200 Tasting Notes

drank White Christmas by 52teas
200 tasting notes

12 Days of Christmas (52Teas) – Day 12

Could it be? I’m actually opening up a tea, consuming it, and writing a tasting note, all on the appropriate day? It only took me a full 12 days to do so!

When I first opened this tea and smelled it, it smelled like the grasshopper cookies. It definitely sounded intriguing. But when I brewed it.. I don’t know, the flavors just fell short for me. I get notes of mint, marshmallow, and even chocolate, but none of them are overpowering. Maybe I’m just so used to my mint teas being overpowering I expect them to? I think it’s also the base. Not really a fan of that, either. Not sure what it is because my black tea knowledge is limited.

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12 Days of Christmas Tea – Day 10

Yes, I’m not really logging these in correct order. This one is actually a backlog, but I have other teas I haven’t even tried yet. So .. uh.. don’t expect them to be numerical, but they’ll get there eventually.

This was a custom blend from KeenTeaThyme and it came in a cute little tin and everything. It was actually quite delicious. The spearmint and cinnamon was quite strong, but I didn’t really taste any guayusa. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. This tea also has gold sparkles in it, which I didn’t realize until AFTER I brewed it in a dark cup. D’oh. Next time, I’ll brew this in a white cup so I can enjoy the sparkles.

As a side note, I actually took a tea blending class in early December. I wish it would have been early enough for my Christmas swap b/c I would love to have designed a tea around my Christmas day theme. But, alas, it was not meant to be.


Glad you enjoyed this! Tea blending is so much fun – welcome to the “club.” :) Maybe next year, if we do the same exchange, you can use one of your own blends! :)

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12 Days of Christmas Tea – Day 11

I am VERY behind on my tealogging (and slightly behind on my tea drinking). This came from Sil and it has a very strong scent – so strong I could smell it through the envelope. I originally thought it was a Lapsang base because of the smokiness, but apparently it’s something different (err.. I’m not sure what exactly).

It’s not bad. I’m not a big Lapsang fan, so I’ve got that working against me. I also think I taste some bergamot, so it tastes more like an “Earl Grey Lapsang” (which I’ll have to check after this note if such a blend exists).

I gave the tea to my boyfriend to try without any prior context (a popular pastime of mine) and he said it tasted like barley. I thought that was an odd comment, but when I did some homework, apparently this tea is like a single-malt whiskey (which is made with barley). I also learned what a single-malt whiskey is, since I know so little about alcohol.


Interesting that you taste bergamot :)


Actually… Such a thing does exist… I’ve a smoky earl Greg waiting for me in my stash from new mexico tea co. I’m sure others are out there too.


Greg = gray. Still learning how to work with this Nexus7


Hahahaha, Earl Greg, eh? That could be some interesting new thing!

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drank Pink Grapefruit Sencha by Zhi Tea
200 tasting notes

So I’m still on vacation in Austin today, and I went to not one tea store, but TWO (I’ll have to write about the other one later). I’ve heard of this tea company before, but I didn’t realize they had a storefront. So, I decided to check it out.

It’s quite nice, even though it’s off the beaten path. At first I was a little annoyed that they only sell loose tea in 8 oz increments OR in tins, but upon further inspection they also sell their flavors in “sample bags” that range around $4. So, that’s not too bad.

I was unsure of whether or not I wanted this tea, so the lady actually offered to brew me a sample. It’s not bad. A little bitter, but that’s to be expected with grapefruit. The flavor was nice, but I didn’t really think it was a tea I would drink every day, so I didn’t buy it. I DID, however, see some milk chocolate with jasmine tea in it, that I picked up for my BF since he LOVES Jasmine. Hopefully he does.

Also, kinda random, but the lady behind the counter kept referring to the teas as "he"s and "she"s. So, for this tea, she would say, “She can be quite bitter without too much brewing, but she has a nice flavor.” It threw me off a little bit.


Gender assigning teas sounds interesting but I would’ve been confused too. I wonder what criteria she uses to decide which one is masculine or feminine.


