649 Tasting Notes

72

Welp, I did not remember to take the teabag out and improve on the tea like I hoped in my last note. In fact, I steeped it in too-cool water (for the second time today) and all I got was the metallic note without any of the yummy berry. So sad. I really should read these things before I finish my cup, not after…

Well this is gone now. Not technically a sipdown since I never added it to my cupboard, but only one tea left from last year’s advent calendar and then I’m free to drink whatever I fancy!

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 8 min or more 8 OZ / 236 ML

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73
drank Ghostly Green by English Tea Shop
649 tasting notes

Don’t ask me what a tea called ‘ghostly green’ is doing in a Christmas advent calendar, when it seems like it should belong with some Halloween theme, but whatever the reason I’ll take it because I actually like this! I came downstairs for lunch and found the kettle still warm, so being too lazy to re-boil it just to let it cool again, I used the water that was already in, and I’m pretty sure it was too cool. Maybe that was key, because although a light brew, this is tasty! It’s a creamy mint, a profile which I love, on a green base which I don’t, but the base isn’t very prominent and because of the cool steep there’s no astringency at all. It reminds me a bit of 52teas Graveyard Mist – a favourite of mine – only not as good. Also the name is kind of similar, huh? Hmm… I resteeped in boiling water and there’s still no astringency, and I’m happy to report it holds up well! The leaf is actually quite large, which might account for the lack of astringency, but I can see something mixed in with it that looks like pieces of cinnamon bark (I don’t have the ingredients handy to check), and whatever it is it’s not coming through at all. I suspect there might be a few redundant ingredients in the mix, if the previous blends are anything to go by. This is definitely one of my favourites from the calendar.

Preparation
8 OZ / 236 ML
ashmanra

We can pretend it is the Ghost of Christmas Present!

ashmanra

If it had been bad tea we would choose the scary one, the ghost of Christmas Yet To Come!

Nattie

That’s genius, I should have thought of that! Haha, I was a weird child and was always more scared of the Ghost of Christmas Present than the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come! :’) he was just so BIG!

Kelmishka

Graveyard Mist is one of my favorites too — looking forward to trying this one to compare!

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83

I rooted through my stash for this after a discussion with whosbradpitt about the potential similarities and/or differences between gingerbread in the US and UK. Neither of us has tried both, so I decided to pull it out, steep it up and see how similar to gingerbread it seemed to me. I took this very seriously, making myself two cups steeped regular western style (one plain, one with additives), as well as a tea latte, which I’ve been making almost every night lately.

I think my final answer is… a bit similar?
When drank plain, the similarity is less noticeable, more of a rooibos chai and less of a ‘baked goods’ vibe. The spices are well-blended, which would usually be a plus, but the ginger isn’t particularly prominent so the ‘gingerbread’ feel is missing. Adding milk dulls the whole thing down, but a pinch of brown sugar adds that dessert feel which was missing and makes it feel much more like gingerbread. I even think the ginger becomes a little more prominent this way!
Prepared as a latte, this is where it really shines. Double strength tea, 1/3 hot milk and a teaspoon of premium grade maple syrup – this is how you make it taste like gingerbread! Now ginger isn’t my favourite spice, but I love cinnamon, and this is a really nice blend of the two. The rooibos isn’t particularly woodsy, but somehow is adding to the ‘cakeiness’ of the whole thing. If there were a brown sugar or vanilla note to really amp up the dessert notes, I think it would be spot on!

So in conclusion, is it gingerbread? Kinda. Is it tasty? Heck yeah.

whosbradpitt

This is interesting – thanks for looking into this so much! What’s particularly funny to me is that plain, I felt like the ginger was really strong, and that’s what made it feel not like gingerbread. I do think some emphasis on the dessert component would be helpful. Glad you got to enjoy it in the process!

Martin Bednář

Gingerbread? Only from Pardubice (Czech Republic)!

Nattie

Any time haha, I got curious!
Yeah, I read your notes after I wrote this up and noticed that you found the ginger more prominent. It might have just faded from mine, because it’s a good couple of years old at this point! If you take additives in your tea I highly recommend trying it either as a latte, or with a pinch of brown sugar and/or cream (:

Martin Bednář

A side note: I made a trip to Torun last end of year; and they are famous for gingerbread as well (and with friend from Pardubice). It seems the recipe is very different, as they use more black pepper in the mix, while Pardubice uses higher dose of honey. I think the recipes are different everywhere.

Nattie

Martin – I had no idea gingerbread was Czech! I’m curious about the black pepper gingerbread, but the honey one from Pardubice sounds more like my kind of thing! Now I need to try the real deal when I visit. (:

Martin Bednář

If you ever come one day, I will be your guide (through teas, sights etc.) with a pleasure.

