2577 Tasting Notes

drank Kaminknistern by Sonnentor
2577 tasting notes

I drank this one with supper and I wish now I had tried it by itself so I would have better notes on it. We had a tomato based tortellini soup and the flavors were pretty strong and I am afraid they drowned out some of the flavor of this tea.

The name means “fireplace crackle”. One might expect a lapsang for that! But they went for cozy factor instead. Rose hips, apple, hibiscus, apple, orange peel, Ceylon cinnamon, and essential oils of orange and vanilla. Those last two are flavors I adore, especially together! But mostly I got the tartness of rosehips and hibiscus and oddly enough I thought I kept tasting black pepper and didn’t realize it wasn’t in there until I had finished the cup and checked the ingredient list! I think the food was drowning out the flavors and the hibby poked a stick in my tongue and the tartness came across as pepper.

Not bad at all, not nearly as tart as most rosehip and hibby tea, just kind of fruity spicy. I wish I had tasted more orange and vanilla, but that’s my fault for having it with supper.

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drank Gute Laune by Sonnentor
2577 tasting notes

I think my neighbor across the street probably heard my gasp when I opened the mailbox today, for inside was a package from Martin, plump with tea! It is the Sonnentor Advent Tea Calendar! Martin was able to send the box it came in flat, and I reconstructed it back to its original condition and packed the teas in! Wow, thank you, Martin! It was a complete surprise!

Since today is December 2nd, I decided to play catch up and drink two of these today. Gute Laune means good mood in German, and this tea is easy going and easy to drink.

I can’t say any one thing stood about it, except the utter lack of hibiscus and licorice root, which seems to be everywhere when you buy herbals. I agree with Martin that the apple mint does not really add a minty flavor. This tea was overall mild, easy to drink, pleasant enough, but no single flavor stood out to me. Just herbaceous and pleasant.

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drank Breakfast Blend by Fortnum & Mason
2577 tasting notes

Advent Day One

I am not a fan of many breakfast blends. I drink my tea plain but with this one I can’t. I really needed sugar and milk to make it palatable for me.

Coffee lovers and lovers of British style breakfast blends will probably like it. It is so malty and has the sharp coppery taste plus astringency that keep me from really enjoying it.
It steeps dark and it steeps fast. Maybe I can find a happy spot to make me like it, or something else to blend it with, or maybe it will become a sweet iced tea, but I can’t see this 25 grams going down this way.


It’s made me smile reading all the reviews of straight-up, boot-you-from-behind black teas I’m reading today!

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drank Pearls of Jade by Silk Road Teas
2577 tasting notes

My toes were cold so I made miso soup for lunch, which made my toes colder because I ran outside barefoot to pick greens and chives for the soup. With miso soup, I always try to have green tea, although if it is a red miso I will do oolong.

I was feeling ashamed of myself for opening so many new teas (and for buying new teas) so I decided to finish this sample of Pearls of Jade. It is a green tea but based on appearance I would thought it was an oolong.

Sometimes I fail pretty spectacularly at multi-tasking. I was trying to make the soup, make the tea, and prepare omelettes with turmeric and thyme for the dogs at the same time, and without thinking I dumped the remains of the sample into my Kamjove. (Sam is having allergy issues again. Thus the turmeric.)

Fortunately, I did steep for the right amount of time at the right temperature. I didn’t even think about how much leaf I used until after the meal.

During the meal, the first sip was KAPOW cinnamon. I wondered if I had made a Christmas tea in this basket but I could swear I haven’t. It was really good. It was after the soup was gone that I noticed the tea was super strong. And then I realized I had used almost enough for a whole pot in a little Kamjove. Good thing I had resteeped and combined or this could have been too much.

As it is, I have a nicely brisk green tea that is making me feel a little more energized. My tongue is tingly, there is a little sharpness to the last bit of tea, but nothing unpleasant. I think if I had leafed it correctly it would far less brisk. I am getting some lovely floral aromas from the cup.

This tea is at minimum three years old and probably older, so I would say it must have at quality to hold up so well. But I expect that from Silk Road.

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drank Smoky Earl Grey by Fortnum & Mason
2577 tasting notes

This is one of the Fortnum blends I was most excited about and it did not let me down.

