676 Tasting Notes

The first time I tasted naturally blended flavored tea using herbs and spices I was hooked! These tea’s came from Verdant (two years ago, I don’t know anyone else who was doing blends like this!).

I’ve played mixologist myself from time to time, and Pu’er is my favorite tea to use as a base when I’m being creative. I love steeping tea multiple times and pu’er allows me to do this.

When I saw the packet of Master Hans Forest Grove…I chose it as my first tea to try because it was a pu’er blend (my favorite).

Pleased at the addition of star anise, this spice is often overlooked but adds an exotic, truly Asian character that I love.
(I would have added more!)

The first steep was light and cooling, lifted by the airy mint.

I expected the second steep to be more intense as the pu’er released it’s liquor which didn’t happen. The second and third steep were only slightly stronger than the first.

My impression was of a cool walk through the forest in early Fall after a rain. The coolness mint. The peppercorn, juniper and birch bark scent released underfoot while walking, breaking twigs in the damp forest mulch.
You would not come across anise in the forest but fennel fronds release a similar aroma.

The tea is soft and smooth…very quiet.

I kept thinking as I sipped the tea, that I should cold brew the leaves. There’s something very refreshing that would be better cold than hot. Coolness that goes beyond the obvious mint.

Many pu’er’s when iced are like diving into the purest mountain water and once you’ve tried it, you’re hooked!
I’m convinced this will be one of those best cold blends!

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drank Northern Wilds by Verdant Tea
676 tasting notes

Perfect cool morning for a blend with the name Northern Wilds.
True, Verdant is further North than Colorado, but it can get pretty ‘wild’ in the Rocky Mountains. I love the drama of cloud formations that tumble and sweep like brush strokes off the higher peaks behind my house…across the prairie ahead.
Snow, thunder and lightening on winds so fresh that I wonder how I ever lived in a city with a million people.

Today is my son’s 45th birthday. Sigh.
I posted pictures of Aaron as a little boy on Facebook because it’s my job to remind him that for 45 years, I’ve loved every moment knowing him.

A pot of Northern Wilds and my Kindle in my lap to read the comments about my son’s birthday began my morning today.

At first, I was put off by the aroma of the tea. It smelled strange.
I’m sensitive to smell, so I gave myself some time to cozy up to the ingredients. Maybe I was expecting more pine or sage…a savory woodsy instead of mint. I don’t think of wild woods and mint together. When I lived in the Pacific Coast mountains sage was everywhere but not mint.

I’d take the mint out and make this a stronger blend, more robust. The other blend ( Master Hans Forest Grove) has mint and spice too.

This almost never happens, but…I’m not fond of this blend. It tastes strange, and out of place to me.


Happy birthday Aaron! I hope you and your family have a wonderful time.

I remember my first time driving through Colorado as a child. We were hit by a lightening storm, then a dust storm 10 minutes later. I’d never seen anything that fantastic and temperamental in my life.


You must have been out on the prairie. That’s why I live close to the mountains (Frontrange) to avoid those dust storms, blizzards, lightening storms and tornadoes! I see it go over me and pow in the distance!

Terri HarpLady

Happy Birthday to Aaron!


I passed along your birthday greetings!

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Andy is the mixologist at Happy Lucky’s Teahouse and shop Manager.

Whenever I think about Andy blending new tea’s, I imagine the Sorcerers Apprentice http://youtu.be/mHTnJNGvQcA?t=3m3s . He’s Micky Mouse with an out of control wand. The music is building and the outcome appears to be heading for disaster. Miraculously, a ray of sunshine…a moment of brilliance and clarity and in the end, all is well.

I sometimes imagine other tea mixologists that we all know well here on Steepster. In my mind there are three standouts in particular… Giada de Laurentiis, Yul Brynner and Steve Jobs.

Can you guess which tea vendors match these characters?

For 6 days last week, I was in and out of a migraine on one side of the front my face. Finally, had to get out of the house so I went to tea.
Andy (the Sorcerer in my imagination) came out of the back room very excited that I had arrived at the shop. He had his coat in hand, ready to leave for the day. “Oh good, you’re finally here. I’ve made a batch of Harvest Moon Tea and I think it’s better than last year’s blend! I really want your opinion on it. Need to know what you think!”

