571 Tasting Notes


Well, I returned from a lovely vacation only to have the whole thing soured by having my closing date delayed because my initial loan didn’t go through because a sleazy property management company owns over 10% of the units in the condo that I’m purchasing my unit in, which disqualified my loan under their Fannie Mae stipulations, sooooo I get to start all over with the loan process with a different lender. ARGH. I swear this whole house-buying process is going to kill me. And to make matters worse, I had handed in my 30 days notice to my apartment because my loan officer and realtor had told me everything was going absolutely great RIGHT before I left on vacation, so now I only have until the 15th of August to close before I’ll be homeless… the stress is so real.

I have a lot to write up on my Portland tea samplings/Tea Fest PDX, and eventually I’ll get to that. I bought way too much on vacation, and the sad part is I don’t even plan to break into any of it, it’s just going into the moving box. Siiiiiiiigh.

This was an old sampler from Fusion Teas, August Peach Oolong Tea, that I finished off quickly by making a liter of coldbrew tea, and then another half liter of coldbrew tea. Looking up the ingredients, it was easy to hunt down that this blend was sourced by Art of Tea, and is their 12:00PM tea (which was formally called “Peach Oolong”). I never bothered to try the tea warm, since we’ve been in a terrible heatwave (I’m already missing those Oregon coast temperatures!)

This is a toasty tasting oolong base, and the flavor of this tea actually reminds me a lot of Lupicia’s Apricot Mugicha, just a little less coffee-like… and since Lupicia no longer sells any of their flavored Mugicha, I suppose this at least scratches that itch for that particular tea a little. This tea has a nice roasted nuts flavor with some woody notes and the slightly earthy flavor of raw hazelnut/walnuts, with a bit of a honeyed sweetness to it that is really refreshing to me iced. The peach notes are noticable, but come out more of a subtle fruity note that compliments the honey notes and isn’t a distinct flavor that holds out on its own against the strong woody/nutty oolong base.

I like the tea, and I think renaming it to take the emphasis off the peach was the right move, as this doesn’t really read as a “peach-flavored tea” but rather as an oolong that has some peach/stonefruit notes. This makes a nice iced tea for those that enjoy a nice cold mugicha or houjicha.

Flavors: Hazelnut, Honey, Nutty, Peach, Roasted, Roasted nuts, Stonefruits, Walnut, Wood

Iced 8 min or more 5 g 17 OZ / 500 ML

I am so sorry you are going through all that! How frustrating! I pray it will all work out quickly and peacefully for you.


Hope they can sort it out quickly for you.


I’m so sorry about the moving BS. I hope everything gets fixed soon.


Ugh :( Like the others, hoping things will get fixed soon. What a pain though. :(


Federal anything is an off-the-charts stress inducer. Hoping we hear good news from you soon.

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This was a limited edition Teapigs flavor for their tenth birthday and it just happened to be around at the time I was trying out some of their herbals a while back; I’m about halfway through my box of teabags (I really wish they had non-teabag options available because I’ve liked their teas I’ve tried and think loose leaf is a better bang for your buck, but since I’ve been packing for a trip, the teabags are handy for luggage, at least) but noticed I’ve yet to log this one yet. I usually drink it warm, but it’s been uncomfortably hot lately (consistently over 90F lately) so I cold-steeped my teabag in a glass mug of refridgerated water while I was packing my luggage, then came back to it later when the color looked a very dark marigold.

And I have to say, this tea is as pleasant cold as it is warm. Long steeps seem to do this tea favorably both cold and warm, to get a lot of flavor out of this herbal, and it’s one I like to just leave the bag in my cup as a result while I’m sipping. It has a pleasantly sweet, fruity taste, with a strong apple note, but there is a lot of sweetness in the blend, giving me more of a caramel apple appeal. There is also a red berry/strawberry flavor, that paired with the sweetness brings out a bit of a strawberries and cream taste. I like the slightly tangy fruity note with the sweet notes that really do read as a fruit dessert… it doesn’t really read as a specific fruit dessert to me, since I tend to pick up on different fruit flavors on different sips, but in some ways that adds to the appeal and enjoyment for me. I think I’ll miss this one when my box is finished off.

Flavors: Apple, Berries, Candied Apple, Caramel, Cream, Fruity, Strawberry, Sweet, Tangy

Iced 8 min or more 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

Ooooo… another Jelly + Ice Cream tea?!

