434 Tasting Notes

2018 Pick.

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down with this tea. First three steeps at 15 seconds. Very floral is my first impression (jasminy), it doesn’t coat the mouth like a heavier tea, the roast is very light, barely there, no puckering or sour notes although it does make me salivate. Having been working with apricot flavouring a lot recently, I realize I get notes of apricot in this; not as juicy as peach, more floral, more light. Not sour, a bit dry.

Fourth steep was 30ish seconds because I was having a conversation, whoops. Tea is noticeably harsher, astringent, but holds up well, floral and a bit like under-ripe sour fruits.

Leaving a breather after that, and I can taste that sort of dull apricot on my tongue as I exhale.

Flavors: Apricot, Floral, Jasmine

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 3 OZ / 90 ML

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drank Hakko Cha by O5 Tea
434 tasting notes

I’ve had this in my cupboard for a while. It’s a weird tea. It’s dark, intriguing, smooth, peaty and fermented like a weirdly fruity shu. The smell is like nothing I’ve ever really smelt in tea before—overripe fruit, maybe?

The tasting notes say ‘oak’ and I get what they mean by that; a drier black tea note, slightly bright, lingers on the back of the tongue. Honey not so much… Three is an overhanging sweetness, definitely more fruity. Not floral. Like the fruit notes of lapsang. Drop fruit? I’m not sure the term.

I gave this one a few steeps (~20-30 seconds) and later steeps felt thicker, raisin/juicy fruits with a subtle sour note. Thirdish steep the overripe fruit sensation was strong; sweet and wine/alcoholic almost when I breathed out. Slurping sort of brought about a more honeyed sensation; not quite floral. Warming.

Flavors: Alcohol, Fruity, Honey, Oak wood, Peat, Pleasantly Sour, Raisins

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

Could it be stone fruit, or baked stone fruit? I love it when a tea has notes like peach cobbler!

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drank Honey Tea by TWG Tea Company
434 tasting notes

This’ one I’ve been coveting for a while, since the Urban Tea Merchant switched over to a ‘TWG Branded’ store. It came with a new lineup of employees, not the regulars I knew, and at first they didn’t have all of the teas in… Later I realized the main manager there just wasn’t fond of serving anyone who didn’t look ‘ritzy’ enough to make a reservation. Bluh. I tried a few times, but he couldn’t be bothered to check (I could physically see the tin labelled ‘Honey’). This time around I was the only one in the story, so got his attention long enough to grab this one (had an odd back-and-forth ‘Honey tea? No.’ ‘Oh, you’re sure?’ ‘Oh, honey tea, yes.’), but wasn’t able to inquire after anything else before being ushered to the till. Welp.

Anyhow—rant over, this smells STRONG, floral, like sweet pollen. The taste is more… waxy. Sweet, but not ‘sweetened’. I assume what honey MIGHT taste like if you stripped away the ‘sweet’. Sort of like… biting into a beeswax candle, almost. Waxy and floral. It’s different, and lives up to the weird hype I was building in my head in anticipation of trying it.

Not the weirdest tea I’ve tried from TWG… Honestly don’t know why more tea companies don’t carry a honey tea? I assume it must be a difficult flavour to source, and get right (I wonder how much like ‘honey’ this would taste with a sweetener added; an experiment to try, although I’m at that point where I straight up dislike sugar in my tea).

Edit: Forgot to add, very reminiscent of DavidsTea’s Wild Honey Matcha. Same flavouring? Feeling like I should buy some and try them together.

Flavors: Floral

2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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I haven’t really been active on Steepster… At all… In years, and I’d like to change that. Both to breathe new life into the site (with the current dwindling numbers), and because now I have a purpose. Mostly just to train myself to get better at describing teas and picking things out (I mean, that’s why most people are on steepster but I degress).

Full disclosure, I recently ended up working for Murchie’s as a tea-taster in their warehouse. So I won’t be rating any Murchie’s teas from here on out (not that I rate many teas on here anyway). I know, a weird sudden career-path switch, considering I graduated with a full degree in geology just last year and am an accredited Junior P. Geo. Maybe one of my own blends will show up on Steepster one day.

The main notes in this are smoke from the lapsang and an underlying vanilla sweetness; it’s definitely there in the smell, and does also come through in the taste, dialing back the smoke a bit. The rose has always been a bit elusive for me in this blend; coming through in the smell of the dry tea the most. I don’t get it much in the taste here. I think it’s drowned out by the smoke and vanilla this time around, but I did also burn my tongue a little bit today.

Flavors: Smoke, Vanilla

Boiling 5 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

Congrats, may the switch from geology to tea prove fruitful and enjoyable for you!


Here’s hoping. So far the only major downside is coming home already ’Tea’d Out’, and unable to enjoy a nice gongfu session until the weekend.

