571 Tasting Notes

drank White Pearls by CitizenTea
571 tasting notes

I don’t drink a lot of white tea, and when I do, it’s usually flavored blends that I enjoy cold-brewing as iced tea. This is a warm cuppa steeped western-style with a teaspoon of pearls at lunchtime while my stomach doesn’t really feel like taking food yet. It steeped a deep yellow and is very smooth with a strong nutty/popcorn note to it, but also has notes of hay, sweet grass, honeysuckle, and a vegetal bean taste. It’s very nice, and reminding me a lot of some Chinese greens I’ve had in the past.

Flavors: Beany, Hay, Honeysuckle, Nutty, Popcorn, Smooth, Sweet, warm grass, Vegetal

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

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Todd has now returned to California after doing a bang up job putting up blinds and curtains in my condo all weekend (he is a saint!) On Sunday afternoon I prepared afternoon tea for us and I asked him what kind of tea he wanted, and he said he wanted a chai. I hadn’t even opened this package yet (I know, big surprise with me!) so I decided to make this one. He’s vegan but fine with honey. I like to make chai by simmering it on the stove, so I did two cups vanilla almond milk mixed with two cups water and four heaping teaspoons of the Sticky Chai mix (it really was quite goopy/sticky!) simmered on the stove for about 10-15 minutes, then strained into my teapot.

It was good, just right if you don’t like your chai in the “overly spicy” range. I probably could’ve done with maybe 1-2 more teaspoons for the 4 cups liquid to get to my personal perfect zone, but it was still very nice, a smooth blend, warm and satisfying, and I found a lot of the spices really popped the further down we worked in the pot, particularly the clove and cardamom flavors. I enjoyed dipping shortbread cookies (Todd had vegan-friendly Biscoff) into the tea and snacking and just having a breather. It was the first time I’ve had a friend for tea at my new house.

I still need to experiment with the ratios since I am not used to not being able to really measure the same way with tea that is stuck together in globs of honey (I am a precise “dump it on a tea scale and get a milligram weight” kind of gal!) but sometime the moment outweighs all else.

Flavors: Cardamon, Clove, Licorice, Spices, Spicy, Sweet

Boiling 8 min or more 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

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Backlogged review from Friday. I’ve been so busy this weekend I just now had time to finish writing it up from my notes (herein lies the reason why I don’t do gong fu much!)

It’s the first day of a mini 5-day staycation I’m having, and my friend Todd from the Bay Area is flying in today to see my condo and my rescue kitty! His flight doesn’t come in until later and I have to get the house ready, but this morning I decided to start the day with a gong fu session, since I didn’t have to just throw something in a travel mug and head out the door to work. This is a sample I got from the Discovery Traveling Teabox, so thank you to Skysamurai for organizing and to all those involved in that box for sharing their teas! I had a 1.5g sample and prepared it in my baby sized gaiwan.

1.47g / 40ml (gaiwan) / 205F / 15s|20s|25s|30s|35s|40s|45s|50s

On the initial steep the tea was a pale amber color and had an aroma of autumn leaves, rose petals, sap, and honey. The leaf in the cup was dark, twisty, and smelled of malt, wet leaf pile, molasses, and a bit like a burnt piece of toast smothered in floral honey. The flavor of the initial infusion was quite weak, with some slight notes of autumn leaf and floral dew; the color was much darker on the second infusion, with a citrus flavor of mandarin and pithy orange peel and a strong rose florality coming forward. The tea became a bit bitter on the tongue, with a bite on the back of the tongue and some astringency left after the sip. The bitterness thankfully smoothed out during the third and fourth infusions and was gone in later infusions; a strong rose aroma and taste remained throughout most of the session. Citrus notes were also quite strong, though the third infusion the citrus presented more as a lemony note and less as pithy orange. Malt notes started coming out in the third and fourth infusions with a light toast flavor, with the fifth infusion presenting the maltiest flavor of the session. The tea had lost most of its flavor and gone quite weak by the eighth infusion, which is when I decided to wrap things up.

Since I really enjoy rose/floral notes, I enjoyed this one a lot, as I found that a very forward flavor note. It held up rather well for being a (assumingly) older tea from a teabox and I appreciate the chance to try it!

Flavors: Astringent, Autumn Leaf Pile, Burnt, Citrus, Floral, Honey, Honeysuckle, Lemon, Malt, Molasses, Orange, Rose, Sap, Toast

205 °F / 96 °C 1 g 1 OZ / 40 ML

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This was my “Amazon Spice Guayusa” sampler from Fusion Teas.

