258 Tasting Notes


Just finished my sample of this, gong fu. No notes on the taste here but the energy it gave off over about ten steeps is incredible. Had me sweating like a (fill in the sinner of your choice) in church. Energy galore. Hope I can sleep tonight. Yikes!

Update: I didn’t really get much sleep last night…

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Had another session of this tea this morning. I brewed two pots and put them in my big thermos, grabbed two clay drinking cups, went outside and met my friend Rose for a 3.5 mile trail walk. We sipped on this throughout and it was delicious, warm, and comforting on a beautiful, albeit a bit overcast, fall morning. This has been one of my favorite black teas this year.

I’m not even sure if there is any left on their website but you should totally get some if you are into delicious, earthy, malty, and tasty black teas. Or not. Leave it for me to re-order. That works too.

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Pulled this tea back out this morning. It has been a while since I’ve taken off a piece of the cake. I’m finding that I tend not to drink puerh as much during the warmer months. But Autumn is officially in full swing here in Michigan and that means more puerh will be consumed.

This tea really is a star. After a rinse, the first two steeps are very smooth and sweet. After that there is a slight bitterness that comes into play but not a bad bitterness. That could also be due to my heavy leafing on this session. Sometimes a chunk gets broken off that is slightly bigger than you anticipated.

There is a well rounded taste that compliments the rest of the tea. The woodiness and earthiness mingle with a creamy, slightly oily texture. My god is it drinkable. As in, you won’t want it to end. This was my first cake purchase and I’m very glad to have it in my possession. Uptick on the rating.

Flavors: Bitter, Cedar, Creamy, Smooth, Wood

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 9 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Finishing off the sample I had of this. Sometimes you just have stock piles of tea and some of the smaller bagged samples get lost in the clutter. This is what happened here. But boy am I so glad I found it/remembered it because, once again, this tea is fan-freaking-tastic.

I say this as someone who likes Earl’d teas well enough but doesn’t really purposefully buy them. This is absolutely one I would (will) buy. The base is high quality. It lends a depth of flavor that is not matched in most EG’s.

Gong fu style yielded about 5 good steeps. You could stretch it to a few more but the flavor starts to become weak past that.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Bergamot

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Thank you to SuperStarling! for this sample.

This is definitely a SMOKY tea. The scent out of the bag is like fire place ashes smoky. I was a little nervous brewing this up that it would be too much in the mouth.

My worries are slowly dissipating. Don’t get me wrong. This tea tastes smoky. There is no getting around that. But there are other flavors there as well. Specifically a sweet malt, and a bright black tea flavor. I’ll state this once again. You need to like smoky teas in order to even consider trying this. If you don’t like smoky teas and you try this, you’re not going to have a good time. But it is a flavorful smoke.

Flavors: Malt, Smoke

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

The name of the game is: How Many Times Can You Say “Smoky”? :D


I know. I almost added something to the effect of “Say smoky one more time…” Or, a nod to Super Troopers with the “Meow” count.

Super Starling!

I warned you! You SAID you liked smoky! YOU DESERVE WHAT YOU GET.


To quote Keith Sweat off of his 1996 album and title song, “You got me ‘Twisted’.” I actually ended up really liking the tea. Finished the pot and everything. I mean, my teapot still smelled like a campfire the next morning WHICH I LOVED! I liked it. That’s all.

Super Starling!

Oh my god you quoted Keith Sweat. Today rocks.


Just for you haha

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I don’t know if my sample got too old really fast or what but I tried brewing this up last night and it didn’t do anything for me. It was thin in color and taste. The taste reminded me of what liquid cardboard might taste like. It wasn’t gag inducing or offensive. It was just… bland and watery. Unfortunate because I really enjoyed everything else from this tea company. Just not this one.

Flavors: Cardboard


I’ve also been unimpressed with this tea. Sad when that happens!


Yeah, I was really surprised because, as I mentioned, I really enjoyed everything else from them that I have tried. Can’t win em all, I suppose.

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drank Coconut Assam by Zhi Tea
258 tasting notes

This is a pretty solid, if not remarkable, tea. All the elements are there. A nice coconut flavor. The Assam gives it a good background to work with. The bitterness factor is low to none if you steep it correctly. I bet I could make this really pop with a splash of some coconut coffee creamer. I can almost hear some of you gasping and clutching at your pearls. I get it. I often like my tea unadulterated as well. I could make an exception for this tea though.

Flavors: Coconut, Malt

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 15 sec 4 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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drank Pineapple Bacon Rooibos by 52teas
258 tasting notes

Thanks to SuperStarling! for this sample.

So, uh. Whoa. This tea. The smell is that meaty smokiness of bacon bits with a hint of pineapple. It didn’t completely put me off but it did make me pause to wonder what I would actually drink as long as someone called it tea.

I brewed this up and let it cool for a few minutes, per package suggestions. The scent mellows a little. The flavor isn’t quite as strong of bacon (facon) as I anticipated. There is actually more pineapple flavor than I expected. Having said that, I’m not sure if it would be better or worse to be just straight up bacon. I’m very confused by all of this. I don’t like it really but I don’t HATE it. I actually think the execution of pineapple bacon was decently done considering it is tea… but I guess it just isn’t for me? I am actually getting that familiar tangy bite-y tingle from the pineapple’s bromelain so that is interesting.

