620 Tasting Notes
I’ve been putting off reviewing this tea for a few days, in the hope that it would grow on me. After several cups, I guess it’s time to accept that it hasn’t, and that I’ve found the first tea that I actively dislike (sorry Bluebird Tea!) Out of the five teas I bought from them, this is the only one that isn’t amazing, so I guess they’ve still done pretty well!
I am a huge fan of Terry’s Chocolate Oranges, so obviously I had to try this tea as soon as I saw it. Unfortunately, the dry tea smells nothing like a chocolate orange, but almost exactly like a chocolate orange flavoured alcohol shots drink I bought a year or so back before I stopped drinking. I say unfortunately, because that was possibly the worst drink I’ve had in my life. The smell is very citrusy, with just a hint of sour dark chocolate in the background, but the citrus smell is very artificial and I have a feeling it might be the smell of orange oil. When brewed, the smell becomes more pleasant and smells more of real oranges, although there is an oily sheen on the top of the water which I think comes from the theoretical orange oil.
I forgot to mention, on the plus side, the tea is super pretty. There are chunks of orange rind and little twirly things (I seriously have no idea about the twirly things) that make it really gorgeous to look at, which I’ve found to be a common theme in bluebird teas!
I’ve tried this tea many different ways (plain, with sugar, with honey, with sugar and milk, with honey and milk and as a latte, as well as in a protein shake) and the flavour is kinda similar across the board, which unfortunately means I didn’t like any of them. It tastes like I remembered the alcohol to taste, only hot. Definitely orangey, with a dark chocolate note playing around in the background somewhere, but the orange doesn’t really taste fruity, I’m sorry if that doesn’t really make sense, but I was expecting a sort of warming, tangy marmalade sort of orange, but instead it tastes artificial, which I sad ‘cause there are definitely chunks of real orange in it! Also when brewed, the tea is kind of a browny-pinky colour, which I found odd. Not sure what to say about that, so I’ll just leave it there…
Not for me, I’m sorry Bluebird, but I’m sure there are some people out there who would enjoy this.
I have two new teas to review tomorrow but I am soooo tired! So I’ll just do a quick note now to say that I had this again and do the others tomorrow.
I had this quite late on, so tactically tried to mainly get rooibos in my spoonful and avoid the black tea. As a result, Martha was decidedly caramelly this time, without the sesame notes I picked up on last time. Enjoyed with milk, a nice calming drink.
I had this tea again today for a wake-up drink before I went to uni (early start), and as I was in a hurry to get ready, I kind of forgot about this while I was doing my makeup and ended up WAY oversteeping it. The fruity flavours kinda got lost in the oversteep, but it was still a nice cup of spicy green tea. I ended up having to leave most of it (sad face) and had it iced (well, cold) when I got back and it was equally delicious! The fruit is a little more noticeable when cold.
My bluebird order came in today!! My first ever order from them and this is my first ever cup.
I’m not quite finished my first cup of this yet, but I think I can already say that it is my favourite green tea I have ever tried. I noticed that my cupboard was sorely lacking in green teas as I tend to favour blacks, so I included a couple in my order to diversify a bit, and I am so glad I did! This tea is delicious.
In the bag, I was a little disappointed as the smell wasn’t as nice and jammy as I had expected. The fruit smells definitely came through, but it was actually a little overpowering and not really that jammy. Don’t let the initial smell put you off, though – when brewed it smells lovely. Very fruity, with the lemongrass undertones coming through, too.
On my first sip, the chilli blew me away. Wow. I did not expect such a massive chilli kick! At the end of the sip the fruity flavours really come out, and it really does taste jammy. The chilli leaves a pleasant reminder at the back of your throat, and oddly, I found it to be stronger in some mouthfuls than in others?
Very fruity and jammy, with a pleasant spicy kick that does not disappoint. The green tea base adds a nice delicate grassy flavour which really helps to push the other flavours to the fore. My only disappointment with this tea is that, on second steeping, the fruity flavours all but disappear and it becomes a very delicate cup of lemongrass tea with a hint of spice on the finish.
Overall, a great tea, which I have a feeling I will need to re-order very soon.
