612 Tasting Notes

This one!! It’s sweet and kind of fresh tasting, I think it’s got mint in it maybe? Anyway, it was a great balance of warmly spiced and sweet. My favorite from last night for sure. Seems I’m always underwhelmed by Townshend’s Earls but enthusiastic for their chais. Yum!

Stovetop 10 to 20 minute milk n’ honey dance, per their instructions I used water and milk (and I do the stovetop warming with the sweetener instead of adding after, because in my experience it’s always better that way). Worth it!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

Also really good. Bready, especially while on the stove, per the Laoshan Black (it just smells like salty bread these days to me, dunno where all the yummy chocolate and oats from my first batch of LB ever tried went off to…). But that mellows once in the cup, and the balance of spices is very nice, an ideal basic platonic ideal type chai.

Stovetop, water then milk per Verdant’s website instructions, with honey added towards the end of warming.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

This was definitely the winner by a mile in my casual sampling last night of most of the WP blends I ordered. S’mores was kind of odd, not bad but bracingly evocative of things far removed from s’mores (though I can see how a particular mysterious earthy funkiness in it sort of evokes the grain in graham crackers); Mint Chocolate Chip was alright but I’ve other Grasshopper-y teas I like more (with the bonus they’re tisanes so I can drink them late at night, which is when I always crave that sort of thing), not quite as thickly flavored rich and sweet and treat-y as I’d hoped; I’m reserving judgment on Peppermint Chai because I get a strong sense it needs the proper stovetop milk-n’-20-minutes-stirring treatment to do it justice, not the mere whizzed latte deal I did. Nothing undrinkable and everything was at least interesting/compelling/unique. So that’s good!

But this one! So so good. I wish I could give more detail but late night, yadda yadda, hopefully I do a more detailed note soon. It is a great balance of rich satisfying chocolate (that that’s just the Assam is a bit startling frankly, ‘cause it is REALLY chocolatey) and tempering yet invigorating, palate-awakening mint. The two don’t clash at all; they meld so smoothly and deliciously, like an Andes mint but better. Definitely putting this on the “perennial staples shop list”, yum.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

Sounds tasty :)


It sure does. :)


I really like the peppermint chai actually.


I think if I can manage to get the peppermint to cling to something creamy so it’s a thick rich sort of thing to go with its sharpness, I’ll really like it. Crossing fingers!

Whispering Pines Tea Company

This is very strange that you got so much chocolate out of it! Why exactly didn’t you like the Mint Chocolate Chip?

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

Finally got my WP order yesterday, whew. I’m dumb and have been real willy nilly about paying attention to what has caffeine and what doesn’t and planning to drink it accordingly throughout the day, so somehow I managed to stick this in the One Touch for first thing morning tea and proceed to drink all the most intriguing seeming black tea blends after dinner last night, whoops. But somehow it worked out! I think it’s the gentle return of spring we’re experiencing right now (or our usual initial psych out at least); it’s helping my circadian rhythms along.

When I threw this in the basket late last night for this morning, right away I was like “oh, oops” because it’s clearly an herbal…a very unusual, striking looking herbal! It’s safflower but it looks like a bag of priceless saffron, a mound of some kind of feathery stamens with little peppercorn-like elderberry woven in. The smell is warm and spicy too, which contributed to that sense of saffron and peppercorn. I went with it and figured if I was still tired after drinking it today I’d just mix up some matcha.

When the cup was ready, I was startled by the color. It’s unusual indeed—the center is unalarming black tea-like, but it’s rimmed with this BRIGHT, algae-like gold-green with gray undertones. Very strange. But it smelled good, warm and gently spicy, like sweet and peppery smelling wood chips (because of that it kind of reminds me of the smell of the lumber yard/fencing section of an outdoor landscaping shop like the kind my parents would drag me to early every summer…I’d alway groan “not the plant store!” but now those sense memories always amaze me with how vivid they are thanks to all the novel seasonal smells). Dove in and yes, I love this! Maybe not for everyone, but I’m amazed two simple ingredients I’ve had in numerous tea blends can be so powerful. This is camping in a cup to me, the smell of drying forest and earth with some sweet heat—evoked the nights we slept in Olympic National Park, how it felt to wake up surrounded by forest. And I actually think it weirdly makes an excellent morning cuppa—it’s incredibly relaxing but the unusual, unique, strong aroma is also stimulating. It puts one in a very tranquil, peaceful mood before facing a hectic day, makes one feel like they’ve woken up in a forest with dew on everything and the echo of birds singing high up in the towering trees everywhere enveloping you like huge corridors—how can you feel too stressed like that? I would definitely reorder this, long wait time or whatever be damned.

