652 Tasting Notes


1.5 tsp for 300mL water @85C, steeped 6 minutes, drunk bare.

This blend has been tweaked since I last drank it, and I think it’s better. You get a sweet and smooth coffee-flavoured tisane with notes of white chocolate in the aftertaste. Watch the water temp — anything higher than 85 will probably scald things and bring out bitterness. Mate gives a nice lift. Because this tisane is very like dessert, a coffe-tinged dessert, I wouldn’t be drinking it all throughout the day.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @85C, steeped 3 minutes 30 seconds, drunk bare.

Mmmm, lemon and ginger … one of those winning combinations. if you’re not fond of lemon and ginger, you won’t like this tisane.

Liquor is pale yellow and quite cloudy, and it leaves a rim on the cup. I figure that’s the matcha and guarana powder. Aroma is very strong on the lemon, and you can smell both lemon oil and lemongrass, which are very similar yet subtly different. I don’t taste any apple in this. I think I’m picking up some quince, but its very distant. The little bit of liquorice reminds me of some of Stash Teas more adventurous herbal blends. Yeah, lemon and ginger do dominate here. So what you’ve got is a decent stimulant wrapped up in lemon and ginger, and the ginger’s got a little bite and heat. I imagine this tisane would be helpful for fighting off the foggy stuffed head of a cold. Either way, this one should wake you up. Don’t drink this within a few hours of bedtime, for sure. Oh, and ginger — did I mention the lemon and ginger?

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @85C, steeped 4 minutes, drunk bare.

It’s guauysa. delicious, earthy, sweet, green guayusa. Liquor is golden green and slightly cloudy. Aroma and taste are the same: sweet, vegetal, with some wet earth. Refreshing. Packs a nice lift.

I got this in a collection box from DavidsTea; I also get a little tin of Jumpy Monkey (an old favourite) and The Buzz. Fun.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @90C, stepped 3 minutes, drunk bare.

I could not find a single tea leaf in this beautiful mix. Plenty of ginger and dried fruit, but not a speck of tea.
The ginger is not hot. The pear is a bit fake. The quince flavouring, though, is a delight. I am a bit irked at how little white tea appears to be in this blend, as it’s quite expensive.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @100C, steeped four minutes, drunk bare.

An old favourite. With so many of DavidsTea’s offerings declining in quality - no more Keemun, the milk oolong now being milk-flavoured. the David’s Breakfast blend changing every few months - it’s good to find one basic blended tea that’s not not gone to pot. The Yunnan base is sweet and mellow enough to play with the lemon oil versus fighting with it, as a brisker Indian black tea might. Refreshing.

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1.5 tsp for 300mL water @100C, steeped three minutes.

Honey and cocoa notes, and a slight aroma of leather and earth. Really good.

Flavors: Cocoa, Earth, Honey, Leather, Mineral

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 300 ML

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1.5 tsp for 250mL water @85C, steeped four minutes, drunk bare. (I prefer many oolongs at 90C, but I followed the packet instructions)

I am greedy with oolong and steep it Western style. I don’t often rinse it, either.

So the only place left in my little city for tea is DavidsTea, and I notice both their tea quality seems to be going down over the last year. For example, they’ve gone to a flavoured oolong for their Quangzhou Oolong, adding milk flavour to oolong leaves instead of using the real thing (and you can totally tell), and heaping the artificial flavours into the Long Life Oolong (what once smelled f peaches now smells of apple cider vinegar, just NASTY). Their tieguanyin, or Tie Kwan Yin as they transliterate it, surely, I thought, must still be okay.

It is. Okay. An acceptable tieguanyin but nothing special.

“Oolong tea from Nantou, Taiwan,” reads the package, At least there’s no “natural” flavours added.

The tea clerk corrected my pronunciation of tieguanyin when I asked for some. Even if I was wrong, and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t, I’m not sure that saying “Oh, you mean the tye-kwaahn-yeen?” is the best way to handle the question.


Oh that’s just nasty. He obviously needs some sales training. Customer is always right!

Michelle Butler Hallett

Add to that I have to keep pointing out to the clerks there just where the straight teas are …

—May I have 50grams of [staight tea]?
—Uh I don’t think we carry that.
—Right there, between the Pineapple Mint Chocolate Mate-Oolong with Rooibos and the Lavender White Cocoa Shells with Cayenne Parrot Beak Green.

Michelle Butler Hallett

To be fair: Stash also surprise me sometimes with their inventive blends, and blends are great. I just find my local DavidsTea is not as strong on knowledge of straight teas as they could be.

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1 teabag for 300mL water @80C, steeped 3 minutes.

I’ve been a Stash customer since 1989, when I could buy little individual foil-wrapped teabags at various cafes on my university campus. I fell hard for Stash. The little colourful packets of Earl Grey (grey, of course), Jasmine Spice (purple),Darjeeling (light blue), Irish Breakfast (green) … far and away, the best tea I could get. When I discovered I could order Stash through the mail (looooong before the internet), I was ecstatic.

So I’m kindly inclined to Stash. Some of their blends I run from, screaming, but most of them work for me. Their Moroccan Mint does. Stash does mint well. When you open the packet, the spearmint is pungent and sharp, and the peppermint is refreshing. The green tea base is none too exciting, but the mints ad a touch of lemongrass lift it up. Delightful.

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1 sachet for 250mL water @85C, steeped six minutes, drunk bare.

I really enjoyed this blend. I got a minty note — the liquorice, maybe? — and some spices. it gave a decent mate kick, too. My office smelled great.

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Made in a gourd with 85C water, multiple infusions.

I’ve made Main Squeeze as a tisane in the past, using 1.5 tsp for 300mL water and steeping it. This morning, I found my gourd. The result: intense. The fruits give an agreeable bitterness, a bit like pith in marmalade, while the mate itself is earthy and sweet. Overall I think I’d prefer plain mate in a gourd, but this is good. And potent.

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I prefer straight teas but will try almost anything … so long as it’s not tainted with hibiscus. I loathe hibiscus.

Floral oolong and complex black teas are my favourites.


St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada



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