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Recent Tasting Notes
More tea mail today; some of it was just single serving freebie sachet samples of Bluebird’s winter collection though so I’m working on finishing those off tonight to help bring my cupboard down a little. I was a little frustrated when I opened this one up; the side of the sachet was split open so I had to transfer it into another sachet to steep it…
This tastes pretty good though; it’s a wee bit astringent but nothing I can’t handle.
I’m getting some major pudding/custard vibes though: probably from the vanilla in the blend. It’s kind of giving me a bit of flavour Deja Vu though; can’t quite put my finger right on it though. The hints of cinnamon and clove are very nice though; definitely adds a bit of that festive touch. The orange undertones don’t hurt either, in that regard. I’m intrigued by the supposed spruce needles in the blend, though I don’t taste them at all. I don’t taste the almond either, for that matter. Both of those statements are disappointing facts…
Overall this isn’t bad – I think I get more of a custardy bread pudding flavour out of it overall though, rather than “Christmas Cake” – which I imagine is supposed to be like a spice cake/fruit cake sort of cross. Not something I’d spend my own money on, though.
I used up the last of my leaf as a cold brew. It was maybe a little on the light side, given that I didn’t have a massive amount left, but it’s still clearly peach flavoured. There’s a hint of ginger also, but it’s much less noticeable than it is when brewed hot.
I added lemonade to my second glass, just to see, and that’s a thing that works quite well with this one. I might buy some more of this next spring/summer, if it’s still around.
A unexpectedly sad sipdown!
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.
The notes of this blend are fruity, creamy and sour rolled into one. Is it weird to say that it smells like rhubarb and custard sweets? Probably, but it totally does! Jasmine Poached Pears tastes fruity, with a light jasmine flavour that combines with a tickle of grassy sencha. As a massive lover of jasmine, my heart ached for a strong jasmine note, so the gentleness was initially disappointing. But, the more I worked my way through the blend, the more I appreciated the balance of fruit and florals. Not exactly what I was expecting, but I ended up loving it!
For more on tea: www.tastethetea.co.uk
Flavors: Custard, Fruit Punch, Jasmine
To me, this didn’t smell like banana bread or even banana! More like chai a la caramel. I find I’ve been increasingly going off rooibos, particularly in times of high stress, because the aroma seems to be triggering headaches (anyone else get this? Or do I have a weird anomaly?) Also caffeine, I need caffeine… Overall, I wasn’t certain about this blend. I didn’t seem to hate it or love it.
for more on tea: www.tastethetea.co.uk
For mor eon tea: www.tastethetea.co.uk
Flavors: Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Sweet, Tea
Treacle Sponge is the smell of nostalgia! Anyone else remember those sticky toffee puddings that came in a tin? That’s what this tea smells like to me! I remember my mom would make them with custard, as an after-dinner treat. For anyone who didn’t get this wonderful experience as a child, you can now experience it in liquid form. It shouldn’t be a surprise that this tea smells sweet, cakey and treacle-y. And the flavour? A punch of vanilla, slight green tea notes and a lingering cake-like finish. It smells great and tastes great, but it also looks beautiful. It’s like a mini firework of tea. It actually turned out to be my favourite of the collection.
For more on tea: www.Tastethetea.co.uk
Flavors: Butterscotch, Caramel, Sweet, Toffee, Vanilla
It’s great to see a fruity blend that doesn’t focus predominantly on the fruit. I loved that the green tea came together WITH the fruit, rather than it being one or the other. Ultimately, Pineapple Sorbet taught me to always give it a go, because tea can, and will, surprise you.
For more: www.TastetheTea.co.uk
Flavors: Fruity, Lemon, Mineral, Pleasantly Sour, Sour, Toasty
My mind is still mostly on my dad in the hospital (he is doing better) but I thought I’d do a quick note for this tea as I only have one teabag. This is a free teabag that Bluebird sent with Jelly + Ice Cream. I never tried it before so I was excited! I never felt the need to try this though, because Hot Mama Jama sounds similar but better with fruit and spice. But this is no Hot Mama Jama. They are both delicious and unique enough. This one is major mint and lemon all on a lovely green tea base. So FULL of flavor. Yum. It’s very well balanced and definitely thirst quenching on a hot day. I like this tea and I LOVE Bluebird!
