709 Tasting Notes

drank Zhen Qu by Butiki Teas
709 tasting notes

This is the second last of my Butiki teas and I hadn’t opened it until today as I am trying to be more aware of what teas are on the go and how long they’ve been sitting about. My first impression of this is that it looks like yarn. There are more golden leaves than black, and it is fuzzy and downy (again, like yarn!)

Steeped, it is sweet and light, lacking the boldness I expected from the initial aroma. Based on scent I expected it to be similar to the Taiwanese Assam but this is different altogether. I am not getting the expected cocoa initially, but as it cools I get some cocoa sense. It is not very powerful but it’s there.

For me, this one almost doesn’t have enough flavour. I’ll try again with more leaf or water and report back if anything changes dramatically. I’m sure I can do better than this as this cup is a bit lacklustre.

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This is one of five samples of Taiwanese oolongs provided to me for review by Teavivre. Green oolongs aren’t really in my repertoire, but I am carefully following the guidelines to see if brewing them to Teavivre’s specs makes a difference. I am using 7 grams of tea in a 3 ounce gaiwan with 95 degree water. The dry leaves are curled and twisted, a muted jade green and smelling slightly floral and reminiscent of hay.

After a quick rinse, the first steep is 30 seconds and smells like sweet corn. TV dinner corn, according to the beau. It is a light yellow liquor, with a mild floral taste, that sweetness is still very strong but I get a note of spice like a hint of cinnamon or ginger in a sweet molasses cookie. The beau says he doesn’t get much taste but I find this tastier than I expected. There is no bitterness at all and the flavour that is there is very strong and echoes after the sip.

Steep 2 at 30 seconds is a bolder yellow with similar aromas to the first. The flavour is stronger here, greener. I think of peaches at first, and then more of boiled vegetables after the sip. This is closer to astringent but not quite there.

The leaves are HUGE now and are nearly spilling out of my gaiwan. Getting water in there is about to become a challenge. The leaves are mostly whole, with about 75% or more the leaf intact on the few that were broken. There are some sticks in there which don’t need to be but they don’t take away from the flavour.

Steep 3 at 35 seconds makes my fingers hurt! I spilled a bit on the second steep and now the heat of the gaiwan is stinging more quickly. This is tea making for the tough! :) Again I have a warm yellow liquor that smells of sweet corn, tasting less sweet than before and more of boiled greens than anything else. Again, we are getting closer to astringency. I would prefer to have a bit of that floral sweetness back, maybe in the next steep?

Side note: I do like the smaller three ounce gaiwan Teavivre sent with the teas as it allows me to drink the tea quickly and not have to re-boil the kettle constantly. I also poured the liquor off into another cup and used it as a sharing pitcher so the beau and I had the same flavours in each cup. AND I watered my tea pet. I feel like a rockstar.

4th steep at 45 seconds has finally developed some astringency. It feels like my tongue and throat are dry and I don’t like that. I seem to be losing most of the flavour here. Now the sweetness is gone and so is that nice spice note. I just get boiled greens and a dry mouth. Definitely not a fan of this steep. The beau likes this steep the best so far, saying it’s “like a high quality green but without that grassy spinachy taste.” He also says it’s very smooth. Are we even drinking the same tea?

Supper is ready now, so steeps 5+ will have to wait. I don’t think I would drink this for pleasure after it’s gone simply because I prefer darker roastier teas but it does seem to be good quality. If you are into green or unroasted oolongs, check this one out. I might have gone awry in my steeping to make that astringency come out, though I was quite careful with time and temp.

EDIT to add: The beau gives this an 80 or an 85. His favourite steep was the fourth where I loved the first with the spice note and sweet floral. Different strokes for different folks. I think he is taking the rest of the sample to work. :) Thanks Teavivre!

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drank '05 Pu-Er by Peony Tea S.
709 tasting notes

Whoops. I got this one quite a while ago and tried it and thought I reviewed it. Obviously not, as I discovered when I came here to see what my thoughts were back then. I have tried a few more puerh in the interim and find myself enjoying shu more than sheng, for now at least. I want to love puerh as it seems like the next logical step for a black tea lover like myself but sometimes I strain to find the flavours that others get – I seem stuck at wet wood and barn. Enjoyable, but hardly full of nuance.

