Murchie's Tea & CoffeeEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
This is one of my favourite teas from Murchie’s and has been a favourite for like eight years, despite the fact that I only bought it once before. When you open the bag, it smells like maple syrup. And not like, table syrup, but actual maple syrup, which is just lovely.
There are apparently fruit notes in this tea, though I don’t taste them. It does feel a little acidic at times, but that feels more like the the tannins from the tea than any fruit flavour that might pop up. It has a lovely flavour when it’s hot but it does start to taste more like water as it cools.
Still, really warm and buttery and comforting. I enjoy it a lot!
Flavors: Caramel, Malt, Maple Syrup, Sugar
Made myself another mug, this time sans milk. I couldn’t resist the fun wordplay and fitting moodscape of drinking Honeybee in the garden while watching all the bees hard at work pollinating the flower beds. I do think I prefer this tea with the milk addition, but it was nice on its own too. Brisk yet sweet with an interesting note of cocoa that was almost as strong as the titular honey flavours.
Tea Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CvdVk3lOL2I/?img_index=3 (Third Photo)
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnatkV_92Bw
Just finishing off a mug of this now, with a nice splash of milk added.
I brought this with because I thought both my mom and dad might like it – so far a checkmark from mom but, since I don’t switch to my dad’s house for a week, we’ll have to wait to see what he thinks.
I find, especially with the milk inclusion, this is a very thick feeling tea. The black tea base already has so much body to it so the fact it’s a step past that is really interesting to me – and I think it works so well with this type of pretty straight forward honey note. Honey in tea blends is a fickle flavour for me, but I appreciate how this one has a bit more of an aromatic floral lean to it when still having that darker, more dense golden sweetness of what I would maybe describe as a “classic” honey taste. As opposed to, well, something more specific like buckwheat or linden honey.
I don’t know that this blend sparks as much joy for me as some of Murchie’s others, but the flavour is a lot more of what I’d call an “any mood” flavour in that I could see myself drinking this more regulatory than some of the other blends I enjoy more but that have really specific ‘vibes/moods’ associated to them…
Geek Steep S3E13 – Cowboy Bebop
This is the tea I drank while recording this episode (two episodes back – I’m only slightly backlogged on tasting notes this time). I’ve reviewed it here on Steepster before, and my general description of the tea hasn’t changed – still smoky, lush and jammy fruits, and perfectly floral in a super evocative kind of way.
This was one of my shortlist teas I almost paired with my viewing of the fandom, and I do stand by my fact that it probably would have worked very well alongside this particular anime. It has that sort of somber and romantic late night vibe that works with the sort of lonely, melancholic themes of the anime. Super cinematic in a ‘noir’ sort of way. Plus, there’s the obvious tie in of the rose in the opening which ends up being a very significant reoccurring image throughout the show…
Have you ever seen a tea and just immediately thought, “Wow, that was clearly made just for me.” Well, that was me as soon as I saw AJ’s blend of Lapsang Souchong, dark fruits, and rose. The blend is so rich and evocative, with the sultry smoke notes providing an almost “mysterious feeling” canvas for lighter notes of fresh, aromatic rose. A dense and almost syrupy note of darker mixed berries adds a very luxe lushness to the cup, while also providing necessary sweetness to offset the more abrasive side of the Lapsang. It’s like a perfect anchor for these ethereal feeling flavors!!
I know the fruit flavourings used are a mix of several, with raspberry and black currant being the more discernable ones to me. I’ve been on such a currant kick lately, and I think the black currant flavouring used here does a particularly good job of challenging the preconception held by many that currants are unpleasant, medicinal tasting fruits. This is lavish, deep and jammy with such a smooth, round taste and feeling on the palate!!
Ultimately, this may be my favourite blend from Murchies yet. It’s complex yet balanced, and I feel I can picture myself transported to this exact parlour room; dark woods, several bouquets of fresh red roses, an ornate chandelier, low lighting with ornate gold embellished curtains, plush velvet seating in all different shades of dark reds and purples. So, so spot on!!
Tea Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/Ctt7sJEu4nU/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmEzW7aS1dA
Still working on tasting note catch up…
I wrote a really nice, long note for this the first time I had this tea and I kind of just want to say to go back and read that description for anyone seeing this note. But I do want to make sure to acknowledge how much I really enjoyed this mug. I had it Friday morning at the office. I don’t typically work in office on Fridays but a coworker and friend who works remote outside of the country was visiting this week so we came in to maximize his visit.