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

I’ve been kind of…I dunno, not disappointed exactly but not bowled over by most of the Tea Guys samples I’ve tried over the weekend (they often smell fantastic dry and at first in the cup, but the flavor is unbalanced towards tart or bitter, with a base of totally unremarkable tea), so I was expecting to be meh about this otherwise fantastic sounding blend for afternoon tea. R came home out of sorts—had a terrible day at work, complete with another fight breaking out in his classroom—so I tried to cheer him up with my favorite Dead Authors podcast (the one with Nietzsche and Lovecraft!), open-faced toasted apple tahini sandwiches, and some of this. It was better than the others I’ve tried so far (Maple, Chocolate Ginger Bourbon which was actually pretty good leftover cold, I forget what else). Very strong honey aroma and the pistachio’s definitely present too. Still an unremarkable tea base, but I didn’t mind so much with such flavor and aroma. Quite nice, and amplified from the honey in our sandwiches. I’m not sure I’d bother ordering again from Tea Guys unless some of the others are better too, but if I did, I’d get more of this. It wouldn’t surprise me if their stuff generally makes for good fragrant rubs or marinades, or other culinary/cocktail steeping tasks as they’re always fragrant at least.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

Nietzsche and Lovecraft, the cheer up twins. Adorable. :-)


I have recently acquired a complete and utter dislike for Tea Guys, so i support this review fully.

Also, Morgana’s comment is perfection.


haha, yes!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

drank Silver Needle King by Shang Tea
612 tasting notes

Oh my gosh, I am so impressed with Shang and happy I finally tried them out. I placed an order Thursday and it got here Saturday! With a free sample of this! Egads. And, most important of all, this tea is incredible. I’m no white tea expert (though nor do I dismiss/avoid them, particularly in spring…I don’t drink them as regularly as other tea types but I enjoy them when I remember to have them, if that makes sense) so maybe take this with a grain of salt, but this is the most incredible smelling straight white tea I’ve ever had, pretty sure. It’s potently fragrant, and the body is surprisingly full. I’ve been struggling to figure out just what mouthwatering fruit or herb it’s reminding me vividly of—the closest I can get is a fragrant, musky melon crossed with an extremely tangy light grape (or similar, like starfruit), and there’s an element of incredibly sweet, tangy, fresh cut grass. I LOVE it. My eyes kept rolling back every time I put my face to the cup, and it was the kind of situation where you shamelessly start sniffing hard to the point you know you’ll tire out your senses but can’t stop because the smell is just so attractive. Unbelievably wonderful. The flavor is good too, but nothing compares to the aroma. Huge fan. And what a perfect season for it too—this has been the first gorgeous springy weekend we’ve had really, and I was busy through all of it roaming around out socializing and having a great time. Happy happy.

This also resteeped like a charm. I took a break around steep 4, but I’m sure I could resume and the next cup would probably still be delightful. The first few steeps were under 30 seconds (the first one was only 10 seconds and yet the cup was amazing in aroma, flavor, and texture), then I started stretching them out, a minute, then more, and so on.

ETA: Just looked at the other notes hoping I’d find my missing fragrance note—hay and clover, yes for sure. I think it may well be fresh clover that’s what I’m most grasping at. Reminds me of hot hazy summer afternoons in the big yard at daycare when we’d make chain necklaces with clover and grass. So vivid, yet strangely so unnameable/hard to pin down…

And something like cucumber, yes for sure, but sweeter and tangier, like the fruit version of cucumber. G’ah. Why can’t I identify it.

ETA2: I figured it out!! :D It’s banana blossom. If you aren’t familiar with it, think like the inner peel of a very very unripe green banana, with a little more floral/musky tone floating above. Yes! That’s it!

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec

Fast shipping!


You have completely captured the beauty of a great Silver Needle!


Sounds awesome. I need to try short steeps and resteeps with silver needle. I haven’t had much luck getting flavor out of them.


This sounds so lovely.


Well, I had never heard of Shang before this review. Now pretty much their entire stock is going on my wish list!

Shang Tea

Thanks for the review :)


So much for the wish list. I just found the discount code…now they’re in the cupboard. :)


Hehehe, good job, Flowery.

Shang Tea

Thanks for the order Flowery, enjoy!