To recap, slightly smokey bacon on the back end, pineapple on the front end. Overall, not for me. I thought I would enjoy it since I like bacon and pineapple pizza but let’s face it. Tea and pizza are like polar opposite mediums for pineapple and bacon.

Also, I’m surprised bacon isn’t a pre-existing flavor profile that we are able to choose. Is it weird that I am surprised that isn’t an option? I probably should be surprised if it WERE an option. This tea has me not knowing what to believe anymore.

Flavors: Meat, Pineapple, Smoked

195 °F / 90 °C 7 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML
Super Starling!

I love how part of our friendship is me going “this tea is really weird. Put it in your face and report back.”


Haha. The tea equivalent of “This smells awful. Smell it.”

Super Starling!

I have a little brother; this is the only way I know how to be.


I just do it because I like people sharing in my misery. Not that this was misery but.. you get it.

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drank Vanilla Black by Harney & Sons
258 tasting notes

Thanks to SuperStarling! for this tea sample. You are the best (tea) friend ever.

I am brewing this up after a quick morning trip to a local farmers market. We needed to stock up on some essential groceries (bread, milk, fruit, ect). And I did that. But then, on my way out, I saw these huge potted mums of all colors. Big triumphant bastards. Like, they come up to my waste (I"m 5’9" so that is semi impressive. For the flowers, not me) and are wide enough to hide a small child or two toddlers. I bought 4 of them. I like them. My wife loves them. She’ll squeal with delight. Win win.

Back to this tea. This smells nice kind of like a vanilla cupcake. The package says to brew it for 4-5 minutes. Whoa there black tea. I’ve been burned enough times to know that when you creep into the 4 minute territory, you’re gonna have a bad time. Bitterness comes out to play and that isn’t fun for anyone. So I let it go for about 3:30 as a compromise.

Well, I probably could have let it go 4 minutes. As is, it is a nice vanilla black tea with no hint of astringency or bitterness. The vanilla plays in nicely. The mouthfeel is a little thin but it doesn’t really take away from the tea. And it could also have been my fault for not listening to directions. Either way, this is a really nicely done vanilla black tea. It is something one could sip on and not have to think about it too much.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Cake, Vanilla

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Super Starling!

I’m a Black Tea Spaz. I totally throw it in my gravity steeper and forget all about it until 5-10 minutes later. Usually this doesn’t seem to bite me in the ass. I’m not sure why not. Perhaps I’m #blessed.


I get really sad when my teas go bitter. I’ve had it happen far too often with blacks and greens so now I’m super on top of steep times.

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drank Ginger Lime Rooibos by Rishi Tea
258 tasting notes

Thank you to rosebudmelissa for this sample (and really the whole box of samples she sent me. I told her I enjoyed ginger and she really delivered!).

I have been getting a little more into herbal teas lately. I was diagnosed with IBS (along with my ulcerative colitis) this summer and caffeine is kicking me double time. It used to be when my UC was in remission, I could have caffeine with relatively few side effects. Now, with IBS, even when my UC is in remission, caffeine still can affect my tummy. SO, even though I prefer my dark, roasty teas, lately I will alternate in a ginger type herbal tea so as to limit my caffeine consumption. It’s really unfortunate but what are ya gonna do?

This tea is very pleasant. The ginger is there throughout the sip but not in an overpowering way (though, that is subjective since I am a ginger freak. What seems mild to me is probably strong to some others). The lime also gives it a pleasant citrus tang in the middle of the sip. There is a nice throat coating that kind of reminds me of licorice (I guess I should have read all the ingredients first to know if licorice is actually in here) but doesn’t have a noticeable licorice taste.

Overall, this is a tea I could drink often, especially when I need to give my stomach a break.

Flavors: Ginger, Licorice, Lime

Boiling 4 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Michigander, Husband, father of three, lover of tea, books, nature, gardening, and passion. Stay at home dad currently. Previously a preschool teacher.

I have now completed some tea swaps and I am so totally up for swapping! What a cool way to connect with fellow tea lovers and try some new teas. My tea cupboard on here is woefully out of date though.

Black tea has been my go to tea for some time. Oolongs are good too but mainly roasty oolongs. I’m finding that there are some green and white teas (mostly Moonlight Whites) that impress me lately which they never used to do. I am getting into and developing a taste for Pu-erh. I have tried raw and my Ulcerative Colitis just can’t handle the roughness of it. So I stick to ripe Puerh. I am recently drinking more herbal tea or Rooibos especially STRONG ginger blends. I’m not too picky.

Some of my favorite places from which to purchase tea are Whispering Pines Tea Co, Verdant, A Quarter to Tea, Beautiful Taiwan Tea Co, Bitterleaf Tea, and Yunnan Sourcing.

Rating system:
90-100: Some of the best I’ve ever had. I’d be a fool not to keep it stocked as often as possible
80-89: A damn good tea. Not to be missed
70-79: A good tea but lacks the wow factor. More than likely a simple tea that could be an every day option
60-69: Eh. This is okay. Not swill by any means but fairly underwhelming.
50-59: Not really doing it for me. I’ll finish it but please don’t bring me any more.
Below 50: Life is too short to waste on things such as this


Lansing, Michigan

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