2725 Tasting Notes

drank Plumberry Black by Zhi Tea
2725 tasting notes

I indulged in a bit of retail therapy the other day, and ended up ordering a ton of samples from Zhi Tea. Zhi is a local Austin company that I’ve been meaning to try, so I’m glad to have finally taken the plunge. Though my cupboard probably isn’t so happy, with something like 25 new teas… :O

Anyway, I pulled this one out, semi-randomly, to try first. I often have an issues with berry flavoring tasting chalky, and from the dry scent I could tell this would probably be one of those times. But actually, it’s not as chalky-tasting as I expected.

The berry here is more of a dark, syrupy, quite candylike flavor that’s somewhere between blueberry and raspberry. It’s almost a bit cotton candy-like? Maybe some blackberry in there as well. I don’t get much plum though, which is a shame as I adore plum things. The hibiscus is very restrained, I only get a hint of tartness that helps the berry pop a bit more. Base is decent, could be a bit more flavorful but I can definitely taste it and it’s not thin or overly tannic.

Anyway, it’s a nice enough tea. Probably not something I would reorder, just because I was wanting more plum than berry and it was kind of the opposite of that. But I’ll enjoy finishing off the sample packet!

One thing I wonder about Zhi though, is whether they blend all of their flavored/blended teas in-house. Their website seems to imply yes, but then they have a few teas that are always catalog red flags for me, like a cherry sencha and a blueberry bai mudan. It doesn’t necessarily matter either way, just something I’m curious about. I’ve had several experiences where companies say they hand-blend everything, but it isn’t really the case, so I guess I’m just suspicious about it now. :P

Flavors: Artificial, Berry, Blackberry, Blueberry, Candy, Cotton Candy, Earth, Hay, Jam, Raspberry, Sweet, Tart

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
Evol Ving Ness

Hooray for momentary extravagances and taking plunges!

Too bad about the missing plums. Have you found a good plum rich tea? If so, where? Which one(s)?

Also, deception sucks. Some honesty in this regard would be nice.

Mastress Alita

I agree about being skeptical of “hand-blended in-house” claims now. I just got a Plum Deluxe advert in the (snail)mail which had “hand-blended in small batches!” printed right on it, and there were absolutely Adagio and Dethlefsen & Balk teas in the advent I had from them last year.

Cameron B.

@Ness – For a plum tea, not really? I have Dammann’s Noël à Saint-Pétersbourg which has some nice plum notes, they have a mirabelle plum green tea that I still need to try…

@Alita – Yeahhh I felt the same way about their advent. The banana nut honeybush was definitely the same as Adagio’s, and it’s one they offer on their website as well. :|

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drank Christmas Wreath by Lupicia
2725 tasting notes

Sipdown! (30 | 439)

I quite liked this one. It has a lovely balance of sweet cooked apple with just the right touch of spice to make it holiday-esque. The cardamom is the strongest, with the cinnamon coming behind with a nice cozy warmth to it. I think I taste a hint of tart cranberry as well.

I’m not sure whether the US site will offer this one this holiday season, but I’ll have to keep an eye out for it when I restock a couple of the usual suspects. :)

Flavors: Apple, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cranberry, Spices, Sweet, Tart

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

Ooh, sounds nice for the season!

Cameron B.

So lovely for fall and wintertime! I hope I can get my hands on some more. :)

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Sipdown! (28 | 437)

A bit of a sad sipdown for me, as I feel I enjoy this one more and more each time I have it, and unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have made the transition from Løv Organic to Kusmi. It’s such a relaxing tea, with just the right amount of stonefruit flavor – I don’t have to search for it, but it’s still a fairly restrained flavoring. And I can still taste the base as well.

Ah well. I do see that Kusmi has a peach and apricot white/green tea blend, so maybe I’ll have to give that one a try and see how similar it is to this tea.

Flavors: Apricot, Dry Grass, Hay, Herbaceous, Peach, Stonefruit, Sweet, Tart

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
Evol Ving Ness

That’s the sad thing. Fleeting pleasures. Impermanence. I hope you find joy in the Kusmi offering.

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Sipdown! (27 | 436)

I didn’t really get marshmallow from this one.

I can smell it in the aroma a bit, but I feel like the strong CTC base overpowers it to the point where it’s barely there. It’s mostly a very brisk black base with a touch of savoriness to it. There is perhaps a hint of vanilla there. But then there’s quite a bit of astringency at the tail end of the sip which fights against any creamy or fluffy qualities that may be there.

