664 Tasting Notes


Noticed I had half a cup of coconut milk left and I wanted to use it up, and I had some Golden Milk mix in the past that I quite liked in coconut milk, so I thought I’d try this matcha tonight, since it uses a rooibos base rather than green tea and thus is caffeine free (I switch to herbal-mode after 6 pm). Wisked up half a teaspoon as a warm latte with 50/50 hot water and coconut milk.

While I have enjoyed other flavored matcha by Bird & Blend I’ve tried in the past (granted, they were with actual green tea matcha), I am not a fan of this. The separation is pretty bad, leaving a sort of “cinnamon grain” texture to the sip. And it doesn’t taste like turmeric to me at all? It tastes very strongly of rooibos and cinnamon spice. It’s a strong cinnamon flavor too, with a bit of that honey/woody red rooibos taste beneath. It is quite heated, which is likely the doing of the multi-spice blend used, but other than getting the hot sensation in my mouth, I’m just not getting the flavor. And then the coconut from the milk, which was meant to compliment the turmeric (as I like that flavor pairing), but since I’m not tasting any turm at all, the coconut flavor seems very strange juxtaposed with the rooibos and cinnamon.

I mean, I will be able to finish the cup… but meh. Big pass for me, and I will definitely be finishing off the little sample tin by dumping it into a pumpkin spice smoothie this weekend.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Honey, Rooibos, Spicy, Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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I finally sipped down my last Chinese black that I was using as my morning daily drinker (Adagio’s Yunnan Noir) so it was time to move another bag over to the Sipdown Corner™. Lately I’ve been trying to target my very old pure teas (Dazzle Deer, What-cha, Rishi) so I grabbed this 50g bag from Dazzle Deer to be my next daily drinker. I have had Golden Monkey in the past (from Teavivre, not sure if this one comes from the same source or not) and really enjoyed it, so I’m looking forward to the next month or so it’ll take me to work through this bag.

I’m drinking out of a work thermos and don’t want to open it up to stick my nose into the brew, but the tea is warm and satisfying, with lots of flavor notes even brewed up Western style for thermos treatment before work. I’m getting malt, baked bread, orange, orange zest, a hint of smokiness that on the malty/tangy orange base is making me think of a sweet BBQ sauce, sweet potato, and a subtle hint of floral rose toward the end of the sip. A slight cocoa flavor is left lingering on my tongue between sips. Despite being three years old and the best-by date having already passed, this is still quite flavorful, smooth, and delicious.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Cocoa, Floral, Fruity, Malt, Orange, Orange Zest, Rose, Smoke, Smooth, Sweet Potatoes, Umami

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

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One of my oldest 52Teas blends, from 2017 and still sealed. This weekend is a bit cooler before the heat will crank back up again (you really have to strong arm summers to quit here, which is a shame, since autumn weather is my favorite!) and somehow a warm, fruity genmaicha just felt right this afternoon.

I have never had a mulberry (that I can recall) but considering what a fiend I am for berries in general, I’m sure I’d love them, and their aroma in the package was very sweet and pleasant. I dumped all the contents out into my tea weighing dish just to make sure I got a good teaspoon mix of leaf and fruit before steeping. The mulberry aroma isn’t nearly as present in the steeped cup as it was in the dry leaf, but I do smell it, competing against the strong, toasty aroma of the genmai. Mmm. I haven’t had a genmaicha in a long time, and it’s one of my favorite comfort teas…

Oh! The berries have just a bit of tang/sharpness to them, which I really love. There is also a more subtle berry sweetness and a touch of creaminess that I assume is from the marshmallow root. The base is warm and grassy with a lot of genmai toastiness; I’d say that the toasted rice fills out in the mouth and then a sharp berry tang flavor settles over the tongue afterwards and continues to linger after the sip.

It’s really tasty! I’m debating if I finish my sipdown over the weekend on these satisfying warm cups, or use the rest of the leaf to do a cold brew to drink once the temperature turns again, since I really like fruity greens iced as well. Decisions, decisions…

Flavors: Berry, Cream, Fruity, Grass, Nutty, Sweet, Tangy, Toasted Rice

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

Mmm, that sounds like one I’d like a lot. Thankfully we’re out of heatwaves for a little while here. Also the fire here is 98% contained.

Mastress Alita

Our fire isn’t contained at all… it went from 42,000 acres to 97,000 acres in the course of 24 hours. Gotta love those Idaho winds…

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Rating: 88

Oof, getting into the “Random Steepings” entry is a true testament of willpower…

I received this Grecian Mountain Tea as a gift from Meowster, which arrived with the items I’d requested in a cupboard destash a few years ago. As I recall it was a hand-labeled bag with some Greek writing on it, so I have no idea the company/source (other than it probably came directly from Greece). At the time, I had never heard of Grecian Mountain Tea, and I really enjoy learning (and trying!) new things. The herbs in the bag were so huge and soft, and have a delightful scent that is sort of like a cross between citrus and hay.

