987 Tasting Notes

Once I saw that this tea had whole cranberries in it, I went gimme and added it to the cart. Moar cranberries!

The ingredients for this include black tea, vanilla pieces, freeze-dried cranberries, and cinnamon chips. And yup, the dry leaf delivers; the spoonful that I took a huge cranberry inside it.

The dry tea smells sweet but muted: although I can smell the fruitiness of the cranberry and the sweetness of the vanilla and cinnamon, it doesn’t have the vibrant bounce I expected. The smell was a cross between cough syrup (unfortunate, I know) and those Campino fruit-and-cream candies.

Luckily, the tea seemed more promising after brewing it up. I took 1.5 teaspoons, let it steep in just-boiled water for 3 minutes, let it sit for 10 minutes to cool, added some agave nectar, and was greeted with a tall dark cup of gorgeousness:

I smelled cranberry juice and vanilla, but underneath all of that, like a big beautiful mattress of deliciousness, was CHOCOLATE. It smelled like dark chocolate covered cranberries!

And it TASTED like dark chocolate coverered cranberries too! The base tea comes through rich and thick, like dark chocolate, and the vanilla pieces here give it an amazing depth and fullness of flavour; this tea has such a thick, full mouthfeel that I felt like a chipmunk with big, fat, pinchy cheeks crammed with tea.

Seriously. Chocolate covered cranberries. I was not expecting that.

Full review at: http://booksandtea.ca/2016/03/another-52teas-roundup/


Oh, this sounds like such a tasty combination.

Christina / BooksandTea

It appears to be sold out on the 52Teas site, but “Boston” from H&S sounds like it might be similar: black tea, cranberry, and almond.


I love Boston!

Christina / BooksandTea

There’s a site that sells H&S teas in Canada, but they only do Boston in 100g tins. Way too much to buy at once. If they had like, 20g samples, maybe even 50g tins, I’d consider it.

Evol Ving Ness

I am up for splitting a tin of Boston if anyone is game.

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In the dry leaf you can see apple chunks, green tea, dried orange wedges, and possibly some cinnamon chips. I love the fact that you can see so much fruit in Anne’s blends. The whole thing smells like apple pie, or like an apple-cinnamon colour: in addition to the obvious fruit and spice notes, I also sense a sweet pastry note like dough or pie crust.

Give the whole thing a quick 2-minute steep in 80°C water, followed by a 15-minute rest, and you get a cup of golden liquid ready for tasting.

I gave it a little bit of agave nectar to sweeten things up once I was ready to drink and damn, it’s tasty. It tastes like apple pie! Or like I’m having a really nice deep-fried apple pastry dusted with cinnamon sugar. There’s just this really interesting sweet, powdery note like baked goods creeping in there, and I like it.

Ordinarily I’m not a huge fan of green tea mixed in with cinnamon/chai spices, but adding the extra orange and apple in to balance things out does the trick — it’s very harmonious, neither too sweet nor too vegetal or sharp. This is pretty yummy.

Full review at: http://booksandtea.ca/2016/03/another-52teas-roundup/

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Backlog from yesterday morning:

I’ve been having this tea quite a bit at work, so it’s been losing some of its novelty. However, this weekend I tried something that made the novelty come rarin’ right back: pulla.

Pulla is a type of Finnish bread that’s flavoured with cardamom and raisins, then sprinkled on top with slivered almonds and sugar. This stuff is AMAZING, especially with a lot of butter on top.

So I had this tea with some pulla for breakfast yesterday morning. And because we live in the age of oversharing, I wrote about it here: http://booksandtea.ca/2016/03/cardamom-toast-and-tea/

Long story short: SO FUCKING DELICIOUS!!

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This tea didn’t really taste like anything. There was smokiness and sourness, but it felt like the bones of another tea — there was no unexpected note, nothing that gave the tea life.