I’m drinking this right now… and boy oh boy did your tasting note nail it. I loved reading your words while sipping this tea (especially since I received this bit of tea magic from you).

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

drank Earl Grey Tea Time by Fauchon
612 tasting notes

Two of three separate shipments from my Feb 3 Fauchon order arrived today—they must’ve really hustled to make it nearly fit the original projected delivery window (a day late), because until like 2 days ago it wasn’t even shipped yet. The last part hasn’t been packed/shipped yet, kind of weird…

Alas, this is precisely that kind of femmy, floral orange blossom water-like bergamot I have an aversion to as opposed to the soapy-clean bright zippy “masculine” sort. Not undrinkable and lots of Steepsters seem to prefer this kind (it’s like Lupicia’s). That said, the tea base is smooth and soft, reminds me a little of the soft unobtrusiveness of most Kusmis.

Hoping I can pawn off some of this to my Frenchy femmy in-town pal. If not, maybe I’ll find someone on Steepster who can give it a good home.

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec
TheTeaFairy Aww, too bad…loving your description of the two different kind of bergamot, haha!

I am curious about this frontier between the 2 bergamot teas sorts. E.g which EG would you class in the masculine sort ?


Thanks TheTeaFairy! Glad I don’t sound totally crazy, ha.

Ysaurella, good question! The thing that struck me at first actually wasn’t tea but different brands of bottled orange blossom essence. There’s an infamous one, A. Montaux (sadly no longer around as Mr. Montaux retired :( ), that was bright and sparkly clean. I was very brand loyal to the end (and have struggled to find a replacement) because of that quality. Most others, all the ones I find in Middle Eastern groceries for example, are the floral, almost jasmine-like kind. With tea, my memory’s fuzzy as I did an overwhelming Earl Grey marathon comparing different ones about 6 months ago…but if I recall correctly, Lupicia’s, Upton Imports’ Natural Bergamot, and Andrews and Dunham Mount Gay are examples of the floral kind I dislike. Many of Upton’s other Earls, including their Original Earl Grey, as well as Harney and Sons’ Viennese Earl Grey (which is all around lighter too) and Teajo’s Silky Earl Grey have that zingy clean bright citrus kind I love. And years ago The Body Shop had a line of bath products fragranced as “Bergamot Italian Soda” and it was an excellent example of the soapy clean bright kind I like.


And the funny thing is, I’m not at all averse to some kinds of floral notes—I adore lavender for example and have come around to fresh non-musty rose—but some, like jasmine and yeah, the floral sort of bergamot, I dislike.


I just got my order of this one… Sounds like EXACTLY the type of bergamot I love. Will definitely have to try it out, but if your local pal doesn’t want it maybe we can do a Fauchon swap of sorts… IIRC you liked the raspberry macaron? I still haven’t been able to make that one work for me.


I see – you may appreciate as well a light smocky bergamot like Tzar Alexandre : http://www.mariagefreres.com/boutique/UK/ft+tzar-alexandre+T728.html


Oh, thank you very much for the tip Ysaurella! I am still quite clueless about much of the French tea world, but what I’ve had of it (particularly Mariage Freres and most of the other Fauchons I’ve tried) I adore.

Dinosara, that is an awesome offer and I appreciate it! I actually just restocked my Raspberry Macaron thanks to the Vente Privee thing (and how…I nabbed 3 tins!). But if you end up being mad for this one I could likely send you more of mine if your tin won’t suffice. I know how that goes, ha. (:

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

drank Lychee (Lichee) Oolong by Lupicia
612 tasting notes

Had for afternoon tea with R, an unexpected surprisingly langorous event (usually he comes home late from work Wednesdays due to faculty meetings, but they were canceled today). Nice for sure, but hot on the heels of Daruma it reminds one of it while falling short in comparison (a bit less exotic fruitiness, no peppercorn savory unique refreshing element). I’d rather reorder Daruma (yum!) and just continue to get any ol’ lychee tea I can get my hands on (with preference to Butiki’s)—it’s a flavor that just works so well with tea period that no matter who does it I always end up enjoying it. I’m noticing a pattern with that, where certain flavors feel kind of can-do-no-wrong to the point even if they’re not normally the ones I’d pick first (or eat the real version of first), with tea they’re a no brainer (the opposite holds too—some flavors, no matter how delicious in real life, never seem that great to me in tea, or so hard to do with it that finding a good specimen is tricky…figs, bananas, cinnamon, strawberries—most berries really—spring to mind first).