I never know how much to use because of the size of these things, so I just stuff as many as I can fit into my corn fiber fillable tea bag. The tea brews up a delightful golden color and smells even more wonderful brewed; oddly enough, I get a caramel apple aroma, as well as honey, lemon citrus, and a slight herbaceous aroma. I don’t think I’ve ever smelled a straight herbal infusion quite like this.

I love the flavor of this! I know there are people who say they get an apple note from chamomile (I never have… I just get a blech-yuck note from chamomile!) but I am definitely tasting apple in this. It also has a honey sweetness, and a slight florality, a touch of citrus, and very subtle notes of hot hay and mint. Mostly I’m getting honeyed apple and sweet flowers.

Thank you so much for letting me discover such a wonderful tea, Meowster! I will happily enjoy this in the evenings, and when it’s gone, I’ll have to look into where I can acquire more.

Flavors: Apple, Candied Apple, Caramel, Citrus, Floral, Herbaceous, Honey, Hot hay, Lemon, Mint, Sweet

205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

Sounds delicious!

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I reviewed Zhang Ping Shui Xian “Orchid” by Dazzle Deer recently, and this looked strikingly similar. I wondered if they were perhaps the same tea, but since I see a Steepster listing for a “China Fujian Zhangping Light Roasted Shui Xian ‘Floral’ Cake Oolong Tea,” my guess is that one would be the same tea to the one I drank from Dazzle Deer.

So, in hindsight, I sort of wish I’d saved this one for when I had the time for gong fu… I unwrapped the packet, it visually looked the same, and I thought, “This time, I’ll cold brew it!” And that was my mistake. Because unfortunately… it didn’t really work out.

Normally, I have no issues cold brewing oolong, and quite enjoy it that way, but this one had a very hard time expanding in the cold water. Halfway through the cold brew I even “broke up” the cake by gently poking it with a chopstick until all the leaf was free-floating in the water, which was then left to infuse in my ice cold mason jar overnight. In the morning, I was just left with really, really weak tasting tea. Practically water, with a slight hint of florality.

Not sure if it was the age of the oolong, the choice of trying to cold brew, or maybe a combination of both factors, but if I could turn back time, I would hot brew that cake and see what flavors it would have produced.

Ah well. Can’t win them all.

Rating withheld because I feel like this was a “me” problem rather than a “tea” problem.

Flavors: Floral

Iced 8 min or more 9 g 32 OZ / 946 ML

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Holy barometric-pressure-just-suddenly-changed Batman! Anyone else a walking barometric themometer because of their health? I was doing fine all day, and then suddenly my head went BAM! I feel the shift as quick as the snap of fingers. (Stupid chronic migraine…)

Took something, now I just want soothing tea, especially as I know the GI stuff will follow later. I forgot about this one, but I’ve been trying to actually go through (albeit a bit out of order) some of the September Sipdown prompts (thanks for sending me the list, VariaTea!) I bought this one when American Tea Room had their “going out of business” sale… like everything I own, it’s old because I’m a bad Tea Mom. But that checks off the “discontinued tea” box, and it actually sounded like something I really wanted with my head going pffffffffffft on me: lemony herbs, lavender, and mint. (No sipdown though, as ATR only sold ridiculously large bags… now, I would never even place an order with tea shops that only sell bags that big. Ah well, every cup helps…)

I love lavender teas but usually steep them shorter than I would other herbals as I find lavender goes bitter quickly, so I only dunked this one for three minutes and then removed my bag. Smells lovely, though. I smell the lemon and lavender quite strongly from the cup, but not any mint. Herbaceous in flavor, with the lemon more of the grassy/hay-like flavor of lemongrass, though there is a bit of a pleasant citrus tartness that fills out a bit more later in the sip that is left on the tongue. The lavender tastes lovely, it is second to the lemon in the flavor but is a gentle floral note. Any mint in this blend must be quite subdued to the other ingredients because I’m not tasting it at all.

Not my favorite lemon/lavender tea, but a perfectly non-offensive and servicable nighttime herbal.

Edit: I finally caught up my Steepster reading! A year’s worth backlog of 50 users, totalling around 200 or so entry pages… I’ve definitely been at it for more than a month, so this is a big accomplishment! (And now I can get back to my manga backlog, ha!)

Flavors: Citrus, Floral, Hay, Herbaceous, Lavender, Lemon, Lemongrass, Tart

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

My husband’s knee predicted rain all weekend.


I have a weather boob, thanks to breast cancer…


200 pages of reviews? Wow, my hats off to you! I’ve fallen behind myself but this site has been sooo slow lately I can only do 3-4 pages at a time.

