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Recent Tasting Notes
Cold Brew Sipdown (667)!
Thank you Starfevre for the tea! This was my last SBT from your stash sale and while I’m sure someone probably has other SBT flavors kicking around in their stash, this is very likely the last one I’ll ever experience…
I was rather unimpressed with this one, but I don’t want to be too critical because I know it’s several years old and I imagine much of the flavouring has deteriorated with time. Drank straight, this was rather bland and just had a breadyness/doughy taste, one I’d associate more with the black tea than any flavouring. I made this into a whole pitcher though, so I had some room for experimentation so I also tried cups with chocolate agave and with oat milk. Oat milk was ok; it upped the creaminess and made the tea feel like it had more body/character. Chocolate agave was the best addition though; with the doughy quality I was already getting the added flavour was basically just like a cobbled together “cookie dough” profile.
I’m curious how accurate this one would have been when it was fresh, but I’ll never know and I’m satisfied enough with my experience with it now.
Counting this as a sipdown because I only know I have two packages because I inventoried my Frank-era 52teas today (some of them, anyhow), and discovered all sorts of treasures! Among them – another packet of Cotton Candy iced tea AND Razzleberry iced tea! Hurrah! Also Rainbow Sherbet, and Lime Jello. I’m pretty stoked about this, because I thought perhaps I’d drank them, and the remaining iced teas in my 12 teas of Christmas box are not thrilling (not black, or they’re minty or cinnamony). So that was fun.
Anyhow, this tea smelled a little funky in the package, and a little funky brewed up. Perhaps it was the ginger flavouring? Something just didn’t seem quite right. However, the flavour is okay, so I guess that doesn’t matter too much! Definitely not my favourite; I can taste the honey aspect (yum) but am just not caring for the ginger flavouring – I think I want actual ginger. The black base is yummy though – familiar and Frank-y, which I sometimes really miss.
Contrary to the other Rainbow Sherbet I just drank, this one is fantastic. I have been hoarding a stash of SBT teabags (not intentionally) and figured that although I’ll never be able to replace them, it’s time to drink them before they lose all flavour. Lucky for me, this one tastes like it could have been freshly flavoured. Much more sherbetty than the DavidsTea version, it features lovely tangy fruit flavours with a very classic iced tea-type black base. That is to say, fairly bright and mild, though with some astringency. As a result, I ever-so-slightly sweetened it (with maple syrup) and the result was perfection. I had kind of intended to be brewing up these iced teas to share with my husband, but I admittedly have mostly hoarded this one to myself (I did resteep the teabag twice, though, sweetened it, and gave it to him, which he thought was pretty good).
I’m going to hope that I run across another of these in my journey through the tea stash, but it’s unlikely. Unless there’s one hiding in the iced tea 12 teas of Christmas that I never actually opened (I have no idea what’s in there – I should look…)
Made a large pitcher of this one yesterday, cold brewed. I’m sipping on a big tumbler of it right now while I try to power through these last tasting notes – I can’t help but wonder what this would have tasted like when it was “fresh”. ‘Cause, like, this tea is old as hell but it still tastes REALLY good. Very smooth and sweet, with a bit of a mix of mango and honey notes, and a little floral tinge to the undertones. I think both the honey and florals are actually coming from the black tea base and not the flavourings – I recall that combo being present in a lot of Frank’s black tea blends. Still, the mango is surprisingly strong and well defined for the age of this tea. It’s definitely sherbet-like.
I bet it would have been awesome fresh though; probably much more juicy/bright. Even still, I’m into the current profile…
We did a big family breakfast today, and I offered to make a huge pitcher of iced tea for us all to split over breakfast. I don’t think it was lost on any of us that this could quite possibly be the last giant family breakfast we have for a really long time, what with me heading out to Montreal in 24 days.
That’s right; I am officially at the point where I’m counting the days now. I’m both that excited, and that terrified…
As for the tea!? Well, I get that this is very old tea – but I don’t feel like you can taste the age at all, which is a very pleasant surprise. Currant can be a really medicinal flavour when done poorly too, and I don’t find this medicinal either – so that’s really both of my biggest fears about this tea totally set aside! Instead it’s sweet and juicy, with an almost black currant candy sort of flavour. My mom put it best; it tastes like if Kool Aid came in a black currant flavour. I mostly agree with that, except I do think it’s less sugary tasting that a typical Kool Aid. That’s the right ball park in terms of flavour though.