You guys I made a tea latte. My first ever tea latte and I am so happy I chose this tea to do it! Overall it was a bit sickly for me, but that might have something to do with the amount of honey I added… I brewed a small-ish cup of double-strength tea for 5 minutes, and added it to two times the amount of hot semi-skimmed milk, so it was 1/3 tea in the end. I then put about 4 spoons of honey in it (it was a giant mug, so it’s not quite as bad as it sounds!) and that’s where it all went a bit wrong. Two would have DEFINITELY been enough.
Aside from the sugar overload, this was definitely a success, and I can’t wait to try other types of tea latte! It makes an amazing night time treat, as it’s caffeine-free and the chocolate reminds me of drinking hot chocolate on a night as a child, but with a more grown-up twist. The spices are a lovely aftertaste, and the red peppercorns leave a really nice tingle on your tongue. I will be making this again for sure!
I had this tea as a lunchtime treat as I fancied something sweet, and found this at the back of my tea drawer after a bit of rummaging. I bought these teabags for ease of brewing when I was in the south of France for a holiday last Easter, had a couple of cups and (as I remember) wasn’t impressed by the weak flavour, so I left them to be forgotten about until now. As I remembered them to be fairly weak, I used two bags for a mug this time round (I like my tea pretty strong) and left it for about 10 minutes.
When you first open the little sachet, the caramel smell hits you right away, and it smells so good, but definitely delicate. When steeping, this smell doesn’t diminish, but the black tea scent behind it comes up a bit more.
Plain – I am definitely glad I used two bags, because I hit on the perfect strength for me, and it would have definitely been too weak otherwise. That being said, it was a tiny bit bitter from my oversteeping, so I felt the need to add milk, although I think it would have been just fine without if I didn’t leave if for too long. And I usually feel the need to add milk to all black teas.
With sugar – I had a feeling adding sugar might enhance the caramel and play down the bitterness a little, and I can confidently say that this is the first tea I have EVER experienced where sugar actually made it more bitter, which I was not expecting at all.
With milk and sugar – after the bitter surprise from the sugar, there was no way I could drink this without milk. I added a splash of skimmed milk (I think 2% in US, maybe?) and oh. My. God. Did it make a difference. The caramel flavour was back with a vengeance, even creamier from the milk so that it was almost like drinking liquid fudge. The taste from the black tea works as an excellent base to keep it from being too sweet, and I swear I could drink this all day.
A definite rainy day treat, and I am actually upset that it only came with 25 sachets, as that means I only have 6 or 7 more of these before it’s a sipdown, and I can’t get to France to buy more! ): I will definitely be looking for the perfect caramel loose-leaf substitute when this is gone, although I think it will be hard to beat!
I will do another review of this tea later when I’ve had it hot, but I’d like to tell you all that this is MY FIRST attempt at cold brewing! I had an essay due in at midnight, so at lunchtime I made up my tea in a regular water bottle and put it in the fridge, ready to take out as a treat once I’d handed in my essay. I used the vanilla because I thought it was a pretty basic tea to try cold-brewing for my first go, and it would hopefully be a nice sweet treat. Also I had to use like double the tea, and I really didn’t want to let go of that much of one of my fandom teas (they’re just the samplers). I tried a glass of it last night at about 2AM, after steeping for 14 hours, and was very surprised with how little tea I could taste. The vanilla was there, but no discernible tea taste. I have also come to the shock conclusion that maybe… Just maybe… I don’t really like vanilla?
I like it just fine with other flavours, but on it’s own, I’m not so sure. All I know is I struggled to finish the glass, but poured the rest of it this morning, after almost a whole 24 hours of steeping, and the tea taste is there now and it’s SO much better. Like seriously. So after a day in the fridge I think I can say that my first cold steep experience has been a success, I just wish I had used a different tea. (The vanilla hint is still a little too strong for my liking).
I’m glad I only got this as a sample, but if anyone is a vanilla fan (which I think most people seem to be) I think this would be a very good tea to cold-steep, as from memory I don’t remember tasting too much vanilla in my hot brew of this. I probably won’t be drinking the rest of this sample, if anyone in the UK wants it, I’d be happy to send it on down, although I’m not really expecting anyone to care too much about it. But there you go.
