623 Tasting Notes


I’m on my last cup of this after working on sipping down my package (called "Vanilla Mint Pu-erh from California Tea & Herbal) for the last few weeks, and I was totally convinced I’d already written a tasting note on it (I thought I had in my early days, because I thought this was one of my first teas I had bought from Spice & Tea Exchange, called “Mint-Chilla Chai-Nilla”… yes, this Rishi Tea is well wholesaled around by other companies!) But I did a Ctrl+F on my Steepster Reviews text file and… nope! Oops. That makes me wonder how many things I sipped down last year and was sure I’d reviewed but actually hadn’t… meep!

This is probably one of my favorite flavored pu’erhs… the base does have that warm, earthy note, but the peppermint and licorice root smooths it out really nicely and I find it very settling on my throat and stomach. The mint is brisk and refreshing but not biting, and the licorice root is sweet but not sticky and lingering. There is just a hint of cinnamon that comes out near the finish. I don’t really taste any vanilla, but there is a smooth sweetness to the blend. It’s a nice blend of flavors that I really enjoy. I admittedly am not a huge pu’erh fan but I like the combination here, and will probably restock this one at some point.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Earth, Licorice, Mint, Smooth, Spices, Sweet

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

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Finally finished off my box of this. Now, I didn’t actually use this up in any traditional sense… I actually don’t really like jasmine green tea, because the aroma from the scenting process is typically so strong and perfumey that it irritates my head. The sorts of jasmine teas I like to drink are typically when light jasmine is added with other flavors. What I use this tea for is flavoring white rice, because I can’t put soy sauce on my rice since it is a migraine trigger. So I add the teabags to the water that gets “soaked up” by my Minute Rice to add flavor to the rice (ginger is one of my other favorites, especially when I’m having a “bad GI” day).

So I can’t judge this tea on the merits of if it is a “good” cup of jasmine tea, but for my purposes of making decent jasmine rice, it has served me well. I have certainly had to experiment a bit to find the proportions to get a good batch, since I’ve definitely botched a few batches along the way (a good cook I am not). Mostly it was a) finding the right amount of teabags to get the jasmine flavor to come through in the rice decently and b) getting the right amount of water to account for the fact that the teabags are going to soak up a bit of the water, so using the ratios on the rice box don’t work so well. I always use the “2 serving” directions (one cup water/one cup rice) and find four teabags with 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cup water is the sweet spot. Times when I tried to use more teabags than that, or only the one cup of water, my rice tended to be far too dry.

I really like that using the teabags to flavor the rice gives it that nice floral flavor, but the aroma that normally is really strong, wafting, and like old grandma perfume from the cup is completely gone from the rice. Since I make this quite often I should probably look for a cheap jasmine green looseleaf that I can bag myself that will last a while, but for now at least this is easy for me to restock at the local grocery.

Flavors: Floral

Boiling 4 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

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I don’t have a plain boxed black tea in my cupboard, which I really need for those hectic mornings when I have just enough time to boil a thermos of water but not the extra 2-3 minutes to steep/strain a cup of looseleaf tea to put into the thermos. Currently the only black bagged offering in my cupboard is an EG, so a plain breakfast offering is definitely needed, but I’m admittedly very picky about them. I really liked the Taylors of Harrogate one, but it isn’t sold in my local grocery, so I’m going to have to go with a different option… I’ve done well with Twinings of London as a brand on a whole in the past, and I had a single-serving teabag sampler of this that I picked up from, I believe, PDX Tea Fest 2019. So I decided to brew it this morning.

I kept to a briefer two minute steep time (as I said, I can be a little iffy when dealing with black CTC breakfast teas) but I have a nice color with some reddish tones an aroma that is very bready, with notes of malt, toasty baked bread, cinnamon, and molasses. I think my steep time was spot on for my personal tastes because the tea isn’t too strong and doesn’t leave an unpleasant astringent bite after the sip like I’ve found with many breakfast blends; the flavor starts out with a strong notes of malt, bread, and autumn leaves, with a touch of citrus and spice coming in closer to the end of the sip and lingering on the tongue.

