201 Tasting Notes


I couldn’t remember if I had reviewed this, and when I saw I did, i reread my tasting note. It basically boils down to “I lost it, I found it, I drank it, it was too mild for my liking.”

Well, surprise surprise, that is almost exactly what happened a second time. I did lose it again, and I did re-discover it, and of course I tried it again. However, maybe it’s the refining of my palate in the past year but despite brewing this the exact same way as last time, and the tea being a year older, I like it much more. It’s still a very mild tea, but I appreciate it far greater than before. The same profile is present. Vegetal, fruity, a touch floral, lingering sweetness. However, it’s no longer “too weak” for me. Instead, I find myself enjoying the subtleties of it. The flavors blend pretty nicely and for a good-night cuppa before bed, it hits the spot.

So upping my rating on this. I really think a year ago, when I started my tea journey, I simply couldn’t appreciate a tea that didn’t smash you in the face with flavor. I still tend to go for those face smashers, but I have much more range these days.

Flavors: Fruity, Peach, Sweet, Vegetal

180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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This was a free sample that came with my Adagio order.

Anyway, I am loving the maple flavor on this. It tastes like a good strong maple syrup. Mind you, I added a single Splenda to it, but I did so because I felt it might help bring out the maple flavor. It did. It’s a maple syrup flavor with a hint of creaminess. There’s also a touch of cinnamon, and that is what lingers on after the sip. I don’t mind the cinnamon, but it is a bit weird. I don’t usually associate cinnamon with maple.

It’s pretty good. Not great, but good. I’d say B -

Flavors: Cinnamon, Cream, Maple, Maple Syrup

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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Attempt #2.

It’s better than the Raspberry Chamomile by far. This one is actually drinkable. But it isn’t remotely good. Certainly not great. I don’t usually mind fake peach flavoring, and hibi is ok in small quantities. But perhaps it’s because those two things are combined here that it isn’t the best? I know it claims there are no artificial flavorings here, but I call bupkiss. This still has a strong artificial taste to it. If I squint hard enough, and swallow quickly, it’s almost enjoyable. Almost.

Overall, it’s much much better than the last one, but still not good. Pretty below average, actually. Can’t recommend.

Flavors: Artificial, Hibiscus, Peach

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So I decided to try out a handful of various Pure Leaf iced tea blends. This was the first I tried.

And sweet mother of tea that’s WRETCHED!

No really, the overpowering, fake raspberry is so strong, I can’t imagine how anyone could drink this. I love me some good chamomile, but anything resembling it is drowned in cheap perfume. I took two sips and threw out the rest of the bottle.

Worst bottled tea I’ve ever had. Blech.

Flavors: Artificial, Perfume

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Hey Teamail!

My Adagio order was on my doorstep when I woke up today, so I immediately brewed up a mug of this. I am a bit iffy on the brewing instructions, as it said to use boiling water, and there is Silver Needle in this. But, for scientific purposes, we will do it their way first.

Brewed western, 212F/1.5tsp/12oz/4min

Taste is… oooch, let that cool why don’t you! Ok, this has a strong black tea taste with flavors of malt, tannin, and a hint of leather. However, I can also taste the silver needle, giving it a fruity flavor, with notes of melon. It kinda does taste like cereal! But you know what this reminds me of more? If sort of reminds me of that one W2T cake Hot Brandy. Considering that that tea was also a blend of black/white tea, I’m not surprised. Obviously, the W2T tea is much more complex and flavorful, but this stuff is really good as well. The flavor profiles somehow do mesh together well, and I wonder how much caffeine this stuff has. It’d probably be a great wake-up tea for cold mornings like today.

Overall, what do I think? Well, I love it. The different base elements blend together into a lovely cuppa that is both malty and floral. I’m glad I got the big tin of this, not just for presentation effect, but so that I can drink this without hesitation until I can get more. I think I would like to keep this one around. It’s really good.

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksHXRKW0pW0

Flavors: Floral, Malt, Melon, Tannin

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 12 OZ / 354 ML

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I love this. I love it a lot. And there’s none left on the site. Being a honeybush, this is a one and done steep, which means that I will only likely get a handful of cups out of this. I’m not sure how many pouches I have (Really got to get on that spreadsheet!) but I will be so sad when I run out of this.

It tastes like if you took a ripe strawberry, dipped it in nutella, then drizzled honey overtop. Mind you, that is with a single splenda added, but it’s also pretty good unsweetened. But add that little bit of sugar and wow does this pop.

