620 Tasting Notes

65

It seems my previous note on this tea was brief too, but I still have one more teabag so I’ll make sure that that one (eventually) is detailed. I’m too tired tonight and just found out some really sad news so I don’t really feel like writing much.

It’s okay. A bit cloying and a bit boring, but I certainly don’t mind drinking it. I still can’t place the scent and the aftertaste is really familiar. It’s putting a sort of ‘orange fondant’ idea in my head but I don’t know where I would have had that… I didn’t pay attention to steeping time/temperature at all and added a tiny bit of cream just because I had it on hand.

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54
drank Winter Fire by Butiki Teas
620 tasting notes

I’ve been putting off drinking this tea from a pretty old swap with KittyLovesTea for a while now, because I still remember how much it burned the first time I drank it. I brewed up a cup this morning, and after sniffing the liquor and getting only sweet cinnamon I thought I had exaggerated the spice level in my memory… until I took a sip. There is no cinnamon! The cinnamon is a trick! Okay there’s maybe a little cinnamon but it’s barely noticeable in with such strong chilli and cayenne pepper. The spice isn’t too present during the sip; that’s actually quite mild and pleasant. It’s the aftertaste that gets you. The burn is almost instantaneous, and hits you right at the back of the throat. It’s powerful enough that it made me cough after one tiny sip and my brother to proclaim “WHAT IS THAT?!” when I shoved it in his face and invited him to try it without further explanation (which I do frequently). Since I’m struggling to shake off the back end of this flu I’m hoping the chilli spice will help shoo it away, so I’m soldiering on with it. As it cools, or maybe just as I become more accustomed to the spice, the guayusa seems to be peeking through more, and the cinnamon is fighting its way through too. I’m glad in a way that it is so spicy, because anything less I think would have been disappointing. It definitely lives up to its name!

Maybe next time I’ll try making this as a hot chocolate… I think the pepper might pair really well with that.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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88
drank Coffee & Cigarettes by Butiki Teas
620 tasting notes

Out of all my Butiki teas, this one surprised me the most. I threw it into my order as a bit of a wildcard mainly because Butiki were closing and I knew I wouldn’t be able to live with the knowledge that this was out there without ever being able to try it. And I’d already blown my tea budget far, far away with a ‘now or never’ sort of attitude to my Butiki ordering, so I thought what the heck. I never expected to love it as much as I do!

I work behind the bar in an Italian restaurant, and part of my job involves a barista sort-of element as I have to use the espresso machine to make the coffees any time a customer orders one. This means that I have free access to good-quality barista-style coffee on a regular basis, and although my heart belongs with tea, sometimes I need the caffeine or the coffee just smells really good and it tempts me to the dark side. The scent of this tea is like that – a dark finger of rich smoky coffee curling from the mug and beckoning you into its warm embrace. I spent the whole time it was steeping with my nose an inch away from the hot water, huffing in the fumes, which seems to be a common thing with me and Butiki teas.

When drank plain, the earthy puerh is most prominent in the initial sip, with the coffee being barely discernible and the smoky note lingering in the aftertaste quite strongly. Despite not getting much of the actual coffee flavouring, the thick mouthfeel and roasted quality of the tea reminded me of coffee strongly enough that I added sugar and a splash of cream, which I’ve only ever done with one other tea, also a coffee puerh. Adding the sugar brought out the cream note from the flavouring more, as well as the coffee, and after adding the cream the coffee note became even more pronounced that I almost felt like I was drinking a cup of coffee. The smokiness of the lapsang is pushed to the background this way, but comes through in the aftertaste and is the longest lasting of the flavours, so it really does feel like I’m drinking a cup of coffee and then having a drag on a cigarette (or how I imagine it would be, anyway). I can’t speak to the accuracy of the ‘cigarette’ having never smoked, but from reading other tasting notes it seems like it’s pretty accurate. I did rinse the tea before steeping, but it still has a slight fuzzy dryness to it which, although I’ve never smoked and don’t intend to, reminds me of how I imagine the mouth would feel after smoking a cigarette. I don’t mind it at all since it adds to the experience for me. The puerh itself is still present through all of this, and adds a really interesting earthy, leathery yet sort of sweet quality which gently reminds me that I am in fact drinking tea. Now some of this description doesn’t sound all that much like something you would want, but it truly is an amazing experience in tea form, and a lot more tasty than it sounds. Trust me!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML
Dustin

I really loved this tea too. Now that I can’t get it anymore I have started steeping 1.5tsp of David’s Coffee Puehr and .75tsp of their lapsang together and it feels like a pretty close reenactment of this tea.