I am enjoying this one… I believe I’d tried their Irish Breakfast at one point and it came off too strong/astringent for me, but this is just right, especially at these steep parameters. I know my local grocery carries this, so next time I have to make the grocery rounds, I will probably add a box just so I have a quick grab-and-go brewing option for a breakfast black tea.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Citrus, Malt, Molasses, Smooth, Spices, Toast

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

My choice for a plain bagged black would probably be Numi’s Breakfast Blend. Or Celestial Seasoning’s Nutcracker Sweet though that also has a vanilla type flavor.

Mastress Alita

I don’t think either of those are available in my local marts. I don’t think we carry Numi, and while we do carry Celestial Seasonings, the selection is limited (they don’t even have my beloved Tension Tamer, which bums me out).


Yeah, none of the stores around here would have them either, but I thought I’d mention them!

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I had a sample of this from the last Here’s Hoping Teabox, which yes, was ages ago now (I don’t have many samples left from it though, I think I’m only left with pu-erhs/aged teas now!) Thanks to tea-sipper for organizing that box and those individuals that shared their teas in it! It’s afternoon tea time… I should really fix a spot of lunch but just don’t feel up to it, so I figured I’d just have some tea instead.

I used the smaller 450ml ceramic glazed pot I got from my mom for Christmas and brewed this… eh… quasi-gong fu? I wanted to use up all the leaf which measured out at 6.8g, so these ended up at around 200ml infusions according to the water/leaf ratio app I use, which I realize are a bit large for typical gong fu infusions. It also meant that I filled up on tea after the third infusion, needed a break, and had to come back and finish up around dinner time. Oops.

6.8g / 200ml (ceramic teapot) / 185F / 20s|30s|40s|50s|60s

The first steep was lightly yellow and had a vegetal and herbaceous aroma with notes of minerals, wet stone, dandelions, honeysuckle, and hay. The taste was grassy with a strong hay flavor with additional notes of dandelion greens, flower pollen, honey, and wet stones. The second steep brought forth a stronger floral aroma, as well as a subtle fruity note on the nose, a bit like honeyed pears. The flavor was a bit softer and sweeter, too; the strong grassy vegetal notes felt a little more subdued and a strong honey sweetness filled the mouth, tasting of floral nectar, and subtly of pear and stonefruit, with the mineral notes now gone. The minerality returned in the third infusion, with wet stone, moss, wet hay, and sweet floral notes. I took the tea through two more infusions, the fourth tending a bit stronger on the floral notes and the fifth a bit stronger on the vegetal notes. It was a pleasant and filling tea… I probably could have pushed it further, but honestly I was so tea full and had been drinking on it all day and just felt it was the right time to wrap things up.

Flavors: Dandelion, Floral, Grass, Hay, Herbaceous, Honey, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Moss, Pear, Stonefruits, Vegetal, Wet Rocks

185 °F / 85 °C 7 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

Good on you for finishing (most) of those tea box teas. I still have a ton of even older teabox teas I saved (mostly because they were hanging around the teabox for more than one round.) sigh.

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I got a sample of this tea some time ago from a cupboard sale from Ost, so thank you Ost! I decided to brew the two teabag sample in a small 500ml pot of tea for breakfast, using the new teapot I got from my mom for Christmas. It looks like a black cat and has two stackable teacups, it is so cute! She got it for me because I adopted a black cat this last August right after I bought this house.

This is a black tea with rose, chamomile, and citrus — I love rose-flavored blacks, and don’t like chamomile, so this is going to be a matter of how strong the different flavors play out in the cup for me. The tea brews a light sienna color, and smells a bit stronger in the chamomile than I’d prefer from the aroma… but I’m also getting a strong orange scent coming from the cup, which may damper that a lot in the flavor.