Today I steeped this up with the beau after failing to see Thor (they sold out while we were in line!) and a delicious supper of ginger chicken. I ate too much and am hoping that pu will work it’s magic and keep my tummy happy.

I steeped this in a pot for convenience rather than gongfu style, but it still came out fairly well. I was afraid of accidentally making it too potent so I went a bit lighter on the leaf (one heaping “perfect” teaspoon at 2.5 minutes). This made just enough for each of us to have one cup and it was pretty darn good. The aroma at first was much like the dry leaf, with the wet wood, hay and leather aromas I associate with puerh. The taste had a bit of that at the start but in the aftertaste there was a lingering sweetness and it was very clean with no bitterness. I probably could have pushed it a little more on time or leaf, but this was a really easy drinking cup and it stood up to the western style brewing very well. I look forward to trying it in different ways.

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drank Santa's Secret by DAVIDsTEA
709 tasting notes

With the disappointment of the winter and holiday teas for me on the weekend I decided to dig out my tin of Santa’s Secret from last year. Or maybe the year before. Doesn’t matter, still tastes good.

This one if as good as I remember, a decent black base with no bitterness and a gentle mint and vanilla as well. The aroma is the best part of the drink, with coworkers commenting on the lovely smell. The taste is nearly as good though as the cup cools I tend to develop a bit of bitterness. I think that I need to remember to add a bit of extra mint for my tastes in future but this is one that I still recommend to mint fans. Glad it’s back so I can re-stock when the old stuff is gone. Yay!

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Now this one I expected to love, considering my adoration of mint and fondness for white chocolate. Unfortunately it turned my tummy, and does not make me a happy camper. It tastes exactly as you’d expect, the white chocolate comes through VERY strongly with the mint merging fairly smoothly, but for possibly the first time ever it tasted more like toothpaste than mint to me. The chocolate is actually too strong and the cloudy tea with a film on top coupled with the brain confusion of the taste makes my tummy unhappy. I will try again to use up the rest of the sample, but this is not a re-buy.

To be fair, for years chocolate teas made my stomache upset and some of them still do. I thought I was over it but it has started getting worse – Chocolate Chili Chai is RIGHT OUT and this one is almost as bad. Maybe it is the peppercorn and chocolate mix? I dunno, but I wish it were different. I really wanted to like this one!

Maybe I should start listening to my taste buds and stick to unflavoured black tea – but that gives me heartburn when I drink a couple cups a day. Darn you, body!

EDIT: There’s stevia. Of course there is. Stevia makes my tummy angry as well, probably because I don’t tend to sweeten my teas so having them sweetened for me tastes awful. Even blueberry jam which I enjoy can turn me off sometimes from the stevia. Darn you, Davids! You finally relaxed on the coconut, but now you’re mad for stevia!


You know, despite my being ok with chocolate in tea, the smell of this one turned my stomach as well. I got a sample to try at home anyway, but I have my doubts already.

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drank Gingerbread by DAVIDsTEA
709 tasting notes

Hubby and I picked up some of this one yesterday while indulging in a day of treats. Haircut, record store sale, leftover Halloween candy, new clothes – and most of it on discount or gift cards, yay! Then groceries, homemade beef stroganoff, some GTA V online and tv shows before an extra-long sleep. Today is reading, chili making and relaxing all around. Maybe a game of Doctor Who themed Monopoly? Great weekend!!

Anyway, this is one I was interested in but not holding a lot of hopes for because after 3 or 4 years of drinking tea I am finally finding myself disenchanted with rooibos and honeybush blends. Nonetheless, we gave it a go. It is actually pretty tasty, and does much better at lukewarm than hot BUT it is not gingerbread. This is molasses cookies, guys. Gingerbread is a ginger pow with a hint of molasses. Molasses cookies are the opposite and that is what we have here. I want more ginger flavour, and it is sorely lacking. Very sweet and accurate on the molasses though, so that is something. If they had named this correctly I think I would like it a bit more but as it is I don’t see myself buying more.

Hot tips: drink this lukewarm or cold for the best taste, and don’t expect much by way of ginger and you’ll be a happy chappy. For once, the beau and I both had the exact same taste results.


That sounds like an awesome weekend.

