987 Tasting Notes

I feel really bad saying this because my boss gave me a package of this tea as a birthday gift, but: this tea is gross.

I don’t mind the fennel, but what really gets me are the rosehip/hibiscus and the stevia. Waaaaaay too much stevia in here. This just tastes cloying and metallic and artificial.

Now what to do with the remaining tea in the package? No idea.

Evol Ving Ness

Possibly add more hibiscus/rosehips to drown out the stevia? I have been having a bit of success by mixing somehow related teas with too much something with other teas that are missing something.


I’d just cut the stevia completely, personally. If I want a sweet tea I’ll sweeten it myself in the amount I want.

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I decided to cold-brew this rather than brew it hot and strong then dilute it down. The short, black, gnarly leaves here are interspersed with the occasional bit of green (strawberry leaves) and red (dried strawberry pieces). The dry leaf smelled of strawberries, chocolate and vanilla – in fact, it reminded me an awful lot of chocolate-covered strawberries!

I ended up with a nice, almost peach-coloured brew after everything was said and done.

The iced tea tasted exactly like it smelled – like chocolate-covered strawberries. It wasn’t bad, but I honestly think this was a waste served cold. I bet this tea would be much better hot, where the contents would probably taste like an amazing strawberry-laced hot chocolate.

Full review at: http://booksandtea.ca/2016/09/end-of-summer-iced-tea-extravaganza/

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This one, unfortunately, was a bust for me. I guess I just don’t like blackcurrant teas – the smell of blackcurrant just reminds me too much of cough syrup and lozenges for me to enjoy it on its own merits. I took the entire half-ounce package, brewed it with hot water, diluted the brew with cold water…. and then just couldn’t drink it. I let it sit in my fridge for too long that it eventually went bad, so I just poured the remainder down the drain. Sorry, 52Teas!

Full review at: http://booksandtea.ca/2016/09/end-of-summer-iced-tea-extravaganza/

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The strongest smell I noticed upon opening the package was mint. Which is obvious, but this was a baseball bat of mint to the nose, with a soft hint of lime playing underneath. Alongside the mint and lime was a candied sort of sweetness that reminded me of marshmallow, making the overall aroma similar to that of Graveyard Mist, another 52Teas blend.

The dried leaf was a varied mix of green bits of all shapes and sizes. Along with the small flakes of mint were different varieties of green tea – some leaves looked short and stubby, while others looked long and flat. The mix was studded with small, puckered blueberries, as well as the occasional wedge of dried lime.

I took the entire half-ounce package and brewed it with 1 L of 80C water for 3-4 minutes. Before I poured the water in I made sure to add a splort of agave nectar to the pitcher to sweeten things up. After that, I took out the leaves and topped the extra-strong brew with cold water, then let it cool down in the fridge overnight. The resulting brew was somewhat cloudy and had an amber-green-orange colour to it that reminded me of Hoegaarden or other types of witbier.

Like the aroma, the strongest taste is of mint, with a hint of lime at the back of the mouth. However, that sweet, marshmallow-like note morphs into something a bit deeper and more distinctive. I had a hard time putting my finger on it, but then I figured it out: it reminded me of sarsaparilla, one of the key flavours in root beer.

I wonder if it was added to give the brew the depth of rum. Whatever it is, it certainly adds an interesting flavour. However, I didn’t get a whole lot of blueberry here.

Full review at: http://booksandtea.ca/2016/09/end-of-summer-iced-tea-extravaganza/


Odd, my pouch was extremely blueberry! Hmm.


Mine too!

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I’m not familiar with Tay Tea; instead, I bought this packet through Amoda Tea’s Black Friday sale last year. It’s been sitting in my cupboard for a while, so honestly I just wanted to say that I used this tea up. This blend contains Ceylon black tea, blueberries, blackcurrants, blue cornflower petals, hibiscus and elderberries.

Looking at the dry leaf, it’s easy to see the blue flecks of cornflowers among the small, gnarly black leaves, as well as the occasional dried berry. I also saw small bits of red that could have been hibiscus. The smell is overwhelmingly of blueberries, to the point of it being kind of artificial – I like my blueberries on the tart side, while the smell here was reminiscent of pancakes and jam.