Decided to do something a little different today, as I do want to focus on some of my older samplers, but I’m still trying to keep to the “spice” profile associated with chais. This is a guayusa mixed with lemongrass and cinnamon; I’ve had relatively few guayusa blends (which is a shame, because I tend to enjoy the flavor of guayusa more than yerba mate in general, but finding blends with it is far more difficult than the latter!) and having something different than another black tea chai but that still offered a caffeine punch sounded nice this morning.

The steeped tea smelled strongly of cinnamon gum, but I found the flavor wasn’t as strong as I was expecting. I get notes of dry hay, a muted citrus that lacks the notable tang that accompanies lemon, a touch of mint, and an aftertaste of cinnamon that adds a bit of flavor to the cup but doesn’t leave a warming sensation on the tongue like other cinnamon spice teas I’ve tried. The cumulative flavor is very grassy or herby with a slight cinnamon touch right at the finish.

Honestly, the more I drank this, the more I enjoyed it. It wasn’t what I expected when I first sipped it, as the smell and the taste created a big disconnect in my mind. But once I settled into the earthy flavor and was warmed from within from the cinnamon, I started to really get into the blend. It’s a simple but effective tea.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Citrus, Hay, Mint, Sweet, warm grass

185 °F / 85 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 9 OZ / 266 ML

I need to add guayusa to my repertoire! This sounds good


(hit the button too soon) …good and refreshing.

Mastress Alita

I actually think compared to its cousin yerba mate, I prefer guayusa. Guayusa seems a bit less smoky/slightly sweeter to me in flavor. I usually prefer yerba mate roasted to tame the flavor a bit.

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I only have two more old reviews to move in my cupboard! Then things will be back to regularly scheduled programming… sorry for the mess (I wish Steepster had an easier way to move entries than deleting and reposting, but alas). This is a sampler I had from Fusion Teas (called “Pineapple Paradse”) but it is sourced from Dethlefsen and Balk.

Today we got a flash snowstorm, so all things considered, a tropical blend didn’t exactly go with our sudden winter weather motif! But it is what I grabbed when I left the house this morning, so it’s what I had to make for my daily cuppa at work today, so I had a lovely bright, pineapple-yellow cuppa tea with sweet tropical scents wafting from my cup as fat fluffy snowflakes fell for several hours straight outside the library windows. Umm… aloha? So I prepared this tea warm today; I’ll admit I normally prepare fruity green teas of this sort as cold brews.

This tea is very sweet, with a strong pineapple flavor. I normally like my fruity green teas to be a bit on the delicate side, but since I really love pineapple (yes, I’m a pineapple-on-pizza person, and no, I won’t apologize for it) I actually don’t mind this. There is a somewhat subtle hint of a floral touch at the end of the sip which is nice, too.

I’m not getting much else out of this, though. I am not picking out any of the underlying sencha flavor (which may be a good thing if you aren’t necessarily a fan of green teas, so take that or leave that as you will; I personally would’ve preferred a bit more of the base to shine through, myself) and I’m not really getting any of the mango notes, either. I love pineapple, but as far as pineapple green teas go, I think I prefer Bluebird Tea Co.’s Pineapple Sorbet which was a little more complex, as it had some nice citrus notes thrown in as well. But then, this tea is readily available and Pineapple Sorbet has been discontinued, so there is that.

Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Pineapple, Sweet

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 9 OZ / 266 ML

I LOVE pineapple on pizza too. I wonder how other fruits work on pizza…. hmm

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I don’t have many reviews left to move now… here is a Fusion Tea sampler I tried some time ago that they called “Lemon Rose Bud” that they are no longer carrying, but since it is an ITI blend (International Tea Importers) it is available from many other sources.

I really enjoy floral blends at this time of the year (well, to be fair, I enjoy them year-round, but at least they seem especially appropriate right now!) so I decided to use the majority of the sampler to make a quart of this iced, and then use of the remaining bit of leaf to have a nice warm evening cuppa.

The warm cuppa is very relaxing. The base oolong reminds me of the orange ginger oolong in my collection, and I almost wonder if that’s the very oolong used as the base, because I swear I’m getting a bit of a mandarin flavor mixed with the lemon zest citrus notes in the background, with some subtle earthy notes and just a hint of ginger. The dominant flavor is a very sweet rose flavor; often I get a slight peppery note from rose, but here it is all sweet and floral.