So not a winner for me. But I’m glad not everything is a winner, as I already have way too much tea as it is! XD

Flavors: Astringent, Custard, Malt, Savory, Tannic, Vanilla

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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SIpdown! (26 | 435)

Not very impressed by this one. I get an earthy base with some coffee, but that’s about it. Supposedly there’s vanilla in here as well, but I don’t taste it at all. Which is a shame, because I think this could really use some sweetness or creaminess or something.

It’s just coming off as very one-dimensional to me. Meh!

Flavors: Coffee, Earth, Roasted, Smooth

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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Sipdown! (25 | 434)

Okay, this one is really good. I feel like I’m finally getting the marshmallow notes that I’m always looking for in marshmallow treat-inspired teas, but never finding enough of. This tea is straight up a pile of delicately lemony marshmallow fluff. The white tea base has the perfect light and airy flavor to really complete the vision of marshmallow.

Very scrumptious. I’ll have to keep an eye out for the original green tea version as well…

Flavors: Candy, Creamy, Hay, Honey, Lemon, Marshmallow, Smooth, Sweet

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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drank Merci Mille Fois by Lupicia
2725 tasting notes

Sipdown! (24 | 433)

I was reorganizing my tea cupboard a bit yesterday and found a bit of this in a tiny tin, so I figured I’d put it out on the counter to be finished off. One fewer tin to organize, heh heh

I quite like this tea. It has a lovely soft and sweet peach flavor that is delicate yet somewhat creamy-tasting. The raspberry is more of a raspberry jam flavor to me, as it lacks the tartness of fresh raspberries. But it adds a nice richness to the more ethereal white peach flavor. I’m not sure whether I get strawberry?

Anyway, it’s good. For some reason I don’t tend to crave peach teas, so I’m not sure it will be a reorder for me. But would definitely recommend it for peach tea lovers!

Flavors: Candy, Creamy, Jam, Peach, Raspberry, Smooth, Stonefruit, Sweet, Tart

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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drank Jingle Bells by Lupicia
2725 tasting notes

Sipdown! (23 | 432)

Yay, another oldest tea down! This tin was from November of 2017. I think I only have two more 2017 teas left! Granted, that’s not saying much, but still a nice milestone to see.

This is one of Lupicia’s lovely grape teas. It reminds me of a combination of grape Hi-Chew and Welch’s sparkling red grape juice. I love those sparkling juices at holiday meals, and will definitely be partaking at Thanksgiving time! So to me, this has a rich, almost slightly winey grape flavor with a sweet candy edge to it. I adore Japanese grape candy flavoring, so the somewhat artificial quality of it doesn’t bother me. The base is rather earthy, which I actually like as it cuts the sweetness a bit. Not a hint of bitterness here either, even though the leaf is somewhat fine.

A lovely tea! Happily, I still have a couple of other grape creations from Lupicia in my cupboard. :3

Flavors: Artificial, Candy, Earth, Grapes, Red Wine, Smooth, Sweet

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
Evol Ving Ness

However did grape take them to jingle bells?

Cameron B.

“Scented with refreshing grapes and fruity sparkling wine. Great for a family get-together during the holiday.”

A bit of a stretch, but at least it’s original. ;)


Because grapes and bells are sort of the same general shape?

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Sipdown! (22 | 431)

Found this one little lonely sample from Rishi Tea, yay easy sipdown!

The chrysanthemum is definitely at the forefront at the beginning of the sip, and it has that interesting soft floral-yet-peppery quality to it. The floral is a bit hard to describe, it does somewhat remind me of chamomile, but with a noticeable musty note that fades to tasting a bit like pollen smells. There’s definitely sweetness as well, and perhaps a hint of dill? The oolong comes forward mid-sip, and dominates the latter half with its sparkling mineral notes and nectarous florals, along with a slight dried fruit note in the aftertaste.

An interesting one to try for sure, probably not something I would reorder just because I would rather have a chrysanthemum blend be caffeine-free for the evening, plus this is rather expensive.

Flavors: Chamomile, Dill, Dried Fruit, Floral, Grain, Hay, Herbs, Mineral, Musty, Nectar, Pepper, Pollen, Smooth, Spring Water, Sweet

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
Evol Ving Ness

Chrysanthemum and oolong seems like an odd combo to me. I am used to it either straight up or with a few goji berries thrown in. Habit—though I may be stuck and in need of change.

Cameron B.