Was English not their first language? It could be because of that? I remember learning French and Spanish and I could never figure out why a table would be one gender, while a desk is another. And then German has three genders…

And yowza. 8 oz is A LOT to buy at once. :| I’d just buy multiple sample bags. :P


hah that’s so cute. gender-ed tea, like people humanize their cars or teddy bears.
and “milk chocolate with jasmine tea in it”!! IN IT!? yummmm

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drank Liver Detox by Dr. Stuart
200 tasting notes

I’m in Austin this week visiting my friend. Today we went to Central Market, which is a nice-sized grocery store. The tea selection there was AMAZING!! They had at least 50 bins of loose tea – mostly from Rishi and Republic of Tea. And they had lots of packaged tea as well, a lot I had never heard of – like this brand.

I was really hankering for a peppermint tea (because of my ongoing bloated issues) and I saw this brand and type. The first ingredient is peppermint, but there were a lot of other ingredients too. I should have reconsidered when I saw Licorice Root on the list too, but I didn’t.

When I steeped this tea, I was hoping for some yummy peppermint tea with “accents” of other herbs. But what I got was mostly licorice root. Ick. This must be a very detoxifying herb because it’s in a lot of detox teas. My second steeping was less licorice-y and more peppermint-y, which was better, but who wants to do two steepings just to get the taste they like.

All in all, this tea was underwhelming. I was really hoping for more with all the crazy ingredients.

My favorite tasting detox tea is still the Yogi Peach Detox, even though I don’t think that has any peppermint in it at all.


A caution. If you have any trouble with rooibos or honeybush then stay away from licorice too. They are in the same family which is nightshade. This can upset your stomach and intestines if you have nightshade allergies (which I do). Look up the list online if you think these foods might be bothering you since this is a common allergy family.


Psssst, rooibos/honeybush/licorice are in the legume family :) Nightshade is eggplant/tomato/potato, etc. IIRC you’re allergic to both though, Bonnie?

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Blehhhhh Steepster. I feel like crap. And I’m also consulting my Steepsterites for medical advice.

Yesterday I had a stomach ache pretty much all day, so I drank various mint teas and herbal teas (like this one). Dinner time rolls around and since I’m feeling kinda bleh, my boyfriend and I go out to dinner to a vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant for soup. Originally I was gonna get pho, but we end up getting something called a “Hot Pot” which is a lot LIKE soup and is often called “Chinese Fondue”. Anyway, we ended up eating the exact same thing since we are sharing it.

We come home to watch TV, I make it through one episode, and my stomach starts hurting like crazy. It has escalated from “stomach ache” to “I think I’m going to hurl pretty soon”. You know the feeling ;) I try to shake it off by going to bed… and proceed to toss and turn for the next several hours because I don’t want to get up and throw up. 3:30 rolls around, I give up the ghost, and go into the bathroom and throw up – of course. I go back, try to go to sleep, but toss and turn for another hour until I get up and throw up again. Bleh. Eventually, I find sleep for a couple hours, before being woken up at around 8 (because my BF is leaving for work) and throw up a third time. Yay. So long herbal tea.

So now I’m trying to figure out what’s going on and how long it’s going to last. My boyfriend and I ate the same thing for dinner, so I don’t think it was food poisoning. The whole day I didn’t even eat anything exotic: rice, vegetables, cereal. I did drink some kombucha, which some would call odd, but my stomach was already bothering me by then. I’m hesitant to blame it on my hippie drink.

I don’t really have a fever. Which makes me think that it’s not the flu. My BF has me all paranoid because he mentioned how his boss had salmonella and it lasted for weeks. Iccch. I’ve been keeping my meat intake low, but the night before last my boyfriend and I did have a raw tuna and avacado appetizer at restaurant (which we’ve had several times before). I had the majority of it, although my BF did have some, too. Is it possible he wasn’t affected by that but I was?

I’d normally be fine letting things run their course, but I’m set to go out of town this Friday. I really don’t want to be sick. I’m really hoping this is just a “day” thing. My stomach still feels a little icky (not as bad as before, though). I’ve been drinking water, but I’m scared to eat anything else. I probably will soon, though.


There are some really weird strains of the flu going around – ones that you don’t think are the flu, ya know!? Beeeee careful and get well soon!!!!


Is it possible to have a flu without a fever?

Denise @ Nature's Tea Leaf

If it’s not the flu it could be your body reacting to some bacteria which could have been airborne or on your food. 2 people can eat the same thing and only one gets sick. If you don’t start feeling better soon though you should see your doctor. At the very least he could give you further insight as to how long this could last so you don’t stress too much about being sick for your trip. Feel better and try not to eat or drink anything that may cause your body to create more acid for digestion. Maybe some hot cereal or some plain small size pasta like pastina or orzo with a little butter only.


