571 Tasting Notes


This is a very old TeaSource tea that is discontinued… and I have yet to try it! (Pathetic!) The package recommends this as an iced tea, but since I’ve never tried it, I wanted to see how it would fair as a warm cuppa, too. The base was darjeeling but the leaf looked CTC, so I tried to give it a briefer steep than usual… I may need to shorten it even more! I went for a two minute steep in 195F water… somehow I seem to get less astringency when I brew darjeeling in slightly cooler water?

My cup is a light coppery color and it smells like autumn leaves (the darj is coming through strongly!), raspberry, and perhaps a touch of a citrus tang. The flavor is… surprisingly quite berry-forward, and I wasn’t expecting that! There was quite a bit of lemongrass in the leaf, by far not my favorite of the citrus herbs, but I’m not even really getting that odd hay-like/herbaceous quality it often leaves in a tea. The tea is very smooth, so I may have found the sweet-spot on my brewing parameters, and I was expecting a lot more temperment because, quite frankly, it usually takes me several tries with darj’s to find the sweet spot. It is not overly-leafy tasting in flavor, like I get from a lot of darjeeling, but I do get a soft autumn leaf/vegetal background note, that mixes with a more malty foreground note. The raspberry flavor then fills in nicely, and it’s very present but doesn’t have that syrupy/fakey/metallic flavor I get very often from raspberry flavorings; there is a softness to it at first, and then it leaves a gentle berry tanginess on the tongue. It’s really nice! I’m not getting a very strong citrus note, though; I get a very subtle citrus aftertaste on the roof of my mouth, but it isn’t pulling very strongly against the other flavors in the cup. Honestly though; I’m alright with that, because the tea is quite delightful as is. I may try it with a dash of lemon juice to bring that note out for curiosity’s sake, but I’m really happy with it. I will have to try this one iced, and maybe add just a touch of my lemon-infused honey… mmm.

Now I’m sad knowing TeaSource discontinued this one!

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Citrus, Fruity, Malt, Raspberry, Smooth, Sweet, Tangy

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec 3 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

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Sampler Sunday! This is a tea from the Here’s Hoping Traveling Teabox, so thank you to tea-sipper for organizing and all who were kind enough to share their teas! I know this is probably a tea that would shine best gong fu style, but again… I just rarely have time for that, so I brewed this western style, in my doubin teapot, to sip on while Todd and I “groupwatch” (over the Internet!) the new season of The Tick on Amazon Prime (while chatting our thoughts in realtime in a chatroom… it’s practically as good as sharing a couch!) I brewed the whole 3.8g sample in 550ml of 205F water for 3 minutes (and will likely resteep between episodes until either it or me gives up).

The tea steeps up a pale golden bronze color, and smells of malt and sweet and sour mandarin sauce. On the sip I’m getting a strong impression of mandarin orange; the tea is very smooth and sweet, with a bit of a honeyed note toward the end of the sip. It’s lightly malty with some very subtle smoky hints and a very faint peppery spicy note on the tip of the tongue at the finish. It has a faint mineral component, as well. It is tasty, but isn’t wowing me as strongly as other Chinese blacks I’ve tried; the age of the sample could easily be the case, since this was a Spring 2017 harvest. It’s certainly enjoyable for my Sunday Afternoon teatime, which I look forward to each week, and the tea accompanies the little mini croissant sammies I made very nicely!

Flavors: Fruity, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Orange, Pepper, Smoke, Smooth, Sweet

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 4 g 19 OZ / 550 ML

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drank Sencha Peach by T2
571 tasting notes

Sampler Saturday! I think I only have two of these T2 samplers left, both green teas, and I was in a green tea mood while watching some anime tonight. One was a peach green and one was a strawberry green, and I decided to start with the peach. The dry leaf had a pleasant, fruity peach aroma.

The tea steeps into a lovely soft peachy-orange color, and has a peach but subtle floral aroma. The flavor is fruity but not too overwhelming; the peach doesn’t come off as strongly as the aroma, and I’m fine with that, since I like my fruity greens to be more on the softer side. It gives me a bit of a peach rind feel, and is rather juicy and pleasant, sweet with a slight tartness on the finish. There is still a subtle sweet grassiness beneath the flavoring which I like; I prefer my fruity greens to not be so potent that the green tea gets overwhelmed and can’t shine through. There is a very soft, sweet, floral quality to the tea as well, that compliments the grassy and fruity notes well.