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

drank Tiramisu Matcha by Matcha Outlet
612 tasting notes

As always, latted. (Dang, I gotta say matcha makes drinking my daily milk a much more pleasurable proposition! Goes down so easily, yum!) At first dry this had the same chemical bubble gummy sweet smell, but I think that might have just been aroma cross contamination with the fig (they’re both in my freezer chest). Made, the tiramisu comes out, still subtler than the Caramel Popcorn but very pleasant, with a true cheesecake tang and coffee n’ cream smell especially at the end of the sip. Caramel Popcorn continues to reign supreme, but I have my Eggnog sample left to try yet, and hopefully my missing Cheesecake soon enough. All in all, I’m really enjoying these matcha lattes.


You guys are really turning me on to Caramel Popcorn.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

This one surprised me. I don’t know why but I was expecting not to be super into it, some vaguely recollected notion I haven’t been wowed by the few Verdant pu erhs I’ve tried so far and also didn’t love Master Han’s Wild Picked Yunnan Black. While this didn’t blow my mind completely I really enjoyed it, particularly the first steep. I was amazed at how overwhelmingly creamy and sweet it smelled, that whole “how can this be just tea leaves?!” reaction (it reminded me a little of my awe at Verdant’s Shui Jin Gui Wuyi Oolong, one of my all-time favorites). It was so full of aroma and surprising color and body for something only steeped 10 seconds (there’s Verdant for you!). And it continued to be flavorful for many resteeps, though the creamy sweetness recedes and something more savory steps in, with some dry woodiness I kind of like. There’s a good chance I didn’t wash my cup out well enough between this and the Della Terra Dirty Chai earlier in the night because the last few steeps had a weird (this sounds so gross but it’s true) band-aid-like aroma (a clean new band-aid!), that sort of plasticky sticky smell.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

Login or sign up to leave a comment.



“…you can never know everything about anything, especially something you love.”
-Julia Child on food and cooking, and I think it applies to tea as well!

note: i am currently taking a break from swapping/mail of any kind as money is rather tight. i apologize! i do love to swap but i can’t afford to right now. hopefully in a month things will change.

my cupboard includes any tea i’ve ever owned, including things i’ve sipped down, in order to facilitate swaps with people and keep a record—this way i don’t get redundant samples/order duplicates to try. if you are interested in swapping, i have a separate ever-updated list of teas i actually have on hand i can PM.

i like strong, rich blacks (including some choice old skool CTCs); juicy-fruity flavored green blends; buttery chinese greens; light floral oolongs; flavored oolongs (how sacrilegious!); earl greys; smoky blends; second flush muscatel darjeelings; verdant’s straight oolongs steeped in a gaiwan (mind altering!); anything from laoshan village it seems.

favorite notes include lavender, bergamot, violet, fennel, cardamom, melon, honey, sandalwood, smoke, nuts, roasty/toasty stuff, malt, wood, leather, creamy lemon, steamed rice, artichoke, garden-sweet snap veggies, earth/soil, forest and wet bark, and mushroom.

notes i generally can’t stand (at least in tea) include jasmine, rose (ok in small doses but i often find it overpowering and then everything just smells like musty old lady perfume), astringent apple (and general fruitiness really unless it’s with green tea), and chamomile (unless i’m congested or tired).

my current favorite tea vendors are butiki and harney and sons. i’ve also found some delicious teas and/or had good customer service experiences with the following companies: capital tea ltd., the devotea, verdant, mandala, golden moon, teavivre, lupicia, taiwan tea crafts, yezi tea, den’s tea, the tea merchant, norbu, fauchon paris, tao tea leaf, zen tea, fortnum and mason, townshend’s tea, joy’s teaspoon, new mexico tea company, persimmon tree, teajo teas, whispering pines, della terra, upton imports, mariage freres, samovar, justea, teabox, american tea room, steven smith, steap shoppe, utopia tea, and andrews and dunham damn fine tea. when i’m at the grocery store my “you could do worse” brands include stash, bigelow, tazo, taylors of harrogate, whittard of chelsea, and pg tips. and it’s a fact: you can’t make classic southern sweet tea without luzianne.