I was so fucking tired Friday morning (insomnia the night before) and this was the first tea I steeped up for myself. I’m not really an EG in the morning kinda gal, but that extra zingy yuzu top note to this blend just seemed to cut through the haze of the morning in the perfect way. I felt myself a little more energized and ready for the day!
As I literally said just tonight, I love getting to taste all the different ways tea companies twist and play with the established expectations surrounding classic tea blends, like Earl Grey. So when AJ shared this was one of their newer blends it IMMEDIATELY went on my to purchase list!
After I had unpacked on Friday morning, this ended up being the first tea from my large trip haul that I steeped up – the curiosity was too strong, and an EG on a Friday morning was just speaking to me conceptually. Yuzu is really interesting to me as an addition to EG for a few reasons – it’s been a pretty trendy flavour the last few years as part of a wave of Asian inspired flavours becoming more popular within North America. This is in tandem to many other trends, like a drive towards citrusy or tropical notes as people both clamour for global escapism post pandemic and seek out tastes that convey “happiness” through their brightness or acidity. Though I think Yuzu, in particular, is sort of cresting in the trend curve right now…
So for all of those reasons, it’s neat to see a more ‘Asian flavour’ with this modern trend backing it up coupled with something so classic and grounded in British tea drinking culture. Then, from a culinary side, it just makes a world of sense to me that these two citruses (Yuzu and Bergamot) would work so well together as both are highly aromatic with a lot of essential oil pay off and such depth to their floral yet zesty kind of profiles. True to my expectations, it does work reaaaallllyyyy well side by side. The citrus is lively on the palate but grounded due to those denser (and, in the case of the yuzu, almost peppery) and somewhat pithy notes. Still, there’s brightness to the top of each sip that keeps the cup from feeling sullen.
I’ve also tried AJ’s Royal Grey, which I like a lot too, but this one takes the cake for me. I just thought it was so impressively well balanced while really honoring both of these main flavours. Murchie’s is one of those companies that could probably put out a dozen EG teas in a year without their core customer base growing tired of them, so I’m really intrigued to see whatever spin on an EG AJ comes up with next!
As I mentioned yesterday, we actually visited a couple different Murchie’s locations. I drank this tea, as a little mini pot of tea, at the Victoria flagship location – it was the last one we’d visited and at that point I’d purchased the blends I was most interested in, but I still wanted to experience the store so we got a drink for their parlor room before window shopping.
I am not normally a fan of decaf teas, black ones in particular. They kind of just taste flat and sad – like a tea that’s had not just the caffeine but also the life sucked out of it. However, I was curious about the black currant flavouring that Murchie’s uses and I thought what I assumed would be the more neutral/light tasting black tea base – as opposed to their caffeinated version – might actually better showcase the flavouring itself.
I actually enjoyed this a great deal. Thought a thinner body, the black currant was almost thick and jammy enough tasting to compensate. Really rich, and in your face without dipping too much into that more medicinal side of currant. Still a tinge of the good type of medicinal taste though. Not sure if that makes sense to anyone but me, but I do mean it as a compliment. I really find it a shame that black currant is, generally, so unpopular in North America when those deep, rich purple berry notes are spectacularly stand out. There’s actually a super interesting historical reason behind why it was a flavour so slow to be commercially adopted, if anyone cares to look it up. Basically restrictions on growing currants in the US for a very long time is the TLDR. So North America just wasn’t exposed to the taste for a long time.
The UK got it right when they created drinks like Ribena, IMO. This tea reminds me of Ribena, and it was just a nice time.
This was the other tea my mom picked up from Murchie’s and, of course, I made sure to try a cup for myself one of the mornings we ordered breakfast in to our Air B&B…
It’s a straight forward blend, and since she was mostly just looking for something really coconut forward she could add milk to I think she’s going to be really satisfied with it. I found the very slight oiliness from the coconut fat to be somewhat distracting as I sipped the cup, but the taste was really nice. Just a rich, creamy coconut balanced by a brisk black tea base. Delivers exactly on what it claims to – nothing more or less.
We actually went to two Murchie’s locations during the trip – one in Vancouver and one in Victoria. The Victoria location was the one I was most interested in going to as it’s their flagship store, and the space is just beautiful looking. However, we were a little worried we might not have the time in Victoria among our other activities and I really wanted to make sure I got to buy a bunch of AJ’s new blends, so we slotted in one of the Vancouver spots to shop at as a safe guard.
