686 Tasting Notes

This sample seems like an appropriate choice for my 666th note (current politics aside, my family also escaped the Soviet Union back in the day so I’ll rarely miss an opportunity to take a dig at Russia – come at me, bots). Unfortunately, I really dislike smoky teas so I’m mostly in this for the pun. I only steeped it for three minutes – the lower end of the recommended time – in hopes of cutting down on the smoky flavor. It didn’t work. All I can taste is the lapsang souchong smokiness. Maybe a hint of berry in the aftertaste? I tried adding a splash of rice milk, which successfully toned down the smokiness to a level that I’m comfortable drinking, but I still can’t make out any other flavors. I just don’t think this tea is for me. It’s not a knock on the tea; I just don’t enjoy smoky teas and can’t get past that here.

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Thanks to tea bento for the samples! I’ve made this red oolong twice now, both times according to package directions: gong fu style, 95c, rinse/2min/1min/3min. The dominant notes that I taste overall are wood, leather, and tobacco. If you like those flavors, you’ll probably like this. I personally don’t like those flavors so was not a huge fan. I did not get a lot of the sweeter notes that others seem to have picked up on.

The dry leaf smells like sandalwood with a hint of leather. The first steep brews up dark and tastes like dry wood and leather with maybe a hint of malt. It’s like drinking the Morgan Library. The second steep is much less dry. It tastes of sandalwood and leather with a touch of honey. With the third steep, the wet leaf smells like tobacco and the brew tastes like what I imagine tobacco tastes like (having never smoked, I’m taking a WAG based on olfactory experience). I didn’t try to push it further than the recommended number of steeps but you probably could.

0 min, 15 sec

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I picked this up years ago during Anna’s stash sale but somehow haven’t drunk it much over the years. I do like it, though. Today I paired it with some galette des rois to complement the frangipane (https://www.instagram.com/p/Bd3oUrhla5d/). It was a good match! The floral violet flavor works really well with flaky almond pastry. I couldn’t taste the macaron note but it might have just been drowned out by the actual almond in the cake or have faded with age. In the second steep, the blackcurrant note comes to dominate the cup.

Another good way to enjoy this blend is to make a tea soda with it! Brew with double leaf, add a little sugar, allow to cool and/or add ice, top with seltzer. This brings out the floral and fruit notes and results in a vibrant, refreshing beverage.


Dear Anna. I hope she is well.

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It was too cold to go out for my birthday, so instead a few friends came over and we ordered Indian food for dinner. We had Calabash’s Idris chai before dinner, which blends really well with Irish cream, coconut rum, rice milk, and/or chocolate almond milk (we may have experimented a bit). Everyone was very full after dinner so I made a pot of T2’s Lemongrass & Ginger to settle our stomachs. It’s nothing special but does the trick. Now that they’ve left, I’m closing out my birthday with a good book and a really special tea: white lotus from Tea Dealers. It’s easily one of if not the most expensive teas I have but I decided to indulge for my birthday. I don’t even know how to describe the flavor because it’s so different from anything else I’ve had. The closest I can think of is slightly sweetened sticky rice but even that’s not really accurate. It really is special though and I intend to savor every sip.


Sounds lovely, happy birthday!

Evol Ving Ness

Happy birthday to you!


Happy Birthday!


Happy happy birthday! And good call having Indian food for your birthday dinner. Always a good idea!


Happy Birthday!


Thanks y’all!

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drank Coffee Ice Cream by Butiki Teas
686 tasting notes

First of all, I’m so glad Steepster’s back. Riding out the storm without it was disappointing to say the least.

Secondly, this is an about-time sipdown. The flavor was still good but definitely fading. I added some vanilla honey and rice milk for a proper send-off. Creamy coffee yum. I did a long second steep without any additions and it still had that creamy coffee flavor, just not as robust as it used to be. Farewell to another beloved Butiki blend!


Yes, so glad to be able to catch up with peeps!

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I wasn’t planning to do a tasting note for this – I only have one sachet and Teavana is closing anyway – but then I tried it and was so pleasantly surprised that it seemed worth documenting. I made it at the office using the water in our cooler so I don’t know what temperature it steeped at but would guess it was about 170f for maybe 4 minutes. The flavor profile was not incredibly complex but it was beautifully smooth and buttery with notes of grass and peas. A second steep is possible but loses a lot of that gorgeous buttery texture.


I like this one, too! I often have it at Starbucks.

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drank Caramel Shortbread by DAVIDsTEA
686 tasting notes

Happy New Year, Steepster darlings! I don’t do resolutions but I am trying to get back into the groove of writing Steepster posts and/or taking Instagram pictures somewhat regularly. We’ll see how that goes but I have missed it so I’m moderately optimistic.

I’m starting off with a tea that I’m also moderately optimistic about. The flavor sounds delicious and I like that it is caffeine free, but the ingredients include stevia (blegh) and “natural and artificial almond and hazelnut flavouring” (always eyebrow-raising but not inherently disqualifying). I only have one sachet so there’s not much to lose by trying it.

I have to admit, the scent of the dry leaf is a dead ringer for caramel shortbread cookies. As soon as the 206f water hit the leaf, a lovely aroma of warm caramel and cookies wafted up from my (prewarmed) cup. I steeped this blend for five minutes. It has a slight oily sheen on the surface which should have been a red flag but I blew right by that and went in for the sip. My immediate response was “what am I drinking and why”. It certainly does not taste like I expected it to, though not as terrible as that initial response might have you believe. It tastes very fruity and sweet with a strong berry flavor and no cookie or shortbread flavor. That unmistakable stevianess lingers in the aftertaste. That’s fine if you like stevia but less than pleasing if you don’t. This is a perfectly adequate berry and stevia tea. It is not, to my palate at least and to the great disappointment of my olfactory sense, a caramel shortbread tea. But at least I got a Steepster post written about it!

Flavors: Berry


Ugh, Stevia. shudders

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Sipdown! I got this as part of a prize pack from TeaVivre… at some point, I no longer know when. But it’s still tasty! I made this gong fu style on a brisk evening. The first steep reminds me of a savory rice porridge (so, basically, congee). As the second steep cools, I swear there’s a sweet potato note too. I expect to get a few more steeps out of this but it will have to wait until after dinner.

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Sipdown, alas. This tea still tastes of pumpkin and coffee despite its age. Some brown sugar amplifies the flavor nicely. I even got a second steep out of it, though that benefited from some pumpkin agave. I’m sad to see another Butiki go but it’s about time.


I’m getting very close to sipping down my last Butikis—so sad, but I know it’d be even sadder to let them go off, so I’m pushing through.


Ditto. It’s time.

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Sipdown! I’m not a huge fan of matcha-added teas because I don’t like the detritus that ends up at the bottom of my cup and the matcha rarely adds much to the flavor. I don’t think it added much here – maybe a touch of sweetness- and there’s the familiar gunk at the bottom of my mug. Flavor-wise, this is more robust than most genmaichas. I can’t pick out the bean taste specifically but perhaps it’s supporting the roastiness of the rice.

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Geek and nerd (shoutout to GeekSteep). Still trying to get a handle on this whole work/life balance while ALSO succeeding at work thing. I have some chronic illnesses that make that harder. Tea is my respite.

Favorite tea types, in order:

Don’t drink:

A sampling of tea shops I like:
Te Company
Tea Thoughts
Harney & Sons

RIP Butiki



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