drank Vanilla Chai by Bigelow
643 tasting notes

So, when looking at the daunting task of my tea collection and getting things out of it, I decided starting with an “out with the old” approach would be best. I’m glad my spreadsheet is arranged by date, and this tea had an expiration date of November 2018. Uhh… okay. Well, that isn’t too far past, at least not so far long ago I’m not willing to try it. But if I’m not sold, I’m not going to feel guilty about simply tossing the rest of it, either. I think I probably put off this one because every other bagged Bigelow tea I ever tried I didn’t like. Yes, including Constant Comment. (And that may have entirely been up to the age of the sampler packets I received too, but I wasn’t about to spend my own money on a brand of tea I historically don’t like on a full box of it to test that theory…)

I used three teabags for 400ml of water in my travel mug, and did a brief 2 minute steep since CTC. And while this is probably the best results I’ve had with Bigelow yet… I’m still not really feeling this. The vanilla aspect actually isn’t so bad. It actually tastes a bit cookie-like… it’s reminding me of the flavoring from that Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride by Celestial Seasonings I finally got to try last month. But even with the brief steep, the black tea is slightly bitter, and my main issue is the chai element… the spices are so artificial they are distracting and off-putting to me. I feel like I’m tasting that same weird artificial clove taste that I tasted in the Stash bagged Chai, and it leaves this really unpleasant taste on my tongue. The ginger flavor, too, feels overly pungent and artificial, how it is in too many bagged lemon ginger teas.

So, I realize it’s a bit of an oxymoron that I like the artificial sweet cookie-like vanilla flavoring, but can’t stand the artificial spice flavors. And the vanilla comes in first and is quite nice, but then the spice hits toward the end of the sip and lingers and sort of ruins it for me.

This isn’t so bad that I can’t finish this, and in the grand scheme of things, if I was at a restaurant and all they had was Bigelow tea, considering I’ve never liked anything by Bigelow before, if they had this one, I’d probably pick this one. If, you know, I didn’t just order Dr. Pepper instead.

Flavors: Artificial, Bitter, Cinnamon, Clove, Cookie, Ginger, Spices, Spicy, Sweet, Vanilla

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 14 OZ / 400 ML

I was super disappointed with this one, too. So weak.

Mastress Alita

It’s probably a good thing I’m using so many teabags at once, then!

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I was super disappointed with this one, too. So weak.

Mastress Alita

It’s probably a good thing I’m using so many teabags at once, then!

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Hi! I’m Sara, a middle-aged librarian living in southern Idaho, USA. I’m a big ol’ sci-fi/fantasy/anime geek that loves fandom conventions, coloring books, simulation computer games, Japanese culture, and cats. Proud asexual and supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. I’m also a chronic migraineur. As a surprise to no one, I’m a helpless tea addict with a tea collecting and hoarding problem! (It still baffles me how much tea I can cram into my little condo!) I enjoy trying all sorts of teas… for me tea is a neverending journey!

Favorite Flavors:

I love sampling a wide variety of teas! For me the variety is what makes the hobby of tea sampling so fun! While I enjoy trying all different types of teas (pure teas, blends, tisanes), these are some flavors/ingredients I enjoy:
-Sweet/licorice root/stevia
-Bergamot (in moderation)

Disliked Flavors:

There are not many flavors or ingredients that I don’t like. These include:
-Bananas/banana flavoring
-Smoke-scented teas/heavy smoke flavors (migraine trigger)
-Perfumey teas/extremely heavy floral aromas (migraine trigger)
-Gingko biloba (migraine trigger)
-Chamomile (used in blends as a background note/paired with stronger flavors is okay)
-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’s Butterscotch Potion, Adagio teas, teabox 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: 49
Sipdown Count for 2020: 70


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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