This is actually one of two teas that my mom picked up for herself but, as our Air B&B had an electric kettle, I took advantage of getting to try a few more teas than the ones I bought for myself by brewing up a cup the ones she had purchased in the mornings the following days.
We had a bit of a fun tasting and guessing game with this blend as we tried to figure out the different flavours in the mix. It made for a pretty solidly full bodied cuppa with just a nice little bite of tannin, though that might be more from my penchant to overleaf and over steep black teas. Both fruity and floral, it was interesting how it simultaneously tasted very distinct in its tasting notes but also perfectly ethereal for the name. We both tasted strawberry, but my mom also tasted blueberries and lavender in her mug. For my part, I got more of the bergamot than the lavender but also found the florals reminded me of the lush, sweet taste of parma violets. I see now, also, that sweet pea is one of the tasting notes in the copy and I find that pretty apt.
I don’t think this is a blend that I would personally want for my stash as I feel I have some stylistically comparable blends that fit the same need this would. However, I see why my mom was attracted to it as someone who really loves bergamot, lavender, and (in general) fruit tasting teas she can still add milk to.
Hnnng my dashboard’s stuck again. Notices aren’t updating, and forum’s cache seems to be backed up too. Welp.
This’ the first tea I released as part of the ‘Tasting Lab’ aside, which is the “AJ’s given free reign to go wild” section of the website where I release just whatever interests me (within reason). At the moment I’m releasing one exclusive tea every two months, and this was the first.
As part of its release, I wrote a work-blog post about the thoughts and inspiration behind it, but had to cut it WAY back to keep to an acceptable level of “AJ Rambles about History”.
The inspiration behind it (and the next blend) came about after a lot period of reading about blending-trends through history (especially the Victorian/Edwardian periods), changes in tea-drinking preferences in the US and UK (the UK dropping interest in green tea in the 1800s following Robert Fortune’s ‘famous discovery’, and the US switching from Chinese green to Japanese green at the same time, before finally dropping interest in green in the 1940s following WWII anti-Japanese sentiments).
This bleeds into the green-black blending trends that fell out of fashion in the late 1800s/early 1900s following all of the above sentiments towards green tea. Plus the disappearance of a number of tea types out of China. Chief among, “Scented Orange Pekoe” and “Scented Caper”s, nebulous names for a group of teas scented with flowers, chief among them jasmine (with at least one example of jasmine later branching off into its own distinct ‘tea’). When blending-books talk about SOPs, they talk about them being a “blending tea” not a “sipping tea”, and that the flowers used to scent them vary season to season (but can include: orange blossom, osmanthus, olive flower, magnolia, and jasmine).
Most noticeably, no blend guide seems to make a distinction in their blends towards specific scents of SOP, and list it very generically. The way it’s written (both looking at outside blending guides at the time, and looking at internal records of tea companies) seems to imply that the specific scent of the SOP during any given season was simply “what you get is what you get”, and the blends that included SOP were expected to vary in aroma.
This entire thing is probably a subject I might write a full blog post on? Eventually? And to avoid making this tasting note too long. Because what’s a blog for if not to focus all the pent up Interest about a subject. But the entire thing kinda culminated after a supplier was nice enough to send me every floral scented and flavoured tea they had, including an orange blossom flavoured oolong.
Poet’s Blend ended up most similar to Library Blend, in that it’s jasmany and slightly more green-leaning, but lacks bergamot oil. The orange blossom oolong sort of replaces the bergamot for that citrus, but only barely—orange blossom I find barely qualifies as ‘citrus’. It’s a very heady, in-your-face floral, and I think pairs very interestingly with jasmine, though it’s a touch bitter.
As a result, this tea can be slightly finicky with water temperature and timing. But the orange blossom adds a very nice fragrance, and is noticeable in the taste when you slurp. It’s very “spring”. The black teas mostly serve as a soft base, adding just a bit of body. The green and oolongs are more prominent in the actual profile, and then the jasmine and orange blossom dominating.
I realize I haven’t tried this iced, but today’s cup is already cold (got distracted writing), and the orange blossom and jasmine comes through more already, so I think I’ll try and ice it this weekend.
Flavors: Grass, Jasmine, Orange Blossom, Rosewood, Vegetable Broth
TeaTiff Traveling Tea Box | No. 8
I love floral teas, maybe rose most of all. Yes, I think rose is my favorite. This is a really lovely rose black tea. It’s uncomplicated but delicious. I don’t have much to say about it, aside from that. It’s definitely a keeper!