Boring review today, I’m afraid. I’ve been really busy this weekend, with my parents visiting me at uni, having an essay to write and also staying up until ridiculous hours to watch the NBA all star weekend (being an English NBA fan really sucks, the time difference means that if I want to watch a game I usually have to wait until like 2AM before it starts). I haven’t really had time to play around with teas as much as I usually do, so I’ve mainly been drinking bagged generic black tea, or coffee to keep myself awake. This particular tea wasn’t even mine – I nabbed it from my parents’ hotel room. I had this with milk and one sugar (one of those crappy little pots of milk) and even with the plastic-y tasting milk it was a very good cup of everyday tea. It was actually nice to give my taste buds a rest and just have a simple brew, and for a plain teabag this was pretty much as good as I expected.
I would recommend this tea, but only if you don’t have a major thing for loose leaf. If you’re looking for ‘everyday’, it’s pretty decent.
Tasting note number two! I should probably add as a side note, I don’t really know how many of these is normal to do. Do I do it once for each tea, or every time I have a cup? (That would take a HELL of a lot of time, as I have like maybe 5 cups per day…
Anyway, on with the tea! This is the second cup of Martha I’ve had today, and I’m feeling a third coming on pretty soon. Martha was the first I tried from the Doctor Who sampler, mainly because she was the first tin in the box, and oh my goodness I had like 5 cups in a row. Not too strong in flavour, but a perfect mellow tea for when you want to relax. Steeping, the tea smells EXACTLY like maple syrup, so much so that I had to double check the ingredients to be sure it wasn’t actually maple flavoured. When drinking, I found the flavours to be quite similar to Nine, so I guess that when you add caramel and sesame it kinda tastes like chestnut? I’m not complaining, anyway, because Nine is probably my favourite of the entire set.
Plain – lovely and caramelly (definitely a word) and cosy and just yummy. Definitely more caramel flavour than anything else, although the sesame adds an interesting note. Sweet enough to have plain, even if you prefer your teas with sugar.
With Sugar – the flavour of the sesame is heightened a little, but the flavour is mainly the same, just even sweeter.
With honey – because of the maple scent/flavour, I thought honey would be good. Boy was I wrong. SO much better with sugar than honey, if you like it sweet. It was like my tongue was confused, wondering why I had honey and maple syrup at the same time. Does taste more of maple than caramel, though.
Sugar and milk – pretty much exactly the same as just sugar, but really good if you want something creamy. Kind of reminded me of a really good caramel muffin I get from Costa sometimes. Sesame comes out pretty strong, but as I said above tastes sort of like maple syrupy.
So… Um, yeah. That’s about it.
Okay, so this was the last tea I tried from my Sherlock sampler, and the first to review. I left it to last because I have an absurd hatred for ginger, and didn’t think I was going to like this tea at all. What really surprised me was that it’s actually pretty good, and you can taste the ginger but it’s not like being punched in the mouth – it just mixes really nicely with the other chai spices.
As this is my first review, I had to decide on a scoring system (which took waaaay longer than it should have) and I finally decided to basically give it a score out of 10 and then scale it up. 0-50 is bad-average and 50-100 is average-great. I know I’m a mould-breaking genius. I gave this a 68 because 70+ is reserved for the REALLY great teas, and it wasn’t quite there.
If anybody actually reads this, you’ll realise that I am really picky and pseudo-scientific when it comes to trying new teas, and first have them plain, then with sugar/honey/milk/cream and combinations of the above. I actually preferred this one plain, which is so weird for me, especially with chais, so I’m not entirely sure what’s up with that. After having it plain, I added honey, then milk (because I’d let it cool too much to dissolve sugar crystals). I haven’t tried it with sugar or cream yet.
Plain – ginger comes through first and foremost, but it’s not too strong a flavour, it’s balanced out with the black tea.
With honey – as soon as I added the honey the ginger flavour gave way to the chai spices, and I didn’t like it as much. May be better with sugar than honey.
With honey and milk – the milk rounded out the flavour quite a bit, and oddly brought out the flavour of the pepper in the chai. My least favourite of the three ways I tried it, but still drinkable.
My overall score for each tea will be based on my favourite way to drink it (plain, in this case) and despite not being a fan of ginger I really enjoyed this tea! I would definitely recommend this blend, particularly to ginger lovers.
P.S. Apologies if anyone actually read this entire thing, it’s ended up a bit longer than I expected – I tend to drone on a bit. Hopefully future reviews will be shorter, seeing as this was my first one!