91 Tasting Notes


Classic tea. Bouquet of Flowers No. 108, created in 1880 by Pavel Kousmishoff in St. Petersburg, Russia to celebrate the birth of his daughter, Elizabeth, is Kusmi Tea’s oldest blend. It was the favorite tea of Tsar Nicholas II. Fast forward 136 years later and 7000 miles west to a Russian tea lover in Richmond, Virginia, USA. It is a sunny springtime Sunday afternoon and I am feeling a bit nostalgic today. April in Virginia is glorious! Drinking Bouquet of Flowers just seems right as I gaze thankfully into the garden at my flowers that survived last night’s frost – Hopefully our last! I think that the odd spring cold snap must have put me in the mood for something Russian.

I love all things floral and I especially love floral teas. A brazen, unapologetic floral fiend I am! That said, I honestly think that many folks with floral fears in regard to tea might just find this tea to be quite acceptable.

The dry leaf smells mostly of lavender, and there is a hauntingly pleasant woody scent that calls to my mind the smell of an old antiques shop or, perhaps, the library of an old English country estate. That kind of woody scent. There is a bit of spicey sweetness in the fragrance that lingered into the three minute steep.

Flavor wise, the tea base of Ceylonese, Chinese and Indian tea creates a very smooth base, with a pleasant bit of bread and malt, along with the woody note. The main floral note is lavender, but it is not overwhelming or perfumey. I also detected a hint of sweet violet. The citrus components from the bergamot, mandarin, lemon and lime work very well to keep the floral components in check.

This is a tea of masterful synchronicity. Everything comes together just right to produce the classic cup of Imperial Russian tea. It makes a fabulous afternoon tea – Great with sweets! The fact that Bouquet of Flowers No. 108 has been around for over 130 years says something. I am surprised that this tea is not more highly rated. As far as I’m concerned, if it was good enough for Tsar Nicholas II it is certainly good enough for little old me.

Flavors: Bergamot, Bread, Citrus, Lavender, Lemon, Lime, Malt, Sweet, Violet, Wood

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 207 ML
White Antlers

As a person with floral fears in regard to tea, I loved this review! Thank you.


Thank you, Whiteantlers! I’d bet that this antique tea would compliment your antique European tea ware beautifully! :)

White Antlers

You’re right, and I am going to acquire some. I tip my hat to your masterful enabling. :)


I need this tea.


I’m running dangerously low on this and plan to order some myself, otherwise I would gladly send some samples your way, Whiteantlers and Ashmanra. it just so happens that Kusmi is having a 20% off sale this week on all orders of $35.00 and over. That’s a perfect excuse for me to pick up some of their Samovar blend too – I’ve been dying to try it!
Ashmanra, I really enjoy reading about your tea parties!

White Antlers

Teatotaler, I am making that purchase this and appreciate you letting us know about the nice discount. As for your love of traveling, please know you are always welcome to have tea and good food with me if you are in Philadelphia. :)


I will definitely do that, Whiteantlers – Thank you! I would like to extend the same invitation to you if you are ever in Richmond. :)

White Antlers

That’s very kind and I would be delighted to call on you if I am there! :)


I looked at A Southern Season yesterday and they only had one Kusmi tea left. Just one tin. And it looks like they have greatly reduced their stock of teas. Sad! I guess it will have to be a mail order! The Violet tea has me intrigued. Thanks for the sale tip!


My pleasure, Ashmanra. Kusmi’s Violet is a splendid tea! Positively splendid – Like drinking violet candy!

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Roses for the Queen. What a superb idea! I’ve been on one of my Keemun kicks here lately. Whenever that happens I tend to spend a great deal of time at the court of gracious Queen Catherine who benevolently bestows upon me her rich gifts of fine, sweet cocoa and malt. With a deep sense of gratitude I decided to bring her roses, a gift for her unrelenting kindness and grace. She loved them!
Two parts Queen Catherine and one part Harney’s Rose Scented Black was spot on perfect. I used one heaping teaspoon of this blend to eight ounces of 205F water and steeped for three and a half minutes. Just right! Although no additions were needed, a jot of milk and a dash of sugar only enhanced the rosy chocolate treasures of the tea.
The Queen loved my roses so much I’m thinking knighthood here. I see a long and happy future for myself at good Queen Catherine’s rosy court.