I need ten more packets of this. At least ten more. Maybe twenty. I want to drink this all the time.


Flavors: Hazelnut, Honey, Strawberry

195 °F / 90 °C 8 min or more 12 OZ / 354 ML

This is a lot of people’s favorite honeybush that I’ve created – so I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t earn enough votes to make it on this year’s holiday box. (every year since I first blended it, it has received a good number of votes, last year, it won the most votes of any other tea.)

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This is like drinking peach cobbler ala mode. It’s wonderful. Sadly it’s pretty close to a one steep tea. The second steep is very weak, even with upping the time.

The flavors play nicely against the green base, and you get notes of spice, apricot/peach, and cream. Very tasty.

I just wish it wasn’t one and done.

Flavors: Apricot, Cream, Spices

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 12 OZ / 354 ML

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drank Zen by Tazo
201 tasting notes

Apparently I have a full box of this and not just a sample? I really need to make a spreadsheet!

Anyway, this is a green tea with lemon verbena that leans far more lemon than green. It isn’t a tart lemon, mind you. It’s a nice, pleasant lemongrass flavor. You can taste a little bit of the green; there’s a note of warm hay there that I like. I feel like a broken record here by saying it’s good for bagged, but that’s what I keep having to say. There are far nicer green teas out there with much more complex profiles. But if you are first waking up and need a quick pick-me-up, this works.

Flavors: Hay, Lemongrass

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 12 OZ / 354 ML

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drank Earl Grey by Bigelow
201 tasting notes

So, I’ve been drinking this for weeks now and never logged it. OOPS.

Anyway, as I said in the so-called Steep deluxe version review, this is a pretty decent bagged EG. And by that I mean, it’s good for being bagged. The more bagged EGs I try, the more I realize they will never stand up to loose leaf. But this one and the Teavana EG Cream are probably the best, with the Teavana being the only one that I can call comparable to loose leaf.

As for this, however, it’s a nice punch of Bergamot, without being bitey. I love that. With a splash of milk and a single Splenda, this is a nice wake-up brew for when you need something quick and easy. It should be noted that, even with the milk and Splenda, I can still (slightly) taste the tea base, so that’s nice. All in all, I enjoy this a bunch. It’s good for bagged, and above-average overall. I have about half a box left, and then I will likely get more. Yum.

Flavors: Bergamot, Tea

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 10 OZ / 295 ML

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We have Gong Fu. I repeat, we have Gong Fu!

Yes, you read that right. I’m trying it again. I came into acquisition of some small cups designed, not necessarily for Gong Fu, but for a more relaxed and gentle tea session. They are I’d say about 4-6 oz cups, and now that I have them (well, one) I am trying Gong Fu again.

I’m not exactly being scientific about this, just sort of mimicking what I see on all those youtube videos.

Anyway, after a quick rinse, I steeped for about 5 seconds. BTW: The leaves in the gaiwan smell like sweet potatoes and hay. I don’t like sweet potatoes. We’ll see how this goes.

It was very strong at first. A bit too robust for me. I tasted malt and leather, but a good deal of harsh tannin as well. As the session progressed, the tea mellowed out, turning smooth with cocoa and yes, sweet potato notes. However, I didn’t hate it. Those sweet potato tones shifted to apricot on the final two steeps, leaving a lingering sweetness in my mouth once the session was over. Overall, once the tea softened a bit, I found myself enjoying it! It’s not bad fixed this way. In fact, it’s pretty darn good! According to steepster, my original rating was 82, but I somewhat remember not liking this tea, so that 82 might have been before I stopped rating everything high, regardless of if I liked it or not. There’s no tasting note that I can find, so I have no idea.

As for the experience, I was almost sad when the session was concluded. I got a good seven or eight steeps from this ranging from the initial 5 seconds to about 2 minutes. I will say that one problem with gong-fu for me is that my Breville doesn’t possess a keep warm feature, so I can’t keep the temperature consistent, and I certainly don’t want to re-heat the water. Once I get that new kettle (hopefully next month) and I redo my kitchen, I may invest in a proper full gong-fu tea set. Nothing fancy, just something a bit more extensive than a single gaiwan and a teacup. I do think I would like a small teapot at least to go with it, and actual gong-fu cups. The small teacup, while nice, was still way too big for what I was putting in it!