I felt like something light and fruity this morning, so this one finally got its turn! In practice, it’s not quite what I expected it to be. I understand immediately where the “fruit salad” vibe comes in, although it’s not quite candy-like enough to pull off a resemblance to the chewy sweet. It’s mixed fruit for sure – strawberry, raspberry, pineapple, orange, and papaya – but to me it tastes more like an actual fruit salad than a sweet. That’s not a problem, but it’s not exactly how it’s billed. It needs more sweetness to be an effective “candy” replica, and it’s not often I say that about Bluebird teas.
One of the big positives here is that, even though this blend contains quite a quantity of hibiscus and rosehip, it doesn’t lean sour or become over-tart. I gave this one a good 4 minutes in boiling water, and at the end of that it’s still only a pink-red which I always take as a good sign where fruit blends are concerned.
I’m drinking this one hot this morning, but I actually think it might work even better cold. I might try adding a tiny bit of sugar to my next cup, just to see if I can amplify the “candy” vibe a little more. On the whole, though, it’s pretty great.
Coffee, chocolate, and chai sounds an excellent combination to me. Even though it’s technically summer, it’s actually pretty chilly, dull, and rainy today. I wouldn’t usually choose a tea like this – particularly a chai, I guess – at this time of year, but today it jumped out at me from the small selection of Bluebird samples I brought to work. Warm, comforting…just the thing.
I used 1.5 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it a good 4 minutes in boiling water, with a decent splash of milk. The dry mix contains a decent amount of coffee beans, and a few chocolate chips, so the main “mocha” credentials are covered. The chocolate chips leave a light oily scrim, as you might expect, but nothing too extreme. It’s a price I’m willing to pay for a soild chocolate flavour, anyway.
To taste, it’s almost as good as I hoped. The black tea base is perhaps a little on the light side, but that’s a complaint I have about Bluebird’s black teas in general – their blend base is primarily Ceylon, and I think for a chai like this I’d prefer Assam. Still, that’s a persona preference only, and it still tastes good. The coffee is more prevelant than I expected, so I think there’s probably some added flavouring. It’s hard to believe that a few whole coffee beans could achieve that in just a few minutes, but maybe it’s possible. I’m no expert on coffee! The chocolate is discernable, too, and pairs nicely with the coffee to create a distinctly “mocha” vibe – I’m very happy with how that turned out. There’s just a touch of vanilla, also, which, with the milk and chocolate, creates a deliciously dessert-like background. The spicing isn’t overpowering, and comes out mostly in the midsip – it’s a pleasant blend of ginger, cardamon, and cinnamon, and it works well with the other flavours. I can see myself really enjoying this one come autumn, but it’s equally perfect for a cold, miserable day like today. This might just have become one of my favourite Bluebird chai blends!
So Bluebird is awesome when I asked if they had any more of the Jelly + Ice Cream that is my favorite and they said they DID. So I was able to stock up on that (I was good and that was the only one I bought… I had just bought from them a little while ago) and they sent this one along as a sample!! It sounds like an interesting unique blend. Also, love the name. It’s nice to have an earthy cup once in a while and I’m pretty sure it DID help my focus a bit. The focusing yerba mate is the base. Then additional earthiness from the ginger, sarsparilla, and siberian ginseng (not sure what the ginkgo biloba should taste like.) I’m surprised the result isn’t spicier with the cinnamon AND chili but the main note is the sarsparilla and earthiness from most of the other ingredients. A nice balance of the ingredients overall. The second cup probably shouldn’t have been steeped at just boiled (a little tangy) but I didn’t ruin the tea too badly. Just ideally shouldn’t have been boiled. This tea wouldn’t really take any focus away from your studying though (just focus ON the studying) as I feel it needs some extra pizzazz in flavor for that. But it’s delicious as is.
Steep #1 // 1 teaspoon for a full mug// 20 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3 minute steep
There are a good few Bluebird teas that remind me of Davids Tea blends, but this one is probably chief amongst them. It’s not a flavour thing, necessarily, but more of a chunky-blend-with-lots-going-on kind of thing. I think it’s slightly unfair on my part, but similarities to Davids Tea are not a bad thing in my book, so it’s really a disguised compliment.
The dry leaf is so pretty – easter in a bag, basically. There are large, chunky chocolate chips, cacao nibs, mini marshmallows, toasted rice, and a smattering of black tea. There are a few green leaves in there, too, and I think this is the base blend that combines Ceylon and Houjicha. It’s not my favourite of Bluebird’s base teas, but there isn’t a great deal of it here so I suspect I’ll be fine.
I used 1.5 tsp of leaf, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. The marshmallows and chocolate chips melt fairly readily, although they give the finished cup a murky, oily appearance that’s not entirely attractive. I can forgive that, though, because it smells amazing – hot chocolate, anyone?
