412 Tasting Notes


It’s pumpkin season! When I opened the packet it smelled like a very spicy pumpkin pie – lots of cinnamon and clove, maybe a little pumpkin. I prepared it hot this morning, planning to add milk and turn it into the latte, but have been drinking it straight so far. I really like the level of spice and don’t want to mute it, and there’s zero bitterness to begin with. I spoiled myself with my experiments, so I have the royal matcha base – bright green, richly sweet.

I get more of the pumpkin in the taste than I did in the smell of the dry matcha – it’s a little tangy, a little sweet, a little earthy. The blend of flavor and green tea is a little strange this time: they’re both very good individually, but the whole is just the sum of those parts, no more. It’s a little like green chai, actually.

I got distracted and let this sit for awhile, so now it’s cold and stronger, so I’m adding a little milk. The creaminess is a nice addition – less like chai, more like pie! It would probably be really good with a little sweetener, but I didn’t think of it until just now – even with flavored matcha lattes, it still seems weird to sweeten green tea :P

Overall this is very good, I would definitely recommend, and you can buy for yourself here: http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/pumpkin-pie-matcha.html I got the delicate flavoring, which is fine for me, but if you really like pumpkin I’d go higher :)

175 °F / 79 °C

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Drinking this again today, probably my favorite of the 5 Nature’s Tea Leaf teas I got to try. Something about the interaction of the pu’erh and flowers just keeps tasting spicy to me! I’ve resteeped this a couple of times today; it’s a great choice for a rough day as it’s very forgiving of different steep times and temps, re-steeps several times, and the pu’erh gives me a good non-jittery energy kick.

But drinking this reminds me – as a thank you for reviewing, Nature’s Tea Leaf gave me a shareable coupon for 10% off! Feel free to use STEEPTY10OFF if you’re thinking of buying something! It expires at the end of October.

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 15 sec

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drank Slimming Tea by Nature's Tea Leaf
412 tasting notes

I’ve had this one a couple of times now, because I wasn’t quite sure how to describe it after the first. Very floral, very mild – I can barely taste the pu’erh – but the flavor depends quite a bit on which particular flowers make it into your teaspoon! The first time I tried it, it smelled like chamomile but tasted mostly of lemon and mint. This time it still smells like chamomile (or rather, Chrysanthemum I suppose), but tastes more like hibiscus with a hint of rosemary. The color of the liquor is a lovely pale orange, and the dry leaf is goreous, between the lemon, rose, jasmine, Chrysanthemum, and everything else – all different colors and textures.

I found the steeping instructions on the website (2tsp, 185 degree water, 2 minutes) worked better than the ones on the bag (1tsp, 202 degree water, 1 minute); the flowers are way too fluffy for 1tsp to do much, and the flavor came out better with a longer steep time.

I couldn’t help comparing this one to the Nature’s Bloom Pu-erh, since the composition is quite similar. I liked that one much better for having a stronger flavor, and more of the flowers I like (rose, jasmine) than those I don’t (hibiscus, Chrysanthemum).

I’ll probably be putting up a swap soon for this and a few other things that haven’t suited me, so if this sounds up your alley comment here or watch the swaps thread :)

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec

Would love to swap if you have extra!

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drank Chance Combinations by Custom
412 tasting notes

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I rediscovered this at the back of a cupboard yesterday and was chagrined to see that it’s more than half full – the bunny has been neglected. But when I checked the steeping instructions I remembered why I set this tea aside: it confused me! 7 minutes with almost boiling water for a white tea? That seemed too complicated, so I decided to just try it Dragonwell style – tossing a couple tsp of leaves in the bottom of the mug, fill with hot but not boiling water, top up whenever the water gets low – and that’s working quite well so far. The liquor is a rich dark honey color, more like a light roasted oolong than a white tea. The flavors are also a bit roasty, as well as floral. It’s not getting bitter, but it is a little astringent. Hopefully this will be a nice & easygoing tea to last me through the day.

Ohhh, hello caffeine. Funny how it just hits me with some teas lately.

ETA: This did last quite well – I’d say I’ve refilled the mug about 6 times today, and it still tastes like tea, not just hot water _

190 °F / 87 °C 8 min or more

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Rich bagged tea, almost breakfast all on its own with some milk and honey. I’ve been keeping a box of this at the office for those mornings when I’m too bleary to think about making a nice loose-leaf cup

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drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
412 tasting notes

Drinking the last of this today – I got a half ounce in the black tea sampler – and sad to see it go. I had a bit over a teaspoon left, so I brewed it somewhere between western and gongfu styles: I put all the leaf in my tiniest post (about 3.5 oz) and let it steep just long enough to develop some good color, around 30 seconds as it turned out. Two steeps like that made a good mug-full, and I’m hoping to get at least another 2 or three steeps out of it.

The flavor is delicious as ever, creamy and chocolatey in a way that you just don’t usually see in a black tea. Yum yum yum, I probably need to buy more of this once it’s in stock again. In the meantime, I still have Laoshan Chai and Bergamot Rose Black to keep me company _

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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I discovered this when I moved to Boston and went to a vegan cafe that sold no coffee because they didn’t want to compete with the independent coffee shop next door; they served Dandy Blend instead. I tried it with almond milk and I was hooked! It’s an instant herbal tea, essentially, that naturally tastes and feels very similar to coffee. It is a little milder – there’s no real bitterness – but prepared hot with milk, the feeling is “yep, that’s a latte.”

I found a store that sells the powder, and have been drinking it at home ever since. Two things to love beyond the fact that it’s delicious: it’s completely caffeine free, and instant. It’s made from the water-soluble parts of several plants (dandelion, chicory, a couple more) so it actually dissolves in water (unlike matcha, which is technically a suspension, and that’s why you have to work so hard to get it to whisk into the water).

One of my favorite ways to prepare this is instant chai: a shake of ground cinnamon and nutmeg, a teaspoon of dandy, and it’s ready to go! Hot or cold. I also like to stir fancy local honeys into it – with a little less powder, the flavor of the dandy blend is mild enough to let the taste the honey shine.

Anyway, it was long past time that I start logging this. I’ve gone through a full 7oz over the last few months and just bought another bag (at $12 for a bag with ~100 servings, it’s pretty economical too). I drink it whenever I’m craving strong tea late in the day, but don’t want the caffeine, and to experiment with crazy flavored drinks.

Highly recommended!

175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 15 sec

This sounds really intriguing!

Daisy Chubb

Wow I’m also intrigued!


Maybe I should get some samples to send out :)

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Some notes on ratings:

I’d have separate rating scales for tea types if that were possible (probably Black, Flavored Black, Darjeeling/Dark Oolong, White/Green/Light Oolong, and Herbal) because the flavors and quality markers are just too different. A flavored black rated 100 isn’t better than every oolong I’ve ever drunk, just delicious for a flavored black.

Ratings are a combination of my enjoyment and the perceived quality – I do often demote teas a few points for artificial flavorings, small quantity of steeps supported, or weakness of flavor (requiring extra leaf).

I pay less attention to the number than the order of my ratings; I don’t necessarily keep a stock of everything rated 80+, but if two breakfast blends are rated 82 and 84 I consistently enjoy the 84 more.

And in case it’s not obvious? I am not an expert. I don’t even know what I like until I taste it sometimes, but I’m ok with that :) I like learning to like new teas, as well as enjoying the comfort of familiar ones.


Boston, MA



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