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My husband won the Oolong sampler from Teavivre in their recent giveaway and it finally arrived on Friday. Therefore, new tea! Whee! He was obsessed with trying this one first because he loves the idea of monkeys picking tea. He was very disappointed to learn that it is highly unlikely that a monkey touched these tea leaves, but he got over it.

I am not much of a Tie Guan Yin fan but hubby is, so between us we should have a balanced review. I still don’t care for greens or green oolongs but I sometimes see the appeal. This is actually being paired with a fairly brisk breakfast of scrambled eggs with vegetables so hopefully it doesn’t get too lost.

I followed the Western style instructions from Teavivre’s website and steeped the 7 gram packet at 100C for one minute. This yielded a light smelling liquor that has what I think of as a fairly typical TGY taste. It verges on being astringent but it doesn’t really develop. I was worried about the boiling water, but it does work. I am not getting any of the peaches and cream I usually get from this sort of tea but I don’t know if these leaves aren’t like that or if the water muted the flavours. This is a perfectly enjoyable cup though. Lightly sweet, nothing grassy or “green.”

The second steep at 2 minutes tastes much the same. The hubby says it is like a light green, and doesn’t find much of a difference between the two. He seems a little disappointed but I reminded him that gongfu would have given him a bigger variety of flavours but we were lazy. Ah well. :)

Will report on further steeps later. For now, it is groceries and then a return to GTA V and reading and crosswords and Supernatural and tea and lovely Sunday afternoons at home.


GTA V, reading, crosswords, Supernatural AND tea?
Wow. That sounds like a very lovely afternoon. I tried to get my other half to watch Supernatural with me (I just started S1 and am on episode 13 now – long way to go!) but it’s just not his thing. So he plays GTA V while I watch on the tablet. It works. :P

And I have this tea – I’ll have to see if I find it as mild as you did. I bought the samplers because I wanted to learn more about oolongs and how to compare them!


We have been together since teenager-hood and share a lot of common interests. I had him buy me GTA V the day it came out and we have been squabbling over whose turn it is since then. We also have seen all of Supernatural already but love it so much we wanted to start at the beginning. Again! It was a good day. :)

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drank Currant Affair by DAVIDsTEA
709 tasting notes

Wow. I LOVE black currant flavoured things and have asked Davids off and on for over a year to make a good black currant tea. When cocoberry came out I was excited and then horrendously disappointed. When I contacted customer service to share my belief that cocoberry was an abomination they consoled me with the promise of currant affair. With that in mind, I bought a 50 gram bag on faith that a tea with so few ingredients couldn’t possibly go wrong.

For once, I was very right. I steeped this 5 minutes with a hefty amount of leaf and while hot this was a beautiful currant tea with just the right level of sweetness. Unfortunately it become overwhelmingly sweet as the cup cooled BUT I think that was a factor of over-leaf and over-time. This is one that doesn’t need a lot of time or leaf to become a really powerful brew. Others may like the cooler cup best but as someone who doesn’t sweeten her teas, it is a bit much.

In general though, I love this. I am already considering getting more to have an at home and at work stash. I did have a few coworkers complaining of a weird smell though so I might have to take the work stash home. :( Two thumbs up for a currant tea done right!


I want to get some of this! It sounds very good :)

Aimee Popovacki

its so good!… they haven’t wowed me with a tea in quite some time… i’ve liked some of their new ones, but haven’t loved anything enough to buy more than like 25g of it… this one is great :) .. i never got to try cocoberry because it has mango in it, but i haven’t heard anything good about it!


Good to know! I love black currant as well. Those British black currant licorice candies = love.

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Oh my god, this tea is amazing. THIS is what I wanted every time I opened up a new Butiki tea. I wanted to love them as unwaveringly as so many on here do. So far, only the Ruby Pie has been a re-buy for me but this tea is fantastic. I always thought I didn’t like assam. Clearly I just had the wrong ones. This is caramel and cocoa and honey and rich but not bitter with a wonderful lingering smoothness that has a sweet edge like I’ve had some premium chocolate.

I tend to fall hard for Chinese blacks but this has a caramel sweet note that I may not have ever experienced in another tea. Especially in contrast with the disaster that was my previous tea of the day, this is phenomenal. I can only hope that future cups taste as good as this, because this is nectar of the gods right now. I don’t tend to rave about a tea, but this one deserves it. A+! This could usurp Black Dragon Pearls as my favourite black tea.