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This was a gift from derk, which she gave me in person at the 2018 San Francisco Tea Festival, after I had inquired curiosity about it (but because I’m a horrible person, I’m only just now getting around to drinking it, two years later…) I have never been a huge jasmine person, not because of the taste (which I actually quite like), but because the scenting is usually so strong and wafts off the cup like I’m being drowned in cheap grandma perfume, which is one of my migraine triggers. I have had “lighter” iterations of jasmine (such as in blends) that I enjoyed, but most jasmine-scented greens and whites have been “too strong” for me. I have never had a jasmine black, which is what I think sparked my curiosity in this.

4g sample in my 100ml shiboridashi, because I’ve had some days off so I actually have the time to gong fu for a change. The wet leaf smells so much like strong, muscatel grapes, which is quite pleasant; definitely different than the “perfumy” jasmine floral aroma I usually smell (I certainly do smell jasmine flowers, as well, just not to the extent of “overly strong grandma perfume”). Maybe a hint of autumn leaf in there as well?

100ml shiboridashi | 4g | 205F | 15s/20s/25s/30s/40s/50s/65s

I’m surprised how much that muscatel aroma is carrying over in the flavor, as well; I certainly taste the jasmine florality, but there is a noticable grapey fruity flavor as well, and a much more subtle hint of malt and honey. On the second steep some of the black tea flavor peeked through a bit more, and I started to taste more of the malt, honey, and now autumn leaf, but the tea was still very fruity with muscatel notes and sweet with floral jasmine. I felt like the black tea notes continued to open up in the mid-session, yet retained a lovely fruity/floral flavor. Later in the session, the jasmine became a little more forceful in flavor, but never obnoxious/perfumy. The tea was such a lovely red color and extremely smooth! I drank it really lazily, and enjoyed each sip.

I loved this! I think I just need my jasmine on a black base from now on! Thank you so much for this lovely gift, derk!

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Floral, Fruity, Grapes, Honey, Jam, Jasmine, Malt, Muscatel, Smooth, Sweet

205 °F / 96 °C 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

Mmm… this one has the yunnan golden snails! Such a good tea.

Mastress Alita

I know WPT is notoriously impossible to order from, so if anyone know of other black jasmine teas, I’m all ears.


I don’t think I know anyone who uses the Snails, but Verdant has a Yunnan jasmine too (can’t vouch for this one, but their jasmine teas used to be nice last time I had them circa 2016): https://verdanttea.com/teas/yunnan-golden-jasmine-scented-black-tea/

Teavivre has Yunnan Dian Hong balls with Jasmine: https://www.teavivre.com/jasmine-dragon-ball-black-tea.html

David’s Tea has similar mystery black tea balls with jasmine. as do a couple others. I haven’t tried any of these though, and Alice is such a nice tea..

Mastress Alita

Thanks for the suggestions, I’ll have to look into those. I am very curious to see if I continue to not have the “jasmine migraine issue” when its on a black base.

Alice is a nice tea, but I just don’t have the personality to play Tea Hunger Games fighting against everyone else whenever a tiny amount becomes available to “get some” in that 10 minutes before it sells out. Even if it isn’t quite as good, if I can find an easily accessible option that at least scratches the itch, that would be fantastic.

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Another of my “one and done” style Dazzle Deer samplers. I’m “winging” the preparation style a bit on this one, using the directions from a tea I think may be the same (or very similar) that I also haven’t tried yet that is about as old as this one from What-cha, their China Fujian Zhangping Light Roasted Shui Xian “Fruit” Cake. So I basically dropped the full oolong cake in two cups 205F water, steeped for 3 minutes, and strained into a small teapot.

The leaf expansion was huge! I immediately started to worry this might be a bit astringent just because so much leaf was in the water after the cake had fully expanded. The spent leaves had a highly perfumy, floral aroma. The steeped tea is a pretty autumn leaf light orange color, and smells of lilacs, orchids, honey, cream, and very sweet. The flavor is highly floral and a bit thick and syrupy on the tongue. This was described as lightly roasted, and while it doesn’t come out at all in the aroma, I do taste it. It’s a mild roasted note, slightly char-like, with a bit of a honey-roasted nuts flavor. And it is a touch astringent, with a slight bitter/drying effect left after the sip. I’m not sure if I care for the blend of the roasted nuts flavor with the highly floral flavor, but it is a fine enough oolong. Not my favorite, but I’ll enjoy this pot, and I’ll have no problem drinking the other cake of this I have from What-cha, either.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Char, Cream, Drying, Floral, Honey, Honeysuckle, Orchid, Perfume, Roasted, Roasted nuts, Sweet

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 9 g 17 OZ / 500 ML

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I’ve been continuing my matcha smoothies for breakfast… I used to not be a “breakfast person” but I kinda like that I’m getting my “tea and breakfast” in one this way, and I’m really liking how I feel with the sort of “mellow yet strong” caffeine hit I’m getting from the matcha compared to just making a warm cuppa (not that I don’t still love a warm cuppa).