The iced tea is also very nice! It’s very smooth, with a bit of a creamy mouthfeel, and very refreshing. The flavor is very close to the warm cuppa, though I’d say the earthy and orangy base flavors are a little more subdued, with the lemon zest and rose notes really coming to the forefront.

Overall I really like this flavor combination, and am a little sad this oolong was discontinued. It was a really enjoyable cuppa with a lot of natural sweetness, a really strong rosey flavor, and a nice lemony-orange citrus background note.

Flavors: Earth, Ginger, Lemon Zest, Orange, Rose, Smooth, Sweet

190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 9 OZ / 266 ML

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Decided to try another of my old Fusion Tea samplers (which, after a little digging, happens to be a blend sourced by Tea Guys). After finding another soured coconut tea that I had to throw out, I picked this one since it was older, and had coconut in it. Surprisingly, this one was fine. (I may never understand which of my teas are spared the coconut curse and which ones aren’t!)

Opening the bag, this stuff smells great. It has a lovely spicy scent, but with a nice sweetness. The brewed up smells lovely as well, with a sweet spiciness that really reminds me of the dessert. The flavor of the tea is great; the rooibos/honeybush base is really smooth, and I get really nice notes of cinnamon, clove, honey roasted nuts, and a slight maple sweetness. It all comes together nicely and really reminds me of a spiced slice of carrot cake. This is definitely a great sweet-tooth tea for the evenings!

Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Honey, Maple, Nutty, Smooth, Sweet

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 13 OZ / 384 ML

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I bought this tea as “Lavender Earl Grey” from The Angry Tea Room some time ago. This is one of my favorite Earl Grey blends. I used to hate bergamot, but once I adapted my palate to its flavor, I initially was most interested in EG blends, that would take the edge off it slightly by including a few other flavors to play with, and since I love lavender, this seemed a good fit for me. Even better, this blend also incorporated the typical “Earl Grey Creme” vanilla and creme flavorings.

The leaf smells heavenly; the bergamot and vanilla remind me of a lemon meringue or key lime pie, because it is so citrusy but desserty at the same time, and there is a sweet, slightly minty lavender aroma that mixes beautifully with that sweet citrus scent.

The warm cup is lovely; a lot of lavender teas I try are either too heavy-handed on the lavender, so it comes out with a sort of floral-bitterness, or way too light on the lavender, so you don’t really taste its flavor at all. This one has just the right balance. The base tea is nice and dark but the astringency is quite mild compared to most Earl Greys I’ve tried (which I appreciate!), and there is this nice blend of bergamot and lavender flavors that hit the tongue mid-sip, with the lavender lingering a touch in the aftertaste. Occassionally the creme notes come through on the roof of my mouth; it’s a subtle note, and I think it mostly pulls back the base from having that strong bite that I often get in Earl Greys; this one is much more smooth.

I enjoy this plain, but the flavor is just perfect to take London Fog style as a latte with vanilla almond milk. It adds a delightful creaminess and the vanilla almond milk pushes the vanilla and creme notes to the forefront a bit.

This tea makes a fantastic iced Arnold Palmer, which is how I’ve prepared it today. I made a strong brew of four tsp. to two cups water, hot brewed, which I mixed with two cups lemonade, and then let the tea chill in the fridge overnight before drinking. It is divine! The sweet vanilla/creme note still comes through as a sort of natural sweetness to the iced tea, and the lavender and bergamot are such complimentary flavors to the citrus of the lemonade. I could drink this stuff all summer! Easily one of the best iced teas I’ve had yet.

This is just such a versatile tea that can be enjoyed so many ways in many different weather conditions. I plan to always keep it in my cupboard.

Flavors: Bergamot, Citrus, Cream, Lavender, Malt, Smooth

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

I dislike bergamot on Ceylon but like it on Keemun. And like you, I enjoy it with some other flavors to counteract the sour taste.


This is one of my favorites from Angry Tea Room. They still have it on the site… for now.

Mastress Alita

@ashmanra: I’ve adapted to it more and more the more I’ve had it, though it definitely depends on exactly what kind of bergamot flavoring/oil is being used, and with what sort of base (ya, the natural citrus notes in ceylon can definitely push it over the edge depending on the flavoring, or if it is used with too heavy of a hand…) I definitely have started narrowing down to my EG favorites, I think. I think my favorite plain EG is Steven Smith Teamakers, and if I’m not mistaken, that one is on a Chinese black base and has this sort of natural black currant sort of flavor to me. This and 52Teas Foggy Coconut are probably my favorite among the flavored EGs.