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Smells sweet, borderline peppery, like—I don’t know, chocolate with a side of black pepper chips. The pepperyness manifests as a slightly tanic taste at first sip but then the rest settles out into that smooth sweetness I associate with a lot of Chinese blacks, and that sort of raw cocoa dryness I get with a lot of Yunnans.

Been steeping this one fast and loose in a 60ml gaiwan, ten-twenty seconds give or take.

Few steeps in the smell is more warm spice and vague citrus.

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Well, it was about time I finished off these samples. I tend to stash samples of nice tea because I feel guilty if I don’t spend the “time” on them.

Mostly playing fast and loose with steeps; it’s sweet and leathery on the front of the tongue, aftertaste sort of like peat. Lingering sweetness when you breathe out.

Was brewing it a bit strong, but it mellowed with subsequent steeps; otherwise, I don’t tend to notice a big shift in profile.

Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Leather, Mushrooms, Peat

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There’s this little Ukranian grocer that opened up near my place that I’ve wanted to visit for a while, because their tea section is right up against the window, so I can look in at it. Unfortunately small shops make me nervous so I’ve kind of avoided it. I finally made it in the other day on my way back from another shop, and then I was worried they’d think I was weird for going into a specialty grocer to buy a single box of tea (in my defense most of the teas were entirely in Cyrillic). But strawberries and cream sounds like a good ‘half awake in the morning’ kind of tea.

It SMELLS delicious, like strawberry jam. It’s just a fanning teabag, moderate Ceylon tea base doesn’t overpower the strawberry. Not really getting any ‘cream’ in the taste, although there’s an extra sweetness in the smell that might be it.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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drank Sun Moon Black by DAVIDsTEA
434 tasting notes

I don’t tend to get the “menthol” description some people give to Sun Moon blacks, but I think I might be getting it in this one. Second time sipping this particular tea, this time gongfu. Made it western in a mug the first time, but it was a bit too much like a strong assam.

First steep (~5-10 seconds, playing it a bit loose) was faintly dry and fruity.
Second steep (same) more menthol, but overall reminded me more of fruit leather. Drying and tangy.
Third steep: menthol; wouldn’t describe it as mint, more like a weird tip of the tongue taste that reminds me a bit of mouthwash.
Fourth: The fruity flavours have pretty much disappeared; it’s menthol/mouthwashy, slightly astringent on the tongue.

Flavors: Dried Fruit, Menthol


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drank Matcha Ice Cream by DAVIDsTEA
434 tasting notes

I once sat through a tabletop game (Shadowrun) eating a small tub of matcha icecream all to myself. …The taste isn’t actually too far off.

There’s a swirl of powdery matcha that comes off the tea and goes right through your strainer, as expected. The almond slivers and sugar really add to the vanilla icecream base, and the matcha is a nice, sweet, very ‘cooking matcha’ texture.

I picked up a bag of this after someone from my gaming group shared their stash with me. Pretty nice hot, but when I forgot it for a few hours and started sipping it again it isn’t too bad cold, either. Could make for an interesting iced tea… You’d have to shake it each time, though.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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drank Sticky Rice Oolong by DAVIDsTEA
434 tasting notes

When I was growing up, my mom used to make plain stickyrice as a side to almost every meal. I’ll admit right now that I hated it; it was bland and unappetizing and when you had it almost every day well. That said, I really wanted to try this tea anyways; see how it stacked up in comparison.

Dry, it just smelt a bit like an artificial milk oolong. /Brewed/ though. Yup, that’s sticky rice. The aroma and even the taste, light, sweet, vaguely pudding-like. As an oolong, it’s an interesting and different experience, but dang if it doesn’t give me nostalgia vibes. I hated the rice because it was always a big scoop of gelatinous filler, but this was a nice treat to try anyhow.

While it was still hot, you could make out the light vegetal oolong, but as it cooled the rice dominated.

Steep two (done several hours later) smells just of strongly (if not stronger) of white rice. As it cools, the taste is coming through just as strongly.

Flavors: Rice Pudding

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Disclaimer: I work for Murchie’s Tea and Coffee as a taster and blender. I will avoid putting any ratings on teas from them from here on out.

A tea-drinking transgendered Canadian, currently in their last year of university, majoring in geology (yes, “rocks and things”). I take most of my tea made straight into a mug, although occasionally if I’m not in a hurry (this isn’t often), I’ll have time to sit down with a pot or gaiwan. It’s the highlight of a good day.

My notes are pretty disjointed because I’m absent-minded, and I also keep a teatra.de blog for reviewing and rambling about tea books/publications.

I’m a Doctor Who fanatic (Jon Pertwee, if you were wondering).

“But you should never turn down tea, when it’s offered. It’s impolite, and impoliteness is how wars start.” ~Eighth Doctor, Paul McGann





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