It was a nice enough combo, but I would rather just have the chrysanthemum by itself so it’s caffeine-free for the evening. Goji berry sounds nice too, I think I have a Chinese medicine tea somewhere with those ingredients…

Evol Ving Ness

I’ve been going for acupuncture and other TCM treatments for years. This mix of chrysanthemum blossoms and goji berries was recommended to substitute for drinking water through the day—a clump of dried flowers, about 12 berries to 12 oz. water. Refresh the water throughout the day. I pick them up from an herbalist in Chinatown.

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Sipdown! (21 | 430)

This one sounds so good in name, but doesn’t deliver on the taste. The rooibos ends up being the main flavor, with just a bit of an herbaceous lemon note in the background. So really it’s sort of a boozy rooibos with a bit of sweetness and not much else.


Flavors: Alcohol, Herbaceous, Lemon, Rooibos, Sweet, Wood

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
Evol Ving Ness

Such promise. Again.

Cameron B.

I know, right? I don’t think I have any creamy lemon dessert teas currently, but I remember the one from Dammann being good. I’ll have to order some one of these days…


Yeah, this didn’t do it for me either :(


Dammann’s Noel a Venise is so delicious, you’re right.

Cameron B.

Yes, that’s the one! Many of their Noël teas are great. It’s too bad they only sell 100g portions… :(

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Hi, I’m Cameron! I’m a 30-something software engineer currently living in Austin, Texas with my husband and our two pugs, Gobo and Ume. I tend to cycle between my different hobbies, and they include knitting, video games, board games, miniature painting, bento, baking, and – of course – TEA! But really, what I’m best at is collecting hobby related-things… ;)

~ February Sipdowns: 4
~ Total 2022 Sipdowns: 45

I prefer my tea lukewarm or at room temperature and without milk or sugar. I will often sweeten iced tea. I brew Western style, and fluctuate between using mugs or teapots with small cups depending on the season. Occasionally I’ll brew Gongfu style when I’m in the mood. I also use a kyusu for Japanese teas.

I am always up for a swap! Just let me know if you’d like to try something in my cupboard.

Tea Preferences:
I enjoy both flavored and unflavored teas in many forms. These days, I drink mostly flavored teas, and I tend to gravitate most toward black, green, and oolong varieties. I do have a special fondness for straight Japanese green teas, however. I also enjoy maté, rooibos, honeybush, and herbal tisanes. I love matcha and drink it often!

Fruit: All of them! My ‘go-to’s tend to be in the red fruits, stonefruit, or citrus spectra. I also really love apple, banana, berry, fig, lychee, melon, pear, and rhubarb flavors. Tropical fruits aren’t among my favorites, but I still enjoy them once in a while – especially passionfruit, mango, and pineapple. I am not generally a fan of coconut in tea, though there are some exceptions.

Dessert: I love creamy vanilla and marshmallow flavors, along with anything in the caramel family such as butterscotch, toffee, or maple. Chocolate is also a favorite, though I’m often disappointed by it in tea. And don’t forget anything buttery, cakey, or cookie-y!

Floral: I’m a little bit more particular in this category. I very much enjoy jasmine, even strong jasmine, along with sakura and chamomile. Osmanthus is also a favorite of mine. But I’m not crazy about rose or lavender flavors, and I prefer hibiscus in moderation only.

Spices: I don’t generally find myself drawn to masala chai, but I do enjoy spices combined with other flavors. My favorite spices are the warm ones, especially cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, and cardamom. A bit of heat from black pepper or chili is okay too, as long as it’s not overwhelming! Ginger can be a lovely accent, but I find it difficult to drink as a starring flavor.

Aromatics: I’m obsessed with Earl Grey! I also love cooling flavors such as mint (especially spearmint), pine, juniper, and eucalyptus. I am not a fan of strong rosemary or sage in tea.

Favorite Purveyors:
3 Leaf
Bird & Blend
Dammann Frères
Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms
Taiwan Tea Crafts
Yunnan Sourcing

Tea Rating Scale:
90-100: Outstanding! Permanent cupboard resident
80-89: Great – a possible staple
70-79: Good, but I wouldn’t buy it
60-69: It’s decent
50-59: Meh… I may or may not have finished the cup
40-49: Ick. Couldn’t finish it.
00-39: Repulsive, I spat it out

I will sometimes refrain from rating a tea if I feel I’m too biased due to my personal dislikes, or if I suspect the sample has been compromised by age.

Cupboard Spreadsheet:


Austin, Texas



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