four ingredients are apple, rosehip, lemongrass, and orange peel. Admittedly, lemongrass bears _some_resemblance to lemon, although I usually get more of a generic citrus/hay kind of flavour from it. That’s not to say this is a bad tea.
It tastes of lemongrass and not a lot else. It’s on the sweet side, but not super sweet or overdone. I’d have liked a clearer lemon/citrus flavour, but my expectations were probably too high to begin with.
I drank this one iced, and after an initial sip, I added soda water to make a kind of tea pop. It increased the resemblance to lemonade, simply by adding some fizz. A slice of actual lemon (and maybe a squeeze of lemon juice or a grating of zest) might go a long way, too. There are possibilities here, things to try.
I’d probably not repurchase, but it’s pleasant enough to sip on. Curiosity satisfied, if nothing else.
Another latte this evening. I like this one a lot more than I thought I would – it’s really growing on me! I feel like I might have to buy more of this before Bluebird’s seasonal blends disappear, although whether I’ll want to drink it all that often once spring arrives is debatable.
I find it really refreshing, which is a pleasant contrast with most winter/Christmas blends, which are usually pretty heavy on the ginger/cinnamon and/or dried fruit. This one’s distinctively herbal and nicely cooling; a great palate cleanser.
I’m glad I decided to try this one, because it was a reasonably close thing. I’m a fan!
My Bluebird order just arrived, and as part of it I picked up samples of this year’s Christmas collection (except Christmas Cake, which has been around for several years now). I decided to break with tradition, and make a start on trying them straight away. That way, if there’s one I really fall in love with, I’ll have time to get some more. Jack Frost was the one that jumped out at me this evening – it’s a herbal, so great as a pre-bedtime treat, and probably the most unusual of the four.
The ingredients are spearmint, eucalyptus, coconut, ainseed, and pine needles. The scent, dry, is predominantly eucalyptus. Usually I’d try a new blend straight first, but I’d seen Bluebird’s recipe for a Jack Frost Latte and was feeling that, so I went with it. Basically, it’s 300ml hot water and 2 tsp tea, 100ml milk, 1tsp honey, and 1/2 tsp vanilla essence. I brewed the tea for 5 minutes, heated up the milk and added that, and then stirred through the honey and vanilla. At this point, I wasn’t entirely convinced.
I was wrong, though. It is sweet and creamy, from the milk/honey/vanilla, and that is a big part of the flavour (as you might expect). It is possible to taste the tea, though – the coolness of the eucalyptus really cuts through, and the spearmint is easily discernable. There’s a hint of aniseed in the aftertaste. If I were going to be poetic about it, I’d say it’s like taking a sip of frosty morning. I like how it contrasts warm and cold, sweet and clean. It’s both comforting and refreshing.
There are a couple of downsides – the coconut is lost completely, similarly the pine needles. Both of those are disappointing losses, because they’re the things that really make this blend unique. I will try it straight over the coming weeks, though, and hopefully they’ll make more of an impact then.
On the whole, I’m pleased with this one. It’s a great winter blend, without being overly christmassy, and a pretty unique combination of ingredients. I’m looking forward to experimenting a little more with the rest of my sample.
Couldn’t resist trying this one out…
For my first tasting, I just stuck with straight up cold milk. Man, do I love matcha milk. I whisked it up with an electric frother instead of my bamboo whisk ’cause I was feeling lazy and HOLY SHIT DOES THIS FROTH UP WELL. Like, in seconds my entire cup of matcha/milk had turned into this cloud of cool, light, fluffy milk foam. Yessss milk foam!
Taste wise? This is actually great! It’s very creamy and sweet with notes of vanilla, custard, and carob and while it doesn’t scream “Ice Cream” to me I do get where the comparison comes from, for sure. I’d say it’s mostly just creamy vanilla-esque flavour, though. I can imagine this would make for a killer hot latte! The taste of the matcha itself is nice too; it’s actually very mild with only the slightly grassy floral taste. Ultimately, the only weird thing/downside for me comes down to a texture thing. I’m pretty sure it’s the carob powder in this and not the matcha itself, but drinking it there’s a very powdery quality that I couldn’t shake at all. No matter how well I whisked this the “powder” would not dissolve. I mean, it was super fine ‘grain’ but still…
I mean, it’s a minor thing and one I’m pretty sure I can get used to given time/repeat tries of this but it’s definitely still something that stood out this time.
I enjoy flavors like licorice root and anise so I was excited to try this blend. Opening the bag, I was impressed at the whole aniseed stars in the loose leaf. The dry leaf smelled exactly like a black licorice jellybean, intensely sweet and herbal. Unfortunately, brewed, the hibiscus in this blend takes over and ruins it for me. The red-berry, mulled-wine, flavors of the hibiscus are not what I’m looking for with an herbal licorice blend. I would have preferred this blend with a gentler base, like rooibos or paired with something like mint or lemongrass. I guess the hibiscus is more fitting with a “aniseed balls” holiday-like theme. Not bad, but not my favorite.
Flavors: Anise, Hibiscus, Licorice, Red Wine, Spices