I used the remaining 8 grams of leaf from my sample and brewed it using a regular tea mug, but that was similarly underwhelming: at most I got a sense of something sweet and a little sour, but it felt like an approximation towards tea, and not the real thing.

Full review at: http://booksandtea.ca/2016/03/a-sneak-peak-at-bitterleaf-teas/

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BitterLeaf sent me a free 7.7 gram sample along with my order. This amount was too small to break down into two sets of leaf, but a bit bigger than what I normally brew at once; to compensate, I decided to take the whole thing and do really, really quick steeps to ensure it didn’t taste too strong and overwhelming.

The dry leaf was a compact chunk of dark brown and green, with no white leaf tips. However, the smell was very fruity. Because the chunk was so large, I did two quick rinses of 5 seconds each to try and soften it a bit and make it easier to steep.

The rinsed leaf smelled smoky, fruity, and sour. I could tell from the first steep onwards, though, that this thing had staying power, as I could sense a lot of flavour just beginning to wake up.

The subsequent steeps gave off a liquor that was amber with greenish overtones, so the whole cup looked like rich olive oil. From the third steep onwards, I got a note of fresh green wood, plus fruit. Slightly drying, but not harsh. As I continued through the first pot, I tasted notes of damp forest floor, honey, plums, and grapeskin; the texture was very smooth, but I noticed my mouth pucker over time.

After about 8 steeps, I started to feel some gauziness and astringency on my tongue, but the tea was still very smooth and clean. Then I started to feel a crinkly, drying sensation at the top of my throat leading down to my esophagus. Soon afterward the pot of water was empty; I stopped for the morning, went on some errands, and resolved to try a second pot of tea in the afternoon to see if it had staying power.

The second pot of water produced some really different results! At first, I was surprised by how bitter the steeps tasted, until my tongue acclimated to the tea again around the fifth steep from the second pot. This time around, after I got used to things, I noticed that the tea was really fruity, with stonefruit notes of apricot and nectarine making a big appearance. The liquid itself was still a rich amber.

However, over time, I could finally sense that the leaf was fading; a real, genuine note of olive bitterness joined the cup, and then the whole thing turned pale and mineral. I lost count of the steeps at this point, but I’d say that with 2 pots of water, I easily got 15-20 steeps out of this leaf!

Full review at: http://booksandtea.ca/2016/03/a-sneak-peak-at-bitterleaf-teas/

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BitterLeaf gave me a free 7-gram sample of this with my order, along with brewing instructions. I followed them as closely as I could, using 95°C water, a quick rinse, and then steeps ranging from 3 to 8 seconds. The dry leaf was brownish-green with a few golden tips, and didn’t give off much smell. Rinsed, though, it as a different story: the wet leaf gave off aromas of earth, grapes, tobacco and hay.

The first few steeps were pale and mild, but over time both the colour and the flavour deepened, going from grass and smoke to a tart sweetness like grapeskin and quince. (Quince! So astringent, but so satisfying to chew!) The first steep was a pale golden amber, but the following few steeps were a lovely deep amber with a green overcast — looking at my cup, I couldn’t help but think that I was about to drink some very fine, very rich olive oil.

However, it didn’t feel like olive oil in my mouth. Instead, it had a very clean feel on my tongue; not thin like water, but not thick like broth. “Lively” is the best word to describe it — like I was drinking something sparkling and vital.

As the steeps continued, the depth and rambunctiousness of the second, third, and fourth steeps gave way to something that was mellow and incredibly well-balanced: the tea grew earthy, tart, and astringent, but no single aspect dominated the others.

I eventually went through 10 steeps, and even after the 10th steep the tea was still a rich amber colour with flavours of sour grapes and grapeskin. I have no doubt I could have made the tea go beyond 10 steeps, but I really didn’t have the time or inclination to test that assumption. In the end, I was left with a lovely vessel full of olive and russet leaves.