Good to know! I do like Harney’s Earl Grey Supreme pretty, and Nina’s of Pairs had one that was my very favorite for a plain Earl because it was a solid Keemun base, but they switched to Ceylon years ago and ruined it for me. I don’t even like high grown Ceylon like Uva Highlands and Lover’s Leap much as it is, so adding more citrus to it reallt does push it over the edge for me.

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I love this tea. When I first tasted this tea, it brought be back to a time, long ago, when I used to sip chilled white wine kept cold using frozen fruit; my sister used to make us each a glass and we’d watch movies together or play video games together while sipping on her apartment couch. Then I discovered alcohol was one of my main migraine triggers, and I couldn’t so much as even have a sip of wine anymore (I actually got into tea-tasting when I discovered it “brought back” many of the same feelings when I had to give up wine-tasting as a hobby!) And my sister has been moved away now for several years. So for a tea to simply bring back that moment really struck a chord with me.

I prefer this tea iced (to get that chilled wine effect!), and find the flavor has this white wine or champagne-like peppery tingle on the back of the tongue, while the flavor has these nice fruity hints. The tea is very sweet, with notes of apple, pineapple, and melon. The tea brews a beautiful, incredibly pale yellow, that even looks like a white wine, has a very silky smooth mouthfeel, and is very refreshing. This is the first tea I’ve ever bought in a bulk size, and I like to keep a nice cold mason jar of it on hand in my fridge to sip on in the evenings — it brings back the feelings of getting to have a glass of wine, but it’s alcohol free, so I can enjoy it even with my chronic migraine condition, and it’s caffeine-free too, so I can drink it right before bed while winding down.

Flavors: Apple, Melon, Pepper, Pineapple, Smooth, Sweet, White Wine

Iced 8 min or more 4 tsp 32 OZ / 946 ML

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Another review I’m moving now that I’ve found the wholesale source; I tried this tea as “Spicy Chocolate Rooibos” by Angry Tea Room (they no longer carry it). It is still available as “Mexican Hot Chocolate” by Par Avion Tea.

This sampler came from the Here’s Hoping Teabox, so thank you to tea-sipper for organizing and all teabox contributers! I prepared this as a small pot of tea in the evening, to hit that evening sweet-tooth craving while not having to worry about caffeine.

The dry leaf had a very sweet chocolately scent, a bit like cinnamon and nutmeg mixed with powdered cocoa, and it also came off as just slightly floral to me. The steeped cup has a very nice cinnamon spice aroma with a hint of cocoa in the background, but I’m a bit of a spice-wuss, so I’m a bit scared of the amount of chili in the blend… But it honestly did not have the kick I was worried about. Really, the tea just has a warmth to it that ends up feeling quite cozy. The rooibos/honeybush base has more of a sweet chocolately note than tasting much like either of the base teas, though I wouldn’t say the chocolate is extremely strong, either; present and noticable, sweet, but not rich or overpowering. The cinnamon is the dominant flavor, and it starts off quite sweet on the tongue, but then the warmth of the spicy chiles settles on the back of the tongue, leaving the finish of the sip slightly spicy, and with a warm, satisfying feeling down the throat and in the stomach. The spiciness doesn’t unpleasantly linger, but I’m sure the tea would also take a bit of milk well to taste, for those even more spice sensitive than myself (and I consider myself pretty sensitive!)

I had my reservations, but this turned out really nice. I’m glad I decided to try this despite the scary “spicy” word and two types of chiles in the ingredients. It reminds me of Mexican cocoa, if the chocolate notes were toned down a bit.

Flavors: Chocolate, Cinnamon, Spicy, Sweet

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 4 g 15 OZ / 443 ML

Aw, Angry Tea Room doesn’t sell this anymore? I just had this the other day. At least you found some sources.


How are you tracking down the wholesale sources? I have a few I’d love to find.

Mastress Alita

@tea-sipper: It seems with the exception of “Sue’s Blend” which is Tea Guy’s “Chocolate Ginger Bourbon,” I’m not really seeing Angry Tea Room stocking any other Tea Guy blends anymore. Par Avion Tea seems to be exclusively repackang Tea Guy blends, even ones that have now been pulled from Tea Guys’ retail site (they must have made some of their blends available as wholesale-only now).

