1528 Tasting Notes

drank Nil Noir by Mariage Frères
1528 tasting notes

365 Days of Tea Challenge – Day 28

Almost done with the first month of my challenge!

I haven’t tried that many teas from Mariage Frères (if I remember correctly, they only sell in 100g bags and their shipping is even worse than Dammann Frères). I actually bought this one at the Paris airport based on the good ol’ sniff test. And I guess my nose is trustworthy, because I love this one!

This is definitely a French tea – it has that French flavoring sense about it. I’m not really sure how to describe that… Musty? But not in a bad way? That just sounds weird.

Anyway, this one is lovely and smooth with some nice, rich honey and dried fruit notes. In particular, it reminds me of fig and dates. There’s also a nice mellow lemon flavor that really helps lift the blend and balances out the richer flavors.

There is a bit of a light floral note, but I mostly attribute that to it being a French flavored tea. ;)


Flavors: Dates, Dried Fruit, Fig, Floral, Honey, Nectar, Smooth, Sweet

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

I also find French teas to have that distinct… something about them. A good something. Could never figure it out either (although I haven’t had a ton of them).


My theory about French flavored teas is that they tend to be in many ways like French perfumes, all about the layering and supporting characters, with intentional top, middle, and base notes (broadly), and many ingredients that are not always apparent in the tasting (or smelling). They are rarely “bright,” “clear” flavors, although they are lovely as their own thing, and this approach tends to make the Thé Français recognizable in its own way.

Evol Ving Ness

^ Agreed. Great explanation of the French tea je ne sais quoi.


I’ve only tried Dammann Frères and it felt like drinking perfume. Way too much going on for my liking.

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365 Days of Tea Challenge – Day 27

Yep, it’s Bird & Blend again. What can I say, I’m a bit of a fangirl…

Unfortunately, this one is underwhelming me.

It smells nice, like a rich salted caramel sauce. But the caramel doesn’t come forward as strongly in the flavor. I think it’s partially because this has a rather strong black tea base – there’s definitely some Assam in there, and perhaps also Ceylon. To me, the caramel flavoring isn’t strong enough to compete with such a powerful black tea blend.

I even tried adding a touch of sugar to help coax the caramel out, but it didn’t seem to help much. Plus, I never add sugar to my tea, so it just tastes weird to me! XD

I do have a full 50g of this one (it was one of the teas that popped up randomly during their big Boxing Day sale). Next time I’ll definitely try to play with the steep time, to see if I can subdue the base a little and let the caramel shine a bit more. I’m sure this would make a delicious latte as well.


Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Butter, Caramel, Malt, Tannic

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

I don’t have B&B’s Butterbrew, but at least with the one I have, vanilla almond milk (sweetened) works wonders making a tea latte. No additional sweeteners needed, just the milk.

Cameron B.

Yeah, I may try it as a vanilla soy latte next time around! It’s just not something I often do as a tea preparation. :)

Mastress Alita

It isn’t my go-to preparation either, but if a tea is particularly bitter/astrigent or a chai overly spicy, it can work wonders.

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drank Ghoul Gulp by Adagio Teas
1528 tasting notes

Sipdown! (10)

This is probably the best tea I’ve had from Adagio thus far.

That’s not to say it’s great or anything, but I am enjoying my last mug of it. It’s a very unassuming tea – just a generic black base with some nice fluffy vanilla flavor. I do get some marshmallowy notes from this, as well as a hint of coconut.

All things considered, it’s a perfectly nice vanilla black tea. I really need to find a favorite of those…

In other news, I’m currently looking at yixing teapots. So I would love to hear your favorite sources for such things!

Flavors: Coconut, Malt, Marshmallow, Smooth, Sweet, Vanilla, Wood

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

Did you ever try Golden Orchid? IIRC that was about the height of vanilla black that I ever found. I finished mine off eons ago but damn it was good.

Cameron B.

Yes, I did try it at one point or another.

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drank Milk Oolong by Mandala Tea
1528 tasting notes

365 Days of Tea Challenge – Day 26

This one is a swap sample from Kawaii433!

I did a gongfu session with this today. Now, let me preface this by saying that I am an absolute gongfu novice. I’ve done one or two sessions previously, and even that was multiple years ago. But I’ve been enjoying oolong quite a bit lately, and I’ve been very inspired by the notes of my fellow Steepsters! So I bought an inexpensive gaiwan from Amazon and decided to get my feet wet.

I was a bit confused by the instructions on Mandala’s website, as they have two different steep time recommendations, and the tea volume is 1 teaspoon per 8 ounces, which isn’t very useful for gongfu. So I also looked at TeaVivre’s instructions and sort of made the rest up…

I did a 10s rinse, which I actually did drink. The rinse and the first couple of steeps had some surprising tropical mango and pineapple flavors that I really enjoyed. There were also light mineral and vegetal notes, and even a touch of coconut. The aroma throughout all of the steeps was very creamy and buttery with strong fruity tones.

