103 Tasting Notes


I’m out of practice thinking about the way tea tastes. My version of tea drinking has become bagged tea thrown in a mug of boiling water, picked up off the counter after an uncertain amount of time. I think of the caffeine boost tea will give my energy rather than the flavors of it. How to go about picking up the cycle of thinking and writing and tea drinking all while raising toddlers?
I enjoyed this tea, but the beginning of the cup – enjoyed with a pastry – was much different than the few bitter sips remaining at the end.

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My tea drinking and coffee drinking habits follow inverse wave patterns. When one is up, the other goes down. Since discovering cold brew coffee – with all its ease and practicality – I admit that my tea drinking has fallen off. A bagged tea is all I can manage these days.
This, as a tea taken on its own, was uninspiring. I paid attention to it only long enough to notice a mild astringency and its scalding temperature. Hot tea is not for Houston’s sweltering summers. Yet, the variety back the tea came in delights me. So many choices for one little box! I can reach my hand in and end up with something as diverse as a citrus tisane or a chocolate pu-er. The pleasure here lies in the surprise – I imagine one akin to Bertie Bott’s – rather in the individual packet selected.

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Sadness! I hate sipping down the last of a favorite tea I’d like to keep in my cupboard forever. I’ve had terrible experiences reordering beloved teas: my second order of Mount Gray from Andrews & Dunham is flat, and a new Ailaoshan Black from Whispering Pines lacks the breathiness of that first package. Though you can reorder a tea with the same name from the same company, it will likely never taste the same again. Once a specific tea is gone, it’s gone forever. The only way to relive it is through memories and writing. Though I suppose that’s what we prize in tea- its ability to make us savor the fleatingness of the moment.

This Keemun is bold and bright. A perfect cup when coffee seems too rich and the rest of the tea world too weak. Hopefully I will meet with another like it again.

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 30 sec 5 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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Fruity, chocolaty. Coats whole mouth with a warm sweetness. Cup gone way too soon.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 4 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Caramel Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
103 tasting notes

Looking back, I realize that deciding to get Red Leaf’s sampler pack of flavored matcha was an impulsive decision based on a few pleasant-sounding steepster reviews. Had I taken a moment to reflect, I would have remembered that I don’t like flavored teas! The only flavors I’ll usually allow in my tea include Jasmine, spices in a chai, bergamot in Earl Grey. I don’t even take milk or sugar.
That being said, my reaction to this tea (especially in comparison to the heavenly Rishi Matcha latte I had the other day) is predictably negative. While I can actually taste some green tea through the fake caramel, what ruins this tea for me is the grittiness of the matcha and the strange chemical taste lingering in the background.

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I kept this one around for a while before building up the courage to try it. On the first attempt (whisked matcha into hot water), I couldn’t escape the greenness. No matter where I looked: bitter green tea.
This time, I took the advice of many matcha lovers and made a matcha latte with unsweetened soymilk. Lovely! Instead of an unmovable wall of green flavor, the soy allowed the sweetness and nuttiness to come to the surface.
Now that I have discovered what all the fuss is about, I envision many matcha lattes in my near and far futures.

205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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This is a bagged Grey that definitely packs a punch. I hate earl greys that taste mostly like black tea, with only the slight promise of bergamot at the back of the mouth. This one hits you with the lavender and orange right up front – excellent for waking up a sleepy brain on a dreary, windy day.

Flavors: Bergamot, Lavender

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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I wish that Verdant made a Dash button for Laoshan Black. I could care less about reordering Tide from Amazon, but running out of Laoshan black is devastating.

This button would have been super helpful now that Verdant has expanded the selection of Laoshan black teas. First picking, autumn picking, gongfu black. Which is is the plain, old Laoshan Black?
I bet on ‘1st picking’, with the vague sense of 1st pickings being extraordinarily good, relating to first prizes and so forth, but hedged the bet by getting a small quantity of the others as well. Unfortunately, the autumn picking was the right one; the 1st picking merely promises the strong flavors of the autumn laoshan without delivering.
Now, after I make a cup of this, I feel perfectly tempted and prepped for the real thing. Yet, I wouldn’t say that this type of teasing is quite the quality I seek in a tea.

Flavors: Chocolate

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank St. Petersburg by Kusmi Tea
103 tasting notes

This tea is so well rounded, I can’t find edges of flavors to define. There may be some vanilla, but it blends so seamlessly into the subtle spicy notes that I can’t quite be sure. I prefer my teas to have more bite, but this one would do to fit a somber mood.

Flavors: Spices, Vanilla

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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As an ex-smoker (although never a fully committed one) – this is the tea that I’ve been waiting for. The tea that replicates that part of smoking which makes me linger, inhaling, when I spot someone on a cigarette break. Of course, it doesn’t capture the chemical sting – but no one really cares for that part anyway.

to be clear, this is Andrews and Dunham’s Caravan Resurrected, for which I didn’t see a record

Flavors: Smoke, Sweet

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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A devoted tea drinker and reader who often enjoys the two together.


Salt Lake City, UT



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