@Shae: Careful searching of ingredient lists, mixed with my library science research training, pretty much. There are still some that stump my best efforts, but I have gotten pretty good at it. I’m still in the process of moving a few of my reviews around, because if one mom-and-pop-shop stops carrying something I find it much more meaningful for me to look for a tea using wholesale info and prefer to archive off of that. (And I use my Steepster hive-mind not for inventory, but archival purposes; I have an external spreadsheet I use for up-to-date inventory needs).


Yeah, you’re good at this kind of thing. I didn’t even notice Angry Tea Room was sourcing from Tea Guys and I’m familiar with their teas.


Thanks for sharing! I’m so impressed you’re able to find all these.

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Hi! I’m Sara, a middle-aged librarian living in southern Idaho, USA. I’m a big ol’ sci-fi/fantasy/anime geek that loves fandom conventions, RuPaul’s Drag Race, coloring books, simulation computer games, Japanese culture, and cats. Proud asexual and supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. I’m also a chronic migraineur. As a surprise to no one, I’m a helpless tea addict with a tea collecting and hoarding problem! (It still baffles me how much tea I can cram into my little condo!) I enjoy trying all sorts of teas… for me tea is a neverending journey!

Favorite Flavors:

I love sampling a wide variety of teas! For me the variety is what makes the hobby of tea sampling so fun! While I enjoy trying all different types of teas (pure teas, blends, tisanes), these are some flavors/ingredients I enjoy:
-Sweet/licorice root/stevia
-Bergamot (in moderation)

Disliked Flavors:

There are not many flavors or ingredients that I don’t like. These include:
-Bananas/banana flavoring
-Smoke-scented teas/heavy smoke flavors (migraine trigger)
-Perfumey teas/extremely heavy floral aromas (migraine trigger)
-Gingko biloba (migraine trigger)
-Chamomile (used in blends as a background note/paired with stronger flavors is okay)
-Grapefruit (used in blends as a background note/paired with stronger flavors is okay)
-Extremely spicy/heated teas
-Medicinal flavors/Ginseng
-Metallic flavors
-Overly strong artificial flavorings

With the exception of bananas and migraine triggers, I’ll pretty much try any tea at least once!

Steeping Parameters:

I drink tea in a variety of ways! For hot brews, I mostly drink my teas brewed in the western style without additions, and for iced tea, I drink teas mostly brewed in the cold brew style without additions. Occassionally I’ll change that up. I use the https://octea.ndim.space/#/ app for water-to-tea ratios and use steep times to my preferences.

Currently Sipping Down: CitizenTea’s White Pearls, Snake River Tea’s Coconut Oolong

My Rating Scale:

90-100 – Top tier tea! These teas are among my personal favorites, and typically I like to keep them stocked in my cupboards at all times, if possible!

70-89 – These are teas that I personally found very enjoyable, but I may or may not feel inclined to keep them in stock.

50-69 – Teas that fall in this range I enjoyed, but found either average, lacking in some way, or I’ve had a similar tea that “did it better.”

21-49 – Teas in this range I didn’t enjoy, for one reason or another. I may or may not finish them off, depending on their ranking, and feel no inclination to restock them.

20-1 – Blech! My Tea Hall of Shame. These are the teas that most likely saw the bottom of my garbage can, because I’d feel guilty to pass them onto someone else.

Note that I only journal a tea once, not every time I drink a cup of it. If my opinion of a tea drastically changes since my original review, I will journal the tea again with an updated opinion and change my rating. Occassionally I revisit a tea I’ve reviewed before after a year or more has passed.

New Teas Tried for 2019: 89
Sipdown Count for 2019: 135


My Cupboard on Steepster reflects teas that I have sampled and logged for review, and is not used as an inventory for teas I currently own at the present moment. An accurate and up-to-date listing of my current tea inventory can be viewed here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1AvGT1XwgJUTErt3zhjpHbXf6HNS3k_Ym85zoHJPmhX4/edit?usp=sharing . A downloadable spreadsheet version with more detailed information can be acquired here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1D2J0sUMNItRsf0jBRBR6XDFUimm60f0o/view?usp=sharing . I am currently on a tea trading/ordering hiatus to get my collection under control! I cannot participate in any tea boxes, group orders, tea exchanges, or accept any tea gifts at this point in time. If there is something on my spreadsheet that I have in large quantity (50g or higher) that you would like to sample, feel free to contact me about it, as I am open to limited gifting (USA only!)

Contact Info:

The Steepster PM system has been broken for some time. If you need to get ahold of me, check the website URL section below; it goes to a contact form that will reach my personal e-mail.


Idaho, United States



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