It’s a nice peach tea. Not as nice as the peach green teas I’ve tried from Lupicia (I think I prefer their base green and peach flavorings more) but a perfectly servicable and welcoming pot.

Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Peach, Sweet, Sweet, warm grass, Tart

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 5 g 19 OZ / 550 ML

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I’ve had this tea for ages, but have yet to really try it yet. I’m a licorice lover, which is what attracted me to it. It does have a chamomile base, and I really dislike chamomile, but I’m really hoping for some strong anise, fennel, and licorice root that will completely cover it up.

Oh… this actually does have a striking black licorice taste to it, which means 99% of the people reading this can stop right now, because you’ll hate it. If you are in that 1% that like me actually likes black licorice… huzzah! It’s a bit spicy and warming with a strong black licorice flavor that settles on the tongue, and just a touch of licorice root sweetness toward the end of the sip. I can pick out a bit of a cinnamon sweetness midsip, as well. It’s very satisfying, and thankfully, it doesn’t have that soapy-floral taste I get from chamomile that I don’t like, because the spices do have such a strong, pungent flavor. I really like this! But as said, this is definitely the sort of herbal that is for a very particular palate. If you are the type of person that likes eating black licorice nib candies or jellybeans, you’d like this herbal tea.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Licorice, Spices, Spicy, Sweet

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML
Martin Bednář

Honestly I don’t mind licorice. This tea.looks really weird, but also appealing.

PS: 6 am, hurray I am at home…

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Happy National Library Week! In the United States, the second week of April is designated by the American Library Association as National Library Week, and since I’m a librarian, I try to find a “library” tea to try each year. Last year I sampled Haunted Library by Malfoy Tea Emporium, the review of which is here if you are curious: https://steepster.com/mastressalita/posts/375034

I’ve had this blend stashed away in my collection just waiting for National Library Week 2019 to try it for the first time! It is a blend of black and green teas, using Ceylon, jasmine green, Keemun, and gunpowder green. The jasmine is especially striking from the dry leaf, and I’m not a huge fan of jasmine teas because of how overly “perfumy” it tends to be, but I’m curious if blended with the black teas if it will be more tempered and come out more floral and less like grandma perfume than I tend to find jasmine.

The steeped tea is a proper copper-colored cuppa, though it does still smell quite strongly of jasmine. The flavor is… pretty nice, though! It does have a strong floral element, but there are definitely a lot of other elements to this tea, too; it has some depth. In fact, after the cup has cooled just a touch, I can get a malty note wafting up in the aroma and mixing with the strong jasmine fragrance, and that aroma/taste profile helps the entire cup veer far away from my typical issues with “grandma perfume” territory. The black tea in the base tastes of a medium body, and I’m picking up a bit of malt with a heavy citrus element. Mid-sip a grassy, refreshing, very vegetal flavor enters the tongue, a bit like wet stones and moss and then very sweet jasmine flowers. The end of the sip is a bit astringent/drying and leaves me smacking my tongue a bit, and I’m left with a strong smoky flavor in the aftertaste.

This is a very satisfying cuppa, especially considering my track record with jasmine. I think the rather strong astringency in the cup is my only complaint, but I already have plans to try making iced tea with this and seeing if that helps curb that.

Flavors: Astringent, Citrus, Drying, Floral, Grass, Jasmine, Malt, Moss, Smoke, Vegetal, Wet Rocks

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

Happy library week! I shall celebrate… by reading. :D

Mastress Alita

That is the best way to celebrate!


That sounds good! I’ve been celebrating by reading one book on my phone and listening to an audio book in the car. With my commute, I’m finishing the audio book faster.

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Sampler Sunday! I only had one teabag of this, and after being impressed with my Steven Smith Teamaker tea yesterday, decided I’d have this for my herbal tonight. But I do have to be in a certain mood for warm hibiscus — I perfer it iced — so this afternoon I dropped the teabag in a cup of water to let it cold brew. It is now a vibrant red and has probably had ample time to cold brew given I usually brew four cups of iced tea at a time and this was just a single cup.