Now to keep slurping. And re-steeping. And slurping some more. Mmm!


YAY!!!!! I’m so glad you a)enjoy ruby pie and b) found out that you love this one too!


I love this one but I think I like Butiki’s Hattali Lion Assam better! I think that one is the best tea I’ve ever had.

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drank Cocoberry by DAVIDsTEA
709 tasting notes

This might be a new record, 12 ingredients AND natural and artificial flavouring. It does include black currants though which I adore so I am giving it the old college try. Initially, the aroma is very pleasing and berry-ish but then I get the bitterness of the coffee bean coming through, combined with the mate which also lends a bitter note.

Steeped for 5 minutes (Whoops!) this has an aroma very similar to the dry tea. Unfortunately I am at work and was called away on rushes so it has cooled half an hour before my first sip. I am a bit leery of the multiplicity of smells and presumably tastes in this one, but I persevere! This is lukewarm at best and tastes like smoky coffee to me. No berry, no anything. Arguably this would be a very mild coffee but I don’t drink coffee. Ever. Gross. The smoke is staying in the back of my throat and trying to choke me. I gave it a second sip but I can’t give it any more. This is disgusting. Yuck.


This is why I don’t tend to go for DT blends too often anymore…meh


I actually just contacted DT to say how disappointing this tea was. That is something I have never done before but this was gross!

Aimee Popovacki

thats good lol.. maybe if they hear from enough disapointed fans, they will go back to the way they were.. rather than bring out all these new weird teas all the time, i’d like to see them go back and bring back some of their amazing ‘retired’ blends!


I’ve been drinking DT teas for three years and not a whole lot has changed, though I do see more straight teas disappearing again. There have always been 5 new seasonal teas and a year ago or more they started the tea of the month. Teas have to go sometimes as well, but I wonder how they decide which ones to ditch. There have been a couple that were retired that I adored but most of them were meh for me. I would like to see them step away from the coconut and try a few more simplistic blends to really captivate a flavour rather than assault the senses. I buy my straight teas elsewhere but do still try the odd new blend every once in a while. This one really stood out as a disaster though.

Aimee Popovacki

mmm i agree… i liked when they had the from garden to cup series this summer (however, i feel like there were only two or three teas… ) but they were delish, and last year when they focused in on the straight teas for a month and brought out a couple.. one of my faves is the black jasmine pearls.. hopefully they go back to that!

The Cup of Life - Lu Ann

I agree with you both. Ever since DT has become so much more popular (good for them!!) I feel like they keep changing to retain more new people to the tea world by creating blends you’d never think would exist. I understand from a marketing stand point that it obviously makes sense to do that but I think they should also focus on the consumers who have been there since day one and who loved their blends that did not have so many artificial flavouring in. I agree, I hope they bring back more “retired” blends. We will have to keep an eye out for that on they’re web specials too!

Aimee Popovacki

thats true.. there are quite a few that i only tried once or twice because of the time when i got into tea… there’s some i never even did get to try that sound amazing!!

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I’ve been drinking loose tea since 2010 and my tastes have changed a lot over those years. For the last few, I’ve been a fan of unflavoured Chinese blacks and shu puerh. I still drink other things, but that’s where I am.

I live in a rural area with my husband, cat, and soon to be firstborn. I love tea, reading, doctor who, knitting, crosswords, board games, the marvel universe, and lots of other things.

I’m not often rating teas numerically any more but I want to leave this to explain my past ratings:
I try to only log teas once or twice because I drink a lot of the same ones repeatedly. My rating is based on my perception of the tea at first tasting and is adjusted if anything notable occurs in subsequent cups. I may also factor in the price and customer service but try to note that when I can.

81 – 100: These are great teas, I love them, regularly stock them or savour them as unique treats.
71 – 80: These are solid. I drink them, I like them, I may or may not keep them on hand regularly. This is still good stuff.
61 – 70: Just okay. I can drink it, but it doesn’t stand out to me. Might be lower quality, not to my taste, or outside my comfort zone.
41 – 60: Not likely to keep drinking…hoping hubby will enjoy!
0 – 40: No thank you, please. Take it away and don’t make me finish the cup.



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