Normally I’m a big Steven Smith Teamaker fan, but I’d have to say this is probably my least favorite of their blends I’ve tried thus far. Even though I don’t like chamomile, I even don’t mind their chamomile blend, Meadow, all that much (something about how it is blended with the rooibos/honeybush and other flowers it works with a honeyed, floral sort of taste). This just tastes too traditionally chamomile for me to really dig it. I do definitely taste the rose and citrus notes, but it isn’t enough to really hide that particular chamomile flavor that leaves that kinda soapy taste on my palate. The floral comes on quite strong at the beginning of the sip, and I almost pick up a sort of pollen-like note as well. The citrus lingers quite heavily, which I think may be from pairing citrus flavoring with Ceylon tea, which often has natural citrus notes, and it actually leaves a faint sour/acidic note on my tongue after the sip. I pick up a pithy lemon peel and orange notes. The tea feels a bit drying, but I think it’s from the strong citrus… though I suppose the black tea leaf may have a bit of astringency to it. This is an older tea so I wonder if the balance would’ve been a bit better if the base itself were fresher, but I think knowing my personal tastes regarding chamomile, this would probably still end up being a miss for me. It wasn’t so bad I couldn’t finish my pot with my breakfast though, and I’m glad I got to try such a rare blend; I believe they only make this one around Valentine’s Day. Thanks for sharing!

Flavors: Astringent, Citrus, Drying, Floral, Lemon Zest, Orange, Rose, Soap, Sour

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

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This is a tea I snagged a sample from in the Discovery Teabox, so thank you Skysamurai for organizing and all participants for sharing their tea! I’ve been craving apple cinnamon flavors lately, and recently restocked pretty much the one Stash tea I like, Cinnamon Apple Chamomile which I’ve been drinking a lot in the evenings.

This really does smell like an apple cinnamon pastry from the aroma; it has that overly-sweet apple filling smell that I get from those little finger danishes that have the hard sugar on top. The flavor isn’t quite as strong as I’d like, but I only saved 2.5g from the teabox and lately I’ve been brewing my blacks closer to 3g in the morning, but it is still very nice; I’m definitely getting a sweet cinnamon note, and an apple flavor that is more akin to sweet filling than tart, juicy fruit. There is a subtle warm baked bread note coming through from the black tea, as well as malt and spice. Maybe just a very, very subtle smokiness at the back of the tongue as well, in the aftertaste. It is very warm and satisfying and I’m enjoying it very much as my morning cuppa.

Flavors: Apple, Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Fruity, Malt, Pastries, Smoke, Spices, Sweet

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

Oh this one sounds good!


This one is probably my favorite from Simpson & Vail and I have MANY favorites from S&V.

Mastress Alita

I finished my thermos this morning so fast I had pretty much no tea by the time I got to work!


Oh no! Teamergency!


I definitely regret not ordering some more of this when I restocked some of my favorites from them recently. This one is so good.

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So I found myself really craving Milk Oolong for my afternoon tea today. I was just going to just brew it western style like I usually do since gong fu is such a hassle for me and the opposite of the relaxing, focused tea experience it should be, but I had a 5g sample of this leaf from the Discovery Traveling Teabox (thank you to Skysamurai for organizing and all participants for sharing their tea!) and wanted to use it one go and that was a pretty ideal amount for a single gong fu session. One of the reasons I dislike doing gong fu is I have to haul my kettle out of the kitchen into my dining room (and hook it up with an extention cord) and then I just find pouring with a gaiwan a chore that is uncomfortable on my hands, but I got this cute little teapot that holds just under two cups (I could comfortably max it around 480ml?) from my Mom for Christmas. So what if it isn’t exactly traditional? It isn’t like I have to completely fill it, and it is comfortable, right? I filled a giant thermos with boiled water so I wouldn’t have to run back and forth to the kitchen to the kettle or have to haul the kettle out of the kitchen onto the dining table with the extention cord, and just decided to use the little ceramic glazed pot from my mom to steep in, making sure my leaf-to-water ratio was consistent. No burnt fingers! This may have been the nicest gong fu brewing session I’ve ever had…