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Yes, I’m still alive. Since May I’ve been very preoccupied with first-time homebuyer stuff, and am working on trying to close on a house at the end of this month and the stress of packing up my home. At present, the vast majority of my tea collection is in boxes (I’ve only left some of the samplers/boxed tea currently unpacked, and have mostly been drinking iced tea trying to clear some of that out before it gets added to my last massive tea box). I’ve also felt quite stressed because back in June my job basically backed me into a corner to pull my FMLA rights away from me, and things have been going quite slowly with the DoL trying to get those rights reinstated, so I’ve been having to work through all my chronic migraine attacks. This gal is exhausted. But next week I’m going to Portland for the PDX Tea Fes! Honestly at this point, I’m more excited for some days to not be dealing with the house stuff and work than the tea. Sad, but true.

Anyway, I’m down to my last three servings of this one. It’s an old flavored rooibos I got from Snake River Tea in Boise, and it’s wholesaled from International Tea Importers. The dry leaf has a strong creamsicle aroma. The steeped tea is a deep red-orange and has a strong stonefruit and sweet vanilla fragrance. The base is slightly brassy/woody, but mostly the flavor is strongly orange, leaving a citrusy tanginess on the tongue; like most orange flavors it does come off to me a touch artificial, but not enough that I’m finding it bothersome, especially compared to other orange-flavored teas I’ve tried. It actually pairs pretty nicely with the noticable sweet vanilla flavor, which lingers in the aftertaste. I also can taste just a hint of a peachy/stonefruit note in the tea, which also may be helping balance and take the edge off of the artificiality of the orange flavoring. Overall, the balance is actually really good in this one, and I’m surprised that the flavor has held up so well since this is one of my older teas. It has a nice creamsicle taste, with a slightly more tangy/fruity hit before the sweetness of the finish kicks in.

Flavors: Artificial, Orange, Peach, Smooth, Stonefruits, Sweet, Vanilla, Wood

Boiling 6 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

Congrats on buying your first house! Sorry about the job pain and I hope the tea fest goes well for you.

Mastress Alita

Ya, I’m really looking forward to it, now. The home-buying experience has been exhausting, and the Department of Labor has been very slow with my complaint (probably because my employer didn’t leave anything in writing I could use to support myself, it was all done verbally, so if you just have “your word” that doesn’t look so great to get some negotiations in there…) I’m now quite happy to be off to the Oregon Coast/Portland for a week. The vendor line-up for the tea festival is a good one [https://www.teafestpdx.com/vendors], and me and my friend Todd signed up for three panels: a discussion of pu-erh, tea blending and tasting demo, and tea, tourism, and social change.


The tea fest sounds amazing. I recognize a few vendors, including JusTea. They sent me some samples when they first started!


Glad to see you back on Steepster. Hope the home purchase goes smoothly…it was a nerve wrecking process for me as well. The real fun though begins after closing when you have to clean, maintain, and fix the darn thing. Such are the joys of homeownership, but worth it to have a place to call your own :-)


Congrats about the house! Seems to be a current trend with people I know. I’m looking forward to some commentary on the tea festival when you return!

Mastress Alita

Thanks! I’ll try to remember to take some good notes of my tea-capades around the Oregon Coast and Portland!

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This is the last of the Steven Smith Teamaker teas that Todd brought to share with me when we met up at Anime Oasis. I had one of the teabags in the hotel while enjoying a My Little Pony bingewatch of the most recent season (yes, two grown adults, one nearing 40 and the other nearing 50, enjoying some MLP while drinking tea!) While all the teas he brought that I hadn’t sampled yet were great, I think this one was by far my favorite. I brought the second teabag home and am having it tonight.

It produces a nice yellow color with the most wonderful aroma; it’s like a dessert somehow, with that toasted nutty smell from the genmai mixed with the sweet floral rose. The flavor is also really wonderful, if you like floral teas (which I do!); the base is sencha mixed with Mao Feng, so it has more of a beany, vegetal quality which pairs nicely with the roasted nut notes from the genmai. There is also a subtle hint of bergamot in this blend, not enough to be overbearing on the flavor, but just enough to give the base a bit of a citrusy note, which also compliments the vegetal flavor nicely. The citrus notes also pair great with the floral rose sweetness that comes in midsip and pops on the roof of the mouth and lingers slightly in the aftertaste; it is not an especially strong rose taste, and doesn’t taste like they’ve added a bunch of rose oil or tried to make the tea an especially strong rose tea, but the florality is noticable in the aroma and flavor and blends really well with the other flavor notes in the cup. The genmai adds that nice roasted flavor that I find really settling and relaxing on my stomach, and somehow the rose just adds to that soothing, relaxing sensation.