I LOVE IT.
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Flavors: Alcohol, Apple Candy, Bamboo, Bark, Bell Pepper, Biting, Bitter Melon, Blood orange, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Burnt Food, Cactus Flowers, Champagne, Chicken Soup, Cut grass, Fireplace, Iodine, Irish Cream, Lychee, Marzipan, Medicinal, Oak wood, Ocean Breeze, Peas, Pepper, Rainforest, Rice Pudding, Roasted Chicken, Sakura, Sawdust, Smoke, Squash Blossom, Tobacco, Tropical, Vodka, Wet Wood, Wood, Zucchini
I left this one until last because it’s just too weird, and I do honestly wonder what I was thinking when I bought it…however many years ago that was. I was prepared to be surprised, though, since I felt the same way about Maple Bacon, and I actually quite liked that one.
Not the same here, unfortunately. When I opened the pouch, it exuded the strongest dried garlic scent I think I’ve ever experienced, which made me a little nervous about exactly how much garlic might be in the blend. I was hoping for subtle! Once brewed, it is more muted in scent terms, although it was still pungent enough to completely stink out my fridge in the few hours it sat in there.
To taste, it’s…interesting. It’s on the usual SBT black base, so on the sweet side and pretty malty. It’s very smooth and buttery, with a mouthfeel that’s almost a little too oily for my tastes. Then there’s the garlic. It’s not super strong, but it makes for a distinctly odd pairing with the sweet tea base. It captures several aspects of garlic bread, but I can’t say I’m drinking it and enjoying it. Tolerating, at best.
The problem I have with this is that the base is just too sweet, and that’s too much of a contrast with the otherwise savoury flavour profile. I drank about half a glass of this one and then dumped the rest. It just really wasn’t for me, but at least I tried it! In hindsight, probably not one of the better SBT flavour ideas…
Almost there with my SBTs! I have just one more left in my cupboard after this one, and it’s a slightly kooky one which is why I’ve been avoiding it! This one, though, is eminently straightforward – cinnamon and orange strikes me as a pretty classic combination, if a little autumnal. I’m feeling autumn today, though, so it actually fits the bill pretty perfectly; it’s an excellent bridging flavour between summer and autumn.
I gave this one the usual treatment – 4 minutes in 1/4 litre of boiling water, topped up to 2 litres with cold water. It’s more subtle than I thought it might be, and definitely more so than some of the other honeybush based SBTs have been. The cinnamon packs quite a punch in the aftertaste, though, so in practice it actually works quite well.
The beginning of the sip is mostly orange, but zest, rather than juice. It’s not too pithy, though, so I’m happy enough. I think it helps it to taste more natural, since it’s easier to avoid the fizzy-orange-vitamins comparison. You can’t go wrong with orange zest! The cinnamon is definitely the strongest, most dominant flavour of the pairing, though. It starts subtle, but it soon builds to an almost-burn at the back of the throat, which isn’t always entirely pleasant. I’m finding I need a bit of a break between sips to keep it manageable, but since I’m at work that tends to happen anyway.
On the whole, I’m pretty pleased with this one. I think it would be better, and definitely more balanced, with more orange and less cinnamon, but it’s not too bad on the whole. This one’s a middle-of-the-road SBT for me – not a favourite, but not irredeemable. I suspect I might appreciate it more in colder weather, but that’s not going to happen now. Live and learn!
Made this one up last night while watching the season 2 final of The Handmaid’s Tale – more on that in a moment. It got the usual SBT treatment – 3 minutes in 1/4 litre boiling water, then topped up to 2 litres with cold. I remember drinking my way through at least a couple of pouches of the mate version of this back when Frank ran 52 Teas, and possibly one pouch of the Honeybush, too. It was clearly a flavour I enjoyed, so I’m pleased to be making a return to it today.
It’s pretty much exactly as I remember it; a pleasingly bitter dark chocolate, with an edge of sweetness from the honeybush. There’s the tiniest hint of malt – the aftertaste definitely makes me think of maltesers, but I wish it were more prominent throughout. That’s all that would improve it for me. I’m enjoying the rich dark chocolate flavour, though, and the sweetness that is there is just enough to pull it back from being too bitter. I’m glad I had the change to revisit this one, and I’m kinda sad I’ll never get to drink it again. At least I went out on a high, though!