4.86g / 80ml (ceramic teapot) / 205F / rinse|25s|30s|35s|40s|45s|50s|60s

From the aroma of the tea, I picked up butter, cinnamon spice, steamed vegetables, and floral lilac. The first steep was the most prominent with a buttery flavor, and tasted of buttered vegetables, lilac, honey, and quite sweet and creamy. The second steep brought out a stronger floral flavor, though the vegetal note became stronger toward the end of the sip; the buttery taste was not as strong as the first infusion, but present in the aftertaste. The buttery note continued to become a bit more subtle in subsequent infusions, and the vegetal and floral notes became a bit stronger. The third steep brought out an somewhat earthy/mineral taste to the vegetal note, which had a strong spinach/artichoke taste. By the fifth infusion I found the tea starting to weaken a bit, but the buttery notes were again starting to taste a little more pronounced as the floral and vegetal flavors were loosing their oomph, and I also tasted a nuttiness coming out in the leaf. As I started the taste the leaf giving out and was filling up on tea, I chose to stack the last few infusions to drink a larger, more buttery final cup. It was an overall satisfying session that hit the spot for what I was wanting. Thanks for the share!

Flavors: Artichoke, Butter, Cinnamon, Creamy, Earth, Floral, Honey, Mineral, Nutty, Orchid, Spinach, Vegetables, Vegetal

205 °F / 96 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 80 ML

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I went through name deja vu again this morning when I scratched off the foil on my 52Teas advent packet, so I opened up my tea inventory .xls file and sure enough, I have an unopened packet from 2018. I have problems, people! So this one is going into the tea stash and out comes the older one because obviously it. needs. drunk. now!

Opening up the packet, that blackberry smell is amaaaaaaaaaaaaazing! I get a rich blackberry aroma, and there are big ol’ dried berries in there tempting enough to just eat (would I eat two-year-old dried berries? Hmmmmm…) but I’m also getting a creamy sort of aroma… like blackberries floating in a thick bowl of whipped cream, or blackberry yogurt.

I used three grams of tea leaf for 350ml of water and then added in about three freeze-dried blackberries to the mix after weighing to the infuser to steep for three minutes. My cup is a dark cup of black tea, with a strong blackberry aroma. The cream aroma isn’t as strong steeped as in the dry leaf; the maltiness of the black tea is creating more of a baked pastry aroma, with a sweet cinnamon spice note and a subtle molasses undertone.

I’m getting all those things in the flavor, and it’s quite nice. The base tea is malty, bready, subtly spicy; I’m getting a juicy blackberry flavor, with a cream/vanilla sweetness that fills out on the back of my tongue, and a subtle note of cinnamon. As far as tasting like a fruit-filled pastry, it really hits the nail on the head.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Blackberry, Cinnamon, Cream, Fruity, Malt, Molasses, Pastries, Smooth, Spices, Sweet, Vanilla, Yogurt

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

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I’m a bit behind in my advent teas, as this is today’s tea, and I haven’t done write-ups for the last two… but I’ve been working on sipdowns to keep my inventory under control and today I finished off the packets for Days 1-3 (plus the 2017 packet of Day 4). And obviously hording tea is a major problem for me, because I also had a packet of this tea from 2017 that was unopened… a 50g one. So ya… better work on that before breaking into the newer one. Hopefully it will be okay, but I do worry that the sunflower seeds may have soured, I know nuts and seeds can have the same issues as coconut (though aren’t quite as awful as coconut tends to be).

