620 Tasting Notes

62
drank Monster Brew by Adagio Teas
620 tasting notes

Sipdown 149/397

I tried slightly different steeping parameters this time, and probably should have stuck to how I brewed it last time, but I was hoping I might stumble upon a way I liked it better. I didn’t. There was more of a smoky note this time around, the cherry still noticeable, but no vanilla sweetness. It’s almost whisky-like this time, definitely not something you would expect aimed at kids!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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62
drank The Black Cat by Della Terra Teas
620 tasting notes

Sipdown! 148/397. Now for a new target – I think I’m gonna try to get my cupboard below 300 teas by my 5 years on Steepster anniversary, at the beginning of February 2019. Google tells me I’ve got 41 days, so it works out to like 1.2 a day. Which is totally doable, if I don’t deviate from my sipdown box. I am totally committed to getting my cupboard down enough that I can justify buying more tea in 2020. Maybe even next year, if I’m super committed!

I chose this one today as a sort of low-key good luck charm for my football team. I’m a huge Sunderland fan, raised on them since I was 6 years old (18 years ago) and I’m going to their Boxing Day match against Bradford today. They’re expecting a record crowd of 44,000 and I can’t wait; the atmosphere is going to be amazing. Their nickname is The Black Cats, hence me choosing this tea.

The tea itself is disappointing. I paid attention to adding more leaf and less water than usual to try and intensify the flavour, and zippo. It is an old tea at this point, and I’m not going to judge it for that, but I know I’ve had better cups. Ah well. Hopefully the football will be better!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
gmathis

Hmm…as the owner (er, property) of two black cats, I’m thinking fruit rooibos isn’t the right tea for the name. :)

Nattie

Yeah, it looks pretty appropriate since it brews up completely black and has little orange sprinkles in and adorable black kitty-shaped sprinkles, but the flavours are super confusing.

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56

Sipdown 147/397 – I made it to 350!! Now to drink down another 250 so I can buy myself some more tea…

I’m almost certain my sample of this has been contaminated, either in the bag or from my infuser basket which I didn’t clean properly in between brews, as it doesn’t taste anything like it should or I remember it tasting. Weirdly enough it actually does have a slight kick, something I thought was lacking the last time based on the name.

Edit: After some Google-sleuthing I have found a tea from a now-defunct Canadian tea company called Steeps Tea which is likely the same blend under a different name – it has the same description and ingredients, only more elaborated on, and this one includes black pepper in the slightly elaborated description, which would explain the kick I’m getting now.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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55
drank Noël à Pékin by Dammann Freres
620 tasting notes

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

To those that don’t celebrate it, I hope you had a wonderful day regardless. I spent the day with my brother, parents, grandparents and boyfriend. We ate lots of good food, watched some Christmas TV, drank a healthy amount of alcoholic beverages, and generally had a really lovely day. I didn’t drink much tea, in fact this is all I drank all day, and I didn’t manage to get my cupboard to 350 as I got more tea for Christmas from my parents, which maybe I should have seen coming. I drank this mainly for the name, but it turned out to be a nice stomach settler after eating far too much Christmas dinner. I didn’t get really any of the fruit flavours, just a hint of something a bit juicy at the end of the sip. It was mainly just a jasmine tea, but that’s alright with me. I was too busy with everything else to pay that much attention.

Thank you Anna for including this in the EU TTB many moons ago. Sipdown 146/397.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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61

Sipdown 145/396

This was okay. I expected worse, from the other reviews. The blueberry isn’t the strongest flavour ever, but I can tell it’s there. It’s mostly rooibos in the sip, with the blueberry coming through in the aftertaste. It pops a lot more with sugar added, too. There are other teas I’d rather drink, but I certainly wouldn’t begrudge having another cup of this. It’s nice.

Thank you Janelle for the sample.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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Quick note to say that I created a Frankenstein’s Tea out of my resteeped Yunnan Gold Tips from Andrews & Dunham, which didn’t have enough flavour on their own, and a couple of tiny samples of Bird & Blend’s Love Potion and Vicky’s Sponge Cake teas. Taken in a travel mug to work yesterday with milk and a pinch of sugar. Sipped several times, poured down a drain and replaced with a cappuccino-to-go from Cafe Nero. It was far too sweet with nowhere near enough of a robust tea base. Ah well, you live and learn.

gmathis

They can’t all be winners :)

Nattie

Very true!

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84

Somehow I managed to go through a whole box of these teabags without adding them to my cupboard or spreadsheet. At least I’m pretty sure it’s these teabags. The box in the picture looks similar if memory serves me (I threw out the box a while back and kept the teabags elsewhere), and the description both on here and the M&S website lists cocoa nibs as an ingredient, but the label on my teabags said ‘Rooibos, Vanilla and Cocoa Nibs’ rather than just ‘Rooibos and Vanilla’. I also thought I had reviewed this tea before, so there’s something weird going on somewhere here. Never mind. I actually really like this tea! It’s soothing, malty, chocolatey and reminds me of a chocolate digestive biscuit. It’s dark and rich, with the kind of depth I rarely experience in rooibos blends, and even more rarely in chocolate teas. It’s delicious plain, pops with sugar, and mellows out beautifully with milk. It’s genuinely a really lovely night time tea option that I would seriously consider picking up again, if I can ever figure out which tea it is, exactly.

