953 Tasting Notes


Sampler September! Another sampler from my Tea Fest PDX fundraiser bag.

The steeped tea smells strongly of blueberries… with a tarter edge than the sweet and syrupy blueberry I often get from teas that reminds me of a pancake syrup.

The tea has a nice body for a flavored black tea, with a touch of breadiness coming through. The flavor is juicy and fruity; I’ve rarely eaten much huckleberry in my life, so my tongue is tasting blueberry. Sweet, but not syrupy/candy sweet, with a more juicy/fruity edge. Very smooth.

My work thermos will be empty by lunch.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Blueberry, Fruity, Smooth, Sweet

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

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drank Ginger Spice by T2
953 tasting notes

Happy Grandparent’s Day! Today the prompt is to drink a tea that reminds you of a grandparent.

While none of my nuclear family are tea drinkers, both of my grandmothers drank tea. My grandmother who passed in 2020 was a firm English/Irish Breakfast drinker. As a child I strongly associated the smell of black breakfast blends as being the “smell of tea” and still remember it fondly when I drink one of those teas.

My other grandmother (still alive, but in a care facility with severe Alzheimers/Dementia) was a fan of Orange Spice tea. I don’t have any teas specifically branding as orange spice blends in my stash, but this particular chai is very heavy on orange peel, making it more of an orange spice tea in my eyes. Brewed up a pot to drink during K-drama watching with Todd.

Has a nice aroma of vanilla cream, clove, and ginger. The citrus comes out on the sip more than the nose. It’s not as strong of a note as a proper orange spice tea would be, but there is an undertone of tart and pithy orange, a strong mix of clove and vanilla mid-sip, and a warming sensation of ginger against the back of my throat at the end of the sip. The ginger is strong with this one; normally I prepare this tea as a latte to take some of the heat off, but in the spirit of making it closer to the Orange Spice I remember drinking with my grandma, I am taking it plain today. I have a mild headache and the ginger feels nice on my head and stomach, despite being a little warmer than I tend to prefer.

Flavors: Clove, Cream, Ginger, Orange Zest, Spices, Spicy, Tangy, Vanilla

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

I’m loving the grandparent stories your prompt has prompted! I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off yesterday, so I missed the opportunity to sip on time, but when I do, it’ll be Pappy’s Sassafrass (or whatever they call it now) in honor of Grandpa Jenkins. He drank his real-from-the bark version from a disreputable old Rubbermaid tumbler while he sat on the front porch watching the squirrels and the neighborhood kids skitter by.

Mastress Alita

What a nice memory!


Oh, I like Ginger Spice. Pappy’s Sassafrass sounds good too! I have vague memories of my grandparents, but I don’t remember what they liked to drink.


I guess Ozark Mountain terminology has fallen out of favor … the brand name has changed to Ancient Infusions now. It’s a concentrate that’s lovely on its own or fun to mix with other fruit teas.

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Sampler September! This is another sampler from my TeaFest PDX fundraiser box. It was a single teabag of pu’erh inside a sealed card from the Taoist Tai Chi Society of the USA, Oregon Branch. The card has directions for preparing it iced, which is how the Taoist Tai Chi Society prepare it for the convention. While I would certainly like to try a straight pu’erh iced, their directions are for the “pour over ice” method, which I really dislike (I never put ice in my tea because no matter how I make the ice or where I get the ice, it always makes my tea taste funny to me), and there just wasn’t enough tea leaf when I opened the bag and weighed it to do a cold preparation using my own preferred methods. So I just steeped it warm instead.

A dark and earthy morning cup. The aroma is strongly mineral-heavy ground, with small hints of smoke and leather. On the sip it veers more in the marshy/wet ground direction… it’s not one of my favorite flavors, but it also is more smooth and unassuming than I usually get with that flavor. Very earth with a strong “wet rocks” minerality. It’s an easy sipper, despite the fact that puerh isn’t my favorite tea in regards to taste. I really like the thick and smooth mouthfeel, though. Most straight pu ends up around the average mark for me, this one is mellow enough I think I’d rank it a bit higher, like a 65…

Flavors: Earth, Leather, Mineral, Smoke, Smooth, Thick, Wet Earth, Wet Rocks

205 °F / 96 °C 6 min, 0 sec 4 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

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Happy Ampersand Day! Today the prompt is to drink a tea with the word “and” in the title!

Managed to find one of my 2018 stash that fit the bill. The dry leaf looks like Gunpowder Green (though TCT’s website doesn’t specify), which isn’t my favorite, but I’m hoping the spices might cover up the “smoky” taste I don’t like. It has a heavy fennel/clove aroma to the nose from the dry leaf, which is quite inviting.