It smells lovely. I can smell the sarsparilla, which is one of my favorite notes in a tea, though I don’t think I’ve ever had it paired with hibiscus, so I’m curious about the flavor. It also has a somewhat floral aroma. The flavor has that nice tangy flavor I enjoy (you know me, I’m a huge hibi fan!) but there is definitely a softening sweetness to this tea, as it isn’t as tart as many of the more fruity hibi teas I’ve tried. It doesn’t have that really strong “fruit punch” taste to it either… there is the typical hibiscus fruitiness, but the sarsparilla brings in more of a… soda sweetness/creamy feeling? They are two flavors that one wouldn’t think would fit together but they oddly do. Almost like cherry soda, except not that sweet or extreme, but a bit of that vibe. I’m not really picking out any particular floral notes from the tea, but I do get a floral sweetness from the tea.

I don’t think stalwart hibiscus-haters would be converted by this, but this is a hibiscus tea that has a lot of natural sweetening elements without using the other most-hated ingredient on Steepster, stevia; it is quite surprising how much balance the sarsparilla brings and I do think it brings out a somewhat “natural” cherry soda element to the tea when cold brewed. With sweetener added that may be even more prevalent, but I like it fine as is. I’d happily stock more of this to cold brew by the quart over the summer, and probably will when I visit Steven Smith Teamaker on my Portland vacation this coming summer.

Flavors: Cherry, Floral, Fruity, Hibiscus, Root Beer, Sarsaparilla, Sweet, Tangy

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

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Sampler Saturday! I had a single teabag of this herbal and decided to brew it up tonight. In general I’ve always been very impressed with Steven Smith Teamaker blends, so I’m hoping this will be nice.

Gave this a nice long steep, a bit over the five minutes I usually give rooibos just because I was busy with things, but eh… it’s rooibos, you can’t really oversteep it. It’s a proper ruby red color, and smells a bit like stonefruit and pear? The ingredients don’t really give any hints to the “natural fruit flavors” in this, so I wonder how far off I am…

This is pretty nice. Better than many of the rooibos I’ve had recently (but then, I drank one with chamomile in it yesterday, so that bar was pretty low, heh). I’m getting a natural very subtle smoky note which I’ve never tasted from rooibos or honeybush before, but it isn’t unpleasant, and I’m very sensitive to smoky notes; it blends nicely with that slight woodiness perfectly, actually. And just the tiniest hint of pepper. I’m also getting a vanilla note from this, which is quite nice, and it brings out a lovely natural sweetness in the cup. Usually whenever fruit flavors are added to rooibos it tends to bring out the sharper, medicinal notes for me, but thankfully I’m not getting that taste here at all; the fruit flavoring is more on the subtle side, letting the natural notes of the rooibos and honeybush shine, but it is there, and I’d say it is sort of an apple/pear sort of flavor. With that woody/smoky rooibos note, the natural sweetness, and the apple and pear paired together, my mind is stretching this a bit to baked fruit or cobbler, just minus the cinnamon/spices or pastry-sweet elements.

The more I sip on this and unwind, the more I’m really getting into this. Ya, I think Steven Smith Teamaker has won again for me!

Flavors: Apple, Pear, Pepper, Rooibos, Smoke, Stonefruits, Sweet, Vanilla, Wood

Boiling 7 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

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This is a very old sampler I got from… I think the first Adagio order I ever made, sometime in the summer of 2017? And I don’t order from them anymore, so… it at least feels like a long time ago, now. It was my free zodiac birthday sampler based on my birthdate. I had every intention of getting around to it last month and somehow never did…

I think part of why I haven’t gotten to this sooner was the mix of tea in what appears to be mostly herbal ingredients, when I’m always in the need for more herbals to drink at night, but it looks pretty scant in the black tea leaves listed in the ingredients (and I didn’t even notice the white it boasts in the ingredients…) so I figure the caffeine must be pretty light in this. It’s a Friday night and I’m off tomorrow, so a lightly caffeinated herbal should be alright tonight, so I figured I’d finally drink this one off, in the mammoth-pot. (Probably a bit over-leafed, but maybe that will make up for the age of the leaf and the fact those Adagio sampler tins, while “looking cute” have pretty much no air seal on them at all, so I’m expecting some bad flavor deprivation…)

The tea is dark red, and the aroma smells heavily of rooibos and chamomile. I’m not a big chamomile fan, but the rooibos is very rich in this blend and helps balance out that flavor a lot for me, so it isn’t quite so overwhelming and overbearing for me. Mostly I get a strong, forward rooibos flavor that is a bit woody, grassy, sweet, and floral in flavor; likely these flavors are amplified by the heavy taste of chamomile that comes out midsip to finish and lingers on the tongue. This tea apparently has orange and grapefruit flavoring, but I’m not tasting any flavoring at all, so either it is the age of the sampler, or because I’m very sensitive to the taste of chamomile, it is just drowning out any other flavors for me. I feel like there is a very subtle hint of citrus left on my tongue in the aftertaste, but I can only pick that up after the thick chamomile taste finally subsides, and during the sip I can’t notice any citrus notes at all. So this pretty much just tastes like a rooibos/chamomile blend. I honestly can’t taste any black/white tea notes and don’t know why they would be included in this blend; it seems silly to add caffeine to this when they aren’t really adding anything to this blend in regards to flavor.

