300 Tasting Notes

Had this iced with half a teaspoon of sugar, it’s alright. Reminds me of watermelon gum, probably because of the zing from the hibiscus, the mint and the rock sugar. Mint isn’t too heavy, wish I knew what eucalyptus tasted like so I could find it in here, but I am amused that the photo pictures sage, which isn’t an ingredient. Oh hey look they have videos for each of the featured six teas online: http://www.teavana.com/tea-info/watermelon-mint-chiller Also watermelon isn’t an ingredient, not even in flavoring. There is cantaloupe, pineapple, forest berry, blackberry, raspberry, tangerine, peppermint, lime flavoring and their are candied cantaloupe, honeydew and many other fruit pieces. But I guess they have been working on getting this flavor for five years and watermelon and I’m sure watermelon is a very hard flavor to capture without tasting artificial so kudos for that. Saved some for the husband, I’m sure he’ll like it better than me.

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Hmm this has the same issue that many of these blends do, you can only taste hibiscus when its hot. However as it cools the mint and other berries come through. This is greatly enhanced by the rock sugar, no doubt about it. It’s very clean and fresh tasting and I actually forgot it was a rooibos. The vanilla doesn’t stand out strong but I think it smoothed things over. Would probably be good iced.

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Me thinks this should be called Elderberry (Chocolate) Truffle Oolong as elderberry is clearly the dominant note here and WonderBerry… Really? So funny story on how I came to try this the day after the release. I had planned to visit Teavana later in the week to try some teas when Michelle was working (I knew she had Mon-Wed off), she could brew a few and we could both sample. I thought about texting Barista Boy to ask if he was working, but didn’t want to seem desperate. It was the toddler that came up with the idea of going to Teavana today, all on his own. I hadn’t mentioned anything to him, we hadn’t talked about Teavana in a long time (he used to love going there a year ago). I asked him why and told him we had lots of tea here at home, but he was insistent about it. Okay, then.

I was nervous driving there, funny how the mind can have such a reaction on the body. Not sure what about really, not like I’ve been banned from the store and there are only three people left working there that I knew, none of them management (our manager quit a few weeks ago, supposedly before they could fire or demote her). So I was going to either see one of two people I like and get a free beverage or someone I didn’t know and just order a drink. Well turns out it was the former and he showed me everything new, all of it I had seen online, but I humored him. Then I got to smell some of the new teas and settled on trying this one.

I actually had a craving for cherries and chocolates yesterday that I satisfied at first with a cold cup of Sakura Allure and then with dried cherries the husband brought home. I’m glad I did not run out for this as it probably wouldn’t have satisfied that craving. This is very elderberry as Barista Boy noted, he apparently has elderberry trees in his backyard and they freeze them and put them on top of ice cream, yum! I tried it unsweetened, against his recommendations but knew I could ask for some melted rock sugar later, however the toddler was dragging me out to the escalator which we rode down, then rode the elevator, the ordered him a ho dog from Dairy Queen at which point he told me he really had to pee.

So with my hands I led him to the “Family Lounge” and after we had both washed our hands we sat down at the small kids table and I sipped on my tea in the glorified restroom while Rowan watched old black & white cartoons. Sigh. It was pretty weak hot and only rounded its self out a bit as it cooled, tart elderberry and hibiscus, yep tasted like a Teavana blend, but truffle? Rowan gave up on his hotdog and was ready to leave the lounge. We stopped by Teavana on the way out to get my splash of rock sugar. Barista Boy said I knew it or he knew me so well or something. The sugar did bring forward the chocolate, but it was still subtle, nothing decadent, which is fine, but I feel like their were more chocolate notes in the Aged Tieguanyin I tried earlier.

I saved some of the cup for the husband who pulled into the driveway right behind me. He said it tasted like chocolate and wasn’t bad. I had my last few sips in a bone china cup, which improved things slightly, but I’m drinking the Aged Tieguanyin right now and it is just so much more satisfying and naturally sweet. No these two teas cannot be compared even remotely, but I do think it says a lot about how far I’ve come.


I can’t wait to get my order! This and the strawberry champagne smelled heavenly!


Cool story – love the ending!

Daniel Scott

“I feel like their were more chocolate notes in the Aged Tieguanyin I tried earlier.”

I don’t think you necessarily intended that line to be funny, but I did have a good snicker.

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Many thanks to David and the folks at Verdant Tea for including this as a complimentary sample with the Dragonwell pre-order. This smells amazing, there is no mistake that this was charcoal roasted but it smells so much more appetizing than the few I’ve had recently. Also the taste on this one is immediately sweet, like the leaves have been caramelized. This cup evokes chocolate covered raisins (though not the texture) and spinach pies, the good kind with the thin pastry layers and creme brûlée and scotch and smoke and everything that is good in this world!