Around the third steep, the tropical fruits transitioned to a juicy peach flavor, which is more in line with what I would expect from a Taiwanese oolong. In some steeps, it was a bit closer to nectarine. There were constant notes of grass and leaves throughout, as well as a light creaminess and lasting fruity aftertaste. In some of the later steeps, I was surprised to find a sencha-like umami seaweed note. There was also a honeysuckle-like floral note that was very light in early steeps, then gained strength near the middle before tapering off for the later steeps.

The overall flavor started to wane a bit during the last couple of steeps, but I likely could have gone for a few more before it faded entirely. I was surprised to not find a ton of creamy or buttery flavor here, but it’s entirely possible that was due to my parameters.

I will say, I think my steeping parameters were likely not very good, because I got quite a bit of astringency in the middle of the session. So I likely should have gone with smaller time increases between steeps. I’ll remember for next time! Luckily, Kawaii was very generous with her sample, so I have enough to try this one Western-style as well. I’m going to hold off on a rating until then.

7g – 120ml – 190°F – 10/25/35/45/60/75/90/120/150/180s


ETA: I also cold-brewed the spent leaves for a day or so, which resulted in a lovely mellow and refreshing peachy beverage!

Flavors: Astringent, Autumn Leaf Pile, Coconut, Creamy, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Honeysuckle, Mango, Mineral, Peach, Pineapple, Seaweed, Smooth, Stonefruits, Sweet, Tropical, Umami, Vegetal

190 °F / 87 °C 7 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
Shanie O Maniac

This one has fast become one of my favorites. It also is the only tea I have come close to Gongfu style brewing as I tend to steep it western style with around 20 second brew times per steep and slowly going up from there.

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Sample Sipdown! (57)

This smells like a maple bomb, and I am so excited because of it! Maple is one of my very favorite flavors, and it’s often too subtle for me in tea. This is like sniffing a bottle of pancake syrup…

Hmm… I’m not sure how I feel about this one. There is a nice amount of maple, which makes me very happy. There is also a nice amount of bergamot, which normally I also enjoy.

But I’m sipping on it and trying to decide whether I like the combination or not. I will say, I don’t taste the rooibos at all, only the black tea part of the base. It’s somewhat tannic and seems like a generic Assam.

I am definitely wishing that I got more creamy vanilla here, I think that would really help to tie the bergamot and maple together in a London-Fog-with-maple sort of way. As-is, I feel it’s perhaps slightly discordant?

That’s not to say I don’t like it, but I’m not sure I like it enough to drink it again.

Flavors: Astringent, Bergamot, Maple, Pancake Syrup, Sweet, Tannic

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

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Sample Sipdown! (56)

I’m not sure what it is with me and banana teas lately. I’ve gone bananas for bananas! But seriously, I keep reaching for them…

This one is pretty good. The banana flavor is somewhat authentic and somewhat Runt-y – I think it’s possibly really banana Runt flavor and there’s some cream or vanilla that’s helping it out a bit. There’s a nice buttery flavor as well.

I do absolutely get walnut or pecan notes, which is surprising to me. I feel like nut notes in tea are almost always the marzipan-y almond extract kind, which to me doesn’t really taste like nuts. And perhaps there’s a hint of cinnamon here?

There is some sort of weird artificial or chemical flavor though, I’m not sure if it’s the banana Runts combining with walnut in a weird way. It almost tastes plastic-y if that makes sense? But it’s very mild and doesn’t detract too much from the cup.

Overall, it’s pretty good. Obviously Anne’s Banana Pancakes tea has ruined me for all other banana teas now… How cruel! :P

Flavors: Artificial, Banana, Butter, Candy, Cinnamon, Cream, Malt, Nuts, Smooth, Walnut

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

Ha. I’m drinking T2’s Banana Bake that you sent me right now. Just wrote the note (for tomorrow). I liked it!

Cameron B.

Oh yeah, I forgot about that one… I think I liked it, too.

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365 Days of Tea Challenge – Day 24

Sample Sipdown! (55)

This is absolutely my favorite so far from August Uncommon.

The base tea is smooth and a bit malty with some bread notes. The apple is crisp and refreshing – definitely a green apple but not the candy sort. And then the fennel just adds a nice unexpected savory anise flavor that somehow pulls the whole thing together.

It’s like some sort of interesting seeded dark bread, pumpernickel-esque, with thinly sliced green apple on top. Admittedly, that doesn’t even really sound good, but the tea is really good!

I will it’s somewhat savory, and there’s quite a bit of fennel, so not a good choice if you’re not a fan! I’ll definitely be picking up a pouch of this sometime in the foreseeable future.