The brewed tea also has a lovely fennel/clove peppery aroma, with some deeper almost earthy smells from the green tea. It tastes quite pleasant; earthy/dry grass flavor lacking the smoke, a touch of mint without it being strongly minty like a Moroccan Mint, and a strong fix of fennel and clove in flavor, leading to some citrusy and peppery notes. It really ties together well.

Flavors: Citrus, Clove, Dry Grass, Earth, Fennel, Mint, Pepper, Spices

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

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Pulled this tea from the TeaFestPDX sampler baggy, as a nice, brisk Assam really sounds nice for this holiday morning where I was still dragged out of bed at the same time as a work day by a very insistant breakfast-seeking cat. I’m really feeling that need for caffeine…

While I normally don’t take tea with additions, lately I’ve been in a latte mood, and I really wanted to brew this as a pot, English style, with some milk and honey. But since this is a larger sample, I decided to just have a plain cuppa first. I used a teaspoon (about 3g) for 350ml of 205F water, steeped for three minutes. The dry leaf was lovely, small, curly, and golden tipped, with that smell I often find in black teas that reminds me of a BBQ marinade, somehow.

Steeped, a bit of the marinade smell is coming through, but now the aroma has a strong floral undertone which hampers that umami/orange saucy smell. It also smells very malty. To taste, it is very bold, and quite smooth, with just a touch of astrigency and drying after the sip, which doesn’t lean into unpleasant territory. It tastes strongly of tannic malt, orange zest, ground spice, and just a subtle hint of wildflower honey and rose. Very much a breakfast tea, and while it is fine plain, I definitely feel that adding warm milk is really going to work in this tea’s favor.

Flavors: Astringent, Drying, Floral, Honey, Malt, Orange Zest, Rose, Spices, Tannin, Umami

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

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It’s Sampler September! I happen to have a bunch of samples acquired this year from a box to monetarily support Tea Fest PDX (I’d attended in person in Portland, OR, during 2019, 2020 and 2021 were both cancelled events). The box has miscellaneous tea samples from their sponsors, two of the sample teacups from a past year, an antique silver tea spoon, and a pretty gem teabag weight.

This sample comes from Cup of Tea (shop located in Clackamas, Oregon). It’s a simple Chinese black rose-scented tea, but that sounded really nice this morning. Steeped 2.5g to 350ml 205F water, 3 minutes.

I love the aroma of a rose tea. Dry, it smells like walking through the massive Rose Garden in Portland. Brewed, the floral rose sweetness also has that slight peppery musk, and there is a bready/citrusy aroma coming from the tea. There isn’t anything special about the taste; it is strongly sweet rose, with some body and a mellow baked bread and citrus back drop from the black tea and just a hint of pepper/spice. It’s nice! Feels a bit “out of season” with a fresh “spring” sort of taste, but I’ve missed sipping on this flavor profile. I may use up the remainder of the sample packet on a latte, as I’ve always enjoyed the taste of a strong rose black with milk.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Citrus, Floral, Pepper, Rose, Spices

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

That does sound nice!

Tiffany :)

Hmm, I always have samples and subscription boxes and teas with just a cuppa or too left.. it’s a struggle between balancing those “instant gratification” with the “keep sipping those larger tins/bags”. :)

I hope they have the Portland Tea Fest in the future (never been to it), I would love to visit there again!! :)

Mastress Alita

This year I have been focused almost exclusively on drinking 50g bags, and just drinking that one tea until the whole thing is gone. I’m looking forward to stepping away from that momentarily to get more variety into a month.

The info card that came with the samples says that TeaFestPDX is currently planning to next be held July 16th, 2022. (If it doesn’t get cancelled for a third year in a row…)

Tiffany :)

Tea festival tangent… I’m trying to get to the Northwest Tea Festival in Seattle, hoping 2022 will be my year. So fall 2019 had planned to do Chicago Tea Festival + signed up to volunteer etc then my full time job kept me from being able to go. 2020 I said okay, I’m doing Toronto (late Jan), Seattle (Sept), and Chicago (late Oct). Well I did Toronto, then COVID struck so I still went to other two places just no tea fest. Then this year booked Seattle and Chicago but Seattle was cancelled and now Chicago is not sure it will even happen again but still going to Seattle. 2022 who knows! LOL!

Mastress Alita

I’ve only attended San Francisco International Tea Festival in 2018, and Tea Fest PDX in Portland in 2019… Tea Fest PDX was the last trip I’ve had since Covid hit. I used to do 1-2 trips a year, sad. :-(

Lexie Aleah

If it doesn’t get canceled for 2022 and you’d be interested in meeting up let me know.

