620 Tasting Notes

57
drank Eggnog & Pralines by Butiki Teas
620 tasting notes

Sipdown! (66/376)

Thanks for the sample, VariaTEA!

I’m on a roll today! Apologies for all the tasting notes today and yesterday. I tend to work all the hours most people don’t, because I work in a restaurant and so our busiest times are evenings and weekends. That means my ‘weekend’ tends to come in the middle of the week, and since I haven’t had any plans this week I’ve just stayed at home and drank a lot of tea (which has been awesome).

This is one I could take or leave. The base is a blend, which is interesting, because even though I’m not a huge fan of green teas in general, my favourite is Mao Jian, which I can taste a lot of in the smooth, mellow butteriness of this tea. It does also have a Glenburn Estate green mixed in with it though, and I can detect some more savoury vegetal notes in here which I don’t like as much. I can taste some almost pecan-like nuttiness (though nothing like my beloved maple pecan oolong) and some hints of cream, but not enough that I would call this ‘eggnog and pralines’. I added a little brown rock sugar which does amp up the praline flavour and make it much more enjoyable, but still not something I’m sad to see gone. It’s not the kind of thing I crave regularly, and when I do, I have half an ounce of Spiced Nog which I prefer.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
greenteafairy

I would’ve loved a Butiki eggnog blend with any base other than a green; I don’t even remember which iteration I tried, but to me the base and the flavoring really clashed—nothing even remotely vegetal belongs near my eggnog!

Nattie

I agree! It is a weird combination.

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60
drank Grape Oolong by Butiki Teas
620 tasting notes

Sipdown 65/376 (I got one tea for Christmas that I’ve just added to the Steepster database so my total’s gone up slightly).

Thanks again go to Janelle for sending me a sample of this.

I drank most of my sample a while back, but left enough for one small cup to write a note on another time, and then never did. When I came back to it, I realised I actually had a lot less leaf than I thought, probably around 1/3 of a teaspoon, so I’ve made myself the tiniest cup of tea ever with it. Unfortunately it’s pretty weak, partially because of the underleafing and partially because it’s pretty old now, but I remember the grape flavour being more prominent last time around. I’ve read tasting notes comparing it to grape juice, but to me it’s more like a regular oolong with a natural grape-y note. Still tasty, but it doesn’t immediately scream ‘grape’ to me. I’m willing to take responsibility, and I won’t mark the tea down. I was definitely more impressed last time.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 4 min, 0 sec 0 tsp 3 OZ / 88 ML

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77

Sipdown! (64/375)

Thank you so much ohfancythat (whatshesaid) for parting with such a generous amount of this for me to try (and the Strawberry Rhubarb Cheesecake – I figured it out)!

This is a tricky one to rate. Echoing whatshesaid ‘s sentiment, the flavour is pretty spot on, but it’s not one of my favourites, mainly because I’m not a fan of grapefruit. When I was younger I remember staying in a hotel that offered a continental breakfast in the morning, and, seeing a bowl full of grapefruit slices and thinking that they were orange, I filled up my own bowl with them, headed back to my table and promptly got a shock when I shoved them in my mouth and discovered they were not what I had been expecting. I don’t think I ever really got over that surprising bitterness and wishing they were oranges, because all these years later I remember that moment well and still have an aversion to grapefruit. I did enjoy this tea a whole lot more than I expected, though!

I’ve had several cups, black each time, and each time I was surprised by how flavourful it was after such a short steep. The Crimson Horizon was a good choice. Grapefruit always seems like such a breakfast flavour, and the Crimson Horizon is to me a breakfast tea, or at least that’s how I always drink it. It has some natural citrus notes to it, too, which pair really well with the grapefruit note, which is strongly present and impressively accurate in the initial sip. It is bitter, but it seems natural in a grapefruit tea, and adds to the accuracy so that I’ve never felt the need to add milk as I might otherwise. The brown sugar note also comes across, mainly in the aftertaste and I swear it also adds some sweetness. I can taste some sort of creamy note, too, which adds a lot to the sweetness and cuts through the grapefruit nicely. It could just be the power of suggestion, since it is called ‘Grapefruit Creme Brulee, and after reading the description I don’t think it’s actually intended to taste like a real creme brulee but more just a grapefruit halved with brown sugar. Either way, it’s there and I like it. I added some brown rock sugar which intensified the brown sugar (obviously) and creamy notes. It’s still a breakfast tea but now reminds me more of something I would eat after lunch than breakfast. The grapefruit is still the dominant note, bright and tangy but balanced. Since this is my last cup of this tea I decided to try adding milk, since it is my last chance. Turns out I preferred it without, but I’m glad I tried it both ways. With milk the bitterness is no longer present, but it just doesn’t seem quite right any more. It’s a little too creamy and sweet for my liking to be a breakfast tea now, though it does taste a lot more like creme brulee. The grapefruit note I suppose is still there, but without the bitterness it’s throwing me. Like I said, the bitterness seemed like a natural part of a grapefruit flavoured tea, and now it’s gone I’m not sure what it’s supposed to taste like. There is still a citrus note but I wouldn’t be able to immediately identify it as grapefruit any more. Who knew removing the bitterness could be a bad thing? I think I’ll do a resteep of this later to see if there’s any grapefruitiness remaining.

