136 Tasting Notes


1-1/2 tsp, 8 minutes, 2 tsp honey

I’m testing and comparing all of Upton’s Holy Basil (Tulsi) choices tonight. After loving Organic India’s Vanilla Tulsi, which is a blend of 3 types of tulsi and a few other things, I wanted to see where the flavors came from, in hopes of duplicating the blend.

When I smelled this in the bag, there was no obvious aromas that stuck out. When measuring, there was a little bit of clove/cinnamon and a hint of mint. Brewed, the clove note is coming out first, but not as strongly in the Organic India blend. There is definately a minty note coming through too, but the clove tramples all over it in the aftertaste.

This is good. Not as good, but good. Weaker tasting, even with an 8 minute steep vs. 5.

Boiling 8 min or more

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When I went on a search for local honey, my first stop was a small “natural foods” store in town (and yes, they had what I was looking for, yay!). Half of the store is supplements, and then a little of this and little of that. The tea wall was actually pretty big for the size of store, with mostly Celestial Seasonings, Yogi and Traditional Medicinals. But this caught my eye, as I had seen reviews of Tulsi of late, so I settled on this Vanilla choice (only other choice was Raspberry).

This is a blend of 3 different types of Tulsi (Holy Basil), along with some rooibos, chamomile and vanilla flavor. The first time I tried it with T. of honey, it was too sweet. Unsweetened it is not sweet at all, so after tasting without, I’m adding 2 tsp. honey. The honey really brings out the clove note that some associate with tulsi. I’m a fan of clove, so this is perfect. There’s a hint of apple, or other fruit that makes it seems a little like an apple pie (spiced with cinnamon and clove). Some have mentioned a mint note on other tulsi blends, but not getting it in this. Vanilla impression, a little.

I’m retesting so that I can test 3 Upton offerings of Holy Basil varieties. BH02 (Holy Basil Purple Leaf) has no spicy or noticeable flavoring type scents. BH03 (Wild Forest Holy Basil, aka Vana Tulsi, aka clove basil) has a licorice scent. BH06 (now BH08) (Holy Basil Green Leaf) does have more of a mint scent that the others (with spice). I wish I knew the ratio on this tea, so can duplicate (will attempt).

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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I’ve had this sample since early March, and the smell of the dry leaves have scared me from testing. I’m not a fan of smoky flavors generally, and this smells like you’ve been hanging downwind from a roaring campfire … that smell that gets into your clothes and won’t go away. Once this smelled like it was mixed with barbecue sauce, but not today. I’ve already told my son that he is getting this sample without me testing (he shares his father’s tastebuds more than mine, lol). But reading Amy’s review last night, and Jen mentioning marshmallow, well, what can it hurt? This is supposed to be a Lansang Souchong beginner tea afterall (can you tell I’m talking myself into sipping?)

The brewed aroma shares that same smoky aroma … with a little rubber mixed in? (oh boy, must sip……….) Oh phew, no burning tires upon first sip. Hmmm hmmm (ponders).

I did add honey (yes, wimpy), so it is on the sweet side. And I do get a hint of the smoke, similar to the campfire association. As I let that linger, I’m concluding that the smoke isn’t all that evil, like I thought it would be. Ha, maybe this tea would be good to have with a charbroiled steak (mmmmmm) <<< but I don’t indulge in that often. The taste is actually not that bad. Maybe if I try not to sniff it, when cup comes to lips, it would be better to my senses. Yep, lol, that bumps it almost…almost very good.

Growing up, most family vacations involved fishing trips (Dad’s choice), which meant camping trips to surrounding states and mostly Canada (in search of Walleye). This tea invokes those memories.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

Yay! Good for you… it really wasn’t that bad, huh? ;-)


Hehe, nope. Thanks for the push : )


And they get easier to drink, too. I still only crave a smokey tea like this one about every two weeks.

Ah, the quest for walleye. We lived in Minnesota when I was little and it seemed like we went camping and fishing every weekend (even though I know it was not that often…)


Dad got sick after we (me/ex/kids) had moved to Rochester, and after he died, my brother gave me one of his fishing poles/reels (that we kids had gifted him). That summer, we rented a boat at one of the Finger Lakes (think Conesus) and I took that pole/reel. I was the only one to catch anything, and didn’t even know what it was (we girls didn’t pay that much attention to the details, lol). After we got back, someone on the pier yells out “Hey! nice walleye!”. That was one of those “omg” moments.

Autumn Hearth

Glad you plucked up the courage. I finishe the last of this sample this evening, would have like LS to have done a few more infusions (I really really liked the later steeps te first time I tried it) but I didn’t make it past two as I was physically shakey, which is odd. I’m going to designate this as a fall and winter tea though, so I wot re-order for awhile.

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Thank you Angel from Teavivre, for writing to me and generously offering to send me samples to try. This is by far my favorite of the 5, and have already ordered 100g with my first Teavivre order.