Handmaid’s Tale spoilers below
Seriously, though, what is it with June? All those people risked their lives to help her get out, and then she doesn’t fucking leave? So now she’s what? An unarmed fugitive in a hostile society? She can’t exactly go back to the Waterford’s, having given their baby away…
I appreciate the concept of cliffhanger, honestly I do, but the dominant emotion for me at the end of the episode was disappointment. I guess having her escape wouldn’t necessarily have made for a great third season…but I also think the repeated use of the almost-escape is wearing a little thin. Still, I’m interested to see where they take things next, and I want to know what becomes of Commander Joseph, Rita, Nick…and even Serena, now that they’ve broken rank in quite a big and obvious way. Interesting times in Gilead, if more than a little frustrating!
I’m down to my last few SBTs, which is sad but not exactly overdue. I’ve had them a while, after all. I’m surprised this one only has one other note, because it sounds like a crowd-pleasing flavour combination to me. Who doesn’t dig a caramel apple?
In practice, it’s pretty good. There’s more caramel than apple, but it’s a decent kind of earthy-sweet caramel, and the honeybush works really well as a base here. The apple could be a bit stronger, but it develops at least a little towards the end of the sip and lingers nicely in the aftertaste. It’s more of a candy apple than a flavour-accurate apple, and definitely red rather than green, but that fits pretty well with the overall vibe as far as I’m concerned.
It’ll be easy enough to drink 2 litres of this, although I’ll probably share some with my Dad later on this evening. He’s coming round tonight, and I’ve definitely got him hooked on the old iced tea!
Following yesterday’s successful revival, I chose another of my shrinking SBT stash for today’s office drinking. Gin would be better in this particular environment, but that pretty much goes without saying. Tea is a fine substitute.
This one got the usual treatment. One thing I have noticed about these, though, is that the ones on the green tea base come out a fairly appalling highlighter yellow kind of colour. Part of me wonders why that is, but it’s so hot I’m happy to overlook it. Let’s be honest – in this weather, I’m happy to overlook most things.
In taste terms, it’s pretty good. Green tea and mint is a well-established classic, and it works as well here as it does anywhere. The green tea base is a touch bitter for me, although I think I’m noticing it more because it’s paired with a fairly savoury flavour (this particular iteration of mint doesn’t strike me as particularly sweet.) I find I’m noticing the base more than I have before, although my brewing parameters haven’t altered as far as I’m aware. Fortunately, the mint is pretty strong and it’s easy enough to focus on that instead.
This is a great one for a hot day, but there are other SBTs I’ll miss a lot more. A vanilla or cream element would have helped to lift this one for me, but I suppose you can’t always get what you want!
Back to iced tea, after a bit of a hiatus. I honestly think it was just laziness, but there have been times over the last two to three weeks where I just haven’t been up for any faff at all. I think it’s partly because it’s been so hot, but I just have zero energy. I know that in the grand scheme of things, these SBT bags are really easy and convenient, but try telling that to my dozy, switched-off brain. I was having none of it.
I’m not really feeling much better today, but I finally reached the point where iced tea was a necessity in order to survive another week in my super-hot office (we don’t have air conditioning, and it’s 37 degrees in here most days…) I just have to keep telling myself there are only two weeks of this to go, and then I’m off to pastures new. Hopefully things will look better in a couple of months.
So. Iced tea firmly back on my personal agenda, and a few SBTs that are ageing in my cupboard. Only one thing to do! I chose Apple Cider because the flavours sounded most appealing – a couple of those I have left sound more wintery, and one is just plain weird, but I could see myself sipping on this one. It got the usual treatment – 3 minutes in water cooled to around 170, added to almost 2 litres of water, and then into the fridge overnight.
To taste, it’s pretty spot-on; well-defined apple, with a background of gentle spice (mostly cinnamon and maybe a touch of ginger/clove/cardamon). The green tea base works really well here, being nicely smooth and non-astringent, with a hint of butteriness. I feel like that’s enough to sum this one up, in all honesty – it’s a simple, straightforward flavour that comes across well and is deliciously easy to sip on! A favourite, for sure.