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Happy National Spice Blend Day! I had to work today and didn’t have any time to brew something before work, leaving me with having to find a caffeine-free option tonight. Thankfully, I found this still-sealed sampler from 2018!

I’ve had an ongoing migraine since Wednesday, and my sense of smell has kinda been off as a result (this last week I’ve used “wet dog” and “hayfever” both as scent/flavor descriptors for various foodstuffs). Something about the scent of the dry leaf smelled like tomato to me (I’ve had that happen with hibiscus before, too). Thankfully that doesn’t transfer to the brewed cup, and even with my off-sniffer I’m getting a strong spice aroma; that familiar cinnamon/clove scent that reminds me of Christmas candles. Smells a bit indistinctly sweet, as well.

The base does reminds me subtly of pastry; the pepperiness I normally taste in honeybush is very subdued, and I’m getting more of a nutty/honey/oaty sort of flavor. I’m not really tasting pumpkin, but to be fair, I rarely do from pumpkin flavorings. The spice is very warming and nice; the sweet cinnamon is probably the flavor that is most dominant for me, but I can also taste the clove. I don’t really distinctly taste ginger, but am feeling a pleasant warming on my throat and calming of my migraine-furious tummy.

I don’t think it stands out compared to other pumpkin spice rooibos teas I’ve had, but it’s a perfectly fine cuppa. I may use the rest of my pouch to make a latte with vanilla almond milk, as I think the creamy body would be jammin’ with this blend.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Honey, Nutty, Oats, Pastries, Spices

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

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I’ve had a sealed bag of this since January of 2018… just now opening and drinking it. (Hur-hur…)

The dry leaf does have a chocolately aroma, in a very “chocolate liquer” sort of way. Brewed up the tea is thick and dark like coffee, still with the strong chocolate liquer aroma, though there is a sort of vanilla/cream sweetness to the aroma, which does make it lean closer to milk or white chocolate in aroma than dark chocolate. That sweetness is maybe just a hint floraly, as well.

I quite like the flavor! It tastes more like dark chocolate than white chocolate, but it is very rich and smooth. The pu’erh itself (a flavor I tend to dislike) is quite mellow here, with an inoffensive earthiness in the background. The thick mouthfeel from the pu’erh is quite nice, making this cup feel less thin/oily than many chocolate-flavored teas.

It doesn’t top Art of Tea’s Dark Chocolate Peppermint for me in terms of a flavored pu’erh blend, but definitely comes very close!

Flavors: Alcohol, Chocolate, Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Floral, Smooth, Sweet

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

Chocolate and pu-erh pair up very nicely!

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This sample was kindly shared with me from AJRimmer! Thank you, AJ! Nutella dipped strawberries is a favorite snack of mine, and I was very curious about this tea, but it always sold out on B&B’s site before I could try to order it.

The dry leaf has a strong fudgy aroma. Steeped, I’m getting the same chocolately/fudgy aroma, as well as a hint of sweet strawberry. On the nose, I’m not really picking up any nutty elements.

To taste, it has a much nicer chocolate flavor than I tend to feel about chocolate teas; it’s like a very dark, bittersweet chocolate, though, rather than the highly sweet, milk chocolately taste of Nutella. The slight bittersweet quality of the chocolate note gives a faint impression of roasted nuts and coffee. The strawberry is very subtle in the flavor; I can pick up hints of it near the end of the sip, like wisps hidden in a chocolate forest.

It’s a good tea, especially for a chocolately tea, but right now it isn’t quite “Strawberry and Nutella.” I actually prefer this darker/bittersweet chocolate flavor in tea more than a milk chocolately flavor, but it is less akin to Nutella… and the strawberry needs to be amped up way more. I think it needs a stronger sweet element and more strawberry to be “Strawberry and Nutella,” and my own preference would be to leave the chocolate as-is and amp up the strawberry, making a “Dark Chocolate-covered Strawberry” sort of blend.

It’s almost there, just feels like it needs some tweaking. I’m still digging the strong dark chocolate vibes I am getting from the cup, though! Thanks for letting me try it, AJ!

Flavors: Coffee, Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Roasted Nuts, Strawberry

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

Glad that you had chance to try it, I remember promising you sending you some if I don’t like it. Apparently it is somewhere buried, as my virtual cupboard says so, but no idea where is it.

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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.

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.


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/1JjlpjQ94UyoryaDRMIeqnPHObgvCtmRp/view?usp=sharing . I am currently strictly limiting tea trading/ordering to get my collection under control! My participation in any tea boxes, tea exchanges, or group orders, and acceptance of any tea gifts is very limited 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 outbound gifting (USA only!)

Contact Info:

Feel free to send me a Steepster PM, or alternatively, 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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