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Watching Phantom of the Opera with my boys, Dennis and Forest, my kitty kids. Between doling out treats and giving tummy rubs I am enjoying Royal Wedding from Harney & Sons.
The coconut and almond flavors compliment the natural sweetness of the Mutan White base very nicely, with the merest wisp of rose working well in the background. Very creamy and smooth. As another reviewer noted, the taste is not unlike carrot cake, a carrot cake with a rich, decadent frosting! Royal Wedding is undoubtedly the best flavored white blend I’ve had.
An old movie, my kitties and a great cup of tea, life is very good indeed. I think I’ll have another cup if Dennis and Forest will allow me to get up!

185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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drank Traktir by Kusmi Tea
91 tasting notes

I love Russian tea! Along with their venerable Anastasia blend, Traktir is my favorite of the eight Kusmi blends that I have had the pleasure of drinking. It’s subtly smoky and sweet with mild notes of citrus and spice, evocative of caravan campfires and camels laden with luxuries from the East. It’s a tea that makes me long to own an antique samovar.
The day after I received this tea along with three free samples, I received another package in the mail from Kusmi with more free samples! Merci and cпасибо, Kusmi!

Flavors: Citrus, Smoke, Spices, Sweet

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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drank Prince Vladimir by Kusmi Tea
91 tasting notes

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Spending this frigid Sunday evening in my warm and cozy Darjeeling Bungalow again. In addition to the usual warm buttered toast, nuts and muscatel grapes set before me on the Bungalow’s table, tonight there’s some nice yummy stone fruit! The Bungalow is a very fine place indeed to while away the hours, especially on a cold winter’s night!

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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drank Violet by Kusmi Tea
91 tasting notes

Burrrrrrr! It’s cold as a witch’s you know what outside and I need a little vernal action! Enter Kusmi’s Violet tea.
I am a floral fan, no doubt about that – rose, jasmine, lavender, lychee, orange blossom, osmanthus – I love ‘em all! This is my first violet tea, and it is quite wonderful. It’s floral alright but not overly so. I firmly believe that nonfloral folks would be just fine with this tea – Kusmi is big on subtlety. A four minute steep at 90C yielded a mildly floral tea that was very smooth, even creamy, with a wisp of vanilla. The natural floral, violet sweetness worked brilliantly with the China base. The flavor really is candy like, with no additions required for this cup!
This is the tea that I will drink whilst dreaming about spring. Perhaps, if I remain a well behaved tea drinker, the Easter Bunny will leave me an extra tin of this next month on Easter morning – Better retract that witch comment!

Flavors: Candy, Creamy, Sweet, Vanilla, Violet

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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It sure blows hot and cold in these parts. Last Sunday I was trudging through 16 inches of snow. This Sunday we’re having lunch on the patio by the fish pond enjoying the sunshiny 65F degree weather! Welcome to Richmond!

I thought a nice first flush Darjeeling befitting to celebrate this gorgeous foretaste of spring. Darjeeling Tukduh TGFOP from Culinary Teas is quite stout for a first flush, to say the least. It’s wondrously nutty and floral with up front, in your face muscatel. A first flush on steroids. I’m loving the hell out of every sip!

Lifting my tea mug to my fellow Steepsterites – Here’s to an early spring!

Flavors: Floral, Muscatel, Nutty

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

The weather has been all over the place here in the Canadian prairies too!


It has been so much like spring I’ve been getting cleaning fever! Been having to remind myself that we are supposed to have snow next week. :)


These precious little snippets of spring are almost cruel. Especially with all of February looming before us. One good thing going for us in Virginia is that me mercifully have a nice little warmup afterwards – Most of the time.

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drank Lover's Leap by Harney & Sons
91 tasting notes

Heavens to Betsy! This tea is really yummy! After Darjeeling, Ceylon teas are my favorite. Lover’s Leap is a good example of why I adore Ceylons so much.