This is one of Steven Smith Teamaker’s real winning blends, in my opinion. I will absolutely pick some of this up when I visit Portland this summer!

Flavors: Beany, Citrus, Floral, Nutty, Roasted nuts, Rose, Smooth, Sweet, Toasted Rice, Vegetal

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

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Todd shared this tea with my last weekend when I met up with him at Anime Oasis in Boise. I brought the teabags home with me and made a small pot for my breakfast this morning, before meeting with a realtor.

It steeped up a lovely yellow and had a strong bean aroma, reminding me of Bi Luo Chuns I’ve had in the past. The flavor reminds me of Bi Luo Chun as well, in that I’m getting that strong, forward savory bean flavor on my palate that I always get from those. It’s quite vegetal, and I’d say aside from the sharp bean note I taste a leafy green taste closest to aspargus and spinach, with a subtle sweetening toward the end of the sip, a bit like a cross of florals and very wet melon.

It’s a nice green tea, savory, smooth, and lacking astringency, and accompanying my breakfast nicely.

Flavors: Asparagus, Beany, Floral, Green Beans, Melon, Smooth, Spinach, Vegetal

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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I nipped this from the hotel room I stayed in last weekend, since I actually haven’t tried this one before (and left the chamomile for Todd, since I knew I wouldn’t like that, heh… he at least appreciates chamomile!) I’m not sure how long I steeped this since I just let my teabag steep while I was making some PB & honey toast for breakfast… I normally let CTC black teas go about two minutes but this may have gone a little longer and thus be a little stronger than my preferences. We’ll see.

The cup is dark with a malty aroma, with a slight burnt sugar aroma. The flavor is definitely on the stronger side of English Breakfast blends I’ve tried, and again, I’m not sure if that’s due to a longer steep or the particular blend of mystery “black teas” they are using. There is at least some medium astringency after the sip, but it isn’t too biting… or maybe my palate is just starting to adapt to these sorts of black blends more. I get a strong malty note, with a more subtle presense of leather, autumn leaves, and just a hint of citrus left on the back of my tongue in the aftertaste.

It’s not a bad EB, but not one of the favorites I’ve tried; if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say there is either no Chinese blacks in this blend, or a very low ratio, and most of the ones that end up being my preference have a good showing of Chinese black tea leaf in the blend. They just appeal to my palate more. This is just a bit more sharp/astringent than is my typical preference. But I am drinking it with some sickeningly-sweet peanut butter-honey toast, so it at least accompanies my breakfast choice well.

Flavors: Astringent, Autumn Leaf Pile, Citrus, Leather, Malt, Tannic

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

I like this one when the weather is cold.

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Todd shared this tea with me last weekend when I met up with him at Anime Oasis in Boise. Of course, because I was tired after a full day of walking around downtown Boise and going to con panels and was happy to curl up on the hotel bed with a cup of tea and knit my blankie while binge-watching The Umbrella Academy, it wasn’t like I wrote a review for this while I was drinking the tea, like I usually do, and with my migraine-brain, my memory is worse than Dory. I do recall it was a very nice black tea blend, though, on par with the quality I’ve come to associate with Steven Smith Teamaker. It was malty, but I remember a nice, but not overbearing, smoky note to the tea which made the presense of Chinese tea leaves very noticable, and I always dig a black tea blend with a strong Chinese black flavor. I really love Steven Smith Teamaker’s British Brunch (formerly called Brahmin) and rank that one of my favorite EB’s of all time, and it would be hard for me to recall off the top of my head which of these two breakfast blends is superior; if I ever have the chance to sample Portland Breakfast again, I’ll try to write something “in the moment” so I can better record the flavor notes. But I at least wanted to jot something down for the history books that I tried this one this year.

Flavors: Malt, Smoke

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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This is apparently a house blend from Snake River Tea. I was worried it would be way too spicy and actually questioned why I decided to buy some of this; I put some in Todd’s tea advent calendar last December and his review claimed it wasn’t very spicy at all. I was still hesitant, since most of my friends are far less “spice sensitive” than myself, and often they’ll say something is a “3” and then I’ll taste it and find it more like a “30.” I’ve been using my stash to make ginger rice whenever my migraine nausea has been particularly intolerable, and it’s been really awesome for that; basically I’ll just drop a teabag in my rice water as the water is coming to a boil, then my rice soaks up the tea and has a nice gingery flavor which gives the white rice a little more flavor; both rice and ginger are rather easy on the GI tract so it’s been a go-to when my gut is having none of it. I’ll even pick up a bit of the citrus notes in the rice, too. But I figured before I use up all the tea making rice, I should probably try a proper cuppa, too!