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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37
drank Rooibos by English Tea Shop
620 tasting notes

I am so over this. One more and it’s a sipdown. It’s just a plain, one-note rooibos, and not even a good one at that. It’s got a sort of chemically taste which I find really odd. On top of that I bought it in a rooibos four-pack, the other three being flavoured, and every single one of them, despite being individually wrapped, has always tasted the same. It’s not exactly foul spit-it-out-immediately tasting, but it’s boring my tastebuds to death and I’d be happy never to drink it again.

Preparation
Boiling 8 OZ / 236 ML
Arby

I’m falling out of love with rooibos too. I do have some great rooibos blends, but I’m kind of tired of the flavour these days (especially plain/rooibosy tasting blends).

Nattie

Tell me about it. I can only think of one rooibos blend that I really really like. ):

Arby

Which blend is that? I’m big into cocoa chai rooibos right now (David’s Tea). It isn’t high in the rooibos flavour category though.

Nattie

I’ve never tried that. The one I was talking about was Della Terra’s Lime Chiffon, but I forgot about another I really like which is Bluebird Tea Co.‘s Rhubarb and Custard. Neither of them are available any more, though, so once I’m out I’m out!

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82

I can’t believe I’ve never reviewed this tea! I’ve drank almost two full tins now and I could have sworn I’d written about it. When I first bought the Sherlock fandom sampler, the tin from this tea kept popping open, so I emailed Adagio and asked if it would be possible for them to send me an empty tin for me to transfer the tea into since I wanted to keep them after the teas had been drank. They were good enough to send me another full tin, and so I’ve had twice as much of this than any of the others in the set. Now that I’ve written that, I’m even more sure I wrote a tasting note on it before, because I swear I remember mentioning that story the last time, too… weird…

I’m almost done with this one now, and I have a feeling in a couple of weeks I’ll be completely out. I drank it on Sunday night watching the first episode of the new series of Sherlock (eep!) and again tonight rewatching it with my mam, who didn’t see it the first time. I’m going to miss the second and third episodes because I’ll be working – is watching TV a valid reason to take a night off? – but I’m sure I’ll drink it again when I finally get around to watching them. I can’t wait for the next episode!

Anyway, the tea! Good old reliable Watson. I love how much thought has been put into these teas, and this one I think fits John very well. I’ve drank it a variety of ways, but tonight had it with one sugar and a dash of milk. So comforting. It’s strong, but not too strong, with just a familiar hint of bergamot from the Earl Grey green. The cinnamon note comes through at the end of the sip, warming, comforting, and just a little bit different. Like a striped woolly jumper in a mug.

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

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89

Sipdown! (63/375)

Thanks for the sample, Janelle!

I really like this, which is annoying. It’s not one I would keep in stock all the time, but I’d probably grab an ounce of it or so around winter time if I had the option. The dry leaf smelled the same as all of my samples now do, and the resulting liquor when brewed has a really distinct fruity sort of smell, so I was worried that this had been contaminated, but I needn’t have worried. This is really lovely. The chocolate note is present mostly at the front of the sip, and the chilli kick – the perfect heat for me – a lovely warming presence in the background, probably verging on the ‘moderate’ side of things but still mild enough that those not keen on spice could still enjoy this tea. But what really shines is the Sansia Black; it is absolutely beautiful and I’m kicking myself that I never tried it unadorned when I had the chance. Had I tried this tea back when Butiki was open I know I would have bought some of it. The distinct leafhopper-bitten honey note is super intense and prominent, followed up by a fruity note which I could definitely describe as cherry mixing soooo well with the chocolate flavour. There’s a thick, malty breadiness to it which makes me think of a chocolate bread, not one of those really sweet dessert-type ones but an actual loaf of bread with cocoa in it. I think that the Sansia must have a natural chocolate note because the flavours seem to mesh together so naturally that if it weren’t for the chilli (which is clearly not a part of the natural tea) I might be tricked into thinking that I was drinking the most magical elixir of a straight tea ever discovered. The best part of all is that I brewed this for four minutes at boiling and there isn’t even the beginnings of a hint of astringency! I added half a sugar which intensified all of the flavours, and now it feels like something really special. Dammit, Stacy, why you gotta be so good for?