This is a connoisseur’s tea and blows everything that I’ve recently been drinking out of the water. By all that is holy if Verdant gets a hold of more of this tea, buy it! I wish I had more of this to share and yet I am taking a break in my brewing right now. Do you know how sometimes when you get a new tea you cannot rush to the kettle to reinfuse it fast enough, either because it is so amazing you must have another steep or because it isn’t quite what you expected and you are hoping the next infusion give you something more I’m having the opposite problem with this tea, it is amazing and is giving me exactly what I want but I find myself super satiated by it’s decadentness. I will have to come back to it later this evening as I do want to get to the middle and late steepings to discover more. But oh my goodness so full and satisfied!


Oh- I am so looking forward to trying this one!!

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Thank you to Zen Tea for this sample! This and the Monkey Picked I drank last night are like night and day! This is a green, floral oolong like I’m used to, nice and smooth (though not quite creamy) and very spring like. None of the dark cloying charcoal. In fact if it was up to me I would switch the names, the dark roast has more “iron” conotations to me. And yet, this one still created a slight buzzing sensation on my tongue like I’ve been experiencing with the medium roasts… hmm perhaps it’s just something I’m starting to tune into. Personally I would prefer something in between the two and will continue to seek the light and medium roasted traditional style tieguanyins.

Edit: Enjoying the second half of the sample today, following the company’s brewing parameters rather than gongfu style. I didn’t care for the first infusion so I tossed it but the second was very nice, I actually got the vanilla and gardenia notes. The third starts off with a bit of umami then turns… fruity. That’s interesting.

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Steepster gobbled up my tasting note on this last night. Many thanks to Zen Tea for their generously sized complimentary samples! This one is definitely darker than the light and medium roasted oolongs I have been drinking. I normally only discard the first short steep (rinse) on pu’er’s, as the are often the sweetest most sparkling infusions and I really enjoy them, but this one smelled, odd.. and was light purplish hue, one taste told me I best treat it as a rinse.

The next infusion and the leaves had a similar smell. It wasn’t fishy like bad pu-er, though perhaps it was a bit metallic, but really I think it was just charcoally from the dark roast, which I suppose I’m just not used to. The third and fourth infusion were quite nice and left a very satisfying cool and filling feeling between the back of my mouth and my throat.

Next time I would like to do a longer rinse and a longer steep, basically follow the western instructions provided on the packet, instead of the gonfu I did. Thankfully the samples provided allow for several sessions. I will update with my observations then.

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First off, many thanks to Nuvola Tea who have proven themselves to be most responsive and generous with their customer service. I had a minor labeling error with my last order and graciously offered to send two more complimentary samples to me, which arrived in under a week. Their outstanding customer service and top quality make them a company I feel good giving my business to and can highly recommend to others!

So I have admittedly been curious about Taiwanese “Ti Kuan Yin”. Since I hadn’t selected this round of samples I didn’t know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised when I opened the packet to find dark brown toasty smelling balls of oolong. I’m glad that I had two traditionally roasted tieguanyins recently under my belt before trying this as prior to that I only had tried the green versions. In fact I have three other roasted tieguanyins to try that all arrived around the same time, some lighter and some darker. Very exciting!

This reminds me both of the medium roasted China tieguanyins as well as some specifically Taiwanese oolongs, especially Dong Ding. It has both a warm and cooling quality. It is sweet as well as charcoally. Nutty with a hint of floral. The sensations on the tongue are a bit more subtle than orchid and ginseng oolong, but still present.

A wonderfully comforting tea. It is very evocative of the fall and I got lost in the vapors. It stood up well to multiple infusions, boiling water and short steeps. So glad for the opportunity to try it! Thank you Nuvola Tea!

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drank Yunnan Noir by Adagio Teas
300 tasting notes

Tea of the morning (my that seems so long ago) shared with the husband, thanks to Michelle! A decent black tea, not astringent, nothing offensive, held up to three infusions but no shining qualities either, except perhaps the cute comma shaped leaves. Husband said it mostly tasted like tea, but he could tell it was a Yunnan, that may be progress, or he might have just been saying that. It didn’t have strong sunshine and buttery toast qualities that I associate with the better Yunnan blacks, but then again I was drinking it with toast and butter so perhaps it got lost ;)

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Backlogging from yesterday when I had a toddler with a fever attached to me all day. I also brewed this in the recommended Dragonwell style. Took a bit of getting used to but got easier when I was half through my first glass (I actually had a place to blow the leaves to) and the subsequent refills only got easier as the leaves sank and tastier! In fact toward then end I found myself getting lost in the glass. Love love love the cherry aftertaste in this one, it’s amazing! The green was a bit intense for me at times, especially as the leaves kept trying to get into my mouth. Thankfully I have over an ounce of this left (pre-ordered a sample size and then added an ounce). Will be picking up some good spring water for my next session with this, at which point I hope to provide more detailed notes. Still feel very blessed to be able to drink this wonderful tea. Thank you Verdant and Mrs. Li!