To taste, it’s also pretty good. It’s a chocolate rice crispie cake in a cup, basically. The initial flavour is a chocolate/marshmallow combination, and tastes as sweet and sugary as that sounds. That’s quickly followed by a light toastiness from the rice/genmaicha element, which helps to tone things down a bit and makes for a more rounded flavour. Really, though, this is an in-your-face sugar bomb, a brilliant dessert tea, and a good alternaitve to Easter Eggs if you’re trying to stay away from chocolate. Tasty!
I’ve had this one a while, though as I’ve been trying to drink up teas that are even older, it hasn’t been out of my cupboard until today. I love the idea of this one – I’ve not tried many bacon teas, but those I have had have been positive experiences. It something that sounds like it shouldn’t work, but somehow does. It’s an idea that’s super appealing to me as a breakfast tea, so that’s how I’m drinking it this morning. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. No additions.
The initial sip is pancakes smothered in maple syrup. The maple is up first – sweet, rich – and then there’s a thick butteriness that’s very reminiscent of pancake batter. It’s like taking a bit of freshly-made pancakes that you’ve just added a lot of syrup to. Maybe too much syrup for some, but I think it’s pretty perfect.
The bacon is more muted than I expected, and seems more like a flavour that evolves as the result of the ingredients, rather than an additional “thing in itself”. It’s not like 52Teas bacon, for example, or like bacon teas that actually have those bacon crispies in them. I think, here, it’s the combination of the smoky lapsang souchong, the earthy pu’erh, and maybe even just suggestion brought to mind by the strong maple/pancake elements. It’s subtle, in any case.
There’s a hint of cinnamon in the aftertaste, and a touch of smoked chili, which add a little something extra to the overall effect. On the whole, this strikes me as a tea that’s been well blended and put together with care. The flavours work well together, and the overall effect lives up to the name. I’m really pleased with this one!
I received this teabag as a sample with my order months ago. It’s a Bluebird classic that I believe was available when Bluebird started. I was a fan of Bluebird since the beginning but somehow haven’t tried this one yet! Personally, I would have used more leaves than the teabag contains. I shouldn’t be too scared of the hibiscus though, as Bluebird usually includes a tame amount. They do here, even though the hibiscus is the main note anyway. That is possibly the luck of the teabag goodies and what was included. Even though the cup is a deep red, the flavor isn’t too tangy. However, I would love to see a strawberry lemon blend without hibiscus at all. I do taste hints of thirst quenching fruit (strawberry, apple, lemon) but I’d love more of those and less hibiscus. The second steep had a lot less flavor, but I don’t usually resteep hibiscus blends. Also drinking this out of my Bluebird mug I received FREE with the order this teabag came with. Free tea! Free mug!
Steep #1 // 1 teabag for a full mug// few minutes after boiling // 3-4 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 5+ minute steep
Here’s Hoping TTB
Ooo, I like this one! Like the last Bluebird tea I sampled, this one has a beautiful dry leaf with cute little sprinkles…but this one brews up GLITTERY! A total gimmick, but still fun. And the flavor was surprisingly complex: vanilla, spice cake (I actually got a cake flavor, not just spices), and orange peel predominating.
Flavors: Cake, Orange, Spices, Vanilla
This is fitting for a day after Easter tea! It’s also tough to tell when to drink it because it is mostly rooibos with a little bit of lapsang souchong. So I’m not sure how much caffeine. On taste or color of the mug, I don’t think there is much. Only a few black tea leaves within a teaspoon and a half at most. I’m not British so I can’t say I’ve ever had a Hot Cross Bun. But this is a tasty tea. The rooibos is quality from Bluebird, as always. The first flavor to hit the buds is orange. Then slight cinnamon and maybe a bit of cranberry and apple. The rosehips and hibiscus aren’t overwhelming — I can barely tell they’re included (WIN). Possibly a hint of icing flavor here. The second steep is even fuller in flavor. I’m always surprised at the lovely balance that all of the Bluebird blends have. Every sip mixes things up a bit. So overall, a very tasty, mostly fruity, mostly rooibos blend. It’s very calming and warming. The only thing I would have liked is more of a pastry/bread flavor. I’m glad I bought some of this one. Bluebird is the ONE teashop I would suggest more Steepsterers try. I love them! Fun fact: a Steepster search for Hot Cross Bun only results in this tea! (Usually every search has a billion results.)