I made a two-cup pot with a generous teabag in it and left it steeping while giving the cat her after-work run-down. It’s a beautiful red color and smells divine; it smells very nutty, and I do get a very sweet chocolate-covered strawberry aroma as well. I love strawberries in Nutella and I definitely can get that from the smell. The flavor is also quite nice; the strawberry has a nice, juicy, berry quality, when many strawberry teas taste more like strawberry candy to me. There is a cocoa note, but it is more of a subtle dark chocolate that comes out toward the end of the sip and blends nicely with the nutty quality of the tea. I’m not sure if I taste hazelnut, exactly, but I definitely taste nuts, and chocolate, so I think because I eat so much Nutella my brain tends to go with hazelnut… but it has almost a lighter, peanut sort of quality, as well. It’s pleasant either way. I’m happy this tea has held up so wonderfully despite the age, and that I happen to have such a large bag because I am foreseeing many happy nighttime cups. It is simply lovely!

Flavors: Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Fruity, Hazelnut, Nuts, Nutty, Peanut, Strawberry, Sweet

Boiling 8 min or more 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

Just a note – there are no sunflower seeds in the newest reblend.


This one beat out PEACHY KEEN?!? I liked this blend before… but it’s lightyears away from Peachy Keen.


Sorry @tea-sipper – I like peachy keen but it didn’t do well in the poll at all. :(


haha, it’s okay Anne. It’s just if more people had TRIED Peachy Keen, they would know the magic that is Peachy Keen. :D


sigh I agree! But then, I think that about ALL of my teas … including this one.


I can imagine. Well, one solution would be to have a tiny bit more supply of some teas? I know you say you don’t have the room to stock them, but it seems like teas sometimes sell quickly…


Of course – but, how do I predict which will sell and which do not? I have inaccurately attempted to predict which would and would not predict all too often with disappointing results. In fact, some of the teas that made it to the top of the polls this year happened to be teas that I had to sell on clearance at some point because they didn’t sell out quickly and I needed to liquidate them. So there’s that.


And – Peachy Keen … just so happened to be one of those teas! It was a tea that didn’t come out the way I expected it to so I tweaked it and it became something different from its original intention. As a result, I ended up having a bunch of it and had to sell it at a deep discount.


hmm.. it’s odd clearance teas also become poll winners so I can see why it’s tough for you to guess what will sell better. I liked the mistakes, whatever they were on peachy keen. :D


Some extra of this got made for advent, and I was really pleased when Sara mentioned there was some for sale! I bought two packets right away, and I’m finishing a cup right now.

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When I saw this in my advent, I remembered I had an unopened packet from 2017 and wanted to use up the older tea, which may have some flavor degradation now that it’s two years old (at least the packet was still sealed, though). I decided to cold brew the whole packet overnight in a liter mason jar in the fridge, and now I’m drinking it out of a water bottle.

The tea turned a very pretty red-orange color from the cranberries, but I’m not getting much cranberry flavor; considering all the other reviews note this flavor, perhaps that is due to the age (I’ll have to see how the fresh packet compares). The lemon-lime notes are still very strong, though, and it definitely has a very crisp and refreshing flavor that tastes great iced. It really does come off with a Sprite-like quality somehow… in fact, it tastes remarkably like “flat Sprite” (something I drank a lot when I had an upset tummy as a child) with just a touch of liquid sweetener added! It’s really nostalgic…

Hopefully when I try my fresh packet I’ll get the cranberry notes, as well.

Flavors: Citrus, Lemon, Lime, Sweet

Iced 8 min or more 15 g 32 OZ / 946 ML
Shanie O Maniac

OOOH, I love me some “Soda tea” and again, I am CRYING over passing on the advent calendar. Seeing all of these reviews and knowing that at one point I HAD IT IN A CART… and then I blew the money for it on other things and couldn’t complete my purchase. I’m really depressed right now.

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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: Tealyra teas, Adagio 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: 32
Sipdown Count for 2020: 50


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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