Of course, that means I get to be sad all over again because this one’s gone forever…
I’m wondering whether age is affecting this one, because I don’t get a lot of flavour from it at all. I haven’t experienced that with other SBTs I’ve drank recently, but I suppose there’s an exception to every rule. I was kind of intrigued by the idea of caramel peanut, but in practice all I’m getting from this is a vague sweetness that could be caramel, or equally just the natural sweetness of the honeybush base. I think it’s at least partly flavouring, since I’m pretty familiar with the flavour of the SBT honeybush now and this has something extra about it. It’s smooth and sweet in the way of caramel, and undeniably pleasant. I don’t get any peanut at all, though. Not a hint of nuttiness. Not even a smidge. It’s a shame, because I think a savoury nutty edge would really bring this one to life, but it is what it is. Possibly it’s my fault for leaving it too long.
Some you win, some you lose, I suppose.
Back to my (diminishing) stash of SBTs! This one called to me most of those left, being the only fruity option. Something about hot weather requires berry tea, I suppose, or at least it does in my estimation. I gave this one the usual treatment, except that I let the water cool for a while first until it was around 180. I always worry that these will turn out bitter, but somehow they never do. I took the bag out after 2.5 minutes, but I could probably have steeped it a bit longer and it would still have been okay.
In flavour terms, it’s your standard mixed berry. It reminds me a little of 52Teas Razzleberry, although maybe a bit less sweet. It’s hard to pick out specific flavours since it’s kind of generic “berry” and a bit muddled for all that, but I’d probably go with raspberry, blackberry, and maybe blueberry. The green base is pleasant – smooth and not too grassy. I’m sure it would have worked equally well on the black base SBT originally used, but a change is no bad thing. It’s pleasant and refreshing, and makes for a solidly pleasing iced tea.
I should probably add that I feel disposed to be positive about everything today, since I found out yesterday afternoon that I have a new job!. The pay and terms are only a little better than those I have now, but the real satisfaction for me is that I’ll be leaving a job and company I’ve come to abhor, and my new job (while fairly boring) sounds like a whole lot less hassle. When I list the things I won’t have to do/put up with anymore, it’s more than worthwhile. It honestly feels like 10 tons have been taken off my shoulders, and I am so looking forward to making a fresh start.
I used to really like this one in its 52Teas days, so it’s making me feel all nostalgic to be drinking it again today. It’s pretty much as I remember it – cinnamon being the main flavour, with an added touch of honey-like sweetness from the base, and just the slightest hint of glace icing to round out the sip. It never really captured the “bread” aspect all that well, and it doesn’t in SBT form, but it’s still pretty delicious.
I sometimes wonder how this one would have been on a Chinese black base, with some delicious bready notes, lots of cinnamon, and a bit more icing. Perfection in a cup? I feel like that’s not true to the spirit of this one, though, so I’m going to enjoy it for what it is. It’s a sad farewell.
Pulled out the second of my green SBTs. In some ways, I’m glad I waited a while before trying them, because I feel like my appreciation of green tea is greater than it used to be. This one got the usual SBT treatment, modified slightly to take into account the green base (cooler water, slightly shorter steep time). I noticed this last time, but they seem to come out almost fluorescent yellow, which is interesting. It’s much brighter than a “normal” green tea colour, but I’ve no idea why. Answers on a postcard.
To taste, I get mostly candy strawberry and just a hint of kiwi. The strawberry is front and centre, the kiwi mostly in the background (and a little more in the aftertaste). It’s super smooth, with no bitterness or astringency from the base. I’m not even sure I’d peg it as a green tea, if I didn’t know. It’s so smooth and delicately sweet that I’d probably think it was just fruit. It’s nice to have the caffeine, though! The strawberry flavour is clear and fruity-juicy, but I’d really like a bit more kiwi. I feel like kiwi isn’t a flavour I see a lot in tea, and yet I can imagine it pairing perfectly with so many things. I feel like the strawberry here would come over a bit less sweet if the kiwi was more prominent, but I like sweet so I’ve no real complaints.
While I know it’s definitely time to drink these up, I’m also sad that they’re disappearing from my cupboard. SBT are a big part of my tea history, and mostly what got me drinking iced tea in the first place. It’s going to be fine, but it’s not going to be the same.
Second SBT of the season! I’m hoping I can get through my remaining sachets this year, because they’ve been sitting around in my cupboard long enough. It’ll be a sad day when they’re finally all gone, though. This is the first SBT I’ve tried with a green base, so I’m interested to see how that works out. I let the water cool to around 170 degrees before adding the bag, and left it for around 2 minutes before diluting it with water for its overnight in the fridge. I didn’t top it up to quite two litres this time, since I felt it might get a bit too washed out, so I stopped at around 1.5.