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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72
drank Popcorn by Teapigs
620 tasting notes

Truly meh. The 72 rating is from when I first joined Steepster and had only tried a few teas. Dropping a rating goes against my personal philosophy of rating ‘the best version of each tea’ so I won’t do it, but if I rated it now it would be somewhere in the 39-44 range. I shared this cup with my brother, who after learning the name of this tea said “I guess it could taste like popcorn, if popcorn didn’t taste like anything”. I will always think this tea is poorly named. I have found that if I lower the water temperature a lot and give it a fairly short steep it’s okay to accompany a meal. That’s probably how I’ll finish it.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 0 sec 10 OZ / 295 ML

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70

Gah, my spreadsheet for once has let me down! I don’t remember who sent me a generous sample of this, and apparently I never wrote it down. I’m pretty sure it was either Sil or OhFancyThat/WhatSheSaid but I can’t say with certainty which… I’m so sorry! And thank you to whoever it was!!

Honestly I thought from the reviews that I’d be more disappointed in this than I am. Maybe the key is having low expectations. This uses the 1989 Suncha as a base, a tea which I am familiar with having been sent 4oz of it in my mystery box! It’s a very potent tea, and I’ll admit I was confused initially as to why it had been chosen as the base for such a contrasting blend, but I actually think it works pretty well in a really unusual way. Plain, it is a little overpowering, and the rhubarb and strawberry flavours barely make it through the metallic, slightly smoky, wet earthy base. The cheesecake note is lost entirely, but I’m yet to find a ‘cheesecake’ tea which I can honestly say hand on heart truly reminds me of cheesecake straight away. After adding some sugar, the fruity strawberry and rhubarb pop a little more, but the Suncha is still dominant and cheesecake nonexistent. On a whim I added some single cream left over from the holidays, and almost did a double-take when I tried it again. The cheesecake flavour actually comes through now, and the strawberry and rhubarb are much more noticeable, particularly the strawberry. The Suncha isn’t lost at all, but it becomes a lot more mellow and the earthiness actually works very well with the creamy cheesecake and bright, tart fruit. Though the strawberry note dominates the rhubarb through the sip, the rhubarb is much more noticeable in the aftertaste and becomes more prominent as the cup cools.

Considering it was mainly created so that Stacy could use up her remaining supply of tea and flavourings, it’s pretty decent! Maybe not up to vastly superior Butiki standards, but it would certainly be one of the better blends from a number of other companies. I won’t cry when it’s gone, nor would I probably repurchase it if I could, but I am thoroughly enjoying the sample that I do have.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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88
drank Coffee & Cigarettes by Butiki Teas
620 tasting notes

Drinking a small cup of this alongside my Sourenee Black Blossom this morning, which I was worried it would overpower but it didn’t! I actually really enjoy switching back and forth between two teas, it’s interesting to see how they’re affected – sort of like tasting them afresh. This cup was actually a resteep but still holds as much flavour as the first. The coffee and cream notes are more prominent second time around, and the smoke less so but still definitely present. I’m drinking it with just a splash of skimmed milk and the cream note in particular is really coming through this morning. I’m impressed.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 4 OZ / 118 ML

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90

Morning tea of the day! I didn’t realise this was a Darjeeling until I tried it. I’m definitely not the first to mention it, but it really does smell and taste almost like an Assam at times (and better than most of the ones I’ve tried, too!) To me the bitter chocolate note is at the forefront of the sip, and it really took me aback at how clear the note was. For me, still getting used to honing my tastebuds, I sometimes struggle to pick out the exact notes of certain teas, but not this one! The chocolate note is so obvious that I’ve had cocoa less chocolatey. It’s followed by some breadiness which pairs well, and some pleasant wood-like notes. There’s also a little astringency which isn’t a big deal but was enough that I added a small amount of milk. Sometimes this can alter the flavour of teas so I was hesitant to do it, but I needn’t have worried – it’s still as delicious as it was before. The most prominent after the chocolate is the floral note which is the giveaway that this is a darjeeling. I can taste a citrus note along with it that at times (I’m drinking two cups of tea at once and particularly when I switch back to this tea) almost makes me think that I’m drinking a really lovely Earl Grey, just for a second. The sip finishes on the chocolate note once again, bringing it full circle. I often overlooked Butiki’s single origin teas in favour of their blends and flavoured teas, but I’m really glad that an ounce of this was included in my mystery box. Stacy really was a fabulous curator of some of the best teas from around the world.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML
greenteafairy

Yes, Stacy sourced the best single origin teas! And I loved that she carried all kinds (well, all the kinds I tend to go for), so it was really a one-stop shop vs. now having to look to separate sources for, say, Darjeelings and Chinese greens.

Nattie

She really was a huge all-round talent. It’s rare to find a company that cares as much about its product.

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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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