As I first inhaled the scent of the dry leaves I was rewarded with a Darjeelingesque aroma. As the tea was steeping the aroma became reminiscent of Tie Guan Yin oolong. Interesting.
After a three and a half minute steep at 205F, the light amber liquor yielded a light bodied, but very flavorful tea. To my palate this tea could be Darjeeling’s Sri Lankan cousin. The flavor is brisk, bright and floral, with a bit of mild, citrus astringency. I even caught a fleeting glimpse of muscatel! I totally agree with another reviewer who described the floral note as resembling jasmine. Enchanting herbal and forest notes were present too. I would not dream of any additions to this tea – Although, perhaps, a drop of orange blossom honey might compliment things nicely.

Lover’s Leap Ceylon was full of pleasant little aroma and flavor surprises. Another wonderful Ceylon! Another forever tea!

Flavors: Astringent, Citrus, Floral, Forest Floor, Herbs, Jasmine, Muscatel

1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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Snow day? Really? Must be nice. I’m a nurse. There is no such thing as a snow day for medical personnel. Blizzard, hurricane, earthquake, nuclear strike, super volcano eruption, asteroid collision, catastrophic reversal of the Earth’s magnetic field, The Apocalypse or any combination there of, we have to go to work!

Richmond, where I live, had almost 16 inches of snow. It’s western suburbs, where my job is located, received over 18 inches of snow in places. Snow sissy that I am, that cold white matter reduced me to a quivering mass of protoplasm. After all, I am a Southern boy.

The day before the blizzard began I booked a room at the hotel within walking distance from my job. The thought of being stuck at work all weekend unable to have any private time whatsoever was a grim and terrifying prospect. Blizzard or not, I needed my me time. Time to unwind, relax and recharge my batteries. Especially since patient acuity on my unit tends to run a little high. So off to the hotel I went with my backpack of essentials including, of course, a mixed box of emergency bagged teas that I had thrown together – Twinings Ceylon Orange Pekoe and English Afternoon, Breakfast in Paris by Stash(Not a bad little tea!), and my must have Honeybush by Numi Tea for beddyby. The hotel, thank goodness, had a tiny hot water maker. Kinda like a stripped mini Keurig. It saw me through the blizzard.

So today, home sweet home! A poignant, almost tearful reunion with my beloved tea stash! Now one would think that after drinking bagged tea since Friday that I would go for a full fledged loose leaf. But no, I wanted my Bungalow! First and foremost I am a Darjeeling fiend. As in Darjeeling is my blood type. I had fairly recently purchased a box of Bungalow whole leaf sachet tea and it was love at first sip. This blend of first and second flush Darjeeling tea is redolent of hot, buttered toast and warm, roasted nuts that tantalize the taste buds. Classic Darjeeling muscatel and mild floral notes round things out very nicely. There is also a faint, but very agreeable, vegetal note that I think must come from the first flush. It complemented my Chicken Biryani quite well! I believe that it would be a great tea to try for those who may be on the fence about Darjeeling. It is very smooth. Not a trace of bitterness after the recommended five minute steeping time. I let the water cool a wee bit to just a little over 205F to steep.

Steven Smith Teamaker did my dear Darjeeling proud with this blend. The buttered toast flavor is so incredibly rich and comforting – A perfect wintertime Darjeeling! I’m definitely buying more if this #%$•@ snow ever melts!

Flavors: Butter, Flowers, Muscatel, Roasted Nuts, Toast, Vegetal


Oooh, I’m glad you are home with your teas again. I haven’t tried this yet, but I’ve got it! Your review has inspired me.


Thank you, Rosehips! I can’t wait for you to try it and see what you think. It really is a wonderful Darjeeling for the winter. Even the name is cozy – A warm, cozy Bungalow! :)


It is a lovely image. I shall break it out soon!

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Darjeeling is the tea that inspired me to begin my beautiful journey through the wide world of tea and will always reign supreme in my tea pantry! My first tea love, so to speak. I positively adore a truly great Darjeeling such as a good muscatel second flush. Autumn flush Darjeeling, I believe, has been greatly under appreciated. Darjeeling autumn flush Gopaldhara Red Thunder Gold that I purchased through What-Cha is the best tea of any kind I have ever had the pleasure of drinking!