I was getting tired of my “Lime in the Coconut” smoothies I’ve had for a few days in a row now trying to sip down my Coconut Matcha and just wanted to change it up this morning, and for whatever reason, was craving caramel apple as a flavor profile. I had this matcha, and it’s really old, past the best buy date, and in a package I hadn’t even cut open yet. SIGH. And this is my eternal problem…

Normally I just dump the powder into the blender but I whisked it up with the vanilla oat milk into a latte first this morning to sample separate from the smoothie, since I had never tried it before. (It meant more dishes to be cleaned, but MATCHA SCIENCE!) I normally prepare my matcha as lattes (as I find it too bitter for me typically in just water) but these “matcha au lait” mixes that Lupicia used to make are made to be latte mixes (at least from the instructions). There was definitely a sweet grassy matcha flavor present, but also a very sweet candy-esque note… caramel, though? I’m not entirely sure I got an overwhelming impression of caramel, though I could see what they were going for… maybe a subtle hint of a caramel flavor? Definitely something sweet and creamy, and there is quite a bit of sugar/milk in the mix for this one. I definitely would not drink this not prepared as a latte (as the mix suggests), but think it is fine. It is sweet so I don’t have problems with “matcha bitterness,” but at the same time, doesn’t have a flavor that overwhelms that “grassy matcha taste” either. On the other hand, it isn’t my favorite flavored matcha I’ve tried by a longshot, either. I guess it just feels a little lackluster?

The smoothie was good though! It consisted of the matcha latte (minus the few sips I took for MATCHA SCIENCE!), a green apple, half a cup of dates, some ice, and a big glob of caramel sauce (because health conscious I am not). It hit the “sweet/tart green caramel apple” I was wanting quite well!

Flavors: Candy, Creamy, Sweet, Sweet, warm grass

2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

Well, that is certainly a caramel apple smoothie!

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I received this sample in the last Here’s Hoping Teabox, so thank you to tea-sipper for organizing and to all who contributed! This is apparently from ZenTea but not that ZenTea (the one that became “zentealife.com” and started selling teaware instead of tea… I’m fairly sure I’ve tried a tea of theirs before, long ago…) as this ZenTea (zenteaco.com) still has an active webpage and appears to be a mom-and-pop teashop out of Georgia.

Fair warning… I’m not a pu-erh person. Not sure why I decided to brew this today, other than the fact I have a lot of pu samples sitting around that aren’t getting drunk, and I keep thinking, “One day, I will get all the amazing tasting notes that I keep reading about in everyone else’s pu reviews instead of just dirt and swamp water.”

100ml shiboridashi | 5.5g | 205F | Rinse/10s/15s/20s/25s/30s/35s/40s

Threw the entire 5.5g sample in my 100ml shiboridashi. After the rinse, the leaf just… had that same marshy swampy smell I seem to always get from pu-erh. Here we go again. Am I broken, guys?

Same earthy/wet dirt/marshy sort of flavor I seem to always get from puerh. I’ve definitely had some that felt a little more abrasive in that flavor than this one, as this isn’t leaning as heavily in that marshy/vegetal realm that I usually get and instead is more like a damp, rank cave, which… is still not my favorite, but preferable to me between the two. It steeped for a long time, but the flavor notes never changed for me. Ah well. Will it ever happen for me? Dunno…

Flavors: Earth, Mineral, Musty, Vegetal, Wet Earth, Wet Moss, Wet Rocks

205 °F / 96 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Martin Bednář

You aren’t broken. You just don’t enjoy pu-erh. I don’t like shu too much as well, but sheng are my cup of (pu-erh) teas.
Or maybe some better teas are waiting for you!

White Antlers

If you’re ‘broken,’ then you may very well be in a majority of those who are as well. For years, the enjoyment of pu erh escaped me. I amassed a large collection of it, read about it, was gifted with it from some of the nicest and most knowledeable people, and always found it to be like that old Peggy Lee song-‘Is That All There Is?’

I don’t like wine. I grew up in the years when the really cheap stuff-Boone’s Farm, Annie Green Springs, Pear Ripple, Mateus Rose’ was popular, then spent several decades living in the ‘wine state’-Californa and trying to cultivate an appreciation of the grape. I’ll take a glass of tap water over a glass a wine any day. Your taste is YOUR taste and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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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, 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)
-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: Tealyra’s Butterscotch Potion, Dazzle Deer teas, What-cha teas

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 2020: 69
Sipdown Count for 2020: 97


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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