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61
drank Festive Spice by English Tea Shop
649 tasting notes

This was in the advent calendar two days running, and because I’m just drinking through it and ignoring the dates, that means I had it twice in one morning. I’m not complaining though, because I didn’t really fancy anything else, and I quite enjoyed it both times. As I was drinking my first mug, I noticed some astringency and wished I’d added a splash of milk. So when I saw it in the next slot of the calendar, I remedied that and made my second cup with milk. I enjoyed it both times, but I think the winner was with milk, as the black tea is quite robust and not a particularly nuanced one that loses anything with the addition of milk. There’s a gorgeous, sweet aroma coming from the steeping leaf that makes me think it’s going to be a dessert-type tea, but it doesn’t quite come through in the sip. It is a little more mellow than most ‘spice’ blends, and possibly has a touch of vanilla in there. The cinnamon is also quite forward, making it feel on the sweeter side of chai. Not one I would buy, but one I will happily sip on on this cold December morning.

Preparation
Boiling 8 OZ / 236 ML

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88

First time as a latte… wow! This tea is perfect for latte-ing! A light bready note accompanied by cinnamon – always a winner with me – orange rinds and raisin notes. I can’t get over how accurate it is, yet a million times better than an actual hot cross bun! The lapsang adds just the barest hint of smokiness, really making this feel like a toasted hot cross bun and not just a generic spiced fruits tea. I have a splash of cream and brown sugar added to my latte because I felt like being extra decadent, and it is honestly incredible. Occasionally the cranberry will come across more and take me out of hot cross bun territory, as it’s not an ingredient I’d associate with them, but other than that I’d say it’s a pretty great match! I’m forever grateful to Bird & Blend for sending me this tea to try (I hadn’t even placed a recent order, a whole pouch just turned up on my doorstep one day out of the blue with a hand-written note), because I am in love and not being a fan of actual hot cross buns, I never would have ordered it myself, and I would have seriously been missing out! Gah, I could drink this all day. Yum.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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69

Woohoo, first sipdown in a long time! (244/405, but let’s not focus on how many more I have to go)

I did a double take while this was steeping, because I sniffed the wet leaf and it smelled exactly like Marmite on toast. Wild. The liquor itself isn’t quite as spot-on, but it is very malty, bready and yeasty (?), which is probably where the comparison came from. As much as I am a self-professed Marmite lover, I can’t stand Bovril, and I didn’t fancy drinking Marmite either. Luckily, it’s in scent only. The tea itself is malty, with a light astringency (I was still able to drink it black so not too astringent) and definite raisin notes. I rather enjoyed it! Sadly, I tried to resteep my leaf and got a cup of deceivingly-dark hot water. Never mind.

Thanks to MissB for sending this my way, I never would have tried it otherwise!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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68

The pouch of this I have comes from a collaboration with Bookishly, a subscription service where you’re sent a classic novel in an artistic sleeve every month accompanied by a pouch of themed tea. The label on the Bookishly pouch actually lists the name as ‘Drink Me’ (it came with a copy of Alice in Wonderland), with ‘kaika cherry sencha’ as a subheader, but after some digging it looks like the same tea is sold by Jenier under the latter, so I’ve created the listing like that so it’s easier for others to find.

On opening the packet, I was immediately hit with a strong cherry scent, along with something distinctly playdough-y. I was worried that it would taste artificial because of the scent, which is just as strong when steeped, but I needn’t have been as I was pleasantly surprised by how subtle and delicate the flavouring actually is in comparison to the scent. In the sip it actually reminds me of Japanese flavouring – very tea-forward, with the cherry playing an important but supporting role. Green teas are not my favourites as a general rule, but I really enjoyed this one as a blend, and will happily finish the rest of my pouch.

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37
drank Chai Charge by English Tea Shop
649 tasting notes

Ugh, this one again. At least it’s the last of it from the advent calendar, and I will never have to drink it again! Garlic still prominent, sadly. It’s mostly a plain rooibos in the sip, with a lightly spicy, lingering garlic aftertaste. Just, why?

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more 10 OZ / 295 ML
Lupiressmoon

Ew, Garlic? Mixed with Rooibos?

whosbradpitt

Garlic and wet wood chips (which is what rooibos tastes like to me) – no thanks!

Nattie

Yup, it’s a big no all round

Leafhopper

That doesn’t sound appealing at all!

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67
drank Red Queen Cupcake by Butiki Teas
649 tasting notes

I decided to try this as a latte after the recent success of my Malt Shop latte, but sadly neither the coffee nor the chocolate is very prominent, and those are the notes which would make this a great latte. The strawberry is definitely the most prominent note, alongside the malty base, but there is a chocolate note I get towards the end of the sip. The espresso is nowhere to be found in latte form. I resteeped the leaf and it held up well, making a strong cup of malty black tea which actually had the coffee note more prominently than the first steep did. Bumping up the rating a little from 60 because while it wasn’t mindblowing, I did enjoy it more both as a latte and in the resteep than I previously have.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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84
drank Baked Ali Shan by Butiki Teas
649 tasting notes

So, I was planning on having a black tea, but had just finished a (delicious) bowl of homemade apple crumble and custard, and thought this would be a good tea to follow it up with. Admittedly, I was confusing it with the Fu Shou Shan at first, and picturing those lovely natural apple and cinnamon notes which it has, but this was still a good choice, although accidental!