top picks, fall 2013

verdant zhu rong yunnan black
verdant laoshan black
thepuriTea hong jing luo (no longer available :( )
thepuriTea red dragon pearl (no longer available :( )
mandala morning sun
golden moon honey orchid
verdant golden fleece
taiwan tea crafts red jade
yezi tea zheng shan xiao zhong “scotch” tea
capital tea borsapori estate assam tgfop1 (spl)
butiki khongea golden tippy assam
butiki giddahapar darjeeling extra special
upton imports fikkal estate
golden moon sinharaja
harney and sons new vithanakande
persimmon tree vintage black
teajo teas black manas
justea kenyan black
harney and sons kangaita op

morning blends:
butiki the black lotus
harney and sons queen catherine
harney and sons eight at the fort
harney and sons big red sun
harney and sons scottish morn
golden moon irish breakfast
harney and sons irish breakfast
utopia tea english breakfast
fortnum and mason breakfast blend (needs milk!)
andrews and dunham double knit blend
steven smith no. 25 morning light
butiki irish cream cheesecake

earl greys and scented afternoon blends:
teajo teas silky earl grey
harney and sons viennese earl grey
upton imports lavender earl grey
american tea room victoria
lupicia earl grey grand classic
harney and sons tower of london
tao tea leaf cream earl grey
zen tea earl grey cream
della terra earl grey creme
upton imports season’s pick earl grey creme vanilla
upton imports baker street afternoon blend
harney and sons russian country
della terra professor grey
verdant earl of anxi

flavored black:
herbal infusions moose tracks
american tea room brioche
steap shoppe cinnamon swirl bread
della terra oatmeal raisin cookie
butiki nutmeg cream
kusmi caramel
david’s tea brazillionaire
lupicia banane chocolat
butiki hello sweetie
fauchon paris raspberry macaron
butiki blueberry purple tea
herbal infusions marshmallow snowflake earl grey
herbal infusions creme brulee chai

pu erh:
mandala loose and luscious lincang 2007 shu/ripe pu erh
mandala special dark 2006 shu/ripe pu erh

verdant shui jin gui wuyi oolong
verdant hand-picked early spring tieguanyin
butiki 2003 reserve four season oolong
harney and sons formosa oolong
tea merchant silk dragon
golden moon coconut pouchong
zen tea coconut oolong
american tea room coconut oolong
teavivre taiwan jin xuan milk oolong
butiki flowery pineapple oolong
butiki lychee oolong
lupicia momo oolong supergrade
butiki strawberry oolong
butiki pumpkin milkshake darjeeling oolong
52teas tiramisu oolong

verdant laoshan bilochun green
verdant autumn harvest laoshan green
tao tea leaf hou kui
harney and sons tencha
harney and sons gyokuro
new mexico casablanca
butiki with open eyes
american tea room nirvana
joy’s teaspoon mahalo
den’s tea pineapple sencha
harney and sons tokyo
butiki potato pancakes and applesauce
butiki holiday eggnog and pralines
den’s tea organic genmaicha with matcha
golden moon hojicha

butiki cantaloupe and cream
butiki champagne and rose cream

no caf:
harney and sons soba buckwheat
butiki birthday cake
della terra lemon chiffon
52teas strawberry pie honeybush
butiki mango lassi
joy’s teaspoon italian dream
butiki coconut cream pie rooibos
butiki peppermint patty
persimmon tree mint chocolate chip rooibos
art of tea velvet tea
fusion teas chocolate cake honeybush
american tea room choco-late
steven smith no. 40 bon bon
townshend’s tea dark forest chai
utopia tea decaffeinated earl grey cream

sleep aid/medicinal/therapeutic:
new mexico extra sleepy bear
stash white christmas
verdant ginger sage winter spa blend
samovar turmeric spice
butiki the killer’s vanilla guayusa

coldsteeped wonders:
whispering pines manistee moonrise
harney and sons fruits d’alsace
utopia tea berkshire apple and fig
culinary teas peaches and cream
butiki peach hoppiTea
butiki ruby pie
whispering pines gingerade

besides tea

born in seoul, raised in new england and upstate new york, went to college in pittsburgh, currently in memphis with an eye toward philadelphia, portland, or asheville eventually.

i like cats, most beverages really (i also like good freshly roasted coffee, craft beer, wine, whiskey and gin-based cocktails, and soda/soft drinks like agua fresca), art (mainly writing but also visual and music) and critical theory, feminism/genderqueer politics, historiography, statistics, children’s literature and librarianship, travel, and food/cooking. also have recently gotten into weightlifting (mark rippetoe and stumptuous!) and sprint training (HIIT, plyometrics) and i love it.


Memphis, TN



Following These People

Moderator Tools

Mark as Spammer