So I started my tea journey trying mostly flavored teas. I am now in the next phase, of attempting to find unflavored teas to love. This one falls in the “love” category. Btw, I am still using honey to sweeten most teas, but this one requires only a minimal amount. Don’t forget that my first love is Coke, so my taste buds are sweet trained. But I’ve found local honey, and using it will help with allergies too (so it has 2 purposes). But the tea itself carries a sweetness to it, that requires little help.

Yun Nan Dian Hong Golden Tips is really smooth and has absolutely no bitterness to it. Being sensitive to bitterness, this already gives it high praise. Someone called it “Lipton but better” and I concur … much much better. Some mention the sweet potato association. I’m leaning more towards caramelly, but see where those associations are coming from.

Teavivre says that this can be resteeped 12 times. I’ve only gone as far as 3, and on the third the flavors were weakening. Perhaps I need to be more precise with my temps and times. I’ve also tried it cold, and that is where the Lipton comparison comes from. It’s very nice cold, in a Lipton (but better) kind of way. Teavivre is now offering this in the 50g size. Angel sent me a sample of the full-leaf version of this tea, and it will be nice to compare the two. Teavivre’s customer service rocks btw. My order was put into the mail system Upton/Adagio-style (next business day). This and Upton’s Imperial Golden Monkey (ZP85) are my current unflavored favorites (so far).

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 30 sec

great review cheryl! Glad you’re starting to really enjoy unflavored teas! ( funny we call them «unflavored», this one is so sweet and tasty!)
I agree with you, it will hold 3 steeps easily, but would never strech to 12!


perhaps 12 steeps is for Gong Fu method of brewing tea with very small cups. :)


I enjoyed 5 steeps. It did start to wear off on 3rd, but last two showed some nice sweetness to it. I compare that with reading a good book for hours.
How does the full-leaf tastes like?


@TheTeaFairy – “unflavored” only in contrast to the obviously altered flavored ones.
@Amy – branching out to other brewing methods is in my future, but not yet : )
@kOmpir – I haven’t had a chance to test the full-leaf yet (so many samples, so little time/bladder capacity) : )

Dylan Oxford

Less-adulterated ;)


you can try this tea with Gaiwan.


One of my favorites, too! I ordered 100g on my first TeaVivre order!


Dylan – exactly!
Angel – when I move to next phase of journey, in the plans
Jen – should we start an Ohio chapter of tea-nonymous? or is it shop-nonymous?


@Angel, What would be Gaiwan preferences for this tea (mine is 3 Oz)?


Kompir, this is also depend on your personal preference, usually, you can add 5g tea into your Gaiwan. If you like the stronger flavor, you can add more.


Yes, I would definitely need to join either *-nonymous of the above, but mostly the Tea-buyers Anonymous!


Jen-I’m glad you don’t consider it a tea DRINKING problem! :))

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A sample of this tea was included in my last Stash order, so I decided to give it a try last night. I’m not overly impressed with Stash’s Earl selections. The bergamot that they use overwhelms the tea mostly. When I’m not overly impressed, it is easy to get distracted, and ended up having a half cup that got completely cold (40 degrees in Ohio last night…brrr). When I tasted it cold, it was so much better. A light bulb went off, and I think I found a way to use up the regular Earl and double-b Earl bags that I have (iced!). Will see how that goes.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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drank Awake English Breakfast by Tazo
136 tasting notes

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Originally started testing teas, to replace a lifelong Coke (Coca-Cola) habit. Now I’m just amazed at all the choices. Still in beginner stage of tea education. Until I get really good at iced/cold tea, the Coke habit remains, but is down to a minimum.

My cupboard here on Steepster was ridiculous, containing each and every sample size that I have been accumulating. It now only contains non-sample size teas. Loose leaf outweighs the bagged teas, but it doesn’t look that way by the list (over 100 samples).

I started my tea journey testing flavored teas. My favorites are chai and mint flavored teas, along with Earl Grey. Also like chocolate, caramel, coconut, almond, vanilla, cinnamon, clove and some others. Most flavors are better with a nice black tea base. The mint ones seem best paired with greens. I’m branching out now to unflavored teas and it is way more overwhelming then the flavored category. Phew.

My (grown) son has decided that he wants to try to find tea that he likes too, so I’ll be passing along the ones I don’t care for to him (with instructions to then pass them on to his sister…evil plot? yes!). So I’ve removed my shopping list from Steepster and moved it to a spreadsheet (swaps are out for now). My shopping list had grown to 197! By going through each one, I was able to split that in half (since many were added in beginning, before I knew what I like/don’t like).

While not swapping, if there’s something in my cupboard that you’d like a sample of, please feel free to ask : )

Ratings (for now):
90s: Must have in personal rotation. Crave it.
80s: Makes me a happy tea drinker. Very good. Unsure of long term relationship.
70s: Like this. Will drink what I have (sample/tin/box), but unsure of whether I’d buy again.
60s: Probably a good tea for what it is. Just not to my personal liking.
50s and below: Do not like…at all. Either poor quality, yuck flavor or … (see tealog).

Old (and still current) obsessions: books, music and fragrances. Hopefully my tea collection stays much more “normal” then those. (too late)


Central Ohio

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