I also made an error in steeping judgement though, and used water that was not nearly hot enough for the first steep, which basically became a rinse. The tea didn’t open up at all, despite being steeped for 4 minutes, which was when I realised my error. I quickly heated the liquor and put the tea back in to steep for another couple of minutes, which did help, though it didn’t bring out the best in the tea. This cup was mildly nutty, with a scent of roasted almonds and asparagus and hints of creamy macadamia, vegetal notes and a toasted quality in the sip. Due to the steeping disaster I couldn’t really pinpoint too many of the complex notes I typically get from this one.

In I went again for a third steep of the leaf, hotter this time. This cup is more reminiscent of buttered sweetcorn…. I got sidetracked and stopped half way through my note, and drank the rest of the tea while doing other stuff, so I guess that’s all you’re getting for that particular steep! Oh well. On the plus side, I do now have my trip to London in January all booked up! There are some train strikes and engineering works going on, so we’ve had trouble getting the travel booked, but it’s all sorted now and for a very good price so I’m happy, even if it will take 2 hours longer than usual and involve a replacement bus service!

gmathis

Please tell us about your adventures!

Martin Bednář

Replacement bus service? Welcome to my world. Happens here so often, so it’s not even surprising for me.
And if you got timetable which counts with it and with works, it’s even better. Here you got only delay.

Nattie

@gmathis – I will tell you all about it, but unless you’re a theatre nerd like me it probably won’t be of much interest!

@Martin – I feel for you. It was a headache trying to organise just this once!

gmathis

I’m a wannabe world traveler who hates to leave the house. Anything you share will be enjoyable!

Nattie

My boyfriend is a wannabe world traveller and I’m a home-body, so he gets his kicks by watching travel vlogs on YouTube, bless him.

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Profile

Bio

I first got into loose leaf teas when a friend of mine showed me Cara McGee’s Sherlock fandom blends on Adagio a good few years back, but they weren’t on sale in the UK so I started trying other kinds instead and have been hooked for almost three years (and have purchased several fandom tea sets including the Sherlock one I lusted over for so long).

Flavoured teas make up the majority of my collection, but I’m growing increasingly fond of unflavoured teas too. I usually reach for a black, oolong or white tea base over a pu’erh or green tea, though I do have my exceptions. I will update my likes and dislikes as I discover more about my palate, but for now:

Tea-likes: I’m generally easily pleased and will enjoy most flavours, but my absolute favourites are maple, caramel, chestnut, pecan, raspberry, coconut, blueberry, lemon, pumpkin, rose, hazelnut and peach

Tea-dislikes: vanilla (on its own), ginger, coriander/cilantro, cardamom, liquorice, pineapple and chocolate

I am a 25 year old bartender, English Literature sort-of-graduate and current student working towards finishing my degree. I am hoping to one day complete a masters degree in Mental Health Social Work and get a job working in care. Other than drinking, hoarding and reviewing tea, my hobbies include reading, doing quizzes and puzzles, TV watching, football/soccer (Sunderland AFC supporter and employee of my local football club), music, artsy weird makeup, and learning new things (currently British Sign Language).

I should probably also mention my tea-rating system, which seems to be much harsher than others I’ve seen on here. It’s not always concrete, but I’ll try to define it:

• 50 is the base-line which all teas start at. A normal, nothing-special industrial-type black teabag of regular old fannings would be a 50.

• 0 – 49 is bad, and varying degrees of bad. This is probably the least concrete as I hardly ever find something I don’t like.

• I have never given below a 20, and will not unless that tea is SO bad that I have to wash my mouth out after one sip. Any teas rated as such are unquestionably awful.

• This means most teas I don’t enjoy will be in the 30 – 50 range. This might just mean the tea is not to my own personal taste.

• 51+ are teas I enjoy. A good cup of tea will be in the 50 – 70 range.

• If I rate a tea at 70+, it means I really, really like it. Here’s where the system gets a little more concrete, and I can probably define this part, as it’s rarer for a tea to get there.

• 71- 80: I really enjoyed this tea, enough to tell somebody about, and will probably hang onto it for a little longer than I perhaps should because I don’t want to lose it.

• 81 – 90: I will power through this tea before I even know it’s gone, and will re-order the next time the mood takes me.

• 91 – 100: This is one of the best teas I’ve ever tasted, and I will re-order while I still have a good few cups left, so that I never have to run out. This is the crème de la crème, the Ivy League of teas.

I never rate a tea down, and my ratings are always based on my best experience of a tea if I drink it multiple times. I feel that this is fairest as many factors could affect the experience of one particular cup.

I am always happy to trade and share my teas with others, so feel free to look through my cupboard and message me if you’re interested in doing a swap. I keep it up-to-date, although this doesn’t mean I will definitely have enough to swap, as I also include my small samples.
Currently unable to swap as I’ve returned after a long hiatus to a cupboard of mostly-stale teas I’m trying to work through before I let myself purchase anything fresh

I also tend to ramble on a bit.

Location

South Shields, UK

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