I also love fine Chinese tea. Quite often I find myself in the mood for a smoky Keemun with cocoa and plummy notes or a spicy, peppery and sweet Yunnan Dian Hong. I love Keemun almost as much as I love Darjeeling! And that’s really saying something! When I get in the mood for a really great Chinese tea nothing else will do. My favorite Chinese tea so far is the Non-Smoky Lapsang Souchong Wild Black Tea from Teavivre. It has a natural caramel sweetness that is sensational!

I must also admit to a special appreciation of fine Ceylon teas – Especially top-drawer low grown Ceylons such as New Vithanakande with yummy notes of chocolate and apricot. That being said, I do, on occasion, like a good strong cup of Harney & Sons Uva Highlands Ceylon with its wonderful strong notes of wintergreen. Smith Teamaker’s No. 23 Kandy brings together full and flavory Dimbula with highly aromatic and intense Uva and lightly scented high-grown Nuwara Eliya. Perfect for all day sipping, it is one of my favorite blends, Ceylon or otherwise. Ceylon tea makes the best iced tea, I think.

As far as scented teas go, I am particularly partial to floral teas such as jasmine, rose, orange blossom, lavender and violet. I absolutely LOVE Earl Grey tea! Earl Grey Imperial by Harney & Sons and Lord Bergamot by Smith Teamaker are my go to Earl Greys and my overall favorite EG teas. Black currant, strawberry, cherry, apricot, orange/citrus, lychee, chocolate, caramel, vanilla, maple, almond, honey and spice are favorites as well. Pleine Lune by Mariage Frères, an exquisite blend of Chinese black tea with almond, honey and mild, sweet spices is, without a doubt, my favorite flavored tea after my beloved Earl Grey tea. Buckingham Palace Garden Party Tea from Culinary Teas and The English Tea Store is another favorite. It’s a blend of high-grown pure Ceylon Earl Grey, soft jasmine, malty Assam, Dimbula Ceylon and brisk and golden tea from Kenya. This magnificent, magical tea was served at Queen Elizabeth II’s springtime garden party at Buckingham Palace every May. Prince Vladimir by Kusmi is my favorite Russian blend, with complex flavors of bergamot, orange, lime, grapefruit, vanilla and spice.

I brew my tea western style exclusively, and I prefer to drink my tea in the Russian fashion – Sweetening my tea with sugar, raw, unfiltered honey or jam. I seldom add milk to my tea but when I do I only use oat milk. Russian tea culture totally fascinates me. I hope to one day own an antique Russian samovar. *
In addition to Russian tea culture I am also greatly enamored of French tea culture and tend to gravitate towards French style tea blends.

I’m quite fond of various herbal teas such as rooibos, honeybush, camomile and anise. Straight lavender herbal tea is another favorite of mine, as is Linden tea. No. 42, Little Dickens, from Belloc is a scrumptious blend of rooibos, cocoa, spices, vanilla and mint. I DETEST HIBISCUS!

BLACK tea and HERBAL tisanes are my main go to teas. I am not a fan of most green teas. I do, however enjoy a nice floral or fruit scented green tea on occasion. No. 52, Etoile de l’Inde from Belloc is delicious. I find black/green blends quite pleasant too. Also, I do appreciate fine white teas every once in a while, as well as a good oolong – Especially a high quality Formosa or Wuyi oolong. The more I have drunk pu‑erh tea the more I have come to really enjoy it too!

I love robust breakfast teas with Smith Teamaker’s No. 1851 Portland Breakfast, an organic blend of pu-erh, Keemun and a fine second flush Assam, being one of my supreme favorites. This is my main go to tea. It’s absolutely perfect for drinking Russian style using honey or jam for sweeteners and no milk.

My favorite purveyors of tea:
1) What-Cha
2) Mariage Frères
3) Smith Teamaker
4) Kusmi
5) Harney & Sons
6) Bellocq Tea Atelier
7) Simpson & Vail
8) Mark T. Wendell / Grace Tea Company
9) Happy Earth Tea
10) Teavivre
11) The Cultured Cup
12) Culinary Teas
13) Palais des Thés
14) Arbor Teas
15) 52Teas
16) Rishi Tea
17) Adagio Tea
18) Mandala Tea
19) Golden Moon Tea
20) Tin Roof Teas / TeeGschwendner

Organic tea is my preference whenever possible.

*My fascination with and love of Russian tea culture in no way reflect my political beliefs!



Richmond, Virginia, USA

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