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drank Bossa Nova by Zen Tea
300 tasting notes

So there I was lying in bed this morning, wishing for a nice breakfast tea to begin my day that I wasn’t committed to having a long gongfu session with so that I could move on to Mrs. Li’s Dragonwell from Verdant. I was actually hoping for something fun like hazelnut, though I had already tried Adagio’s the other day. When lo and behold there was a clank below my window. The mail man had come by early and when I made my way downstairs I found my prayers had been answered in the form of a package of samples from Zen Tea! Thank you Zen Tea

Not only that but when I opened the package I found that I had indeed order a hazelnut tea! And to top it all off I had seen this tea on the menu yesterday at the tea studio and had wondered why it sounded so familiar, I knew I hadn’t drank it before, but felt like I had ordered it. This is the same description and ingredients as the Bossa Nova hazelnut oolong from TeaGschwender so I can only imagine they get it from the same source.

This has a much nicer base than Adagio’s Hazelnut, no bitter ceylon, just a nice roasted oolong, good looking leaves as well, though it is hard to differentiate where the natural nut note in the oolong end and the hazelnut flavor begins, which may be a good thing. I have to admit I was a tad disappointed that this wasn’t darker, sweeter and richer, but it does taste like hazelnuts, like eating the nuts themselves and in this way the blend is successful.

I may just have to try this with extra leaf and bit of sugar the next time I make it, to try to meet my unrealistic expectations. The samples were generous enough for multiple servings. Glad I got to try it, will write my review on Zen Tea’s website after a second session. Thanks again to Zen Tea for their generosity, I’m looking forward to the roasted Tieguanyins!

Edit: enjoying this today, following the given brewing parameters for 12 mins, I also put in two rock sugar crystals. It is better, the hazelnut is fully present and it has a touch of sweet, but the oolong still feels “thin”. May end up blending my last teaspoon with Adagio’s hazlenut black oh wait I didn’t like that one at all or a straight black for more body. Edit edit: I did add a bit of Bailin Gonfu Black Organic from Teavirve to the second steep and based on the smell I thought I had created a delicious Nutella tea, but alas tis bitter, until the last sip which is dark and cool and sweet. So there is promise there, just probably need a lower temp, steep time and make it a first infusion. Yeah this aftertaste is quite delicious.

Daniel Scott

…Ew, a bitter Ceylon? There’s something really wrong with that concept.

Autumn Hearth

Ceylon is pretty hit or miss for me, it can be really naturally sweet and cidery but it can also turn astringent.


It seems to me that the higher grown Ceylons are the ones that can be astringent, at least amount the ones in my tea shelf. It is probably possibly with any of them, though.

Autumn Hearth

Interesting, Ceylon’s are something I just haven’t had enough experience with, mostly in British blends from Upton, a base for a few flavored blacks and one really delicious White Ceylon.

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Druid, artist, poet, mum, lover of tea, ritual and myth. I grew up on Celestial Seasons herbals but fell in love with straight loose leaf tea working at my local Teavana for a year. I am grateful for the introduction and the experience, but have moved on.

I see tea as an experience for the senses, I like to imagine tasting the land and the weather as well as the effect of sun, air, fire and the human hand. I have a soft spot for shu pu’er, yabao, scented oolongs, wuyi oolongs, taiwanese tea as well as smooth naturally sweet blacks, creamy greens and surprisingly complex whites.

I began ordering lots of samples from Upton to educate myself on different varieties of tea we didn’t have at work and have fallen head over heels for the unique offerings from Verdant Tea. I am learning things I like: buttery mouthfeel, surprising sweet or spice notes, woodiness, mineral notes, depth and complexity and things I don’t: astringency, dry and sour notes.

I collect tea tins and am in danger of collecting pots, though I am trying to restrain the urge due to current lack of space. I brew mostly in a glass infuser mug or a tea maker, only using cast-iron for company now (still need to get a gaiwan) and tend not to sweeten my teas unless they are British or fruity and iced, which is not often.

As far as ratings, I lack a definite system and haven’t been assigning numbers lately, wanting to spend multiple sessions with a tea first. I usually only log a tea once, unless it is a new harvest or I have significantly different observations, but will go back and edit or comment if I find something interesting or new.


Baker Street, Berea, Ohio

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