Nattie

Oh I will have to try that when this is gone! Thanks for the tip!!

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90

I’m currently watching The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone, so it seemed like a good time to have a cup of River, since I watched Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead at 4am on Christmas morning and didn’t feel like tea. I’ve always really enjoyed this blend, and every time I drink it I wonder why I don’t drink it more often. I don’t think I’ve actually looked at the separate ingredients until now, though – it always seemed like a bit of an enigma, only now that I’ve read what’s actually in it it makes perfect sense, a bit like the character herself. This is first and foremost an Earl Grey tea, but it’s soft and creamy rather than harsh and chemically. The bergamot mixes very naturally with the lemon, and the cream and vanilla complement the coconut. Overall I think it’s a very well thought-out blend. Citrussy bergamot and lemon in the initial sip is rounded out with cream and coconut which though only really present as a creaminess at first is much more pronounced at the end of the sip. The bergamot fades and the aftertaste is mainly lemon, cream and coconut to me. It actually reminds me quite a bit – in aftertaste only – of Butiki’s Lemon French Macaron. I am guilty of frequently overlooking this tea, but I actually think that if it’s still available I might pick up some more when I eventually come off my no-buy.

The more this cools, the less flavourful I’m finding it. This is definitely one that’s best when still hot.

ETA: I drank this with milk and half a sugar. The sugar brings out the lemon note more, and milk tackles the mild astringency and brings out more of the coconut.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 207 ML

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82
drank Crimson Horizon by Butiki Teas
620 tasting notes

Starting off my Butiki drink-a-thon with a breakfast tea seemed like a no-brainer. I currently have 75 Butiki teas in my cupboard, some flavoured, some not. Of those, I have rated a measly 12, and so my first new year’s resolution of 2017 is to rate and write up detailed notes of the remaining 63 by the end of January. It works out to just over 2 per day, so it’s doable. I still want to reach 400 by my third steepster birthday (beginning of February) so that might make it less doable…

This is definitely a great wake-up tea! Wow is it strong! I usually steep this for 1 minute but using Stacy’s parameters of 1 minute 30 for the purposes of the drink-a-thon I find it a little more on the astringent side. I used to find my stomach cramped a little after drinking a lot of tea or coffee, and for a while assumed it was lactose-related, but since it happens when drinking a lot of tea plain and not when drinking plain milk, I’m thinking it might be the caffeine. This one does make my stomach a little uncomfortable for a while, but I’m used to it and I can deal. I assume it has a pretty high caffeine content.It’s worth it though, because it really is a great breakfast tea. Once I’ve added a splash of milk to counteract the astringency (and just because I prefer my breakfast teas that way) it’s really enjoyable. The malty, bready note is most prominent and immediately obvious, but the more I sip the more I can taste a nutty back-note and an even lighter citrus note which are rounding it out very nicely. I’m a sucker for nutty teas, whether in natural notes or added flavouring, and this one really hits the mark. I definitely see why Stacy used it as the base for Praline Horizon (and I think maybe a pistachio one? I didn’t pick that up). I really like that this is a CTC too, because it means that when I wake up in need of tea right away I don’t have to wait too long as it brews up really quickly, which is good for my patience! I’m planning on drinking a few more different teas today since I have the day off work, so I’m not resteeping this time, but I know from past experience that this one holds up very well to additional brews. And the Butiki drink-a-thon begins!