Sipdown, I guess, even though it was never logged on here. It still counts, right? 144/396.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more
derk

Now that sounds like a tasty rooibos.

Nattie

It was! Surprisingly good.

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55
drank Queen Catherine by Harney & Sons
620 tasting notes

Sipdown 143/395. Thank you for the sample, OhFancyThat!

I feel like I’m letting the whole of Steepster down, but I just don’t love this like everyone else does! I have had a few cups and was always hoping it would be better than I remembered, and it just never was. I’m not usually the biggest fan of Chinese blacks, though, so I guess it makes sense. I’m chalking it up to personal preference more than the tea itself. I can’t pick out a lot of the nuances that others have experienced, based on the Steepster flavour profile, even when it was brand new. I get a slightly smoky, savoury note along with some rye notes and a sourness I often notice in Keemun blends, but no cocoa, no raisin, no cinnamon or spices. Today I’m drinking it as my breakfast tea with milk (not that it needs any, as it doesn’t have any astringency) alongside a Nutella-filled Christmas tree puff pastry that my mam made for our family gathering last night. I do like the way it pairs with the pastry. It’s not too sweet and it tempers the sweetness of the chocolate, pastry and icing sugar topping well so it’s not too much. Yummy yummy. At least I’m finally in the holiday spirit!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 207 ML
Mastress Alita

That Nutella pastry sounds like my jam. O_O

Nattie

It was seriously yummy. Gonna have to get the recipe from her!

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79

Sipdown 142/395

This is probably going to be my last new tea of the day. I have plans to resteep my Strawberry Rhubarb Cheesecake leaves after this, and then hopefully get another couple of cups out of this leaf, too. I had originally planned on trying to use up three more samples, but I can feel a migraine coming on and it was going to be a very Nina’s Paris heavy day, so I think I’ll save them for tomorrow or Monday. I’m aiming to have my cupboard at or below 350 by Christmas.

What a lovely straight black tea! I remember drooling over reviews of this back when it was first released, and immediately adding it to my wishlist despite rarely drinking straight unflavoured teas back then, especially loose leaf without milk or sugar. I’m a true English girl, at the end of the day. Sil sent me this along with a few other unflavoured black teas, when I told her I was trying to expand my horizons, and this tea was truly one that helped me appreciate more unflavoured teas, particularly without additives. It is strong and bold, but with very little astringency (something I abhor and the main reason I still add milk to certain teas). It has a malty flavour and bready note which just make me want to curl up in a ball with a thick jumper, a classic novel and a cup of this tea. It’s comfort tea! There’s a honeyed note somewhere in there too, but it’s not as prominent as the more savoury, bread and malt notes so I think that this would be a perfect breakfast tea. I’m not getting any chocolate notes as others have mentioned, and I’ve never smoked so couldn’t say if there are tobacco or cannabis notes, but it does sound interesting. I wonder if they’re there and I just didn’t pick up on it… Either way, this is a delightful, hearty tea which I am particularly enjoying in this crappy weather.

Thanks for helping me try yet another wishlist tea, Sil!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML
tea-sipper

AH this was an amazing tea. :D

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84
drank Eve by Nina's Paris
620 tasting notes

Sipdown! (141/395)

I am so happy to finally be drinking my last cup of this tea, as I’ve had this well over 4 years at this point (!!!) I’ve been saving it for when it could be properly appreciated, since I screwed up my cup so royally the last time. It got to the point where I was scared to brew it, for fear of making the same mistake again and ruining the entirety of the sample I was sent. This time I was prepared. I read my old tasting note about what I did wrong the last time, read VariaTEA’s suggestions on how she drinks this, and read several other notes from other people who had enjoyed this particular tea. I used less water as last time I remarked that the tea was underleafed. I stuck to a 2-minute steep time, below my usual 3-4 minutes and FAR below the 30 minutes I left it last time. I am resolved not to add milk.

The waiting and preparation have definitely paid off! This is delicious! I can only imagine how incredible it would be fresh. As it was steeping, I could smell the apricot strongly, and the peach came through too after a minute or so. My mam remarked that it smelled like jam, and I agree. Plain, the peach and apricot flavours came through in the initial sip, but were quickly replaced by a surprising bitter note. Not astringency from the black tea, though there is a hint of that too, but something actually bitter which took me by surprise. I added a spoon of sugar as I enjoyed it best this way the last time, and wow! The peach and apricot flavours really pop! Now it tastes incredibly jammy, too. I love peach flavour, and I’m not usually keen on apricots, but together here they are d e l i c i o u s ! The bitter note is much less prominent with sugar added, and even less so as the cup begins to cool. I’m going to chalk it up to age or cross-contamination, as nobody else seems to have mentioned this. The vanilla really adds an extra something, a sweet creaminess which goes beautifully with the other flavours. The apple is lost behind the peach, apricot and vanilla, but I’m totally fine with that. As predicted, my previous rating of 43 is being left for dust this time around, and I couldn’t be happier about it. I definitely see a Nina’s order in my future.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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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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