Full review at: http://booksandtea.ca/2016/03/a-sneak-peak-at-bitterleaf-teas/

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I finished this off yesterday morning before heading out for work. Very satisfying – chocolaty, minty, biscuity, marshmallow hints. Nice.

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I will give What-Cha this: their comment about this silver needle tea having notes of sweet corn is accurate. It really does smell like an ear of corn! However, it looks like grass clippings: short, somewhat jagged, and a pale white-green.

I followed the instructions on the package to steep this in 80°C water rather than 70°C, and I think this temperature was the right call. The liquor was a slightly deeper colour, and also stronger in flavour.

Remember that whole thing about it smelling like corn? It tastes like corn, too! Like a fresh, sweet ear of corn, with maybe a pat of butter on the side — grainy, a bit rich, but still sweet. I was totally bowled over by this.

I’m really going to see how this tea stands up to higher tempertures. Will the grain/corn notes come out to play even further if I user hotter water? I’m really curious now.

Full review at http://booksandtea.ca/2016/03/comparing-two-types-of-silver-needle-white-tea/


ooooooh sounds delicious!


That sounds super cool!

Ni Zan

-but isn’t this text about the other/compared tea

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The leaf on this one is really distinctive. I know that silver needle tea is supposed to be long, thin, and needle-like, but these look like tea leaves on steroids! The buds are easily 1-1.5 inches long and covered in a fine fuzz.

Dry, they smelled like sweet hay, with notes of lychee. Wet, they smelled a bit smoky but still sweet and hay-like.

I decided to go gentle on the tea and used water heated only to 70°C. However, that wasn’t really the right choice; I got notes of hay, peaches, and maybe a little strawberry and fruit leather, but the tea was in general so mild and unassuming that I kept on going “I can’t really taste anything! I can’t really taste anything!”

The tea was pale not only in taste but also in colour. All of the steeps were generally a pale wheat/straw colour. Gentle, but not that striking.

I brewed the same variety of tea a few days later using water just off the boil, but that was pretty similar. A little hay, a little smoke. Maybe a deeper, richer scent. Oh, and the colour of the tea was a bit darker too, sort of a deeper straw shading into orange. But still, the flavour was kinda hiding around in the background rather than dancing on centre stage on my tongue.

I will need to play around with this a bit more to see how to get the best flavour out of it. More leaf? Longer steep times? Different gaiwan? So many variables.

Full review at http://booksandtea.ca/2016/03/comparing-two-types-of-silver-needle-white-tea/

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Sil gave me some of this to try when we met up at the Tea Festival last month. It smells great, all sugary and buttery, but I think that the base is really too vegetal for the additional flavours.

I’ve added the rest of the package to the GCTTB5, as a few other expressed interest in trying it.


i prefer the fauchon version for that reason. i like this one, but there’s the underlying veggie taste i don’t like :)

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Updated March 2016:

I’m a writer and editor who’s fallen in love with loose-leaf tea. I’ve also set up a site for tea reviews at http://www.booksandtea.ca – an excellent excuse to keep on buying and trying new blends. There will always be more to discover!

In the meantime, since joining Steepster in January 2014, I’ve gotten a pretty good handle on my likes and dislikes

Likes: Raw/Sheng pu’erh, sobacha, fruit flavours, masala chais, jasmine, mint, citrus, ginger, Ceylons, Chinese blacks, rooibos.

Dislikes (or at least generally disinclined towards): Hibiscus, rosehip, chamomile, licorice, lavender, really vegetal green teas, shu/ripe pu’erh.

Things I generally decide on a case-by-case basis: Oolong, white teas.

Still need to do my research on: matcha

I rarely score teas anymore, but if I do, here’s the system I follow:

100-85: A winner!
84-70: Pretty good. This is a nice, everyday kind of tea.
69-60: Decent, but not up to snuff.
59-50: Not great. Better treated as an experiment.
49-0: I didn’t like this, and I’m going to avoid it in the future. Blech.


Toronto, ON, Canada



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