Have you been tested for food allergies yet? Adult onset allergies can get really bad fast.


Denise – What foods would cause more acid for Indigestion?


Claire, that is what I was wondering too – my peanut allergy morphed from the hive-y itchy kind into insta-vomit as I got older but I usually feel better after getting the offending item out of my system so I would think flu here. I rarely get flus with fevers so I wouldn’t rule it out b/c of no fever.


How long – on average – would it take for me to eat something I’m allergic to and throw up?

How do I know if it’s a flu if there’s no fever?


Foods could be nightshade (peppers, beans and peas and tomatoes and potatoes) or mushrooms. Almost anything really. Corn, grains. Yes, they can come on fast and you feel like the flu. No fever, but mine feels like a bad flu and mine lasts now for up to 6 days. I hate it!!! Never had this until I turned 58. Horrible! I never throw up though, I get the other (D word). Gross. The B.R.A.T. diet, bread…applesauce…rice…tea, is what I eat when I’m going through this sickness.

Denise @ Nature's Tea Leaf

spicy foods, fried foods, foods high in fiber, some dairy, fruit and fruit juice can all increase acid in the stomach.

Invader Zim

No medical advice here, just well wishes and hoping you find out the cause and get better soon.


My reaction time is about 1 hour (give or take – it always feels like an eternity from the pain..) from start to erm…finish, but I usually know within a few minutes if I have eaten something I shouldn’t. Hope you feel better!


I have no fever but my stomach has been hurting for two days. I was starting to think it was my appendix! Queasy, and a bit yucky. Maybe it is a weird virus.


With gluten it really varies for me – anywhere from within a half hour to feeling sick much later in the day. I’d suggest rice as a neutral food just to be safe. I am of course not a doctor, but a basic food allergy test and a doctor’s visit might really help! Some of my friends have also had good success with elimination diets and food journals.

Lady 0f Spaydes

For future reference, if your stomach is feeling that bad, I wouldn’t contibute to the problem by eating or tossing back fresh herbs. Stomach aches and nausea are the precursors to your body getting rid of poison one way or another, and you probably just caused more pressure on your stomach.

Sounds like you had a bug of some sort. It might have been the Kombucha, its naturally fermented and could have easily been contaminated.


In the future what would you recommend for an upset stomach? I thought they always tell you to have mint, ginger, etc. on an upset stomach?

Denise @ Nature's Tea Leaf

Hi Rachel. Did you try the Slippery Elm? It was one of the samples I sent you. We have a number of customers who use it for IBS and Heartburn.


I have not tried it yet, but I’ve been meaning to. Thank you for reminding me. I think I’ll give it a try when I get home. I’ve been having this weird acid reflux-like thing lately too. LOL. There’s just way too much wrong with me :(

Denise @ Nature's Tea Leaf

Well feel better. I hope the slippery elm can be of some help.


I hope so, too. How long does it usually take for these herbs to have an affect?

Denise @ Nature's Tea Leaf

We haven’t gotten much feedback on this product but we sell quite a bit. I know from personal experience that because the infused liquid thickens it coats immediately and I found it very soothing pretty quickly. It’s not a long term cure but you should find it to help.

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So I’ve been hearing so much about gongfu I couldn’t resist trying it for myself. Also, this gives me an excuse to buy more tea hardware. I saw this “easy gaiwan” and just had to have it (http://www.yunnansourcing.us/store/product.php?id_product=128). It’s the same one Daniel Scott has in his icon. I don’t know if I’m ready for the “big girl” gaiwans, so I liked how it had handles and a built in strainer. I’m also using a strainer basket (also from Yunnansourcing) and a random 4 oz cup I found in the cupboard. One day I’ll get a fancy tea cup, but not yet.

Also, to keep the water warm but accessible, I brewed some hot water and put it all into a cast iron pot for me to pour in segments as I type. As you’ll see over the course of my “steepings”, the water got cooler more quickly than I thought. So this is why people get a Zojirushi.

I chose this tea because everyone has raved about it, and I was just “meh” about it. I thought brewing it gongfu style might help “bring it out” more and make me see what all the fuss was about. Also, it has gongfu in the name. How can you not love it??