Flavors: Anise, Apple, Baked Bread, Fennel, Green Apple, Malt, Smooth, Tart

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

I know I’ve said it before, but I love your pictures. I’m never on instagram but you give me a reason to hang out a little bit more on there lol.

Cameron B.

Thank you dear! I’m very inexperienced at it, but it’s fun to do it every day. I think I’ll run out of new ideas soon… XD


I doubt it. You creative people, sheesh! <3


Pretty sure that the next time August Uncommon has a sale, I’m doomed…

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Sample Sipdown! (54)

From Kawaii433!

I lowered the temperature a bit for this based on the suggestion of my fellow Steepsters.

It smells good, with nice buttery cinnamon notes!

I can taste a little bit of the same cinnamon and pastry notes as well, but they’re extremely light. They’re definitely overpowered by the rooibos base.

I may have just been unlucky with my sample, as there are other reviewers who loved this one. Hmm…

Flavors: Cinnamon, Frosting, Pastries, Rooibos, Wood

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

It was very light. My steep time was 8+ minutes which sometimes mean hour for me lol. I have more and I’ll try again and time it :)

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drank Watermelon Barley Tea by Lupicia
1528 tasting notes

Sipdown! (9)

I think I’m in the minority here, but I really love this one. Even hot, I love it.

The combination of roasted barley and watermelon is an odd one, but I find it very enjoyable. There’s a lovely natural sweetness from the barley here, and for me that goes perfectly with the watermelon flavor.

This is a sipdown of my existing packet of these bags, but happily I just ordered some more barley teas from Lupicia once I heard about the US website closure. So I have two unopened packets each of this one and Pineapple Barley! Hooray!

I’ll have to remember to drink them cold brewed sometime…

Flavors: Candy, Coffee, Melon, Roasted Barley, Sweet

Boiling 2 min, 0 sec 12 OZ / 354 ML

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Sipdown! (8)

The second sachet from my B&B advent calendar. I had two sachets inside one of my “single serve” wrappers! I also had a pouch of this from my subscription, but ended up selling it to tea-sipper upon request.

I quite like this one, and I’m honestly not sure why. I’m not often a fan of chai, nor am I always a fan of rooibos. But for some reason, this strikes a good balance in many ways.

The main flavors for me are cinnamon, clove, cardamom, and black pepper. And I actually enjoy the pepperiness here, when often I find it strange in tea. There’s also a nice dried fruity note, I suppose representing the fig in the pudding. I wouldn’t call it specifically fig, but it is a sort of sticky dried fruit flavor with honeyed notes. The pepper flavor sort of builds as I continue to sip, with an interesting tongue-tingling effect.

And the rooibos base is nice and deep, with brown sugar/caramel and wood notes.

I’m not sure it’s really pud-ish. But it is a nice rooibos chai with some subtle fruity notes. I’m not sure I would feel the need to stock it, as I’m not generally a chai aficionado, but I’m very glad to have had the opportunity to try it!

Flavors: Black Pepper, Caramel, Cardamon, Cinnamon, Clove, Dried Fruit, Fig, Honey, Spicy, Sweet, Wood

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 12 OZ / 354 ML

Yes, thank you again for sharing so many B&B blends. I’m very happy I get to try them. I think I loved B&B’s whole deal since they started. :D

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Hi, I’m Cameron! I’m 29 years old and currently living in Austin, Texas with my boyfriend of 5 years. We’re both software engineers, currently working in the field of Machine Learning. I am a staunch lover of pugs and other squishy-faced dogs, although sadly I do not currently have one.

I am also an avid yarn collector (errr, I mean knitter!) when the hot Austin weather allows for it… Find me on Ravelry under the name LorenWeiss!

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. I have recently started to brew gongfu cha style!

I love swaps! If you see something in my cupboard that you’d like to try, just let me know via PM!

Tea Preferences:
I enjoy both flavored and unflavored teas in many forms, including black, green, oolong, and white teas, as well as maté, rooibos, honeybush, and herbal tisanes. I am open to more exploration of puerh, but it’s not generally one of my favorites. I am not often a fan of fruit-based tisanes.

My very favorite straight teas tend to be from China, Japan, or Taiwan. I also enjoy matcha!

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, lychee, melon, pear, and rhubarb flavors. Tropical fruits aren’t among my favorites, but I still enjoy them once in a while – especially mango and pineapple.

Dessert: Again, all the things! 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 do very much enjoy jasmine, even strong jasmine, along with sakura and chamomile. But I’m not crazy about rose and 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 main 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. Smoke can be tasty when it’s not heavy-handed.

Favorite Purveyors:
Bird & Blend
Dammann Frères
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.

My profile photo is by inkpug!


Austin, Texas



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