The tea smells spicy, gingery, and citrusy. Surprisingly, it isn’t overwhelmingly spicy, as turm/ginger blends so often are, so I’m happy about that! Todd was right, this is a Sara-spice-wuss-safe tea! There is a mild earthy/pepperiness from the turmeric and a stronger ginger flavor that I find rather soothing on the back of my throat and settling on my nauseous stomach. It’s warming, but doesn’t leave an obnoxious afterburn like many ginger teas tend to do. There is a strong lemon citrus presense in the tea as well; I can taste the herbaceousness of the lemongrass, but it is blending well with the citrus of the lemon and orange peel which seems to be rounding it out into a fuller, nicer lemon flavor so it doesn’t come off as really grassy/hay-like, which overly lemongrass or strongly lemongrass teas can tend towards. Overall, I am finding this a rather nice blend. I think this makes a good throat/stomach soother.

Flavors: Citrus, Earth, Ginger, Herbaceous, Lemon, Lemongrass, Smooth, Spicy

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

Hope you’re doing okay after your loss.

Mastress Alita

Not so much. Still very much in the mourning process and my apartment won’t honor a doctor’s request for a new companion animal so I’m currently busy looking into home ownership because living alone is taking a toll on me. Will probably be some time before I’m active on here again.


Ack, I’m sorry. Home ownership is something to look forward to though. I hope it gets a little better for you soon!

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My sleep has been very disturbed… either I can’t fall asleep properly at night, or wake too early in the morning. This is one of those early mornings, so I just decided to get up and make a warm cup of tea before work (the game plan lately has been taking iced tea water bottles to work… it’s been taking me eons to try to work through nearly 100g of a green pomegranate tea in big iced tea batches, finally down to the last 20g of that!) Making this one teabag sampler I got from a cupboard sale from Ost last summer… thank you Ost! I love Steven Smith Teamaker and appreciate the chance to try another of their teas!

So this is their darj black tea offering. It smells very malty, with a slight honey quality. The flavor is quite nice. I get a bit of that autumn leaf component, but it isn’t too strong; it blends with a malty/baked bread note, a honeyed sweetness, and there is a strong floral presense toward the end of the sip. I’m getting a touch of a citrus note lingering on my tongue, too. It’s a very light and sweet black tea. Those that like “hearty” black teas in the morning may not prefer something like this until the afternoon, but I quite like it, especially since I don’t brew blacks dark/strong/to take milk/sugar. It’s very smooth, and I’m especially liking that touch of florality!

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Baked Bread, Citrus, Floral, Honey, Malt, Smooth, Sweet

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

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Teabox Tuesday! This is the last green tea in my teabox stash; it came from the Discovery Teabox, so thank you to Skysamurai for organizing and to those that participated for sharing! I decided to cold brew my sample since the leaf smelled a bit fruity and I’ve been drinking a lot of fruity iced greens lately.

Because of the hectic weekend I experienced I was unable to strain this when I planned, and I’m uncertain if in coldbrewing a tea can get “oversteeped” but that may or may not have made a difference (I usually always strain within 12-24 hours). The aroma smells, perhaps oddly to me, a bit like bubblegum… very sweet, jackfruit, and pineapple are coming to me in the aroma. The flavor is very sweet and fruity, but there is something vegetal about it, too… it has like, this freshness that makes me think of aloe, and it’s a little “watery” tasting too… not oceanic, as it’s lacking that saltiness of seawater, but it makes me think of wild freshwater somehow? I wonder if that’s the moringa? I’ve never tasted moringa before. I’d say that the sweet, vegetal note is the strongest flavor and overpowering the rest of the drink… I can taste some pineapple, and there is a sweetness left in my mouth as an aftertaste, but that strong “green” taste is very palpable. Reading up on moringa a bit, I have a strong feeling that is what I’m tasting. Interesting. I wouldn’t say I dislike it, but I do wish it didn’t feel quite so strong in this particular blend.

Thanks for sharing! I appreciate getting to try new ingredients I haven’t been exposed to before!

Flavors: Candy, Fruity, Green, Pineapple, Seaweed, Sweet, Vegetal

Iced 8 min or more 6 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

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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: 134


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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