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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100
drank Maple Pecan Oolong by Butiki Teas
620 tasting notes

HAPPY NEW YEAR STEEPSTER!

I’m starting off 2017 with a cup of my joint favourite tea, and sipping down the last of my oldest sample (which is over 3 years old and has been kept in a sandwich bag). It’s sadly lost most of its flavour, but at least now I can move on to my newer stashes, which are much newer and have been preserved much more carefully. It’s given me the kick up the bum I needed to start sipping down this and other Butiki favourites, because if this is what the future has in store for the tea then it isn’t worth hoarding! I already knew that in theory but seeing it in practice is sad. I did massively underleaf too, to be fair to the tea, and used 1 tsp in 12oz instead of the recommended 1.5 in 8oz, so I’m surprised it has any flavour at all. What flavour it does have is still delicious – a teasing faint wisp of nutty oolong and pecan with sweet maple.

I currently have 75 (!!) Butiki teas in my cupboard, and I’ve only logged a handful even though I’ve drank them all at times. I was debating having a sort of Butiki drink-a-thon in January, to savour and write up a tasting note for each tea I have while they still have their flavour, and drinking this cup of almost-flavourless Maple Pecan Oolong has made up my mind to do it.So by the end of this month I will have a detailed tasting note for each Butiki tea I own! New Year’s resolution #1.

Here’s hoping 2017 will be a good year for you all.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
greenteafairy

Wow, 75 Butiki teas! I only have a handful left.

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67

This was my first ever matcha a few years back courtesy of the EU TTB and it still tastes just as I remembered it. I believe my sample is classic grade matcha with robust flavour. Despite being robust, the raspberry flavour is quite subtle, so I guess this flavour in particular is just not as strong as some others. I’m not complaining, it is tasty, just not something I reach for when I want to be whacked in the mouth with flavour (which is often). This morning I had this as an iced matcha latte of sorts – 3/4 of a teaspoon sieved into 10oz of cold semi-skimmed milk and then shaken in my protein shaker. The raspberry flavour was subtle as expected, but I’m not sure about the cream since it was mixed with milk (and I usually have skimmed milk so semi-skimmed is creamy to me anyway). The matcha itself didn’t really come through at all today, and I couldn’t detect any grassiness which is a plus in my book! The overall effect was like a soft, sweet raspberry milkshake. I might have to try it with some added sweetener next time, but then again I think I drink it as an iced latte almost every time so maybe I should try it another way! Sometimes once I’ve discovered something I like I stick to it for a while and almost miss discovering something that I love instead.

Preparation
Iced 1 tsp 10 OZ / 300 ML

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90
drank Connoisseur tea bags by Ringtons
620 tasting notes

I’ve had a super busy day today and this was the only tea I managed to get around to drinking. This is exactly the kind of day which I will always keep this tea in my cupboard for. Tasty, caffeinated, and quick to drink. Reliable as always.

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48
drank Celtic Twist by Pekoe Tea Lounge
620 tasting notes

I pulled this out of my focus box partially at random (after eliminating some teas I didn’t fancy) to drink while I watch some late night Doctor Who. I don’t remember if I’ve drank this before or not, which isn’t a good sign. To be honest, I’m not impressed. I’ll have to try different steeping parameters with the rest of my sample but for now I’m just getting regular, nothing special, not even average bitter black tea. I added rock sugar and milk and it bumped it up to ‘meh’, and then added a drop of actual whiskey and now I’m enjoying it! Hehehe…

Thanks, MissB!

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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78
drank Creme Brulee by Simpson & Vail
620 tasting notes

Sipdown 62/375 on this sample which came to me courtesy of MissB.

This tea seems to split opinion, and I come down firmly on the side of ‘yay’ over ‘nay’. To me, the flavour is pretty accurately creme brulee – it has notes of vanilla, creamy custard and caramelised sugar which all meld together to create the creme brulee effectively. The base tea is strong, but some slight bitterness actually helps to create the burnt aspect of the topping in my mind and I don’t mind it as much as I usually do. With a little rock sugar and a splash of milk this is delicious.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 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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