629 Tasting Notes

45

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

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

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80

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

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

Oh this one sounds good!

tea-sipper

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!

tea-sipper

Oh no! Teamergency!

AJRimmer

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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68

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

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 80 ML

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88

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

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

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90

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

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML
52Teas

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

tea-sipper

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

52Teas

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

tea-sipper

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

52Teas

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

tea-sipper

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…

52Teas

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.

52Teas

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.

tea-sipper

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

Todd

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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70

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

Preparation
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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85

I didn’t have time to prepare tea before work yesterday, because it was one of those mornings, so instead I had to grab my water bottle out of the fridge that was filled with the remainder of the Caramel Vanilla Chai from Day 1 that I had prepared as an iced chai (yes, I still drink iced tea when there is snow on the ground, with the convenience of pre-preparing it being just one reason!) I will leave a footnote that prepared chilled as a latte with vanilla almond milk, the vanilla and caramel notes of that chai really came out and it was much sweeter, while it was much spicier when taken as a straight hot tea.

Today’s tea is Crisp Cranberry Soda, and I actually have an older packet of that from 2017 in my collection, and since I’ve been trying to sip down my old teas anyway, I decided to set a big ol’ liter mason jar of it to cold brew before work and keep the new, fresher packet. So more on that later after 8-24 hours of steeping in the fridge. Today I prepared yesterday’s tea from the advent calendar that I missed, Gingerbread Pancake Black Tea! It’s Treat Day at work today to hopefully a thermos of this will go nicely with the goodies in the breakroom.

The tea has a very sweet, candied ginger and molasses aroma… I’m almost getting something a bit nutty from the scent, as well. The flavor is reminding me if the Carrot Cake Pancake tea which was another of my favorites… I really like how the spices and maple compliment each other. It has a very warming effect from the ginger, but it isn’t spicy… the ginger has a sweet or candied sort of taste. I’m also picking up sweet cinnamon and an aftertaste of cloves. I’m getting more of a thick, syrupy, molasses flavor than the extremely sugary-sweet taste of maple, but it compliments the spices nicely. It’s a very tasty tea!

Flavors: Candy, Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger, Maple, Molasses, Nutty, Pancake Syrup, Spices, Sweet

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

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84

This is the second tea for my advent, and if y’all are confused… I have the biggest banana aversion ever. If the scent of banana got on any of my other teas I’d actually have to toss my other teas, it is that strong for me. I can’t even watch another person eat a banana without my gag reflex going off. A banana peel left in a breakroom garbage can is just like, the worst thing for me. I have no idea where this came from for me, but there you have it. Anne was really sweet and swapped out the nanner for me this year with this tea, which smells amazing!

Thankfully the smokiness is only coming out on my tongue and not in the aroma (I sometimes have issues with my head with a strong smoky aroma and tend to avoid smoked lapsangs as a result, so it must be a very subtle touch). I’m getting more of a glazed BBQ impression, a hint of sweet molasses/maple and liquid smoke at the back of the tongue. I’m not sure if I’m getting a distinct plum note but this is a more fruity Chinese black — I’m getting a strong raisin impression, with a hint of maltiness. This is really hitting the spot as a breakfast tea this morning — smooth, sweet, slightly smoky, and oh-so-satisfying.

Flavors: Fruity, Malt, Maple, Molasses, Raisins, Smoke, Smooth, Sweet

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

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70

It’s the first day of Christmas and my best friend gave to me… a 52Teas Twelve Days of Christmas Advent Calendar! I’ve been a bit inactive around Steepster lately since everyone is swimming in advents and I chose not to buy any this year, but a few weeks ago this box mysteriously showed up at my house, and there was only one person I could think of that not only knows I love tea, but that I’m a fan of 52Teas. Thank you so much to Todd for the generous holiday gift, and thank you so much to Anne for going the extra mile to make sure that for the first year ever I can actually drink all twelve of the teas in the box! (Because of a very particular, strong food aversion to a certain flavor that gets used a lot in the 52Teas advent I’ve always had to re-gift certain packets, but Anne was kind enough to make a substitution for me this year and that really means a lot to me!)

It’s Saturday, it’s my day off, and I’ve brewed up Day #1 this morning. It feels like ages that I’ve drunk a tea that is fresh and new rather than two to three years old, hahaha! I love the spice smell from the packet, but it really pops on the brewed cup — it’s a lovely red shade and somehow the cardamom aroma is coming off slightly piney to my nose. There is also a heavy clove aroma wafting from the cup, and a sweetness that is reading a bit like a gingersnap cookie. The flavor is hitting me with a strong impression of clove, with a touch of cardamom, and a bit of a heated ginger/pepper flavor that sits on my tongue in the aftertaste. It’s a very warming cup, and I am getting a bit of that pine note from the spices, too. The sweetness isn’t coming out as strongly in the flavor as it did in the aroma, because the clove is coming off a bit overpowering; a dollop of honey helped round it out a bit. I think I’ll prepare my next cup with vanilla almond milk and see how it takes as a latte, I suspect it will hold up well as the spice has a bit of a kick in this one!

Flavors: Cardamon, Clove, Cookie, Ginger, Pepper, Pine, Spices, Spicy

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 4 g 12 OZ / 350 ML
tea-sipper

At least the older teas lead to appreciating the newer teas more. :D

Dustin

Nice to see you posting again!

AJRimmer

What a nice gift! I accidentally had mine shipped to the wrong address, so I’ll be picking it up while visiting family for the holidays, and I very much look forward to trying these flavors!

Todd

Yay, glad you liked it!

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68

I’ve noticed a lot of my oldest teas are pure teas, and I really need to get to sipping them down since they have no doubt lost some of their oomph now that it’s been two years… I think my problem is I think in my head these sorts of teas have to be brewed gong fu and I just rarely find myself in the mood to go to all that trouble. So I think I’m just going to get myself over that and brew western, like I did with this one today (2.8g of tea in 195F water, 3 minute steep). I will probably finish off the sampler by making cold brew iced tea.

I am enjoying the aroma coming off the cup. It smells like cinnamon toast, roasted nuts, honey, and minerals. The flavor doesn’t taste as strong as I was expecting, so with it being such an old tea, I’m thinking that maybe I needed to slightly overleaf… ah well. The flavor is strongly that of roasted nuts, with a bit of honey/molasses sweetness that lingers on the tongue. It also has a bit of a floral sweetness, though I can’t place a particular flower. I’m getting “weak houjicha with floral sweetness” vibes. It is a pleasant enough afternoon tea on a cold day, but isn’t blowing me away compared to other oolongs I’ve tried. Maybe it’s the age or the fact I brewed it western, so I feel I can’t be too harsh on it.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Floral, Honey, Mineral, Molasses, Nutty, Roasted, Roasted nuts, Sweet, Toast, Toasty

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

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Bio

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:
-Dessert/chocolate/vanilla/caramel/cream/toffee/maple
-Sweet/licorice root/stevia
-Vegetal/grassy
-Floral/lavender/rose
-Spices/chais
-Fruity
-Tropical/pineapple/coconut
-Bergamot (in moderation)
-Roasted/nutty
-Tart/tangy/hibiscus/rosehip

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: 38
Sipdown Count for 2020: 57

Inventory:

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.

Location

Idaho, United States

Website

https://teatimetuesdayreviews...

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