I wanted to be part of the cool kids so I wrote down my thoughts of each steeping. But since this is my first time, you’ll see my notes aren’t quite so refined. Oh well, it was an experience.

1st steep – I was supposed to throw this steep out as a rinse, but I just don’t have the heart, so I thought I would try it. I got some light chocolatey notes. Also, this strainer basket is great, but where the heck do I put it when I’m done with it? Right now I’m just putting it over my gaiwan upside down, but next time I should bring along a plate of some sort. Oh geez, more hardware. This gong fu stuff sure requires a lot of room. This is what I get for not using a “serving pitcher”.

2nd steep (20 sec) – Used more tea this time. Definitely stronger and maltier. I’m getting notes of toast in here, as well. And I noticed the tea mentioned caramel, so yeah, I can see that. This is very different than the first steeping. Except I didn’t remember to swirl the leaves around in the gaiwain. Should I have? Maybe I’ll do that next steep and see how it goes. Also, I should use less water since this first true steeping spilled a little bit because I’m trying to get it just right.

3rd steep – (40 sec) My water has cooled down a bit. Boo. Don’t fail me now cast iron. This is a little bit smoother – not quite as maltier. I wonder if my water isn’t hot enough. Ah well.. Also, I noticed this was supposed to be 30 sec NOT 40 sec. Whoops.

4th steep (50 sec) – Now my water has cooled down quite a lot, even though my cast iron still feels hot. Why have you neglected me, cast iron? Also, I had my first pouring fail. I thought the lid was on properly, but I went to pour and it wasn’t and I spilled some water. Oh well, cleaning it up wasn’t too bad. The tea isn’t bad, but now it’s starting to have this metallic taste to it. Hmm.. I better drink my water fast so I can do another steeping before my water gets too cold.

5th steep – (1 min, 10 sec) – Need to figure out an efficient way to time these things because looking at my watch and hoping for the best probably isn’t going to cut it. So uh.. I guess the steeping time is right. We’ll hope so. Also, this tea is luke-warm and I’m not really tasting anything besides metallic-ness. I guess I need to break down and go make some warm water from the kettle, which is in the other room #firstworldteaproblems.

6th steep – (1 min, 30 sec) – Okay, so I went back and actually got hot water from the kettle. I steeped this the time allotted, and now it’s kinda bitter and extra metalic. Bleh. I wonder if I messed things up by using luke warm water the last few times. Should that really matter? As it cools though it’s not THAT bitter, but it’s that exciting, either.

Okay, I think I’m done with this tea. I gave it 6 good steepings, but I’m just not going to love it, especially near the end. The gongfu experience was fun, but it’s a lot more work than my traditional western style. I’ll definitely try it on some more teas to try and see what fun I can extract out of them.


I’ve never tried this one gongfu style, just western. I actually think this isn’t one that I’d want to do that way either. Now that you did it, seals the deal.


I would get a regular Gaiwan, easy gaiwan has the preset holes and will let smaller leaves and buds just go out. It was really hard for me to get used to it but now is the easiest way to steep.

As for the tea, I’ve had it for a while. I have this one and the organic version. I’m ‘meh’ about it, It becomes astringent fairly easily in my experience.


This reminds me a good deal about the first time I tried gong fu! I agree with JC, though, a regular gaiwan becomes really easy and convenient with a bit of practice. Also, when I do more “laid back” gong fu tea, I use a gaiwan, a cup to drink from, and a thermos. I also use another cup to pour the first wash in and if I use a strainer I just place it in the “wash cup” between steeps. You really don’t need all that many items to accomplish a convenient gong fu session.

As for the tea, I agree with the “meh” opinions. I prefer this one gong fu style, but I use far shorter steeps. The metallic flavor tends to be wiped out after the first three or four that way and it becomes quite palatable. It certainly is picky, however. Too long/short of steeps and too cool/warm of water tends to produce poor results.

Terri HarpLady

Ahhh, yes, I remember my first gongfu steepings (they weren’t really very long ago). Thanks for this trip down memory lane, Rachel. I still make messes & burn myself regularly, and I often feel like a mad scientist with multiple gaiwan’s on the counter, alternating between various brews. But it is fun, and it’s TEA!