Off came his coat with a flourish (not missing a beat). Displaying the smooth and elegant moves of a professional, Andy made me a big pot of Harvest Moon Tea, smiled broadly, waved goodbye and headed out the door (the doorbells jingling behind him).

The dry mix had smelled wonderful, the way apples smell when they’ve been soaked in apple cider, spices, vanilla and brown sugar.

(I’m a skeptic! Apple tea’s almost always had disappointed me.)

I waited for 9 minutes for the tea to steep and took my first skeptical sip (although admitting, the aroma was wonderful).

This was BY FAR the BEST Apple Tea I’d ever tasted! The flavor was the kind of vanilla spice, caramel apple desired in a prize winning Apple Pie.
I know what great Harvest Apple Pie should taste like, because I’ve won first, second and third prize in the Johnny Appleseed Pie Contest so I’m picky. Quality ingredients matter!

This week my son Aaron, turns…gulp…45! I mailed off a tea care package for his Birthday. Harvest Moon was one of the tea’s I sent to cheer him up in often-foggy-in-Fall San Francisco. He’ll love it!

As far as who Giada de Laurentiis is…well, maybe Stacy the kitchen wizard of Butiki Tea. Yul Brynner http://youtu.be/KlmCy4qGX_M (who’s the person we know without any hair?)…Garret, King of Puerh! And Steve Jobs, well…when I think of a contemplative person that comes up with new ways to educate, innovate and enhance tea appreciation…it’s David Duckler. It’s how I picture them in their tea guru kitchens.

I’ve already played with this blend as a base for puerh, added black tea when I want caffeine… and as it comes, Caffeine free.



sounds delicious!


I wonder, is it like pie ala mode if you add some cream? :)


I add cream to mine because in the evening, I get a craving for dessert. I’ve added cocoa hulls and extra cinnamon chips (both available through Happyluckys) to create a spicier chocolate, caramel apple flavor.


Missed you Bonnie


You too sweetie! Jason has been working on my steepster messaging…it hasn’t been working well for a long time. Logs me out! Send me an email bturner1948@gmail.com anytime. I’m OK.


aw that’s to fun! we want you to stay, not get logged out :)
Will email you later, for sure!!!


glad you’re doin ok, even after that migraine xo


I got two right! Glad you feel better!


Thanks my friend Thought Garret and Yul were a natural…besides he was in my favorite movie The Brother’s Karamozov (1956 I think).if I’m being honest, I think Stacy is like one of those contestants on Chopped with a mystery basket the way she comes up with her interesting blends.


Got Garret right off the bat. And David too. Stacy well she will have to kick my tail for not guessing, although a tale of a “mad scientist” mixing those test tubes and I may have got it.


I couldn’t think of a female character…mad scientist type….thought of Julia Child but too old, Gilda Radner…comedian… Lucy!!! I love Lucy! Thats it! Stacy is Lucy with the veta vita vegamin gag and many other food gags.

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Thank you Teavivre for this sample tea!

At first, I underbrewed this tea. It was very pale and delicate…

I let the leaves steep longer in the gaiwan, observing the transformation…playing with the water, moving the lid back and forth in a figure eight then straining the liquor.

The color had changed only a half tone and the taste was as it should be. A delicate whisper.

The flavor was a thin coat of unsalted sweet butter brushed lightly across my tongue, tingling towards the back and a subtle floral finish.

I would never drink this tea in the morning. I’d roll over and go back to sleep if this was next to my bed.

It’s too…relaxing…it…floats in my mind…like sunbeams flickering through the trees.

I’m sipping this Ali Shan and I want to sit by a stream, lay in a hammock, watch the Fall leaves waving back and forth…back and forth out my window.

This is a soft, gentle, tranquil tea.



Lovely review!

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Thank you Brenden for the surprise in my mailbox of this sample tea!

The last time I had some tea from Whispering Pines was…well…in the beginning of the company during the short phase where most of the tea’s (if not all) were smoky. There was a lot of feedback from Steepster folks that Brenden listened to (this is what makes a great tea vendor by the way) and now there is a wide variety of tea’s to choose from on his Whispering Pines Website.

I’ll have to admit though, that I hadn’t looked at the website for a long, long time (over a year).

Brenden noticed my lack of attention to his company (he being a regular Steepster hawk), and sent me a couple of tea samples (smart man).

Kudo’s that this Fujian isn’t smoky! It arrived not contaminated with smoke from the other tea’s that Whispering Pines is known for…the outdoorsy tea’s!