I am not a big Earl Grey fan. Bergamot on Ceylon is too, too sour for me. Bergamot on Keemun is very nice. Even bergamot with white tea is better than most standard Earl Grey to my tastes.

I have had Smoky Earl Grey before and liked it. It was the Earl or Harlem from the Ambessa line by Harney and Sons. I guessed this one would be good, too, and it is.

I like lapsang and I like it strong, so this was right up my alley. I felt it was only medium smoke though I see from reviews that some folks disagree and that’s okay. The bergamot is second player here and that suits me.

There are three tins of Earl Grey Classic in the advent and I wondered what on earth I was going to do with them. (Neither Ashman nor tea party guest like bergamot.) This has inspired me. I think I will try mixing it with my Russian Caravan. Of course, I will try it plain first!

EDIT TO CORRECT: If one puts one’s glasses on, there are NOT three tins of Earl Grey Classic in the advent. There is only one. Another has the word “green” in teeny tiny letters and the remaining tin that I mistook for a plain Earl was actually Victoria Earl.

Evol Ving Ness

I had set aside some lapsang to add smoke to other teas that need some oomph. Thanks for the reminder. So pleased that you are enjoying the advent (and sharing your joy with us too).

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drank Royal Blend by Fortnum & Mason
2577 tasting notes

My first reaction was nope but as I sip it isn’t so bad. It is lovely if you love standard Assam and probably really good if you drink English style tea with milk and sugar. I try to have my tea plain always.

Compared to Queen Anne, this is heavier on the Assam and more tannic. Compared to Breakfast Blend – gosh, it seems really similar but maybe is a little stronger? My tongue is orange. It’s one of those.

A hint of smoke or toast (that could be the incense that just wafted into my face), a touch of bitterness, a little metallic but not much. So a pretty typical breakfast blend with Assam and nothing to write home about. It is okay, but I wouldn’t re-purchase.

Queen Anne wins so far in the unflavored Fortnum blends catagory.

Martin Bednář

Apparently here wins Royal Blend, but close behind is Queen Anne. Certainly those blends is something I need to re-try one day as I have been drinking old tea bags.

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drank Queen Anne by Fortnum & Mason
2577 tasting notes

Ah, now THAT’S more like it. After Breakfast Blend being a bit disappointing for me (so tannic!) and Ashman only liking it with milk and sugar, I hoped this one would be more to my liking. And it is!

I didn’t look it up before making it but there was no mistaking the scent of Ceylon tea when I opened the tin. I gathered it had Assam as well and steeped accordingly. I am having the loose leaf version.

Bright, medium strong, very smooth, slightly drying but not sour, oaky, a little malty. I do not need any additions at all to enjoy this but I can guess that Ashman would prefer it with milk and sugar. Will update if he ever drinks this one.

I will enjoy this one! It is just the right strength for me at breakfast. Next up – Royal Blend.

1 tsp 7 OZ / 207 ML

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drank Breakfast Blend by Fortnum & Mason
2577 tasting notes

It was a week ago that we tried this one so I may not remember it as well as I would like, but I want to add a note on Queen Anne and wanted to have the comparison easy to view again later.

I was hoping this would be one of that select group of black teas that Ashman likes without milk and sugar. It was not, and I knew it would not be as soon as I smelled it. I was so sure, in fact, that I put milk, sugar, and whipped cream on the table at his right hand. I figured he could tolerate it like a Friesian blend if nothing else.

I drank it plain, and found it to be a not so special breakfast blend, but probably pleasing enough to anyone who likes standard milk and sugar breakfast teas. It was a little bitter and tannic, but it wasn’t awful.

Ashman sipped, winced, and added all the things. He said it was decent with additions, but not a favorite. Keep in mind that there are only about two black teas he likes plain and even my beloved Queen Catherine is one I drink alone.

I was not too worried about the fact that I have a whole bunch of Fortnum teas to go, because I love their Rose Pouchong so I knew it wasn’t going to be a store-wide dislike of their teas.

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drank Jin Guazi (2018) by Old Ways Tea
2577 tasting notes

Another gift from derk!

I got all out of whack making my breakfast today. I usually start the tea first so that it is ready when the food is ready and everything is hot. I was nearly done making the bacon when I realized I had not chosen a tea and this pouch was closest. Thus the first steep was western.