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoon for a full mug// 18 minutes after boiling // 3-4 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 5 minute steep
Here’s Hoping TTB
This has to be one of the prettiest tea blends I’ve ever seen. Curled green tea leaves, twists of coconut, big chunks of freeze-dried strawberries and adorable little star-shaped sprinkles all jumbled up together…it looks like a party! And the scent was sweet strawberry-vanilla deliciousness. Unfortunately, the flavor didn’t quite live up. I definitely get vanilla and a hint of strawberry, but it’s quickly overwhelmed by the hibiscus tartness that ruins so many promising fruity teas. This is better than many strawberry blends I’ve tried, but still not everything I was hoping for.
Flavors: Hibiscus, Strawberry, Tart, Vanilla
From my order during the boxing day sale. This has been a solid member of the Bluebird teas collection since I can remember and I thought I’d give it a try. I see banana bits and calendula petals in the blend. Overall, there is a light banana flavor which is great, a little creaminess. The ingredients lists vanilla but I don’t really notice that. I could swear that calendula petals create a creamy flavor though, or else calendula is always in these types of teas that have that additional flavor (pancake, etc). Otherwise, the Ceylon is a little boring to me as Ceylon usually is. But if there is some banana and a little creaminess here, I’m fine with that.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons // few minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3-4 min
I’ve always wanted to try this classic Bluebird blend and I finally was able to with a free teabag with my order. I’m a little glad that I didn’t buy any, as this Earl just isn’t MY Earl. Nothing here is what I would prefer with an Earl, but that is just my tastes. First, the bergamot isn’t my favorite… I’m a little picky with what particular bergamot flavor I like. There is NO creme flavor to speak of, which surprised me. Bluebird flavors are usually spot on. Even though there should be vanilla here, I don’t taste any of that either. The black tea brews up a nice dark red on the first steep, but the second steep the flavor is barely there even though I let it steep for seven minutes. I’m a little glad there is a Bluebird tea I DON’T like…. just wish it wasn’t this one as I’m still on the hunt for my favorite Earl.
Steep #1 // 10 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 7 minute steep
While I’m not actually the biggest fan of fresh bananas, I do love me a loaf of banana bread and have really enjoyed a handful of banana-flavored teas that I’ve tried: Butiki’s Hello Sweetie and A Quarter to Tea’s Banana Nut Pancakes stand out in my memory. This one is okay, but definitely not a standout. The base tea is very smooth and mild, playing a supporting role to the slightly artificial banana and vanilla flavoring. Nice, but forgettable.
Flavors: banana, Vanilla
I wasn’t expecting much from this one because rooibos, but it somehow became a family favourite. My sister and mother both asked where this tea came from and when I could pick up more, which never happens; usually everyone’s on my case about too much tea!
Cardamom and ginger are the main spices (they actually give off a bit of real fire!), with a slightly sweet appeal. Needless to say, it tastes good in milk.
So that’s a winner, Bluebird Tea Co!
Flavors: Cardamon, Cookie, Ginger
I needed something festive to help me feel the spirit of the season, and I needed something decaf to help keep my blood pressure and anxiety at a minimum throughout the holiday blitz. Throughout this winter season, I’ve been brewing Gingerbread Chai from Bluebird. This rooibos chai has many of the usual spice suspects: ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon. The cinnamon is the most prominent flavor, and I found myself wanting more of a ginger bite to make for a spicier chai. This tea is smooth and warming, with the baked-good quality of cardamom and cinnamon. Most notably, this tea also has mallow blossoms mixed in, which make for a unique visual style and which bring a certain floral, marshmallow sweetness to the tea. Now that I’ve survived the holidays, and everything is settling down, I am getting towards the end of this bag of tea. All things considered, Gingerbread Chai has served me well and I’ll keep an eye out for it next season.
Flavors: Cardamon, Cinnamon, Cream, Ginger, Marshmallow, Nutty, Vanilla
When I ordered a bunch of holiday teas from Bluebird earlier this year, I included a note that I would love to try any of the banana teas that the company offered. Thanks, Bluebird! I received a sample of two banana teas with my order. First up is Monkey Chops.
Monkey Chops has a ceylon black tea base with added vanilla flavoring and banana pieces. I’m a fan of banana in all its forms, the actual fruit, flavored candy, spiced banana bread, creamy banana desserts, etc. and I have to say, this tea actually does taste like bananas-and-cream black tea! Even without milk, the brew has plenty of creamy notes and smooth banana flavor. I’d love to upgrade my sample to a full bag next time and try out all kinds of lattes and desserts with this tea. Banana isn’t a flavor you see in teas everyday, and with a name like Monkey Chops, how can you resist?
Flavors: banana, Cream, Vanilla