I’m not going to play games with a long review. I’ll get right to the point and then explain.

If you love tea’s like chocolaty Laoshan Black or Fujian Black Pearls this is the tea for you!

Brenden doesn’t lie when he discribes his tea as chocolate. It doesn’t taste like barley or bread, just chocolate tea with a hint of malt. Medium thickness, rich and smooth with a gentle fading of the flavor lingering softly in the mouth.

Delicious dessert tea!

This is the only truly chocolaty black tea that I’ve tasted other than Verdant’s and companies that carry Fujian Black Pearls (which are maltier).

If this was a stock, I’d buy it! Winner!

Hope you don’t mind but I’m attaching another little musical piece by my granddaughter with my photo’s. http://youtu.be/bOKtmS5L9BQ
We’re collaborators.

Added note Oct. 4th I just discovered a talent that Brenden from Whispering Pines has… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUYSjbD0kW4&feature=share&list=UUIhSZ7loxDZ7166OavqfrhA



interesting. :)

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Last night, after many months explaining the health benifits of tea and constant invitations to join me at Happy Lucky’s Tea House, two members of my Fibromyalgia Support Group showed up at the tea bar!

I was so elated!

Like most (if not all) our group members, these ladies don’t leave their homes unless it’s necessary. It’s just too painful to move and walk even short distances, and a sort of brain fog is a common side effect that comes and goes…making it embarrassing to dialog with other people.

I know how hard it is to function, but being alone is worse!

We sat at the bar where I introduced my friends who graciously served us tea and explained how tea benefits health. Eric served some of his personal tea from a gaiwan before we ordered an herbal blend and finished with Chocolate Aire.

As much as my friends enjoyed the new world of tea, which they did, was gift of inclusion offered to them in the tea shop. They were not outsiders looking in, but accepted. This is what I love about my tea shop, many beloved tea vendors and the people here on Steepster!

It was ‘Food Walk’ evening in Old Town. This is an evening where many shops give out free samples of food as you walk through town every third Friday of the month, and it’s fun! There was a Fall ’Apple" theme, with Apple Pie Tea at the tea shop.

The ladies wanted to try a walk around 1 block. Can you imagine not knowing if your body can take the pain of 1 block?

Off we went to the cheese shop for apples and goat cheese and chedder, then a spice shop for cherries with 5 spice and apple cider…past the outdoor concert where families were dancing and a booth with childrens meals had the biggest Rice Krispie Treats I’ve ever seen!

We made our way in and out around and back to Walnut Street where Happy Lucky’s is located, watching the hummingbird moths gather nectar in the flowers.

Our evening cost under $4 for a pot of tea but was priceless for the joy it gave me to share with these ladies.

Tea is my amazing friend, but it’s meant to be shared.

A note on sharing: (Many already do this, some may like to begin)
When I read about sip-downs it makes me a bit sad, as though tea is something to be gotten rid of. Forgotten, old, unwanted tea once enjoyed or loved.
Consider, instead of ‘sipping down’ unwanted tea’s, could they be sent to a student or struggling Steepster short on funds to buy tea? Newer Steepsters would benefit from the run-off from many of our overstocked, bursting cupboards too. Swapping isn’t always necessary. When one person has nothing in their cupboard to swap gifting would be an act of hospitality! This is the way of tea.


Your stories are a great read always. Thanks for sharing.


I know tea is something that I drink and I’ve reviewed this one earlier, but the sharing part is just as important…and I can’t help myself…I hope everyone will try and find a place to meet-up with other tea drinkers!


I took the virtual tour of Happy Lucky’s. It is a awesome environment. I would love to see it full of friends (new and old). Post some pictures, if you haven’t already. Provide a link if you have. I so do understand your ladies group. A block might as well be a mile. Often when we go out, if I can’t park a couple spots from the door – I drive off and come back later. Strangely comforting to know others understand and don’t judge.


KS glad you took a look. If you check pinterest or Facebook under Bonnie Johnstone you can find pictures of the shop. I go to the shop at 4:30 Fri. Nite right before town gets crowded for parking. There’s a parking structure a block away which is free on weekends and always free the first two hours when you go to tea otherwise. I use a cane for sidewalk stability. Getting to know your community helps and becoming a regular. There are events going on almost every weekend right outside the door of the tea shop…free and fun!


http://flic.kr/p/dk1JWZ Here’s some flicker photo’s


I clicked on the happy lucky’s set link from the above. There are some pics of the packed house. I can’t even imagine being able to share the passion/addiction/love of tea with a crowd like that. So awesome. Thanks for sharing.