Flavors: Floral, Rose
Truthfully I’ve been putting this one off.
I absolutely love the taste of anise/black licorice/fennel but I can’t stand licorice root. This tea has all of the above, so I wasn’t sure where it would land with my own preferences. However, I actually found I liked the tea more than I’d expected to. It’s an incredibly intense and unabashed licorice flavour – of both the black and root kinds. Really coats every single surface of the palate and lingers for a significantly long time after each sip. It’s so sweet, but also has just enough dark bitter molasses-y notes to kind of offset that quality. “Kind of” is the key part of that sentence.
My grandfather passed long before I got into tea, but he absolutely loved black licorice flavoured anything and as I was drinking this tea I was struck with the realization that this would probably have been the kind of tea we’d have really been able to converse and bond over. That said, wouldn’t recommend this at all to anything who is even halfway uncertain of whether they like any of the above mentioned flavours. It’s extreme.
My laptop battery just died in the middle of my nicely written tasting note, so now it’s just gonna be a short one – can’t be bothered to rewrite it. Nice tea with a sweet, rich taste. However, it’s very maple forward. Much more than I think a carrot cake should be, and the carrot itself seems to be lacking to me even though the spices feel right. Gives me more of an Autumnal pancake kinda vibe.
Resinous; I associate rosemary with apple, so you get a piney, apple sharpness to it. The dried juniper berries don’t add much on their own, they just enhance that ‘cooling’ pine mint note you get out of the rosemary. The green-black base leans a bit lighter, brisk and sweet. The Darjeeling skews that. The way jasmine blends with rosemary is unexpected.
I’m actually drinking an earlier version that had a bit of bergamot oil added; I thought this helped make the blend feel less ‘dry’, but it was ultimately dropped from the final recipe, so there’s no liquid oils or flavours in this one at all. This was a tea I was very proud of, even though I knew that it probably wouldn’t draw in a huge crowd, being a little Unusual.
There’s actually an interesting story on my starting-point for this tea. The original blend I began with was a recipe out of our old Family Blend Book; it was labeled ‘Christmas Blend 1972’, commissioned for a family (keeping specific names out). They commissioned a new Christmas blend every couple of years, through the 70s and 80s.
I thought the background was interesting, and the flavour-notes weren’t unusual for most Murchie’s teas—jasmine and bergamot. So I played around with substituting some teas (mostly bumping up grades). I liked the result, but it was similar to our existing green-black blends, so probably not enough to stand on its own. At the same time, I had this idea to add pine-needles to a tea for a piney, ‘christmas tree’ flavour. But sourcing pine needles for human consumption was its own issue; it’s common to forage them, but difficult to find adequate quantities through wholesalers.
Rosemary, though! That was obtainable, would give me the Resinous note I was after, and also reminded me of the mysterious ‘Rosemary Scented Orange Pekoe’ mentioned off-hand in a couple of our very very old price guides. At the same time, I had a sample of dried juniper berries on-hand, and that felt like the perfect finishing touch along that same vein. The dried berries have a very faint pine-mint taste to them when steeped. Having never had gin, I don’t know how they compare.
My working name for the blend at that time was ‘Noel’, but that got turned down. I thought of ‘Evergreen’ next, since all constituents of the blend are evergreen plants. That stuck, and it felt like a better descriptor of the taste-profile. Unfortunately, this tea isn’t returning for Christmas 2022, but I might bring it back for an online-only 2023 addition. In retrospect, I realize it feels like a very Steven Smith kind of tea.
Flavors: Apple, Burnt Sugar, Jasmine, Nuts, Pine, Resin
We almost missed this one while we were at Murchie’s because the tin was all the way off to the side of the counter, kind of hidden and out of view. I’m glad we ended up catching it though because the dry leaf smelled really amazing – very fresh, sweet lychee.
Steeped up, I’m half surprised I enjoy this as much as I do. I mean, the lychee flavour is on point – it’s very prominent but not too intense and it perfectly rides the line of sweet, juicy ripe lychee with the more floral elements of the fruit. There’s no surprise that it speaks this much to me. No, the surprise part comes from the green tea base. With such a minimal and simple flavour direction I was worried that the green tea would be present in full force. Perhaps it would have been if I’ve made this hot. As it stands, I found that the chosen base used to blend over was pretty muted and neutral without being flat/dull. So it was the perfect canvas for this delish lychee flavour!