It smelled marvelous and was a departure from what most of us think of as breakfast tea, but I don’t drink those much anyway. It was so good that I decided to have another gong fu session after breakfast, even if the leaves were already steeped western once.

Derk was right about the tea having a lot of steeps to give. I didn’t even play them all out, but I kept going for as much water as I had put in the kettle and it was still giving.

Medium body, round mouth effect, building briskness that is not at all sour but simply dries the tongue and makes a nice tingle. I dislike the tingle of many teas, but this is a kind I like, a scrapey feeling like you would get from unsweetened cocoa, but not bitter or unpleasant. Not that I felt there were chocolate notes here, just the sensation cocoa would give.

I sniffed these leaves so hard looking for the elusive grass note derk mentioned, but I concentrated as hard as I could. Deep sniff. Not smelling grass or flowers. Deep sniff. Mental image of my mother’s purse in my childhood. What?

Deep sniff. Aaaaaah, TOBACCO! Her cigaretttes, of course!

Definite sweet-ish tobacco aroma was the dominant scent for me. I suppose that is a little grassy and flowery underneath? But also it is a rich, warm, ever so slightly sweet smell to me.

I really enjoyed this one as I have ALL of the Old Ways tea I have tried, and I was shocked to see derk’s review that said they are in California! For some reason I have always assumed they were in Asia and hard to come by. I need to take a good look at their site now that I know.

Thank you, derk! Another lovely tea session thanks to you!


Sigh, another tea site to check out. I might actually drink all the tea I have one day if it weren’t for all you fun enablers here on Steepster.


(giggle) That’s why we’re our own support group!

Evol Ving Ness

Hahaha, true that. Times two.


I was doing….fair?…at drinking down some teas but I just got an order with six new ones today. I blame Cameron B for most of these, ha ha!

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This tea was a gift from the wonderful derk!

Yesterday I tried this western. The aroma is so powerful! I was hit smack in the face with rich, toasty aromas, nuts, a little honey, rich rye bread…so i was surprised at how light the color of the liquor was.

For the powerful scents, it was much more muted in taste and had a rather thin texture rather than the full and robust body I expected from the aroma. It was quite good, just not what I anticipated.

Today I had my first gong fu session in quite a while, sitting in the bow window watching the birds and the rabbits play. (We have had pet rabbits living at our end of the street for a few years now and everyone pitches in and takes care of them. They escaped from a breeder who didn’t care to recapture them. The adult couple was captured and neutered and the babies were given to good homes and to some of my students who we knew would be very good to them. They can not interbreed with our indigenous cottontails so no danger of hybridization.)

This is the best way to enjoy this tea. My first steep was pretty long for gong fu. I began with 30 seconds and detected no bitterness, so I added 15 seconds for each subsequent steep. The aroma is really toasty, almost burnt toasty like some DHP but not quite. How about rich, brown toasted rye bread? Body is a little thicker this way, and there was just a touch of toasted walnut, honey, and something floral – not a lot and more osmanthus or magnolia. I am leaning toward magnolia.

(Bird bath thus far – tufted titmouse, grey squirrel, Eastern bluebird, mockingbird, female cardinal, various sparrows, yellow pine warbler, and a brown headed nuthatch.)

Thank you, derk! I loved the two Huang Jin Gui oolongs I had tried, and it was a real treat to have a black huang jin gui!


I love the idea neighborhood pets!


I just spotted them sitting by my car. Everyone keeps an eye on them, and there are frequent texts making the rounds some days, “Have you seen Lady? I saw Cowbury this morning but Lady hasn’t been seen since yesterday.” “Jason says Lady is under your truck. Check before you drive off!” Ha ha!


haha. love it

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I am a music teacher, tutor, and former homeschool mom (25 years!) who started drinking loose leaf tea about twelve years ago! My daughters and I have tea every day, and we are frequently joined by my students or friends for “tea time.” Now my hubby joins us, too. His tastes have evolved from Tetley with milk and sugar to mostly unadorned greens and oolongs.

We have learned so much history, geography, and culture in this journey.

I am also reviewing for Sororitea Sisters now!

My avatar is a mole in a teacup! Long story…


North Carolina

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