They have a big room in the back, the tea bar and tables outside and in the front. Works out. I know from experience when it’s really busy and when it’s not. I bring tea for tasting with the guys at quiet times and Friday evening is more of a Pub Crawl with a bit more noise and meeting of friends. Friday finally quiets down…but it’s all fun!
I hope everyone knows that I’m not trying to brag about my local shop, it’s not mine…I’m fortunate to have it! I write about it so that people will get together and create their own place to share or look for a shop that has a heart like mine! There are fine shops out there if people look for them! Stay away from the commercial chain stores if you want to find the real deal tea shops!

Ali Bee's Bake Shop

really sweet post


I love reading your Tea Notes,but this is especially lovely


Thank you CelebriTEA!

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Most people have never tasted Yak Butter Tea made with REAL Yak milk, myself included. So I was very interested when my Steepster friend ‘Roughage’ (who lives in England) sent me a notice that Yunnan Sourcing had just added a salty and sweet versions of real Yak Butter Tea! We had discussed the real taste before, because he had some on a visit to China.
One problem for me is that Yunnan Sourcing has huge shipping costs.
There is however, a Yunnan Sourcing US website that’s way less expensive to order from, so I checked to see if the new tea was available there.


I emailed a note…and received a prompt reply from Scott Wilson:

OK… I will eventually offer it on the US site. Thanks for your feedback!
- Scott


No review of Yak Butter tea on Steepster yet, but an encouraging note that a vendor is willing to supply customers with the tea they want to drink because we ask. This is good to remember.

If you’re in Europe, these two varieties are available now, sweet and salty, for $6.50 a box U.S. Let us know if you try it!

I’ll be waiting for a note from Yunnan U.S. when it’s available!


an awesome effort on the part of the vendor….. though i would sniff it alot before actually tri it. yak butter. hmmm.


I like the cow’s milk version and my friends who have had it in China say Yak milk is a little bitter but not much. (A lady friend was in a yurt about a year ago and drank several large bowls so it must be ok).


I have wanted to try this too. I need to get Scott’s email as a few things on the Chinese site I would love if they carried it on the US site.


All I did was send a regular contact note on the Yunnan Sourcing US site and he responded. Let him know you talked to me so that he knows the Steepsters are communicating with each other about the vendors!


Thanks Bonnie, I will email him!


Wow, never thought I’d see yak butter tea here on Steepster! I had it about eight years ago when I went to Tibet with my uncle and cousins and really enjoyed it. I remember it was very rich and almost reminded me of goat’s milk (it’s been a while since I’ve had either, so my memory might be off). The last time I heard about it was three years ago, when my intro to cultural anthropology professor talked about his research in Tibet. I’m definitely going to have to try some of this if it becomes available on the US site!


You can get this on EBAY but I’ll wait for Yunnan Sourcing US to carry both kinds.

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drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
676 tasting notes

There is never going to be a time that isn’t right for a review of Laoshan Black tea…

this is my favorite…my ‘chicken soup’ cure-all tea!

However, I’m using this today because I wrote about it AGAIN on my blog… www.teaandincense.com

Hear ye hear ye


Your blog is so beautiful.


Oh thank you..thats so nice of you to say! Now the reality is that I took the main photo with the censor and tea balanced on my bed with some scarves. I don’t even know how to use all the settings for my simple camera but I still enjoy myself.


Smiles – I am not good either with technical gadgets etc. But that photo did turn out lovely!
The most beautiful part of your blog though is the content – really, it is so inspiring to me!


I have no tracking so as far as I know, nobody reads it so thank you!


Thanks for posting. <3 your blog Bonnie!


You’re that kind of person that always makes people feel better when they’re around…like a light in a dark place. That’s you Ibloom…a light!


Awww you are so sweet Bonnie. I hope you are in a bright place :)


I enjoy your blog as well. Stunning photos! Too bad about the storm. I hope recovery is quick!


Wish you all were here, I’d throw a party!


One day! we’ll have a visit!

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Thank you to Teavivre for this sample tea!