I took the entire sample of tea (about 10 grams) and cold-steeped it in about 5-6 cups of cold water overnight. I just eyeballed the amounts here, instead of doing something a bit more measured and scientific. I also added some sweetener to the pitcher to counteract the potential tartness of the hibiscus.

However, I have to admit that taste-wise, this didn’t really work for me. The blueberry/blackcurrant flavour was too strong, bordering on medicinal. I just chugged it in order to get the pitcher overwith.

Full review at: http://booksandtea.ca/2016/09/end-of-summer-iced-tea-extravaganza/

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Holy crap, my first tea blog review in nearly a month!

The label says this tea contains oolong, pluots, ginger chunks, crystallized ginger, and edible sparkles.

A “pluot” is actually a kind of plum/apricot hybrid (hence the name). The dried pluots in this blend look like dried apricots, except for being a bit stickier/gummier. The oolong leaves are a brownish green, but not rolled up. Looking closely at them, I wasn’t really able to determine what variety (eg: tie guan yin, da hong pao) served as the base.

Smelling the leaf didn’t help either, as the most noticeable scent was the ginger — spicy, somewhat sweet and pungent.

I took about 2 teaspoons of leaf and steeped it in 80°C water for 4 minutes, which is slightly longer than what’s recommended on the package, because I’m a really big rebel.

Taste-wise, the most prominent note was the ginger. Beneath that, there’s a gentle powdery sweetness. This tea made me think of a similar tea I reviewed last year: Tea Leaf Co.’s Soul Good oolong tea. The notes here are very similar – the ginger, the powder, the sweetness. Also like Soul Good, I was expecting this Sparkle Pony Oolong to have a stronger fruit note.

After I steeped the tea, I took the dried pluot, now reconstituted due to the hot water, and popped it in my mouth. The taste was tangy, with the tartness of plums mixing with the chewy texture of apricot. Oddly enough, I’d say that the pieces of pluot, just by themselves, are my favourite part of this tea.

Oh, and there weren’t any visible sparkles that I could see. Maybe they’re all glommed together at the bottom of the bag.

Anyways, this was a fun tea to try, and it introduced me to a new fruit I’d like to encounter again in my cup some day.

Full review here: http://booksandtea.ca/2016/08/sparkle-pony-oolong-tea-52teas/


Thanks for the review! The tea is a Phoenix Dan Cong. The sparkles are really difficult to see in the tea – which taught me that sparkles are not something I’ll be using in the future. LOL

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Hellooo! I haven’t written a tasting note here i n about a month, I think.

This afternoon my mom and I were both feeling headache-y, and when I decided to brew some tea to hydrate myself, mom asked for some too. She rarely drinks tea, and when she does, she goes for black tea, so when I asked her what she wanted, she just told me she wanted something fruity that didn’t smell too strongly.

Weirdly enough, I don’t have a lot of black fruit blends. Green fruit blends and herbals yes, but those are pretty fragrant. So I pulled out this blossom tea, which I got in a swap at least a year and a half ago.

So how was it?

Not bad, but not that memorable. The instructions on the packet said to brew this with 4 cups of boiling water for 10 (!) minutes. I think I probably did only half that. The result was a slightly leathery, smoky brew with a hint of flowers and peach.

My mom didn’t object, so, mission accomplished!

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The dry leaf here was gorgeous. Strands of black tea leaves were mixed in with dried chunks of papaya, pineapple, orange peel and orange blossoms, resulting in a blend that looked delicious and festive.

The leaf smelled sweet and fruity. I wasn’t able to pick out notes of individual fruits, but the overall aroma was sweet and somewhat musty, with a strong overtone of vanilla and cream.

I took the entire packet and steeped it with cold water in the fridge for about 12 hours, and added some agave nectar to heighten the sweetness.

However, the resulting tea was bitter, and the sharpness of the tea leaf base overwhelmed the fruit flavours. I got an overall soft, sweet flavour from the fruit, but it was rather generic and bland, with a strong candied note on top of the fruit notes. It was more vanilla than fruit to me. This was pretty surprising considering just how many chunks of dried fruit were visible in the dry leaf — I wasn’t expecting them to taste so weak.

Diluting the tea with some water and adding some more agave nectar helped to cut down the bitterness, but it failed to make the fruit flavours pop in a way that I was hoping for. However, the brew was a lovely peach colour — sort of a blushy pink — and that helped mitigate my disappointment with the result. I probably would have been better off filling the pitcher all the way to the top with cold water rather than halfway.