So many of the cake teas in my stash ended up being chocolate flavoured or with different kinds of spice notes – very indulgent and “brown” tasting. So, one of the choices I made when picking out what I was going to drink was to ensure I had some fruity options in the mix too. This is still a decadent sort of tea, with it’s creamy pastry type notes, but the fresh strawberry was quite different from a lot of what else I’d picked and it ended up being a favourite from the assortment.
Tea Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CpxoE_fuAkC/ (4th Pic)
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLxzEMReYhc
I wanted to pick up something a bit more aggressively flavoured from Murchie’s while we were there. Well, at least, aggressively flavoured by their own standards. Even their most flavoured blends tend to be lighter than a lot of other companies – a pro or con, depending on one’s preferences.
Steeped up it feels pretty clear to me that there’s a pretty large quantity of flavourings used here. Not in the sense that it’s overly intense, but more that I think the complexity of the flavour wouldn’t be achievable without layering several different flavourings. I think strawberry and either vanilla or cream (maybe both) would be the obvious ones here, and they’re definitely the most prominent in taste too. I love the natural sweetness present and the strawberry errs slightly floral which gives it a unique complexity and dimension. I’d be surprised if there aren’t also things like butter or biscuit flavouring in the mix too though, to give it that sort of pastry spin that differentiates this from just a standard strawberries and cream blend.
Honestly, not bad! I’d like to try it with milk next.
I like this one, but I don’t know when to drink it. I love black and green tea together usually, but this is sort of … mossy and smoky and black tea. It’s a finely made tea, but I’m not sure if it’s for me, or if I would buy it again.
Flavors: Grassy, Green, Malt, Tannin, Vegetal
I was already planning to sip this next, because it’s the only unflavoured blend I was allowed to release this year (I’m hampered by Market Wants or else you’d see a lot more from me).
But uh, given Current Circumstances it’s extra fitting?
This was a very nervewracking tea for me to release, because it was the first blend I did with a “name” to back it—Diamond Jubilee and Golden Jubilee already had massive followings from decades past (especially Golden, which was originally released during her Silver, but later renamed). I was afraid I’d have a bunch of long-term Murchie’s fans at my throat.
I wanted this to stand out from the other Jubilees, but worried that if it was too Different than fans of those teas wouldn’t like it. With backing of a bunch of office taste-testers, I went for it. It’s might lighter than the others, using mainly Chinese black teas with a bit of India, no Ceylon. Less tannic, it’s a lot more subtle, with faint notes of smoke and nuts, vanilla and fresh bread. Assam adds just a bit of body, so it’s good with milk, but I love how smooth it is even without.
All in all, it’s a very Afternoon-feeling blend. I almost have to be in the mood for it, or I’ll reach for something stronger. To me it came out Gentle and Comforting. People are probably going to start to catch on that Yunnan-Assam and Yunnan-Keemun are my favourite blending dynamics.
What’s this, am I reviewing a tea that hasn’t even been released yet.
Okay it’s coming out next monday, so it’s a tiny sneak peek I guess.
I come up with a lot of derisive blends, and most of them get shot down immediately. I enjoy unique flavour-combinations, and that rarely gets past the pitch-stage.
This was a blend I kept bringing back, and fine-tuning. My working name for it at the time was ‘The Madam’. It was nixed (I was told that was too Risqué), but ‘Parlour Room Blend’ ended up going over very well, so it finally got the green light.
This mixes lapsang souchong with a medley of fruit (raspberry, strawberry and black currant; no one fruit is supposed to stand out, and the result to me is a general, fruity sweetness), and a tiny bit of rose. It’s definitely not for everyone, but I guess it’s a good indication that I’m Proud of a tea when I reach for it every morning (or maybe it’s just that I left my one-pound test batch conveniently on my desk). It makes me think distantly of grilled fruit.
It opens with the fruit, which leads into a sweet rose note. There’s no point where the lapsang starts or ends, it’s pretty prevalent from the beginning to the end, and lingers afterwards, but I don’t find it overpowering (of course, I like smoky teas so there’s a bias).
Drank this with plenty of the fresh fruit l because I’ve been a major pomegranate kind of mood as of late! When I first tried this rooibos blend it was tasty but I felt like it erred a bit too generically “red fruit” in taste, but having it side by side I’m realizing that it’s more accurate than I gave it credit for. Simple, yet juicy and bright!
Tea Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CnNBnrwOQls/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdYwUyg-hl0