So, my final thoughts. Well, guess what. I think I’m going to break my habit. I now see that gong-fu can greatly improve the texture/flavor of good quality tea. So hopefully, in the near future, I can try this again. Maybe I can acquire a nice Wuyi to try it with.

Showtune of the Moment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8n7X-st2QPc

Flavors: Apricot, Leather, Malt, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Tannin

185 °F / 85 °C 5 g
Martin Bednář

Yay! I am happy you have tried gong-fu again and liked it! Trust me, you need actually just gaiwan, tea cup and thermos. At least I keep it this way and the thermos keeps the water hot all the steeping.

And the tea? Sounds pretty nice as well.


Hooray! Have you seen the video by teahouse ghost? It is a great series for preparing tea. So glad you had a fun gong fu, the first of many, I hope!

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HELLO! My name is Shanie and I love tea!

While I have always loved various types of tea, for a very long time it came exclusively from a grocery store. It’s only been a year or so now that I’ve gotten into loose leaf. As such, there will likely be tasting notes I do for bagged tea as well as good quality (and not so good quality) loose leaf teas. I’m still learning as I go so have patience please!

Right now, I am on a massive Earl Grey kick. So if a ton of my notes are just various varieties of EG, that’s why!

Some of my favorite flavors include: Cocoa, Malt, Bread, Honey, Earthy, Sweet Citrus, Caramel, Apple, Spices, and Cinnamon.

Some flavors I don’t like: Licorice, Coconut, Bitey Citrus (like Citric Acid), Licorice, Sour, Smoke, Overpowering Fake Vanilla, Stevia, and did I mention Licorice?

NOTE: I am Type 2 Diabetic. As such, I can really not have sugar added to tea without suffering problems. This prohibits me from using either plain sugar or honey. Instead, I use Splenda as I found my system can handle it well and I like the flavor. I try to avoid stevia as I’ve found it often ruins the flavor of tea. However, not all teas require sweetener, and some are better without. Because of this, if I add sweetener to a tea, I will mention it in the tasting note and say what kind and how much. Usually, I sweeten flavored and herbal teas but leave true teas unsweetened. There are exceptions, but this is a general rule of thumb to go by.

Almost all of the tea I brew is western style. I occasionally do grandpa, but pretty much never Gong-fu. I do own a Gaiwan, but it never gets used. Considering I don’t have a “sip setting” when it comes to beverages, it’s really hard for me to get into any sized amount less than 8oz at a time. I know that probably makes me a tea-heathen, but so be it. I like my mugs.

I have decided to try and make a scale for my ratings. So here goes.

As of January 2020.

100-91: These are my go-to favorites. I will likely go out of my way to always keep these on hand, including going on third party websites to obtain out of season.
90-81: This is a tea I really did enjoy, and I will likely purchase again. However, I wouldn’t go to the ends of the earth for it, and it isn’t my all-time favorite.
80-71 This is a tea that, while I may have somewhat enjoyed, something is holding me back from making it a mainstay. Maybe the flavor profile isn’t the best. Maybe there is an offputting aftertaste. It varies. But while I did like it and will continue to drink it, I don’t absolutely need it in my life, and while I will likely finish what I have, I may or may not get more.
70-61: This is a tea which I drank, but I didn’t like it. However, I didn’t hate it either. It wasn’t bad enough to dump, and if it is the only thing available to drink, I would likely drink it instead of plain water. But in the end, this is just not my literal cup of tea and I will likely not get this again.
60-51: This is something that I didn’t like much at all, but for one reason or another, refused to dump. If I squint hard enough and use my imagination, I can almost BS myself into thinking they are decent, and I suppose I can choke it down and not waste it. These are teas that I will not be buying again, and may not even finish what I have.
50-41: Yeah, whatever this is, I there’s a good chance I dumped it. At this level, it’s pretty bad stuff with either weak flavor, nasty flavor, or all the wrong flavors, It has few redeeming qualities, and I likely won’t reach for this one again. On the bright side, it isn’t sewage water, so there’s that.
40-31. On it’s best day this tea has no redeeming qualities. This not only got dumped but the package it came in either got thrown away, traded, or shoved to the back of the cupboard to never be touched again. Not the worst thing I’ve ever tasted, but darn sure close.
30-Under: The worst thing I’ve ever tasted. This not only has no redeeming qualities, but it is gag-inducing. “Teas” in this range are so bad I not only will never drink them again, I really don’t feel like offloading them onto anyone else because they are just that bad. Actual sewage water.


Pennsylvania, US

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