Full review at: http://booksandtea.ca/2016/07/fruity-iced-teas-zen-tea/

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Pouring out the dry leaf, I was greeted by an intensely rich, juicy, fruity smell. If I hadn’t known the mix was supposed to be cranberry-mango flavoured, I would have had a hard time guessing. In fact, the whole thing smelled like gummy bears! The aroma was sweet, tart, juicy, and very vibrant.

I mean, are you surprised when you look at leaves like these? Dark green needles of broken up leaf interspersed with chunks of dried cranberry and mango. This is pretty sweet!

I took this loveliness, filled my pitcher halfway up with cold water and let it steep in the fridge for about 12 hours. The resulting brew was a golden yellow-green colour with an aroma that matched that of the dry leaf.

The taste was pretty good to match! Juicy, fruity, sweet, with a hint of the earthiness and vegetal flavour of the green tea underneath. The interplay between the base and the flavouring was really solidly balanced. The green tea flavour was kind of sharp, but not so sharp that it became bitter or seaweedy — it was fresh-tasting and green in a way that complemented the fruit well.

Full review at: http://booksandtea.ca/2016/07/fruity-iced-teas-zen-tea/

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I bought this tea after Tea Sipper recommended it. They were gaga over it, saying it was one of their favourite fruit blends, so how could I ignore such an endorsement?

Because this was an herbal tea that contained only chunks of fruit, I decided to get 50 grams instead of only 10 — 10 grams of such a dense, heavy tea would have been too little to experiment with.

Opening up the package, I was greeted with a colourful mix of dried chunks of carrot, pineapple, coconut, apple, and pumpkin. If you look closely at the picture, you can pick out the carrot and pumpkin pieces in particular, which are a sort of muted orange here amid the white flakes of coconut and the glassy chunks of candied pineapple.

As expected, the smell was amazing — a rich, sweet, juicy smell of pina colada from the pineapple and coconut. Tropical! I was pleasantly surprised by how much the pineapple and coconut dominated the scent considering they weren’t as prominent in the dried leaf compared to the other ingredients.

Because the tea leaf was made of such thick chunks, I decided to brew this one with boiling water rather than cold water to give the pieces a chance to reconstitute properly. So I took half the package (about 27 grams), poured about 6 cups of cold water in the pitcher, let the pitcher sit on the counter for about half an hour, then put the whole thing in the fridge to cool for the rest of the day.

The resulting tea was a pale amber with a touch of cloudiness. Maybe it was the coconut that made it cloudy, or that there was so much dried fruit in general? It looked very promising.

However, the promise didn’t hold up to the taste. While I certainly did taste pineapple and coconut, to me the carrot and pumpkin flavours won out. They made the whole thing taste starchy and pale, rather than juicy and vibrant like I was expecting. I still have half the packet left, so I’ll need to see how it tastes when brewed with less water. Right now, though, this tea was a bit of a letdown.

Full review at: http://booksandtea.ca/2016/07/fruity-iced-teas-zen-tea/

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Updated March 2016:

I’m a writer and editor who’s fallen in love with loose-leaf tea. I’ve also set up a site for tea reviews at http://www.booksandtea.ca – an excellent excuse to keep on buying and trying new blends. There will always be more to discover!

In the meantime, since joining Steepster in January 2014, I’ve gotten a pretty good handle on my likes and dislikes

Likes: Raw/Sheng pu’erh, sobacha, fruit flavours, masala chais, jasmine, mint, citrus, ginger, Ceylons, Chinese blacks, rooibos.

Dislikes (or at least generally disinclined towards): Hibiscus, rosehip, chamomile, licorice, lavender, really vegetal green teas, shu/ripe pu’erh.

Things I generally decide on a case-by-case basis: Oolong, white teas.

Still need to do my research on: matcha

I rarely score teas anymore, but if I do, here’s the system I follow:

100-85: A winner!
84-70: Pretty good. This is a nice, everyday kind of tea.
69-60: Decent, but not up to snuff.
59-50: Not great. Better treated as an experiment.
49-0: I didn’t like this, and I’m going to avoid it in the future. Blech.


Toronto, ON, Canada



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