172 Tasting Notes

drank Madagascar Vanilla by Golden Moon Tea
172 tasting notes

tl;dr: I don’t really like vanilla, but I quite liked this tea. Therefore, if you really like vanilla, this tea may leave you rather…dissatisfied.

Upon cutting open the packet, my first whiff was of a vanilla milkshake. I couldn’t smell any tea at all. Then, I took another whiff, and thought, oh, hey, there’s the tea! I have very low tolerance for caffeine, so I don’t drink black tea very frequently. For me, its fragrance is quite a treat.

The powerful vanilla fragrance died down quite a bit upon steeping the tea, to where it was comfortably sharing olfactory real estate with the base tea. Very pleasant.

As always, I took a sip untainted by milk or sweetener, and it was okay. Then I added some sugar, and discovered that I (unexpectedly) like this tea! It brought out both flavours equally. I do agree with some other folks who stated that the tea is a bit weak, not hitting the palate with enough oomph and not really lingering, either. I was expecting a heavier sip, especially with the added sugar, but it remained very light. Now, as I’m not a fan of vanilla (except ice cream and milkshakes), I might have had an entirely different complaint had the flavour been stronger and longer-lasting. I’m kind of a pain that way. =]

All in all, I’m happy with the vanilla/base tea balance here. It’s a bit too light, and I would like to turn up both the bass and the treble just a little bit, so for that I deduct some marks.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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drank Moroccan Mint by Golden Moon Tea
172 tasting notes

Opened the bag and inhaled. Mint and gunpowder smokiness, but pretty light on the smoke. Ignored the instructions to pour boiling water over it and steeped for four minutes in 175-degree water.

I drink my tea sweetened, but do like to take the first 1-3 sips “untainted” by milk or sugar. In my first (unsweetened) sip and in every (sweetened) sip thereafter, I felt that the smokiness in the tea’s fragrance was absent from its flavour. And while I tasted the mint that seemed a combination of peppermint and spearmint, I didn’t feel any of the “coolness” with which mint generally hits the palate…until I swallowed. Then, to my surprise, the coolness spread in my tummy; I kind of felt like there were good little microbial soldiers going to work setting things right in there. While it felt like good things were happening in my tummy, my mouth wasn’t nearly as happy (that sounded so much better in my head, but you know what I mean): I’m beginning to think that “dry mouth” is a gunpowder thing. The gunpowder taste may not be strong in this tea, but it’s a champ at dry mouth. =(

I’m not really a fan of mint tea, so I probably should’ve saved this one for Mum, but it’s late, way past my bedtime, and whenever I blindly reached for a tea packet I kept coming up with black/caffeinated teas that wouldn’t sit well with me right now, so I just went for it. It’s not great, but it’s not bad. It’s kind of uneventful, really. I probably wouldn’t buy it, but if I had more of it, I’d drink it.

175 °F / 79 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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My first gunpowder. I opened the packet and inhaled. Hmm, smoky, I thought. I steeped. I inhaled again. Smoky, like roasted grass. Or…cigarettes? That was fleeting, and very strange. It sort of put me off the whole thing, but I carried on. The flavour is earthy, not as smoky as the fragrance. There’s a wee bit of bitterness, way back near my throat. And hoo-ee, does it leave my mouth dry. I drank about a litre of water after drinking my tea.

Is this the way it’s supposed to be? I dunno, I guess I’ll find out when I’ve tried some more gunpowders.

175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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Thanks, people, for the tip1 on adding our own blends to the “Custom” brand. It’s not a perfect method, but given the state of things, it’ll do.

So, I recently tried Numi’s White Orange Spice2 and Twinings’ Honeybush Mandarin & Orange3. The Numi’s was rather lacking in the citrus department, so I decided to mix the two.

Can I just tell you guys how happy I am right now? This blend is so yummy! The Twinings perfectly fills the orangey void in Numi’s tea. From the fragrance to the sips to, well, even the aftertaste(!), the sum here is far, far, FAR better than its parts. I’m so glad I decided to try this little experiment; now I won’t have to bore you by repeatedly whining about the weak bagged teas I have to get through. :D

A quick note about water temperature: the Numi box (white tea, remember) says to boil the water, which doesn’t really make sense to me. The Twinings box says the same for the honeybush, which does make sense to me, so I split the difference and steeped for 10 minutes. It seems to have worked well.

1 http://steepster.com/discuss/1290-expand-your-enjoyment-of-your-tea-collection-slash-cupboard-by-creating-your-own-blends

2 http://steepster.com/bleepnik/posts/125438

3 http://steepster.com/bleepnik/posts/126039

185 °F / 85 °C 8 min or more

There are some that think that white tea should be steeped with boiling water, and others that think white tea needs a low temperature. I personally prefer the low temperature, I find that the flavor comes through so nicely if it’s low temp and long steep time.