As always the service from Teavivre is of the highest quality with the best packaging and kind notes from Angel!

Now and then I encounter a tea that is…“not my cup of tea” and there is no way to get around saying it. I can’t possibly love all tea’s… nobody can.
I discovered last year is that I can’t taste some green tea’s whatsoever! A few Butiki’s flavored green tea’s taste like water to me because I can’t taste the base tea. Silly taste buds!

The fault isn’t the tea or Teavivre or me, it’s what happens in human beings.

All that being said, I’ll tell you what the tea tasted like to me and you might chuckle (or not).

I’m a super-taster of sorts due to the health condition I have which gives me a stronger than average sense of taste and smell. I have to be careful not to wear perfumes when I drink tea. I tasted Golden Monkey on two occasions to make sure there wasn’t anything interfering with my senses.

What I tasted both times was like V8 Juice.
Primarily Celery leaf juice, brothy diluted tomato with mixed vegetables. Not the best tasting tea if you know what I mean, but an ok soup.

I know, I know… different than anyone else…yada yada.

I’m a black tea lover not a hater but this one hit the stranger than strange tea alarm in my mouth.

Sorry Angel, this one was a giggler. It happens.


Soup!! I love soup :P


Hi cutie professional lady!


hehe hi hi Colorado belle :D


Coincidentally, I’m drinking this TeaVivre Golden Monkey Black Tea right now! My allergies-racked taste buds also detect a different taste to this one than TeaVivre’s other black teas but V8 Juice isn’t registering. I’m thinking…hhmmm…something more like…broccoli!


Mmmm breakfast broccoli! I loved the rose black and keemun….um…going to go look for those. You should have added a little lapsang souchong to your broccoli tea since you like it and that would make a soupy cuppa. I’m nuts huh!

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drank Ruby Pie by Butiki Teas
676 tasting notes

Thank you Stacy for this sample tea!

I sellected Ruby Pie this morning because it matched the beginning to my day. How? It matched the color of the sunrise this morning!

Vibrant rose, streaks of gold and cream… bright lights in a black sky.

I was awake at 5:45 AM, the wind howling hard through the trees and if I hadn’t been disturbed, would have missed the most glorious sunrise.

If you watch the you-tube video (made this morning), the last pictures this special sunrise. My granddaughter Megan’s music is paired with it, as a tribute to the 100 year storm we’ve been through here on the Frontrange.

Here’s the You-Tube morning photo’s with music… be kind, it’s my first attempt! http://youtu.be/vaIUqSXnqDE

Ruby Pie isn’t heavily hibiscus (thank’s Stacy) or too strawberry either. The blend is pie-ish. I like that word, ‘pie-ish’ because it means that Stacy got it right, adding cookies (huh?!) to the tea blend. Comforting, dessert tea.
Stacy’s nuts, so she added those too! Nut’s, crust, berries and a little tang in a colorful combination that makes me chuckle at how creative she can be. (What tea delights will transformulate (made that up) from her brain as she becomes a Whovian?!)

Goodness Stacy!

Butiki Teas

Great video! Love all the pics. Gorgeous sky photos. The music works perfectly, your granddaughter is very talented!


She’s never had a piano lesson…Thanks Stacy.

Butiki Teas

Wow, that’s impressive!

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Colorado Grandma 72 as of August 2020

Grandmother to 10. (we all drink tea!) I began teatime in the Summer when my children were little. We took a break from play for tea and snacks every day. My children loved tea time.
There are several tea houses close to my home and a Tea Festival in Boulder. Fort Collins/Loveland is a bit of a foodie area. We are famous for breweries (Fat Tire is one brand).
Rocky Mountain National Park is 40 minutes away.
Our climate is semi-arid with LOTS OF SUN AT 5000 feet. (Heavy Winter snows start in higher elevations). Living my whole life in Northern California (Silicon Valley) I have to admit that I LOVE IT HERE!!!
I am very involved in my local Greek Orthodox Church, especially charity work. Recently I ignited a group for racial reconciliation.
I suffer from Migraines and Fibromyalgia.
My family is Bi-racial (African-American, Scots) and Bi-cultural.
I’ve worked at a Winery, was a computer tech, been Athlete and Coach, Vista Volunteer. Love healthy food! Love travel and have been to Scotland, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Malta, Peru, Croatia, Canada, Mexico, Hawaii, Alaska.


Loveland, Colorado

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