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drank Joy by Tazo
200 tasting notes

Okay, take two before I throw this tea bag out. This time I used “green tea” temperature water and steeped it for about 2 minutes or so. I’m hoping to bring these green tea notes out that I supposedly missed the first time around.

And…. no. It still tastes like black tea to me. And it’s still too astrigent for me to enjoy. Maybe even more so the second time. Not enjoyable at all.

Good try, Starbucks, but this random blend brings me no joy. I gave it a shot.

Whispering Pines Tea Company

Is this what happens when Starbucks buys a tea company? And to think…Teavana already couldn’t make a good tea blend!


LOL. Well to be fair, I don’t know how good Tazo was before this.

To Starbucks credit, they did used to use typical tea bags and switched to full-leaf pyramid bags, so.. it’s a start. But they’re still a coffee company first and foremost (and from what I understand from my coffee snob friends, they’re not even a GOOD coffee company).

Whispering Pines Tea Company

Yes, their coffee is mediocre from what I’ve heard. I personally used to enjoy tazo teas – but that might have been before I discovered “real” tea. Maybe. :P


Aww, no judgement here. We all have to start somewhere. I started on Tazo too, since they had a bunch of it in the office breakroom.


They’ve had this for a couple years. I can’t remember if I had it last year or two years ago but it was pretty meh.


Steven Smith started Tazo which was acquired by starbucks in 1999, so, I’m going to state emphatically that Tazo WAS a good tea company at one time. But in the 13 years since Steven Smith was at the helm it has managed to lose its way.

Whispering Pines Tea Company

Why do large corporations always throw acquired companies to the dumpster? Large corporations seem to have no care in the world for quality :/


Because it’s all about the money, money, money.

One thing I’ve learned as I get older – especially regarding politics – when I ask, “Why does this happen? It makes no sense” it’s usually because of money.

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Well I didn’t break down and get the David’s Tea advent calendar, but I do happen to know that this is the tea for Day #1. And, I just so happen to have some of this tea that I bought when in NYC, so I decided to finally give it a try.

And, it’s not bad. It’s not the best black tea I’ve had, but it has some nice butter and rum undertones. I don’t know if this would satisfy someone’s alcoholic craving, but it definitely has those notes that peak through. As someone who rarely buys alcohol because it’s so pricey (and usually not very healthy), I’ll take it ;)


That sounds yummy

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drank Joy by Tazo
200 tasting notes

Starbucks was having a BOGO on Tazo teas. I saw they had Joy, the seasonal blend, as part of this sale. $7 for 30 sachets seemed like a good deal, but I wasn’t sure if I would like the tea. So I bought just a cup to see if I’d like it.

The verdict? Bleh. I might have steeped this longer than I needed to, since it’s a little bitter. I’m mostly tasting black tea. There’s supposedly oolong and green in here, too, but I don’t really get it. I’d recommend this to someone who likes Christmad stuff and black tea.

I’d bet this might perk up with a little milk. I’ll give it a second steeping and see what happens.


Good to know! I almost grabbed one the other day because of the pretty tin, but I had NO idea what it’d taste like.


Yeah. Don’t forget you can always just buy a cup of it, which is what I did.

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So the short story is, a few years ago I was VERY MUCH into tea. And then a lot of things happened, and I got out of tea for a while. And now, I’m back.ⁿ

To me, tea is the missing puzzle piece for my healthy lifestyle. When I drink tea I am encouraged to eat healthy and be active. I drink tea because I simply enjoy the taste, but the health aspects are just an added bonus.

I love all types of teas, although greens and oolongs tend to be my favorite. I’ll drink herbals if I’m feeling a little under the weather. And recently I’ve been getting more into young shengs (also chasing that elusive “cha qi”).

Unless otherwise stated, I drink my teas straight. I’ve been doing gongfu mostly these days, so I use a ceramic gaiwan with an electric kettle. For greens and some oolongs, I’ll do a western style with a glass mug or regular infuser. I try to specify if my brewing parameters are outside the norm.

I’m kinda strict when rating my teas. I rarely give a tea above a 95. Teas that I really like I keep in the 95-85 category. I’ve yet to give a tea 100 yet. So, if you see a tea about 95, that means I thought it was an amazing tea!

ⁿ – Note: I did step away from tea for a while.. again. But now I’m back for REALZ. Usually I have to put this interest on hold when real life takes over, so I’m hoping for no major life events these days.


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