As it happens, it’s turned out pretty perfect. I was a little worried about the green base (I always am more worried about green teas, for some reason…perhaps because I used to hate them?) but in this case I needn’t have been. It’s smooth and unobtrusive, with no bitterness or astringency, and it works well with the flavouring when it does poke out, so no real complaints.
Fridge cold, the taste is a little muted. It’s deliciously creamy, but I don’t get much in the way of peach. The creaminess has a dairy quality about it, rich and lactic, rather than being the kind of sweet creaminess you’d get from vanilla. I hope that distinction makes sense! It’s as if I’d added actual single cream to the jug, which I haven’t, but hopefully you get the picture!
The peach emerges more as the initial chill wears off. Initially, it’s a slightly under-ripe kind of flavour – muted, and a little flat. As it warms, it becomes a fuller, riper, fruitier peach flavour, but thankfully very natural tasting.
I’m enjoying this one. It strikes a nice balance between peach and cream flavours, and it all sits well on the green base. It sounds like the kind of flavour that could be over-sweet and cloying, but it avoids that and ends up tasting dessert-like but not overdone.
I’m sad this one is no longer with us.
I can’t remember how long these have been in my cupboard, except that it’s probably too long. Definitely years. They’re well sealed, though, so I’m fairly confident they’re going to be okay.
I think I had a pouch of the regular 52Teas version of this, back in the day. My memories of it are a little hazy – it was a long time ago, after all – but I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it. Sure enough that I’m looking forward to this one – it’s the first honeybush SBT I’ve tried, as far as I remember. I’m used to the ones on a black base!
This one got the usual SBT treatment in any case (I’m surprised I still remember!) – 3 minutes in 300ml boiling water, then topped up to 2 litres with cold and into the fridge overnight. It came out a little paler than I was expecting – kind of a light golden orange – but the flavour is pretty solid and that’s all I really wanted.
I mainly get pineapple – sweet, quite juicy, not too OTT or candy-like. It’s not exactly flavour accurate, but close enough. Next comes coconut, and fortunately it hasn’t gone rancid (how I’ll never know!) It’s a nice combination with the pineapple, as you might expect. I feel like I get a hint of rum and a touch of cherry, but they’re fairly fleeting and definitely not the main players. It could just be the power of suggestion brought on by thinking about pina coladas, but I don’t think so.
All in all, I’m pretty pleased with this one. It lives up to its name, and is (unsurprisingly) really refreshing. The honeybush base works well (I’m glad it’s not rooibos!), being really smooth and soft, and adding just a touch of extra sweetness. It makes me kinda sad to think that SBT are no more – these are oldies, but goodies.
This is very good. The SBT teabags are enormous, so I opened the bag and put 1/4 of the tea into a mesh steeper and cold brewed it that way. Lots of lime, some creamy notes. I could use more marshmallow, but this is also an older sample from Starfevre, so it may have lost some of its flavour.
Flavors: Citrus Zest, Lime
Finished off the pitcher of this that I had made by doing some tea cocktail/lemonade type drinks. I don’t feel like rewriting all of the things for each of them so if you want to see a picture and more info on what I did to make each drink just click the photo link and read my little instagram blurb.
They were good; very much like a lightly boozey Arnold Palmer kind of thing with the added bonus of gin. I know when you add Vodka that’s called a ‘John Daly’ but fuck vodka; gin and lemon taste much better together imo. Don’t know what you’d call that though. Best twist was using the activated charcoal lemonade though – they were super cool/pretty looking!
Iced pitcher of tea!
I feel like it’s probably hard to believe that I’m only just now experiencing SBTs for the first time, but back when there were super popular on Steepster I was much, much more interested in the 52Teas side of things and kind of intimidated by the idea of making so much iced tea at once. Plus, I wasn’t really a fan of Frank so when the two companies separated I had no reason to support him…
This was only ok; I mean, props to it for being iced black tea that’s smooth as all hell without ANY astringency but the ‘Citrus Blast’ is a lot more like a ‘Citrus Whisper’ in my opinion. Basically you’re drinking smooth, malty and floral black tea with traces of lemon in the undertones – like the much more mild and subdued older brother of Nestea or Brisk bottled, sweetened ‘iced tea’. It’s fine – we served it up with some sliced starfruit in the glasses and it was refreshing. Just not mind blowing.