This is pretty meh. Since I don’t really like chamomile and this isn’t providing much else, this Pisces tea just isn’t for this particular Pisces, I guess. To be fair, the rooibos is making this much more palatable for me than many chamomile teas I’ve tasted, so I will finish this pot rather than dump it, so it does have that going for it.

Flavors: Citrus, Floral, Grass, Rooibos, Soap, Sweet, Wood

Boiling 8 min or more 14 g 32 OZ / 946 ML

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Throwback Thursday! I’m surprised I still have some of this left; it’s getting quite old now (I ordered it in July of 2017, meep) so I’ve put a priority on trying to sip it down. I’ve had this one western brewed and gong fu style, but have yet to make iced tea with it, which is always a solid way for me to work through sipdowns, so I figured I should try this tea iced now, just for another take on it if for nothing else.

I always use the OCTea online app to help me calculate my leaf-to-water ratios and it is typically spot-on for my personal preferences, but I think for oolong it may have been a bit overleafed on what it suggested, as this tastes a bit overleafed to me. It has a slightly sour/astringent vegetal note on the back of the tongue that I rarely ever get with a cold steep; next time I’ll try lowering the leaf and see if that subsides. It certainly doesn’t make it undrinkable, and I’ve already nearly finished the quart I brewed up. The tea has a very refreshing green flavor, and the predominant buttered brocolli flavor that I usually get from this tea when I steep it western style is still the strongest note. The vegetal flavor has notes of brocolli, spinach, asparagus, artichoke, and grass, and the smooth butteriness comes in near the end of the sip and lingers on the tongue. This has never been a particularly floral Jin Xuan for me, but occassionally I’ll catch a very subtle orchid/lilac note toward the end of the sip. Mostly the tea is very green, vegetal, and buttery, even when prepared steeped in cold water overnight. I’m surprised how much I like the taste iced, actually… aside from the fact I’m still trying to find the sweet spot with leaf-to-water amount. I love the warm, buttery flavor of Jin Xuan, but it’s quite refreshing as an iced tea, too.

Flavors: Artichoke, Asparagus, Astringent, Broccoli, Butter, Floral, Grass, Orchid, Smooth, Spinach, Sweet, Vegetal

Iced 8 min or more 10 g 32 OZ / 946 ML

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drank Purple Leaf Tea by Justea
571 tasting notes

Teabox Tuesday! This is one of the teas I’ve had stashed from the Here’s Hoping Teabox, so thank you to tea-sipper for organizing and all those that participated and shared! I always meant to try this sooner, and I think my brain thinking that a lot of these teas “should” be drunk gong fu style is what has held me back, as I rarely have the time to do a session. Finally today I just said “screw it” and made it western (easier for me, especially as I can take that out the door to work in my thermos). I had 3.3g in my sample and just brewed it all up in 450ml of water, and since I had no idea how purple leaf tea should be brewed, I used the recommendations from their website for 175F water and a 3 minute steep.

The leaf unfurls to be very full, reminding me a Jin Xuan oolong in appearance, with a strong stewed vegetal aroma. The color of the tea is a pinkish-brown color that is very pretty. The flavor is reminding me of a mellow Chinese green tea, as I’m getting that slight beany flavor that I find in Long Jings and Pi Lo Chuns; there is also a weak, floral oolong quality, though the vegetal flavor comes on stronger. There is no bitterness on the sip, but the tea does leave my tongue with a fairly strong lip-smacking/tongue-drying aftertaste. I’m curious if cold-steeping this would eliminate that and create a more refreshing “clean green” flavor.

It’s a nice enough mellow, afternoon pot of tea sort of brew, and I’m glad for the opportunity to try it!

Flavors: Beany, Drying, Floral, Green Beans, Vegetal

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 15 OZ / 450 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: 135


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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