I have tried boiling water in the past; now, I just press the “white” button on my Breville, which is I think 185 degrees. Like you, I prefer the low temperature; I agree that it brings out the flavour far better than boiling water. Thanks for chiming in. =)

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drank Chai Ultra Spice by Twinings
172 tasting notes

The third bagged tea I’ve tried in as many days and, like the others, a disappointment. It’s got a bit of spiciness to it, but no real bite. As Liv said in an earlier review1, it’s pretty flat. I don’t like cardamom and whatnot, so I wouldn’t be sad if the ginger were really strong in this, but it’s not. None of the flavours really jumped out at me individually, nor did they work very well together for a nice, smooth flavour.

I sweetened this cup but added no milk. Think I’ll try it with milk next time and see if that makes it better.

1 http://steepster.com/livhathaway/posts/52338

Boiling 7 min, 0 sec

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Orange! I’m pretty happy with this tea. It’s refreshing and lovely, and I’d like to try it iced one of these days. My only complaint is that it’s kind of weak: as others have said, the fragrance is stronger than the flavour. I might try two bags and a longer steep time, next time, to see if I can pull more flavour from it.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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This has been a real disappointment. I should’ve read more carefully before buying it; if I had, I would’ve seen that it’s naturally and artificially flavoured. And that’s the problem: it tastes artificial. I’ve had simple, pure rooibos, and I’ve drunk plenty of chai. This, unfortunately, retains the beauty, freshness, and lovely flavour of neither. I’ve tried steeping it for more/less time, more/less/no sweetener, some/no milk, but nothing I’ve tried so far has made this tea actually taste good.

Boiling 7 min, 0 sec

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Meh. It’s not bad, it just doesn’t live up to the name. It’s white tea, but I didn’t really get the flavour of white tea. It’s spiced, but all I could smell and taste were cinnamon and clove. It’s orange, but there’s hardly the hint of citrus. I think I’d like it a lot more with less clove, more ginger, and more orange. I might try breaking open a bag and mixing it with some other teas, see how that works out.

185 °F / 85 °C 7 min, 0 sec

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drank Ocean of Wisdom by Samovar
172 tasting notes

This is the best tea I’ve had thus far. I tried it for the first time at Samovar Tea Lounge and bought a tin for myself. At the time, I hadn’t yet started steeping loose tea and it looked like it was going to be too much and last forever. I was mistaken. The tin recommends using 2-3 tablespoons of tea per 16 ounces of water, more tea than I’ve yet been instructed to use; consequently, the tin empties pretty quickly, especially if you simply can’t get enough of the tea.

As others have said, it’s a very warm, mellow tea that does what chamomile is supposed to do: warm you to the tips of your fingers and toes, loosen those tight muscles, and help you relax. In addition, it has such a smooth, comforting flavour and lovely fragrance that just steeping a mug makes me happy. One of the nicest things about it is that although cinnamon appears in its list of ingredients (it seems I can’t seem to get away from that stuff), the overall flavour and fragrance are both extremely well balanced. Cold weather + Ocean of Wisdom = very quickly depleting stock. Fortunately, I’m headed back to San Francisco in two months so that I can re-stock in person; this time, I plan to buy more than one tin.

Boiling 7 min, 0 sec

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Amazing what a difference six months (and a whole lot of better tea) can make. I seem to have joined the rest of the tough crowd1. Sweetened or unsweetened, I really don’t like this tea anymore. It tastes fake to me now. Either it’s that I’ve developed a mild dislike for the overpowering fragrance and flavour of cinnamon or it’s something else, but whatever it is, I’m pretty sure I won’t be buying this one again. Rating lowered from 70.

1 http://steepster.com/bleepnik/posts/36637

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

It’s amazing how taste changes. I’m also finding that a lot of the tea I used to drink regularly(mostly the boxed kind I’d buy at the grocery store), just don’t satisfy my taste the same anymore.


Yep! I’m enjoying my Steepster education. =)

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2012.10.07: I hear people like to understand other people’s ratings, so here’s a loose guide:

01-29: Dear God, why.
30-49: I’ll finish this cup, I guess, but no more.
50-59: Meh.
60-69: Decent. Maybe I can blend it with something else and make it better.
70-79: Heeey, this is quite good!
80-89: I love it, but I’m not in love with it.
90-100: Permanently resident in my Happy Place.

Update: I have steeped, and it was good. =] Still a tea-ophyte, though.

This is a tea site, so I feel like “well, I’m Indian” should be enough of an introduction. Because, I mean, it’s kind of in my genes, right? But the fact of the matter is that I’m an absolute tea-ophyte.

I’ve just discovered a world beyond Celestial Seasonings. I’ve just discovered “sachets” instead of “normal” tea bags and bought my first loose tea sampler. I don’t get the whole water temperature and steep time thing yet, nor that if I want to get a yixiang tea pot, I’d need one for each type of tea. I have this infuser ball thing, but I haven’t used it yet.

Don’t cringe, but right now I’m still just boiling water and pouring it over a teabag, adding some sugar, and drinking a nice, hot cuppa. I’d like to learn more, I think, and I’d like to train my palate. I figure participating in this community is the best way to do that.

So ya. Hi!


South Jersey, US



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